Friday, December 18, 2009

In which we explore the motivations of Pokemon

As anyone who's made his way to our house in the last week or so knows, we've gotten into some Smash. I insist that Melee was the best game, but this is something about which reasonable people can disagree. Similarly, character selection is a intensely personal affair. For many people it's about throwing power or speed or attack priority. For my roommate Rob, it's about selecting a character who can bail him out of as many mistakes as possible (floaters). For me, it's all about attitude.

This little dude is by far my favorite. Understand, I started playing as Pikachu way back in the day because I was terrible at the game. Pikachu was the most logical choice of character because he was awesome both in victory and in defeat. If you win with Pikachu, you have some of the most adorable taunt animations ever created by Japanese people at your disposal. Hell, if he wins a match he's been known to lie down and take a nap on the post-fight summary screen! And if you get your ass kicked as Pikachu? Still adorable as his Doppler-shifted PIIIKKAAAAAA-shriek hangs in the arena air like dust motes.

It's more than that, though. Pika is adorable, but he's still a badass. Most of the characters in this game come from candy-ass backgrounds. The Mushroom Kingdom? Really? Well, Pikachu here has spent his whole life in the murderous gladiatorial arenas of Pokemon Stadium. He's seen shit that would turn you white. Don't let the idyllic smile on his face fool you; his only thoughts are of death. Look for a moment into his eyes; those black, lidless shark eyes. There is no soul in there; there is a creature who lives from one kill to the next. The moments that define his life are ephemeral: the quiet before the match begins, and the roar after. The flash of lightning and the moment of the kill. When he calls down that thunderbolt to pluck Kirby from the air, to lance him like a butterfly under glass; only in that precious moment is Pikachu truly alive. When his opponent's last breath slides out her mouth and into his like a desperate promise.

Captain Falcon is also a favorite. Although they made him really bad in Brawl ("Your attacks no longer have priority over anything. Have fun.") the character isn't something I'm going to drop because of petty balance changes. Those are for people who would rather win than rock. What draws me to Captain Falcon is his versatility and can-do attitude. You hear his name and see his moves and you assume he must be some kind of fire-oriented superhero. Not so! He's just a racecar driver; he pilots his F-Zero thingamajig and that's how he makes his paper. That's how he gets them stacks. However, it's not enough. This may be his professional calling, but the universe demands something greater and so he assumes the mantle. With moves like the Knee of Justice and the Long Arm of the Law, he demonstrates his mastery of both ground and sky. The mighty Falcon Punch might draw some laughs, but I love the statement it makes. Falcon says, "I am gonna load up the biggest goddamn punch you've ever seen, and with the power of fire I will cleanse the holy fuck out of this little space directly in front of me. That space will be cleansed utterly. If you happen to be standing in it when this happens, woe betide you."

Well, he doesn't literally say it. Like the boys in Spinal Tap, he doesn't literally mean it either. He literally says "Falcooon PAAAAWNCH!!!" because he's inhaled an awful lot of F-Zero exhaust in his time. Those things basically run on raw mercury, so you can imagine Falcon's mental condition at this point in this life. He wears the mask to cover up the fact that he can't move one side of his face. He had a wife once, but that same mercury poisoning led to a string of monstrous stillbirths and one day she just took off. Even the Captain couldn't really blame her. But still, every day he's in the ring throwing nerfed Falcon Kicks around the place. It's all he has to live for. Even if they worry for him, his trainers can't pull him out. It's all he has to live for.


I have very little desire to talk about Eldrick Woods, but since he keeps losing sponsors I'll chip in. I've never cheated on anybody, but I would have nailed all 14 (more? I haven't really been paying attention) of those chicks. It's not even a question of morality or honesty, because I'm not the sort of person who's motivated by chasing tail. Just not a part of my personality. But still, I would have done it. You would have too. I don't think most people realize this: if you are a famous megamillionaire, particularly a professional athlete who is instantly recognizable anywhere in the world, you will have gorgeous women throwing themselves at you all the time. Every day, every night, every minute, temptation will be punching you directly in the nuts. I don't see how anyone could be expected to hold up under those conditions. Consider this: most human beings wouldn't be able to keep themselves from eating a bag of M&Ms if you put it in front of them. I see people smoking cigarettes and eating fast food and taking drugs every day. If the vast majority of people on the planet can't resist these petty temptations, how the hell can anyone be expected to deal with Big League Temptation on a daily/nightly/hourly basis? Honestly, they can't be.

Unless you are his wife, who has what could charitably be described as a "legitimate beef," don't dump on Tiger. So what if the man sees a Bennigan's wait staff the same way a shark views a bucket of chum?

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