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Retro Subscription Boxes

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The phenomenon of subscription boxes is not new. Whether you’re into beauty products, a foodie, t-shirt fanatic, obscure anime enthusiast or love your role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, then you will be able to throw your fun tokens at regular subscription boxes delivered to your front door!

The basic concept is thus: pay a monthly subscription fee and receive a reoccurring made-to-measure box or parcel in whatever niche you love! Simples.

Being a huge retro fan (obviously!) I have dabbled in the likes of big names like Loot Crate to level up on my geekiness and “Shut up and take my money!” type purchases. However, I have recently come across UK based subscription boxers (I just made that up!) called The Retro. It does exactly what it says on the..box!

You can get up to 5 retro related treats covering vinyl, cassettes, comics and gaming ranging from 1960s – 1990s. All you have to do is a join a club!

What you need to know!

  • Every month you will get 3 – 5 treats tailored to your interests

  • Earn Retro Reward points with each purchase

  • Refer a mate and get £10 credit

  • Retro members can win big prizes each month

  • Worldwide shipping

  • If you receive duplicates then you can get involved with their Facebook Swap Shops

  • Students get 20% off

  • Supersize your box with add-ons if you need a more intense retro hit!

Nowadays it’s all about convenience because our level of lazy is spiralling out of control! Yes, you can still find the magic in trawling through charity shops, retro gaming conventions or raiding your parent’s attic! But you also can have a team of nostalgic nerds send you a monthly, authentic present customised especially to your vintage taste! So, if you have that warm wistful glow in your belly, and you’re not quite sure where to start your trip down memory lane, check out The Retro!

The Nostalgia Project: Talking About The 90s

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After one too many coffees and re-runs of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air my mind went wandering to a simpler time where adulting didn’t exist! After one magnificent brain burp I came up with this silly ditty in homage to my much loved 90s childhood. I’d love to go back to 1993 just for a day… and dream about what I want to be when I grow up! Sometimes a little bit of nostalgia is necessary to just tickle you in the feels for no real reason at all!

Enjoy…!

10 Iconic and Classic Sitcoms From the 1990s

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There were many superb TV comedies from the 80s, however if you were an 80s child like me, you were probably too young to watch them. Especially in front of your parents and the one giant television you had stationed in the sitting room!

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It wasn’t until you hit your teens and somehow wangled a TV in your bedroom, that you were able to watch the classic sitcoms from the 90s. And probably Eurotrash! The show that boosted your teenage sexual awakening!

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One thing I loved as a kid were the nights sat at home avoiding my homework and watching comedy shows. So here are 10 of the best TV sitcoms from the 90s if you fancy taking a stroll down memory lane!

Desmonds 1989 - 1994

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Synopsis: Desmond and his wife Shirley own a barber shop in Peckham South East London. The Channel 4 comedy revolved around family life with his three children and his mates Porkpie and Matthew.

This program was huge in my household as there were not many mainstream black British shows on back in the early 1990s. My parents are also from the Caribbean, so my older brother and I basically felt like we were the Ambrose family, minus the barber shop!

 Absolutely Fabulous 1992 - 2012

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Synopsis: The fun, frolics and outlandish behaviour of best friends Edina and Patsy who were played amazingly by Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders. Watching middle aged women with full on alcohol addictions navigate the world of PR and their own personal lives, was always funny as hell!

Father Ted 1995 - 1998

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Synopsis: The misadventures of three Irish catholic priests. Father Ted, Father Dougal and Father Jack and their housekeeper Mrs Doyle on the fictional Craggy Island.

I have a confession… I never watched this as a youth! I know I know!! Burn the witch! The first time I saw an episode was when I moved to Ireland as I felt like I was blaspheming if I didn’t!

2Point4 Children 1991 - 1999

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Synopsis: Following the life of the Porter family who prove that there is nothing really ‘normal’ to their seemingly average family. Hilarity obviously ensues!

The Vicar of Dibley 1994 - 2007

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Synopsis: The life of a female vicar Geraldine (played by the hilarious Dawn French) and the strange but loveable characters in her fictional Oxfordshire village Dibley.

Fun fact: Dawn French received hate mail from male religious folk/idiots who had issues with her character being… a her! **insert eye roll here**   

Men Behaving Badly 1992 - 1998

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Synopsis: Follows the juvenile exploits of flatmates Gary and Tony and their girlfriends Dorothy and Deborah. One of the innovators for typical 'lad behaviour’ in the 90s!

Keeping Up Appearances 1990 - 1995

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Synopsis: Based around the eccentric character Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!) portrayed by the brilliant Patricia Routledge, who is always desperately trying to prove her social class superiority even though her family are far from upper class.

One Foot in the Grave 1990 - 2000

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Synopsis: Centred around the grumpy Victor Meldrew with his classic catchphrase, “I don’t believe it!”

(The older I get the more I can relate to this guy!)

Drop the Dead Donkey 1990 - 1998

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Synopsis: Filmed close to transmission (to add a level of realism), this comedy show was about the fictional TV news company GlobeLink News where they would use real life contemporary events in the news as part of the funny storylines.

Bottom 1991 - 1995

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Synopsis: Starring the late great Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, as flatmates Eddie and Richie living in Hammersmith West London. The basic premise was watching the leads who are fairly gross with little morals, concoct crazy schemes to get women to have sex with them! The show was known for being all about slapstick (sometimes brutal!) comedy mixed with dodgy humour you probably shouldn’t have laughed at… or ever watched in front of your parents!

The Best Instant Cameras 2019 : Which Instant Camera Is The Best?

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In a world where we consume everything at speed with the patience of a 5-year-old who needs a nap, instant cameras don’t seem like such a crazy idea. The likes of Polaroid cameras were hugely popular in the 1970s and 1980s. But after the dawn of the 21st century with the explosion of digital and of course smartphones, grainy blurred prints from retro cameras were out and shiny new tech took over. Owning a retro camera with physical film that god forbid you had to install yourself was seen as a niche, hipster hobby for ‘those creative folk’ with an ironic dress sense who live in a house share of twelve people in Brighton! Probably. Yet today, instant cameras are becoming more popular as an alternative to unimaginative smartphones, so finding which one would best suit your budget, capabilities and personality is important.

Why buy an instant camera?

So you can “shake it like a Polaroid picture” of course!

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BUT alas no! Because if you do this you will actually mess up the print. I have a Polaroid Sun 600 and upon discovering the art of instant cameras I shook my expensive developed film with much enthusiasm… and realised I absolutely fecked it! There are however other fine reasons why buying an instant camera is actually worth it.

One of those is the theatrical display of seeing an image you have taken materialise in real time. No matter how old you are, watching a blank piece of photographic paper being spat out of camera and then slowly explode with colour, is a magic trick that never gets old. An instant camera takes out the OCD habits of expecting a picture to be 110% of pixelated perfection. There is no quick delete button as you retake your girlfriend’s pain in the arse photo shoot, she has forced you into! You hit the shutter-release button and whatever is produced is minus the safety blanket of “hold on… wait… I wasn’t ready… delete that… do it again!”

Owning an instant camera is all about keeping things simple. Another pull for these types of cameras is being able to hold a photograph in your hand and display it somewhere that isn’t online. So many of us now have albums of thousands of photographs on our phones that simply never go anywhere except for social media. Sometimes it’s just nice to be able to adopt the ‘old skool’ methods of developing a photo and putting it on your fridge door! For me, life exists past the filters of an Instagram photo. So, having images of my loved ones scattered around me is crucial.

Which is the best instant camera to buy?

You’re in luck! Here are my top 5 best instant cameras for beginners!

If you’re looking for a fun entry level instant camera, then you need to check out the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9. This camera is powered by two AA batteries and it’s a cheap option for those looking for a simple intro to instant print cameras. It’s super easy to use and comes in a range of attention seeking colours! It produces credit card sized prints (6.2x4.6cm) and you can get 20 prints in a pack that will set you back around £15.

Film type: Fujifilm instax mini

Image size: 6.2x4.6cm

Lens: 60mm f/12.7

Min shooting distance: 35cm

Flash: Built in

Exposures: Sunny, Cloudy, Indoor and Hi-Key

Pros: Fun colour range, Easy to use, Selfie mode.

Cons: Bulky and plastic looking, Flash can’t be deactivated, Easy to obstruct the viewfinder

If it’s larger prints you want, then the Fujifilm instax WIDE 300 is the chunky monkey that you need! This camera requires four AA batteries which is necessary to power the older larger sibling in the instax range from Fujifilm. Looks can be deceiving as it is fairly light despite the bulk, but I wouldn’t suggest taking a selfie with it! The photo dimensions are similar to that of standard prints at 99x62mm so you are able to produce photographs that look like the generic size we are used to. A set of 20 films will cost around £17.

Film type: Fujifilm instax WIDE

Image size: 99x62mm

Lens: 95mm f/14

Min shooting distance: 40cm

Flash: Built in

Exposures: Dark, Normal, Light

Pros: Simple to use, Large prints

Cons: Chunky plastic design, Small viewfinder

If you want to marry the old with the new when it comes to instant print technology, then a Kodak Printomatic might be your pick. The iconic yellow-white design of Kodak looks very cool and feels a lot more solid and put together than other pocket or mini instant cameras on the market. This camera uses ZINK technology (zero ink) and essentially acts as a mini printer producing prints slightly smaller than the size of a credit card. (2x3 inches) It also houses a microSD slot and a USB connection so you can charge your Kodak. The prints are water-resistant and will cost around £25 for 50. The only thing with this instant camera, is that the photographs do not emerge as if by magic like the other cameras, they are churned out more like a photocopy which for me somewhat loses the fun.

