Burkey’s a wild card, flies by the seat of his pants. Totally unpredictable

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Top Gun NES (1987)

I already outlined various reasons why I could never really cut it as a jet fighter pilot, and it’s not like I’ve suddenly developed perfect eyesight or sufficient backbone to get into the dreaded Helo Dunker. Those guys want near-perfect vision that’s uncorrected, so even if I did get them lasered, I wouldn’t be allowed in. But how could they possibly know? I would try to risk it, but I’d be afraid of getting caught and then Mr. Strickland would chew on my ass.

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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.

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Iron Mike’s gonna rip out your heart and feed it to the racists

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Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (1987)

They say sport is the great equaliser, and when it’s as accessible and universal as football, I have to agree. And give sport its dues, it helped break down a lot of race barriers. You’ll still get bananas thrown onto football pitches by knuckle-dragger fans. But as moronic as that is, how does that stack up against Muhammad Ali standing up to the white United States government and telling them he had no quarrel with them Viet Cong?

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The NES is like heroin, and not in a good way

NES Logo

Nintendo Entertainment System (1987)

To paraphrase Gordon Gekko, retro, for lack of a better word, is good. Retro is right, retro works. Retro clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the gaming spirit. Retro, in all of its forms; retro for life, for money, for love, for knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. Retro is what sells, and everybody wants to be retro.

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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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The Many Jobs of Mario

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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.

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It’s not easy being the best portable racer around

F-Zero Maximum Velocity

F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (2001)

Can you claim to be the best in the world at any game out there? It’s tougher than you’d think. You probably reckon that you’re the only one that’s played Super Formation Soccer ‘96 for Super Famicom, but you’re crazy if you think you’ll even get to the last 64 of a tournament for that game in a Japanese tournament. I know what it’s like to be a failed athlete because, despite having played GoldenEye 007 in my childhood for more hours than God was sending, I was still nowhere near the top. Not even top 50,000. And this means that I never got to join the pro-circuit, the GoldenEye circus, travelling the world with the other pros and playing each other in thrilling deathmatches for megamoney.

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Marty McFly never had to perform as many space-time errands as Link

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Legend of Zelda, The: Oracle of Ages (2001)

I’ve already done a spiel on the changing of the seasons in my look at The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. In it, I mentioned how Ireland pretty well has two seasons, cold and less cold, and lately we seem to be getting hit by an awful lot of storms and genuinely lethal weather. After all, picture yourself in a rural cottage, ready to sit down by the fire with a hearty mug of tea. Then suddenly the wind of the gods blows all your roof-tiles away and spits a load of asbestos in your face.

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Don’t listen to your parents – teachers are tedious, and they always lose

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Sonic Battle (2003)

The steep decline and near-death experience that the Sonic the Hedgehog series went through occurred at roughly the same time that I went to school. From that period of 2003-2009, the series trajectory went a bit like that one really steep fall in Spring Yard Zone. All in that period, you had Sonic Heroes, where the rot started; Shadow the Hedgehog, which I’ve spoken about and has now become genuinely hilarious; Sonic 06, which is infamously bad and which I really must pick up one of these days; and a glut of rubbish for the Wii after that. Running concurrently with all this was the the 4Kids-poisoned Sonic X series. And somewhere amongst all of this was one of the most affronting spinoffs, Sonic Battle for Game Boy Advance.

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Between group projects and cuck fantasies, I know which one I’d take

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Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (2003)

“OK, class, get into groups of 3 or 4” – words from a teacher more fearsome than the usual guff they give you. I didn’t mind being told by the teacher that I had detention, or that I was to see them after class, or that the lock on the boy’s changing room was double-bolted and I could scream as loud as I liked because nobody was coming to help me. But teamwork? Find a group of people willing to come together and work in harmony? Leave it out. It’s always a dreadful affair – if the teacher places you into random groups, you could be put alongside a group of drongos, or worse still, ambitious people who are hunting to get an A+. And they’ll get that goddam A+ if it means slitting your throat from ear to ear.

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