Could it have all gone differently for Brazil, if they’d had Wario up front…?

Mario Strikers Charged Football (2007)

I have my own theory on football obsession, or soccer to you sceptic Septics. Being crazy into football when you’re a young kid and teenager is absolutely no problem at all, it’s quite understandable. And even as you get longer in the tooth, football is always handy as a universal men’s language, something to awkwardly discuss at surface level with the other henpecked dads at the next kid’s birthday party you both get bullied into attending.

I must say though, and here’s my theory – if you’re over the age of say, 20 or 21, and you’re still obsessed with football, to the point that your team getting a bad result ruins your entire weekend, then I’m sorry, but this is an admittance that you have absolutely no sex life. After all, there’s better things to be doing of a Saturday and Sunday. And let’s face it, you’re probably a plastic supporter of a mega-club anyway, which means you might as well be watching the share price battle between Coca-Cola versus Pepsi – and at least those two don’t change their ingredients every six months.

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Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 21)

We’re definitely getting to one of the most interesting parts of the Sinnoh Pokédex now – some long awaited evolutions to older generation Pokémon. It shows you that Pokémon fans don’t know what they want, though – we were all crying out for some new evolutions to old favourites, and then when we finally got them, we all complained just as much, as you shall see in a moment.

And now look, there’s been a number of generations that have come out since Diamond and Pearl, and evolutions to existing favourites have become scarce again, though not so scarce that Farfetch’d didn’t get some treatment. We’re never going to be happy, us Pokéliebers. But in our defence, would you be happy with Rhyperior?



Another one for the forgettable pile. I’ve seen better fish, let’s just say. There are all kinds of creatures under the sea that you could have used for a new Pokémon design. We also know that there must be hundreds, or probably thousands of species that are so far down in the depths that we may never find them, in which case the Pokedesigners can get creative and do whatever the hell they want. But Game Freak spurn all that to give you a fish that is as middle-of-the-river as they come. If they wanted bioluminescene, they should have taken that Angler Fish boss from Zelda Link’s Awakening and turned into Pokémon. It wasn’t much good as a boss, but God knows it’ll tear more flesh than Lumineon.


Although I’ve shown nothing but contempt for the other Baby Pokémon we’ve looked at, I’ll give Mantyke a pass. Again, he’s completely unnecessary, but aesthetically he’s a lot better than a fully grown Mantine. More to the point, Mantyke reminds me of something you might see in Finding Nemo. Though I’d better watch my back mentioning that film in case the fish conversationists get me. You see, I really enjoyed Finding Nemo when I went to see it in the cinema, and its message about not eating every fish in the ocean and how they’re friends or somesuch, it was all very profound. It really moved me. Unfortunately my self-reflection was critically undermined by my stopping off for a fresh cod and chips on the way home. Tasted lovely it did, and I hated to eat another little Nemo, but I was starving. I imagine a little Mantyke in batter would taste great as well, but can you imagine what the chipshop would charge?!


The idea of using the abominable snowman in battle is definitely appealing to me, and I like Obamasnow’s design, its cry, and its unique typing of Grass and Ice. Of course, seasoned Pokémon enthusiasts will immediately clock how bad a typing that is, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a move that even a creature as bulky as Abomasnow isn’t catastrophically weak to. It turns out that yetis do exist, but not long enough to leave any sort of impact. That’s a shame, but you could still try using it for some cool points, which always matter.


I like Weavile, actually. His new haircut looks distinctly 80s, and he’s generally got a cool design. He’s a Dark-Ice type, but I always had Sneasel and Weavile down as fighters, the type of scrappers that will elbow you, ram the nut on you and kick you in the gentleman’s area when the ref isn’t looking. The least you can hope for when you enter a Pokémon battle is that you don’t look embarrassing, and Weavile will always get you over that hurdle. His good stats and useful moves are even better gravy.


