Well well, you lucky lucky bastards. You stroll in here and look what happens to be here waiting for you; A brand new Words with Friends. For those not in the know and are lucky anyway, this is a regular feature where I interview a Midlife Gamer Community Member. I dig out of the dirt from underneath their finger nails and put on display for you. This time it’s Beefkr10z !
Baron Von Pleb: Come on over here Beef. Sit on my knee and tell me and everyone else a little about yourself?
Beef: Hi, everyone! I’m Paul, I’m 39 years old, and I live in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. I work for a local construction retail company, and have been MLG active since 2009. I have a bit of a passion for renovating old, run down retro consoles, and I am a self confessed Nintendo fanboy.
BVP: 2009! Get in there pal. That’s a long time, how did you come across the awesomeness that is the Midlife Gamer Community?
Beef: I was on holiday in the middle of nowhere, and was just dipping my toe into podcasts. I tried a few different gaming shows, but they all seemed a little bit dull and characterless. I very nearly gave up on podcasts then and there, but by chance one of the last that I had cued up started with a Taylor Swift / Beyoncé gag by some brummie guy, followed by his mate laughing his head off. From that on, I was hooked, and went through the entire back catalogue.
As an aside, the Eurogamer Meet-Ups have also been a highlight, and the amount of time and effort that Matt, Daren, and the rest of the MLG crew have spent to build and strengthen the community cannot go unrecognised – Thanks, guys!
BVP: You’d be surprised the amount of effort goes in. And it gets harder and harder each year. Speaking of meet/piss ups, we all know that ‘eating isn’t cheating’ when it comes to Chicken Shops at Earls Court, so what’s your Biscuit and Beverage of choice?
Beef: Hands up, I admit that I skipped the B&B question! I’m going to surprise a few people out there with my drink choice, as I’ll go for strong white coffee, no sugar. See? I bet you thought I was going to say beer! Truth is, I love a pint (mine’s an Old Peculiar if anybody’s buying!) but coffee is a drink I can go for any time. As for the biscuit? A Bourbon Cream is my killer. I can demolish a pack in one sitting.
BVP: Ok. Picture the scene if you will. You’re washed up on a deserted island. You walk down the beach and stumble upon an unopened chest from the boat you were traveling on. You cross your fingers and hope to find what meal and movie (yes yes, there no TVs or electricity but those are just the minor details):
After losing quite a bit of weight a few years ago, it’s amazing just how much I enjoy any food I get. I still miss being able to nosh down on a whole 12” pepperoni pizza (oh, god it’s been so long!), but there’s nothing like a good, simple pub meal. A particular favourite would be a shepherd’s pie. My local does a fantastic home-made shepherds pie, in a massive portion that is about the size and weight of a brick. It’s made with locally sourced meat, and has a ton of cheese melted and grilled over the top. There’s a side dish of fresh steamed veg, and a jug of home-made gravy- all washed down with a pint of the Peculiar…
Sorry, I got carried away, there.
To get back on track- there’s part of me that wants to get all arty-farty about what film I choose and say something clever to impress people, but I’m going for a pure popcorn movie that I can watch again and again- Raiders of the Lost Ark. This film was Spielberg, Lucas and Ford all at the top of their game, and from the moment you first see Indy nick the idol and leg it from the giant boulder, the film doesn’t stop being awesome. Top it off with that incredible John Williams score, and I’m in movie heaven.
BVP: Ok, So how did a fine upstanding gentleman of the community, like you, get into gaming?
Beef: As a child of the late 70’s and early 80’s, home gaming was in its boom period, so little me was simply caught up in the tide. From the first home consoles and dingy fag-stained arcades at the seafront, games were all around me, and it was great! Having an Atari 2600 in the home made gaming something I could access any time- that is, unless Dad wanted to watch a Western! Alas, many a game of Frogger was lost to John Wayne. I actually count myself lucky to have grown up during this period, since having seen what games were and what they have grown into gives an appreciation that gamers of a different generation may never experience.
BVP: Oh Frogger. How I miss that game. I remember my mum trying to be cool and playing it with me and my brothers. She’d fop in her seat and every attempt to cross the lilly pads. Daft. Ah, sorry, let’s continue: What was your first gaming setup?
Beef: As mentioned above, we had an old, wood-front Atari, with those classic rubber joysticks, and colour/black & white switches! I also have fond memories of us getting our first home computer, the Acorn Electron. From the moment I first typed CHAIN “” and pressed play on Meteors (Acorn’s version of Asteroids), I was hooked, and spent all Christmas day on the system. After a brief foray into the Speccy and Amiga, it was pretty much console based gaming from then on.
BVP: Do you have any retro consoles still plugged in? I know you clean them up, but do you then sell them on?
I still have my NES plugged in because I have a great love for the system, and to be honest, the NES pad is the best way to play the original Super Mario Bros games. I also have a Russian Megadrive clone that I bought off of Ebay that I adore, mainly because it’s region free, so I have a greater choice of carts available to buy. The unit has a 50/60Hz option to enable the games to play full screen and full speed- trust me, you won’t go back once you’ve tried it!
