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Ready to Grow Young Again

By | Blog, UFC/MMA, Well-being | No Comments

When I was younger I remember writing in my ongoing journal – of sorts – that I would always be alright in life as long as I kept fitness, music and comedy within my life, and I still stand by that statement to this very day. This is the reason why I think it is important to keep a place in your life for the things you loved growing up.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 and 2 were released in 1999 and 2000 respectively. These were exciting and inspiring times for me and many others in the same age range. I was playing at a time when I was coming to the end of my time in secondary school and I had the whole world ahead of me. We had new exciting new sports. games and technology and we were moving on to times of discovery and growth. I loved the combination of punk and rock with skating and I spent hour after hour on those two games which also helped me find the music that would go on to dominate my tastes in the years to come. The incorporation of the real life pros in the games was a big deal, I’d love spending time collecting all the tapes and completing all challenges to unlock each characters very own ‘movie’ segment – and this was in the days before YouTube too. The ‘movies’ were real life highlights from each characters’ careers and seeing these inspired me and some school friends to pick up a board and give it a go ourselves. This lead to some of the most satisfying experiences in my life trying out tricks on a friend’s estate whilst drinking and blasting out tunes from the garage.

Being English and looking back on skateboarding now I find myself inspired by Geoff Rowley. The guy found his passion and honed it on the mean streets of Liverpool before moving further a field to London, before then taking the huge leap to Southern California and total upheaval from such a raw early age, a real risk but also a real adventure. I’m not sure that I would have the balls or the conviction at such an early age but he took the plunge and made the move. He became a pro skater in the big ol USA and the legendary skateboarding parts ‘Sorry’,’Really Sorry’ and then ‘Extremely Sorry’ would follow along with his appearances in The Tony Hawks pro skater games. He took the risk, took full advantage and made it work. He also happened to be friends with the late, great Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead, as can be heard on Geoff’s ‘Extremely Sorry’.

A Rowley wall-rideA young Geoff Rowley

I think I’d struggle with skateboarding now because of the knocks I would take, being around a stocky 13 stone I’m not sure that my build would allow it anymore, but I’m going to try the next best thing, surfing. I see this replacing cycling and mountain biking in my life in my quest for the healthiest possible mental and physical well-being. I can’t think of a better thing for mindfulness than surfing. Both skateboarding and surfing, having their similarities, and are great for both distraction from the continual thoughts of the mind and keeping you in the present moment. Visualization is another positive factor that can be utilized whilst away from the board. What can be better than removing the nagging, niggling useless anxious thoughts from the mind by replacing them with visualizing landing the perfect trick in your favourite spot? In much the same way I still  have my interests from the past in combat sports and I can keep this alive with my Brazilian Jiu-jitsu training and competition. I have my first BJJ competition lined up for the 26th of March this year and I’ll use this as an incentive to get in great physical shape. I hope to employ the same mindfulness techniques in the sport as I would with surfing although being in the moment in BJJ competition can be somewhat more intense. Visualizing whilst away from the mats is again a must, with BJJ being a mental chess game as well as a physical battle. The more technique run through the mind and the more outcomes visualized the better. The power of the mind should never be overlooked. BJJ also has crossover benefits with certain yoga styles such as yin yoga. I find the two fairly interchangeable and you’ll find that doing one will help out with the other.

Surfing at sunset

Top 10 Video Games of my Youth

By | Blog, Features, Games, Gaming, Gaming Features, Recommendations | No Comments

I’ll list the games in order of release date from earliest to latest. It was hard enough compiling a list of just ten so putting them in order of preference would just be too much to ask! I went for EU console release dates predominately but had to use first release dates for a couple.

1.Another World-1991

Atmospheric Sci-fi

Another World

This game was so good they named it three times! The game went by the name ‘Out Of This World’ but was changed to avoid confusion with a TV series of the same title. It was also called ‘Outer World’ in Japan. I personally much prefer ‘Another World’ anyways. The game had incredible visuals for it’s time and was played out before a stunning backdrop. The game possessed an original storyline and simple controls but great challenging puzzle action. It had a great cold, isolated but at times threatening atmosphere. The probable only down side for me was the amount of longevity it provided.

