Playing Games as the Antagonists

Games

To (belatedly) celebrate the release of the film Maleficent, I thought it would be fun to have a look at a number of games and just consider what it would be like to play that game as the villain, rather than the hero. I mean, let’s face it, evil-doers are always so much more badass than heroes anyway, no wonder we’ve recently gotten so into anti-heroes.
So here are my top-five games I would love to play through as the villains, rather than the heroes.

GlaDOS (Portal)
GlaDOS is more of an omnipotent presence, than an in-game character. Just the voice of god that makes you giggle, and then die, as you proceed through her course. It might be boring for GlaDOS, having just Chel to look over and torture in the name of “science”. But let’s imagine when the entire facility was at its maximum potential, with dozens, if not hundreds of subjects to preside over. Create whacky levels for them to explore, or simply watch them fail hilariously. You could either design and test these levels, or simply run the facility from your lovely armchair. Making sure you get the most out of your subjects. Making sure they sit on them chairs without lead-lined underwear.

Team Rocket (Pokemon)
Let’s just forget Jesse and James for a moment (easier said than done), and think about the actual corporation that is Team Rocket. Why not Team Flare, who star in the new games? Heres why – Team Flares goal’s are to make money, and make the world more beautiful. Team Rocket’s goal; steal all the pokemon and take over the world! Much, much more awesome.
Now imagine you aren’t collecting Pokemon in the orthodox sense, you’re stealing the little monsters. You’re not playing through trying to get all 8 gym badges, you’re playing through to take over the world! Screw daycare centre and grinding. Screw the three starting Pokemon. You start out as a criminal underling, and you can steal whichever first pokemon you want. And if one of those damn whiny kids come walking past in some stupid adventure to beat some league, just challenge them and take all their money. Who wouldn’t rather play a Pokemon game where the aim is to take over the entire world of Pokemon? Or would you rather just bike along to the next gym leader?

A real outlaw (Red Read Redemption)
No matter how you look at it Red Dead Redemption is an awesome game. It follows ex-outlaw John Marston as he holds up banks….Wait…Robs trains…Shoot…Sleeps with….Nope….Kills everyone…He doesn’t do that either. Ok so the game is 50% staring at a horse’s arse, and little else besides. I don’t think anyone would disagree if the game allowed us to get a little Grand-Theft-Auto in the west, and it doesn’t do any of that! John Marston is a pure straight-shooter, which is about as boring as it get’s in a setting that has it’s own satire on the millions ways people die in the west. Ok, we knew he wasn’t an outlaw anymore, and we knew he was married, and was making atonement for his bandit-y ways, but damn did this game concentrate on the wrong section of his life. No one wants to be constrained in the west, we all wanted to go out shooting people, robbing banks and holding up trains for money. But no…. we don’t ge to do any of that.

Any of the Colossi (Shadow of the Colossus)

I’m going to assume you haven’t been living on an uninhabited island for the past decade, and have had access to a games console, rather than just a ball to keep you company, and that you have also played Shadow of the Colosus. If you have (and finished it) then you will know that at the ending you get the briefest most pathetic glimpse at what playing as a Colosus would have been like. Not that Dormin was anywhere near as tall as some of the actual Colossi you take down throughout the game. I’ll admit, just trying to thwart a single-player as he climbs your body and stabs your face might be a bit rubbish, but if it was more than one person? What if you were as large and as powerful and menacing as one of those Collossi, against an army. Let’s say those guys at the end finally get what they deserve, and they step out into the mainland, giving you the chance to utterly destroy them. Even better, imagine fighting another Colossus. Now that would be a fight we would all be happy to participate in.

