Lesson one of chatting girls up – don’t lose your bottles

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Super R-Type (1992)

In any of life’s endeavours, you can make bundles of progress and be just about to seal the deal when one little mistake, one tiny spanner in the wrench, causes the whole enterprise to blow up in your face in spectacular fashion and leave you with naught. I know this feeling only too well.

At the risk of alienating myself from my missus and buying myself, oh, about nine years on the sofa, I tried to chat up girls once upon a time. I wasn’t much good at it. I’d only do it when I was near catatonic with drink, and at that stage anything coming out of my mouth more closely resembled a tortured hyena trying to scream bible verses in Afrikaans. But sometimes, it might only happen once or twice in your life, a golden and almost unbelievable opportunity falls into your lap. And in a darkened corner of that night’s den of iniquity, hovering just at the periphery of our round table full of drinks, there she was.

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Kirby finally made me stop wearing my mother’s clothes

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Kirby Super Star (1997)

When I was doing gaming videos with my pal in a desperate attempt to find YouTube popularity, I made the observation that I’d rather be caught wearing my mother’s clothes than have someone walk in on me playing a Kirby game. I can gleefully tell all you Kirby lovers out there that my partner did not immediately frown and slap me for making such a cretinous comment. Quite the opposite actually – he laughed, I laughed, we patted each other on the back and our anti-Kirby circlejerk continued.

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In his first foray into Maths and Stats, Mario graduates with honours

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Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996)

I spent my college years wandering about in this kind of cynical trance, like Holden Caulfield. Didn’t really have anywhere to go, anyone to meet, so I just sat about writing and listening to music instead. Even if I’d studied or attended lectures, it’d have hardly made a difference anyway. I went to a ‘prestigious’ university, see. And they can’t fail you.

Maybe if you don’t turn up or if you vomit crayon wax all over the exam paper, you’ll score a big fat zero. But write your exam number down, blindly fill in some of the multi-choice questions, regurgitate parts of your earlier assignments that only barely passed anyway, and you’ve pretty much nailed it. See, if they were to fail you, then you’d go down as a negative statistic, harming the college’s reputation that bit more, domestically as well as internationally. And you know what that means? Lowered funding, something more unspeakable to an educational institution than Voldemort and Macbeth combined.

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The moustache saved him four tenths a lap

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Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing (1992 / 1993)

When people ask me who my favourite Formula 1 driver is, to a man (because women never seem interested in asking) they are all amazed when I say Nigel Mansell. By any measure, he is a terrible choice. Why not someone like Nelson Piquet? He was wild, and said what he want. What about Niki Lauda, God rest him, who came back from the dead in 1976? And James Hunt, whose reputation precedes him. Or, from the modern day, big fan favourites like Kimi and Daniel Ricciardo. Stacked up against these characters, Our Nige’s famously boring persona gets magnified and made to look all the more dreary. So why him?

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I used to sleep under a blanket of price-scalped NES Classics

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Star Fox 2 (2017)

Even when the NES Classic was announced, I found a way to be snooty about it. Here was a wonderful, official little gizmo from Nintendo, with a good price point, perfectly replicated aesthetics, and heaps of retro goodness. How could I possibly look down upon it? But you already know that that’s a silly question, because nerds will look down upon anything to suit their own agenda. In this case, I already had a NES plus a lorryload of games that, in any case, were mostly clag, so what was I missing out on?

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Fancy hanging out with Zero? Just remortgage your house first

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Mega Man X3 (1996)

When people ask me how I believe the world is going to end, my cold, dead heart says that it’ll be as a result of some Terminator 2-esque nuclear nightmare. However, my head knows the real suss – and not only that, my head is hugely surprised that it hasn’t happened yet.

Simply put, a rapidly spreading virus, some horrendous man-made biological weapon, is going to get released from a lab whether by mistake or not. It’ll spread like wildfire, but it’ll be one of those invisible fires like you get when alcohol burns. So you’ll be sat down, about to tuck into your Yorkshire pudd, when suddenly you get an instant waft of the sequel to Sarin gas that’ll do you in ten times as fast as any piddly carbon monoxide poisoning. Sounds like a decent way to go out, right?

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Harvest Moon makes us all wish we could marry a hick girl

 

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Harvest Moon (SNES) (1998)

I’ve gone on before about how the farming life isn’t exactly one that appeals to me. You will have driven past fields full of cows and sheep, and smelt the fresh mess coming in through your closed car windows. Well, farmers are quite accustomed to that smell. Some of them even live for it, except they dress it up as “the fresh country air”. Can you believe that? I’d take carbon monoxide every time. Better than that, I’d rather stay as close to electricity as possible and keep my farming fantasies restricted to gaming-based pipe dreams. It’s in this way that I discovered Harvest Moon SNES, and I began tingling in my wellies.

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Being the mayor is easy when you can unleash Bowser at any time

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Sim City (SNES)

After my gig at running theme parks all ended in tears (quite literally, in the case of the nigh-on 500 children who bore the brunt of that exploding roller-coaster), I thought my days of planning and construction were over. I had managed to swerve the law on that occasion, because on the islands we operated from there wasn’t any law. But unfortunately my space-world theme park went up in flames and took my job with it, and so it was back to the dole for me. It’s tough on the dole, let me tell you, a tough plate to keep spinning. Don’t listen to the naysayers, the ones who call us scroungers. It’s a 24/7 type of affair.

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Tweety and Capcom have a lot in common – they’re incessant, yellow, and they’ll bully you all day long

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Mega Man X2 (1995)

One thing from the cartoons that I’ve always wanted to do, apart from being able to travel the world with Misty and Brock, is to float towards food. You know, the succulent smell of a pork roast wafts over to Hector the Bulldog as he rests in his kennel. Eyes closed, nose in the air, expectant smile on his mush, he levitates majestically towards the grub. He might even still be asleep while he’s doing this, a floating toasty cinnamon bun with a rumbling stomach. Then he gets to where the food is, and something terribly disappointing happens. An explosion in his face perhaps, or the house falls down or Tweety throws boiling water all over him.

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All young men need something to scare them straight

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Secret of Mana (1994)

I had a tough start with Secret of Mana. Things seemed so rosy – the year was 1995 and my mother had gone into town with the promise of bringing us home a new Super Nintendo game. What she brought us was the green wonder that is Secret of Mana, a game that was advertised as being like Zelda! That was all I needed to hear. I probably near took the glorious woman’s hand off and clambered up the stairs to play it immediately.

As I often did as a 4-year-old gamer boy, I pressed my little golfball head as closely to our 1970s television as I could without my hair standing on end. Then I pressed the Power button to load up the game, a chilling roar that must have surely come from the bowels of hell blared right in my face, and I screamed to the high heavens and left Mana alone for several years.

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