Category Archives: Samus and Blanka

Childlines – Things My Kids Have Said

Cosmic cat talker and radiology specialist Noel Edmunds has been safely contained within weekday afternoons for some time now. But there was a time when his box-bothering face was exposed to millions, weekly, on a Saturday night. It was a dark and terrible time when the act of “gunging”; simply pouring a green coloured liquid on someone’s head; was seen as cutting edge family entertainment. Fortunately we’ve all moved on from such puerile, bottom-of-the-barrel programming and now have All Round to Mrs Brown’s to look forward to. The joke is she’s really a man! It’s really quite brilliant.

Edmond’s show, Noel’s House Party, achieved the astonishing feat of being a less inviting  than the U.K Independence Party. I’ll be honest, sign me up for a bit of racism and lying buses if it means I don’t have to act surprised and delighted when Bros turn up at the door. But one segment, “Wait Till I Get You Home”, in which a child was interviewed separately to their parents, stumbled upon the irrefutable humour goldmine that is kids say some funny old shit (although in retrospect you do really have to question the parenting of someone who was willing to leave their child alone with a seventies DJ).

In light of this knowledge, my wife suggested that we have a book in which we can record any particular highlights said by our children’s inbetween their constant bi-polar requests and refusals to eat. This book not only provides us with a constant source of amusement, but also means we don’t actually have to remember these instances and can use our precious memory space for more important things like the names and concepts of segments in nineties light entertainment shows.

Regular readers may know that round here I refer to my children as Samus and Blanka. Not only does it afford them a shred of anonymity, but also neatly captures their personality for all you geeks out there. Samus, my six year old daughter, is bright, methodical and confident in her own distinct style and individuality. Blanka, my four year old son, cannonballs round the house like he’s got several thousands volts of electricity coursing through his veins. They both pretty well behaved and I almost never daydream about disappearing off on a boat somewhere.

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The good book.

In any case, here, for your reading pleasure, are some of the things they say. Hope you enjoy them. I’ve spent the last couple of hours trying to be funny writing the above. They just shit these things out on a regular basis. Sickening.

Samus: “You’re so soft.”
Mummy: “Oh, thank you!”
Samus: “Like a cow”
As I was leaving her room after putting her to bed, Samus held out her hand. “Wait a minute Dad! Here you go. It’s a bogey.”
Daddy: “What are you asking from Father Christmas?”
Samus: “A train”
Daddy: “And what is Blanka going to get?”
Samus: “A train”
Daddy: “And Mummy?”
Samus: “A train”
Daddy: “What are you going to do with these trains?”
Samus: “Cho cho them over the floor”
Daddy: “Am I getting a train too?”
Samus: “No”
Daddy: “What’s your name?”
Samus: “Samus”
Daddy: “And how old are you?”
Samus: “Two”
Daddy: “And where do you live?”
Samus: “The White House”
Daddy: “Get in the house young lady.”
Samus: “I’m not a young lady. I’m a honky.”
Samus: “I’m just going to take off my sock so you can see the fluff on my nipples.”
Samus: “I’m not Samus, I’m the bravest tramp”
Whilst Samus is playing guitar on a broom I say;
Daddy: “Oh, you’re rocking out. Can I join in?”
Samus: “Sure.  Grab a mop.”
Samus: “If you see a bird say ‘Alan'”
Blanka: “ALAN!!!”
Samus: “Dad. The bad news is I’ve done a poo. But the good news is I’ve done a wee.”
Samus has invented a game but has decided to call it “Show Us Your Balls”
Samus: “I need to do something Dad. Just calm your horses down.”
Samus reads out a Valentine’s card she has written to us:
Samus: “Baa Baa Black Sheep. I’ll kiss you until you cry. Love from Blanka”
Samus is playing with a phone…
Samus: “Hello?  Stephen? Yes, yes, yes. I hate you. Goodbye.”
Mummy: “That wasn’t very nice.”
Samus: “He’s just a cat.”
Samus puts a plunger on Blanka’s head and claimed he “Looks just like a Grandad should”
Samus has asked for “splatted egg”.  We think she means fried.
Samus: “I’ve got sweaty alan’s”
Dinner time.  Samus, completely deadpan, drops her fork and looks me straight in the eye.
Samus: “Dad.  Are you Batman?”
Samus swears blind there is a Pokemon called “Classic Jones”
Blanka keeps refering to Pikachu as “Peter Chu.”
Blanka: “Can I touch the moon?”
Daddy: “No it’s too far away.”
Blanka: “Oooooh. Just a little bit.”
Daddy: “It’s too far away!”
Blanka: “Oh well. Maybe next time.”
I’m giving Blanka a shoulder carry.
Daddy: “What are you doing up there mate?”
Blanka: “I’m eating your hair!”
Samus is flexing her arm muscles.
Samus: “Check out these fancy boys.”
Blanka has invented a superhero called “Pussy Hump”
Samus has made one called “Hard Boy”
Samus: “Dad, on Father’s Day you can do anything you like.  Except burn the house down.”
Mummy: “So, what was your favourite thing at the fair?”
Samus: “My favourite thing was when Mummy was quiet”
Samus: “Do you know we came from monkeys?”
Daddy: “That’s right. Where did you hear that?”
Samus: “Nowhere. I figured it out myself.”
Blanka: “I”M GETTING GOOEY LOUIE! I’M GETTING GOOEY LOUIE!”
Blanka was opening a Christmas present. It was Gooey Louie.
Blanka has invented a dance called “Swag Your Bum Off”.
Blanka has made some superheroes called “Beeham” and “Foot Punk.”
He has also invented a video game called “Fight Breakfast”
Daddy: “Did you have a nice day today?”
Blanka: “Yep.  I didn’t fall over OR poo myself!”
Daddy: “Can you pick a bedtime story please?”
Blanks: “Nope. Too busy.” *does forward roll*
Blanka is pretending to be a superhero called Change. He can change into anything. Change’s brother was evil, so Change punched him to death in their bedroom. This meant Change has to live at Grandma’s.  Their parents were called Rocky and Stoney. Their Dad wore ladies shoes.
Samus: “When I die, I want to be buried next to you.”
Blanka: “Let’s play Mario Swimming!”
Daddy: “O.k.  How do you play that?”
Blanks: “Right. Y’know. It’s for one, two, three, four, five players. You’re on Bowser’s team and I’m on Mario’s. And it’s for five players. Ready? GO!”
Mummy: “Do you know what a Catholic is?”
Samus: “It’s someone with a big hat and a curly moustache.”
Blanka: “I did a pump and some poo-poo came out and it was melted”
Blanka had diarrhoea.
Samus: “Mummy is cuddly.  Daddy is like a bit of wood with nails in it.”
I act offended.
Samus: “Nah, it’s fine. The nails are your eyes, nose and mouth.”
Blanka: “I’ve done a wee but I didn’t touch my willy so I don’t need to wash my hands”
Samus: “Blanka, do you want to play musical statues?”
Blanka: “I’m Batman.”
Samus: “Batman, do you want to play musical statues?”
Blanka: *in a gruff voice* “Yes.”
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Wor and Peese

