Hey, Ben and Clare, are you coming out to play?

Hey guys, sorry about the radio silence – yes, we’re coming out to play, and we’re gonna up our game with this computer-based conundrum. Prepare to be consoled… 

Jon asks…

I am in my forties and the last time I played computer games was in the era of Space Invaders, Vic 20s and ZX Spectrums. Should I try and re-enter the word of contemporary computer gaming and find out what I’ve been missing or stick to my other leisure interests?

Ben answers…

I think a lot of this is dependent on what those ‘other leisure interests’ are. If you spend your spare time helping out at a soup kitchen or running marathons for charity then I would say stick with it, you are doing good work there, well done. If, on the other hand, you count badger baiting and happy slapping amongst your hobbies then allow me to recommend Sonic & Mario at the Olympic Games as a more socially constructive use of your time.

I am going to assume you are cruel to badgers on a weekly basis and that your question is a cry for help of some kind. Taking this libelous and unfounded assumption as a starting point, my advice is this. You must give up all your other interests and dedicate the rest of your life to gaming alone.

You have a lot of catching up to do. To help you I have compiled a top 4 games that you absolutely must buy right this minute, now, Now, NOW!!!

4. Exactly What I Did At Work Today (But With Guns)

A simple concept but beautifully executed (if you will forgive the pun) this game uses the X-Box’s ‘hand-held-recording-wand-thing’ to great effect. The player takes the wand to work and it records their entire day. The player can then plug the wand into their X-Box at home and re-live their day, only this time with an enormous gun in their hand.

“What did you say about my filing abilities? Would you like to retract that statement?”

3. Spanky Handbag’s Massive World of Tigers and That.

When Spanky Handbag first arrived on consoles she was seen as little more than a poor rival to the then ubiquitous Ms Pacman. How times have changed. When Massive World of Tigers and That was released in Japan last year, the queues to buy it were so big they could be seen from space!

 The game is a second generation, four player, first person narrative in three dimensions in which you have to guide Spanky through a maze filled with really big tigers. But there is a twist! The tigers are even bigger than you imagine they might be.

2. Mario & Sonic Go to the 2012 Olympic Games

A sequel to the successful simulation of the Beijing games. This time instead of taking part in athletic events, the various characters from the Mario and Sonic franchises walk around East London tutting at the lack of ambition in the architecture and mumbling about missed opportunities to engage with local communities.

In my particular favourite level you control Yoshi, the loveable dinosaur, and your job is to convince the Olympic bid committee to come up with a logo that doesn’t look like a three-year-old drew it with wax crayons. Good luck!

1. Red Screen

Red Screen is famous for being banned from sale before it was even developed. The idea behind the game is simple: to take ultra-violence to its ultimate conclusion.

The game opens in a shopping mall. You are surrounded by people. You fire your grenade-gun. There is so much blood the screen turns red. It then stays red as you continually fire your grenade-gun.

A red screen and the sound of screaming being drowned out in the din of explosions and tumbling masonry. That is all there is. There is nothing else. This is your future.

So what are you waiting for? All this joy could be yours. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the badgers.

Clare answers…

Contrary to what the young folk might perhaps believe, given my slight technophobe attitude towards certain aspects of 21st-century living like, say, central heating (put an extra layer on), motorised transport (walking and cycling will save you money, save the planet and save your figure), music downloads (nothing beats the persistent crackle of a proper record) and plasma tellies (nowhere for the cat to sit), I was the first person in my gang to get a modern-day games console.

I’d been partial to a bit of racetrack action courtesy Grand Prix Circuit on the ZX (when it finally booted up), so it was love at first play when I got a crack at Wipeout on fifth gen PlayStation. I was crap at everything else, mind, and inevitably got crapper as my housemates started skiving off work to improve their times and unlock new levels. In the 15 or so years since, I’ve endured beatings on PlayStations 2 and 3, Dreamcast, Xbox and every Nintendo from the N64 to the Wii, and have pretty much retired from the sport.

How you’d fare coming in as an older newbie at this stage is hard to say. It’s pretty competitive out there these days and you’ll need plenty of stamina to stay the distance. Perhaps you should join me doing Brain Training on the Nintendo DS. Give me a sudoku over a shoot ’em up any day.

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