My Favourite Game

Tinie Tem­pah talks 16bit mu­sic and his love of Nin­tendo clas­sics

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“Back then, Sega was that lit­tle bit cooler. But look­ing at it now, I guess Nin­tendo had the last laugh”

Lon­don-born rap­per and pro­ducer Tinie Tem­pah, AKA Patrick Chuk­wue­meka Okogwu, scored a UK num­ber one in 2010 with his de­but sin­gle Pass Out. Its par­ent al­bum, Disc-Overy, was a world­wide hit. He’s a man in de­mand now, but he still finds time for gam­ing.

Given how busy you are, when do you find time to play games nowa­days, and what do they mean to you?

Gam­ing is a re­lease. It means time off, even when we’re on the road, be­cause we’ve al­ways got a few con­soles on the tour­bus. When I think about gam­ing, I think about down­time. But I don’t find it so easy to get into games to­day, com­pared to how I used to. Per­haps that’s be­cause they can be so long. But I do find time to play more ba­sic games. I like play­ing sports ones like FIFA, the Mario games, and I like fight­ing games – ones that I can just play a cou­ple of rounds of.

What was the last game that you were so into that you couldn’t put it down?

I got into FIFA 14 over the Christ­mas hol­i­day, and I re­ally couldn’t put that down. I have a sim­i­lar prob­lem with the Fight Night games, too. I don’t play on­line mul­ti­play­ers, though. I know it’s the revo­lu­tion and ev­ery­thing, but the idea of me play­ing against some 14-year-old and them call­ing me a wanker over the head­set, I can’t get my head around that.

Do you iden­tify yourself as a gamer, with the stereo­type that en­tails?

I def­i­nitely con­sider my­self a gamer. I’m a young man, and it’s one of my favourite pas­times. I think we’re all gamers these days. It doesn’t mat­ter what type of per­son you are. Gam­ing it­self doesn’t de­fine you as a per­son – you can be any­one and if you’ve got a smart­phone with Tem­ple Run on it, you’re a gamer.

What was your ear­li­est ex­pe­ri­ence with videogames?

When I was young, we had a SNES, and we had Su­per Mario All-Stars for it. We didn’t have many other games for the SNES for a while, but there were enough on this one car­tridge to keep us busy. I re­mem­ber at school you had the Sega heads and the Nin­tendo heads, and it did feel, back then, that Sega was that lit­tle bit cooler. But look­ing at it now, I guess Nin­tendo had the last laugh. I have a younger brother and two younger sis­ters, so Nin­tendo felt like the more fam­ily-friendly op­tion, whereas Sega games seemed like they were a bit more grown up.

Com­ing up to date, have you made a call be­tween Xbox One and PlayS­ta­tion 4 yet?

I have a PS4, which I think is won­der­ful. Sony has done a lot to keep its ex­ist­ing fan­base happy, tick­ing a lot of boxes. I re­mem­ber when the first PlayS­ta­tion came out. I re­ally wanted one but my par­ents could never af­ford it. I’m lucky that I can now af­ford any of the new con­soles, and I’m re­ally in a fresh phase of lov­ing gam­ing.

Your mu­sic has, in the past, re­flected some of the 16bit sounds of your youth.

Yeah, both Pass Out and Frisky, those tracks had these 8bit, these 16bit sounds in them, and that was def­i­nitely done to cap­ture the vibe of that era of gam­ing. It’s the vibe we were go­ing for. I was think­ing back to the sounds I heard play­ing games as a kid: the sound­tracks of the Mario games, of Tetris, that real dig­i­tal sound. When­ever I think back to Mario games, there’s that mu­sic that comes on when Bowser first ap­pears. I’ll never for­get that, and when­ever I hear it I’m right back there, play­ing that game as a kid. You know, derder--derr-derrr! And there’s the main Mario theme, which is just clas­sic.

And what’s your favourite game?

I guess I’d have to say Su­per Mario All-Stars. I play a lot of mod­ern games; I love the Metal Gear Solid se­ries, and I’m re­ally into the GTA games, too. But with Mario, what­ever the era, you know what you’re go­ing to get. Those games are ad­ven­tures of the high­est or­der… They have these clas­sic fairy­tale qual­i­ties to them. Here’s a man, and he has to res­cue a princess, and there’s a cas­tle. In many re­spects, it’s a sim­ple, straight­for­ward propo­si­tion, but it’s very pure… Even the new Mario games – I’ve got Su­per Mario 3D World – re­tain that playa­bil­ity of the 2D orig­i­nals. Mario games, they’re all like play­grounds – play­grounds in which you can just do any­thing and ev­ery­thing.

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