Writing a book is bloody difficult. Wander into a library and the sheer volume of them might suggest it’s as easy as sitting in front of a keyboard and flapping your fingers about for a bit; a theory that carries some weight if you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to read a Dan Brown novel; but managing to hold your interest and confidence in an idea for hundreds of hours is really quite a challenge. I’m not even at the end of one paragraph of this yet and I’ve already gone on Twitter twice, stopped for a nice stretch and looked into the fridge for no real reason.

So imagine my surprise when I came home from work last week to discover my nearly six year old daughter had written, illustrated and bound an entire novel within the space of a few hours. I present this powerfully evocative examination of the human condition for your enjoyment below, completely unedited.

I do feel the need to point out that despite my customary pissy tone, I’m very proud of what she has managed to achieve here considering she has only just finished reception. It’s more coherent than some of the stuff I see from grown-ups and she’s at least attempting punctuation. Also, I think the publishing process may have put the pages out of sequence which accounts for the unusual numbering of the chapters.

All that considered, it is also pretty fucking funny. So get yourself an Ovaltine, set your jaws to drop and strap yourself in for some hardcore jackanory.

This, Dear Reader, is “Rig Roby Rig Roll”

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If you’re expecting this title to be fully explained, I’m afraid you’re going to leave disappointed

 

Rig and Rob wer a bruver and sister thay wer number 1 meen number 2 didnx go xo school number 3 laysay wen it was Rob’s birthday rig sed wen is it my birthday 6 day’s sed Mum but that’s ages sad rig i wont it now sed Rig now now now

They always say that you should open with a strong first sentence and she’s totally nailed it. They do sound like a challenging pair. Coincidentally, my daughter’s birthday is exactly six days after her brothers. Funny that.

 

Wen it was Rig’s birthday she laughed at Rob. Rob told Mum he shouted mum mum mum. Yes sed Mum what sed Mum what happened sed mum Rig laughed at me Ok sed Mum

Clearly drawing on her own bitter experience of a thoughtless, uncaring mother. The lack of discipline handed out for the heinous crime of laughing at you on your birthday surely explains why these children are so meen and laysay.

 

On Monday it was Dad’s berthday. He got a videogaem. thank you I love it.

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My wife hands me a gift over our ceremonial safe whilst I wear my customary top hat. A family tradition.

The birthday is a reoccurring motif. A day of celebration but also a milestone on the unstoppable march to the grave. I like what she’s saying here.

 

Chapper 3 I mis mum wers mum sed Rob evrthin went blak mum mum mum MUM evryone cried mum.

Bit dark.