Film type: ZINK

Image size: 2x3 inches

Lens: 8mm f/2

Min shooting distance: Unknown

Flash: Built in

Shooting modes: Colour and Black & White

Pros: Portable, MicroSD card slot

Cons: Prints resemble photocopies rather than actual photographs

If you’re a hopeless romantic when it comes to owning retro-styled items, then Lomography has always been a winner when it comes to their vintage inspired cameras. The Lomo’Instant Automat is slightly more advanced than the other contenders, but it’s still an entry level point and shoot instant camera. This instant print camera is run on CR2 batteries instead of the easier accessible AAs and it is started by turning the lens barrel. There are various editions to this Lomography model, all of which sets the bar high for looking like a more expensive instant camera. The Lomo’Instant Automat takes the same film as the Fujifilm instanx mini (6.2x4.6cm). Whether you are wanting to take a selfie or snap your cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, this camera isn’t worlds away from its Fujifilm instax mates mentioned above. It’s all about the look! I think the Lomo’Instant Automatic would be chosen purely on style.

Film type: Fujifilm instax mini

Image size: 6.2x4.6cm

Lens: 60mm f/8

Min shooting distance: 35cm

Exposures: Auto, Bulb

Flash: Built in

Pros: Uses the same film as the Fujifilm instax mini, Looks retro AF!

Cons: Small viewfinder, Uses CR2 batteries.

Last but not least we have the instant camera that comes from a long line of innovators in the family of instant print. Polaroid is like Sellotape. It may just be the name of the brand, but when people talk about instant cameras, they will reference it as a Polaroid camera even if you’re holding a Kodak or Lomo. If you’re wanting a piece of the Polaroid pie, then look no further than the attractively retro Polaroid Originals One Step 2. The original Polaroid brand may have folded with no longer producing the films, but this instant camera should satisfy the nostalgic nerds amongst you! This design is inspired from the 1977 OneStep but boasts a couple of modern upgrades like a USB port for charging. This renewed Polaroid OneStep produces square format prints measuring 108x88mm and uses Polaroid I-Type and 600 film. This unfortunately means that you will be paying a lot more for film than you would with the other instant cameras out there at around £15 for just 8 films. But if you are wanting to dip into the charm of a retro inspired instant camera from a household brand, then this Polaroid is a no brainer!

Film type: I-Type or 600

Image size: 108x88mm

Lens: 106mm

Min shooting distance: 60cm

Flash: Built in

Focus modes: Macro, Normal, Landscape.

Pros: Simple buttons, Ace retro design, Self-Timer.

Cons: Film is expensive.

Macaulay Culkin Recreates Home Alone Scenes!

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Home Alone is easily one of the best Christmas movies ever. Yes I’ve said. It’s out there! A family comedy classic that still makes me laugh out loud every time Marv gets smashed in the face with an iron! It was this 1990 film which made Macaulay Culkin super famous at such a young age which subsequently led to this…

BFF with MJ?! Really? So much awkward here!

BFF with MJ?! Really? So much awkward here!

That swiftly followed with this…

Remember that one time when he divorced his parents!

Remember that one time when he divorced his parents!

And then after years of not hearing his name and truly believing that you made up the entire existent of this once child film star… you get images like this!

Not his best look :/ Just say no!

Not his best look :/ Just say no!

BUT it would appear that Culkin is back looking healthier and fresher than ever with this new Google Assistant ad. Cue the childhood feels… NOW!!

Analogue Mega Sg Lets You Play SEGA Mega Drive Games in HD

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You can now play your old SEGA Mega Drive games on your HD TV lag-free! Imagine!

Analogue first came to my attention with the super sleek aluminium Nt Mini which is a luxury version of the NES Mini. Unlike the various clones of the NES Mini on the market it wasn’t an emulation. It played all your old Nintendo and original Famicom games plus various add-ons and extras where you could essentially customise the console in look and sound. With the success of the Nt Mini and Super Nt, Analogue have now set their sights on SEGA with the Mega Sg, and I for one am way too over excited!

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Due to be released in March 2019 and costing around £150, you can get your preorders in now. There is no need to drag out a heavy CRT TV to experience retro gaming, as you can now play in HD without losing out on video and audio quality. The Mega Sg which can play over 2180 classic cartridges, will make the knock off retro gaming toys out there look very silly!

I am a big SEGA Mega Drive fan. I transitioned straight from the daddy of retro game consoles, Atari, to a Sinclair ZX Spectrum to a 16-bit revolution with a Mega Drive. Yes, I had my dalliances with a Nintendo Game Boy and enduring chronic thumb fatigue playing Track & Field, but receiving a Mega Drive for Christmas with a 6 in 1 game cartridge with the likes of The Revenge of Shinobi, Columns and Golden Axe was and still is my happy place.

Here’s the science!

This bad boy is NOT an emulation machine like the other plug n play systems. This means no lag with video output and 1080p Hi Definition graphics all engineered with FPGA technology. The FPGA is a chip that simulates the original Mega Drive hardware instead of an emulation with software. The audio packs a 48KHz 16 bit stereo which essentially means the sound is upscaled to the highest digital quality. So no more complaints of distorted, variations of sounds when you’re trying to beat those “I only have one move” flying kick bitches in Streets of Rage!

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The use of such high-end tech and precision engineering allows the Mega Sg to be free from compromises allowing you to play all the games as they were intended to be played all those years ago.

“We design systems to celebrate and explore the history of video games with the respect it deserves,” – Analogue.

As well as SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis cartridges and of course the Sega Master System, you are also able to use an original Mega-CD with the Sega Sg. There is a connector concealed in the expansion door that allows you to plug in and get going!

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Analogue are all about preserving the rich gaming history of old skool video games and the consoles of our childhood, so of course they have thought about everything! And by everything, I mean, game cartridge adapters for Game Gear, Mark III, Sega MyCard, SG-1000 and the SC-3000. So, you can play even more retro games and avail of the sophistication and accuracy of FPGA.

With the Mega Sg you can use your old SEGA controllers but if you don’t have them then you will unfortunately have to purchase the control pads separately for roughly £20. But that’s not so bad as Analogue have super fancy wireless 8bitDo M30 controllers that come in black in white… and they look the business!

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I know I know, historically speaking wireless controllers used with retro gaming consoles have always been a taboo matter, mainly down to the fact of the annoying lag you can experience with gameplay, but these wireless 2.4GHz control pads (not Bluetooth) are lag-free. Of course! Even though I have original Mega Drive gamepads, I still think I will purchase these… because reasons!

If you’re a SEGA fan and you want to invest in a bit of tech that we make you cry nostalgic tears of joy… then you need to hit up Analogue post haste!  

General Spec of Mega Sg

Colours

*USA, Europe, Japan and White.

Dimensions

*138mm (L)

*168mm (W)

*47mm (H)

 What You Get in the Box

*Analogue Mega Sg

*Analogue SEGA Master System Cartridge Adapter

*USB Cable

*HDMI Cable

*USB Power Cable

 Compatibility

*Mega Drive/Genesis and Sega Master System Cartridges

* Game Gear, Mark III, Sega MyCard, SG-1000 and the SC-3000

*Mega-CD

*Region Free (PSU: 100-240v, 50-60hz)

 Audio

*48Hz 16-bit

*Digital audio via HDMI

*3.5mmm Headphone Jack

 Video

*HDMI 1080p/720p/480p

*NTSC and PAL Support

*Zero Signal Degradation, Lag Free

 Special Features

*Original styled controller ports for Mega Drive/Master System

*Original connector for Mega-CD

*SD Card Slot for Firmware Updates

 8BitDo M30 Game Controller – 2.4g Wireless Receiver

*20hr Battery Life

*Auto Sleep Mode After 15 Minutes

*Lag-Free

 

10 Fabulous Retro Prizes From Bullseye

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Game shows in the 80s and 90s played huge roles in weekend telly watching. It was a time when you only had four channels and you were probably the remote control as a parent made you get up and manually change the channels. Imagine! The classic Bullseye was a Sunday afternoon treat! A darts inspired game show with an animated mascot called Bully, that ran from 1981 to 1995. It was hosted by comedian Jim Bowen with an intro that went a little like this…

The basic object of the game was to throw a few darts to see what you could win! Ok, so there were more rules and penalties and pounds for points, BUT all in all it was about the excitement and thrill of… darts!

See! Absolutely delighted with life!

See! Absolutely delighted with life!

But most importantly, it was about the prizes! Here are my top 10 picks of amazingly retro Bullseye game prizes!  

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INNNNNNN One – A music system with a couple of ‘gold’ pens.

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Because I’ve always thought, “do you know what would be really lovely when I’m trying to record the top ten off the radio… some pens.”

Two – A neon flashing phone.

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In fairness, we all wanted a novelty telephone at some point in our lives! If it wasn’t the ‘cool’ plastic see through phone, it most definitely was the burger phone from Home and Away!

