Sunday, 11 December 2011

Not Safe for Fucking Work

The Huffinton Post has demonstrated the worst possible way to censor offensive language.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Cold Terror

When I was on the train this weekend I decided to attempt to write some fiction.  Since it was Halloween weekend I naturally decided to try a horror story.  Here it is.

“It was cold, so cold we could feel our breath freeze in our beards and icicles form on our eyelashes, and that was fine, until we got lost.”  Erik rasped.  He was sat in an unbelievably soft bed, propped up on a pile of feather pillows.  At first Erik didn’t know where he was but the assumed from the bed and the smell of cooking bacon that drifted into the room that he was at the Inn.  A small window showed snow drifting in the frozen street outside making Erik again thankful for the small fire that burnt in the corner of the bedroom.  Erik’s eyes were dark and sunken, his skin taught and pale.  Erik’s audience was a single man, a stranger who had introduced himself as Daniel Hawksworth.  Hawksworth was a scarred, serious man who sat on a wooden chair in the corner of the small bedroom with a large revolver on his hip.  Hawksworth stared at Erik intently, focusing on every detail of the man’s story.

“We’d been trying to climb the mountain, Ben and I have always wanted to climb Cairn Pyke’s north face and we were half way up when the blizzard hit.  I don’t know when we left the path but the snow had been falling for a few hours by the time Ben realised we weren’t where we were supposed to be.  I’ve already told you how cold it was but it was then that my blood really froze.”

“We’re both experienced climbers so we knew how small the chances of finding our way back to such a narrow path were.  The snow was so thick we could barely see more than a few meters in any direction.  I started to panic but Ben calmed me down, he said that there were lodges and even a few villages all over the lower slopes of the mountain.  So he reasoned that if we just kept moving down hill we’d find shelter somewhere.”

“We moved slowly, I remember inching my way down the hill, terrified that it’d break my ankle on a patch of ice or some snow covered pot hole or step of an unseen cliff face.  The snow settled on our coats and packs, weighing us down and making each step harder than the last, but we kept moving and eventually we reached the cave.”

As he mentioned the cave the man’s voice quivered and he shuddered despite the fire that burnt in the corner hearth but he continued.  “It was a vertical crack in the rock face, wide enough at the bottom for us to walk through together and dozens of meters tall.  The stone was cold and hard and an unsettling darkness filled the deeper parts of the cave, but it was shelter.  Ben fumbled with our packs for food and sleeping bags while I lit our camp stove for a little heat.

Again Erik paused, “and that’s when you saw the creature?”  Hawksworth prompted. “That’s when I saw the creature.  I think the cave must have been its lair.  I nearly wet myself when I saw this huge thing stagger out of the darkness.  I suppose it looked most like a man but it was taller than anyone I’ve ever seen and far broader.  It had tiny black eyes and a mouth full of cruel hooks, like a bear’s or a wolf’s.  Despite its width the thing was painfully skinny and its huge bones were clearly visible under its milk white skin so it looked like a shrink wrapped skeleton.  I don’t know what it was but it scared the hell out of me.”

“It was a Wendigo” Hawksworth explained “Once it was a man but for whatever reason, hunger or perversion, he turned to cannibalism and so the old powers that live in these mountains cursed him to transform into an unnatural monster with an insatiable hunger for human flesh.  I come up here every few years to hunt them.”  Erik found this easy to believe, the man’s face was battered and scared, he moved with the absolute certainty of an apex predator and was completely at ease with the huge pistol holstered at his waist.  “God that’s horrible” Erik said.
“There’re plenty of horrible things in the world” Hawksworth agreed gravely before asking “What happened when the Wendigo saw you?”

“It attacked me, Ben was working on the sleeping bags nearer the cave mouth but I was right in front of the thing, sorry the Wendigo.  It grabbed me by the neck, at least that’s what I think it wanted to do, its hands were so big that they covered the bottom half of my face as well.  The Wendigo’s skin was cold and rough and its arms were phenomenally strong.  I panicked as it lifted me off the ground and instinctively bit its hand.  The thing’s skin was thin and tore easily like old paper.  A bitter taste filled my mouth while the thing howled in pain.  The creature seemed shocked that I’d hurt it and screamed like a fog horn as it dropped me.  I landed hard on the cold stone but I was quickly on my feet and running.”

