Tag Archives: pikachu

Midnight at the Pier

Friends,

This story was inspired by the following prompt from r/writingprompts. Enjoy!

Times are tough and the world is not what it used to be. You have no choice but to become an illegal pokemon trader.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

Midnight at the Pier

Mirko stood on the dock watching as the crane loaded the last seacan onto the ship. The dull boom it made as it was set down was met with his cathartic sigh. They wouldn’t be out of the woods until they were in international waters but Mirko always felt better when the loading was done. It meant the worst was behind them; the deed had been done and now they just had to slip out undetected. As the crane pulled away and the deckhands started strapping down the last of the cargo, he texted his client:

“LOADED. DEPART IN 5”

He allowed a smile and pulled a pack of Marlboros out of the left pocket of his leather jacket, withdrew a cigarette with his lips and pulled out a lighter from his right pocket while his left hand returned the pack. He lit the cigarette with his left hand covering the flame and took a long inhale, allowing the smoke to fill his lungs and waited for the head rush and euphoria to hit before exhaling through his nose.

It seemed to be a another routine shipment. This was good. This was expected. They had bribed the right officials. They had operated at night and they had acquired their merchandise without incident.

Well, mostly without incident. There had been that one Lopunny a few days ago. It’s trainer had come home just as his men had finished bagging it. Luckily the sentry by the door had been able to knock him out with a pistol just as he pulled out a pokeball which contained a Charmeleon. In the early days they would have taken the Charmeleon too, but the years had shown that to clientele of more …discerning tastes, Pokemon had value beyond just battling. They were willing to pay a higher price for Pokemon which were less of a liability to transport, less of a liability to own, and less of a liability to keep as…pets. Mirko willfully abandoned this train of thought as quickly as he had set upon it. He preferred not to think about what his clientele did with their acquisitions. To him it was all business and he used that rationale to stay detached.

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Pokemon #428: Lopunny

“They should have killed him” he thought to himself dispassionately of the Lopunny’s trainer. From a strictly pragmatic perspective it made sense. Stealing from trainers was certainly a more consistent means of acquiring merchandise than trying to capture in the wild, but it also carried the risk of trainers tracking them down and coming to retrieve their property in force. One of the reasons Team Rocket had collapsed was because it grew too big, got too caught up in its own notoriety and made too many enemies. Sure, they had procured some of the strongest Pokemon, but they were so flagrant about it that the most powerful trainers put aside fierce rivalries and united to stop them. Giovanni had tried to play both sides: he wanted to be the bad guy and the legitimate gym leader. At one point he had even tried to reinvent himself as a Robin Hood of sorts.

“Doesn’t work that way though. You are what you are. Piss enough people off and one day there’ll be no peace for you anywhere in this world. Better to operate this way” Mirko thought, “No making a name, no uniforms, no trying to go legit. Better to be shadowy, amorphous and adaptable….like a Ditto.” He chuckled at this last observation, but  this drew him back to a train of thought he didn’t enjoy as much.

250px-132Ditto
Pokemon #132: Ditto

“Christ! There’s even a Ditto in the manifest,” he reflected. “Seems that some clientele are more discerning than others in their tastes.”

The most in-demand merchandise he dealt in were the small, furry and more feminine mammals; Vulpix, Lopunny, Eevee, etc. And while he found those predilections distasteful he could at least understand the interest on some level. He’d gotten to know some of his clientele and they seemed well-adjusted (by eccentric millionaire standards) so maybe it was some faulty wiring; who was he to judge? Even Ponytas and Rattatas he could understand when push came to shove. But Ditto just seemed bizarre to him. Sure it could turn into whatever the client wanted, provided they already had one on hand, in which case it was a moot point. But its cost was so prohibitive that it made more sense to just buy one or more of the desired species.

“Unless the client has a taste for a pink gelatinous blob” he thought. His reverie was interrupted by the arrival of one of his men.

“We work while you stand and smoke, is that it?” the man asked in a jovial, familiar way.

“Ah but Zdravco there is a visible labor and an invisible labor, and just this moment I am thinking,” Mirko replied.

“Please enlighten me as to what a two-bit smuggler philosophizes about” Zdravco asked while reaching out his hand for a smoke.