Three – An elegant carriage clock.

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If your mum didn’t have one of these kicking around the sitting room, was she really your mum?!

Four – It’s a cuddly toy!

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I mean sure. Soft toys are nice, but I’d probably swap it for the phone.

Five – An electronic knitting machine.

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I would be 100% furious if I won this. Jim mate, you’re taking the piss.

Six – A set of encyclopaedias.

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Unless that vintage bookshelf comes with it, then I’m just not interested Jim!

Seven – A 14” TV

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Now we’re talking Bully! A telly suitable for your bedroom so you could watch Eurotrash in peace!

Eight – Wedgewood Dinner Service.

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Oh good. Another set of crockery that your mum will never let you use because they’re super fancy.

Nine – Luggage.

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Winning ugly luggage sounds as much fun as winning an STI.

Ten – A speedboat! Of course.

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I always loved the nonsensical giant leaps from winning an electronic knitting machine to a luxury, and entirely unnecessary speedboat! Like how the feck was Barry from Ipswich going to get that home on the bus Jim?!

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Why Is Retro Gaming So Popular : The Science Behind The Fun

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The average age of someone who identifies as a retro gamer is apparently 34 years old. And by ‘retro gamer’ I mean someone who likes to get overly animated when it comes to the old skool classic consoles of Atari, Sinclair Spectrum, Amiga and of course the more well-known Nintendo, SEGA and Sony PlayStation. Playing video games that date back to the 1980s and 1990s is not just an aimless meander down memory lane for those who are hiding from the 21st Century. (well… ok… sometimes this is true!) It’s more about the nostalgic feels that makes us warm and fuzzy as we indulge in our whimsical childhood memories. Memories of button bashing the hell out of Street Fighter or advancing through levels of Sonic resonates with the adult version of you.

The earliest game console came on the scene in the 1970s. It was called a Magnavox Odyssey and was the first commercial home gaming console. The monochrome screen brought the delights of the classic game Pong. In the late 70s/early 80s you had the explosion of Atari with such titles as Asteroids, Centipede, Breakout, Pitfall and the first game I ever played, Frogger. You may have also embraced the 8-bit likes of a Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum or Amiga. And then moving into the 1990s there was the great console wars between SEGA and Nintendo.

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As we entered the 21st century, ‘old’ gaming consoles were considered obsolete and terribly uncool with many folk opting for technological advancements with enhanced graphics, better audio, faster processors and the need for an immersive, layered story when it came to their gameplay experience.

We’ve come a long way from the simplicity of Pong to the latest stunning visuals of Zelda!

We’ve come a long way from the simplicity of Pong to the latest stunning visuals of Zelda!

Collaborative games became ‘a thing’. Online gaming was where the party was at… And if you could play games on the move from your mobile phone, then you were winning at life. Convenience and speed were considered paramount in a world where we desperately needed to experience every-damn-thing in real time. Nobody had time for loading a game anymore or troubleshooting a heavily pixelated frozen screen by blowing into the cartridge!

The big game developers were consistently creating award winning games and even indie game studios were regularly releasing huge hits. The gaming industry was doing just fine… but as if from nowhere, people began dusting off their old childhood consoles and scouring the internet for second hand classics.

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There was a resurgence in vintage items and memorabilia, and with that forgotten names like Atari, SNES, SEGA Mega Drive and Gameboy were once again thrust into the public over 30 years later. What the hell was happening and what brought this huge wave of popularity with retro gaming??

Money

Some say that the expense of modern game consoles like Xbox, Switch and PlayStation are making the 30-something year olds revolt back to simple, cheaper forms of gaming. To be a modern gamer you have to be willing to spend your fun tokens on add-ons, expansion packs, upgrades and in-game purchases just to complete a game. Whereas old skool gamers can play a retro video game from start to finish with only being out of pocket for the price of the game itself.

Resilience

Durability is also a huge pull for vintage video game systems. You should be able to dig out a SEGA Mega Drive from hibernation in the attic with a little wipe, and then kick off a game immediately. Whereas the newer gaming consoles would probably have a system meltdown if you tried rebooting it after it was dormant for 20 years. There is a warm reassurance you get with older game consoles that is completely absent from the fancy pants machines we have now.

Superiority and Simplicity

Another argument is that the old games and consoles from the 80s and 90s are just better and gamers are simply favouring these over the modern titles. It’s not just about the technology and build of the games and the consoles, but also about the characters like Pac-Man, Link from Zelda, Sonic and Mario who all captured the imagination of an entire generation which can be lacking in contemporary games. Yeah sure the graphics are immense… but if the narrative sucks then what’s the point? Many retro gamers also champion the simplicity of gameplay from back in the day. There were no online video tutorials or walk through cheats to download. You had three lives and you kept on going no matter how hard and fast the game evolved.

All of the above are of course factors in the ever-rising reputation of retro gaming, but I think it’s the power punch of nostalgia that has made us want to rekindle the magic!

Nostalgia is understood to be a mix of bittersweet emotions both negative and positive. They are anchored to memories of meaningful events and intrinsically linked to relationships. There are also two main triggers. External triggers can be a song on the radio throwing you right back to a school disco or a smell which reminds you of Sunday lunch at your nans. Internal triggers are the emotions that are brought on by feelings of boredom and loneliness. The number one thing that nostalgia has been proven to do, is to promote well-being and mental health especially for those living with dementia.

The force of nostalgic marketing is fierce! Gaming companies jumped on the idea of bottling nostalgia and they did it well by reproducing old consoles with new tech like the SNES Mini and SEGA plug and play consoles. You could now play 16-bit classics on a modern HD television with wireless controllers if you wanted to. It was seen as the picture-perfect marriage between old and new. When Nintendo released the NES Classic in 2016, they sold out of all 2.3 million of them. This Christmas the classic Sony PlayStation mini version will be available and is already tipped to be just as popular.

We get excited about classic video games just like we do old films and music. Kids of the 80s and 90s are now reliving their youth through fairly inexpensive retro game consoles, and we are now old enough to be able to afford the art of playing! The pleasure of indulging our nostalgia has paved way for the huge hype in all things retro with no clear signs of it being ‘Game Over’ anytime soon!

 

 

Why Subscription Boxes For Geeks Are The Best

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If you’re not a retro nerd enthusiast, then this website is probably not where you want to be right now! But for those who like to swim in the sea of nostalgia and laugh out loud at childhood memories from the 80s and 90s, then please deposit your fun tokens here! There’s a rising appreciation for all things vintage that leaves a warm fuzzy feeling inside. In an age where we are drowning in new technology, social media and the digital desperation to stay “on trend” and current, there is an affectionate revolution especially amongst the 1980s kids, for analogue, youthful memories… and I fully support this! Nostalgia marketing is popping up all over the place and so it wasn’t long before the business of subscription boxes got in the mix!

How do monthly subscription boxes work?

Essentially, you’re signing up to a lucky dip box posted through your letterbox every month. Subscription boxes are an e-commerce business model that offer an ongoing regular delivery of certain items in a niche industry. Depending on what you’re into, whether it’s men’s grooming kits, anime or gluten free snacks, you can receive a bunch of goodies as a fine present to yourself or as a gift for someone else. One highly popular niche is geeks and gaming which can cover anything from board games, graphic novels and video games.

One of the most popular monthly subscription boxes that excited a lot of gamer geeks and comic fans is Loot Crate. These nice folk offer subscription boxes for pop culture collectibles, anime, WWE, gaming apparel, official Marvel stuff and even J K Rowling inspired wizardry products. All you have to do is pick your crate/box, Loot Crate then create a pick n mix bundle for you and you get a new delivery each month (or a card from the postman saying they tried to deliver even though you were home the entire time!)

Now as some people may or may not be aware of, I am a huge geek for retro t-shirts. It’s an illness that I quite enjoy… like salad cream sandwiches! There are so many amazing designs that tickles me right in the nostalgic feels that I just can’t help but purchase as many as I can. (Aaaand then weep ever so slightly at my overflowing wardrobe space!)

I needed them all because… reasons!

I needed them all because… reasons!

Now what would be awesome is marrying the idea of original-geeky-retro-inspired t-shirts with a subscription box! Please enter… Monthly Tee Club!

These guys based in the UK offer various no contract options with the fab t-shirts they ship out each month. Simply tell them your interests, and they will work their tee magic for as long as you want to be making your mates jealous! You only pay the monthly fee and then simply crack on with being a bit of a legend!

Pros:

  • If you truly believe that the gift of tees are a burden on your life, then cancelling your subscription is always a super easy option. (The wrong option… but still!) So, you won’t be put on hold, fobbed off with radio silence, endure guilt-ridden emails or have some muppet trying to up-sell you alternatives or a timeshare in Tenerife!

(Fun story: I tried to end a phone contract once. It didn’t work. I ended up with another mobile phone and a MiniDisc player!) 

  • Referring your pals gets you a free t-shirt! We all like free stuff!

  • The box of t-shirt goodness fits through the average letterbox so you don’t have to schedule a fictitious doctor’s appointments just to stay home and await your parcel!

  • Monthly Tee Club are all bout charitee! Every month members of their Tee4aTee Project are subscribed, the team will donate a t-shirt to someone who would benefit from fresh clean clothing, something that we all take for granted. This little high five and support to those who really need it makes Monthly Tee Club a brand we all need to get behind.