It all got a bit much for Magnezone. Detractors of Generation 1 Pokémon design are always keen to point out how Magnemite to Magneton was almost as glaring a lack of imagination as Grimer to Muk. That’s as may be, but God knows what was going on with Magnezone, it’s like the magnet got so strong that anything even vaguely metallic stuck to it like glue. One gets the feeling that eventually, it’ll become such a powerful magnet that it will invert the earth’s core, and then we’ll be in trouble. Until then, and in a regular battle, probably 97% of moves aren’t very effective against Magnezone, so there’s definitely a case for using it. Just don’t bring it near any scrapyards, computer shops, or naked flames.


You probably know that in most countries, it’s rare that a life sentence actually means imprisonment for life. This means that even if a life sentence is handed down to a child molester, a sex attacker or a jack-of-all-trades pervert, they will eventually be unleashed back into society. And when they do, they’ll look ten times more haggard, grim and out of shape. Lickilicky is this liberated fiddler, a Lickitung after a ten year stretch. Except Lickilicky must have been eatling all the soap rather than dropping it because now he’s bigger and grosser than ever. I would imagine, actually, that a Pokémon of Lickilicky’s girth could actually perform quite well in battle – high HP, good defences, a nicely powered Hyper Beam here and there. But just like you may not have a problem with businesses taking on reformed sex offenders, so long as it’s not your company, so too might you be OK with other trainers using Lickilicky on their team – but no way is he getting a spot on yours.


You’ve got to be joking me. Actually, I really did think they were playing a gag on me when I first saw Rhyperior’s design because I could not stop laughing at how shit it was. Rhydon was the very first Pokémon design conceived of, way back before Pokémon was ever realised. Rhydon is what you call a Pokémon, it’s got obvious animal influence coupled with some cool selling points, namely that mean looking horn. Not only does tacking an evolved form onto Rhydon completely undermine it, but when it looks as ridiculous as Rhyperior then it doesn’t matter how improved the stats are, or how its got new moves and tricks – the coolness factor rules all. Rhyperior isn’t just a galoot in an ill-fitting suit, like Hard Man from Mega Man 3. It is a Ferrari that’s been given side buffers, Ray-Bans with novelty lights on the rim, an Armani dinnerjacket that’s had leather patches sown in. It’s an affront to all things stylish and impressive, a godawful stain on Pokémon design. It’s a wonder this abomination didn’t become symbolic of Gen 4’s design as a whole. There’s not a single thing superior about this.


When a little kid has messy or scraggly hair that’s in dire need of a cut, it’s cute. But you do get to an age when having unkempt hair just makes you a right scruff, especially if you’ve put on a bit of timber to go along with it. Perhaps underneath all the seaweed and tentacles and clag, Tangrowth is a looker, a diamond in the rough. All I see though is an overweight shambler, something that’ll just embarrass you in a Pokémon battle. It would say a lot about you if this was one of your beloved Pokémon, put it that way. Aunt Patty or Selma, heaven knows which, was right when she said ‘the older they get, the cuter they ain’t.


Another wholly unnecessary evolution. I suppose I shouldn’t be too ungrateful, I’m actually always excited to see old Pokémon get new evolutions. However, wonderful designs like Electabuzz simply didn’t need it. A little baby evolution, fine. Still unnecessary, but at least in serious battling you had an Electabuzz at the end of the Rock Tunnel to look forward to. But now Electabuzz must play the role of the awkward middle child in a three-step evolution? And this was happening while, for a time at least, poor old Pinsir and Farfetch’d were getting nothing, despite reaching out desperately with their hands. Ah, that is, their wings and pincers. And why didn’t Jynx get an evolution? Well, probably for the best she didn’t, we can all picture how she’d turn out. I’m sure Electivire is fine in battle, but using it is a question of self-respect, innit?


I would have always thought that adding a gun to anything would automatically make it cooler. Case in point, that Shadow the Hedgehog game that came out in 2005. But Magmortar’s inbuilt cannons just take a fantastic design in Magmar, and make it all look very silly. You’ll remember that Magmar who gave it everything against Charizard in the anime, are you telling me that in actual fact that Magmar hadn’t reached its full potential and power level? Poppycock. If I was you, I’d leave Magmar the way it is, booby head and all, and forget this thing ever existed.


