6 of Gaming’s Scariest Creatures

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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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

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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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I’m all for compensation culture if it gets me a free Nintendo glove

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Mario Party (1998)

Adding Mario to anything at all seems to make its marketability increase tenfold, and that’s not just limited to games. We have seen this phenomenon with Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Mario Kart, Mario Teaches Typing, Mario Chemistry, Mario Forensics and Mario Quantity Surveying, but Mario Party was an odd one: a turn-based board game featuring Mario characters, with each turn ending in one of 50 minigames, which really made up the bulk of the game? How can this work?

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I don’t mind alien invaders, as long as they’re good racers

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F-Zero X (1998)

In the event of an alien invasion, one can only imagine that mankind would be pretty well buggered. After all, if some sort of species or collective entity out there has the ability to travel here in great numbers, they pretty much have the whole thing wrapped up. What are we gonna do to defend ourselves, nuke our own planet?

We don’t know where they’re coming from, we don’t know what they want, they have far superior firepower and technology and anyway our own world society is so badly fragmented and our world leaders don’t really measure up at the moment. And if it should happen that we get overrun by those frightful pod creatures from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you can definitely forget all about it.

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6 of Gaming’s Most Depressing Game Over Screens

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of Gaming’s Most Depressing Game Over Screens (2014)

I don’t care how good a retro gamer you are, every single one of us has had to choke down the indignity of witnessing the Game Over screen in games – the more dull-witted gamers have probably had to suffer this embarrassment time and time again. NES-era Game Over screens tended to be simple white-text-on-black-background affairs and more often than not were plagued with some questionable grammar (even apart from “Game Over” itself, as if that phrase makes any sense).

But as games became more imaginative and interactive, the Game Over screens followed suit. Here are six of the more depressing retro Game Over screens that many of us have had to sit through before we could endeavour to try again. Whichever of the games on this list you’ve played, you’ve probably seen the Game Over screen to it at least a dozen times. Enjoy!

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What’s GoldenEye without Sean Bean?

 

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GoldenEye 007 (2010)

When it comes to making some fat stacks, it’s important for us little people to remember that in entertainment, there is simply no such thing as a sacred cow. Nothing is untouchable, above the remit of cynical executives bolting the latest faces in entertainment onto an old work and shipping it as a “continuity reboot” or a “spiritual sequel”.

I didn’t have my glasses on so I happily stand to be corrected, but they now apparently want to bring about a Ghostbusters 3 with an all-female cast. Obviously I’m highly sexist, but for the sake of this argument let’s assume I’m rational, tolerant and level-headed. What’s the easiest way to conceal the fact that none of the old actors wanted to touch this Ghostbusters 3 with a ten-foot barge pole? Do a complete turnabout on the cast and instead bring in actresses that won’t make viewers ask “what happened to the other guys?”

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