 Cons:

  • If you’re away on your holidays there is no current way to pause your subscription.

  • You will have numerous envious people stopping you in Tesco asking where you got your tee from!

 

The Best Misheard Lyrics From The 80s & 90s

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There is nothing quite like maxing your speakers to your favourite old skool song (from when you were able to get up off the sofa without hurting something!) as you perfectly execute a few choice dance moves… in your kitchen… while holding a cuppa… and getting a stitch because you’re no longer 17. You then scream the lyrics as if shouting makes the hideous display of your crumbling youth any better! Kitchen dancing is one of my favourite pastimes. So is singing wildly out of tune to my Spotify playlists that are full of 90s hits from pop to RnB, 80s power ballads and that one time I experimented with Metallica and then realised I was too black for that! Some people say, “Hey Shem, what new music are you listening to?” and then I reply, “Hey friend, sorry I couldn’t hear you over Gangsta’s Paradise from 1995!”

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My other favourite pastime is misheard lyrics. There is an actual science to mishearing song lyrics and it’s called Mondegreen. There is essentially a breakdown between the sound and the part where your brain tries to interpret the sounds and give it significant meaning. If the sound is unclear, then this then opens up an ambiguous area that needs to be filled with pure guess work. With song lyrics there is usually a lot of noise to get through especially if you are listening to a tune on a radio for example because you can’t see the singer’s mouth. Throw in various different accents, stresses on words and the ‘joy’ of musicians forcing certain words to rhyme, it’s no wonder our brains get muddled and take creative liberties with lyrics!

After chatting to some friends, I pulled together the top 10 best (and funniest) misheard lyrics from the 1980s and 1990s all for your viewing pleasure!

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit 1991

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What you hear: “Here we are now, in containers!”

The actual lyrics: “Here we are now, entertain us.”

 

Boyz II Men – I’ll Make Love To You 1994

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What you hear: “Pour the wine, like a child!”

The actual lyrics: “Pour the wine, light a fire.”

 

Corona – Try Me Out 1995

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What you hear: “Tie me up! Please baby tie me up!”

The actual lyrics: “Try me out, please baby try me out.”

 

Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer 1986

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What you hear: “It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not!”

The actual lyrics: “It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.”

 

Bryan Adams – Summer Of 69 1984

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What you hear: “I got my first real sex dream!”

The actual lyrics: “I got my first real six-string.”

 

Gala – Freed From Desire 1995

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What you hear: “My love has got no money, he’s got his trampoline!”

The actual lyrics: “My love has got no money, he’s got his strong beliefs.”

 

Will Smith – Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It 1997

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What you hear: “Kick a chicken with it!”

The actual lyrics: “Gettin’ jiggy wit it.”

 

C+C Music Factory – Gonna Make You Sweat 1990

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What you hear: “Everybody’s dead now!”

The actual lyrics: “Everybody dance now.”

 

Spice Girls – 2 Become 1 1996

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What you hear: “Wanna make love to your baby!”

The actual lyrics: “Wanna make love to ya baby.”

 

Robert Palmer – Addicted To Love 1985

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What you hear: “Might as well face it, you’re a dick with a glove!”

The actual lyrics: “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”

5 Classic 80s & 90s Scary Films With Twist Endings

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It’s that time of the month where people get aggressively passionate about their favourite scary movie. Some go for the classic sweet childhood feels of Hocus Pocus, others mention how the first Scream movie formed part of their teenage years, and then you get those who take it far too seriously and tell you about some obscure Japanese film that is not only terrifying but banned in 76 countries! Either way, Halloween is upon us and with that comes spooky themed blog posts that yell, “I’M TRYING TO PARTICIPATE IN SEASONAL MERRIMENT! but I also have a hangover so please be patient with me!”

I’m personally frightened of films that are certificate 15 or above! (12A can sometimes go a little too far but I power through!) The scary movies of the 21st century thus far are usually too messed up for me because they’re the kind of stories where you genuinely think the bonkers scenario can happen to you. Yes sure, I can be dragged to hell or possessed by a demon BUT I can also have my white girlfriend’s family lull me into a false sense of security so they can try and implant their brain into my black body!

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I prefer the scary movies of the 1980s and 1990s because I can usually distract myself by focusing my energy on the holes in the far fetched storyline or the excellent 90s fashion choices of the cast.

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It’s always easier if I can somehow intellectualise the plot by saying, “that would never happen because… a) her heels are too high b) he definitely would have noticed that bloody hand print on the wall or c) black people would never go and investigate strange noises in a basement!

I’m not going to list my top 80s or 90s scary films, I am however instead going to mention 5 movies whether horror or thriller with a punchy “WTF I didn’t see that coming!” ending. **This blog post is littered with spoilers… but the fact that these films are at least 20 years old makes me think that you only brought this upon yourself as you should’ve watched them by now!**

Se7en 1999

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Plot: Starring the slightly above average in the handsome stakes Brad Pitt and the vocal god of all narrators himself Morgan Freeman, comes the story of two cops trying to bring down a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi. The movie is spiralling into an epic climax until box-gate!

Twist: A delivery van drops off a box containing Pitt’s character wife's head.

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The killer (Kevin Spacey) then confesses that he did so not just for shits and giggles but because he was envious (the sixth sin) of their family life. Now after seeing his wife’s head in a box, Pitt using his wrath (the seventh sin) shoots the psychopath dead, which is exactly how the killer orchestrated this whole messed up predicament in the first place.

Scream 1996

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Plot: A lot of attractive high schoolers (who are clearly in their 30s but are being casted as teenagers!) are picked off one by one by the serial killer Ghostface. This film directed by horror legend Wes Craven, popularised the teenage slasher movies of the late 90s and brought a sense of satire and dark comedy often taking the piss out of original horror tropes and movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th.

Twist: There is not one killer… but TWO! You assume that it’s just one mentalist but it’s in fact two friends perpetrating the same sick game.

Friday the 13th 1980

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Plot: A lad named Jason has an unfortunate accident at Camp Crystal Lake. Soon after, two counsellors are murdered so naturally the camp is closed down (because that’s just a media shit storm everyone needed to avoid)! Jason's body is never found. 22 years later, the camp reopens, only to have someone casually killing counsellors once again. Has Jason returned…?!

Twist: The killer turns out to be Jason’s mother Mrs. Voorhees… But wait, there's more! The last standing counsellor, Alice, kills Jason’s mum. Job done. Sorted! BUT as she goes for a light paddle in a canoe, Jason's now decaying body jumps out of the water and drags her under. The police eventually pull Alice out, but Jason is nowhere to be found… until the next sequel!

Sleepaway Camp 1983

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Plot: A simple film about teenagers at another summer camp (I sense a theme!) who obviously begin to mysteriously get murdered. The main protagonist is shy, introverted Angela who is bullied by basically everyone. This movie is laughable with the same quality, dialogue and direction as one of your dad’s home videos of a family holiday to Lanzarote in 1988. It is however infamous for the best/most ridiculous slasher movie twist purely for the big reveal at the end.

Twist: Angela is in fact a boy! He’s called Peter and has been brought up as his dead sister by his eccentric aunt! Totally normal. Sure. The final scene shows “Angela” stark bollock naked revealing his male genitals, whilst holding the severed head of his latest victim.

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The Sixth Sense 1999

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Plot: A child psychologist tries to help a cute young boy who thinks he sees the deceased. This movie directed by M Night Shyamalan is still renowned for being that one film which stumped a lot of viewers as the clever ending tricked us all! And of course the line “I see dead people” is instantly recognisable and has been parodied many times.

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Twist: The psychologist (Bruce Willis) is in fact… A GHOST! He just never knew he was dead. And neither did we damn it! And those who sat back with a smug look on their face and said they totally saw it coming… are liars!

Retro Gamers Buying Guide For Beginners 2019

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Whether you have a nostalgic itch to scratch or you are a serious retro gamer who laughs in the face of the mini classic consoles that have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, there’s no getting away from the fact that retro gaming is big business right now. Personally, I fall into the retro geek camp of 30-something year olds who yearn to stop the ageing process by playing with games from my childhood… because adulting is just too hard! I’m not an expert on the technical spec of every old school video game console from 1977 and I’m not going to scoff at those who have jumped on the bandwagon of retro gaming in recent years. I own an original SEGA Mega Drive because it epitomises my childhood and I’m a sucker for nostalgic marketing! But I also have a SNES Classic Mini because my motivation behind playing video games has always been fun even if it comes in a teeny tiny all in one game console that fits perfectly in the palm of my hand! If that kinda logic offends you then…

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My point is, however you wish to get your pixelated kicks is up to you… because retro gaming snobbery doesn’t live here!

The accessibility to retro gaming has never been easier but I understand that deciding to invest in this hobby can be slightly overwhelming with so many options and opinions. Plus, there’s the eye candy distractions of gaming rooms like these, where you convince yourself that you need immediately! (You don’t. Chill out!)

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You also want affordability when settling on a particular console of yesteryear. One that will suit your budget, because we’re at the age now where we have bills to pay! So, this guide is aimed to help the novice amongst you who want to effectively figure shit out before they throw fun tokens at experiencing the classic gaming world again.