There are a lot of people out there who are unaware that Togetic even exists, let alone Togekiss. Something like this always scores points for obscurity and uniqueness, and Togekiss’s unique typing further cements this. You probably think it’s a bit too nice and whimsical for tough battles, but I prefer to look at this thing like a fluffy stealth bomber in battle, and a puritan Concorde outside of battle. A man of my macho reputation probably couldn’t get away with using Togekiss, but I say you should give him a try. You’ll look good as he whisks you away via the skies to your next public appearance.


I sometimes feel tempted to get on my hands and knees and kiss the Irish soil, not because I’m any kind of patriotic bottom feeder but because nothing ever happens here, there’s no kind of extreme. The climate is tempaerate, the tectonic activity is minimal, the crime is fine really, and best of all, there are no massive bugs, spiders, scorpions or snakes. You better believe there are countries out there with monstrous insects like Yanmega, or even bigger. Something like Yanmega will kill you in a hurry, with enough venom or poison to kill 300 people in one dose. Bring it into battle and any opponent you face will be petrified and utterly repulsed, which should lead to an easy win. Just for God’s sake make sure Yanmega listens to you. You know how sometimes, Pokémon you get in a trade won’t obey you all the time? Can you imagine being in a situation where your killer dragonfly decides it’s had enough of you? You better be a damn good shot with that Pokéball.

To Be Continued!

Using your SNES as a learning tool? I must be missing the point

Mario is Missing! (1993)

If you’re anything like me, then you’ll have been living your life dodging as much responsibility as humanly possible. After all, what good can possibly come out of having responsibility? Talk about putting an enormous target on your back, and inviting mouthbreathers to come up and take their best shot at you. Putting yourself in the hot seat may confer you with riches, adulation and fame – but it won’t be long before someone tries to knock you off your perch, or worse, they all come to you looking for a clue. And who needs that kind of pressure?

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Stick all your money on Wario, he’s a dead cert

Wario Land II (1998 / 1999)

Having not had any kind of proper gambling in my life since I was 18, and even that was a measly forty quid. Although let me tell you, it wasn’t measly at the time, in fact it was about 3 nights out. Don’t times change? But once I lost all the dough in my betting account – they wouldn’t let me withdraw any winnings until I’d provided photo ID, the cheeky snakes – I decided to become all boring and conservative, or at least more boring and conservative than usual, and never gamble again.

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Trust me when I say, there’s no reason to time-travel back to ’93

Mario’s Time Machine (1993)

There’s one very simple, selfish reason why I don’t want time-travel to be invented; because it just wrecks all credibility in any given story. Honestly, if fiction has taught us anything, it’s that if you introduce time travel to your book, film or pornographic magazine, there’s no coming back from it. They did time travel in Harry Potter, and it was a nonsense, all kinds of new plot holes everywhere until J.K. Rowling sensibly had the Time Turners destroyed entirely.

They brought time travel into Artemis Fowl as well, although this was a few books after the initial craze had died down, and the Disney-backed film was so badly thought out that time travel may even have saved it, if we could have only gone back in time and destroyed the workprints first.

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A short story without much fun is something truly criminal

Yoshi’s Story (1998)

I’ve got to come clean with you today – I’m a no good criminal. Actually, I’m no stranger to breaking the law: I’ve pirated just about every form of media you can think of. I’ve even got Virtual Boy ROMs on my computer, for heaven’s sake. I’ve downloaded – and watched – Mean Girls and The Notebook. I’m not sure if you want to know any more about my depraved downloading habits, but one thing I’ll tell you – my conscience is clear.

After all, when downloading films and music, I’m only taking a bit of money out of the pockets of those fine upstanding fellas like Harvey Weinstein. Today though, I have to confess to something a bit more grave: renting games and not returning them on time.