Mirko reached into his pocket for the pack of Marlboros and extended it toward Zdravco as he smiled and leaned in close. Zdravco grabbed a cigarette but Mirko waited for him to lean in as well before he spoke.

“Would you fuck a Ditto?”

Zdravco responded without missing a beat: “Not even with your dick.” Then, “You have a light?”

Mirko chuckled while retrieving his lighter and lit Zdravco’s cigarette.

“Are we ready to disembark?”

Zdravco took a long inhale and sighed a large volume of smoke while going over the clipboard he carried. The smoke lingered above and between the two men for a few long seconds before dissipating into the chill night air.

“Yes….”

“But?”

Zdravco gulped slightly.

“Miro should have been here by now with a Jynx, but he is late and not responding to my calls.” Mirko pondered this. Miro had with them for only a few months and didn’t know too much about the operation, but he had proven himself reliable. Still, they had a deadline.

“Miro will have to catch up with us elsewhere. Tell everyone to get aboard. We leave in 2 minutes.”

As Zdravco began barking out orders over his walkie, Mirko saw a quickening of activity in the floodlit darkness, and he smiled at this. All of these men he commanded were “Pokemon Masters” in their own right. They had, as a minimum, obtained all of the badges in one league or more. Some of them had even beaten the Elite 4. Imagine their surprise then when they had had achieved such status only to discover that it didn’t amount to much. With so many trainers, gyms, and upstart leagues popping up over the last 20 years, the profession of “Pokemon Trainer” had lost some of its lustre. Now every bro with a backwards hat and a SILPH muscle-T claimed to a trainer. And the so-called masters? They were no longer those who had won league play but instead became those who could market themselves best on instagram and youtube.

This state of affairs might be lamentable if not for the opportunities it afforded a man of vision. Mirko considered himself just such a man. He never owned a Pokemon himself nor got caught up in the associated culture, but he had seen how others obsessed and decided to capitalize on their obsession and lack of opportunities. He tapped some of his boyhood friends first, those who had gotten starry-eyed about becoming trainers and ultimately been unable to build a life for themselves. He employed them to train Pokemon as pets for those with neither the time or inclination to go down the ruinous career-path of Pokemon Master. As his client base grew he started getting odd requests for specific Pokemon, usually the small, furry ones, to be trained in …particular ways. These requests typically carried an offer to pay more, sometimes double, the market rate. Initially these peculiar requests were a source of lucrative amusement, but as 10% then 25% of Mirko’s staff began specializing in this kind of training…this, pleasure training, he realized that this was the market he should focus on.

He had done well over the last ten years.

“I’ve built an army. An army with allegiance to no nation. An army which rivals that of most countries. The enlistment numbers of a superpower and the dynamic fluidity of a guerrilla band. Highly organized and responsive to my commands.” This thought brought a smile to his face. He took a last drag of his Marlboro and threw the half-smoked cigarette into the filthy harbour water below.

He walked up the gangplank and into his quarters.

The whore was waiting for him naked on his bed as he had requested. A big-titted, anorexic slut from Prague bent over wearing nothing but heels. She was laying face-down, ass-up, fingering both of her holes with curious hands.

“Fuck me, Niantic!” the whore moaned emphatically as he entered.

“What!?” Mirko demanded, “I didn’t hear you, slut!”

“Ooooh…fuck me, Niantic!” The whore repeated in her thick Czech accent as her body convulsed due to the work of her hands. Mirko could tell she had no idea what she was saying but she had learned perfectly the three words which she had been paid to learn. Mirko smiled. He was a practical and disciplined man with few indulgences, but one thing he liked was fucking Czech sluts while they called him by his underworld name.

He unzipped his fly and grabbed the whore’s forearms while entering her.

“Say it again, bitch!”

“Fuck me, Niantic!”

“AGAIN!”

“FUCK ME, NIANTIC!”

He smiled from ear-to-ear as he used up this young girl: “If everyone wants to be a well-known pokemon master, better to be an unknown ‘master of masters.’

THE END

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Nintendo: Once and Future Overlords of Gaming (and the World?)