As for renovating old systems, I’ve been doing this as a means to an end. I’m trying to get a decent collection of my favourite retro consoles together, so picking up old, used broken systems and fixing them up has enabled me to Frankenstein the best bits together at an affordable price. Once I have a set I’m happy with, I’ll fix up any spares and sell them on. It’s astounding that most old systems are sold as faulty just because somebody can’t find a power supply, but replacements are relatively easy to find, and a good clean up with soapy water and polish can work miracles!. I don’t make a fortune on anything I sell, and it’s more rewarding to know that each old unloved piece of hardware I can fix up is one less piece of gaming history that’s being thrown away.
BVP: I was a Speccy kid. All the awesome kids where. What has been your favourite title so far this year (any format)?
Beef: I know it was late last year, but nothing this year has impressed me half as much as Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on 3DS. This game has soaked up just about any spare gaming time that I have had, and I can honestly say that it is a masterpiece.
BVP: Masterpiece? Wow. So what makes a good game?
Beef: I can’t one hundred percent pin down exactly why I love the games I do, but one of the reasons that I have a lot of unfinished games is that they sometimes cease to be fun. That probably sounds a bit mental, but hear me out! Too many times, I find myself playing a game, and halfway through I feel like I’ve seen everything far too early and I’m spending the rest of the playthrough repeating the same few actions ad nauseum just to see the end of a story. That’s fine with a game like The Last Of Us, that has a strong, compelling narrative, but Uncharted 3 -even though it had some outstanding moments, ended up being a chore to play, just to see an ending cutscene. Games like Portal 2 and Super Mario 3D World both had a great sense of playfulness and inventiveness to them, and by introducing new mechanics throughout the levels kept my interest over the entire game.
BVP: You know your retro stuff so this next regular question should be good for you. “Retro Remake Time”: If you could have any title from the past giving a definitive version which meant all new graphics and sounds but kept the original gameplay mechanics what would it be?
Beef: I’d like to see an updated version of Snake, Rattle & Roll- an old NES and Megadrive game. It was one of the first games by Rare, and was a hoot in two player co-op. No 3D tomfoolery, just keep the isometric viewpoint and hit the HD button, please.
BVP: Thanks Beef. You’ve obviously listened to the Midlife Gamer Podcast? Difficult question but can you tell us if you have a favourite podcast moment?
Beef: Of course I still listen! I haven’t missed an episode yet- to the extent that if I’ve been on holiday without internet, I‘ve been known to hunt for a wi-fi zone to get my fix. As for a specific moment, I couldn’t pick one. I do, however, love to hear Daren when he gets into a new obsession, spends weeks going balls-deep, and then burns himself out just as quickly. Funny thing, it seems to happen whenever Daren is single!
BVP: With the next gen consoles reigniting the console wars of years gone by, what are your thoughts on the consoles wars?
Beef: Reigniting? The console wars never went away, and I find this particular round even sillier than before since both systems are actually pretty closely matched. In my cynical old age, I’m less concerned about how many “P’s” a game has, and more about having fun. This new generation of consoles has been the first time that I haven’t gone for a console on day one. No offence to anyone that has an Xbox One or PS4, but so far there hasn’t been anything that I have perceived as truly groundbreaking on either system. Don’t get me wrong, I know those outstanding games are coming, but slightly HD’d up releases of games I only bought last year just doesn’t excite me- Especially since I believe the new systems should have had backwards compatibility built in. At the end of the day, if you’re happy with your purchase, what does it matter if someone has a different console?
BVP: What has been your proudest achievement/trophy moment in gaming thus far?
Beef: That’s probably the toughest question yet, since I’m finding it hard to pick one moment over another. How can you put clearing your first screen of Space Invaders over bringing Donkey Kong down? What about getting to the end of Castlevania SOTN, but finding out there’s another whole, tougher castle to beat? Getting the space shuttle to launch in Gameboy Tetris, or completing the Warthog run at the end of Halo? Taking down the T-rex in Tomb Raider, or getting your whole Normandy crew through alive in Mass Effect 2?
No, I’ll wimp out of answering that question, if you don’t mind.
BVP: Oh I don’t mind. It is hard. It’s like asking what you want writing on your grave stone. Whats the hardest game you’ve ever played then?
Beef: Oh, I don’t know, I think the gravestone writing would be nice and easy to think up- something like “He died at a ripe old age quickly and painlessly as a happy billionaire, with 30 of the worlds most beautiful models in his bed” would be pretty good, I think! As for my hardest game, the original Megaman was a heck of a challenge, and Dark Souls also goes without saying. It’s important to make the distinction between “hard” and “unfair”, and the two aforementioned titles are definitely the sort of games where failure is down to your own shortcomings, rather than bad game design.
BVP: And lastly; What sauce on your sausage and/or bacon sandwich?
Beef: Brown, of course, specifically H.P. sauce. None of that Daddies malarkey here, thank you.
BVP: Excellent Paul. Thank you for your time. I will let you get back to your console cleaning. Remind me and the other community members how the can game and contact you: (Gamertag and Twitter handle).
Beef: It’s been a pleasure, buddy! I’m nice and easy to find online- just look for beefkr10z on all consoles and twitter.
Excellent. Right then you. I think you’ve had enough for one day. We’ll have another community interview up soon. If you would like to get involved and be interview and sent sexual photographs, please leave comment in the section below or email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks a bunch me ducks, and i’ll see ya around.