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?

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Lumineon

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.

Mantyke

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?!

Abomasnow

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.

Weavile

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.

Magnezone

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.

Lickilicky

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.

Rhyperior

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.

Tangrowth

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.

Electivire

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?

Magmortar

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.

Togekiss

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.

Yanmega

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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