 

Chapderder 2 Berthday fiet everyone was faeitoin with berthday evnn Mum

Here we see the first signs of her rejecting traditional narrative structure by returning to chapderder 2 after leaping to chapper 3. Are chappers and chapderders even on the same timeline? It’s like freeform jazz prose. Love it.

 

Chapper 5 the tv Mum the tv’s broakn sed Brook ther cat not agen sed Mum

Yeah, they’ve got a talking cat that repeatedly breaks the television. What, doesn’t that fit into your preconceived notions of where this story is going? Open your mind, squares.

 

Chapper 4 Hears Mum mum was sat on the couch ther you RA MUM

Emphasis is her own. I like to think this is her own version of the bit in The Shining when Jack sticks his head through the bathroom door.

 

the next day saly and Rig went to scoll Rob went to nersry thay love it Rob made cakes wen Rob got home he playd a gaem

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MASTERCHEF

After all those birthdays, that time when everything went black and the whole cat chat saga, no wonder they yearn for the structure that school or nursery can provide.

 

Chapder 8 plarnt’s Mum groad plarnt’s lots of them she love’s plarnt’s and cakes she loves trees too

“Right”, the reader thinks, “this chapter is about the mother’s love of gardening. Woah where did that cake come from? Then BANG back to gardening. This shit could go anywhere!”

 

Chapder 6 Saly Saly is not Rob’s frend bcos she is 10 Rob is 3 and Rig’s 7 it was niet tiem stars lit the scei

Blimey. A rather beautiful non sequitur after a challenging discussion of pre-teen social structure. Powerful stuff.

 

Chapder 7 mr tedy Rob has toi’s lots of them he had a tedy and robot and a rockit and crayons and a scuishy strobry

You kids with your YouTube stars and your overripe fruit. I can’t keep up with what’s popular these days.

 

Chapder 10 the zoo Rob and Rig got a treet thaay got to go to the zoo yae sed Rob I love the zoo let’s go now

I admire the dash of autobiographical realism she has injected into the characters of Rig and Rob. My children also seem to believe I have control over the speed at which time passes so it’s good to see art imitating life.

 

Chapder P meeny’s meen is not nies liek Saly and Rig thay ar meen meen meen thay ar not nies or fun not funy thay ar meen meen meen

I do think that perhaps Meeny’s parents should have given the name a bit more thought. Self-fulfilling prophecy and all that.

 

Chapder 11 the vegees vevery one needs vegees you need veg liek this this this this and this and this this and this

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And don’t you forget it, alright?

This reminds me of the bits in American Psycho when Patrick talks in length about Huey Lewis and The News. Although the importance of a well-balanced diet can not be understated, I think where this fits in with the story of Rig Roby Rig Roll is up for debate.

 

Chapder 12 Spaes 1 day Rob went in a rockit one day Dad wood be with him

Has Rob literally gone on a trip to space? Or is he dead?  The second interpretation certainly gives the Dad line a menacing air.

 

Chapder 13 Bob and Bily Bob Bily Bob love’s this Bily loves this.

We’re approaching the conclusion and she’s still introducing whole new waves of characters showing a real level of respect for the reader. It’s like The Wire.

 

Chapder 14 Cake Rig love’s cake Rob love’s cake ginger loves this Scrap loves you

And again. Who are Ginger and Scrap? And is she addressing the reader directly there? Is the author Scrap? Didn’t Mum like cake? HOLD THE PHONE! Are Mum, Scrap and the author one and the same?!?!

 

Chapder 16 Dad Dad is magik he is brilyntly slow

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I do look a bit I’ve just lost my carer

Imagine returning from a hard day at the office to find that your beautiful child has written this magnificent novel; with a whole chapter dedicated to you; then just at the point when you think your heart might burst from your chest with pride she hits you with the most  insulting compliment ever committed to print. “Brilliantly slow”; at least I’ve got the wording for my gravestone sorted.

 

Chapder 15 cat’s smal big we love cats that ar cyoot

I’m kind of distracted now if I’m honest. Slow how?

 

Chapder 17 buy we sad bie buy buy buy buy

Yeah bye, you cheeky sod.

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The Wee Stan Lee

I hope you’re sitting down because what you’re about to read may come as a shock; I am, and have always been, a colossal nerd.  I expect you read these posts in your head with the voice of Huey from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, such is the level of effortless cool that exudes from every flourish of punctuation, so the revelation that I look like a half-hearted cosplay of The Riddler may be difficult to accept.  But the unassailable truth is that I’m a thin, lanky, camp approximation of a man who possesses the kind of complexion that you can only achieve after endless summers of wrestling with the curtains in an attempt to stop sunlight shining off the television.  I’m like a vampire but without the benefit of the intense, brooding sexuality.  Yes, my wife is very happy, thank you for asking.

