Palace of Tat #1

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People buy and sell some freaky, weird stuff. TMW takes a look at some of the stranger things found lurking on eBay, at boot sales, or in the old ladies’ hunting ground of charity shops:-

you-never-know-what-youll-find-at-the-thrift-shop-26#1 Framed Magnum P.I. picture

I have a confession. For a good long while I thought this was a picture of The A-Team.

But no, it’s everyone’s favourite TV private eye Thomas Magnum and chums! People thought Magnum was a bit of a hunk, back in the day. Not exactly a huge accolade when you consider the other TV detectives of the era; Columbo only had one eye, Ironside was overweight, and Kojak was bald and smoked like a chimney until he gave up the cigs for lollipops.

We also have Higgins, T.C and the other one who’s a bit like Face but not, affectionately resting his arm on Tom Selleck’s broad and hairy shoulders. It’s very sweet, what those two have.

#2 Army of Michael Jordansthe-things-you-find-at-the-thrift-shop-35-photos-36

Space Jam was brilliant. Everyone I knew loved the movie, even though basketball isn’t really much of a thing over here in Blighty. Sexy cartoon rabbits are very much a British creation, however, so you can probably thank Cadbury for Lola Bunny.

Anyway, where did this legion of Tune Squad Michaels come from!?

He’s frozen in a sitting position, so you can only really put him on a shelf or bedside table so he can watch you sleep. His arm is extended like he’s eternally asking for a high five.

I’ll give you a high five, Mike. Because you taught me to believe in myself.

you-never-know-what-youll-find-at-the-thrift-shop-15#3 Sharon, Lois and Bram record

I’ve never heard of these people in all my life. I thought I knew most things, thanks to the internet. It turns out they’re the Canadian equivalent of Rod, Jane and Freddy.

They even have a Bungle analogue in the form of a big elephant which I assume they shot and stuffed while on safari in Tanganyika.

Not to change the subject, but I was quite fond Rod and company when I was a lad, even if they did dress like Betelgeuse (or Beetlejuice, whatever). My mum made me watch their “Say No to Strangers” video again and again. But having never met Rod, Jane OR Freddy, they were strangers too. So I didn’t listen.

I miss you, Old Mum.

you-never-know-what-youll-find-at-the-thrift-shop-31-photos-231#4 Teenage Mutant Hero Trolltles

Someone needs to call Shredder to make turtle soup out of these guys. But it would probably be full of hair and taste like shit.

Turtles were a 90s phenomenon. Trolls were a 90s phenomenon. This is physical proof that never the twain should meet.

the-things-you-find-at-the-thrift-shop-35-photos-12#5 Lucy Lawless… thing. Lantern, perhaps.

I missed out on Xena: Warrior Princess because it was on Channel 5. The average Brit was lucky to get four channels, even then only if the weather was good and you were born after 1982.

The show still has a loyal fanbase to this day, so it must have been pretty good. Xena reminds me a little of one of the Gladiators. I fancied the neon leotards off of those ladies back in the early nineties. Even now the words Jet, Lightning or Saracen send a little tingle through my trousers. (Saracen was a bloke – Luke)

you-never-know-what-youll-find-at-the-thrift-shop-1#6 Gizmo 90-Piece Puzzle

Did Gizmo ever drive a car in the films? I suppose he must have done, it seems like something he would do – if he can dress like Rambo and make a little bow and arrow, then he can drive a car.

But just LOOK at the expression on his face! Holy shit. He’s angry and he means business. He’ll mow you down and reverse to finish the job, just like those guys in The Toxic Avenger.

That’s the way I want to go; brutally run over by a guinea pig driving a pink Corvette Stingray.

you-never-know-what-youll-find-at-the-thrift-shop-31-photos-271#7 Cat in the Brain

More nightmare fuel. I assume this is the Laserdisc version of a film, although the website I stole the image off claims it’s a board game (it seems a bit thin for that). It can’t possibly be as grusome or as frightening as the box claims, even if it was BANNED IN ENGLAND.

But why is the box in English, then? Huh? HUH!?

See, I didn’t watch Magnum P.I. for Tom Selleck’s good looks, y’know.

The illustration is both hilarious and horrifying. The film/game is called ‘Cat in the Brain’ and it seems the artist took that extremely literally. Groo!

the-things-you-find-at-the-thrift-shop-35-photos-20#8 Painting of Two Unicorns

Ahhh… something sweet, at last. As resident unicorn expert I was called upon to analyse this painting. I was asked how you tell the difference between a lady unicorn and a stallion. One thorough and anatomically correct diagram later, the guys said they’d never ask again.

