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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Chrono Trigger (1995)
Alright, philistine time: I was never much interested in history. You’re better off making history than studying it, right? It was great when we got around to studying the World Wars in school, though. Men love war, and those two were the best rammies of the lot. Unfortunately the curriculum in Ireland is a bit slow to update, and the history books when I was in school never featured 9/11.
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Star Ocean (1996)
Look, I can understand it, but it still really astounds me just how many children want to become astronauts and go into space when they grow up. They don’t know anything about what that entails, of course. They just want to wear a cool suit and they think space is cool and they think rocket ships and meteors and lasers are cool as well.
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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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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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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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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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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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Mega Man X (1994)
According to an online exercise, my job has about a 75% chance of being taken over by robots. And I wouldn’t even mind if they were laser-firing killer robots, intimidating enough to send the Terminator running. No, I am apparently in line to be replaced by the same machine that uncoils the metal guards on the vending machines and sets your chocolate bar free.
I’m none too pleased about this, of course; be a bit of a shame if I’d gone to college and kissed besuited backside only to get my nose shoved out of joint by a robot with as much capability as a wind-up music box. Still, if it means I can get my hands on some of that lovely Universal Basic Income, then sign me right up. The eggheads, Germans most of them, cite ‘disincentive to work’ as an argument against basic income. Well, duh, why else would I sign up?
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Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (1992)
Fitness regimes. How many have I undertaken in my life, on my never-ending quest to look good in underwear? Sometimes I hate to see those pictures of people who have undergone “transformations” from hulking 400lb behemoth to lithe javelin, because it goes against my ignorant presuppositions that people are either fat or skinny or skinnyfat at age 18 and then they’re set that way for life. People shedding 20 stone reminds me of my own vainglorious failure to drop (and keep dropped) far less weight.
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