Despite essentially being a pre-punch George McFly, there are certain elements of geek culture whose appeal remains a mystery to me.  I’m probably the only person on the planet who knows a bit of SQL and doesn’t give a monkeys about either Star Wars or Star Trek. Any piece of media with a dragon, flagon or ‘ye olde speak’ takes a monumental amount of effort to win me over (I can just about tolerate Game of Thrones because phrases like ‘The tower is but a dawns break away!’ are normally followed by the offender having their face torn apart).  And I’m not a huge fan of comic book superheroes either; on the occasions that I have given it a bash finding that the medium either assumes that you know nothing and have to be told yet again how Bruce Wayne got his powers after being bitten by a radioactive iron or that you’ve been following absolutely every single development since the invention of the printing press.

My children on the other hand are both big fans of the forces of DC and Marvel; thanks in no small part to the sustained marketing push that’s been coming at them from all angles since the day they were born.  Like that bit in Being John Malkovich, Stan Lee is obviously no longer being satisfied with simply having a cameo in the films and now wants to be the only face future generations will ever see; his friendly mustachioed fizzgog ramming a collection plate at them from all angles like the Big Brother posters from 1984.

Thankfully, they are yet to have all semblance of imagination beaten out of them by ‘brand synergy’, and also enjoy creating their own superheroes, often with unexpectedly brilliant results.  I’ll never forget the day when my daughter, a middle class white girl from suburbia, proudly fired her fist into the air and informed my wife that her alter-ego was a crime fighter called ‘Black Power’.  What followed was a pretty nerve-wracking visit to the park, I can tell you.

Her brother, coming up to four years old, reels off characters at such a rate, that Lego have already been in contact about producing a toy range and a tie in video game.  Some of them are pretty good.  I’m a big fan of ‘Change’; a force for good who can alter his appearance at will; mainly because his name is a pretty forward thinking political statement from an author who still shits himself on occasion.  Others are less well-rounded; ‘Dontdothatboy’ presumably has a superhuman ability to give villains a stern ticking off.  And then there’s the third group whose skills and attributes remain a mystery.  These include ‘Spicyman’, ‘Bee-Ham’ and the enduring enigma that is ‘Foot Punk’.

In any case, a couple of weeks ago I was briefly gripped by madness and thought that it was possible to make the house a bit tidier.  Whilst doing so I stumbled across some hero and villain designs my daughter had made which I detail below.  I do so with the proviso that all future commercial activities arising from these characters remains the sole preserve of Soup Kitchen Comics.  Enjoy.

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I’m going to go ahead and make the assumption that Wight Boy is the nemesis of the aforementioned Black Power.  I’m not entirely sure that 2016 is the best time to unleash two characters with such racially charged monikers but she is a child of her time after all.

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Who’s this chap with the glint in his eye and the strangely defined knees?  Why, it’s Taiy the Testu, who sounds like he’s fresh off the set of one of the less popular Studio Ghibli films and looks like child’s interpretation of Keith from The Prodigy.  Give us a fist bump Taiy!

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Bert doesn’t let being a hideously mutated cat/beetle hybrid get him down and and such is truly an shining example to us all.  Stare into his eyes too long and you may start to hear Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

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Quite where my five year old daughter managed to find the inspiration for a rockabilly style, fantastically quiffed hero named Fearis is anyone’s guess, but his proud stance suggests to me that he’s ready to take on any challenge; even on his ‘day off’. HA!

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Edd looks like a wrong ‘un to me; I’ve encountered very view disembodied floating green heads that could be described as one of the good guys.  I’m guessing the lines beneath represent the force that keeps him levitated and are not meant to be an Egyptian hieroglyph of a broken vase.

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Fuck knows what’s going on here.  And I’m sorry to lower the tone, but I can’t see that protrusion from the chest of T-T Tonsn as anything other than a bloodied penis.

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Alex, my man!  Although Alex is totally my bro, don’t go running too quickly into his open arms.  Look carefully and you can see the sign of the beast branded into his chest and the souls of his fallen enemies trapped within his baseball cap.

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Check out the swag on Bob, here.  I’m a particular fan of his effortless eighty degree slant.  Combined with his hand signs, it looks like he’s giving mad props to all his bob-tailed bitches back at the burrow.

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I’m guessing the ‘Mows’ in Monchoo the Mows is meant to be ‘mouse’.  Not sure what ‘Monchoo’ is meant to be. It reads like Scottish slang for ‘hurry up’.

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I did consider leaving Mat out because really he’s just a perfectly acceptable child’s drawing of a cat.  But then there’s something about him that makes me imagine a feline with a human mouth which is just too wonderful an image to pass up.

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Now we’re talking.  Gaze upon the face of sheer determination that is Ningu Niclu.  Ningu doesn’t dick about by doing kicks and punches independently from each other.  And Ningu is PISSED.  Watch out forces of evil, ‘coz you’re about to get a nickling.

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At the danger of reading too much into these drawings, I can’t help but notice that Soafey has a backwards two on her front but that her reflection is facing the same way.  Is she trapped inside the mirror?  Or is she the mirror image herself?  Is she a master of reality, able to bend and manipulate perception to her will?   Also; huuuuuge great big smiley face on her vagina.