Friends,

On July 6, Nintendo/Niantic released the “augmented reality” game, Pokemon Go. In this new instalment of the franchise, players are required to move around the world, the real world, in order to capture monsters digitally super-imposed onto the landscape around them and observed/detected/captured with their smartphone.

While an interesting idea, I was a little cynical when I first read up on this mechanism of the game. Why cynical? Well it seems to me that Nintendo has been trying to incorporate physical activity into gaming since the release of the Wii in 2006 (although in a broader sense they have been trying to get gamers out of the house more since the release of the Game Boy back in the 80s). While I appreciate this good intent, I remember that on the handful on occasions I played Wii, after the initial novelty had worn off, I kinda just wanted to play sprawled out on a couch in a dark room with the blinds drawn and wearing dirty track pants, like nature and God had intended.

But this is different. The memes tell the tale.

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Cm-LbeIVYAA2uJe

Or, most tellingly…

sorry-mom-ill-be-leaving-our-hometown-next-year-to-1213139

People are literally being mobilized to go out into the world in a way that video games have not been able to (nor sought to) make them thus far.

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Far-Fetched? Maybe, Maybe Not…

Why is this incredible? Well, Nintendo, or more specifically Niantic has figured out a way to not only get people to move around in the world, but has theoretically also found a way to get mass groups of people to all congregate in certain places at certain times. If you look at Niantic’s last augmented reality game, Ingress, you see a world where people try and dominate the global-digital landscape with whatever colour they have chosen, blue or green.

ingress-screenshots-r471x

They can “attack” and thus take over any region held by the opposing team provided they physically go to that area. However, beyond co-ordinated attacks or other such player-driven events, there is nothing driving people to be at a certain place at a certain time. In the case of Pokemon GO, all the Pokemon (at least those which have been released thus far) seem to be distributed more or less evenly in the countries where the game can played*, taking into account of course that certain types are only found in certain geographic conditions i.e. water-type Pokemon only found by bodies of water, etc. But as suggested by the above Bear Grylls meme, what’s to prevent Niantic from placing a Legendary (thus rare and prized) Pokemon like Articuno, somewhere inaccessible like Everest Base Camp? Nothing, save for the limitations of Google Maps.

But let’s take it a step further. What if Niantic released a statement saying that a certain incredibly rare Pokemon would appear only on the lawn of the White House, and then only for twelve hours? People would MOB D.C.!

……

Okay, this scenario is probably beyond a “step further” but I think you get my point. Even if Niantic did a 5-day Pokemon appearance event in a certain city, we could see mass-migrations of people. How serious am I about that? Well, according to Wikipedia, the app, after less than a week of being released, and then only officially in three countries, topped daily usage of Facebook, Tinder, Snapchat and Instagram. That means, it’s beating out people’s libidos and narcissism -no mean feat.

The effort put into capturing Pokemon may seem unbelievable to non-gamers, but is it that surprising? We take our games very seriously especially when there is a ranking structure and an opportunity to demonstrate our prowess and superiority. MMOs in recent years have seen this vulnerability exploited as people will stay indoors on a beautiful, sunny Saturday playing games online in order to take advantage of Double XP weekends. It’s about bragging rights and Pokemon GO differs only in one critical arena -your couch is the last place you wanna be.

Artificial Scarcity
I’m fond of talking about the power of scarcity to motivate people and games truly exploit that power. Whether it’s reddit karma, Pokemon in your pokedex or having a Vex Mythoclast in Destiny, these are things that take work to accumulate/acquire. It’s hilarious because they are digital constructs -lines of code, which by their nature are infinite. But, limit their available quantity or occurrence, attach some status to possessing them and all of a sudden people will scramble.

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For now, this is all guess-work and hypothesizing on my part. But it seems foolish not to make the thought-experiment. Maybe this potential hasn’t occurred to Niantic/Nintendo or maybe they are just waiting for an opportune time to mobilize their willing army of Pokemon trainers against the regimes of the world.

All I know is, if it turns out that there are to be different Pokemon in different parts of the world, I will be on the front lines becoming the greatest Pokemon master of them all.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*The game has at this point only officially been released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, but lo and behold, here is a picture of me playing it in Canada…

IMG_1609
Fuck the P0-lice!