Alduin (Skyrim)
If you’ve played Skyrim – and if you haven’t then your excuse better be you’ve been in a straightjacket for your whole life – you might vaguely remember one scene where you were invited onto the back of a dragon. But did you get to ride it – well yeah, I guess – but did you get to control it, did you get any sort of decent view? Hell no!
Alduin get’s top marks because Skyrim is a great land to explore on foot, but from the sky, as a hell-bent fire-breathing evil man-kind destroying black dragon, the game probably feels a bit more kickass. And the map is still big enough to give you a good sense of scale even when you’re whizzing past (stopping to incinerate farms because dragon) that it won’t feel restrictive.
Let’s face it, Bethesda missed out slightly here by not allowing you to control a mythical dragon (even for that second of gameplay they put in), because I don’t think anything would make Skyrim better other than being able to play as Alduin himself. Fighting giants and bears would be pretty awesome, but fighting other dragons, aerial combat as a dragon, against other dragons surrounded by giants, perhaps, would be unbeatable. The only person who could give you any trouble would be the dragon-born. But Alduin would have kicked-ass in that final fight if the dragonborn wasn’t accompanied by three other dead heroes.

My close runner-ups were Ganon from the Legend of Zelda, and Vaas from Far Cry 3. What games would you rather play through as the villain.

The Best Games You’ve Never Heard Of: ‘Soul Bubbles’

Soul Bubbles

Nintendo’s consoles, as we know, live and die on their first-party offerings. The lofty likes of Mario Kart and Soul Bubbles, released earlier, could have singlehandedly hauled the Wii U out of the craptastic mess it’s currently in. When you make the purchase, it’s safe to assume that you’re doing so because you want to get your Mario/Zelda on.

Nevertheless, there are the occasional third-party jewels on Nintendo platforms. A lot of which are cult classics, the kinds of games that critics rave about yet no bugger actually buys. Today, we’re taking a look at Soul Bubbles, which kinda-sorta fits into this very category.

The game was released for the DS in 2008, an obscure-yet-brilliant puzzler from Mekensleep. As with many of the system’s titles, it’s predominantly (read damn well only) stylus-controlled. As with alarmingly few of the system’s titles, the touchscreen isn’t just shoehorned in to the detriment of gameplay. It feels right, and that’s a beautiful thing.

In Soul Bubbles, you take the role of a tiny, floating freak-dude, a young Shaman-in-training. As we know, apprentices get all of the crappy jobs nobody else wants, and it’s no different here. Except, instead of fetching cups of coffee and unblocking the toilets, this little guy has to ferry lost souls to their place of eternal rest. Which sounds like, if I may say so, one hell of a responsibility for a novice. Give me a plastic glove, a bucket and an unflushable bowel movement any day.

They look like Navi, but you DON'T want to kill them. Everything else around here seems to, though.
They look like Navi, but you DON’T want to kill them. Everything else around here seems to, though.

Anywho, the gameplay basics are rather simple to grasp. You first draw a bubble around each stage’s souls at the beginning point (they look just like regular soap bubbles, but are presumably much, much soul-ier), in which you can transport them. From there, you’ll have to traverse each little maze with careful stylus strokes. These represent our Shaman ‘blowing’ the bubble to safety, and he’s going to need a lot of puff.

As you play through the campaign, you’ll acquire different tribal masks, each of which enables you to interact with the bubbles in a different way. Depending upon the obstacle at hand, you’ll have to split, shrink and expand your bubble, or make more. All of the familiar elements are out to oppose you, by bursting it and endangering the lives of the sweet, sweet soul-y goodness that dwells within. They won’t survive long outside it, you understand.

Soul Bubbles struck a chord with me for its adorably toontastic art style, its unique premise and the great use of the DS. It isn’t a very long adventure, but it’s one with real charm. It’s a shame that it didn’t get much attention.

Retro Corner: Super Mario Kart

Super Mario

As you may have noticed, Mario Kart 8 arrives for Wii U today. This much-ballyhooed racer is regarded as one of the floundering console’s big hopes, the kind of release (alongside the upcoming Smash Bros) that can actually sell the darn thing. With that super mario , let’s party like it’s 1992 and pay homage to the game that started it all.

