Somebody crowbarred a love story into this card collecting RPG

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Final Fantasy VIII (1999)

A year ago, when I was doing up a piece on classic gaming couples for CHUNK.ie and The R.A.G.E. for St. Valentine’s Day, I was actually struggling pretty badly. Yes, there were a whole host of tantalising will-they-won’t-theys like Link and Zelda. There were also friend-zone jobs like Mario and the Princess, and even a rare reversal with Sonic the Hedgehog and Amy Rose. And there’s even pairings that eventually turned sour, like Snake and Meryl. But proper romantic love stories? They were quite tough to shoot my arrow through.

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You are the disappointment your parents feared

 

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Dragon’s Lair (1992)

It’s a terrible truth that applies to us all: everything in life is disappointing. Everything. It’s typical cynicism from me, I know, but you’ve got to be aware, and you’ve got to be prepared. I bet you’ve been disappointed by friends and family countless times. Your exam results probably fell way short of your expectations. Or if they didn’t, you picked a heartbreaking thing to do with them, like law or medicine or lion-taming. It’ll lash rain on your wedding day. And your children will be disappointments too, even down to their gender and unashamedly ginger hair.

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Fancy collecting retro games? Try hard drugs instead

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Mega Man 2 (1990)

Let me tell you something for nothing, something that may very possibly render any future “insight” I offer absolutely worthless: getting into game collecting is probably the worst thing I have ever done in my stinking little life. I’m telling you, hard drugs would be far cheaper a habit to maintain. I’d probably get much more long-term enjoyment out of a hefty supply of beak as well.

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Stuck in a dead-end job? Don’t feel bad, you could be developing ports of Kid Icarus

 

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Kid Icarus (1987)

Look, we’re all man or woman enough to admit it: when we were daydreamers, back in idyllic times and long before any ambition or aspirations we may have had were crushed beneath the indiscriminate gold-tasseled boot of the bourgeoisie, we wanted to make our own games. It seemed like it’d be the best gig ever, the absolute dream job. Our wish to be the one to actually create Super Mario Bros. 9 and soak up all the plaudits was a wish that took real pride of place in our list of unlikely careers, alongside astronaut… rock star… Hollywood actor or actress… or in my own tragic case, hand-model with some fast-food tasting on the side for extra shekels.

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I’ll have you know I’m a Bunhole expert

 

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Marble Madness  (1989)

I’m not exactly sure when those stubborn little roundy things called marbles were at the height of their popularity, but as ever, the Wikipedia page on the subject throws up a huge amount of information. Did you know that over 12 million of the little fellas are produced daily? Call me cynical, but I’m sure that even with an automated process, we could put that manpower and raw material into some other, far more worthy venture. Like perhaps the materials involved in making marbles could be used to put a big roof on those sly Icelandic volcanoes. Or maybe they could be used in creating power suits for when those same robots follow Skynet’s example and turn bad – they’re tough enough little objects, after all.

Another repository of marble info and goodness, landofmarbles.com, tells us of various “fun” marble games that deprived children can play. The site, well worth checking out for its wonderful GeoCities throwback design, shows us via crude 1980s schoolbook diagrams how to play Puggy, Skelly, Bunhole, and my personal favourite based on its name, Boss-Out.

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Zelda II is the game for John Travolta and you

 

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Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1988)

I’ll tell you a scene that struck a chord with me in a film, shall I? It was when I first watched Saturday Night Fever (1977, disco, Bee Gees, Travolta throwing shapes, you can’t not know it). I’m sure I was like many in assuming that the vast majority of the film was basically a disco-themed musical with a rudimentary love story bolted onto the front for wider appeal. You could more or less relay a synopsis of it to people using just the songs on the seminal soundtrack, I thought.

So when I watched the film and saw John frustrated with his dead end job, frustrated with his father and frustrated with the girls that attach themselves to his group – so much so that he tells us that they all must make the decision to become “nice girls or c**ts” at an early age, well, I was amazed and pleasantly surprised. This was quite a bit grittier and downbeat then I’d have ever imagined. How the director (Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird’s brother no less) managed to make a thought-provoking, sometimes grim movie with Night Fever and You Should Be Dancing playing in the background, I’ll never know, but he managed it.

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Smithers used to be black, but Link was always white

 

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The Legend of Zelda (1987)

You may one day be flicking through your TV guide (on your television’s internal EPG of course – what use is a TV guide magazine in this day and age?) and see an episode of a programme you like about to come on. But the episode synopsis seems rather unfamiliar, and when it comes on you’re wondering why Kramer is being called Kessler or why Smithers is black with blue hair.

What you’ve done is stumbled on a very old episode, perhaps the first ever – and it looks remarkably different to what you’re used to. Everything looks weird, and it’s pretty jarring. This isn’t the show I fell in love with, think to yourself, with the occasional mewl of protest at the television to show your disapproval. You pick up on every single detail and say to yourself “yeah, I see, so that’s where that came from, but… I don’t know, it’s a little weird”.

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