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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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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My dear Gaspar, history is for the anoraks

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Chrono Trigger (1995)

Alright, philistine time: I was never much interested in history. You’re better off making history than studying it, right? It was great when we got around to studying the World Wars in school, though. Men love war, and those two were the best rammies of the lot. Unfortunately the curriculum in Ireland is a bit slow to update, and the history books when I was in school never featured 9/11.

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Space travel? No thanks, it’s a bit too chilly for me

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Star Ocean (1996)

Look, I can understand it, but it still really astounds me just how many children want to become astronauts and go into space when they grow up. They don’t know anything about what that entails, of course. They just want to wear a cool suit and they think space is cool and they think rocket ships and meteors and lasers are cool as well.

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The ultimate test of mettle? Never mind Ironmans or Strongmans – just hop in a go-kart

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Super Mario Kart (1992)

That Mario lad seems to get everywhere, doesn’t he? You’ve got to give him his dues, because for a portly fellow he doesn’t half play a lot of sports. I make that football, tennis, golf, basketball… when I picked up one of the NHL games for GameCube I half-expected to see Mario’s fat head pop up alongside the realistic players, come out with a reused voice sample and then score a gorgeous penalty.

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Travel is a wonderful illusion, until you get to Egypt

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Illusion of Time (1995)

How do you know when somebody’s gone to see some wondrous tourist landmark? They tell you about it immediately and without prompt. If not to your face, then by way of a dozen distinctly amateur social media photos per decrepit building. No sooner will somebody have been to the Eiffel Tower than they’ll have scored dozens of Likes and Favourites and Retweets or whatever else from a tap-in of a scene, a real freebie to photograph and make social media currency off. And no sooner have they visited the Grand Canyon than their dung-eating grins become twice as wide as the Canyon itself, while they self-indulgently regale you with facts that they made sure to Wiki beforehand.

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