Every game developer is just one bad day away from being mean

Super Mario Bros The Lost Levels

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (1986)

Every now and then in your working life you’ll run upon a person who is just unrelenting. The type of person who wakes up, runs into the bathroom and smiles at the mirror, just to get it over with for the day. You can get them in school and college too, but it’s in work where people aren’t under any pretenses to be nice to you anymore. I’m the type of person who gives these grouchy gits concessions – I try to understand them, get a bit of craic going with them, make excuses for their infuriating behaviour. Then they still rebuff me and I’m left feeling like a pilchard.

Continue reading “Every game developer is just one bad day away from being mean”

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

super mario rpg logo.png

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.

Continue reading “In his first foray into Maths and Stats, Mario graduates with honours”

If only they’d dropped Mario cartridges on Pearl Harbour instead

Super Mario Bros Logo

Super Mario Bros. (1987)

I won’t bore you to death on the whole video game crash, blah blah blah, E.T. wrecked the whole thing and all of that other stuff. History was the most boring of school subjects as we know, and anyway, the whole event is pretty much the first thing a prospective gaming YouTuber searches for on Wikipedia, before delivering a webcam filmed lecture about it with jumpy editing. Suffice to say, we had an awful lot of terrible “games” (and I’m talking, less impressive than interactive DVD menus) in the late 70s and early 80s.

I’m not just talking about clag that delivers less than 5 seconds of enjoyment either. Even ‘clag’ is too weak a word for games like Custer’s Revenge, or Beat ‘Em and Eat ‘Em. It was this kind of rubbish that was being sold, morse code graphics and all, into households at premium rates. Eventually the poor old gaming camel took one too many straws to the back, that straw being E.T., and over it went. Electronic TV games were a fad that had come, stank up the place a bit, and now they were gone.

Continue reading “If only they’d dropped Mario cartridges on Pearl Harbour instead”

6 of Gaming’s Scariest Creatures

scary logo

6 of Gaming’s Scariest Creatures (2019)

Regular readers of these pieces will doubtless be amazed to learn that I’m not always so alpha. Yes, I may often cross the road without waiting for the green man or looking both ways. I’ve swallowed my chewing gum more times than I’d care to mention. I’m even tough enough not to blink at this time of year when fireworks are constantly exploding overhead or shooting straight towards my head. You’ve never met me, I hope, but we can probably both agree that I’m by far the bravest man you know – until it comes to games.

Continue reading “6 of Gaming’s Scariest Creatures”

A scientific calculator is no match for exploding Koopas

SuperMarioLand

Super Mario Land (1990)

When I revisited Super Mario Land not long back, I thought I was playing a calculator, never mind a Game Boy. We had to buy scientific calculators in school in order to keep up with some of the ridiculous maths stuff that was coming our way – things likes xs, ys, and many other letters. I ask, what was wrong with numbers? Then there was sins, tans and coses… we were getting hit by these daily, and even our shiny new calculators couldn’t deal with whatever on earth an asymptote was. But I used to be seething with envy at our school colleagues in the US, who had access to Texas Instruments calculators, machines which I’m led to believe are the Rolls-Royces of computation and arithmetic. We really were deprived schoolchildren. 

Continue reading “A scientific calculator is no match for exploding Koopas”

We’ll sell you the whole tablet but you’re only gonna need the stylus

Super_Mario_Maker_2_logo_(Alt)

Super Mario Maker 2 (2019)

Call me a fanboy, but I always have to admire Nintendo’s testicular fortitude. They’ve sold us bathroom scales, knowing that we’d buy them in our droves. You almost never want to buy a DS, or a 3DS, or even a Switch, because you already know they’re going to throw out a Lite or XL version any day now. But with the Super Mario Maker duology of games, they’ve really done it this time – they’ve sold you a Mario game, except you have to make the levels yourself.

Continue reading “We’ll sell you the whole tablet but you’re only gonna need the stylus”

The Many Jobs of Mario

MARIO JOBS LOGO

The Many Jobs of Mario (2019)

Now in his thirties, and still exhibiting no signs of a mid-life crisis, it’s not beyond the remit of a talented man like Mario to have had many different job titles and roles behind him. Actually, you’d have to say that some of Mario’s travails throughout his glittering life are so wild and out there, that him entering a go-kart tournament against his eternal enemy Bowser is now entirely normal. A man so travelled and so adept surely can’t escape the romantic attention of the Princess much longer, can he? All the same, given the rate he goes through jobs, you’d think Mario would be able to afford better clothes than his patchy dungarees.

Continue reading “The Many Jobs of Mario”

Mario’s lost all hope, and all for want of an A-press

Super_Mario_64

Super Mario 64 (1997)

Do you ever feel like you’re putting too much effort into a game? A bit too much time min-maxing, or playing online, until your Steam account says you’ve been playing Team Fortress 2 like there isn’t gonna be internet tomorrow? Do you ever sit back and wonder what it was all for? I don’t, because my approach to playing games these days, as there are so many and I’m cursed with bundles of disposable income, is to leave them on the shelf in their cellophane wrapping. Occasionally I’ll feel a bit guilty, and load up some AAA game of the month like God of War, and give it a whole 30 minutes of play. And 23 of those minutes are spent waiting for it to finish installing.

Continue reading “Mario’s lost all hope, and all for want of an A-press”

Gambling’s for mugs, and I’ll tell you more after the 3:30 at Kempton

mariorabbids

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (2017)

People sometimes ask me why I don’t gamble, or why I love launching into unwanted explanations as to why gambling companies are the devices of Satan. In theory, I should love Paddy Power. They’re sort of Irish, like me. And better than that, they spend their days making mega bucks and they absolutely adore exploiting and robbing the poor. It’s sort of like my dream business model, so why do I want them to fail so badly?

Could it be their zany advertising, where sporting memes, contrived personalities and tap-in humour are made out to be more important and relevant than what’s actually happening out there on the pitch? Could it be that, in a moment of weakness, I find myself feeling sorry for the numbskulls they exploit? Or could it be that they, like all bookmakers, do everything they can to avoid paying out to winners, up to and including shutting down the accounts of people that win too much?

Continue reading “Gambling’s for mugs, and I’ll tell you more after the 3:30 at Kempton”

It’s typical – when you look for ROMs, you get hentai. When you look for hentai…

2000px-Super_Mario_World_game_logo.svg

Super Mario World (1992)

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret – I love emulating games, I simply love it. I can’t get enough of the stuff. Configuring BIOS, downloading Good ROM sets, jailbreaking modern consoles to get the bogey games up and running, come at me. Of course, I love collecting the actual legal physical games as well, but would I be unreasonable to suggest that ROMs and emulators are the best invention since sliced bread and recordable television?

Continue reading “It’s typical – when you look for ROMs, you get hentai. When you look for hentai…”