These unicorns are touching horns, which is actually an intimately sexual act for a unicorn and should really be censored.

That is all. More coming soon.

“Leotards Off”

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True Colours

In this wacky world of ours, hate is always more popular than love. People like to point out flaws and complain about things, to cynically pick apart someone else’s achievement and say why it’s a load of crap. That’s human nature.

As a fan of video games, I still like to read (what’s left of) the gaming press, and I’ve found that when releases dry up, they all tend to fall back on “Top Ten Worst” lists. One game that comes up time and time again is Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), although most people call it “Sonic Oh Six”.

Punch that screen!

He’s so eager, he’s trying to punch his way out of the box. Bless ‘im.

The game gets a bad rap on the internet, too, so for a long time I avoided it and went along with the popular consensus. Eventually, though, I decided that talk is cheap and the only way I’d discover the truth of the matter was to play the game myself. And you know what? It just isn’t that bad. In fact, it quickly became one of my favourite games on the console.

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Tails runs from Cream the Rabbit’s house, and therefore the law. For shame!

For one thing, the game is really quite relaxing. It has a tranquil, easy atmosphere and the music will warp you straight to the Chill Out Zone. I have the soundtrack on my MP3 player, it’s that good. Of course things heat up towards the end and they bust out the heavy metal guitar, but this time the lyrics to the game’s theme song actually make sense – there’s none of the mangled English that was to be found in Sonic Adventure.

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“No, Willy! They’ll take you back to Sea World!”

Much like Sonic Adventure, however, the game has “hub” areas that you can explore at your leisure. I really like walking around the pseudo-Italian city of Soleanna just talking to all the different people and listening to their quaint ramblings and non-sequiturs.

Soleanna

These cloud formations are known as “stratocumulus Segalus”

The place isn’t bad to look at, either. It’s blue-sky gaming of the kind only Sega can make. Compared to the bleached-white palettes of Assassin’s Creed (also set in a version of Venice), Sonic ’06 is a visual masterpiece. I’m dead serious. Look at them side-by side – which would you rather play?

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You paid £400 to see games rendered in sepia. Feels good.

In fact, I found that all the complaints leveled at the game are dwarfed when compared to modern releases.

The notorious glitches, for example. I didn’t have a problem with them at all. Some parts lacked a little polish, sure, but the occasional spastic jerk or pop-up is small potatoes when held alongside modern Xbox One and PC games such as Sim City or Batman Arkham Knight that – no word of a lie – don’t work at all.

The infamous loading times, too. They’re unbearable, make no mistake. But the other day I played a game on my mate’s Xbox One and assumed that it had crashed. But no, it literally takes six or seven minutes to load the title screen. And then another five minutes to load the first level. That’s if you’ve got all the latest updates, of course.

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Run! It’s the bestiality patrol! These guys don’t mess around!

The game also gained notoriety for its introduction of Silver the Hedgehog. In truth, he isn’t so bad. I’ve always loved Sega’s characters, be they Tails the Fox, Bean the Dynamite or Vector the Crocodile. Frankly I was disappointed not because of Silver’s introduction, but because he was labelled as a “hedgehog”. Like we didn’t have enough of those already. He also looks nothing like a hedgehog, but then neither does Sonic.

Oooh, one of those glowy things!

Hi Ho Silver, awaayyy! *dies*

Silver has gnarly psychic powers and can use telekinesis to throw objects around levels. It’s rather chaotic, but quite fun once you get used to the controls, which I never really did. My cousin Sam – who has spent his entire life playing games, yet for some unfathomable reason isn’t very good at them – went a bit Rain Man on these levels, however, and took to them like a duck to water (or Adam to a pony’s backside – Luke).

To sum it up – don’t let the haters tell you what you can and can’t enjoy. Some things in life are great, some are truly shit, but most things are completely subjective and you’ll get out from it what you put in.

For those looking for more misunderstood Sonic gaming, I can wholeheartedly recommend Sonic Colours for the Nintendo Wii. It’s more traditional platforming fare, and plays very much like Super Mario Galaxy. But with a Sonic.

That is all.