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Possessing a truly awesome haircut, Rain Rokstar wields her mighty harp and flying battle fortress which she handily disguises as a stage.  Despite having a name that sounds like an act that came eighth on The Voice, Rain also looks like one of spirits from the recent spate of Japanese ‘idol’ games; a reference that will mean absolutely nothing to all but three of you.  Really pleased I managed to work that one in.

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Gov, seen here setting loose one of the walkers from War of the Worlds, is actually a hardened east end gangster disguised as a three year old boy.  Don’t be taken in by his chirpy, chimney sweep exterior or you’ll get a right knifing you toilet.  Guy Ritchie has been in contact about using the character in his next film.  We’re all very excited.

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What at first glance appears to be little more than a child playing with his favourite toy, look beyond your preconceptions and you’ll find you’ve got Ben and his Boll the wrong way round.  The angry face on the ball,  the vacant look and outstretched arms of the larger character; surely the sphere is the master in this situation.  The 26 burned into the man’s chest suggest that he is not the first that has fallen into this trap.  Makes you think.

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Thankfully my wife is a body confident goddess who is forever challenging established beauty standards with her effortless style and intense eroticism  otherwise she might feel a little offended at being drawn as a giant egg.  In this picture I think she looks like one of those huge inflatable clown toys you used to get with a weight at the bottom so they couldn’t fall over.  Yes, I’ve already told you, my wife is very happy, why do you keep asking me that?

Super Mario (Mister) Maker

When you decide to have children, you suddenly find yourself surrounded by a crack team of parenting experts all desperate to impart their knowledge.  This wisdom mostly seems to focus on how little time you’ll have once they arrive. While true in most cases this doesn’t account for the long, stretching timeless chasm of a wintry Sunday afternoon where you desperately try to find some form of entertainment so that you don’t all end up murdering one another.  I believe one such afternoon provided the inspiration for Japanese cult classic Battle Royale.

What nobody mentioned to me was that kids produce an incredible amount of crap.  I’m not referring to actual, literal crap (although both my children do have a knack for generating stools that must account for over 80% of their bodyweight), but piles of stuff that you have to keep hold of until their back is turned long enough so that you can chuck it in the bin.  Plastic magazine freebies that stop working the instant they’re removed from the front cover, fascinating pieces of hedge that simply must be preserved, enough plastic beads to create a scale model of every atom in the universe.  And of course, a mass of drawings, doodles and craft projects whose carbon footprint pose a serious risk to the stability of the Kyoto Protocol.

These take an exceptionally delicate touch to dispose of.  You obviously want to keep enough that you’ve got something to ‘ah’ over when they’re teenagers and they hate you, but keeping and cataloguing everything is a beaurcratic challenge that would require a full-time administrator; something I’m frankly not willing to fund.  I’ll never forget the look on Samus’ face when she spied some of her work waiting for collection in one of the clear recycling sacks (thanks a bunch, council). “Why doesn’t Daddy love me anymore..?” her face seemed to say as her mother drove her away, a single solitary tear rolling gently down her cheek.  That put a spring in my step that morning walk to work, I can tell you.

So what to do?  Monetise it, obviously. Video game box art is almost universally terrible; mostly looking like the absent-minded scrawlings in the back page of a text book belonging to a child the teachers should really be keeping an eye on.  And the standard twatty reaction to a piece of art you don’t like is to say ‘my five year could do that!’; so let’s put it to the test.  I gave Samus a two sentence design brief to produce a cover for each of the games below.  Due to ‘creative differences’ (he’s only 3) Blanka had to sit out of the process but he was handed the unenviable task of producing a snappy, punchy quote for the back of the box.  Over to you, kids.

*Start Heartbeat gallery music*

 

Restnt Evel 4

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“There’s a monster.  AND ANOTHER MONSTER!!!”

“Hai you” shouts a thoroughly pissed off Leon who looks like he’s just about had it up to here with the torrent of increasingly eyed creatures he finds himself up against.  Ashley; sporting the yellow top with red smiley face alternative costume we all fondly remember; calls “help saiv me” which I believe is a direct quote from the game.

 

Fighnl Fantse 7

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“THIS!  IS!  PONGY!”

Jesus, spoiler alert.  Aeris lies dead at the feet of Sephiroth, whose trademark white flowing locks appear to have been replaced by spaniels ears.  Cloud meanwhile wields a sword fractionally less huge than the one he has in the game whilst cheerfully exclaiming the letter ‘H’ for some reason.

 

Street Fighta 3 Thred Stright

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“It’s pumping!!!”

Pumping indeed.  EVO Moment 37, perhaps the most iconic fight in Street Fighter history, is immortalised in Samus’ alternative cover.  Albeit now between two Ryus, one of whom is doing the Hyakuretsukyaku (lightning kick) in the opposite direction. Pah, details.

 

Grand Feft Ortoa Vighs Sity 

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“One man!  One robot!”