“We abandoned out bags as we sprinted out of the cave and back onto the mountainside.  We forgot our previous caution and threw ourselves down the mountainside.  The Wendigo chased after us, the ice and the potholes and the sudden drops didn’t matter now, if we slowed at all we knew the thing would devour us.  We hurtled down the slope, sliding and skidding as we ran.  The snow was still falling thick and fast so we couldn’t see the thing through the blizzard but we could certainly hear it.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been as terrified as I was then, running through the freezing white with the monster howling behind us.  We had no idea how close the Wendigo was and whether or not it could see us.  All we could do was run and hope the thing would lose us in the snowstorm, but it never did.  The howling followed us all the way down the mountain, always terrifyingly close but just out of sight.  I could still hear it when I spotted the orange glow of the town lights through the driving snow and I heard it again just before we burst through the Inn doors.  That must have been when I passed out.  I have no idea what happened next, the last things I remember before I woke up here were the monster’s howls and the Inn’s warmth.

Erik seemed drained after recounting his ordeal.  “I can tell you what happened next.”  Hawksworth said.  “The Wendigo followed you and Ben into town; it ran right up the main street just as you crashed into the Inn.  I was in town for this year’s hunt and fortunately I had my gun to hand so I managed to kill it before anyone got hurt.”
“Oh thank god” Erik sighed before his relief turned to curiosity “you shot it?”  Hawksworth patted the gun holstered at his hip.  “I shot it; a bullet to the brain kills most things and a silver bullet kills pretty much everything.”
“Oh god, I’m just so glad it’s all over.”  Hawksworth’s face darkened and he was silent for a moment before saying “I’m really sorry Erik but it’s not.”

“What?” Erik asked
“You bit the creature Erik” at Hawksworth’s word’s the world seemed to stop as a sickening realisation formed in the pit of Erik’s stomach.  “No... I only bit it a little.  No it’s not fair.”
“I know” Hawksworth said sadly.
“I didn’t even swallow what I bit, I can’t...”
“I know it’s not fair but you tasted the creature and for whatever power lives in these mountains, that’s enough.”
“No... There must be...”  Erik stammered in protest, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing but as he ran his tongue along his teeth and found a row of razor sharp points he knew it was undeniable.  He raised his hands to his face and found his skin bleached and his fingers stretched to cruel white claws.  

“Mirror!” Erik shouted at Hawksworth.
“You don’t--” Hawksworth replied
“I need to see!” Erik interrupted.
“Ok” Hawksworth said as he reached into his jacket pocket and handed Erik a compact shaving mirror.  “Oh god there must be something you can do?” Erik asked as he examined his transformed features.  His eyes had become sunken black pearls that sat deep in his skull.  His teeth were long curved fangs that ended in vicious points.  Erik moved his gaze from his face to his naked chest and found he could see every bone through the pale skin that barley covered them.  He wanted to cry but the thing he had become had no tear ducts so he let out a howl of grief and frustration that sounded painfully like the cries that had chased him down the mountainside. 

“Oh god” he said with a mouth that wasn’t his own.  “Please, is there anything you can do.?”
“Just one.” Hawksworth said drawing his revolver and pointing it at the creature that had been Erik’s face.  “I’m so sorry.”  The polished metal seemed red in the firelight but Erik didn’t seem to notice it, he was overwhelmed by the sight and the smell of the man, the meal in front of him.  The once human thing stared at Hawksworth and felt its stomach rumble.  “Do it.” Erik said, sickened by the monster he had become.  Hawksworth looked deep into the Wendigo's eyes and pulled the trigger.