The Original Purist

If you just want to jump right in and you are an all or nothing kind of person, then getting your hands on an original game console is where you want to be. The best way to experience vintage video games is to go straight to the source of origin which means investing in the genuine game cartridges, accessories, controllers and of course the original Atari, NES, SNES, Mega Drive or perhaps Sinclair ZX Spectrum! This route is considered more for those who are into the idea of being a serious game collector and not for those who just want to dick around for a few hours playing Mario Kart for sentimental reasons.

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Obtaining a classic gaming system with all the peripherals is fairly simple especially on the interweb. The likes of eBay and Amazon are the obvious big online merchants to find second hand retro gaming goodies, but look out for sites like Gumtree, Adverts.ie or a quick Google search to find gaming specialists in your area. I prefer the face to face transaction from those who actually know what they’re talking about like the guys at The R.A.G.E in Dublin rather than rudeboy_92 from some obscure online forum who over uses emojis! You can also look into retro gaming exhibitions and events near you like Retro Games Fair or Play Expo Manchester which essentially brings together a load of gaming enthusiasts under one roof, including retailers who are showcasing a lot of retro consoles and games for you to pick up and take home. Winner!

Just be aware that if you are wanting to go all guns blazing down this route, you will have to invest a few quid financially. Original games in decent condition are considered rare and so will come with a higher price tag. You also need to consider the space and storage for your multiple consoles and a possible CRT TV.

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The majority of us have a fancy HD television sat in our living room which now come without such trivial things as an ‘archaic’ scart connector. Imagine! So, if you’re resolute about the bona fide gaming experience that comes with a retro game console, then you’re going to need the old school kit to go with it. And a HD telly is just not it! Most serious gamers who play original video games have a CRT TV like you had when you were younger. This is what the consoles were designed to be played on so if you’re wanting authenticity, then this is the best way to enjoy it. You will also not be able to use a light gun which you would use to play classics like Duck Hunt on the NES because that will not work on a modern LCD TV.

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Just be wary of trying to marry old tech with new tech, because when your AV TV scart cable for your SEGA Master System doesn’t match with your 65” Smart HD TV with laser beams and a unicorn, there will be tears!

All in One Game Consoles

The all in one retro game console has been boosted in reputation over the last few years with the big names in the gaming world bringing out their own plug and play retro consoles. Notably Nintendo with the SNES Mini Classic which had people salivating with excitement over its release and now the new PlayStation Classic which will be here in time for Christmas. They both come with around 30 memorable and popular in-built games and mimic the look and style of the original consoles and controllers but with upgraded parts made for your modern life. For example, USB ports and HDMI connections.  

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I find these little bad boys fab for the part-time retro gamers out there who are looking to relive your youth without the commitment to an original retro gaming system as mentioned above. The only drawback is that with the all in one console like the SNES Mini Classic, there are no straight forward work-arounds of playing your old game cartridges. The miniature consoles are just an attractive model version. Unless you are a bit of a tech whizz and know how to jailbreak it in order to load more games onto it, then you are stuck with the pre-installed games.

The only plug and play game consoles that are designed to accommodate your old game cartridges, seem to be the Atari Flashback with 101 games installed and the SEGA Mega Drive that has 80 games ready to go. This to me makes perfect sense and it’s a shame that Nintendo and Sony have not allowed this magical hybrid to happen.  

All in One Video Arcades

If your idea of retro gaming is heading to the arcades with a pocket full of coins and button bashing until your heart’s content, then getting yourself one of these mini arcades could suit you best. Not only can you have up to 1000 classic retro games pre-installed on one machine, but you also get to experience the look and feel of having an arcade in your home. Let’s face it, they look awesome! There are various models on the market from legitimate brands but some unfortunately are a poor man’s version. For example, there has been comments about duplicated games on the system so you’re not getting the promised number of games as advertised or there’s a lag in gameplay where a cheaper joystick has been installed. To distinguish between the good and bad, I would suggest that you read all the reviews available to you online before you tap in your card details. These types of plug n play video games are on the pricier side due to their optimised hardware, gaming catalogue, size and of course the stylised graphics.

You will also have to consider where the hell you will put this in your gaff as they’re not as portable as a mini SEGA Mega Drive with a couple of dangly controllers. A mini arcade will be more of a permanent fixture that can’t just sit on the dining table!

Emulation with RetroPie

This option is very popular amongst the hardcore gamers who like the idea of a DIY project where they have control over what games they play and on which platform. Essentially, an emulator simulates the original gaming hardware from all the great retro games consoles like Nintendo, Atari, SEGA, Commodore etc. It can play infinite amount of classic games and with the help of the RetroPie app that can be installed on a Raspberry Pi, you can have all your childhood games stuffed into one neat computer! The actual games remain untouched in quality but if your emulator doesn’t replicate a true likeness to the original game, for example if it runs at different speed or the audio is off, then that’s when it can cause issues. 

The reason why so many gamers enjoy emulators is because they get to tweak and customise the gaming system to their liking. You can add Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities and even use your controllers from Xbox or PlayStation. There are also tons of guides and helpful YouTube videos to get you setup and troubleshoot any problems you may have.

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The only real downside for using a retro gaming emulator would be the fact that you have to build it yourself. It is more powerful than an all in one game console with a few built in games but with great power, comes a lot more effort and fiddly parts! You also have to be careful about illegally downloading certain games from the big names like Nintendo. This is technically piracy and gaming companies are becoming more vigilant with stopping users downloading ROMs that they don’t own.

5 in 1 Consoles

Now in theory these appear great and convenient for those who require flexibility and are on a budget. The idea is that instead of having many retro game consoles you can just have the one universal console that can play more than one gaming platform. It’s like a Swiss Army knife of consoles! However, be careful as logic suggests that the more games you can play on one system, the more that will inevitably go wrong with it. If you have one machine that is dedicated to playing the compatible games that it’s designed for, then you’re looking at a better quality of gameplay. If you know that you will be playing specifically one retro system, then get the console which supports that. However, if you don’t want to invest in various different game consoles and you genuinely have a vast array of games for different systems, then these 5 in 1 may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Points to Remember

  • If you’re buying an all in one type plug and play game console, don’t get too carried away with the modern advancements like a wireless controller. These can cause problems with gameplay and they tend to lag. Go for connected controllers or the originals.

  • If you are wanting to go for the full retro gaming experience, then you need to consider space in your home to accommodate this hobby. A gaming room/den might be necessary with appropriate furniture and the correct storage in order to keep your consoles and games in tip top condition. Dust is the number one killer of vintage video game systems!

  • When you’re scouting for new games it’s best to go to a dedicated retro game retailer rather than a random seller on the internet. This is because you are much more likely to be purchasing the genuine article with original hardware and not a knockoff emulation.

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10 Awesomely Ridiculous 80s & 90s Fancy Dress Ideas For Kids

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Halloween is here any minute now and with that comes watching Hocus Pocus on loop whilst being wrapped under 14 blankets on the sofa. Your phone is beeping but you’re still casually ignoring your Whatsapp messages of some Keen Ken who is trying to organise a Halloween party that you have no interest in because a) that requires leaving your house! And b) fun doesn’t live here anymore!

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So, what do you do to get yourself in the mood for all things spectacularly spooky? Dress up a small person in a fancy-dress costume from your childhood of course! Why? Because you’re an adult and they have zero say in the matter. Plus, imagine all the Instagram worthy photos you can take of your little darling purely for the entertainment of you and your friends! #parentinggoals

Goonies Sloth

Hey You Guuuuuuuuys! The Goonies is a classic 80s film that only fools would find something wrong with. Persuade your child to ditch the latest superhero character that all their friends are imitating. (And if they begin to have a full-on meltdown at your dictatorship, tell them that one of their toys is possessed by the spirit of a maniacal, disfigured, Japanese, orphaned, drug addict, who will haunt them in their sleep if they don’t get their shit together!) Encourage your little ones to stand out from the crowd and be their own superhero… let them be SLOTH! Yes, he’s not as handsome as Captain America and he can’t lunge real low like The Black Widow, but Sloth CAN save a bunch of entitled kids on a pirate ship! So, your move Marvel! 

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man

The original Ghostbusters is a solid 1980s benchmark of a movie that lives in the memory of every 80s child. Especially every 80s child who was Forest Gumping their way through puberty and felt sexually intrigued by Dana/Zuul.

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The cast ensemble is superb, the concept is amazingly bizarre, and it spawned many young folks boldly declaring that they wanted to be a Ghostbuster when they grew up! However, don’t go for the obvious with this fancy dress outfit as that’s too easy. Go for the one character in the film that nearly destroyed New York City. It’s all about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!

Mario

This little Italian plumber has been kicking around since 1981 and is one of the most recognisable faces when it comes to retro gaming and Nintendo. I know your child probably doesn’t care enough and is flipping you the finger whilst scrolling through their expensive iPad you bought to pacify them, but this fancy dress costume should win prizes! And if it doesn’t, then I think a strongly worded letter to whoever is in charge of this shit show of a fancy-dress competition should do it!

