I’m the best penalty taker in the world… on paper

Paper Mario (2001)

So, do you have a happiest memory in your life? Maybe I’m just depressed, but for me, it’s harder than one might think to come up with memories or days that stick out as being overwhelmingly happy ones. I know we’re supposed to say our wedding days, or the day we graduated from college or something. Or the moment we lost our virginity. But what sticks out ahead of all these is usually a particularly great night out with all your pals present – or even better, a pizza fuelled house party where everyone’s there.

Harry Potter enthusiasts will know that the method of combating the Dementor creatures is to conjure up a very happy memory, and somehow turn that memory into a spirit animal that chases the shadowy demons of depression away. I remember reading that and thinking that I’d be bang in trouble if I ever needed to do that. Ask yourself, what moment would you draw from?

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A short story without much fun is something truly criminal

Yoshi’s Story (1998)

I’ve got to come clean with you today – I’m a no good criminal. Actually, I’m no stranger to breaking the law: I’ve pirated just about every form of media you can think of. I’ve even got Virtual Boy ROMs on my computer, for heaven’s sake. I’ve downloaded – and watched – Mean Girls and The Notebook. I’m not sure if you want to know any more about my depraved downloading habits, but one thing I’ll tell you – my conscience is clear.

After all, when downloading films and music, I’m only taking a bit of money out of the pockets of those fine upstanding fellas like Harvey Weinstein. Today though, I have to confess to something a bit more grave: renting games and not returning them on time.

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Never bring a white van to a go-kart track

Mario Kart 64 (1997)

In around 150 AD, after several years of labour and study, Claudius Ptolemy completed his Cosmographia, his long-studied understanding of the geography of Europe and the world. Beginning in 1308 and finishing in 1320, Dante produced his masterful magnum opus, the Divine Comedy. And in this year of our lord, Burkey presents to you his much anticipated treatise of the worst types of road users.

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Never mind what they say – women love to Smash

Super Smash Bros. (1999)

My girlfriend recently asked me why men are always fighting, with more than a hint of melancholy in her eyes, a melancholy that suggested all of the nice things she’d heard about the world had come crashing down at the thought of male penchant for pugilism. I didn’t really have an answer for her, although I’m keen to point out that I do my best not to start the aggro. That’s probably for the best, since I have a win record of zero. 

It’s always great to watch a pagger erupting out on the street though, particularly when it’s chucking out time from the nightclubs. And even if you’re not there, there’s usually a tremendous series of videos to catch up on – fights, grappling, lunging tackles, roundhouse kicks, sirens, blue flashing lights, women screaming, the whole nine yards, and it’s properly compelling viewing.

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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.

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Take your pick between the Phony GreyStation, the Dreampants, and grey cartridges

Nintendo_64_Logo

Nintendo 64 (1996 / 1997)

My first experience with the Nintendo 64 console, way back when in Christmas ’97, was fairly inauspicious. For a start, I’m sure my older brother harboured some secret resentment about gettin gone, given that just about everyone else in his school peer group were getting or had already gotten PlayStations. And there is no section of society more judgmental, more better placed to finish you socially, then your schoolyard fellows. I wasn’t embarrassed at all, in fact I was chuffed. But what did set off some humiliation for me that fateful day was my quite literally ham-fisted attempts to hold the controller.

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If your Growlithe doesn’t tear children apart on sight, then forget about it

Pokemon Stadium

Pokémon Stadium (2000)

One thing that always amazed me about the Pokémon series is that, for all the controversy it garnered from things like causing seizures or being satanic or requiring you to buy 50 games to catch ‘em all, nobody ever really seemed to care that it was essentially about pitting two cute animals into a fight to the finish with each other.

I think it’s rather easy to draw comparisons with Pokémon and that film Amores Perros – if you want to become a serious, competitive Pokémon battler, then you’ll be doing much the same thing as those vicious muchachos: breeding Mons in foul conditions, slaughtering those whose genes won’t quite cut it, drugging up the best monster you have and forcing it to battle almost from the moment it’s born. If it wins, great: you get the plaudits while the beast gets the larrups. If it loses… the slaughter begins anew.

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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, since there are so many and since 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.

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You shouldn’t hit a girl, even if she’s shooting at you

perfect dark logo 2

Perfect Dark (2000)

Things have calmed down quite a bit in recent years, but there was a time in and around the height of Call of Duty 17 and Battlefield Minus One that seemingly every popular game out there was a first-person shooter. If you were a developer and you decided you wanted to release a 3D platformer or something, a proper game for the ages, then you could forget it.

If it wasn’t shooty-shooty-bam-bam time and there weren’t 12-year-olds online in an over 18s game, it wasn’t worth your while. It wouldn’t sell, and you would be branded an unbankable developer, with emphasis on ‘leper’, and you’d be beat back down to mobile games with icons of shouty bearded cartoon men. Why couldn’t you just have done the necessary for your now-starving family and made something like Perfect Dark instead?

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Seven years might seem a long time, but try an 18-month delay

The_Legend_of_Zelda_-_Ocarina_of_Time_(logo)

Legend of Zelda, The: Ocarina of Time (1998)

What a difference seven years makes. If I take a look back at my life seven years ago, it features me sitting in college doing nothing, after which I’d go to the pub or go somewhere to eat, then go home, play some games, harass a few women by text, and do it all again the next day. Now though? I go to work, do little… then go to the pub… somewhere to eat… hmmm, even the harassment still features. So maybe I have to be somewhat less profound here and conclude that, after seven years, nowt has changed for me. Which is just the way I like it.

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