The End

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Trailer Trash

I just saw the trailer for the new Resident Evil game on the DS, it will be called Resident Evil: Revelations because eventually every series has to release something subtitled : Revelations.  Resident Evil seems to be entering the colon noun beginning with R stage of standard sequel nomenclature and will probably be followed up by Resident Evil: Redemption, Resident Evil: Reborn and Resident Evil: Resurgence.  Hopefully the series will continue on the generic sequel naming trajectory and we can look forward to the games such as Resident Evil Colon In LA, Resident Evil Colon In Da Hood and Resident Evil Colon In Space.  Colon Revelations! (coincidentally Stan Lee's pet name for the results of a proctoscopy) will be released for the Nintendo DS and the trailer can be found here.

As the trailer is all pre-rendered we can't tell much about the content of the game but we can deduce that the game will place greater importance on survival horror than some of the more recent Resident Evil games. The trailer asks the viewer "But will she be able to prolong her survival?" and proceeds to demonstrate some of the challenges the player will face.  As well as the typical zombies and threatening pools of goo that the Resident Evil games are famous for, the heroine will have to contend with her own clumsiness and the top screen of the DS being almost completely covered by a thick layer of asymmetrical hair.  This inability to move or see correctly promises to add an extra element of fear to the game.  The game looks to support a range of playing styles, offering players the option to gain a "male gaze" bonus by unzipping her wetsuit however this is a risky strategy as it makes the protagonist vulnerable to enemy attacks, hypothermia and chaffing.

Probably the most exciting feature of the new game is the new protagonist's range of finishing moves.  Whilst Resident Evil 4 featured Leon S Kennedy performing brilliantly over the top wrestling moves and Resident Evil 5 featured Chris Redfield doing something similar but less well executed the heroine of Resident Evil: Generic Subtitle will be able to hurl empty pistols at enemies in a manner resembling a mid-twentieth century goon attacking an indestructible superhero.

Resident Evil Colon The One Before Rampage will be released at some point in the future I won't be playing it as I don't own a DS and doubt I'll buy one.  This has been an exercise in futility, goodbye.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


First let me apologise for neglecting the blog, now let's talk current affairs.

Sean Hoare is dead.  The man who spoke publicly to the New York Times about the News of The World hacking phones and caused the scandal that has swallowed the British media like a particularly tasty looking prophet on a disastrous trip to the Sea Life centre, was found dead yesterday.  According to the guardian website "The death is currently being treated as unexplained but not thought to be suspicious.  Police investigations into this incident are ongoing."

I’m definitely not saying I think he was murdered by News International.  I have no intention of libeling Rupert Murdoch, especially if he has assassins on his payroll, which I’m sure he doesn’t, probably.  I am not an insane paranoid conspiracy theorist, like Mel Gibson in that movie, but I don't I deny historical events, like Mel Gibson in real life.  So I’m going to wait and see what the police investigation has to say.


How can the police say the death is “not thought to be suspicious”?  A man dies suddenly after embarrassing one of the most powerful men in the world, causing him to shut down Britain's best selling Sunday "newspaper" and abandon his bid to take over BSkyB.  Surely anyone who hears this story wonders is whether the Murdochs had him killed.  How can the police not think it’s suspicious?  Have they never watched movies or read thrillers or played Deus Ex on their dad’s PC after school? 

Again I’m not saying that the met should rush around to Murdoch towers and arrest the weather-beaten Antipodean supervillain, but how can anyone with an imagination not find Sean Hoare’s death suspicious?  There could be a perfectly natural explanation for Hoare’s death, and I hope there is, but it seems suspicious in my ill-informed opinion and I hope Hoare’s death receives a full and rigorous investigation.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Would you like a cup of Tea or Coffee?

My dad hates dandelions like Dirty Harry hates the concept of crime.  Every time he finds one in the garden he’ll rip it out of the ground and throw it in the compost bin and every time he does this my mum tells him “come the apocalypse you’ll be glad of a few dandelions, you can eat the leaves and make coffee out of the root.”  This sounded like a challenge to me...

A quick googling told me that not only could you make coffee from dandelion root; their leaves can also be used to make tea.  I quickly realised that the ability to make a good cup of tea would be an essential skill as a member of the human resistance and started my attempt at middle class survivalism by harvesting dandelions.  Leaves were easy to find and collect, but the roots were trickier.  I had hoped to uproot the plants with a strong tug, but the dandelions would snap in half leaving the roots buried.  I had to dig them out, this was a bit tricky at first but once I found a trowel in the shed it became much easier.  Having collected enough ingredients I retired to the kitchen to begin preparation. 