2.Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (16bit)-Nov 24th 1992

Sonic and Tails

Welcome Tails

Everyone knows Sonic, and I think we reached a gameplay pinnacle with the second installment. The game introduced the turbo boost feature and Tails arrived too! The gameplay really flowed in this one and it had a great learning curve. It wasn’t as challenging as the first game and you could speed through the early levels, but the game had re-playability for more hardcore fans in it’s newly designed bonus stages, which you had to complete in order to collect all chaos emeralds. Brilliant, simple but addictive gameplay at its very best.

3.Super Street Fighter II-The New Challengers-June 1994

Ryu vs T-Hawk SSFII-The New Challengers

Classic Street Fighter action with some new faces

Again little needs to be said about the Street Fighter franchise from Street Fighter II-The World Warrior onwards. The New Challengers came out at a productive and special time in gaming for me (No online console gaming back then though goddammit!) and this game introduced four new faces, Cammy, Dee-Jay, T-hawk and Fei-long (for those who don’t know). I was already a fan of the series and had the original Street Fighter on the Atari ST and the four new characters were a definite draw missing from Capcom’s previous turbo upgrades.

4.Mortal Kombat II-Sept 1994

Kintaro fatality on Baraka

Fatality!

I was only young when this was released and got simply obsessed with this game. I loved fatalities and although this principle had been explored with the first Mortal Kombat and Eternal Champions, this took it to another level. Even without this novelty it was still a great game with a great engine. It expanded on, and had more variety than the first and I feel was a better more enjoyable game than the third installment with it’s comedy ‘run’ feature.

5.Doom II-Hell On Earth-Oct 10th 1994 (PC first release)

Cyberdemon and Spider mastermind do battle

Cyberdemon and Spider Mastermind get it on!

In my humble opinion this game is not only the best version of Doom but is also one of the best and most addictive games ever made. The gameplay is so simple but you can’t stop playing! I couldn’t anyway. Doom at the time it was originally released was revolutionary for the gaming industry and I see John Carmack, the designer of the game’s software engine, as a genius! (Bill Gates is also a fan btw). The game has more monsters, more levels and great design what more could you want.
I continue to play and create doom levels with the source port ZDoom, if you like Doom check it out!

6.Resident Evil-1996

Chris Redfield early meeting with zombie

Just after a very famous cut scene!

A much loved survival horror franchise that is still going strong today and for me this first installment is a classic. It’s a great survival horror game fleshed out with a decent storyline, nice puzzles and some great shocking set pieces, there’s also a nice twist at the end. For me the early Resident Evil games are less scary more polished looking versions of the original Silent Hill but with more of a shock factor. I still don’t like the parts with the giant spiders though!

7.Final Fantasy VII-Nov 17th 1997

Final Fantasy VII- Cloud in Battle

Cloud in battle

The gem in the Final Fantasy crown and the first epic, sprawling role-playing game I properly got into. It’s not the type of game I would normally play and it’s testament to how good the game is that I like it so much. It all fits together perfectly and provides hours of gameplay and a high replay factor for those wanting to hang out at the Gold Saucer and master the game through side quests.

8.Tekken 3-Sept 12th 1998

Law vs Paul - Tekken 3

Law vs Paul

I’d played Tekken from it’s first release on the Playstation and I feel it continued to improve, with graphical improvements, additions to the roaster of fighters and tweaks to it’s amazing game engine, to reach it’s peak at Tekken 3.

9.Silent Hill-Aug 1st 1999

Isolation in Silent Hill 1

Snowy & silent

You may have already guessed that I have a bit of a thing for sci-fi and horror and I’m going to continue my bias with Silent Hill in at 9! I have many very happy memories attached to this game and although the combat isn’t up to much, the graphics are glitchy and the character’s mouths don’t even move when they speak, the storyline, soundtrack and effects are chilling. The game makes up for it’s flaws by being just downright errie! When I played this game I got genuinely scared.

10.Galerians-2000

Galerians - Rion's Psychokenetic powers

I have a headache…

Galerians is definitely the game on my list that would, and did at the time of release, receive the worst user and critical reviews. The gameplay and combat can be ridiculously frustrating at times and some would class it as feeling repetitive and sparse. It divided fans however and it holds a place in time for me. I love the storyline, the settings the game plays out in and the cold and lonely atmosphere and the general feeling of isolation. It is low on replay value however.

I know this is only a top 10 but I also need to give a mention to the early ‘Chaos Engine’ on the Atari ST and, from a different era, the underrated ‘Silent Bomber’ and ‘Twisted Metal’ for arcade junkies.