“Fox Bean”

Once Upon a Mouse…

TMW Presents: Retro Gaming Spotlight

Castle of Illusion

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Everything starts out just peachy for our old friend Mickey Mouse. He’s in a meadow, frolicking playfully with his girlfriend Minerva, having a game of “spin around really fast so Minnie might fall over and I get to see her knickers” when suddenly Mizrabel the witch appears from out of the blue and whisks Minnie away to her castle.

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Her castle… of illusion!

Why she took Minnie is never really explained. We imagine that it was a spontaneous decision that Mizrabel figured she had to see through to the end. It’s a bit like that time Adam smuggled a pony home from Crealy farm. In the heat of the moment it seemed like a good idea, but once he actually had it in his bedroom (and dyed its mane purple) he couldn’t think of anything to do. Well, that’s what the police report said, and we’re sticking to it.

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Anyway, Mickey walks some fifty miles to the castle and is greeted by Obi Wan Kenobi. The old wizard gives Mickey brief instruction to collect seven magical gems that will summon Captain Planet so he can beat Miserabel up. Or something like that, who knows. This game isn’t very clear about who’s doing what or why.

Mickey doesn’t really need any help to rescue Minnie anyway, as the little guy can lift boulders clear over his head and throw them ten yards. Kabosh! No-one knows why he’s so strong, but legend has it that – years ago – Mickey was bitten by a radioactive mouse, thus giving him the PROPORTIONAL STRENGTH OF A MOUSE.

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It’s quite amazing. In the Mega Drive version, Mickey carries around a bag of apples (or maybe billiard balls) to pelt his enemies with. Master System Mickey just rips up parts of the scenery and puts the smack down on the baddies.

You wouldn’t really want to hurt any of the enemies, though. They’re adorable! You meet caterpillars and smiley sweeties, honey bees and sugar cubes. Why make the enemies so saccharine and benevolent, we wonder? You don’t see that in Streets of Rage. It just wouldn’t be the same if Galsia and Y. Signal came at you with chocolates and a bunch of flowers.

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A lover of all animals (*splutter*), fictional or no, Adam steadfastly refused to hurt any of the little critters in the game, and often made guests swear by the same oath. You should see him play through the whole of Time Crisis without fatally wounding anyone. It’s astonishing. Adam makes Ghandi look like General Zod.

Reaching the end of any of the game’s five levels, you’re tasked with defeating a boss. These characters are pretty hardcore and require careful planning and strategy to defeat. If you’re clever, you can trap the giant Chocolate Bar Man (exactly what it sounds like) in a pattern and ruthlessly beat him with a rock.

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Once the boss is gone, you’re awarded one of the seven rainbow-coloured gems that you need to defeat Mizrabel. When you grab it, the game plays a delightful little tune that tickles the ears and makes the battle worthwhile.

The levels themselves are all fantastic. If you have the Mega Drive version, throw it in the bin right now – you won’t be going back to it. On paper the environments sound the same: You have the woods, toy land, chocolate factory, library and the clock world. But they look and play completely differently to their sixteen-bit cousins.

The graphics are bold and charming, the level design clever and challenging without being frustrating, and the music is wonderfully bouncy. You can tackle the levels in any order you wish; a feature left out of the Mega Drive version for some reason.

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The final challenge comes when you reach the castle’s inner sanctum (I never touched her sanctum!! Read the report!! – Adam). It’s a spooky and fiendish place, and will require all your platforming skill to negotiate safely. Before the final battle with Mizrabel, you must defeat a wicked-looking dragon that spits balls of blue fire.

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Mizrabel herself is easily trounced with Mickey’s mighty mouse strength (by which we mean he smashes her face in with an oil lamp), and she repents her sins wholeheartedly and allows Minnie to go free. Like almost every Master System game ever, the ending is a sweet one that leaves you with a smile on your face. And of course, the game thanks you for playing after the credits roll.

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“See her knickers”

 

Mario Maker Review (UK)

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“I stole this outfit from Ronald McDonald’s corpse!”

You probably already know what Mario Maker is about. If you don’t, the name says it all. But maybe you’re wondering if it’s as intuitive and user friendly as we’ve come to expect from Nintendo. Good news for you: it is. We were creating a brand new Super Mario level within seconds of firing the console up. That’s not a figure of speech either. Seconds!

After the title screen the game dumps you in a NES-style Mario level and sets you loose to play. Run with the D-pad, dash with B – so far so familiar. The graphics have a smooth, HD look and Mario has a kind of drop-shadow effect we don’t remember seeing before but other than that it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect.