Christopher Reid from Kid and Play (thanks Google) flips a gang sign at at a policeman happily collecting some wayward coins.  What’s curious about this box is it’s the only one to feature eyebrows.

 

Baioneta

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“There’s a butterfly.  AND A POO!

I think she might have been getting a bit bored by this point as the level of detail has dropped off somewhat. Still, you can make out the witch whose clothes and attacks are made from her hair and she does appear to be fighting an angel.  An angel from Norfolk maybe, but an angel none-the-less.

 

Raideent Slargun 

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“Pffffft!”

Radiant Silvergun is notorious for the high prices it attracts on auction sites and famously once had the spine card sold for twenty -five billion pounds, but why waste your money when you can have the elegantly illustrated example above; neatly assigning sound effects to each individual bullet?  Blanka’s comments suggested he’s less than impressed; although by this stage he’s critiqued so much box art he’s basically become the video game equivalent of Brian Sewell.

 

Res 

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“There’s a smiley face. And it’s on a block.”

Although perhaps falling a touch short of capturing the intensity of the audio-visual assault that is the synesthetic masterpiece of Rez, this actually isn’t half bad for someone who last saw the game in action when they were nine months old.  I think I might have joked about it possibly causing long term brain damage at the time.

 

Portl 

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“Woooooooooah!  She’s in a cage!”

Blanka’s pull quote might sound like it’s taken from the sad bit in a Meatloaf song, but Samus  has perfectly recreated robo-antagonist GlaDos.  I’m sure anyone who has played Valve’s classic has fond memories of her pilgrim hat and penis shoes.

 

Metl Gil Solid 3 The Snka Eta 

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“Dugga.  DUGGA!  DOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Snake, looking smug as all fuck in his policeman’s helmet, is separated from a ladies intimate toy by an arm doing a green power salute.  I think this is Hideo Kojima’s style in a nutshell.

 

Judgebox Jury

Earlier this year I got myself in a bit of bother when I tried to introduce my children, Samus 5 and Blanka 3, to the popular arse-kicking simulator Street Fighter IV. I experienced an odd realisation that the fighting was significantly more kid-friendly in my head then it was in reality.  It was like a reverse version of when you watch a film with your parents and the kissing suddenly becomes intensely erotic and embarrassing. Its sounds utterly ridiculous but the violence only really existed in their presence.  It was like Schroedinger’s Punch.

As a result, hadokens are on the back burner for a bit and they’re back to playing the thematically identical but somehow fine Smash Bros, making me feel like a total hypocrite in the process.  My own mother was ridiculously strict with violent content when I was younger  (we’ve only just started to repair the childhood trauma of that time she wouldn’t let me watch Terminator 2) and I’m wary that my disapproval of toy weaponry and the like is what makes them so appealing in the first place.  Perhaps I should make the most of their naturally contrary nature and enforce a household ban on spaghetti bolognese.  Maybe this will make mealtimes a little less like a taut, drawn out hostage negotiation.

In any case it got me thinking about what they think about stuff that’s age inappropriate.  The other night Samus spent the evening innocently singing the chorus to the Ellie Goulding song from Fifty Shades of Grey.  To her, it’s just some chirpy ditty she’s heard on the radio.  To me, it’s one of the most harrowing experiences of my life.  But what do they think of video games that are beyond their age range?

I decided to ask them to review a couple of video games entirely on their box art and give me a score out of ten.  They say never judge a book by it’s cover; but what if The Man will only let you look at the cover and you can barely read?  They didn’t think about that, did They?

Bloody They.

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Manhunt doesn’t particularly fill them with excitement until I bribe them with the prospect of a snack.  I’m not entirely sure that offering gingerbread in exchange for a critique of snuff movie inspired stealth games is straight out of the parenting handbook but I do consider myself a bit of a maverick.

“I think that guy is a sweetie pie” giggles Blanka pointing at a thug wearing an acid house smiley face mask and brandishing a shotgun.  All of a sudden the prospect of holding a birthday party seems like it might require some strict guest list control.  Mind you, he then follows this up by pulling off his socks and declaring that the game is about ‘chugging a rabbit over town’ so who knows.

Samus’ interpretation is less like discarded lyrics from ‘I am the Walrus’.  ‘It’s a game where men hunt other men…’  I quickly check I haven’t got in a muddle and shown her my Grindr profile before the she adds in dramatic fashion ‘…for BATTLE!’  Her broad, hands-on-hips stance and proud, distant look makes me think she’s imagining a fencing match between noblemen rather than asphyxiation by plastic bag or smashing in heads with a hammer.  I decide against correcting her and ask for the scores.

Samus: [25]
Blanka: [Poo]

 

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Silent Hill 2, one of the finest psychological horror games ever made, explores the protagonists sexual frustrations while watching his wife slowly die from a degenerative illness.  Perhaps a little beyond the scope of a five year old, Samus nevertheless gives it a bash and assures me that it’s ‘a game about eyes, and it has no music because eyes can’t hear’.  A rather literal reading of the games title and box art.  I inform her that it has a character that has a pyramid for a head and she finds this completely hilarious. ‘I want to see him’.  You most certainly do not young lady.

