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Eurogamer Retro: ISS 64

by on Jun.28, 2010, under The Rest

I’m a lucky man that I’m often given amazing freedom to write as I want in various publications. Obvious Rock, Paper, Shotgun affords me tremendous freedom – but in a way having no rules at all is more restrictive than having rules to break. Clearly RPS gives me space to blather on my own nonsense, and that’s a great treat. But sometimes it can be more fun to get away with it elsewhere. PC Gamer has let me have a lot of fun with They’re Back for over ten years now (eek), and over the last year Eurogamer have given me an enormous amount of room when writing retrospectives a couple of Sundays a month. These are rapidly becoming my favourite things to write – there’s an extraordinary freedom in writing a retro piece. Reviews require you to Get It Right, with the weight of responsibility, and the anchor of a score at the end. But a retrospective lets you, well, write stuff about a game. (Have I blogged about this before? Well, never mind.) Which has let me play with ideas, experiment with form, and most of all, be a bit silly. And my passion in writing is to be a bit silly.

And I think I’ve not been more pleased with one of these pieces than the most recent, about International Superstar Soccer 64, an N64 game. The idea of my writing about football is comical enough. The idea of writing it during the World Cup, and go up on the day of England’s crashing defeat, seems ridiculous. It gave me an opportunity to have a lot of fun, and to hopefully write a few funny jokes. It begins like this:

“Football! Eh? Don’t we all love football! The way they kick it with their feet, the lovely round shape of the ball, the haircuts. It’s a game of at least two halves. And have you seen when they score a goal? Gosh, everyone gets so excited about that. What a time.

OK, look, I have to admit something. That first paragraph – that’s not really me. That was the result of hours researching the subject in an attempt to pass myself off as a connoisseur of the sport. But as convincing as it may have been, I can’t keep it up. I know about as much about foot-to-ball as a gnat comprehends of string theory. Which is something I have in common with International Superstar Soccer 64.

Some of you may have noticed that the World Cup is taking place at the moment. Perhaps you’ll have heard it mentioned on the television, read an article about it in a newspaper, or been outside with your eyes open.

As the entire county drapes itself in the brutal flag of the English crusades, apparently in the belief that this peculiar display of faux-patriotism in their cul-de-sac will have a significant impact upon the success of a team of players on another continent, this sporting event dominates all senses. (Yes, things even smell of the World Cup.)

For those of us who don’t suddenly develop an interest in a sport that we otherwise find tedious, just because it’s played on an international scale, there is no escape. It is omnipresent, and not to care is to be a pariah, hounded from towns like a paedophile wolf.”

I do eventually talk about the game. You can read it all here.

PS. My favourite comment on the article:

“Don’t we all love football!”

Question mark, not an exclamation mark.

Found large chunks of this piece very condescending and patronising.

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