Eaten raw the leaves are like peppery lettuce.  It’s not particularly nice but it’s not horrible.  A dandelion leaf would make part of a perfectly acceptable post apocalyptic BLT.

I made the tea by ripping up the leaves into the small pieces before pestle and mortarising them.  Eventually I was left with a green slop.  I placed the slop on a piece of kitchen roll to absorb any excess moisture as the leaves dried and boiled the kettle.  

One teaspoon of dandelion mush placed in a cup of hot water made a fresh, pleasant if unspectacular green liquid.  It’s a very healthy tasting drink, not the best in the world but much nicer than hot water.  If western civilisation was wiped out by some terrifying cataclysm and it was this or nothing I’d definitely drink it.

I made the coffee by scrubbing all of the earth off the roots before placing them on a baking tray and roasting in the oven at gas mark 4 for about half an hour, until they looked brown and crispy but hadn't quite turned black.  Once the roots had been roasted I ground them with a pestle and mortar into a fine powder and added a tea spoon  to a mug of boiling water.  The resulting brown liquid smelt and tasted coffeeish.  Again this wasn’t the most amazing drink in the world but it was perfectly drinkable. 

I preferred the dandelion coffee to the tea because it had a stronger, more distinct flavour.  However the tea is easier to make and requires fewer dandelions than the coffee (one big dandelion could make a cup of tea whereas I needed 5 or 6 dandelion roots to make a cup of coffee.  Whilst I’m glad I’ve learnt how to make drinks out of a common weed (and definitely think this has improved my chances of been fully accepted into a rag-tag bunch of survivors trying to stay alive in the bleak nuclear winter) I’d definitely say that in terms of hot drinks alone the present beats any future post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Opinions on Books: The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder

For today’s entry I’m taking a break from the video-games of the 2000s to talk about something a little more classical, so sit back in your leather wing-back armchair, pour yourself a brandy, turn on the atmospheric soundtrack and read all about my opinions on the Edwardian ghost buster Thomas Carnacki.

I haven’t always enjoyed the supernatural detective genre.  As a child I thought Scooby Doo was ridiculous, not for the talking dog, that was brilliant.  What I had a problem with was the terribly predictable stories.  I demanded more than a suspect list of one and half an episode of running down corridors from my pre-turkey dinosaur and potato smiles entertainment.  Years past and I learnt a vital lesson, there’s more to life than Scooby Doo. 

As I got older I became enthralled by supernatural mysteries; Buffy, Hellboy, John Constantine, the Winchester brothers.  All relatable, flawed (mostly) humans investigating sinister and often grisly puzzles, but rather than end their adventures with a drawing room confession or an arrest like boring old Hercule Poirot they would fight giant Lovecraftian monsters, much more exciting.  Thomas Carnacki is one of the original Occult detectives, created by William Hope Hodgeson in 1910.  The Ghost Finder appeared in a six short stories for the wonderfully named Idler magazine.  These stories, along with three adventures published after Hodgeson’s death are collected in The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder published by Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural.  The book’s RRP is £3 for 200 pages so it’s very cheap, but is it any good?

I was expecting Carnacki to be a predictable character.  As he was one of the first occult detectives and a widely acknowledged influence on those that followed him I had assumed that he would seem tired.  I worried that time would have changed Carnacki from a character to a cliché, but thanks to Hodgeson this is never a problem.  Probably my favourite thing about Carnacki is his rational approach to the supernatural.  Carnacki is always prepared for a mundane solution to the supposed hauntings he encounters and often sceptical of supernatural phenomena.  However, when he finds indisputable evidence of supernatural threats he has no problem accepting them as real.  