Oompa Loompa

Raise your hand if you feel personally victimised by the strangeness of the original Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory?! (And yes, I am fully aware that this is from the 1971 film but this was a staple in my childhood so I’m ignoring it!) Now if these small strange beings still make you feel ever so nervous, then this Halloween outfit for kids will work out perfectly for your small person. I’m also fairly certain the bright orange face paints will ruin all your soft furnishings in the house… but that’s what you signed up for with this parenting gig! Destruction and mayhem.

Yoda  

I mean. Just look! This Halloween costume is perfect for babies and toddlers because they get to work the cute factor while simultaneously having no idea what the hell is going on! The words Star Wars are just incoherent sounds to an infant, but to those indoctrinated into the way of The Force, this is geek goals! If anything, this Yoda fancy dress costume is enough to make us all point, laugh and coo “that’s adoooorable!” while your small child laughs at the ceiling, cries for no reason and shits themselves.

Chucky Doll

I’m not going to lie. I’ve watched maybe 10 minutes of the film Child’s Play and decided that it was a magnificently giant NO from me because I just can’t cope! We all know the horror story of how a doll comes to life and murders people just for LOLS, so why not bring the essence of an iconic slasher movie to the youths of today!

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If dressing your child as a serial killer is not your bag, but you wish to drown them in glorious memories from your childhood, then The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a pacifists dream! Where we lack in scares, we gain in cuteness! This was a favourite book of mine when I was a kid and now as an adult I only have respect and admiration for a gluttonous caterpillar who eats its way to beauty! #FitLife #FitFam

Edward Scissorhands

This Tim Burton fantasy costume is always a fab go-to when it comes to Halloween. It’s a quintessential look that is easily identifiable, and if it’s pulled off then it’s just the right shade of scary… but in a friendly hairdresser kinda way! Although Edward Scissorhands is meant to be male, this outfit is re-imagined for a girl because sometimes us ladies want to look dark and cool. (Not covered in pink or frills or… projecting heteronormative gender roles!)

Beetlejuice

Another Tim Burton dark comedy classic that does the rounds every Halloween. Beetlejuice is a much-loved movie that scared the crap out of me as a child but also made me love it in equal measure. It’s time to make your little ones decide if the smutty, crude, poltergeist will actually scar their tiny impressionable minds, or will they embrace him and laugh out loud. Nervous laughter is also ok! Either way, this fancy dress outfit is all kinds of awesome and needs to be seen!

Toby From Labyrinth

You remind me of the babe! If your child is not even walking yet and you want to participate in the peer pressure Halloween dress up but you’re feeling incredibly lazy, then this stripy onesie is a winner! Toby is the baby from the definitive 80s film Labyrinth and he is the reason why shit gets real and people nearly die in order to save him… while he’s off having his jollies with the Goblin King David Bowie! You can dress your cute person in this red stripy number and recklessly throw him or her around the living room whilst dancing! Fun.

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Retro Game Review : 112 in 1 Sega Mega Drive Game Cartridge

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So recently I came across a product on Amazon that I rolled my eyes so hard at I’m fairly certain I sprained my cornea! It was a Sega Mega Drive game cartridge for 112 games in 1.

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The fact that it was £15 made me think that it was nonsense, or it was full of 112 obscure games with many many duplicates. As described, the game is for only genuine Mega Drive consoles and not compatible with the all in one Sega emulators that also take cartridges. So, as I have an original and I was clearly procrastinating the crap out of my day, I figured I would read on. And by read on, I mean check the reviews.

It has an overall rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 but scrolling down the product page, there is a mixed bag of 1 and 2 star reviews muddled with a handful of 5 stars. My spidey sceptical senses were tingling especially when some folk were saying “Avoid, scam!” or “If I could give this a 0 star I would.” But, my disregard to flaws and always wanting to fight for the underdog, I decided to trust the better reviews and throw money at it because it was payday and I was a little drunk! Yay drunk online purchases!

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And let’s face it, 112 Sega Mega Drive games for 15 quid does sound super attractive.

A few days later my game arrived in an Amazon cardboard envelope. There was no fancy packaging just the cartridge wrapped tightly in bubble wrap and a small plastic bag.

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I eagerly booted up my Mega Drive, inserted the game cartridge… and I honestly waited for it to either blow up, melt or just show me a black screen with ERROR stamped across it! However, once loaded I simply was greeted with the menu of a shed load of games.

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As I scrolled through, I recognised some classics from serials like Streets of Rage, Shinobi and Sonic. But as I got further on in the list I realised that I had stumbled into no man’s land of games I had never heard of. 

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I decided to ignore that for now and figured the only way to see if this was worth anything, would be to actually play it! So, I started with Streets of Rage 2 and I quickly realised from being a die-hard original Streets of Rage fan, why I never really liked this sequel. But apart from my loyalty to the original game, there was nothing abhorrently wrong with the gameplay. The soundtrack still made me feel like I was tripping out in a Japanese electronic dance club, and there appeared to be no glitches. Winner so far.

I then hit restart and played the classic Sonic the Hedgehog. I wanted to see what it was like compared to my original Sonic game in audio and picture quality. I took a couple photos and videos for comparison and then tried to detect any differences.

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I couldn’t find a difference between the original Sonic the Hedgehog and the Sonic installed on a cartridge stuffed with 112 games. Now I’m not a pro retro gamer. I have never pretended to be completely schooled in the fine art of vintage video games. I play because it’s fun and I rarely pay attention if the graphics or audio are slightly amiss from the original. As long as the gameplay is good then…  

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After my little test I scanned through the list a little more and got far too overexcited at a few Sega platform games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Captain America. However, I would need more procrastination tokens to give these games a real go.

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In conclusion…

Pros of 112 in 1 for Sega Mega Drive Game Cartridge

If you’re a casual retro gamer like myself looking to pass some hours for nostalgia’s sake, then this is a great 16-bit buy. When you think that a standalone game can be easily upwards of £20, then £15 for a fair few decent games is bargain town! It’s a fab little journey down memory lane for all you button bashers who enjoy keeping active by consuming alcoholic beverages whilst screaming at your TV screen!

Cons of 112 in 1 for Sega Mega Drive Game Cartridge

If you’re a purist retro gamer, then you probably will hate everything that this stands for! The cartridge does look like a dodgy rip off from Wembley Market circa 1995! And yes, you do get some classic games like Contra, Golden Axe and Double Dragon to dick around with… but you also get a load of games listed in no particular order (which will ruin your OCD!) that are also spelled like someone sneezed!

Overall rating: A solid 7/10

The N Word Project: Music Therapy For Dementia

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We’ve all been there. Aimlessly staring out of the window of a bus with our headphones on, watching the raindrops chase each other down the glass as we genuinely believe that we’re in a music video! And then all of a sudden, a song from our youth leaks into our consciousness and unexpectedly makes our heart thump with pleasure. The first few bars, verse or an 80s power ballad key change evokes a feeling that is impossible to replicate at will. It’s a song that punches you right in the adolescent feels and you bloody love it!

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Music has the extraordinary ability to transport us all to a place usually in our childhood or a vivid nostalgic memory. It triggers a scene in your head where you can not only see the moving pictures, but you can feel the raw emotions that particular song has sparked especially if the memory is a sad one. I can still hear Blackstreet ‘No Diggity’ blasting from the car stereo of a lad’s Ford Fiesta after I told him I fancied him when I was 16… and he responded with turning the volume up! The salty sting of humiliation is still strong 20 years later!

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The idea of a ‘memory bump’ or a ‘reminiscence bump’ is a psychological term used to determine the age at which we would have likely had an emotional connection to music. This has been identified as being between 10 – 30 years old with a higher concentration of memories in our early 20s. For example, if someone wanted to unlock my brain and pin point the type of music I instantly resonate with (that could also potentially make me fall off a treadmill at the gym in a euphoric frenzy), it would be 90s RnB with a little bit of early 2000 cheesy pop from my hazy days at university.  

This is my nan Theresa. She’s 86 years old. She wears layers on top of layers which never made sense. She always asks me if I’ve eaten. She used to make amazing curry goat with rice and peas. She repeats the same questions every few minutes. She’s hilarious. She’s still very much awesome. She has dementia.

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The last time I visited her we had great chats and laughs, and she knew exactly who I was. The next day my uncle said, “So you got to see Shem yesterday!” And she replied with a blank stare as if he was making outlandish statements. She had no recollection of me being there and it’s shit like that which hurts my heart.

My nan loves nothing more than sitting in her armchair listening to gospel or country music. That is where she’s happiest and when she’s more like the nan I knew. I once wrote in a story, “Music was a time machine. It had the power to pick me up like a claw machine at a seaside arcade and then drop me down in a memory I thought I had lost.” And I have never felt those words more than I do when I look at my nan smiling at a music DVD of Daniel O’Donnell!

By 2025, 1.1 million people are expected to be living with dementia in the UK.

The power of music therapy connecting with an individual and unlocking a part of their brain they never knew still worked, is old news. Yet, even with this knowledge only 5% of care homes offer a decent music program for dementia patients. There are however some care homes leading the way with music programmes that are created by dementia charity Playlist For Life. And those nursing homes advocating and implementing these musical activities have recorded big reductions in patients using anti-psychotic meds to control their dementia with as much as a 60% decrease.  

