Monthly Archives: March 2016

Super Mario (Mister) Maker

When you decide to have children, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by a crack team of parenting experts all desperate to impart their knowledge.  This wisdom mostly seems to focus on how little time you’ll have once they arrive. While true in most cases this doesn’t account for the long, stretching timeless chasm of a wintry Sunday afternoon where you desperately try to find some form of entertainment so that you don’t all end up murdering one another.  I believe one such afternoon provided the inspiration for Japanese cult classic Battle Royale.

What nobody mentioned to me was that kids produce an incredible amount of crap.  I’m not referring to actual, literal crap (although both my children do have a knack for generating stools that must account for over 80% of their bodyweight), but piles of stuff that you have to keep hold of until their back is turned long enough so that you can chuck it in the bin.  Plastic magazine freebies that stop working the instant they’re removed from the front cover, fascinating pieces of hedge that simply must be preserved, enough plastic beads to create a scale model of every atom in the universe.  And of course, a mass of drawings, doodles and craft projects whose carbon footprint pose a serious risk to the stability of the Kyoto Protocol.

These take an exceptionally delicate touch to dispose of.  You obviously want to keep enough that you’ve got something to ‘ah’ over when they’re teenagers and they hate you, but keeping and cataloguing everything is a beaurcratic challenge that would require a full-time administrator; something I’m frankly not willing to fund.  I’ll never forget the look on Samus’ face when she spied some of her work waiting for collection in one of the clear recycling sacks (thanks a bunch, council). “Why doesn’t Daddy love me anymore..?” her face seemed to say as her mother drove her away, a single solitary tear rolling gently down her cheek.  That put a spring in my step that morning walk to work, I can tell you.

So what to do?  Monetise it, obviously. Video game box art is almost universally terrible; mostly looking like the absent-minded scrawlings in the back page of a text book belonging to a child the teachers should really be keeping an eye on.  And the standard twatty reaction to a piece of art you don’t like is to say ‘my five year could do that!’; so let’s put it to the test.  I gave Samus a two sentence design brief to produce a cover for each of the games below.  Due to ‘creative differences’ (he’s only 3) Blanka had to sit out of the process but he was handed the unenviable task of producing a snappy, punchy quote for the back of the box.  Over to you, kids.

*Start Heartbeat gallery music*

 

Restnt Evel 4

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“There’s a monster.  AND ANOTHER MONSTER!!!”

“Hai you” shouts a thoroughly pissed off Leon who looks like he’s just about had it up to here with the torrent of increasingly eyed creatures he finds himself up against.  Ashley; sporting the yellow top with red smiley face alternative costume we all fondly remember; calls “help saiv me” which I believe is a direct quote from the game.

 

Fighnl Fantse 7

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“THIS!  IS!  PONGY!”

Jesus, spoiler alert.  Aeris lies dead at the feet of Sephiroth, whose trademark white flowing locks appear to have been replaced by spaniels ears.  Cloud meanwhile wields a sword fractionally less huge than the one he has in the game whilst cheerfully exclaiming the letter ‘H’ for some reason.

 

Street Fighta 3 Thred Stright

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“It’s pumping!!!”

Pumping indeed.  EVO Moment 37, perhaps the most iconic fight in Street Fighter history, is immortalised in Samus’ alternative cover.  Albeit now between two Ryus, one of whom is doing the Hyakuretsukyaku (lightning kick) in the opposite direction. Pah, details.

 

Grand Feft Ortoa Vighs Sity 

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“One man!  One robot!”

Christopher Reid from Kid and Play (thanks Google) flips a gang sign at at a policeman happily collecting some wayward coins.  What’s curious about this box is it’s the only one to feature eyebrows.

 

Baioneta

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“There’s a butterfly.  AND A POO!

I think she might have been getting a bit bored by this point as the level of detail has dropped off somewhat. Still, you can make out the witch whose clothes and attacks are made from her hair and she does appear to be fighting an angel.  An angel from Norfolk maybe, but an angel none-the-less.