Blanka is a better judge of character on this occasion imagining him as a ‘jungle monster’ before grabbing my beautiful special edition in his gammy, crumb covered hands and proceeding to spin the discs in the case.  I try to remain cool whilst I watch him simulate a DJ cuttin’ and scratchin’ with one of my favourite games, but as he smiles and nods happily at me I wonder if this is the kind of jungle monster he was referring to.  Wickida-wickida.

Samus: [20 Eyes]
Blanka: [Cheese]

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‘I think you are a planet and have to join up the stars.  I like joining up stars.  I do it my dreams.’

Samus opens her review of the Lovecraft inspired, survival horror game Eternal Darkness with a heart-melting sentiment.  ‘Deeeee-ARGH! CHOOOOOOOO!’ adds Blanka while rolling around the floor.  Two interesting counterpoints I’m sure you’ll agree.

I warn them that the back of the box features pictures they might find disturbing, but I’m told that the skeletal faced Roman centurion is ‘cool’ and the bearded caged man with a lost, soulless look in his eyes is ‘cute’ so what do I know.

‘You have to fight dinosaurs that roar over you’ informs Blanka.  ‘Wow, fighting dinosaurs?  That sounds cool.’  ‘ NO!  Finding dinosaurs!’ he angrily corrects me.  Jesus, I can’t even get that right.

Samus: [25 no 10 no 11 no 10 no 12 no 11.  Yeah, definitely 11]
Blanka: [He shrugged his shoulders.  I think that’s a 7..?]

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In an attempt to prove that not all adult rated games are full of stabbing, I show them the box to Catherine, a game that explores infidelity and sexual temptation.  They treat this with all the subtlety you might expect from a pair who scrunch up their faces when I have the audacity to give their mother a hug.

‘This is brilliant.  It’s all inside a toilet and you’re a sheep who had to pull ladies trousers down.’  Samus inadvertently describes a game that no doubt exists somewhere on the shelves in Japan.  Egged on by all the bum talk, Blanka takes it a little bit further.  ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah and then you have to put sick in her hair.’

I let that hang for a bit as I wonder if it’s worth getting my three year old on a register somewhere, but oh good, he’s not finished yet.  ‘And then you have to pull her fingers off.’

We need to talk about Blanka.  Fortunately when I ask him if he wants to play it he quickly says ‘No thanks.  Way too scary.’  Not as scary as the inside of your head, sunshine.

Samus: [20]
Blanka: [Pooch]

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Finally we come to the box of one of the finest games ever made, the utter masterpiece that is Bloodborne.

Blanka kicks off the discussion by firmly establishing his place as the Oliver Read of this roundtable by removing his t-shirt and swinging round his head. Samus and I get into a bit of a confusing discussion where she appears to think that I’m, personally, on the box.  I don’t manage to get to the bottom of what she was getting at before Blanka interrupts to tell me that the game involves ‘shoving baddies in the face’.

Samus asks what the game is called and then suggests that the game is about ‘putting blood into a jug and drinking it’.  Weirdly, both of these comments are rather accurate.  Stranger still, I inform them there’s still a boss I haven’t beaten and Samus gives me the genuinely brilliant advice, ‘all you have to do is calm down and concentrate’.

I’m left with the uneasy thought that they’re sneaking downstairs in the dead of night to play one of the most notoriously unforgiving and difficult games ever made before they’ve got a complete hanble on the bifference detween d anb b.

Samus: [25]
Blanka: [Nobody]

So there we have it.  Hardly conclusive, useful, nor in any way interpretable evidence of the effect of adult rated box art on a young mind but it was at least better mannered than your average episode of The Late Review.  Turns out you can’t judge a book by its cover.  Well done They.  Well done.

And This Little PEGI Went “Wah-Wah-Wah-Wah”

I have managed to spawn two children (with some minor assistance from my wife) who are currently at the grand old ages of 5 and 3.  For the purposes of this blog, whenever I refer to them I will call them Samus and Blanka.  This is partly down to some ultimately futile attempt to maintain a level of anonymity, partly because their gender and character suit the avatars (methodical, analytical arse kicker and crazed man-beast respectively) and partly because I quite like the idea of someone stumbling across this at some point in the future without first reading this rationale and genuinely believing that those are their names.  Tee-hee future hypothetical reader!  Jokes on you!

Being sired by a super geek, they’re both well on their way to a lifetime of isolation and social awkwardness.  Blanka was able to correctly identify and name the cast of Mario Party before he completely got a handle on the difference between “Mum” and “Dad” and Samus likes to mark her accomplishments by declaring “SAMUS WINS!” and doing a Smash Bros style victory pose, complete with victory sign and that weird repetitive bobbing motion.

