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12/9/2003: Slurp

This week, a pleasant little vignette entitled Drink This.

I... I really can't excuse it. I was tired.

11/9/2003: Future Imperfect

We of the 21st century have a lot to answer for.

It's been the habit of mankind since time immemorial to take the piss out of the way of life in previous eras (lets face it, in today's politically correct times, it's just about the only thing left we can take the piss out of). Things that were taken with utmost seriousness in the past, like big hair, massive sideburns and the word 'gnarly', are suddenly bottomless comedy goldmines. What is it with the human race that we have to continually look back mockingly at previous populist trends while endlessly pursuing current ones? We're already wondering what the hell we saw in Tamagotchis. Will we never learn?

But I think what we mock most about the past is what they thought life would be like nowadays. Their twinkly-eyed visions of the future which turned out to be as accurate as a weather forecast made by a deaf stoat.

The people in the 60's, for instance, had a very clear vision of the 1980's. Everyone would go around in outfits that incorporated huge boots and lots of transparent plastic. They would have their homes cleaned by robots in adorable little pink maid's outfits. There'd be so many automated lifts and walkways that we would never even need to expend a single ounce of effort to do anything, and would all eventually transmute into gigantic fat blob-creatures. By the time the 2000's came along, we'd all be living on the moon, discovering mysterious black monoliths and being antagonised by singing supercomputers.

If you want to see the 80's vision of the 2000's, look no further than Back to the Future part 2. Hover technology, giant attack holograms and flying cars. Always with the flying cars.

It's too easy to jerk our thumbs over our shoulders and say "Get a load of those visions of the future in the last few decades! Look how inaccurate they turned out to be! How stupid those tossers were, and how superior are we! Ho ho ho!", but that's really not fair. It's not that the soothsayers of the previous century were stupid; it's that we, the future, have let them down.

Let's face it, fellow enlightened peoples of the 21st century; the 20th century set us targets, and we missed 'em big time. Calling them stupid is like calling your boss stupid for expecting you to get some work done. We're a great big cosmic worldwide failure. I'm expecting the 60's and 80's to come into the office one of these days, place their hands on their hips, and say, "Well? Where's all the transparent plastic clothing? The cities on the moon? The flying cars? The hoverboards and supercomputers and Jaws 10?" And all we'll be able to do is mumble vague excuses about how it was 'too hard'. God, we're pathetic.

We were supposed to have intelligent robots that clean our house. What've we got? We've got Dyson vacuum cleaners and new formula Pledge that repels dust for slightly longer than previously.

We were supposed to create indestructible robot soldiers who would turn against us, enslave us, and turn the Earth into a howling wasteland. Instead, we created Furbies. I think we got the indestructible thing down pat, though. Have you ever tried to shut those fucking things up when they've got going? You have to break out the napalm, and even then a steel endoskeleton will rise from the flames and lurch towards you, blinking, giggling and repeating your horrified screams of anguish.

We were supposed to have cured all known diseases, and we're still having problems with cancer. We can laugh at those Tudor people who didn't know the Bubonic Plague was spread by rats, but we still don't have a clue about cancer. This very day the headline on my paper read "DID SEX GIVE THIS WOMAN CANCER? IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!". I can only presume the article was paid for by the Ministry of Joyless Motherfuckers.

We're supposed to have conquered the stars and be commuting to Alpha Centauri on a daily basis, but we've still got our feet firmly grounded on Terra Firma. Wasn't America supposed to be pioneering space travel? I guess they lost interest in space after the Russians didn't want to play anymore.

I won't even waste time complaining about the excessive amounts of research that goes into nappy technology. Let me just conclude by saying this: Amazing future technology is everyone's responsibility. So let's just give that bloody Segway thing a chance, alright?

10/9/2003: Not Mushroom

Unappreciated Computer Game Character Of The Week, the infrequent regular feature, returns to the days of retro and 8-bit gaming for today, to discuss a character who is snuffed out unjustly before even being able to prove themselves. A character who I think we have all encountered, and not given a second thought to. Allow me to reintroduce you, dear reader, to:

The First Goomba You Ever Meet In Super Mario Bros 1!

Picture the scene. Bowser Koopa is embarking on an ongoing war with all the retards with toadstool hats, who have become desperate enough to send in their only commando, alone and unarmed, to rescue their princess from a hostage situation. The war looks like it's a foregone conclusion.

You're a goomba. You've been bottle-fed on Koopa propaganda since you were old enough to read. Now you've come of age, brainwashed into knowing that there is no greater glory than joining the army. There's a tearful goodbye with your parents before you assure them it'll all be over by Christmas and get onto the bus. Or mushroom bus or whatever they have.

You arrive at the Koopa military training centre and sure enough you're force-fed more propaganda. Yes, the enemy are running scared. Yes, their leader has been captured. Yes, they're down to one man, and he's a stumpy little unarmed moustachioed European who has previous experience only in bathroom maintenance. Yes, this battle will be so stupidly brief that we're not even going to bother arming you. Just run up to him with a suitably vicious frown and he'll run for his life.

Civic pride fills your soul as you learn that you'll be part of the spearhead, the very first wave of soldiers to swarm down upon that Italian twat and tear him to pieces. A moment of alarm presents itself when you discover that the rest of the spearhead consists of just two other goombas, named Nobby and Ginger, but you are quickly convinced that even three soldiers would be more than enough.

All of a sudden, you find yourself in the field, under orders to advance immediately upon the enemy. You and Nobby and Ginger trek for many hours across various entirely 2-dimensional levels, the inability to jump being a major hindrance. On the way, you lose Nobby down a bottomless pit and Ginger to one of those insatiable chompy plants, but your lust for glory and hatred for the enemy kept you going. Suddenly, there he is; the biggest enemy of your people, right over the horizon. You set your face to the harshest slight frown your enormous eyes can manage, and charge towards him, screaming your hate.