Super Mario Kart hit the SNES that year, and was really quite an odd notion at the time. After all, Mario, Luigi, Bowser et al were quite happy in their natural home: platform games. In one of those out-of-the-blue moves Nintendo would become known for, here they suddenly were in a toontastic racer.

These were the days before all manner of oddities entered the roster (Super Mario Galaxy’s Honey Queen, Petey Piranha and those darn Miis have all been playable in recent entries). It was a ‘pure’ Mario Kart in many respects, bringing us just the eight core racers: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Koopa Troopa, Bowser and Donkey Kong. Only our hairy monkey friend was a bit of an anomaly, this actually being D.K Jr. You can tell by that old Die Hard vest he’s wearing. Presumably, these were the days before gorillas earned the right to stride about naked as nature intended.

Ah yes. These were the days.
Ah yes. These were the days.

Anywho, so many aspects of the series were firmly in place from the get-go. The singleplayer options, Grand Prix and Time Trial, are Mario Kart mainstays. In the first, you’ll select a character and race the remaining cast across a sequence of four tracks. You score points according to your placement on each course, and the cup is awarded at the end. Meanwhile, Time Trial sees you cruising along the track of your choice on your own, in a bid to achieve the fastest time.

You’re surely familiar with the multiplayer modes too. The iconic Battle Mode was introduced here, and has returned in some form or another in every later installment. It’s that ancient, noble sport: just you, your opponents, a large arena, and some… brightly coloured balloons. It’s all very manly.

Super Mario Kart made liberal use of the SNES’s fancy Mode 7 effect. This screen-rotatey wizardry gave the game its vibrant visuals and that sensation of movement, and coupled with the jangly music, the Mario Kart magic was born.

So many kart racers arrived in its wake. From Crash Bandicoot to the Crazy-freaking-Frog, everyone wanted to get in on the action. It’s undeniable, though, that this was the game that set the template for the genre. Item boxes, weight classes, even most elements of the HUD were shamelessly aped. Of the many pretenders, so few could even hold a candle to the original (although Crash Team Racing was fantastic). It was surely the familiar characters themselves, and the Mario-fied tracks, but none could really complete.

Images: gamefaqs.

The VGamerZ Monster Files: The Ganados (Resident Evil 4)

Evil

At first glance, the Ganados just look like innocuous old dudes. You could mistake them for somebody’s grandpa. Albeit not the kind of grandpa who eats mint imperials, and tells wild stories about his past which may or may not be true. This is the kind of grandpa who SPROUTS Evil BIG OL’ TENTACLE-SPIKES WHERE HIS HEAD USED TO BE.

Resident Evil 4, as we know, eschewed that whole zombies-shuffling-about-in-shadowy-corners thing. It was a fancy new blend of survival horror and TPS. Dispensing with those static camera angles and cumbersome controls in favour of much more dynamic and actiontastic gameplay.

What did all of this mean? It meant that festering, hobbling simpletons wouldn’t do as opponents any longer. After all, our hero Leon can now run properly, and use a laser sight to aim his gun wherever he darn well pleases. Could the zombies of yore compete with those kinds of tricks? They couldn’t. And so, the Ganados were born.

From the first moment Mr. Scott Kennedy shows a villager a photograph of the kidnapped Ashley, he knows he’s dealing with some badasses right here (it was that axe waved at his forehead that tipped him off, our hero is quick on the uptake like that). These guys are aggressive, strong and beardy, and they don’t take kindly to strangers. Leon has no idea what he’s let himself in for.

Ganados 2

The Ganados are the first enemies you encounter, in the game’s opening area, Pueblo (the village). They are humans, ‘possessed’ by Resident Evil 4‘s new spin on Umbrella’s viruses: the Las Plagas parasite. It has a similar effect to those, making the infected aggressive and just generally worse house guests, but without the whole mutate-y, growing-huge-slavering-fangs-out-of-my-chest effect the series is used to.