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Mario and his meatballs, they just keep tasting better and better

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)

Look, it’s the 21st century now, so it’s not completely wetty for a man to do the cooking anymore. At least, that’s what my many, many self-help books tell me. Well, I don’t like it, but I’ll have to go along with it. Anything to keep the old tummy from rumbling. And you know, naturally I’d be perfectly happy to subsist off white bread and chicken all day and every day, with a few pints mixed in.

Unfortunately, you come to regret that one healthwise. I don’t mean that these foodstuffs will make my heart seize up or explode; that outcome is inevitable anyway. I’m far more worried about being subjected to that you-really-should-know-better-at-your-age tone from my doctor, which is worse than any other form of social shaming. This unhealthy diet ain’t making me look any better in my tartan-coloured stockings and old-boy suspenders either, which really ought to be addressed.

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The name’s Burkey… Heathen Burkey

GoldenEye 007 (1997)

There seems to be a strange phenomenon in life whereby the most major and far-reaching decisions tend to be left in the lap of children, while the decisions made by adults are of no consequence at all, or you never had that much agency in the first place. You might think that marriage, or buying a house are earth-moving decisions on your part. But it’s society that makes this decision for you, if you’re really being honest with yourself.

That momentous decision to have kids? Oh come on, how many of us were accidents? Even if you’re too careful for accidents, and you want to reproduce, then it’s still not your decision, that’s your genes acting on your behalf. And as you get older, it’s not like you’ll be the one deciding when you’re going to shuffle off to a home, which one you’ll even go to, and when to pull the plug at the end of it all. It seems to me that the older you get, the less you get to decide.

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Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 20)

Building the Best Pokémon Team (Part 20)

There comes a time in every man’s life when he realises that it’s over, beyond any shadow of a doubt. Generally, this is when a man walks into the baby section of a department store for the first time and realises he now needs to appear knowledgeable about their baby’s health.

You may not know what to ask for when you’re in there, but fear not because I’m about to take you on a tour through the Pokémon Gen 4 Baby section. You should recognise some of the faces – they look just like your mates twenty years ago, back when you all used to have a booming social life.



Just like you can always hear church bells no matter where you are, so too will you always seem to find yourself stuck in battle against a Bronzong. I know you’re laughing if you have a Fire-type but do you realise how rare these are in Sinnoh? You’d best get used to seeing the words “It’s not very effective…” coming up. Are you beginning to suspect that I’m not all that I’m cracked up to be battling? Well, it took you long enough to figure it out. I like Bronzong’s design, his is definitely a face that only a mother could love, but as gong bells go, he looks very smart. Difficult to put away in battle, good stats, useful moves, there’s a lot to say for Bronzong’s presence in battle. There are definitely echoes of Metagross in this thing. But the trouble with echoes of course is that you can’t hear the bell end.


Again I’m not sure what purpose Bonsly exists to serve. I don’t think I’d ever be the type of individual who’d be into bonsai, although the trees themselves do look nice. And I’m all about self-therapy, though I usually practice that in the shower. But if you take a scissors to Bonsly, they’ll bounce off remmeber, because this isn’t a little tree – it’s a rock pretending to be a trick, like you may have once pathetically pretended that a rock was your pet. So it’s imitation therapy, in the same way that non-alcoholic beer is. Really, what’s the point?

Mime Jr.

You may not know this, but Mr. Mime is my son. I first picked one up in Pokémon Go, and the resemblance was obvious – this was my long lost son alright. I shipped him off to live with the delectable Delia Ketchun, and what do you know, I’m a grandfather. Talk about wiping Professor Oak’s eye. I doubt Mime Jr. is any kind of reasonable performer yet, similar to how when a little cousin tries to show you magic tricksa and you can still see the corners of the card they palmed, but you go along with it and pretend to befooled, just to be nice. I tell you this -if you don’t react to my grandson’s miming tricks with an acceptable level of shock and wonderment, then I’ll make sure you you’re on the list. And when little Mime Jr. gets a wee bit older, I’mm ake sure he comes to find you to give you a jolly good Doubleslapping.