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My Favourite Fictional Weapons

My Friends,
   I have been wrestling with ideas for what to write about for the last week and have a few unfinished drafts to show for it.  But I find I have been starting out on what seem like promising and introspective topics and hitting roadblocks the whole way.  The topics I want to write about very soon are “The Effects of Laws and Rules,” “The Wrong Way to Argue.””The Proper Way to Treat a Woman,” and “The True Power of Honesty.”  Rest assured I will endeavour to flesh out these topics in the near-future.
   However, in the meantime I feel some levity is in order.  One can’t simply ponder deep, existential questions and not take time to indulge in some more frivolous inquiries.  Having spent part of last evening watching Star Wars reviews on redlettermedia.com and discussing how episodes I-III could have been much better, I was once again reminded of how the lightsabre has always enchanted me.  This of course led me to think about my other favourite fictional weapons as well and compile a list which I will share with you now.
   **Note: The weapons listed don’t have to be implausible or fantastical, simply featured prominently in fiction.  Some are actual weapons used notably by fictional characters or are based on real-life equivalents.

Lightsabre – Star Wars Universe

   
   “An elegant weapon for a more civilized age,” the lightsabre was an obvious inclusion as it was the inspiration for this list.  With so many variants to choose from it is hard to pick a favourite incarnation, but Darth Vader’s red one gets point for…well, belonging to Darth Vader.  I’d like to think that as the human race advances its knowledge of superheated plasma and the manipulation of magnetic fields that we will one day be able to build these weapons.  I would rate the importance of lightsabre R&D somewhere above ending world hunger as far as global priorities go.


Tuco’s Custom Revolver – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly



   After being double-crossed by Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name,” Tuco resolves to get revenge. His first order of business is to procure some heat.  After having his common wares rejected, the gunsmith pulls out the premium firearms for Tuco; “Remington, Colt, ____, Smith & Wesson, Colt Navy,  J____, another Remington…”  The list reads like an antique revolver enthusiast’s wet dream but Tuco remains unimpressed.  He proceeds to dismantle the guns and take the choice components from each to assemble his ideal firearm in what is one of the coolest scenes in the film.  And though he doesn’t fare too well in the final standoff with “Blondie” and “Angel Eyes,” he does manage to get some good killin’ in.


Cerberus – Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (PS2)



   This revolver is only a revolver in the loosest sense of the word.  While it has only three chambers to house three cartridges which are fired simultaneously with each trigger pull, somehow it can fire 18 rounds before needing to be reloaded.  When you can suspend belief to the point that you glaze over this glaring inconsistency, you can really begin to appreciate the elegance of this weapon.
   Since its a magical revolver, it just isn’t subject to the same rules other gats might be subject to.  Case in point: Magical charms can be procured throughout the game and then affixed to the weapon to affect its power, reload speed, weight and accuracy.  When completely decked out with these charms it is a gaudy, cumbersome affair but still kinda gets me hard.  Its kind of like a Tiffany & Co. tennis bracelet, but with bullets.


Green Shell – Super Smash Bros. (N64)



   The oft-underrated green shell is overlooked as one of the better weapons in the game because it can only be thrown, not used for melee.  However, it packs devastating power when it connects and can be ricocheted or even hit again while in motion to increase its potency.  Unlike other pick-ups in the game this one will not cover for your lack of skill, but instead will complement your mastery of a character’s fighting style.


Cougar Magnum/DD44 Dostovei – Goldeneye (N64)

Cougar Magnum
   DD44 Dostovei



   Based on the .357 Ruger Blackhawk and the Soviet TT-30 respectively, these two pistols were vastly different (the former being the much more powerful of the two) but were both more elegant than some of the larger firearms in the game.  If its not already glaringly apparent, I’m a bit gay for pistols, revolvers particularly, and I tended to prefer these two to the more powerful golden and silver handguns in the game for their realism.