Most importantly, they lose little of their human cunning. As you venture through their domain, they will hunt you intelligently. Co-ordinating their efforts, raising ladders and climbing through windows if you are taking refuge in a building. They also wield rudimentary weapons, butcher knives and pitchforks and such.

There are other horrors in the game, certainly. The Zealots who dwell in the castle, the army dudes on the island, and a couple of monsters to boot. Nevertheless, the Ganados were our first introduction to a new breed of Resident Evil foe, and a memorable one at that.

Watch Dogs: 5 Reasons Why This Game’s Hacking Can’t Convince Anyone

Dogs

Watch Dogs is almost out for the amusement of most gamers. However, not everything is perfect about this game. One of the weakest aspects of Watch Dogs is its hacking system, which allows players to hack basically anything in the surrounding environments, including technically non-hackable objects. Besides that, the game’s protagonist, Aiden Pearce, is some kind of god who can simply invade all networks without much trouble. And of course, all this without getting caught. Check out why Watch dogs’ hacking system can’t convince anyone at all.

1. Express Hacking: One Click is All You Need

Watch Dogs gifWho would say that hacking in the near future would be as fast and easy as one single click? In Watch Dogs, hacking and phreaking have nothing to do with the real thing. Time boundaries are completely renounced, hacking techniques are basically inexistent and the very hacking tools resemble automated casual applications. If hacking would be as easy as in this game, then we would be currently assisting to the downfall of modern society. Good for us, most computer exploit techniques still require some time to be properly executed. And unlike Watch Dogs, one click is certainly not all what is needed.

2. Paranormal Hacking: Mechanical Devices Shall Not Escape

Watch Dogs gifBreaking all the rules of modern hacking wasn’t enough for Ubisoft, so they decided to prove that nothing is impossible in the world of Watch Dogs. Whether it’s an unintentional lapse or a leap of faith, the truth is that mechanical devices can be hacked in Watch Dogs. It might seem cool and rather convenient to hack a huge variety of things in the surrounding environments but how can a physical object with no electronic circuits be hacked? It’s beyond unrealistic, it’s quite pitiful. But it gets even worse with the hacking ability of mechanical devices that require pure strength to be lifted, which naturally challenges the laws of physics and evokes a sense of magic or supernatural.

3. Divine Hacking: Aiden Pearce, the Omnipotent

Watch Dogs gifAs players progress in Watch Dogs, they’ll be able to unlock new and more powerful hacking abilities until the point that the whole Chicago city will be at its knees. With so much power on his hands, Pearce inevitably becomes a living god capable of performing all types of imaginable things. He can virtually get anywhere, anytime, anyplace. But let’s be honest, even elite hackers of nowadays would be jealous of this virtual character. For someone who spent a good while in prison, Aiden is extremely paired with reality. In fact, he manages to outsmart everyone with his hack, showing that he’s either a god among the living or then it proves Chicago has close to zero defenses against cyber-crime.

4. Ghost Hacking: Detection is Hardly a Problem

Watch Dogs gifThe typical hacker on the run is perfectly portrayed by Aiden Pearce in Watch Dogs but the thing is, he is never caught, just as the good old hero in mainstream movies. He does not only have flawless solutions for every unexpected incident, as he is able to hack any network without ever getting detected. No matter how many times he might hack the same networks or the same type of objects, he will just go on unnoticed. Once again, it’s the power of seemingly divinity. Even in the worst case scenarios, Aiden doesn’t need to panic because upon detection it’s extremely easy to run away through the countless weapons proportionated by the dynamic environment system.

5. Shameless Hacking: The Perfect Future for Cyber Criminals

wd4One of the things that Watch Dogs show us is that the future will be amazing for cyber criminals but what’s confusing is the incredible level of unrealism. Aiden can hack all citizens and freely acquire their personal data. Isn’t there anyone at all who has a decent security system able to detect hacker attacks? How can governmental networks not notice all the strange anomalies happening all over the city? Worse, why can’t they do anything efficient about it? Doesn’t Chicago have an anti-cybercrime police department? After so many bizarre aspects regarding Watch Dogs’ hacking system, I can only conclude that cybercrime is prompt to be shameless and unstoppable in the future, at least according to Ubisoft.