Perhaps the intention here was to show us all that Chansey wasn’t always fat. Perhaps she’d been snacking on her own eggs too much, and jut got larger and larger. Disgusting as that though is, let’s park it for a second and talk about Happiny. Well, you probably know already that Chansey and Blissey are almost better off not attacking, but have the HP to chew on enemy assaults for days on end – especially when you consider how slowly the HP gauge travels in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Happiny is just a less extreme version of this, which means she’s useless, but she is at least cute, I can’t deny that.


I’m not sure how, but this wee fella went on to become my favourite of all Pokémon. Perhaps it’s down to Chatot’s wonderful design, with its music note heid and metronome tail. It might be that I love parrots, enough to not just want one for myself but also to find the idea of keeping them cooped up in tight cages abhorrent. I’m also a big fan of yet another feature that Game Freak conjured up and just as quickly scrapped – Chatot’s Chatter move, and its cry, which you can record your own version of. Of course, as you’d expect you can scream all the F-bombs you wnat into your DS mic, but they thought of that one – the end result just comes out garbled anyway. Maybe my admiration for Chatot isn’t any of that at all, but everything to do with its cheeky demeanour and jovial attitude. Why, the darn birb is just like me! I have to concede though, I don’t lap Chatot up for its battling ability, which is decidedly below par. Easy prety for Staraptor, Swellow, even Pidgeotto. But Chatot makes one hell of a mascot, especially if you can train him to hurl abuse at your foes.


Honestly, it’s not as mean as it appears. It can be tricky to track down, its in-game lore makes about a million references to the number 108 which probably means death (don’t they all) and it’s got a frightful Ghost-Dark type pairing which, for a time at least, gave it no proper weaknesses. What should seal the deal is that the lovely Cynthia, who I’ll go on to mention several more times, uses Spiritomb in battle. But strictly speaking its stats aren’t top notch, it’s not that durable and it’s even a little bit ugly. I know you can’t call a lord of the underworld ugly, or whatever this thing is. But it doesn’t intimidate me into silence either. If you use Spiritomb in battle, I fear it may let you down. You don’t wanna be let down, do you? That’s the undertaker’s job.


When the going gets tough, the smart look up Garchomp. Long time players of Pokémon Gen 4 will know all about this thing, especially when Cynthia’s own Chompy shoves a Critical Hit Earthquake down your Luxray’s throat. Even if you whack it back with moves it’s supposedly weak to, Garchomp will swallow them gladly and ask for more. There’s always a moment of sheer panic, dread even, when the opponent sends one of these things in. So no nonsense is Garchomp that he doesn’t bother having a Shiny form, or at least I can’t tell any difference between the two. Normally this would actually be a negative, but do you see how someone as alpha as Garchomp turns these things around into positives? This thing is an aircraft carrier on legs, a nuclear sub in the skies, a stealth bomber on the water. It is death incarnate, an overwhelming force of Poké nature, and should be considered for any tieam you make. Except maybe the cute team.


Here he is, the annoying, spoiled, fat child on your street, now immortalised in a Pokémon game. Eventually there was always gonna be a Pokémon who spilled ice cream all over your comic books and gave you the ghastly third-party controller whenever you visited his mansion to play video games. But I never imagined it would be a relative of Snorlax’s that would break your heart like this. Fortunately, unlike the portly child who always popped up when you didn’t need him, Munchlax has notoriously been a very tricky customer to track down. It’s easier now of course – internet for all plebs will do that – but if you want to forget that Munchlax ever happened, then I don’t blame you. After all, that’s what Snorlax did, or how else could he sleep (18?) hours a day with a young son?


Everyone remembers the teacher’s pet. I should know, I was one, although strangely enough not that many people remember me. Lucario was the teacher’s pet, the breakout character, the subject of more than one film and it even got that ultimate stamp of approval – inclusion in several Smash Bros games. It’s decent in battle too of course, though if you’re expecting it to turn around and talk to you… well, maybe it can.