Crissaegrim: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSONE)



   The Crissaegrim is quite simply the only weapon you need to find in the game.  Thankfully, the developers had the good sense to make it appear late in the story because when it is equipped you can literally mow down any ghoul that has the audacity to proceed in your direction.  On top its power, each push of the attack button actually causes it to hit seven or eight times in overlapping arcs.  Perfect for patricide against the Prince of Darkness. (ps you play as Dracula’s son in the game)


Battle Rifle – Halo 3 (XBOX 360)



   When I first played Halo 3 I thought this was simply a neutered, 3-round burst version of Halo 2’s fully-auto Battle Rifle.  However, the more I played, the more I came to appreciate it.  It really can dole out some serious damage and the burst fire compels you to make aimed shots instead of spray & pray.  In a hectic battlefield it is an excellent balance of speed and power.

Minigun – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)



   An indispensable part of your arsenal when taking on police and military, this incarnation of the minigun scores over its Vice City predecessor by being fully aimable (sic.).  Seriously, I don’t think I ever barricaded myself into a fortified position and started picking off cops without this baby and a ton of ammo.

Ol’ Painless/Lincoln’s Repeater – Fallout 3 (XBOX 360)

Ol’ Painless

Lincoln’s Repeater



   While I played through most of the game with the readily-available energy weapons and power armor, I decided to tackle the expansions with simple combat armor and bullets.  Insofar as video games can be said to be satisfying, satisfying it was.  The “PYOOM-PYOOM” of plasma and laser weapons doesn’t do it for me like the explosion of gunpowder and the report of bullets streaking through the post-apocalyptic air.

M4 Revolver – Killzone 2 (PS3)



   A simple yet effective .357 magnum.  The number of revolvers on this list must be getting tiresome by this point but its my list so have a smile and Coke as they say.  This revolver makes the list not only for its power but its accuracy.  It fires true and as long as you can aim worth a damn it can take out Helghan scum from the other end of a multi-player map.  So effective is this weapon in fact that it has to be earned  to be used in multi-player.

Beer Bottle – Def Jam Vendetta (XBOX)

NO PICTURE AVAILABLE

   Perhaps no picture is needed.  Basically, if your opponent was on the ropes you can pick up a bottle and smash it over their head for an instant knockout.  Far more satisfying than returning it for your deposit.
Lead Pipe – River City Ransom (NES)


   Among the game’s multitude of weapons, including a tire and rock, the lead pipe was king.  It did about the same damage as any other weapon in the game but unlike the rest it made a pleasant ping when it cracked off some fool’s head.


Plasma Grenades – Halo Series



   Like a persistent booger that you wipe on your girlfriend’s sleeve, this bad boy was sticky.  While it wouldn’t do too much damage when it exploded near an enemy, if you managed to “stick” it to someone when you threw it, their death was assured.

Castor Troy’s dual gold 1911s – Face/Off


   I think any young male who saw this movie jizzed their pants when they got a peek into Nicholas Cage’s box of goodies.  But more than the golden dragon money clip holding his Benjis and the profusion of illicit drugs, we were mesmerized by his matching pistols.  Anyone who saw this contemplated “terrorism-for-hire” that day.

High-Frequency Blade – Metal Gear Solid Series



  This weapon was only briefly usable in MGS 2 and completely unusable in MGS 4, despite being featured prominently in the beautiful cinematics, but its pretty much the ultimate in non-lightsabre sword technology (NLST), beating out Blade’s katana in Blade, and Squall’s Gunblade in Final Fantasy VIII.  Definitely looking forward to the upcoming MGS title focusing entirely on swordplay.
Flamethrower – Contra 3: The Alien Wars (SNES)


   There were A LOT of weapon power-ups in this game, and though it wasn’t the most powerful and had only a finite range, the flamethrower had a certain je ne sais quoi which made it the go-to implement for alien extermination.

Dual Enforcers – Unreal Tournament


   In a game chock full of devastating weapons (ie wire-controlled nuke) the basic pistol was my favourite when dual-wielded.  Its faster, secondary mode of fire (gangster style, pictured above), although less accurate, was what really sold me on it.  I don’t play too many video games any more but I have yet to see another game let me bust my gat sideways.  Things just ain’t the same for gangsters…
Anyhow, I could probably go on all night but I have to work tomorrow.  I hope this has made some of you catch nostalgia and who knows, I may even do a sequel.  If there is any egregious oversight (and I’m sure there is) please let me know what I missed.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo




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