Mad Max (2015)
A few years ago, I happened to see the new Tom Hardy flick, Mad Max: Fury Road in cinemas. It seemed to have drummed up a fairly substantial amount of hype, so on we plodded to see it. It had all kinds of rave reviews, looked destined for quite a few Oscar nominations, the lot.
Four hours later, having watched a man and a few hangers-on exchange dialogue that didn’t make any kind of sense, drive across a vast desert and keep teasing a big action sequence without ever delivering, the credits finally rolled. Myself and my pals were pretty much left speechless, wondering was this just a fake-out before the film actually began, before one flat Dublin accent behind me opined, “All that for a bit of water?!?”
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Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
I was half-watching this Western film on the telly the other day – apologies, I never got the name of it – and in it the well-hung main cowboy strolls on in to the saloon, orders a full bottle of whiskey and downs the whole thing in one, right there and then. And they say films these days are too unrealistic. He grabs plenty of attention with this stunt of course, and the net result of it all is the usual step outside, guns drawn, bury me with my money type of affair. And I’m thinking, God, how cheap was life back then?
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Hatoful Boyfriend (2015)
Every now and then a game comes along so deviant that your conscience urges you not to play it. It is something that your super-ego won’t ever forgive you for. If you put Cho Aniki or Senran Kagura into your console and load it up, right then and there you are voluntarily flagging yourself for the FBI, the NSA, the MIB, and all sorts. It won’t be too much longer until the Facebook rabble catch wind of your transgressions against societal morality, and then it’s trial by social media for you. And of course, such trials are unwinnable. You are finished, your reputation left completely destroyed, you will be egged anywhere you go, children will scream at the sight of you, and even your mother will stop inviting you round for tea.
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Secret of Mana (1994)
I had a tough start with Secret of Mana. Things seemed so rosy – the year was 1995 and my mother had gone into town with the promise of bringing us home a new Super Nintendo game. What she brought us was the green wonder that is Secret of Mana, a game that was advertised as being like Zelda! That was all I needed to hear. I probably near took the glorious woman’s hand off and clambered up the stairs to play it immediately.
As I often did as a 4-year-old gamer boy, I pressed my little golfball head as closely to our 1970s television as I could without my hair standing on end. Then I pressed the Power button to load up the game, a chilling roar that must have surely come from the bowels of hell blared right in my face, and I screamed to the high heavens and left Mana alone for several years.
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Gran Turismo Sport (2017)
Circumstances dictated that I never got to race my first car, which is a crying shame. I mean, as an antiquated VW Polo with less than a 1-litre engine, it wasn’t really going to inspire on the straights. Come to think of it, its propensity to leak power steering fluid meant it wasn’t a dream cruiser around corners either.
But when you’ve got that special, fire-forged connection between man and machine over several years, where you can communicate fully with your motor, it’s beautiful. You and your car can come together in beautiful harmony, through your hands for steering and gears, your footsies for the pedals, and your bum getting rattled about by the nasty vibrations. And then something deep down under the bonnet (sorry, ‘the hood’) fails, and the car turns around and breaks your heart.
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Puyo Puyo Tetris (2017)
As you lay there in bed at night, not really able to sleep, your thoughts begin to wander. Those idle dreams and ambitions you may have once had, and how they are no longer possible because you’re too old, too slow, and probably too ugly by now. Then you’ll remember some of the great nights out and social occasions you’ve lived, and how they all seemed to dry up at once and nobody was there to warn you about it. Having dented your mood for the night already, you seek just a bit more of that blissful drug called angst.
And, like a low valley drifter wandering his way through a sleepy town before finally, inevitably, hopelessly trudging to the doss house, your mind will eventually settle on reliving the most awfully embarrassing moments to have ever struck your life. Suddenly, you can forget about any sleep. Your teeth begin to itch. Your eyebrows move involuntarily. Your body groans and aches all over and your cheeks begin to redden. What kind of a social disaster are you?!
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Micro Machines: World Series (2017)
In the beginning, Sega created Outrun, Rareware created RC Pro AM and Square created Rad Racer, and God said, Let there be racing: and there was racing. And these games were renowned for their time but were fraught with limitation, and the video game players of the Earth did cry out for a new racing game that could be played in multiplayer and that was madcap and accessible to all.
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Watch Dogs 2 (2016)
It was the new big fear of the 80s and 90s – hacking. What is it? How is it done? Probably not a single film or TV programme has gotten it right. I’m sure they nailed some of the details – half-Scottish half-Russian turbonerd Boris Grishenko from GoldenEye had the annoying, smug attitude down to a tee, up to and including having the effrontery to give back chat to a scarred and heavily deranged Sean Bean. He also typed like the wind as well; we were treated to several close ups of his furiously whizzing hands when we probably should have been seeing Bond throw a few remote mines and descend into near-madness trying to keep Natalya safe. For all of his self-serving chat, poor old Boris couldn’t do the business when it mattered and ultimately died a death befitting a weasel, when he was frozen in place amidst an exploding enemy base. Not so invincible after all.
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You don’t need to know me particularly well to gather that I’m almost allergic to spending money. The way I see it, every little penny that I’ve tricked people into giving me is a hard-earned penny indeed. I’ll squeeze dosh from any man’s coffers – government, ignorant employers, family, the lot. I’ve even eyed up beggars’ cups on occasion – that’s how far I’ll go for a few quid.
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