This is a refreshing change to Mulder and Scully type characters, always assuming a mystery must be either totally rational or totally paranormal.  Carnacki lives in a world where ghosts and demons exist alongside human menaces so he is always prepared for either problem.  Following this unusually agnostic approach Carnacki tackles supernatural problems scientifically; reading research papers on the occult, using then modern technology such as his trusty camera and devises new methods of fighting spirits such as his “electric pentacle”.  Carnacki is not some indestructible action hero who fights evil with quips and sarcasm, he’s always scared of the demonic forces that trouble him, but he’s a hero because he fights them anyway, because no one else knows how.

With most occult detectives stories the reader can usually expect the villain to be some sort of supernatural foe or maybe revealed as humans all along in a surprise twist, Hodgeson takes a different approach.  Hodgeston treats Ghosts and humans as equally likely culprits; sometimes the monster is a terrifying supernatural apparition from beyond time and space, sometimes its Scooby doo style crooks trying to steal an inheritance.  This stops the mysteries from becoming predictable and boring, ensuring the reader never knows what to expect.

Hodgeson portrays most of the threats as mysteries even to Carnacki, as if for all his expertise and experience the Ghost Finder only knows a tiny fraction of the truth about his supernatural enemies, creating a terrific sense of unease that is often genuinely spooky.  The author creates great unknowable menaces then locks Carnacki (and the reader) in a dark room with them, protected only by lines of chalk and electricity that might not work at all.  This is undermined slightly as each story is narrated by Carnacki so his survival is never in doubt.

In conclusion The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgeson provides a collection of varied, intriguing and unsettling short stories.  Definitely worth reading/buying for a superior early example of the occult detective genre.  

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Day 3 A game that is underrated

Hogs of War PSone/PC

Hogs of War is a brilliant turn based comedy strategy game about pigs (all voiced by Rik Mayall) from a range of national stereotypes fighting for control of the punderful archipelago of Saustralasia.  It’s as awesome as it sounds, I'm astonished that it's not on more "greatest games ever" lists.

Tragically Hogs of War has never had a sequel, presumable the only reason for this being the game designers couldn’t think what to do.  So to help them out I’ve thought up a bunch of ideas for the developers Atari, all I ask in return is a thanks credit on the game, oh and 50% of all pig related profits. 

Gears of Hogs of War
The problem with the first game was the emphasis on jokes and whimsy over gritty violence.  In this reinvention the player leads a squad of four Pigs who have to overcome their tortured path to murder their way across the post apocalyptic world of Swineingrad.  Rather than the conforming to broadly comedic national stereotypes each of the War Hogs(TM) represents one of the classic war movie squad archetypes such as heroic hog, tinned spam (the only member of the team with a helmet who paradoxically has the shortest health bar) and racially dubious pig.  The game will be psychopathically gory and as such unsuitable for children, it will be advertised at them anyway.  Rik Mayall’s will no longer voice the game, having being replaced by Lance Henriksen, or Sean Pertwee if he’s too expensive.

Animal Farmville
The player is Napoleon, having recently won the battle of the cowshed they must micromanage every aspect of animal farm.  Command other animals to farm and gather resources.  Carefully control the building of the windmill whilst maintaining order amongst the farm’s population.  Unleash savage dogs on your enemies.  Animal Farmville will be in continuity with Hogs of War as explained by a unnecessarily convoluted tie in comic miniseries, which will benefit both franchises.  This exciting farming sim/political allegory will retain Rik Mayall’s voice over.

Hogs of Total War
Replace the boring old-fashioned turn based combat with hip and trendy Real Time combat, man.  Players carefully manage armies of hogs in a risk like game of strategy over a pig shaped map before leading massive hordes of pig soldiers across beautifully realised HD landscapes.  Historical accuracy is vitally important to this game of warring pigs so Hogs of Total war will take place during the golden age of football hooliganism.  

Reinventing the dogfighting game using turn based combat!  Players take it in turn to clumsily navigate their biplanes in attacking runs against their strangely stationary opponents.  All the fun of a traditional flight simulator with half the interactivity. 

From the development team behind We Dare this (CENSORED)

Give me a call Atari any of these could be the best game ever.  

Friday, 8 April 2011

30 Days of Gaming: Day 2

Day 02 - Your favourite character

Apologies for the delay, the internet’s wasn’t being kind to me.  I plan to take revenge by filling it with two lots of waffley nonsense today.  Anyway on with the blog.