The Games You May Have Missed: Cel Damage HD

Cel Damage

HDification (because that’s a term) has really been Sony’s thing of late. They’ve brought us the rather spangly Final Fantasy X HD, and a rather cool new God of War combo pack. And just when high definition couldn’t get any higher or… definitioner, there was another more obscure entry.

Feast your eyes on Cel Damage HD, which has just arrived on PSN.

This more obscure entry originally hit the Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox in 2001. It’s a brilliantly toontastic racer from Pseudo Interactive, which basically eschews the ‘racing’ in favour of ‘cutting your competitor’s SUV in half with a big ol’ chainsaw.’ Oh yes indeed. Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen, and we’ll take a look.

As we know, cartoon characters take all kinds of unholy punishment on a regular basis. How many anvils did Tom take to the face in pursuit of Jerry? How many cliffs did Wile E. Coyotte plummet over? And yet, resilient buggers that are, they always returned unscathed. And that’s the premise of Cel Damage.

In this demented car combat game, a crew of toon-freaks (safe in the knowledge that their death is never permanent) shoot, freeze, burn and otherwise explodinate each other. You can choose from the likes of Sinder, the furious demon midget, Fowl Mouth, the 1930s gangster duck, and B.T Bruno the portly truck driving dude. Each have their own personal weapon by default and their own vehicle. Not forgetting, naturally, their own selection of ‘humourous’ soundbites.

Cel Damage 2

There are three modes of play: Smack Attack, Flag Rally and Gate Relay. The first is merely a contest for ‘kills,’ while the others are a little more race-flavoured. Gate Relay sees you dashing in an underpants-on-fire hurry between checkpoints on the map, and Flag Rally has you collecting flags. Flags that roam the level independently on tiny little stumpy flag-legs.

Along the way, you’ll work through arenas sorted by a theme. Wild West, Space, Spooky, the usual cliches are out in force. On each, you’ll find Mario Kart-esque power up boxes, containing a random weapon. Some are more deadly than others, or allow for more fiendish tactics, and there’s a wide range. Freeze rays, tommy guns, hand grenades, axes, that old favourite the boxing-glove-on-a-spring… you’re spoilt for choice.

Cel Damage HD is not a remake. As with the HD Editions before it, this is simply a prettier version of what has gone before. It’s also rather a shame that the developers didn’t take the opportunity to add any online functionality. Nevertheless, the cel shading does look eye-massagingly pretty in HD. A little like the Wii U Edition of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

The Best Games You’ve Never Heard Of: ‘Big Bang Mini’

Big Bang Mini

The retrotastic shoot ‘em up is one genre that will never go out of style. Among certain indie developers, there’s a real passion for producing sumptuous 2D art which does such games the world of good. There’s a timeless quality to the gameplay of Asteroids, Space Invaders, Galaga and their ilk, which just needed a dash of 21st Century sexiness.

Few games extol these virtues better than the obscure, utterly mind-bending Big Bang Mini.

What you have before your very eyes right now is a psychadelic shooter with fireworks. Literally, you are shooting fireworks at any array of marauding aliens/skeletons/leprechaun-freaks. It’s mad, it’s great and it’s bright as balls, so sunglasses at the ready and we’ll take a closer look.

Big Bang Mini was released on the Nintendo DS in 2009. It’s entirely stylus controlled, and your objective is to send your colourful missile from the bottom screen to the top with a well-aimed flail of the touchpen. Early in the console’s life, this kind of crap was merrily shoehorned into many games, but it feels right in this case. All kinds of right.

Yep, this is what a boss battle looks like around here.
Yep, this is what a boss battle looks like around here.