Only then do you realise that the tagliatelli-scoffing fiend is twice your height, and because of your freakishly stubby legs, your maximum speed would embarrass a dishmop. And while you do have a special poison glazing which would kill him instantly if you were to merely touch his skin, he can also jump six times his own height and run at thirty miles an hour. The last thing you see is a pair of dungaree-clad buttocks silhouetted against the sunlight, thundering towards you like the hand of a vengeful god.

All of a sudden, the daylight goes away. Your bones are splintered, your skull-case smashed in, brain and internal organs crushed flat, the vitreous humour of your once-frowny eyes dribbling all down your front. For a second, your whole universe is a hideous sensation of agonising pain and the knowledge that the government you loved so much has betrayed you. Then you disappear. You simply cease to exist. Your grief-stricken parents don't even have anything to bury.

And you're just the first of innumerable senseless goomba deaths as the war the Koopas thought would be over in an instant drags on for half a dozen games, and still shows no sign of concluding. Oh, sure, they eventually acquired enough smarts to start giving goombas other weapons and fitting some of their soldiers with shells and spikey shells, but it took the horrible death of an innocent to make the generals realise. And if just one innocent is killed needlessly, then it's a war that nobody wins.

Damn, I'm depressed now.

So, the very first goomba you meet in Super Mario Bros 1, nought out of ten for fighting skills but ten out of ten for effort, you are Unappreciated Computer Game Character Of The Week!

9/9/2003: Service Me

It's been a while since I last had contact with myself from the future. Ungrateful fucker hardly ever gets in touch. A card every Christmas and that's about it. He only comes to me when he wants something, like last time when I had to single-handedly save the world from a horde of disillusioned children. This morning, however, he turned up unannounced, shambling in through that untidy time tunnel of his. Without a word he handed me an envelope and returned to his own time. What a rude bastard.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's his letter.

Present Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw Future Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
England The Future
The Present Nr. Basingstoke

Dear past self,

Our last mission was a complete success. After the exposure of the possible threat posed by lawbreaking children's TV presenters, the TV networks responded with a glut of children's programming based around freakish colourful costumes, leaving the actors within free to commit whatever acts of debauchery they wanted in safe anonymity. The holocaust my world witnessed will now not take place.

However, when I returned to my own time, the post-apocalyptic landscape remained, only this one was slightly different to the last one. Humans of all ages lay dead and broken in vast trenches of war, and a sullen silence hung over the bleak landscape like a spectre of death. I had to break into a delapidated records office to get to the bottom of this new nightmare, and this is what I discovered.

Towards the end of the first decade of the third millennium, litigation made the world go round. The American trend of suing for the most nonsensical reasons had spread mercilessly throughout the world, leaving a trail of bewildered inoffensive people with no money. People somehow found someone to sue if they banged their head on a shelf while getting out of bed. Litigation papers could be acquired from dispensing machines in the street. The world was going sue-crazy. Even people called Sue found themselves being sued by the legal system for infringing upon copyright.

At around 2015 some fucker didn't like the service he received at a motorway service station. Apparently his cappuccino had only had half an inch of froth, and the waitress hadn't let him clasp her firm buttocks when she brought it. This unnamed customer decided to sue, an action that ultimately would doom us all.

The service station couldn't afford a loss, so they decided to sue the government, saying that their staff were unrested and cranky from having to drive from their homes to the place of work. They motioned for another service station to be built next to the first service station for the benefit of the staff. The supreme court, which was at this time composed mainly of mental patients and dalmations, ruled in their favour. By law, every service station had to be accompanied by another one for the benefit of the staff.

The flaw in this logic became apparent very quickly. While the staff of the first service station were rested and happy, the staff of the second service station had no such boon. They sued at this obvious favouritism, demanding a third service station be built for their benefit.

You can see where this is leading, can't you. By 2030, every motorway was flanked on both sides by a neverending row of service stations, and more were being built every second. Service stations were suddenly the most popular type of building in the country, and 90% of the national budget went towards their construction.

It was figured that eventually we'd just run out of space and that would be the end of it, but we were wrong. You see, the huge number of service stations caused a remarkable sequence of evolution to take place. We're still not sure exactly how it happened, but the service stations developed sentience in 2049. Servicius Stationo Sapiens. Great herds of the enormous beasts could be seen to stampede majestically across the foothills of the Peak District, tearing up roads and making a general nuisance. At first we tried suing them, but they responded by leaping upon and crushing the jury. This was the final straw. The human race declared war upon the service stations.

It was a long and bloody conflict, but we were hopelessly outnumbered. In our folly we had inadvertently created for them a vast army, taught the art of warfare by the "Silent Scope" arcade machines we had installed in their foyers. The human race were torn to pieces. Only I, a refugee from the alternative future, remain alive to write this. Once again I must travel back in time and rely on my past self to help avert this catastrophe. I can't say I relish the prospect, as last time I caught him in the shower.

Yours sincerely,

Future Yahtzee

P.S. Mum says hi.

8/9/2003: Insert Title Here

You know, the smacktards are all around us. I remember the day I was conversing with someone in an internet room who seemed as normal as you or I, when he suddenly turned around and started typing lots of words with no capital letters and punctuation save for half a dozen exclamation marks on the end.

Smacktards are everywhere, ready to take us by surprise, and there doesn't seem to be enough bile in the world to insult them. As such, here is my modest contribution to the ongoing resistance to the internet smacktards.

If you meet someone whom you suspect to be a smacktard, simply direct them to this page, as anonymously as you wish. Then sit back and watch the fun as the realisation that they are nothing but a big fat fucktoss causes great lumpy tears to drool down their stupid faces.

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