Sunday, 9 June 2013

The sun is out!

Hi, did you miss me?

I have been ill AGAIN. I can't believe it. Honestly, May was terrible for my health. I seemed to bounce from disease to disease, like a promiscuous stripper!

Anyway, to clarify, I didn't post last week due to a visit from Mr. Vomit! It's hard to concentrate on being a creative Jesus when you're bent double over the porcelain! So there.

Right, to business. It's summer! The sun is out and it makes me think back to this:

Which games made me feel the most summer-ish?

By that I mean which titles, from past to present, most put me in mind of sweltering days, hay-fever misery and going through cans of deodorant like a hardcore shoplifter!

These are titles that instantly trigger your mind to conjure images of endless summer holidays, late nights and early mornings, and the general feel of it 'being nice out' as we say in 'The North'.

Ok, in no particular order (except from the random order my dehydrated brain offers them up) these are the titles that occur to me, in my summer-themed outburst! Eat them up, buttercup.

I'm afraid various football games have to be mentioned first. I know, I'm sorry Sister.

Yes, I'm afraid I did used to love football games, but then I did also used to like football. I was young, and chasing a ball whilst avoiding dog stools meant a lot to me. I was pretty good, actually. Made the school teams. Well, I made my primary school team, but was dropped due to staying at home one Saturday to watch cartoons as it was raining out. I grew to become a real man, and ladies love me!

Games such as Italia '90 stand out to me, and my almost-obligatory late '80's worship of a chap called Paul Gascoigne. And look! He had a video game licensed to his face:

Man, I still love free stickers.

This game was terrible. It was a nightmare to get going for a start, and on the odd occasion it did actually load, it would crash shortly after. And there was no way of saving, so in order to complete a season you would have to sit, uninterrupted, for at last 3 weeks. It looked awful too, with black, white & green being the only colours available for kits, scenery, in a communist country!

And the gameplay? Imagine controls that switched randomly, then stopped working altogether, then returned but in reverse format. I'd sit there, horrified, as the heavily-pixellated player under my power would swerve and sprint off the side of the pitch, then stay locked in a perpetual running motion, bumping against an advertising hoarding until the end of time itself. I just stared in wonder!

But it had Gazza on the front! And a free sticker. Those cunning marketing types!

I suppose football is associated with being outside, which is in turn associated with summer, even though football is technically a winter sport! So that explains that.

I'm not really into football much anymore, as an adult I realise that those millionaires don't really care if I'm stood nearby, screaming encouragement at them whilst spitting pie-flakes. I may as well save my time, money and energy for playing video games, that are currently produced by companies that don't really care if I'm playing, posting encourag....oh. I see what I did there. And it was bad.

Anyway, I would have done a bit on the other football game I mentioned, but I can't find a decent screenshot for you. See? Always putting YOU first. I care, man. Forwards, comrades!

Another game that reminds me of summer is the almighty Final Fantasy 7. Do you really need a screenshot/pic of such a legend? Of course you do, you slim cowboy:

Pick a phone number at random from the phone book, dial it and scream those words down the line. Today.

Man, I played this game for a lot of minutes. This is the first and last game I ever rang one of those 'hint' lines for to aid progress. I couldn't find a door or something, turns out it was hidden behind some stairs. That cost me about 18 pounds! I could have bought a slave-chav with that!

FF7 was great. Not the best game I ever drank, but certainly very memorable. All the nice FMV cut scenes, all the summoning of big dramatic monsters, all the exploring, upgrading etc. You could even develop a deadly gambling addiction betting on Chocobo races! Very nice/dangerously realistic!

Now, JRPG's aren't traditionally associated with British summertime, I know. But I remember it being a super sunny summer when I was making my way through this game. I'd be showing up for work absolutely cream-crackered due to playing late. Then, in the daytime, I'd sit inches away from a fan, trying to dry the concentrating gamer sweat as it oozed out of my neck.

And yes, by fan I mean a mechanical device for blowing air around, not a 'fan' as in an enthusiastic supporter of my exceptionally usual standard of writing, sat wearing a giant foam hand, cheering and weeping in anguish when I go to bed. Although I'm sure I have several!

So I include FF7 due to it reminding me of being uncomfortably hot. Which is what summer is.

But the summery of summer gaming award has to go to a game called 'Mashed'. Observe here:

A game made to make grown men brawl in hubris & anger!

June 2004. A flat in Bolton, England. A group of several blokes playing Mashed on an Xbox.

The thing about Mashed was you could, if you so chose, single-out and target one of your pals for an onslaught of unfair punishment in the form of frequently earned airstrikes. These strikes, in the worst case scenario, could end the recipients race. So use of them was regulated amongst us under a code of honour, which was the driver at the front was to receive the pain. Or, if a driver was running away with the multi-race season, he would get the agony until he was drawn back into the contest. See?

Well, this all works fine until someone, for whatever reason, makes it personal. Someone could make the suggestion that an unspoken alliance has been entered into between a pair of drivers, someone could develop feelings of unfair persecution & attention from another driver, someone could even simply want chaos to break out amongst the harmony. And it was easy to make it happen.

To cut a long story short, two of the chaps involved in this gaming session became very cross. And, as the rest of the group looked on with joy, these two grown men attempted to initiate a scrap! The words 'I will take you outside and **** you, you ******* **** if you carry on' actually came out!

Man, it was fantastic for the spectators. We all giggled and silently nudged each other for a good hour afterwards, as the two would-be gladiators simmered at opposite sides of the room! Heaven!

So, Mashed is 'in' because it embodies the drunken stupor of summer get-togethers, when even non-gamers don't mind picking up a pad to join in the fun/undercurrent of aggression.

So, in conclusion, games and summer can be linked if you really want them to. Like this!

Do games take a back seat when the sun comes out? I don't think so.

Is there such a thing as a 'summer genre'? Apart from foot-the-ball titles? I'm not sure.

Can you organise your gaming memories into seasonal categories? Or is that just too much work?

As usual, I have no answers. But at least I tried, what did you do? Sit there and judge me? And what makes you so special? Only kidding, I like that you make that confused face while you read!*

GL & HF!

*If anything confuses you to such an extent you feel nauseous, please stop reading immediately and seek medical attention. 

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