“What can I do for you today, sir? A Slime afro? Some Dracky dreads?”

Dragon Quest XI

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (2018)

I have been emasculated again. It happens to me quite a lot in life actually, but this one was a real beauty. The scene was the Grafton Barber, a fancy place of mangrooming. Well, I wouldn’t have cared if the red carpet was thrown out for me, because barbershops are never my favourite place to be at the best of times. We’ll get onto the looks of disgust and derision that barbers usually treat me with another time, but I wanted to go on about the Russian (well, former Soviet anyway, it was a big place) lady that was to be my groomer.

You’re offered a drink while you wait, which they say is free but given you’re paying a bit of a premium rate anyway, you’re hardly coming out ahead. Can anything in the high life really be free? Chumps can elect to get sparkling water or a soft drink here; real men like me opt for beer. Though my aspirations of being a real man were summarily shattered when I was called forth to sit in the hot-seat.

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There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a woman in the depths of an Animal Crossing binge.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020)

If you’re sitting out there in a loving relationship, no major tiffs every other day and the two of you are only slightly dysfunctional, then congratulations, I am genuinely happy for you. Singletons, fear not, because there are a lot more unhappy relationships out there than you might realise. And we’re all growing up now, “adulting” as some particularly childminded people might say, so the causes of strain and conflict are more mature now. It’s a bit more than her asking you whose bra this is, or you asking her why your last whazz nearly set the shower curtain on fire.

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Pubmaster Burkey does his best to ensure everyone is here

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Super Smash Bros Ultimate (2018)

It’s quite the event on the social calendar, you know, and I take great pride in organising it every year, or at least on the years when people can be bothered with it. It quickly becomes front-page news, with everyone talking about it, and I’m ashamed to say some lewd scenes and paparazzi photographs have made it to the back pages on occasion.

Everyone is welcome, but if you haven’t got the stamina for it then you’ll find yourself left behind in an instant. Make it to the end though, and you can take great pride in the fact that there are not many who’ve achieved what you just have. I’m talking, of course, about the 12 Pubs of Christmas.

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Trust Tetris to leave you in a crumpled, sweaty mess

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Tetris 99 (2019)

The rumours are true – I don’t know how to satisfy a woman. But what my detractors don’t realise is that I actually know something they don’t. As it turns out, there’s no way to keep a woman happy, because they’ll always fall victim to at least one side of the female triangle – they are either hungry, tired, cold, or all three. Through hard-work and perseverance, you can close off two sides, but nailing all three? Forget it. Trust me, this is a triangle that’ll leave you in more pain than a Toblerone that’s been in the fridge for days.

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Nintendo blast open-world gaming’s eardrums with a double-necked Flying V

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Legend of Zelda, The: Breath of the Wild (2017)

Can a man get away with crying? Especially in front of his girlfriend. Men are often being told they should feel able to open up about their emotions, but I wonder. Am I now emasculated for life? Forever to be dismissed as a blubbing wreck with no bottle? Will even the children point and laugh at me? I’ll have to buy a muscle-suit and wear it at all times just to counteract that event, maybe with three smokes in my mouth too.

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Get your gladrags on and join me on my fashion odyssey…

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Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

You don’t need to take a trip to my long abandoned Instagram account (both of them) to learn that I pretty much dress like a scarecrow, as in yes, I keep the birds away. I’m very much a function over form man, I just see clothes as social necessities. So long as it keeps the wind from tickling my ghoulies and I don’t embroil myself in any tricky-to-explain court cases, I’ll wear it. I think one of the main reasons why I’m such a fashion disaster is that my wardrobe is essentially a basket beside my bed with clothes folded on top of it, two abreast, both dangerously teetering like a block of ghastly flats ready to collapse.

Each morning, I grab some articles of clothing from the top of this pile, and whichever has the least obvious creases wins. That’s my ensemble for the day. See, that’s the teeny-tiny drawback you get with your modern day IT jobs – since you’re no longer required to dress like a filing cabinet, just another shirt and slacks merchant, you’ve now got to put some thought into what you wear.

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You think you know pressure? Try being the linchpin

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Octopath Traveler (2018)

It’s a privilege sought by many but achieved by few. To be conferred such a status suggests to all lookers that you are the highest value male in your social group. That brings with it female adoration, several cries of you being a legend, and more than a few free drinks. It does of course saddle you with a large burden of expectation, too much for many men, and one bad performance could see you stripped of your title and rendered just another contender, making up the numbers. I’m talking, of course, about being the linchpin of a night out.

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How would Bokoblins and Gorons have done in World War I?

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Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (2018)

The other day I was reading about World War 1 casualties in the final days of the conflict, and bloody hellfire. It was the old Hundred Days Offensive, that frightful last rush where the British front decided “Bugger to it all, chaps. Let’s bloody well finish the Gerrys,” to which the French faction gave a hearty “on hohn hohn” laugh and squealed, “Formidable!”

The Germans caught wind of this plan, and for three months they all ran at each other and drove tanks at each other until Germany finally cried for mercy. The net result? Over two million marked casualties. Many were captured, but the majority were killed, and all in the length of a summer’s holiday from school. With numbers like that, you can’t even imagine the face of a typical British or French or German or Austro-Hungarian fighting man, too young to be on a battlefield, but too old not to fight for his country. That nutter Stalin was right, it really is just a statistic.

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

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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.

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There are a lot of top first date ideas, but none of them involve hiking

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Ice Climber (1986)

It’s enough to make any man self-conscious. After weeks of pestering and creepy-crawliness, you’ve finally secured a date with that girl and she hasn’t yet deigned to ghost you or cancel right at the last minute with no mention of a reschedule. You’ll now be relying on two things to help make the date go well – firstly, you’ll need to have good patter, otherwise that crucial ‘spark’ will not be there and you’ll be out of pocket forty nicker. Secondly, you need to make sure that you’ve got a good plan as to what you’re both going to do, because you better believe she won’t be making any suggestions. Get this wrong, and you’ll be agonising over it for a very long time once she gives you the bad news a few days later.

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