Fair warning, though: the gameplay is a little more complex than your standard-issue SHOOT EVERYTHING IN THE FACE WITH YOUR SHOOTY BULLETS OF PAINFUL PAIN. As you may know, fireworks have a tendency to… freaking well explode. As such, the debris from your shots will rain fiery vengeance back down onto the touchscreen, endangering your own ship. This mechanic adds an extra challenging dimension to the gameplay, and it also discourages mindless shot spamming.

But don’t think this makes it all cerebral and think-y. Big Bang Mini is, first and foremost, a ridiculous riot of colour. The Arcade Mode takes you from Rio De Janeiro, to New York, to Paris, to the African savannah… in space. Each ‘zone’ has its own crop of stages, and is populated by peculiar neon enemies and some of the nuttiest bosses you ever saw.

In this budget buy, you come for the cartoon crazitude and stay for the generous bounty of game modes. The main campaign aside, you can also try your hand at various challenges, the single cartridge multiplayer, or the Mission mode. After that, you can enjoy Relax Mode, which is simply a fireworks display which you can control yourself or automate. As the name suggests, it’s a calming end to a nutty Big Bang Mini experience.

The VGamerZ Monster Files: Cactuar (Final Fantasy)

Final Fantasy

Do you remember those irritating little fairy dudes from Harry Potter? The ones that emerged from the crap-stained curtains and Final Fantasy tried to bite everyone right in the face with their tiny-yet-pointy-and-probably-hurty teeth? These buggers are the Cactuars of Harry Potter.

By which, I mean they aren’t particularly imposing opponents. The sort of mischievous, malevolent, mythical dudes who just want to be a pain in the butt. Because they can.

The Cactuar is a real series stalwart, appearing in every game since Final Fantasy VI. It’s an anthropomorphic cactus-midget, with odd stiff legs and an empty, slightly creepy hole-face. They are usually encountered in desert environments, as you’d expect, and attack with their patented 1000 Needles move. This fixed, non-elemental, unblockable damage is nothing particularly interesting, and their other moves are generally rather feeble.

Cactuar 2

But that isn’t the issue. These wily beasts don’t have much HP, but are notoriously evasive and difficult to take out. Even more so, when you consider their penchant for hiding in the sand like big girls between rounds. These sorts of shenanigans make the Cactuar one of the most notable returning Final Fantasy creatures. It has a hook, a gimmick, like the Tonberry taking bullets like the Terminator before suddenly dashing forward and planting a rusty blade in your skull.

Being such a pain, there is usually a great experience reward for defeating a Cactuar, or other prize. But those are just the standard ones; in later games a big ol’ giant Cactus-freak with a mustache appears as a summon.

Final Fantasy VIII’s Jumbo Cactuar provided me one of the biggest gaming WTF moments of my life. Not only did it look… like that, but it uses an upgraded form of that attack: 10,000 needles. This damage this dealt, of course, exceeded the 9999 cap. Which, at the time, was completely unheard of, and destroyed my whole belief system. What’s real? What isn’t? How could I know?

Damn you, Jumbo Cactuar.

Top 3 Dark Souls II Bosses

Dark Souls

In my anticipation of Dark Souls II, I made a list detailing the top 5 bosses in the Souls franchise. It is quite predictable then, that I’d make a top list for the newly released game. While many bosses in Dark Souls II are fantastic, I could only justify three for such a list. To make the cut, they really had to have something that made them unforgettable.

Without further ado, I present my three favourite boss fights in Dark Souls II.

Lost Sinner

Untitled

Lost Sinner, much like Artorias, is a very straight-forward boss in design. Even despite this, she still manages to transcend a lot of the other bosses. Lost Sinner is simply a warrior who has punished herself for past sins. Like Artorias, her attack patterns are what you’d expect out of a straight up brawler, and she manages to make the duel one of the most intense and heart-pounding fights in the game. She is unrelenting in her attacks because she’s either swinging her gigantic sword at you, recovering from an attack or preparing to use sneaky tactics and surprise you from behind.

