This is part of a series of critical essays on the Pokémon games. This one is about Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, the fourth “main series” games, and inevitably contains LOTS of spoilers for anyone who hasn’t played them.
WHAT A WELL-MADE WORLD
Every generation of Pokémon games reacts, inevitably, to the one before. In Gen III’s Hoenn region, nature had the upper hand – man had to compromise and adapt to it, literally carving out his niche. In Sinnoh, home region of Pokémon’s fourth generation and the Diamond and Pearl games, nature has been thoroughly tamed – delved, cultivated, and exploited. The first areas of interest you visit are a working mine, a flowery meadow and a wind farm. None of the towns have the wild, precarious character of the Hoenn settlements – instead, they are solid and well-established, to the extent that they seem to blur together. Oreburgh, Veilstone, Hearthome… it’s one well-rendered stony town after another.
These are 27 of the 28 albums I listened to for the first time in February as part of this project. (The 28th, Joanna Newsom’s Divers, is not on Spotify: it would have been represented by “Time, As A Symptom”). The pleasure for me in the project is discovery: the pleasure for me in the playlist is sequencing, and hopefully this mix makes a kind of sense.
“Hi I’m The Brave Little Toaster, star of the 1986 film The Brave Little Toaster and its direct to video sequels The Brave Little Toaster To The Rescue, and The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars. You know, the late 80’s was a brilliant time to be a Toaster, we were flying all over the place on screensavers, being fancipantsed up by Duralit, and then there was me, an honest to god appliance hero for a consumer age. These days though, you’re all in tha cloud, and there is no room for toast in the cloud, so I have been told. So I sit with my friends, Lampy, Air Conditioner and Two Faced Sewing Machine and watch Entertainment Centre and all the great films that came out last year like these ones. I mean, I assume I got back from Mars, I have to admit I didn’t watch it, it seemed far fetched. ”
Cheers Toasty, and you should just be proud that as a Toaster you got your own film franchise. The mind boggles. Anyway here is the top ten:
“Call me Ron. I’m a straightforward sort of pup, me – what you see is what you get. But when I’m not out clubbing with my six older brothers, I do get to wondering what it’s all about. You know. Life. Death. Sardines. It’s all just a game of chess at the end of the day, isn’t it? Good versus evil, light versus dark, rockism versus poptimism – society would have us carve ourselves up into ever-smaller and ultimately-arbitrary factions, each believing we are on the side of righteousness, solitary brothers and sisters fighting pointlessly amongst ourselves to avoid having to think too hard about the impending apocalypse. I guess many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view!”
Thanks Ron, if indeed that is your real name. On to our Top 10!
“Hi I am Elliot from Pete’s Dragon. I suppose you could call me Pete’s Dragon, except Pete clearly doesn’t own me, we are just buddies who hang in the woods. And yes, I am the proper Pete’s Dragon, not that godawful 2D drawn travesty from the 70’s. I’m the Pete’s Dragon from the much better 2016 film Pete’s Dragon, which I expect will pop up on this list of best films of 2016.
Oh, just looked below. Must be in the top ten. Well these are all pretty good too I guess. Not elegiac and majestic like some sort of kids film made by Malick in the 1970’s, not good like Pete’s Dragon, but good. ”
Thanks Elliot, but I have some bad news for you. Pete’s Dragon just missed our list at number 42. I know, it was a travesty. Don’t blow fire on me. I’d have voted you higher, except you weren’t as good as Mustang. Which is…
TASH-BED: Hi everyone! It’s us, the singing Bedingfield siblings! Remember us? You must remember us.
DAN-BED: Summon Tash and she will appear!
TASH-BED: We’ve been keeping busy for the last few years, doing a turn on the New Zealand X Factor, manning the tombola stall at our ancient religion’s summer fête, organising the occasional covert raid on government strongholds. You know the drill. There’s not been much time for pop stardom!
DAN-BED: Tash the inexorable!
TASH-BED: Well, I say ‘we’, it’s mostly been me doing all the work. My darling brother here has just been sitting on his arse babbling about some old Pink Floyd record and looking up spiritual retreats in the west of Ireland.
