Unless you’re bold as brass, just ask Santa for a trumpet instead

Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald (2003 / 2005)

There were quite a lot of things I didn’t do in 2020, and losing weight was probably one of them, though I hate to say it. One thing I managed to avoid for the whole year, by virtue of not getting to go on any holidays, is that I never set foot in any swimming pools. I do quite literally mean setting foot, as in dipping my toes into the pool.

I could never properly dive into one, because even at the age of 30 I still haven’t learned to swim. Am I embarrassed? Certainly not – as long as my killer summer bod looks good, who cares where the strumpets get to observe it?

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Like random encounters, the Swedish girls were coming at us thick and fast

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Tales of Phantasia (1995)

You have me down as an uncultured oik, I know you do, so it’ll probably surprise the hell out of you when I tell you that I’m pretty well-versed in Norse mythology. No, really, I know all about that Thor fella, and he had a hammer that did something with lightning or somesuch. Something that made him overpowered, anyway.

I’m not altogether happy with Thor, Chris Hemsworth or any hammer user, if truth be told, because he ended up inventing Thursdays, and Thursdays are my busiest day in work. A bit arrogant too I find, naming a day after himself. Why don’t we get Supermansday?

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World War 3, be all you can be

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Advance Wars (2002)

I’ve never been sure if this was a myth or even if it was particularly common, but I’ve been led to believe that if you were caught being a naughty boy in 1960s or 1970s Ireland, the exasperated judge would often give you the choice of doing a six-month stint in jail or a year in the army.

We aren’t exactly what you’d call a belligerent country – if Ireland had been involved in the Gulf War we would’ve sent snowploughs – so a spell in the army always sounded like a bit of a holiday camp to me. But then again, isn’t that what they always accuse the prisons of being? You start to see now why we need a death penalty for all offences, except software piracy.

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It’s not easy being the best portable racer around

F-Zero Maximum Velocity

F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (2001)

Can you claim to be the best in the world at any game out there? It’s tougher than you’d think. You probably reckon that you’re the only one that’s played Super Formation Soccer ‘96 for Super Famicom, but you’re crazy if you think you’ll even get to the last 64 of a tournament for that game in a Japanese tournament. I know what it’s like to be a failed athlete because, despite having played GoldenEye 007 in my childhood for more hours than God was sending, I was still nowhere near the top. Not even top 50,000. And this means that I never got to join the pro-circuit, the GoldenEye circus, travelling the world with the other pros and playing each other in thrilling deathmatches for megamoney.

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Don’t listen to your parents – teachers are tedious, and they always lose

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Sonic Battle (2003)

The steep decline and near-death experience that the Sonic the Hedgehog series went through occurred at roughly the same time that I went to school. From that period of 2003-2009, the series trajectory went a bit like that one really steep fall in Spring Yard Zone. All in that period, you had Sonic Heroes, where the rot started; Shadow the Hedgehog, which I’ve spoken about and has now become genuinely hilarious; Sonic 06, which is infamously bad and which I really must pick up one of these days; and a glut of rubbish for the Wii after that. Running concurrently with all this was the the 4Kids-poisoned Sonic X series. And somewhere amongst all of this was one of the most affronting spinoffs, Sonic Battle for Game Boy Advance.

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Parrots in court, channeling the dead, and stepladder debates – it’s Casual Friday for Phoenix Wright

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2006)

If there’s one profession out there that I’m able to look at with absolute certainty and say “Nup, not for me”, other than moonlighting as a sex slave in the BBW boudoir down the road from me, it would have to be lawyer. Or anything to do with a court of law really. You know, Judge, Judy, executioner, all that. Your every word has to be precise, and there’s no room for made-up hogwash, which sort of puts my potential career as a litigator in chains from the start. No waffling? Forget it! No, I’ll leave all that game to those chosen ones, the type of people called Charles, Edward and Magnus.

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Don’t bring me onto your farm unless you want the Fourth Reich

Harvest Moon - Friends of Mineral Town (USA)

Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (2004)

On the rare occasions when I find myself forced to go rural, it’s no surprise that the whole experience makes me get down on my hands and knees and thank the urban gods that I wasn’t born out in the sticks. Let me explain: in Ireland, there are 4, maybe 5 cities, and the rest is just sheep-infested fields and high smelling turds. Our well-renowned greens are not always full of four-leaved clovers, I’m afraid – it’s far more likely to be hay and mad farmers instead. Drive too far in the wrong direction and suddenly civilisation dries up, there isn’t a streetlight or road marking to be seen and massive tractors are hurtling towards you at seemingly impossible speeds. Welcome to the jungle.

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You don’t have to learn Japanese to be a weeb, but it helps

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Mother 3 (2006/2008)

It’s one of the most natural and dangerous human instincts we possess: we all want what we can’t have. And we PAL gamers ought to know this – after all, how else was I going to react to the news that Super Noah’s Ark 3D and Mahjong 64 wouldn’t be making it to Dublin? So wrapped up in my carnal desire for these games was I that I didn’t even know what an EarthBound was until I kept getting battered by some tubheaded kid called Ness in Super Smash Bros.

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I’m sadder than anyone that schoolyard fighting isn’t the done thing anymore

 

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Mortal Kombat Advance (2002)

It’s crazy to think about, but when I look back on my days in primary school (where kids would be roughly the ages of 8 to 13), I can remember there being a brawl in the schoolyard almost every day without fail. And it’d always be the same: we’d all be sitting about in the freezing cold in our respective groups, showing each other how to trigger Missingno. or comparing Simpsons pogs which briefly made a faddy reappearance in my town (my favourite was the vaguely sinister naked Bart Simpsons complete with shiny gold finish).

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