 

Raideent Slargun 

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“Pffffft!”

Radiant Silvergun is notorious for the high prices it attracts on auction sites and famously once had the spine card sold for twenty -five billion pounds, but why waste your money when you can have the elegantly illustrated example above; neatly assigning sound effects to each individual bullet?  Blanka’s comments suggested he’s less than impressed; although by this stage he’s critiqued so much box art he’s basically become the video game equivalent of Brian Sewell.

 

Res 

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“There’s a smiley face. And it’s on a block.”

Although perhaps falling a touch short of capturing the intensity of the audio-visual assault that is the synesthetic masterpiece of Rez, this actually isn’t half bad for someone who last saw the game in action when they were nine months old.  I think I might have joked about it possibly causing long term brain damage at the time.

 

Portl 

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“Woooooooooah!  She’s in a cage!”

Blanka’s pull quote might sound like it’s taken from the sad bit in a Meatloaf song, but Samus  has perfectly recreated robo-antagonist GlaDos.  I’m sure anyone who has played Valve’s classic has fond memories of her pilgrim hat and penis shoes.

 

Metl Gil Solid 3 The Snka Eta 

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“Dugga.  DUGGA!  DOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Snake, looking smug as all fuck in his policeman’s helmet, is separated from a ladies intimate toy by an arm doing a green power salute.  I think this is Hideo Kojima’s style in a nutshell.

 

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Crapshoot

In late 2015 I was hitting some serious, phat likage on Facebook for a series of posts in which I stormed round my house, took photos of the piles of crap I found and wrote some snooty, eye-rolling commentary.  This seemed to be most popular amongst mums; which if you’ve read the rest of my blog in which I swear about video games is obviously the exact audience I’m after.

In order to ensure that this treasure trove of snarkyness doesn’t get lost in the flood of Key Stage 2 maths tests that currently dominate my news feed, I have decided to translate the edited highlights onto this here blog.  This is definitely the only reason. It has nothing to do with the fact that writing something new takes time and I’m hopelessly addicted to frantically refreshing the stats on the WordPress back end to give me some small slither of self-worth.

What’s “interesting” reading back on it is that you can slowly see me gain confidence and transform from the timid, hand-half-held-up, please miss pick me, terminally shy guy into the towering inferno of rude words and semi-passable Charlie Brooker impersonations that you see before you today.   It was almost certainly the response to these posts that led to me writing for a couple of gaming sites and setting up this page in the first place, so I guess I should be grateful that my house is a fucking mess.

A slight spoiler, it goes on a bit of a sentimental tangent towards the end. With that warning in mind, buckle yourselves in for the biggest craze to hit social media since that time everyone took no make-up selfies to raise awareness for whatever-it-was.

The Breadbin

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First off I take a peek at this curious collection of items on our bread bin and ask how long it is until we have a documentary crew round fighting past piles of old newspaper and Nick Knowles has to come in to sort it all out.

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Two expired bulbs sealed in a plastic bag. What is this, CSI?

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A tiny purple thing (probably drugs) and an unconvincing forgery of a ten pence piece.

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A Mario badge from the 80s, a purple hair clip and an Invasion Colchester badge. Got to keep hold of those badboys.

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Small connection tools stored on top of the bread presumably to make it easier to hold a sandwich together.

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A house truly becomes a home with some old fuses and watch batteries.

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For entertaining guests at our legendary perfume and lip balm dinner parties.

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A Boggle pencil rendering the missing game unplayable.

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Anyone? Bueller?

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For when we want to catch tiny fish, obvs.

FB_IMG_1456951699451I think this is a little bath.

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A screw in a plastic bag with a purple sticker. What does the sticker represent? This is what excites me about my family. It’s the mystery

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A throat sweet, some diahorea medicine, a couple of Rennie and a syringe for administering medicine for cats. Handily bagged for the family on the go.

