Tinie Tempah: My Favourite Game

My Favourite Game is our monthly series in which we ask famous figures about their gaming habits. There’s more here.

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.

We reviewed Super Mario All-Stars in E1, October 1993. You can read it here.

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, der-der–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.