So you’re probably wondering who’s that blue guy with no jaw and not enough fingers?  Why’s he so close to the moon?  What grammatically challenged nonsense will Tom be wasting my precious time with today?  Stay with me hypothetical reader, the answer to all of these questions lie beyond.

The blue gentleman with 1997 boy band hair is Raziel, my favourite video game character.  A former vampire who'll spend days worrying about existentialism, destiny and killing dozens of enemies at time, Raziel is the angsty messianic bad-ass from the Legacy of Kain series of games.  Legacy of Kain is a series of five games, Blood Omens 1&2, Soul Reavers 1&2 and Legacy of Kain: Defiance.  Blood Omen 1 was created by Silicon Knights, Crystal Dynamics were behind the Soul Reaver games and Defiance (with a different team within Crystal Dynamics to blame for Blood Omen 2).  The Blood Omen games star the Vampire Kain, the Soul Reaver games feature the whatever the hell he is Raziel and Defiance alternates between the two.  They’re not the greatest games ever, far from it, they often have pretty repetitive game play, overly long cut scenes and conform to a whole bunch of dark fantasy clichés.  But they’re brilliant none-the-less. 

Where The Legacy of Kain series succeeds is in its story.  Told mostly through brilliantly voiced cut scenes (see below) the game is not a great example of interactive storytelling, in fact if I played them for the first time today I’d probably get bored during the third or fourth five minute cut scene, go for a drink and not come back.  But when I first played one of the games (Soul Reaver 2 £5 from W.H. Smith) this was amazing.  I was used to game stories being brief “Help (INSERT NAME OF HERO) stop those generic crooks/monsters from stealing the gold/princess”.  These games weren’t like that, they had a story to tell and points to make.  Crystal Dynamics had assembled a talented team of voice actors as complex and compelling characters manipulating each other through an epic story about, destiny, time travel paradoxes and honour.  The storyline in this series of games was the first to really matter to me, I wasn’t playing for a high score or a trophy, I wanted to help Raziel save the world and take his revenge on all the villains who manipulated him.  I could forgive occasionally flabby gameplay and an awful camera.


When he first appeared Raziel was driven by revenge, he’d been betrayed and left for dead by the seemingly evil Kain and after a mysterious resurrection wanted nothing but vengeance.  As the story progressed Raziel learns about his forgotten past, realise the startling number of people manipulating him and fails to make simple jumps thanks to the ridiculous camera. 

In game Raziel has all the attributes of a great player character.  He’s got a unique look, always visible against a range of backdrops.  Raziel has the ability to become a sort of ghost and he can glide on his tattered wings allowing for a range of puzzles, these aren’t great in Defiance but the ones in Soul Reaver 2 are fun brain teasers.  The heath system constantly encourages the player to go on the offensive and fortunately he’s handy in a fight.  It’s great fun ripping apart hordes of enemies from humans to massive demons using his claws and whatever other weapons Raziel finds, including the eponymous Soul Reaver, a devastating magical weapon closely linked to Raziel’s mysterious destiny. 

Michael Bell provides the voice for Raziel, Bell is a veteran voice actor who got typecast portraying blue characters after working on the Smurfs; he’s got a rich interesting voice, which is fortunate as you hear it a lot.  Raziel loves to spend long periods of time angstily soliloquising to himself about fate like a demonic Hamlet.  Over the course of his three games Raziel becomes a true (all be it flawed and often misguided) hero.  Raziel is supposedly the only character in the Legacy of Kain storyline with free will (despite having his every action controlled by a player) but frequently finds himself tricked into doing exactly what his enemies wanted.  Ultimately Raziel redeems himself for all of his mistakes spectacularly in the frustratingly cliff-hangery conclusion to Defiance.  