I cannot advise using Hippowdon in battle. Oh sure, it looks imposing, it’s got presence, I’m sure its starts are at a good standard, no problems there. But have you ever witnessed a hippo farting? I was once close – sadly a bit too close – to a hippopotamus giving it full beans. First came the noise, a cacophony of anal belching from the deepest depts of hell, like Louis Armstrong stretching and yawning, amplified by a thousand. The next phenomenon was visual, a veritable cyclone of grass, leaves, dirt, and I’d have to say some other brown particles of uncomfortably familiar origin, swept up in a rectal tornado being helped along by the hippo’s swinging tail like some sort of foul bellows. The last assault on the sesnse was the smel, which hit us harder than any running chage the hippo could have mustered, the type of stench that sticks to your clohtes, clots in your hair, preys on your soul. Hope I’ve painted you a good enough picture there. Now tell me, do you fancy dealing with that fifty times per battle? You’re gonna be right behind Hippowdon remeember, just like with Stuntank. And don’t think I’m exaggerating wit those fifty trumps either – those tasty Pokéblocks can give you terrible gas.


If you ask me, thus should have been a legendary of some sort. I’m aware that were absolutely awash with legendaries at this stage, which means that none of them are truly legendary. But I could definitely see drapion as one of the few outright Evil pokemom, a legendary hidden in the deepest recess of some awful cave. When you do encounter him, at somethimg like level 80, you find drapion is strong enough to poison you with no cure, leaving you to walk around slowly,losing 1hp every 4 steps until you finally keel over and die. Little scorpions are terrifying enough as it is; tributes to fallouts giant radscorpions like drapiom are a whole new level of horror. (did fhestis use this? He was a mean mother). Catch one for your team now, even if it’s not a legendary, and use it to wreak havoc. Just for God’s sake don’t let it get loose, you wouldn’t want this fella under your bed. He’s loyal to noone


Generally there’d be a lot to like about Toxicroak. It looks the business, properly mean, with typing and stats to match. And you’ve probably heard about those ungodly frogs, the colourful ones, who carry enough poison to kill a man at a thousand paces. Seriously, some of those boys will leave you a shaking, sweat-sodden mess on the floor, minutes away from death. Toxicroak’s got all the ingredients, but there’s one reason why I really can’t abide by him, and that’s the fact that every time he appeared in te anime, he’d do his utmost to stop Brock from copping off with a girl (invariably Nurse Joy or Officer Jenny). This is the same Brock, the same sound bloke who shelters and feeds Toxicroak, and the mutinous frog responds by stinging the hand that feeds him. Therefore use Toxicroak ony if you’re married, or not liable to stray. After all, he’s got a real habit of being a poison thorn in your side.


You may recall in my writeup for Victreebel I described how I have a bit of a primal fear of venus fly traps. Of course, I later learned how small they really are, but when the missus mentioned that we ought to get one to combat the nine million bugs who like to use our house as a party spot, I started to get the sweats again. You take an enormous venus fly trap that hurtles through the air like Carnivine, big enough to snap your head off, and you’ve got one hell of a mean Pokémon. I’m not going to use one on my team, same as I’m not going to risk having a venus fly trap plant in my house. If you’re a lot less of a wetty than me though, then I say extend a hand out to Carnivine. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t get it back.

To Be Continued!

The Student… hold your Form Baton in your right hand, and the box of wine with your left…

WarioWare: Smooth Moves (2007)

I’m fully aware that children may be reading this, so I hate to advocate mind-altering drugs here, but I just want to say that I am thankful to alcohol for many varied reasons. In general, all it’s ever done for me is make me shouty, belligerent, uninhibited, free-spending, giggly, light-headed and stupid. And for all of that, I’ll be forever grateful for its existece.

You see, I know you’ll find this hard to believe but I used to be a dreadful stick in the mud. If ever a moment passed when I wasn’t at the top of my mental game, I would feel embarrassed. Do you know what this left me as? An overly studious, financially conscious bore who wouldn’t have known what a girl was if one came up and… well, not sat on me, but you know what I mean. 

Continue reading “The Student… hold your Form Baton in your right hand, and the box of wine with your left…”