Remember how much you used to love playing video games? Plunging a cartridge into whatever shade of grey box you possessed and carelessly surrendering your afternoon to an extremely small amount of pixels?
But then, slowly, surely, you stopped playing. Other things took priority. Football. Hair gel. Girls. Exams. More hair gel. Booze. Jobs. Girls. Wives. Booze. Gym. Chores. Less hair gel. Pension plans. Booze. Booze. Planet Earth 2. Kids. No hair gel. Sleep.
In many ways, your time playing video games was the last time you were truly free, don't you think? To that end, here are some 2016 equivalents to the classic titles that made you happy all those years ago. Play them. You have time.
1 | Mortal Kombat II (1993) – The King of Fighters XIV (PS4)
Little known fact: Mortal Kombat II's unprecedented violence literally led to the formation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, the video game equivalent of the BBFC's U, PG, 12, 15 and 18 rating system. It became the first game to hold a mature rating, and was banned in Germany as a result - but that didn't stop it becoming the bestselling game in the world.
As time has gone on, beat-em-ups haven't moved too far away from the button mashing mayhem that made MKII so addictive. But at the same time, few have managed to replicate its exhilarating sense of fun.
The King of Fighters XIV, released in August of this year, is your best bet out of the current crop of the new generation of fighting sims. It has a retro feel without feeling pinned in the past, a huge roster of fist-throwers, and should see you through until the inevitable showstopper that is Hooligan Fighters in 2017.
2 | Goldeneye (1997) – Splatoon (Wii U)
Have you tried firing up GoldenEye 64 recently? It's basically unplayable. No surprise, as we've been spoilt by two decades of intense, cinema-standard first-person shooters. But back in the halcyon days of 1997 – Face/Off! Britpop Blair! Cold Feet series 1! – GoldenEye 64 was considered the most accomplished multiplayer game of all-time.
And what's more, it eschewed blood and gore in favour of a lighter slapstick feel. It was as innocent as shooting people in the face with a bazooka could ever get. But in this hyper realistic age, where you can sniper scope a henchman's every pore and paint the wall with every grizzly shade of their brain matter, that silliness has been lost.
It's not healthy. Which is why you should invest in Nintendo's critically acclaimed Splatoon, a shoot-em-up that replaces bullets with ink. It's a huge paintball game, basically.
Is it childish? Yeah, obviously. But it's just as fun as GoldenEye 64 ever was, and you won't end up with PTSD after playing it, so there's that.
3 | Sonic 2 (1992) – The Last Guardian (PS4)
Back when we were young and stupid and covered in dry snot, Sonic The Hedgehog's main draw was its speed. As soon as you crunched that first blade of Green Hill Zone grass under your shoe, colours whooshed past the screen like pic'n'mix out of a Bugatti window. It was an attention span-mulching rush.
But then we grew a little older. Took some time out to stop and look around. And what did we notice? Beyond the robot monkeys and aggy watch taps, our eyes were drawn to Tails, hovering dutifully, uselessly behind us. And then we felt a little pang in our chest. Because beyond the sound, speed and spins, Sonic The Hedgehog was actually about being best mates with a pointless fox.
And if it's a buddy story that you want, this year's long-awaited The Last Guardian is the only option. You play as a young boy who forms a friendship with a humungous griffin/rat hybrid as you plot your escape from a rocky, mysterious hellhole. Beautiful, heart-warming stuff.
4 | Snake (1999) – Super Mario Run (iPhone)
Your thumb joints have never recovered. You might remember Snake as the only game worth playing on your cherished Nokia 3210 (ironically, nobody remembers 'Memory'), but it actually harks back a lot further than that. The first known version of the game, titled Worm, was programmed in 1978 by Peter Trefornas, but it took two decades to gain mainstream popularity.
Nintendo's long-awaited Super Mario Run is, in many ways, a spiritual sequel. Like Snake, you're set in perpetual motion (playing as our favourite plumber who doesn't plum) on a rapid course of danger, and it's up to you to dodge and dart your way beyond certain death. The graphics may have changed, but Snake is still the beating heart that pumps life into so many of our favourite mobile games.
5 | Duck Hunt (1984) - EVE: Gunjack (PS VR)
Nintendo NES classic Duck Hunt blazed the trail for every arcade-style shooter that followed, but all you can probably remember about it is that dog. That fucking dog. Sniggering away like Mutley every time you missed a bird, which was all the time because the NES Zapper didn't actually work because, fair enough, it was the eighties and what did we expect?
Needless to say, times have changed. And just as Duck Hunt revolutionised arcade shooters three decades ago, PlayStation's virtual reality launch title EVE: Gunjack has introduced new dimensions to the genre.
Set in a panoramic sci-fi EVE universe, you slip on the VR headset, grab hold of your controllers and take charge of a gun turret, defending your rig from space pirates. It's far sight better than getting mugged off by a cartoon dog, that's for sure.