Mario sleepwalks us through another money-printing cookie cutter

New Super Mario Bros. 2 (2012)

I’m trying to remember the last time I put absolutely no effort into something, but I couldn’t be bothered engaging my memory for long enough to uncover it. I think you can already tell where I’m going with this piece, but I will say, it’s a wonderful feeling when you go past caring and just decided to drop out completely.

I had that with college, you know, and it was really just a natural progression. The timetable they gave me was something ridiculous like only 11 hours a week, which I took as licence not to turn up at all. After all, the less teaching hours there are, the easier it is to cram. We’d get to exam time and I’d see all these triers and achievers stressing out like crazy. I never really liked the feeling of being stressed, so I just never bothered putting myself under any of it. Besides, I don’t think colleges can fail you anyway, so long as you turn up on the last day. Turning up was, after all, the bare minimum, and I’m always happy to do the bare minimum.

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Marth steps out of the shadows and into another remake

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon (2008)

Hollywood’s gotten itself into a creative funk again, and but for the presence of a hundred thousand Marvel and Disney films, made with the express purpose of giving these two creators more disposable cash than any piddly old first world country, there isn’t much to see in the cinema.

Well, that’s not fully true: there are a bunch of remakes for you to “treat” your eyes to. I even hear rumblings that they want to redo The Breakfast Club. Simply impossible – how do you catch lightning in a bottle twice? The kids would be on their phones all day, secretly capturing videos of each other to post publicly in humiliating fashion for the victims, and that would be that. God, I’m glad the phones weren’t smart when I was in school.

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Internet access and online transactions, they’ve got the gaming landscape torn apart

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country (2018)

There I am scrolling through the game shop – I could have just said the PS Store but let’s face it, this is happening on the Nintendo eShop and the Microsoft Store as well – and there’s all kinds of deluxe editions and add-ons and all sorts that make it difficult to even find the game you’re shopping for anymore. So you dive into one such deluxe listing, to see what kind of game you’re getting for a cool €129.99. It must come with free fellatio, right? A paid trip to that dimly lit Asian massage parlour down the road?

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Ahh, the GameCube… little… purple… different… better

Nintendo GameCube (2002)

I try to make these pieces as relatable as I can, you know, and that really is the key word. Let’s face it, if I told you all about how I was the most popular kid at school, a jocknerd if you like, you wouldn’t find any relevance in what I had to say, would you? But if I tell you I was a loser socially, but the brainy stand-out in an ocean of intellectual pygmies around me, you’d find yourself nodding along in agreement, wouldn’t you?

Perhaps not, but I’ll try to strike as many chords with you as possible. After all, in a world of trends and memes, the biggest crime is to be different. And it seems we’re all used to putting on different faces, moulding ourselves into entirely different personalities, in order to play well with whoever we happen to be speaking to. How else can I be a working professional, while still laughing at farts and giving it the usual locker room talk with the lads?

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Find an emotional support animal and let’s go to the city

Animal Crossing: City Folk (2008)

I’ve never set much store by social norms, conventions and rules, but one thing I never mess around with holiday traditions. There is a strict age and marital status protocol to follow when it comes to booking holidays. When you’re about 18 or 19 years old, or some other age when you’re young, dumb and full of you-know-what, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to go on what’s classically known as the knacker holiday.

This means all the lads flying away together to Ibiza, or Marmaris or Ayia Napa or whatever the chav locale du jour is, 250 quid all in for seven or ten nights in a sweaty shoebox, where it’s vodka in the room, beers at all hours, quick bit of dinner and then away on to the foam party. And if by the grace of God one of you manages to pull, then all the lads will shuffle rooms to give you a bit of alone time with Khrystyna. After that, and after taking a midnight wazz that comes worryingly close to setting the bathroom towels on fire, you’re back on it the next day to smash it. Sounds swell, eh? Great days, and anyone who lived them will miss them.

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Matchmakers these days may find themselves in for a rude Awakening

Fire Emblem Awakening (2013)

I saw a chart the other day which suggested that, as of 2018, almost 40% of people met their partners online, up from the 0.1% of high-tech loonies who did so in 1990. Of course this increase has taken a chunk out of the figures of those couples who met through mutual friends, a figure which has declined to 20% and is still plummeting.

This is a bit of a shame for me, as I’ve always seemed to have a knack for matchmaking. There seemed to be a time when I was always the bridesmaid and never the bride, setting up relationships but never getting an old consolation snog myself, a sort of sweetener for the deal. Don’t they say that the art of good business is being a good middleman? That’s where the returns are, or so you’d think.

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Keep your chin up and maintain your radiance, even as the job market Crits you

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (2005)

We’re at that time again, fellow lemmings, time that I left my job to get a new one. For a start, I can tell you that I’ve never subscribed to this whole theory of never leaving a job unless you’ve something else lined up. I suppose there’s that mature fear where you’ll turn out to be a wee bit less of a tantalising employment prospect than you had thought, which is always a hefty blow. Not to mention it makes the mortgage payment look about ten times bigger.

But you can’t tell me that you just become immediately unemployable on the Friday afternoon that you finish up. The last job I left, no sooner had I given a fairly rubbish speech than I was out the door and in a car, booting to the airport for a drunken weekend in one of my favourite cities, Liverpool. When I got home on the Sunday, I was able to sleep through the Monday while the other plankton had to go to work. It was great – I felt like Ferris Bueller.

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Fancy a Wii whack in the head, old sport?

Wii Sports (2006)

They always manage to get you, do advertisers. We think of advertisers as snake oil salesmen, wearing suits that almost seem to shine. A lot of them tend to look incredibly young, perhaps on a Patrick Bateman morning routine, except their demeanour is impossibly sleazy. They’d never in a million years make a sale, you’d think.

And yet some of them, the best ones, the only ones worth a damn, they prove incredibly adept at delving into your psyche and, crucially, making away with your hard earned cash. Think of a younger, much less foul-mouthed Ricky Roma and you’ll get near to the stereotype.

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Burkey’s waiting patiently for a Pokémon game where you don’t have to talk to anyone

Pokémon Sun and Moon (2016)

No psychiatrist has ever managed to catch me and pin me to their long sofa yet, and if I valued my continued liberty to live my life outside of an asylum, then I’d better keep it that way. I will give you one psychological nugget (surprisingly not the best type of nugget out there) though. Not because I’m terribly arrogant enough to believe you really care what’s going on in my head, not at all. It’s just to give the police a bit of a clue if ever I’m wanted for murder.

Simply put, I am introverted to an incredible degree. Anyone with any level of introversion will recognise at once the idea of recharging one’s batteries after social interactions. Being introverted doesn’t mean you have to be a shrinking wallflower, a strong and silent type or even, God forbid, a boring prat. You can be the life and soul of the party if you like, but you better believe you’ll need that recharge period, that blessed bit of alone time when it comes.

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I’ll Pik minimum work over maximum backache

Pikmin (2002)

So how do you know when you’re old? You could go off physical signs, but they can be misleading. After all, unexplained pains in muscle and joints? I’ve had them all my life, or at least since I turned 18. It tends to happen to me only after nights out, which only adds to the mystery.

But in reality, although I read about people turning 30 and suddenly getting all kinds of aches and pains, I just have to wonder how decrepit they are. What, do we all just collapse past a certain age? I don’t know, I’m in my 30s now and I feel fine. Having grey hair is another obvious symbol of elderhood, but again, I’ve confounded follicle science by having greys since I was 15. And you could never accuse me of being 16 going on 60, could you?

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