DAN-BED: Tash the irresistible!
TASH-BED: Sigh. See what I have to put up with? He’s never been quite the same since he went on that ‘vision quest’ in the tropical house at Kew Gardens a few years ago. I found him a week later dancing away in the woods on Wimbledon Common with a bunch of hairy hippies and had to drag him home for a bath.
DAN-BED: All hail Tash!
TASH-BED: You’re really starting to get on my wick, Dan.
I’m sure the Bedingfields will kiss and make up soon. Here’s #20-#11!
Greetings! I’m the Toilet Duck and I’m here to solve all your problems! It’s easy (*quack*) when I’m on your team. With my catchy tunes and the help of my squadron of all-terrain bathroom fixtures I will defeat the rebel bacteria menace that would otherwise evolve into a terrifying ‘super’ ‘bug’ and bring civilisation to its knees. My global presence means there’s nowhere for rebel scum to hide! I’ll even plant a tracking device under the rim of your toilet seat to make sure they don’t get away. Bye bacteria, bye worries!
Reassuring words from Toilet Duck, there. On to numbers #30-#21!
“Hi I’m Godzilla. No honestly I am. I know what you’re thinking, that doesn’t look like Godzilla, he stands up on his hind-legs and stomps Tokyo. Well firstly who are you calling a “he”. Godzilla, ie me, is a lady. And secondly, that Godzilla is stupid – I’m the kind of more realistic Godzilla that people were crying out to see in the 90’s.”
“They didn’t? What even with Matthew Broderick? Jean Reno? What about the twist of my babies? Jamiroquai? His song is the best bit? Well that just makes me angry, makes me want to destroy Manhattan with my atomic breath.”
“I don’t? Well nuts to that.”
“Sorry about that, it turns out that I’m not the crowd pleasing monster I thought I was, instead I am a punchline to a number of jokes and I have been assigned to one of the great flops of history. Well just as well I spent last year watching the ten films which appear to come in between #30 and #21 in the FT film poll.”
Thanks rubbish 90’s Godzilla and that is a remarkable coincidence isn’t it. Well here’s what I thought of this run of movies.
Hi, I’m Dr Zaius smoking a cigarette from The Planet Of The Apes. You know the proper Planet Of The Apes from the sixties where people acted as apes, rather than Andy Serkis wearing ping pong balls and making a fool of himself. OK it meant that Charlton Heston got a bit too personal about our personal hygiene but the allegory more or less worked. I also turned up in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, which was surprisingly good despite Chuck ducking out and an even heavier handed Nuclear War Allegory. Since then I’ve been pretty quiet here in the potentially nuclear destroyed future, I didn’t travel in time to Escape From… and they didn’t get me back for the Tim Burton travesty and I think it is a bit early in the new cycle of Apes films for a doddery old Doctor type to turn up (though I must go see my agent just in case). Nevertheless all of this spare time has allowed me to look at the best films released in the UK in 2016, and help curate the Freaky Trigger Top 41 (because there are two number 40’s).
“‘Allo. My name is René Artois, cafe owner and reluctant assistant to the Resistance. You may be wondering what I am doin ‘ere, at the top of a German communications tower, ‘olding a large knockwurst with a fuse coming out of it (use your imagination – Picture Ed). It is a good question, one I am currently asking myself. As you remember, Michelle of the Resistance, ‘er with the beret, ‘ad an ‘are-brained scheme to steal the secret plans for the V2 rocket. I am to transmit the plans to Edith and Yvette who are sat atop that distant tree, ‘olding a colander as a makeshift satellite dish. Edith will then ‘ide the plans in ‘er undercrackers, and escape in a dustbin transported to the Resistance base by Monsieur Alphonse’s ‘earse. This sausage – which, did I mention, is filled with nitro-glycerine – is apparently a precautionary measure in case I am caught! Why is it always me left ‘olding the banger? This whole place could blow up at any second! It is madness, but of course I never get a say in these matters.”
Merci, René. Let’s inspect our first batch of songs!