Obviously it’s lovely that we all share an interest in something, but it doesn’t half mean I have to play some shite sometimes.   Blanka’s nightmarishly lynchian Mario Maker levels constantly push the boundaries of human perception and Samus’ constant requests to “build a house in Minecraft” start to wear a little thin once you have a portfolio that rivals international construction firm Balfour Beatty (bam-a-lam).   So I’m always on the lookout for something new.  Something suitable.  Something age appropriate.

It was perhaps inevitable I was going to fuck up at some point.  During one of our many, many car journeys over the Christmas break my wife was desperately trying to feign interest as I excitedly described Dhalsim’s excellent beard in Street Fighter V and the children suddenly took interest.  When described in Cbeebies friendly terms, the cast of Street Fighter transform from the world’s greatest warriors into a high octane version of the many faces of Mr Tumble.

“Yeah, so there’s the guy from Wreck-It Ralph who fights in a red pair of pants.  Then there’s a guy can turn himself into a ball of electricity; he looks a bit like a green gorilla with dinosaur teeth.  Well cool.  Then there’s a girl with an ultra-powerful machine in her eye.  Her feet are enormous.  There are a couple of huge fat guys who fight with their bellies out, a posh gentleman boxer with a fantastic moustache and another who has long stretchy arms and legs who can breathe fire and shouts “YOGA””

They were both enthralled.  And somehow during all the excitement I had even managed to convince myself that a game in which combatants smash the shit out of one another with their boobs and bums hanging out was an excellent choice for a good ol’ fashioned family gaming session.

To give this all a little bit of flavour, a year or so back we had a few problems with them scrapping with each other (in retrospect, probably brought on Smash Bros) and in order to focus their chi had enrolled them into “Ninja School” (the local karate class).   “You’re only allowed to do punching and kicking at Ninja School” I sagely warn them.  Before introducing them to a game which is wall to wall punching and kicking.  In my defence, a couple of the stages could be described as Ninja School-esque, but to say that it supported my parental mantra that martial arts are the reserve of safely controlled environments would be pushing it somewhat.

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“Yes.  It’s perfect for a small child”

So we stick it on.  Samus immediately picks Dudley; a moustachioed gentleman boxer sporting a frilled shirt and cummerbund being the perfect match for a little girl who once went through a period of time where she refused to leave the house unless she was wearing a bow tie.    And I go for boring old Ryu, figuring there is no point in sugar coating the experience should she ever decide to try ranked online.

Samus’ hands start to breakdance over the pad in a manner not too dissimilar to a net of fish flapping about on the deck of a boat and I’m suddenly struck with how violent the whole thing is.  Once I tear my eyes from what she’s doing to my controller and onto the screen, I notice that’s pretty vicious in’all.

Blanka sits wide eyed and open mouthed, very much like one of those children you see illuminated by a television screen on a news report on the horrors of the modern age.  “This is fine.  This is definitely fine” I say to myself as we reach the end of our second match.  Samus had picked Oni this time round, a terrifying clawed demon whose victory animations include menacingly gripping the top of his opponents head.  Suddenly Mr Stretchy-Legs and Red Pants the Bear seem a million miles away.

Blanka slowly stands up and walks into the kitchen, clearly bothered by something and I apologise to Samus that I’ve got this all wrong and the next game will be our last.  Brilliantly, she picks Dan.  We quickly finish the match, I turn off the machine and go and check that Blanka is alright.

“They’re playing a really scary game Mummy.  I don’t like it” he’s saying.  Thanks a lot for dobbing me in, mate.  I’ll remember that.  I apologise to him and try to quickly convey a facial expression to my wife that expresses that I’m really sorry and I’ll sort it (sympathetic eyebrows, wide eyes and a “whoopsie-daisy” mouth in case you’re wondering) when I can hear gentle sobbing from the other room.

I asked Samus what the problem is and her response is quite different.  “I really REALLY like Street Fighter!!!”  she wails as I realise I’ve given her a five minutes on a game and then forbidden it, instantly making it a million times more appealing.  “I didn’t even get to practice Dan’s HP xx HP Koryuken xx FADC xx Ultra 2 combo!!!”  “You will do one day honey,” I console her. “You will do one day”.

I worked in video game retail for a couple of years and rolled my eyes so hard at parents picking age inappropriate games for their children that they nearly bored into my skull.  And yet here I was, someone who supposedly know what they’re talking about, making a rudimental error and assuming a PEGI 12 rated game would be fine for my children because they are so much better than everyone else’s.  And this after a childhood of having every single film open with Simon Bates drearily hammering in the importance of BBFC ratings.  That was a waste of everyone’s time.

Fortunately, they both got over it fairly quickly.  Blanka forgot about Oni almost instantly and went back to cannonballing around the house and creating technically and conceptually impossible ordeals for Mario.  And Samus will be fine as long as I keep the creepers at bay long enough to complete her latest 500 acre development project.  But the fire of the warrior spirit has clearly been ignited within her.  Watch out EVO 2030.