Raziel is unlikely to star in his own game again, Defiance (his most recent title), released in 2003? To pretty uninspiring sales and most of the team behind the games have moved on to new projects (or died) but Raziel and Kain have appeared as downloadable characters in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light  so someone in power remembers these guys exist, who knows maybe somewhere down the line there will be an end to the storyline (or a reboot that totally misses the point) if there is then Eidos will be getting some of my money.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

30 Days of Gaming: Day 1

One of my Facebook friends has started posting an image from and then discussing a different game each day.  I've decided to steal this feature and use it myself.  I’ll talk about a range of games over the next 30 days and use them as a springboard to self indulgently discuss my own life and the relationship between the two.

Day 01 Your first video game: Pokémon Blue on the Game Boy Colour

We didn’t have a games console in the house when I was really young. Whilst my friends were playing on the N64 and the console that would become known as the PSone but at the time was simply the playstation I was having an idyllic semi-country childhood of chasing squirrels, climbing trees and going to my mate Andy’s to play Hogs of War for hours.  This never really bothered me, I used to like videogames and always enjoyed having a turn (and inevitably embarrassing myself) on my friends’ consoles but I was never particularly bothered about having one of my own.  This changed with Pokémon.

I was 11, we’d just moved into a big new house in the suburbs and was becoming obsessed.  There had been other playground crazies, pogs, tamagotchi, yo-yo’s but again I could take these or leave them.  Pokémon was different; this was something new that captured my pre-teen imagination like Spider-Man or Star Trek, maybe even rivalling the X-Men.  It started with the cartoon, I don’t think I would have cared as much if it was just a game, but the Pokémon cartoon (shown between the Poke-Rap and Cat Deeley song on SMTVlive) had a story, characters I could care about and empathise with, living in a brightly coloured world filled with amazing creatures and adventure.  I wanted to go there, to explore these huge unthreatening forests find bizarre monsters and force them to take part in what are essentially super powered cockfights.  So when I was writing my Christmas list on the 1st December 1999 (my family didn’t do anything Christmassy until the start of December) I asked for a Game Boy colour and Pokémon Blue.

Pokémon was the only game I ever bought a strategy guide for a clearly bootlegged in no way endorsed by Nintendo magazine with detailed maps and bestiary between a terrible drawing of Pikachu on the front cover and a chart comparing each type’s strengths and weaknesses on back.  I got this weeks before the console and read it obsessively.  I could tell anyone who asked (or made the mistake of coming near me) what type each of the original 151 were and what levels they evolved at.  I read the guide until it dropped in bits and when I went to bed on Christmas Eve I was barely able to control my excitement.  As soon as my parents would let me I opened began opening my presents, I foraged through the mound of brightly coloured boxes and eventually found the game cartridge.  “You can have the Game Boy for your birthday” my dad teased before handing me the console and losing me for months.

After struggling to direct Ash (renamed TOM because I didn’t notice the lowercase text option) out of the house I went straight for my Pokémon, I chose Bulbasaur because he was an awesome plant dinosaur and set off for months of carefully scouring the game world for Pokémon.  I managed to catch all of the Pokémon on my cartridge and (via trading) some of the ones Nintendo had made exclusive to the red version of the game in a blatant cash grab.
Pokémon was great when I was eleven but I don’t think I’d play it again, the sheer amount of monsters to catch (now at about 700 I think?) would take up much more free time than I can ever imagine having again.  Besides after a few months I turned 12 and realised how childish the whole Pokémon franchise was and moved onto the much more sophisticated and grown up hobby/blatant cash grab Warhammer 40000.

I hope you’ve enjoyed me pretending I was going to write about Pokémon and writing about my child hood instead, come back tomorrow, who knows what I’ll be claiming to talk about?  

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

New Blog Smell!

Hello world!  You’re currently reading the first entry of my new blog.  My Name’s Tom and his is the place to find all the information about my Amazing and Astounding (and mostly job hunt related) Adventures  I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be writing about but hopefully it’ll be funny, entertaining and informative, or failing that regular.  I plan to update every weekday and who knows, I may even stick to that.  I’ll be writing about my life thoughts, interests which include:

·         Books

·         Batman

·         Science

·         Comedy

·         Batman

·         Films

·         Current affairs

·         Batman

·         Food

·         Batman

·         And anything else that takes my interest, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to.