Playlist For Life is an awesome resource that not only allows you to create a musical playlist for people living with dementia, but they have tools and training to help carers integrate music into an individual’s life. They have also recently collaborated with the BBC to bring Music Memories which is a website designed for those with dementia to re-establish a link to memories. It’s essentially a database of 1800 songs from the last 100 years including TV theme tunes. After selecting a genre and decade, you are given a list of songs to play. You can then share your playlist (with a few personal background details) to help others discover music that may help someone else. 

A video went viral in 2014 from the documentary Alive Inside that featured an old dude called Henry with Alzheimer’s whose face exploded with animation after listening to his iPod. That clip not only made me ugly cry, but it also proved exactly how the force of music drags out the person who we think maybe lost, when in fact they’re just taking a little nap until their jam comes on!  

If you know anyone who is living with dementia and you’re finding it hard to verbally communicate with them, then throw on a CD you think they would love or create a bespoke playlist just for them… and let the music form a conversation.

 

10 Things You May Not Know About Back to the Future I & II

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If you’re a big retro movie geek who finds delight in watching classic 80s films over and over until your eyes bleed with satisfaction, THEN the Back to the Future trilogy should be in your arsenal. Fact. I’m still waiting for Santa/The Tooth Fairy to hook me up with a hoverboard from Back to the Future II. And these ‘hoverboards’ you can buy which look like I probably would end up in hospital, do not count!

But I digress.

My favourites from the BTTF trilogy are the first and second instalment. I mean, the third movie is grand… but lets say that I can have it on in the background on a casual Sunday afternoon… while I refresh my Instagram feed for a distraction! Everything about Back to the Future part I and II from the concept, the futuristic gadgets, special FX and the awkward incestuous moments you pretend never happened, makes it one of the best film franchises… ever!

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This quintessential Sci-Fi heavyweight was never meant to go past the original first film in 1985. But Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg and Bob Gale basically smashed it and the rest is history! 

I have watched the films so many times that I would genuinely ruin the experience for anyone else who wanted to watch it with me. Why? Because I’m that kind of tosser who can’t help but recite/yell back at the TV certain iconic lines from the movies.

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You may already know the plot (which stays pretty consistent in theme throughout all three movies!) but for those who don’t, it goes a little something like this:

Teenage boy has a close friendship with an old mad scientist (that nobody seems to question!) who builds a time machine from a car. Teenage boy with the help of his scientist pal, dick around with his past and future with almost catastrophic consequences. Hilarity ensues.

However, what some of you may not know about Back to the Future I and II is thus:

One - The script was rejected over 40 times with Disney not being a fan of the incest storyline in reference to Marty’s 18-year-old mum kissing him when he travels back to 1955. Listen Disney, I’m fairly certain nobody in their sane mind is an advocate of incest BUT it’s funny you said this seeing as you were down with Star Wars who is all about sibling love! #justsaying

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Two - Eric Stoltz was set to play the lead Marty McFly in Back to the Future and filmed a fair few scenes. But he was considered too serious of an actor for a role that required more of an upbeat comedy vibe. It cost the film $4 million. Gutted! Also, Ralph Macchio from The Karate Kid turned down the role and I’m glad he did!

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It’s a no from me!

It’s a no from me!

Three - Crispin Glover who played George McFly did not appear in any of the sequels. Another actor with prosthetic makeup was used which turned out to be a bad move for Universal Pictures, as it ended with Glover suing because he wasn’t being paid for any old footage with him in. This case led to The Screens Actors Guild introducing a new rule about the illicit use of actors.

It’s uncanny!

It’s uncanny!

Four - An uncredited Mark Campbell sang Johnny B Goode in the first two BTTF films. I know right… it wasn’t Michael J Fox! But he did take guitar lessons, so he wouldn’t look like a complete novice.

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Five - The judge who says Marty’s band The Pinheads is “too darn loud” is Huey Lewis from Huey Lewis and The News, whose song Power of Love is featured in the film.

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Six - In Back to the Future II when Marty is looking in the shop window that sells 80s items, there’s a Who Framed Roger Rabbit stuffed toy which is a nod to Robert Zemeckis other awesome film he directed.

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Seven - Elijah Wood of Frodo Baggins Lord of the Rings fame, made his onscreen debut as one of the kids playing the arcade in Café 80s in Back to the Future II.

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Eight - The time machine for Back to the Future was originally imagined to be a fridge rather than the much cooler Delorean car. Am I the only person who would love to see a film about a time machine fridge?? Make it happen!

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Nine - The head of Universal Pictures suggested the movie title to be changed to Spaceman From Pluto. Steven Spielberg however soon put him in his place by thanking him for his ‘joke’ memo.

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Ten - Back to the Future II was the first film that managed the big fancy pants special effect of VistaGlide. Say what?! This basically means that we see the same actor interacting with themselves in the same scene. Ooohhhhh!

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Top 5 Inappropriate Cartoons of the 80s & 90s

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I think it’s safe to say that parental guidance and political correctness was not really something anyone paid attention to in the 1980s or 1990s. I’m gonna put it out there that in fact… nobody actually gave a shit and I can’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing! The logic was generally thus: if you’re hurt or offended or both… SUCK. IT. UP! (Followed by a barrage of abuse like “stop being a pussy!”) I grew up watching a lot of martial arts and action films on VHS that were full of violence, nudity and the F-bomb being dropped throughout the dialogue. Some of these movies were amazing but seriously full on. I remember watching Blood Sport starring Jean Claude Van Damme and witnessing the character Chong Li casually snapping a dude’s neck.

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Despite the uncensored “stop crying… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” attitude we all had to popular culture in the 80s and 90s, the media we consumed was apparently deemed not quite full on enough… because some smart ass figured, “Do you know what would be an awesome idea… to take ultra-violent, twisted franchises and create kid friendly cartoons!” Genius.

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Rambo: The Force of Freedom 1986

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He’s an ex-soldier with violent tendencies who fought in Vietnam… aaaand has a touch of PTSD after watching all his pals being horrifically tortured and killed. Throw in some giant guns and what could possibly go wrong here?! So the next logical step for a certificate 18 film was children television because ya know… kids love nightmares!

Police Academy 1988

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This film franchise was a classic example of “Please for the love of god stop making sequels!” especially once we got to around Police Academy 17! However, the first movie is definitely a laugh out loud iconic movie, full of inappropriate jokes, smutty behaviour and some fruity language. So sure, making a cartoon from this slapstick-nervous laughter-formula of outrageousness simply screams all kinds of child friendly yes. Clearly.

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Conan the Adventurer 1992

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I know what is totally suitable for kids… a cartoon based on a movie where we see decapitations and a crazy sex scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a witch! But lo and behold, Conan was made into a caricature of kiddie friendliness… and we all just got on board because nonsensical development of a mental film into cartoony fun… is a thing!

Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm 1996

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When this video game was released in 1993 on the SNES and SEGA Mega Drive, there was panic on the streets! And by panic on the streets, I mean our parents were all of a sudden concerned for our wellbeing and young impressionable minds. (Where was this outrage and distress when I was allowed to stay up watching intense brutal Kung-Fu movies…on a school night?!) Mortal Kombat is renowned for its ultra-violence of bones crunching, neck snapping, internal organs ripping carry on. The film itself also depicted scenes of impaling’s and general ridiculous fatalities. So naturally what would come next is the animation series… because associations to death and gore is a lesson all children need to know immediately! 

Beetlejuice 1989

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This cult classic film is still so bloody good! It’s mainly the dark humour and glorious special effects that pushes my buttons. However, Beetlejuice is not exactly the greatest role model for young kids. Yet they made this Tim Burton film with layers of wild supernatural fantasy and horror into an animated series. I mean, Beetlejuice is a crude, pervy, poltergeist… so fair play lads for actually getting away with this!

Top Maintenance And Storage Tips For Retro Gaming Consoles

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Do you remember receiving your first gaming console as a kid in the 80s or 90s with the jubilation, high pitched screaming and undiluted hysteria as if it was a big fat Christmas miracle??

Quick mum help I'm having an overexcited stroke!

Quick mum help I'm having an overexcited stroke!

Did you then think long and hard about where exactly you were going to safely store it to basically end up having a setup similar to this…

Why... because fuck you that's why!!

Why... because fuck you that's why!!

As a grown up and a lover of retro game consoles/refusing to move on from my childhood, I too showed little respect to my Sega Mega Drive that is currently squashed between a Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, SNES mini, Virgin Media TV box and some stray DVD's that I can't be arsed to put back in their case… And now when I want to play, my precious Mega Drive will decide if it will work or not and I am pretty sure my negligence has contributed to it being temperamental as feck! So, I’ve decided to take it down to the guys at The Rage in Dublin who will have a look and try to fix it, but I also need to have a long hard look in the mirror and think about how to store and maintain my retro game consoles if I want to continue playing them until I'm at least 85 years old.

Location Location Location

Any high-powered gaming system needs ventilation. So shoving it on an enclosed TV stand or cabinet screams all kinds of no. The heat from the consoles need to go somewhere so let it out damn it! You also want to eliminate as much dust as possible getting into the game consoles and dark corners are dust mite friends, so avoid. There are a few entertainment centres and TV stands ideal for gaming consoles but of course it depends on your budget and where in your home it is intended for. I mean sure, a stand which is practical with ventilation is great, but you also would want it to look good too. Here are a few of my top picks.

