The Cupboard of Shame is no more. No, I haven’t purged my collection of regretful purchases, or accepted that perhaps I’m not ever going to play that strategy game, especially not if I need to dust off my old XP machine in order to play it. But the Cupboard of Shame, once a metaphor, was most recently an actual cupboard, aptly titled not just because it housed sealed budget copies of Commandos titles, but also because it became a dumping ground for any other computer related crap, wires and old phone chargers. (And there was a mouse in there once, its discovery prompted by evidence that an instruction manual for an old copy of SingStar lurking in its depths had been subject to some enthusiastic nibbling).

I suppose I’d also never really got over that teenage feeling that games were a bit shameful and not to be proudly displayed with your films and books downstairs, and instead belonged out of sight in a spare room (with your Linkin Park CDs). These days, though, showing off your gaming collection is more of a ‘thing’, especially among enterprising YouTubers who make use of their seemingly abundant free space to proudly show off the fact that they never got rid of their big box copy of Theme Park, and so, armed with a spare free standing shelving unit, I set about putting my own games out in the open (still in a spare room, but a different spare room from the Linkin Park CDs).


The results were…not impressive. I’m not sure what this collection really says about me, other than that I seemingly buy games at random and then don’t always bother to play them. To be fair, a significant number of bare bones $old Out budget releases have long since been decanted into a CD wallet, but that only serves to reduce the visible boxes down to ‘old shite I bought from eBay or CeX’ and ‘modern(ish) games I bought but haven’t managed to play yet’. I feel particularly sad about the boxed copies of the Bioshock games, which remained in their cellophane past the point at which they were likely to be installed and played without any trouble. I did manage to pick up Steam versions, too, so when I finally get around to playing them I should at least have the choice between the original and recent remasters.

Of course, my initial reaction to the remasters was to think, “Blimey it’s a bit soon for this, isn’t it…oh no, it’s been nine years.” Meanwhile, people who actually keep up to date with their gaming, including professional reviewers who are paid to do so, went back and revisited it again. Multiple plays are a wonderful thing, though: much as we might not all have much time to indulge in such frippery, it’s where real love for a game is cultivated and, I suppose, how you identify your favourites. And your favourites aren’t necessarily the critically-acclaimed ones that regularly feature in ‘best of all time’ lists.

Films are a hell of a lot shorter and easier to digest than most games, but as much as you might want to present yourself as some kind of highbrow film buff, chances are that you don’t spend your Saturday nights watching harrowing Oscar-nominated fare for the third of fourth time. It’s poor, I know, but the best I can do when it comes to classic acclaimed films is wave a pathetic finger at well-used copies of Jaws and Blade Runner, my fascination with the latter arising out of a mild obsession with the spin-off game (about which I wrote here).

Otherwise, my ‘most watched’ list would feature plenty of things I’d probably rather not admit to. Somewhere on that list would be Smokey and the Bandit Part 3, which is generally (and correctly) considered to be terrible, but there was always something about the odd way it was put together that I found fascinating, even before ‘the internet’ highlighted to me rumours that the original cut of the film was called Smokey Is The Bandit, and featured Jackie Gleason in dual roles, reprising his turn as Sheriff Buford T. Justice and also replacing Burt Reynolds as the Bandit. (When test audiences got confused, the story goes, new scenes were shot with Jerry Reed as the Bandit and the film was recut, not altogether successfully).


At one point (albeit when I was regularly unable to sleep and sort of losing my mind) I used to watch it in the early hours of the morning and began to fantasise about winning the lottery and using the money to hunt down the original cut (and maybe even make a documentary of some kind on the subject). It is not A Good Film, but I have seen it more times than lots of good films. I could say it was only the production history that interested me, but I also watched it a lot as a kid, and that could be part of it too. I, uh, also sort of like the music. (I say “sort of”, which of course means that I scoured the internet for mp3s ripped from the soundtrack LP and put them on my phone).

A possibly more embarrassing admission is that I have repeatedly watched, and enjoyed, Couples Retreat, a film in which an overweight and cod-faced Vince Vaughn is inexplicably married to Malin Åkerman and makes Guitar Hero for a living but still isn’t very happy with life. My wife and I have seen it at least 20 times, which is possibly more times than anyone has watched the film, most likely including anyone involved in making it. Our endless quoting of lines has gradually inched from the more prominent set pieces and jokes to increasingly more obscure bits, some of which aren’t even meant to be funny, shoehorned into everyday conversation. (But we laugh anyway. Laugh, and then cry. And then watch it again).

As a fan of the film critic Mark Kermode, I always feel that he’d be desperately disappointed in me for liking it, and though I deliberately avoided his reviews of this film for this very reason, I was still able to piece together what I imagined he’d say based on his other appraisals of rubbish films featuring Vince Vaughn (of whom he is not the greatest fan), along the lines of: “*Sigh* Well, this is yet another lazy comedy in which Vince Vaughn plays an obnoxious loudmouth. I hated it.” (What he actually called it, when I eventually looked, was a “super-stodgy romcom…a crass frat-boy comedy retooled for moaning, middle-aged men, with a trashy veneer of cross-gender appeal”).

The temptation under such circumstances would be to use phrases like ‘guilty pleasure’ and ‘enjoyable rubbish’ but that’s kind of like pretending you don’t really like something that you do like. I mean, why would you watch rubbish over and over again? What the hell: it makes me laugh. And – again – I, um, also sort of like the music.


If you watched all the films in the world, would your favourite films still be your favourites? It doesn’t matter, because it’s never going to happen. You end up watching some by choice and some by accident. There are now more highly watchable TV shows readily available than ever before: if I watched that one you recommended, I’d probably like it, but the truth is that I might never get around to it. Or Mad Men. Or The Wire.

On the other hand, I have managed to find the time to watch a shitload of CSI. As admissions go, it’s not as bad as saying you like nu-metal, country music from the 80s and Lonely is the Night by Billy Squier, but I did once make a rather convoluted effort to avoid saying I liked CSI, even though by that point I’d watched the first 9 seasons, in order, on the train.

I never would have watched it at all had I not been given a copy of CSI: Deadly Intent – The Hidden Cases when I first got my Nintendo DS. And when I think of games I’ve played multiple times, it’s the first that springs to mind. It wasn’t particularly well-received and I’m not sure I could make an argument that it’s an undiscovered gem. But at the same time I can’t deny the fact that I’ve enjoyed it: every time I’ve played it, I’ve enjoyed it. And my long-running quest to see if any of the CSI games on the PC were any good all comes back to this, to the extent that I think I’ve mentioned and made unfavourable comparisons to the DS title in almost every CSI review on here.


So I guess what this is all building up to is: I’m going to scratch that itch and do a proper write-up. Get ready for some needlessly thorough analysis of an old DS game, everyone!