Kirby finally made me stop wearing my mother’s clothes

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Kirby Super Star (1997)

When I was doing gaming videos with my pal in a desperate attempt to find YouTube popularity, I made the observation that I’d rather be caught wearing my mother’s clothes than have someone walk in on me playing a Kirby game. I can gleefully tell all you Kirby lovers out there that my partner did not immediately frown and slap me for making such a cretinous comment. Quite the opposite actually – he laughed, I laughed, we patted each other on the back and our anti-Kirby circlejerk continued.

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In his first foray into Maths and Stats, Mario graduates with honours

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Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996)

I spent my college years wandering about in this kind of cynical trance, like Holden Caulfield. Didn’t really have anywhere to go, anyone to meet, so I just sat about writing and listening to music instead. Even if I’d studied or attended lectures, it’d have hardly made a difference anyway. I went to a ‘prestigious’ university, see. And they can’t fail you.

Maybe if you don’t turn up or if you vomit crayon wax all over the exam paper, you’ll score a big fat zero. But write your exam number down, blindly fill in some of the multi-choice questions, regurgitate parts of your earlier assignments that only barely passed anyway, and you’ve pretty much nailed it. See, if they were to fail you, then you’d go down as a negative statistic, harming the college’s reputation that bit more, domestically as well as internationally. And you know what that means? Lowered funding, something more unspeakable to an educational institution than Voldemort and Macbeth combined.

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I used to sleep under a blanket of price-scalped NES Classics

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Star Fox 2 (2017)

Even when the NES Classic was announced, I found a way to be snooty about it. Here was a wonderful, official little gizmo from Nintendo, with a good price point, perfectly replicated aesthetics, and heaps of retro goodness. How could I possibly look down upon it? But you already know that that’s a silly question, because nerds will look down upon anything to suit their own agenda. In this case, I already had a NES plus a lorryload of games that, in any case, were mostly clag, so what was I missing out on?

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I coulda been a game dev contender

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Donkey Kong Country (1994)

Game design. The one thing that we’ve always wanted to do. Well, not all of us. Most young lads growing up wanted to be footballers or astronauts of course, but I was aware of my limitations early. As a result, even in my most wildly unrealistic fantasies, I was still essentially a no-name code monkey. Isn’t that sad?

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All young men need something to scare them straight

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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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USA Shootings could’ve gotten me days off school

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Contra III: The Alien Wars (1992)

At time of writing, we are at 154 mass shooting incidents in the USA since 2018 started. I make that about one incident every 36 hours, and it is an amazing coincidence that these seem to take place in the United States on a regular basis and are almost alien anywhere else in the world. It is also a tad worrying, for such a God-fearing country, that ‘thoughts and prayers’ don’t ever seem to deter any prospective shooters either.

Even more amazing coincidences are that these incidents all tend to involve overwhelmingly powerful assault weapons; they seem to never result in changes to legislation; the shooters are all mentally ill; there are always apologists and conspiracy theorists lining up to calm things down in case any intelligent or sensible debate breaks out; and eventually, somewhere down the line, the wilfully ignorant blame video games.

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EarthBound is most famous for having a high price and several toilets

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EarthBound (1995)

The SNES was strong on so many fronts: side-scrolling platformers, puzzle games, tournament fighters, action-adventures… of course, if you lived in Europe you were deprived of all RPGs bar the more action-oriented ones. But otherwise SNES players around the world got the chance to play story-driven games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 4 and 6, Super Mario RPG, Lufia and Breath of Fire II. Here in UK and Ireland we had Mortal Kombat and Super Tennis.

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Halloween is the time of year when the adults run and hide from the kids

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Super Castlevania IV (1992)

Yourself and myself most probably have a rather different idea of what Halloween is all about. You may see it as an opportunity to have fun in fancy dress, maybe admire other people’s costumes, sit inside watching Hocus Pocus and a few more Halloween films besides… You can even score a whole shopping bag of sweets for your child, or more accurately yourself, having hit fifty different houses that night and sometimes twice each (parents, I’m on to you).

For me however, Halloween signifies booze, dodging thrown fireworks and doing one’s very best to avoid getting stuck answering the door to all manner of infernal children. And in between all of this, you may or may not even get the time to work on your own costume.

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Just call me Usain TAS because I’m the fastest gamer alive

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Super Metroid (1994)

You’re not going to believe this one, but I am actually responsible for the modern gaming phenomenon that is speedrunning. No, I’m serious this time. I first brought this craze to the world at a young age, when I amazed my pals and my brother at my ability to get through levels of GoldenEye 007 for N64 at an almost inhuman speed. With a time of roughly 24 seconds on the Runway level in particular, I thought I was the king – and in fact I was, because my pals just couldn’t get near. And when they grew frustrated with my insistence on doing yet another run and instead suggested a jolly fun game of actual multiplayer, I scoffed at them until they took the hint and left.

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We may all hate them, but babies have it easy

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Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995)

I want you to sit back and see if you can think of your earliest memory. I’m not asking this in the hopes of you giving me your accounts, photos or videos of being breastfed – although if you do, please send them to the usual address. It’s just interesting, isn’t it? You may very well have memories of yourself from back when you were a crying, gibbering, clumsy, self-defecating mess, and I mean from before you turned drinking age. No matter how great you are today, you know that squawking child that caused irritation to every member of the public in a 400-yard radius and prompted mass tutting and unspoken, polite disapproval?  That was you that was, and we all hated you.

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