 

The Living Room Mantle

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In this week’s exciting episode I take a look at a line of crap rather than a pile.  I will be focusing on the bullshit and will skip past the special or sentimental. When we first moved in I fell in love with the fireplaces, so as you can imagine, I’m delighted with how they’ve turned out.

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Mystery keys with a corset keyring. Fairly certain these aren’t even ours but best to store them next to pictures of our children.

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This glowing ball and bamboo vase combo really holds the room together.

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A single Lego head. I’m fairly certain this is the only piece of actual Lego we own.

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The cornerstone of any living space, a curtain hook, a DS stylus, a plastic fence panel, half a kinder egg toy bike and a ghostbusters badge. Who you gonna call? Not an interior designer that’s for sure! Titter!

 

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Daughter detritus. It may sound mean me calling it that, but Jesus Christ the amount of it she produces.

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A map to Legoland. We’re unlikely to go anytime again soon, but you never know when someone might want to borrow it.

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Oh good. The other half of the kinder egg bike. Separated by the rest by about a metre because reasons. Please note; I am not about to urinate in that potty.

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Who’s this peeking behind the picture? Mum’s secret gin? Nah, secret Olbas Oil. Got to keep that shit under wraps

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‘Has anyone got an old burned out incense stick?’ A familiar call in homes up and down the nation. Well, not round here where we always keep some handy.

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1000 Vietnamese dong (snigger). Never been, never gonna go.

 

The Bedroom

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Ladies and gentlemen; The Motherload. This little collection is brought to you from the den of eroticism that is our bedroom.

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We start the tour with a box to a machine I bought two years ago containing a single, silver bauble. Handy because when it’s Christmas again, this would be the first place I’d look to give our tree some extra pizazz

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More empty boxes, this time two for our his and her phones. Handy if we ever go mad and decide to put the phones away and have an actual conversation.

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The graveyard of fucked books.FB_IMG_1456951852350

The red bag looks like it contains an asphyxiation kit, but the hungry caterpillar merchandise has thrown me off

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A bracelet box containing children’s hair clips. I don’t think my daughter has had her hair up since 2012. Gotta keep them safe though, right?

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….Jesus. I just don’t know anymore

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I’ve tidied this up a bit to get the full impact but we have a hilarious coaster, some expensive looking perfume, body lotion, a lego man (turns out we have more lego than I thought), a candle, a set of drawer legs, a price tag (£7.99 in case you’re wondering) a watch I lovingly bought for my wife, a pump up torch, a bra extender, a set of metallic numbers in a bag, and a download code for Worms Armageddon on the PlayStation Vita.

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And this is what they were all on. The fuck is this shit? No one is going to use them anymore. Might as well chuck them out. Especially the piss yellow one

 

The Grand Tour

So no one told you life, was gonna be this waaaaaaay,
Your house is a pit, of shit,
It gets worse every daaaaaay!

This is our penultimate episode and next time will be the last in the series. Aaaaaaaaaah! But don’t despair! Today I take you on a whistle-stop tour peeking at the pockets of crap that threaten to throttle our beloved family home.

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Above the kitchen sink is where we keep our urine sample jar, presumably unused, and a bottle of homemade Deterr-ant: consisting of lemon juice and cinnamon.  We used this as an insect spray when I was losing my mind because we found a couple of ants in the kitchen

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A small collection of Daughter Detritus tacked to the wall including Kinder Egg nutritional information. I tried to take this down once, never again.

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A glimpse into the darkest depths of a tentacled lovecraftian hell, or a bag of completed art projects hanging on the dining room door? Also tried to tidy this once. It was back within a day

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Sometimes we’ll find a tiny speck of baffling crap. Here, in the centre of the living room carpet, is my wife’s maternity exemption certificate. Expired 2013.

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My daughter’s bedside drawer. Contents ; three pairs of her brother’s socks, hairbands and hairpins (never worn, naturally) a skull and crossbones, a cupcake curtain rail cover and the inlay to The Beatles Abbey Road; typical five year old fare.

