Enjoy the sound of chewing tinfoil, as Sonic goes down the drain

Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball (1993)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I hate pinball. Saying such a thing would have been considered sacrilege in the 90s, or 80s, or basically any other decade without widespread internet access. The idea of a pinball table is great… in theory. As a form of entertainment found in the arcade, it leans much more heavily towards a mechanical rather than a computer operation.

This is good, at least, because it means the whole thing will never become non-functional thanks to some stupid glitch or file error – it’s far more likely to be that the skeletons’s head is stuck in the closed position. It’s a double-edged flipper though, because unfortunately pinball technicians are in about as short supply as stained glass designers for Notre Dame cathedral, so it ain’t ever getting fixed.

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Toffee breaks ’em down, whether they’re solid or frail

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Sonic Adventure (1999)

I’ve done it. I survived my recent set of trips to the dentist, the first in about 8 years. Nothing short of a medical emergency brings a man back to the dentist after 8 years, but things got desperate. Not to disgust you too much, but one of my fillings popped out of my mouth, with the telltale ping of an M1 Garand. Well, it wasn’t so dramatic as that, but it’s a bloody weird feeling when it happens.

I wasn’t too bothered with that, though. I’m a hard man, of course, so any sort of discomfort from my teeth was just something to be treated like a pitiful challenge to my godlike body. A computer not doing what it’s told, an email that I wouldn’t answer, a teeny electric shock from an appliance. Something that a man needs to be bigger than.

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The fastest thing alive meets the drunkest man alive

Sonic 3D Blast (1996)

It’s happening, you know. I’m finally getting to the part of my life that everyone told me was going to happen. Through the arrogant veil of youth, which I wore as a protective cape, I always believed I could stay ahead of this, but my number’s up: my hangovers are getting pretty bad. I’ve not quite arrived at the dreaded two-day hangover stage just yet, though even I’m not that hotheaded enough to think I’ll be entirely immune to it, though maybe there’ll be a tradeoff from the fact that I could never do two nights of drinking in a row, even in my student days (i.e. pre Nat King Cole days when I wouldn’t have had the finances anyway).

I doubt it very much though, and I must sadly predict that in less than five years’ time, my drinking career will be over and I’ll be tearfully telling everyone about it at some house party (now called a dinner party) while clutching my second and last wine glass of the evening, all of us secretly wishing we could just get home and go to bed.

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Meeting Go Live with the fastest thing alive

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Sonic 3 & Knuckles (1994)

Now that I’ve nestled my career within the vast cargo pants of Information Technology, I find myself tasked with leading projects and deployments and integrations various. But I’m not a project manager, in the same way that when asked, Amsterdam’s finest say they’re not prostitutes – they’re “sex workers”. It’s all about avoiding a potentially dirty title.

Here’s how it all goes down. Somewhere, sometime, a salesperson has beaten a potential client’s door down and persisted at it long enough to finally push the client’s decision-makers into a heartbreaking decision to buy the software. “OK, we’ll take your product,” they whimper, knowing that they had no choice – their fate would be either death by CEO or death by a thousand sales emails.

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Picture Jerry Seinfeld, painted blue and with spiky hair

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Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

I make sure to tell everyone who listens that I’m a 90s baby. And believe me, there are some ghastly pretenders out there who’ll call themselves 80s or 90s babies – even when they were born in December ‘99. These fools don’t even remember the Y2K bug, for heaven’s sake. Although I don’t remember any kind of bug like that either, to be honest. Something about the clocks in computers being all wrong. How’s that something worthy of global panic? They should have a word with my microwave oven, if they wanna know all about incorrect times. Fancy some nuclear sausage rolls?

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It’s nice to look after the environment, but give us back our plastic straws

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Sonic CD (1993)

I know the environment is on a collision course to apocalypse land and that we’re killing the icecaps, and wringing turtles’ necks with six pack plastic rings. But what do you want me to do about it? Vote for the Green Party?! No chance. You leave it to them, and we’d all be stuck going to work in an ass and cart. They’d make us ration the amount of times we can flush the toilet each day. And fancy a straw or two for your freshly made G&T at the end of a long week? They’ll have you hauled over the non-GM coals and set alight with free-range fire.

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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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I graduated at the bottom of ninja class

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The Revenge of Shinobi (1990)

It was a tearful experience for me when I realised that ninja was not a viable career path. I couldn’t even choose to study it in college. Basket weaving yes. Harry Potter yes. Even sociology, yes. But no modules on shurikens, ninjutsus, swordplay, kais, nunchuks, jet black clothing… they’re all massive gaps in my knowledge to this day. Uncle Monty wistfully made his eventual conclusion that he would never play the Dane. And I too had to come to terms with the sad fact that I would never be a Shinobi.

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You can’t be a tough guy until you’ve walked a steady pace down Dublin’s Talbot Street

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Streets of Rage (1991)

When I see tourists around Dublin city I am left dumbfounded. Now, I’m not going to hit you with all the self-loathing and culture cringe that often occurs when someone talks negatively about their country. But what exactly are these tourists doing? If someone asked me for Dublin city recommendations, I could hardly even give them the ideal pub or club to go to, because I don’t know any myself. I do know some great Spars and Subways. A CEX or two. I know some of the bus-stops. I even know where there is a 24 hour library. But what do the Germans and Japanese think to themselves when they come here? Apart from “Das golly-gosh Hilda, this place is sehr expensive.”

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Top 6 Most Stressful Times in Gaming

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Top 6 Most Stressful Times in Gaming (2014)

I often see gaming being described as a ‘relaxing’ pastime – some sort of carefree pursuit where you can just sit down of a balmy Sunday afternoon and feel all of your troubles wash away as you indulge in a pleasant, non-taxing game. Right? Doesn’t that miss the point somewhat? Just as every story needs its conflict, every game too needs its challenge to keep things interesting. But again and again, you find yourself in these special kind of situations that absolutely nobody enjoys ploughing through.

I’m not simply talking about a dastardly water level, or running out of ammo, not those kinda easily-manageable, ‘shut up and get on with it’ situations. I’m talking about scenarios that sadistic game designers just love to put us in, because they know it ain’t easy for us unwilling gamers to get through – stressful situations, in other words. Here are six of THE most stressful situations you can find yourself in, those truly fubar situations which you’ll recognise at once, because they crop up all the time in all manner of games. Please do enjoy!

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