The pace is like a shot of adrenaline, as the entirety of the fight has you so occupied with her merciless nature that you can hardly fit in time to heal. It also doesn’t help that she blows out all of the fire before the fight begins, so you also have to attempt to keep track of her movements. It’s very easy to lose track of where she is, and it makes the anxiety all the worse.

The Pursuer

The_Pursuer

The Pursuer is a unique boss in that he not only appears multiple times, but actively stalks you throughout your quest. The first time you see him, he catches you off guard and swiftly dispatches you, reminding the player that they can never feel relaxed in the world of Drangleic. He evokes a sense of paranoia as you progress through the game, and often makes you wonder when he’ll make another appearance.

What’s more, his attack animations are some of the most graceful and polished in the franchise. Every attack he does feels like a dance, and the fact that he hovers above the ground solidifies the idea. Precise timing and near-flawless execution are required, as one single hit can shave off half of your health, leaving you only few precious seconds to drink Estus. He is persistent, ruthless, and intimidating, and he is absolutely unforgettable.

Demon Of Song

Demon_of_Song

Demon of Song is, in my opinion, the most unique boss Dark Souls II has to offer. With the departure of Miyazaki, some of the subtle things that made Demon and Dark Souls so great are gone. Demon of Song, however, feels like Miyazaki himself pulled the entire fight from his imagination.

Demon of Song has the most bizarre and creative boss design in the game, and its vulgar and grotesque nature is even more enforced by an absolutely perfect theme. The track uses low chants, deep piano key strokes and brass instruments to add depth. The most brilliant aspect of this track however, is the low guttural sounds and a variety of dissonant noises that feel as if the frog, or the creature residing within is making them.

Beyond this, his attacks are very avoidable and with the exception of his ground smash, you can predict most of his move-set. That said, pattern memorization and risk taking are still the keys to success here. The fight itself is not entirely challenging, but that might be because the walk to him is utterly infuriating.  It’s a nice balance that is very reminiscent of Sen’s Fortress.


Honourable Mentions: Throne Watcher & Defender, Ruin Sentinels, Skeleton Lords, Executioner’s Chariot.

Whatever Happened to… Gen 1 and the Non-Sucky Pokémon Designs?

Pokémon

Now, before you spit blood all over the Internet at that title, it’s more of a parody than anything. There are these elusive Pokémon known as ‘genwunners,’ you see, who think in this way.

Nostalgia, as we know, is a dangerous thing. You may have loved your old Plymouth Fury back in the sixties, but that doesn’t mean it’s the be-all-and-end-all of cars today (Particularly not when the model is prone to being darn well haunted and going on murderous rampages, as in Stephen King’s Christine). By the same token, you don’t have to dismiss any pokemon that came after the first 151, simply because they aren’t ‘originals’.

Charmander, Squirtle, Bulbasaur and co have special places in our Poké-hearts, it’s true. But let’s not forget, there’s some really uninspired designs to be had here too. Geodude is a rock. A rock with a face and manly arms. Diglett resembles something you’d find in your toilet bowl, and Dugtrio looks like three of them.

So let’s not delude ourselves that the first generation were all perfect in that sense. They’re the poké-beasts of our childhoods, and such icons as Pikachu and Charizard are among them, but so is Jynx. Nobody likes Jynx. Not even if they do.

Come on now, who thought THIS was a good idea?
Come on now, who thought THIS was a good idea?

Nevertheless, the old ‘running out of ideas’ argument is still rife. There are over seven hundred of the buggers now, and it’s a herculean task for the team. So you’ve got to excuse the occasional ice cream cone with a face, or keychain, or huge pile of literal garbage showing up.

Still, if we remove our snarky hats, ‘laziness’ or any other accusation is subjective. I’m sure Vanilluxe and Garbodor have their fans. Somewhere. As for the rose-tinted, ‘golden era’ idea, that’s subjective too.