 

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Next to the kids bin a congratulations on your graduation bear (I’d have thought I would have remembered that day), yet more ties, a tiny top hat and a solar powered lamp; miles away from the window.

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Ah, my coffee filter. Now home to temporary Avengers tattoos, FUCKING HAIR CLIPS, turtle Pez dispensers and a refrigerator bulb (broken).

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My daughter’s dedicated shelf with a variety of decorative toilet roll middles, a collection of rubber bands she found in the street and ‘her’ books including The Bad Mothers Handbook, old favourite Fast Food Nation, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (handy for when she’s finally diagnosed) and children’s classic Overcoming Social Anxiety.

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My son’s equivalent boasts the kind of hat you wear to an X Factor audition, a bit of polystyrene with a tie fighter on it, a pink plastic plaster, a tiny pair of purple sunglasses and what appears to be a very large and valuable emerald.

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Lastly, placed in reach in the living room (and not stored in the toy boxes they rest on, obviously) a Minecraft bed, a koopa trooper, a felt lion face, a pumpkin hunt map (yes, that’s a thing) and a single adult sized mitten.

 

The Anniversary 

Our very special finale in which we celebrate the day a woman lost her mind long enough to think it was a good idea to marry me. Rather than storm round the house, pointing out the crap so we can all have a big laugh at how disorganised my life has become, I will be focusing on the nice bits and you’re going to bloody well enjoy it, alright?

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The kids memory boxes. Here we keep all the cool stuff they accumulate so that when they’re older they will realise how awesome and thoughtful their parents are.

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This was given to us in Japan by a man that fell in love with us and told us a story over breakfast while banging on the bottom of a coffee pot. It’s about a drunk angel. Appropriate. I’m not entirely sure it’s not upside down.

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We bought this on our honeymoon at the Ice Hotel. At Christmas we stick baubles on it and it looks fucking awesome. It’s a nice reminder that we’re the kind of couple that spends their newlywed time having the insides of their nostrils frozen in minus 45 degree temperatures. Whit woo!

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This is the book in which we right the funny stuff the kids have said. Not all of it, obviously or I’d never put the pen down and I’m pretty heavy handed so I’d do myself a mischief.

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I like to document how much I spend on games, the dates I finish them and my top tens of the year. When my wife found this out rather than subtly calling the emergency services and edging out the door she bought me a nice set of moleskin PacMan books so I could record my slow decent into madness in style. That’s love right there.

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A Buddha glove puppet with a squeaky belly and a Parappa eating fries with a picture of us driving a pink car through bubblegum land. What of it?

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Occasionally, my wife will make something awesome. Here are two examples. Another two examples are sound asleep in their bedroom.

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Yeah, yeah, I know. But I can’t remember an occasion where I wasn’t allowed to geek the fuck out whenever I wanted. Considering the amount of people who complain about their partners not letting them enjoy their hobby I’d say I’m lucky as all fuck

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When my wife was first pregnant I bought her a bunch of flowers. Being a total plum, I didn’t realise they were plastic until I got home. I actually now think it’s pretty cool we get to keep them forever and that’s what I meant in the first place, honest it was intentional, why are you looking at me like that, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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This here is us in a microcosm. I could point out all the things that shouldn’t be here, or the stuff that’s in the wrong place or that it looks a bit messy, but these dining room shelves contain a piece of all of us and I fucking love them. I am very, very fortunate to have stumbled into having a family that amazes me and makes me laugh every single day. And I have one person to thank for it all. June Sarpong. Thank you June.

Not really. I am of course talking about the one person that truly knows me, that sees my weird turn off the telly dancing, that listens to my nonsensical singing, that calms me down when the internet stops working for two minutes and understands why I get so excited on console launch day and play Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ to mark the occasion. I’m of course talking about Dean Gaffney. You’re always on board Dean. You’ll always be on board.

Bixxboxx, you’re my best friend and I love you. Jx