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All the world’s a stage, Mario…

So anyway, your gaming instincts kick in and you hop the gaps, punch the blocks and make a final leap for the flagpole. Except you realise mid-air that you’re probably not going to make it. Some idiot designer made the gap too big and you’re about to plummet to an early death in the mysterious abyss at the bottom of the screen.

The game pauses and switches to editor mode. By way of tutorial, you’re tasked with filling that death-gap, then switching back to gameplay mode and clearing the level. And that’s about all the guidance you get, a complete godsend after Wario Ware DIY and its seemingly endless tutorial mode. Adam, with his hummingbird-like attention span, still breaks out in a nervous sweat just thinking about that one.

Game creation is a stylus-only affair. You’re free to doss about, drawing blocks, adding coins and enemies, and stretching or rotating level furniture like pipes and the like. If you make a mistake you can use the eraser tool to rub it out. We cracked up when we went to “erase” Mario and he started shitting himself.

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“Don’t-a kill me, wahoo!”

The Ninty magic is back in full force. Everything is done in that tongue-in-cheek silly way that Wario Ware players will find familiar. Old NES sound effects and remixed Mario music accompany every tweak and edit, proving that Nintendo are masters of audio design as well as visuals.

You can create levels in the style of the original SMB, Mario 3, Mario World and New SMB, and switch between them at any time. Gimmicks or items that were previously game-specific will cross over (with one or two exceptions), sometimes taking on new forms in order to fit in visually. It’s amazing how switching between styles can breathe new life into your levels.

The game will occasionally throw some curve balls, and enemies or items will behave in unexpected, hitherto unseen ways. For instance, you can put Goombas underwater or suspend Chain Chomps from moving platforms. If you so choose, you can add decidedly odd HD effects that clash with the pixel artwork.

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You pressed paws! Arf!

The game, outside of the editor, is pretty barebones. Features like uploading and playing pre-loaded levels are accessed from a small drop-down menu in the corner. What this means for you is that there’s no loading and jumping from screen to screen. It’s all business, all the time. Even the title screen is completely interactive and lets you immediately start making new levels.

Our one complaint is that the game gradually drip-feeds new items and level styles depending on how much you’re using it – and no, you can’t leave it running overnight to unlock everything (we tried). You might be absolutely sick of the sight of it before you unlock the clown car or the Princess Peach costume. The popular consensus is that it takes 9 days to unlock everything, and as far as we know that’s the official word from Ninty.

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Adam had to be restrained by seven men once he learned that ‘the pony bums’ weren’t an available item

But…! Stay your hands, baying hoards, before you storm the Kyoto headquarters and demand Miyamoto’s head on a pike: There’s apparently been a patch released in time for the UK launch. No one is quite sure what exactly the criteria are now, but one thing’s certain, the game breaks its own ‘one update a day’ rule. Fantastic!

To sum up, the game is presented with all the finesse you’d expect from a first-party Nintendo title. It makes any game you’ve ever played on your PS4 look like a Sega Saturn tech demo, and it’s so polished it’ll make Mr. Sheen mess his pants with envy.

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You can remake Alex Kidd in Miracle World!

The interface is so intuitive that you can do anything your heart desires without so much as thinking about what button to press or where to click, and the game will constantly charm you with its creative flair and neat little touches. You can effortlessly switch between the different game styles depending on what kind of nostalgia hit you’re looking for, and you’ll probably surprise yourself when you unleash the game designer hidden inside.

TMW Rating: – 4/5

The game loses one point for not having a “Mario 2” mode. Nintendo’s staff evidently don’t consider it a ‘true’ Mario title, along with the rest of Japan, and its unique mechanics (such as not jumping on enemies) wouldn’t fit with the rest of the game. But to the western world, that game was the real deal and we loved it more than the first. Still, there’s a lifetime’s worth of play in here.

“Gradually drip”

Handheld Histeria

Game Com

The Game Com looks pretty ridiculous now, but back in 1997 it was hot stuff. In fact, I became rather smitten with the thing and yearned for it day and night, just like that little filly at Crealy Farm. However, just like that little filly, all it got me was a broken heart and worried looks from my friends and family.

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I also touched the Game Com in new and interesting ways!

Joking aside, it was pretty advanced for the time. I was most interested in its “personal organiser” functions; it seemed like something I could take to work. If I’d had a job.

It could even go on the internet and stuff if you plugged it into a modem. Which you wouldn’t. Because why would you own a modem if you didn’t already have a computer with which to check your email anyway? Continue reading