Budget - Basic Chrome 3 Shelf Unit £29.99

Mid Range - 4 Cube Shelving Unit £37.50

Ok lemme throw some more cash at this - Wood TV Stand 2 Shelf Storage Unit £45.99

Pricey enough - Glass 4 Shelf Unit £84.06

Console Maintenance

The easiest and laziest form of cleaning a gaming console is to simply blow the dust away from the system. Yeah… stop doing that! All you’re doing is moving the pesky dirt sprites from one surface to another. So, yes you may think that you’re clearing away the dust from your SNES, but you’ve probably just blown all the shit from the vents onto another electrical device! Use a vacuum cleaner. Presto! Pull the dirt out and away every 6 months. This may seem tedious and annoying, but in the long run it will certainly help.

You can also find a local retro gaming specialist near you who should be able to run a diagnostic check on your system to see that it is operating as it should. Retro gaming consoles today are considered a rare vintage item and so we should treat them with care like an archaeological find fit for the Antiques Roadshow. Because remember, when they're really broken, you can't just pick out a new one in the Argos catalogue and hope Santa will hook you up!

Here’s a few takeaway tips you should always adhere to if you essentially don’t want to fuck up a good thing!

* Do not stack game consoles on top of each other. The heat emitted is zero fun and can cause the gaming systems to have a meltdown.

* Use storage shelves and entertainment units for your game consoles that have open backs. This helps the air circulate so the system doesn’t overheat.

* Dust and electronics do not mix. Keep your retro gaming console clean with a vacuum cleaner.

* Retro gaming consoles are notorious for those long ass controller leads that drape across the floor. When you’re not playing, pack these away carefully. As watching someone catch their foot on the lead and drag your entire console down to the ground in slow motion… is truly heart breaking!  

 

 

13 Of The Best Classic Board Games

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There’s nothing like a little ‘friendly’ competitiveness when it comes to board games! I have many 'fond' memories of caravan holidays, pretending to be the Waltons family… huddled around a poxy folding table and knocking out a game of Connect 4! I mean, what else are you to do when it’s the Great British summer and it’s pissing rain?! Board games were a staple in my childhood throughout the 80s and 90s. And even now there's a resurgence! People have jumped on the nostalgia of playing classic board games with iconic TV shows or films we all loved from yesteryear.

Oooohhh sparkly retro-tastic memories!  Check them out here! 

Oooohhh sparkly retro-tastic memories! Check them out here! 

Now throw a little alcohol in the mix and you’ve got yourself a perfect night in! With a little throwback to those ‘fun’ times when tables were overturned in game rage, dead legs and Chinese burns were inflicted by older siblings just because you were winning… I've compiled a list of the top 13 classic board games that are timeless. Unlike me, myself and copious amounts of grey hairs!

Scrabble

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The word game that will usually make you look like a fecking illiterate idiot if you’re not careful! You lost me at double and triple scores because I generally couldn’t care for your nonsensical words. I acknowledge your supreme status as a classic board game, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like you!

Yahtzee

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I once attempted to play this game with a friend in a Norwegian café. Cool story bro! We didn’t know the rules so kind of guessed them. And then half way through the game we found another dice in the box that I’m fairly sure we needed at the beginning! I spent most of the time randomly shouting “YAHTZEE!” because it made me feel like I was somewhat invested in our made-up game!

Connect 4

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This game is either really quick and fun or long and really boring. There is no in between! If you’re playing someone who is quite good at it, then the game will go on forever until you run out of counters, you’re hungry and have forgotten why you decided that it was a good idea to play in the first place! However, if you’re playing your 4-year-old nephew who just likes the colour red with zero concept of the game, then it’s always amusing beating a small child at a game!

Trivial Pursuit

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This game is just a quiz and the board and pieces are just a wild ruse to make you feel like it’s entertaining. It’s not. This game always seemed like homework which was never any fun. “What bird is named after the Ugandan word for photosynthesis??” Ugh! Stop trying to make my brain learn new things!

Draughts/Checkers

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Whichever variation you played of the games they both can be described as ‘definitely not chess.’ This traditional board game felt like chess for dummies, so naturally I quite enjoyed it! It made me feel sophisticated when the rules of chess flew right over my head.

Chess

This board game has to be mentioned despite the fact I never played it growing up because my brain melted when a friend tried to explain the rules to me. Of course, there has to be a reason this classic strategy board game has been kicking around for thousands of years, and still attracts lots of fans. I suppose.

Guess Who

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Now you’re talking! This game provided hours of entertainment. Does she have ginger hair? Does he wear glasses? Does he look like that creepy politician who probably belongs on the sex offender register?? The variations to deduce your opponent’s person were simply endless!

Operation

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This was another game that appealed to me. Picking out fiddly body parts from a naked dude with a bulbous red nose was super fun! The only problem was that the small fiddly parts meant that they always went missing so the game was never complete, and you had to substitute the funny bone with a bit of blu-tack!

Cluedo

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When you grew up with the Spy File and Sunday afternoons watching Murder, She Wrote and Columbo, Cluedo was always a must-have board game. The rules were very simple: find out who dunnit… the murder weapon used and in which room. I always felt like a smug Poirot bastard announcing, “It was Miss Scarlet, with the lead pipe in the study!”

I loved it. You loved it. We all loved it! 

I loved it. You loved it. We all loved it! 

Ghost Castle

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This board game classic was always on my Christmas wish list to Santa, but I never got it! I did however spend a lot of time playing it at my friend’s house and soon realised that I was more excited about the cool model setup of a haunted castle rather than playing the actual game!

Mouse Trap

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If you have an interactive game with moveable parts, then every kid is going to love it regardless of the rules! Mouse Trap was a cult classic in the board game world. It was bright and fun and looked like something Kevin in Home Alone would setup to piss off some burglars!

Screwball Scramble

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The ultimate obstacle course that required skill rather than strategy. I loved this game! Granted, once you had figured out how to get the chrome ball through the course, the gameplay went dramatically downhill… BUT it was an awesome immersive game that deserves a nod in the memorable board game genre!

Monopoly

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The 83-year-old board game that continues to have a bad reputation for tearing families apart! It is also known as a game that never actually ends. Nobody needs to be aggressively negotiating a hotel on the Old Kent Road for 4 hours of their life! Again, this iconic game was one I played with friends where we blatantly made up the rules because none of us had any idea about buying and trading property. And any 8-year-old who claims to know about resource management is a liar!

5 Retro Bikes From Your Childhood

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Going for bike rides as a kid was one of my fondest memories. Grabbing my red BMX from the shed with my older brother and leaving for the morning to go on epic cycling adventures around our estate, made the summer holidays for me. Zigzagging through alleyways, mounting cracked pavements and dodging broken glass/dog shit simply upped the level of dangerous fun! (I mean, if you didn’t ride through, step in or fall into dog crap as a kid, did you really have a childhood?!) I remember watching BMX Bandits with Nicole Kidman's giant hair and trying to emulate being a crime fighting BMX pro racer… and failing miserably! Thinking back to the retro bicycles that made my childhood, here are my top 5 picks!

Raleigh Chopper

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Now this bike was a little before my time manufactured in the 70s, however I cannot disregard the seminal status of it. I remember a friend of my older brother had one of these and to me being a small child who clearly knew nothing, thought that it looked so hideously uncool.

Me as an adult realising I have blasphemed against the Chopper gods... and being beaten accordingly!

Me as an adult realising I have blasphemed against the Chopper gods... and being beaten accordingly!

All I know is that going on bike rides with my brother and his mate always slowed us down because the big clunky thing was rubbish at getting up and down curbs!

Raleigh Burner

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This supreme bike was first launched in 1982. It was iconic in the BMX craze of the 80s where everyone had some sort of variation of this model, and if you didn’t… then you only wished you did! It didn’t matter if you couldn’t ‘do tricks’ because fashioning a plank of wood over a few stacked bricks... and then trying to ride over this without it breaking was BASICALLY the same as doing bunny hop 360!

Raleigh Street Wolf

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This little BMX was on another level of futuristic amazingness and I would 100% still ride this bike now! Released in 1987 this was a coveted possession of many children and created a shit load of jealousy amongst those (like me) who never had the pleasure of owning one. The main pull of this bike was the electronic sound box device attached to the handlebars, which obviously was used when trying to roleplay your favourite shady-government-undercover cop show.

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Racing Bikes

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This was a bicycle that was specifically designed for competitive road racing and was huge in the 80s and early 90s. However, there was approximately zero people I knew growing up who owned a racer to compete in anything! The thin wheels used to always boggle my brain and for some reason flipping and reversing the handlebars was deemed ‘cool’.

But why though?!

But why though?!

For me and my pals it was just another bicycle trend that we salivated over in the Argos catalogue hoping our parents would have a word with Santa!

Mountain Bike

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This bike was designed for off-road action and traversing difficult terrain. Yet I rode mine to the corner shop and back and for a 'Cycling Awareness' at school! In the 1990s owning a mountain bike was just standard protocol. Racers were out, and mountain bikes were in! They usually came with a ‘jazzy’ frame design (splashed with an impressive name like Apollo) and you pimped it out with clashing neon toe clips, a water bottle holder and handlebar extensions that were all entirely unnecessary!

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading!