Top 5 Video Game Vegetarians

Being a vegetarian gamer does make it hard to fully relate to some of the characters that I’m supposed to identify with. When the cast of Streets of Rage are gleefully beating up thugs and scarfing down street turkey I can’t help but feel a little left out.

This list was a bit harder to fill out than I thought it would be. Believe me, meticulous Wikia research was conducted to bring you this list. Factoring in both in game actions and character history.

For example Mario is only ever seen eating mushrooms, beans and herbs in the games. But if you leave him alone to fall asleep in Mario 64 he sleep talks about spaghetti and ravioli. I can’t guarantee these are of the veggie variety so he’s off my list!

Now that’s all out of the way we can begin with the Top 5 Video Game Vegetarians!

5. Link – The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Yes, Link. The Hero of Time himself is a vegetarian in this specific game. The only food we see him partake in is Lon Lon Milk (from the cows at the Lon Lon Ranch obviously). The reason it’s only this specific games is that in most future titles the red and blue potions you can drink to refill health and magic respectively are made from Monster Jelly! In Ocarina of Time the red potion recipe is kept secret and other potions you can make use mushrooms as the main ingredient.

This incarnation of Link was raised by the Kokiri, a tribe of simple forest imps presided over by a giant sentient tree. So I like to think that Link’s vegetarianism is his own lifestyle choice.

Putting Link on this list does come with one caveat though… he tends to roam the land hacking down any non human he comes across. Bugs, Lizard men, wolves, bats, living skeletons, no one is safe! But hey, at least he never ate a burger made from this guy.

That’s something right?

4. Jack – BioShock


Warning – story spoilers for Bioshock to follow

In Bioshock Jack spends the whole time trapped in the failed underwater utopia called Rapture. So naturally the food options would be a bit limited 20,000 leagues under the sea in a city inhabited by mutants and failed experiments.

Bioshock’s food offerings include creme-filled Cake, pep bar and potato chips. All washed down with myriad forms of alcoholic beverages.

Not the best overall diet but vegetarian nonetheless. Granted Jack’s strange diet of protein bars, creme cakes and whiskey is more a product of his current circumstances but not a lot is known about Jack outside of this game. You do find out late game that he was grown in a test tube and is only about 4 years old so for all we know he could have lived on a rudimentary paste containing all essential vitamins and minerals before we see him.

3. Jade – Beyond Good and Evil

Jade lives on the futuristic Orwellian planet of Hyllis. A world inhabited by anthropomorphic animals such as bird humanoids, cow humanoids and shark humanoids who all live and work together. So you can imagine that the prospect of eating animals might be a bit taboo in this world.

Jade’s official occupation is a photo-journalist which allows her fund the orphanage she helps run with her Pig-man Uncle Pey’J. Early on in the games she also get’s recruited by The IRIS Network, an underground rebel organisation that gets information out to the public that the government tries to cover up. She’s a progressive liberal hero and an inspiration to freedom fighters everywhere.

The only foods we see Jade eat in the world are Starkos which looks a bit like a stale slice of sponge cake. And K-Bups which look like an alien berry growth thing? Both are described as “Synthetic food of the Hillyan people”. So I would assume that most of the population are vegetarian/vegan. After all, eating meat might get a bit awkward when you’re neighbours are a sentient pig and cow.

2. The Villager – Animal Crossing

Here’s another girl that lives and works with animal people. Towns in Animal Crossing typically only have 1 human living there. You’re tasked with looking after the town because your animal neighbours don’t seem to care enough to do it themselves. But regardless of their shortcomings Villager is a friend to all of her animal peers.

The Villager really is a little farming hero, she does all her own forestry and gardening work. Cleans up any weeds and rubbish left on the ground and generally make the town a better place for everyone. Embodying the simple life, she barely has a carbon footprint and there’s no way in the game to harm any of the creatures except for the cockroaches that occasionally invade your home.

The only food you can actively eat in the game are fruits, coconuts and turnips. So as far as we see she lives on a strict vegan diet. I would say they’re one the most animal friendly human characters in gaming.


1. Bulbasaur – Pokémon


Good old number #001. Out of the now #622 pokemon there are currently Bulbasaur will always be my favourite because he was the first pokemon I ever picked back in 1999 on my 11th birthday. Bulbasaur is a Grass/Poison type and is basically a little dinosaur with a closed flower bud on his back. He’s a solid choice for any young trainer boasting impressive special attack and defence stats.

The world of pokemon does seem pretty animal friendly at a glance. Everyone talks about how much they love their pokemon which are the animals of their world. But there are some references to humans eating pokemon specifically they mention that the wild duck pokemon Farfetch’d was nearly hunted to extinction! There’s also the Donphan(or elephant) in the room of all of the government sanctioned animal fighting that goes on. They tell you that the pokemon like battling and leveling up but do they really know that?

Anyway…

All the items you can feed your pokemon are made from berries and the potions that restore your health are sprays according to the in game art. So it’s likely that all pokemon owned by trainers are vegetarian by circumstance. Bulbasaur goes a step further and can produce his own nourishing seeds from the bud on it’s back. So in addition being a vegan he’s self sustaining too.

He can also take in sunlight through his flower bud and fire it back out in the devastating Solar Beam, one of the strongest grass type attacks.
A true eco warrior, Bulbasaur is more than worthy of being the number 1 vegetarian in gaming.
Disagree? Know something or someone I’ve glaringly omitted? Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments.

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The Naff Nic Season

There have been those who have climbed Everest, those who have powered their way across the poles of this great planet hampered by appalling weather and grumpy huskies, those who have won Nobel prizes and Pulitzer prizes, those who have travelled into space and farted in zero gravity, there is Tom Hanks.

These people are the heroes of our current time, pushing the boundaries and daring to do things that wouldn’t even cross a normal person’s mind (i would never have thought about starring in The ‘Burbs, mainly because i was one at the time of its release, but that crazy old Tom Hanks did).

However, I feel now it is my turn to throw my unworn, fez-esque hat into the ring.

I am not going to sit here and say that I am not a fan of Nicolas Cage, that would be a lie as I’m a rather big fan of the man. Con Air is a film I regularly re-visit, Face/Off is wonderful in its gleeful abandon of sanity, Adaptation is just bloody amazing, THE ROCK (THE ROCK!), but Mr Cage has a habit, whether it be for tax purposes or just to embarrass his uncle Francis at every realistic opportunity, to star in some absolute toilet.

These strange swerves to the shit end of the spectrum are never mild but always spectacular. Whether it is the distracting abomination of a blonde mullet he is wearing (see Drive Angry) or the fact his character spends a chunk of the film with a flaming skull as a head (see Ghost Rider), we can, most of the time, give Mr Cage a pass. There are times though when this is not possible.

So I have taken it upon myself to watch the Top 5 worst rated Nicolas Cage films, as per their ratings on IMDB, and give my time and energy to review each and every one.

I hope you will all join me in my quest to not die inside.

Book: Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill

downloadLouise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours gave me an overwhelming sense of gratitude. The dystopian novel tells the story of a future where women can’t be conceived and instead are created. In a world ruled by men, ‘eves’ are now created and schooled with only one aim; to become a perfect wife. When we pick the book up we find ourselves reading about the ‘eve’s final year, the year where they find out if they will become a companion to their dream husband or not. Within five minutes of picking up this book, I was hooked.

Our protagonist is Frieda, to be honest I wasn’t a huge an of her, I found her needy and whiney throughout the entire story however I sympathised with her from time to time, understanding completely how it feels to grow up in a society where people don’t feel good enough and are constantly pressured to be better. The ‘eves’ are constantly competing against each other and finding flaws with their own bodies, so much so that they have a class where two girls go head to head and get comments from the rest of the class on how they should improve themselves.  I found this aspect of the book heart-breaking as addresses an issue that the majority of adolescents, male and female, feel today.

Frieda’s best friend, Isabel, was by far my favourite character. For her first fifteen years at The School, Isabel had been the top girl. She was treated differently by the chastity’s (women who run the school) but when it comes to her final year she goes off the rails. While reading I completely loved Isabel, she seemed a much stronger person than the rest of the eves and I could understand why the others looked up to her… She seemed to have her own mind and own opinions. It’s amazing to see as the book progresses how the girls distance themselves from Isabel because she is different, something many can relate to. Although I felt like Isabel was a strong minded character, she still had her doubts; she still competed with the other girls and compares herself to them. By O’Neill addressing the fact that even the strongest girls have doubts and that the girls who look like they don’t care being the ones who care most, it made the novel more real to me.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the novel was the idea that men rule the world. Living in a society where women are constantly fighting for equality, it seems foreign to me, the idea that women can sit back and be happy with men dictating how they live. The women in Only Ever Yours aren’t given a capital letter in their names as they aren’t deemed important enough. When the eves are created they are designed by men with the aim to make them look perfect and when it comes to their final year in school it is the men who chose their companion. The eve they will spend the rest o f their life with has no say in the matter. I loved this universe as it gives a glimpse of how many people used to live and still live today, being ruled by someone else. After reading the book I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the life that I alone am in control of. Although at times it made me feel like I needed to lose a few pounds, it reminded me how lucky I am to have people in my life who like me for more than just my looks, that people like me because they know my personality.

★★★★☆

Film: The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl BannerI was really looking forward to watching The Danish Girl, the theme is something I’m interested in, I love Eddie Redmayne and the posters looked beautiful. So i was made it all the more sad as the film progressed, the feeling of disappointment crept over me finally leaving a deposit of unfulfilled potential.

The plot begins with marital bliss between landscape artist Einar Wegener (Redmayne) and portrait artist Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). On the surface they are a loved up, successful young couple. One day when Gerda’s model fails to turn up to a sitting she asks Einar to be a substitute ballerina. After his inner feelings are aroused by the stockings and pumps of the ballerina, his journey to becoming Lili Elbe begins.

danishballet

I just want to start of by saying the film is beautiful, its early 20th Century setting provides some astonishing set pieces and amazing dresses, even if everything seems to have a dull sepia tone to it (no doubt to make it look like you’re really in the 20s!). If you enjoy the 20s flapper art deco extravagance, you’ll be well sated.

That being said, I found the plot was rather long and meandering. I was never really sure where it was going or what exactly it was trying to say. This is trying to be an Oscar bait film, complete with a mildly saccharine undercurrent and a ham fisted attempt at a heartwarming and ‘life-changing’ storyline. Alas, I found there was little to be said in The Danish Girl. The 20s setting, whilst lavish and beautiful seems to serve as a way to portray the subject matter without really dealing with the issues that trans people deal with on a daily basis, it gets to skip dealing with the nitty gritty of a topical issue by setting it in the past, which makes it feel all the more irrelevant to modern day trans people.

danishgirl1-xlarge

..The film didn’t really do anything interesting with the subject matter, the real deep and intense feelings that can come with being transgendered never really came out. I never felt like I knew Lili, or her motivations, I found it hard to get behind her as a protagonist and as such I just didn’t care when the film reached its tragic conclusion.

Don’t get me wrong, the performance of Vikander as Gerda, Lili’s wife, was brilliant. She was able to tap into the character and give us a well rounded performance as someone who has internal conflicts and tries to do what is best for her husband, and herself. Lili remains almost like a child, selfish in her petty need for Gerda to stay with her despite the destruction of those around her.

Having since done a little research in the Lili Elbe, it’s no surprise that this film seems like such a mess, it appears to be a further fictionalisation of a fictionalised version of a real story. Lili Elbe was a real person, and as she was one of the first people to have gender reassignment surgery, her story should be one of hope and resilience, not petulance.This could have been great, this could have been the film that really gets people talking about transgender rights and help people to understand what being trans is. I wanted to like this film, I wanted this to be the mainstream film to deal with these issues in a mature way that doesn’t treat transexuality as a butt of a joke a figure of ridicule. Instead it’s just a rather dull story about a rather dull person not coming to terms with who they really are.

Despite being promising, having a great director (Tom Hooper, from The King’s Speech and Les Miserable fame), great cast, and interesting base story the film does not live up to the hype. Redmayne’s performance is flat and boring as Lili, leaving Vikander to do all the heavy acting, the plot is slow paced and a bit muddled and the accuracy of the story is also under question. The set and the costumes are amazing and beautiful (the only thing worthy of an Oscar), but it really is just a dull disappointment. If you want a film that deals with transexuality in a more updated and relevant setting I would recommend Boy Meets Girl which deals with the subject matter in a far more mature way. I do say all this as someone who is not transgendered, and my views do not reflect that of anyone but my own. Please leave a comment if you feel differently, I’m happy to have a discussion. (120 mins, rated 15)

★★☆☆☆

 

Life Is Strange Review – PS4

Life Is Strange was a complete surprise to me. I tried the first episode on a whim because I’d read about it being some of the best storytelling in a video game of 2015. I was not disappointed.

Disclaimer – there will be some early story spoilers in this review but I’ll try to be as vague as possible.
  Stranger

In this game you take the role of the 18 year old Max Caulfield an aspiring photographer who’s moving back to her sleepy seaside hometown after 5 years in Seattle. This is a good framing device for the player as it let’s you explore the town’s characters with Max because she’s been away so long she barely knows anyone anymore.

In the first playable scene you’re in photography class. This is your first chance to meet some of your fellow students at Blackwell High. All of your classic American school stereotypes are represented; jocks, mean girls, nerds, goths and unpopular kids. Max falls somewhere in the middle of the social totem pole, letting you chat to pretty much anyone you want. 

You can hit Triangle to get a brief explanation or hear what Max is thinking about most objects and people in the world that you can interact with. So I took this time to learn about my fellow classmates.

It’s not long before the teacher starts asking you questions to see if you were paying attention to what he was saying. I wasn’t, I got distracted by having Max take selfie so this actually caught me off guard and I answered incorrectly. This mistake gave the mean girl Victoria a chance to show me up in front of everyone.

So the classroom scene plays out and Max heads out to the bathroom to compose herself where she witnesses a boy and girl arguing. This argument get’s extremely heated and the boy pulls a gun and shoots the girl. As the girl hits the ground Max holds out her hand and time suddenly stops. This is where the game shows it’s unique gameplay mechanic for the first time.

Max is suddenly transported to a cliffside lighthouse being torn apart by a tornado and just as she’s about to get crushed by falling debris she wakes up back in the same classroom you started in. 
  
Butterfly Effect
During every conversation and event from this point on you’ll have access to Max’s time rewinding power. So for instance you could let things play out in the classroom exactly as before but now you know the question you could steal Victoria’s answer much to her chagrin. More importantly this also means that you can be ready to save the girl from being shot later on.

It’s a well thought out mechanic that allows the developers to turn the any conversation into a puzzle. Sometimes you may have to question a room full of people so you can then rewind with all of your new found knowledge and have the perfect conversation with a key character. Or you can retry a whole scenario that went bad. 

I came across an example of this fairly early on where you meet up with your childhood friend Chloe at her house and she asks you to take the rap for some weed she was smoking when her step dad shows up. If you claim it’s your weed you get threatened with a call to your parents but ultimately the situation defuses. However if you let Chloe take the rightful blame things escalate very quickly culminating in her step dad hitting her in a rage. Luckily the game usually warns you before you hit a point of no return so I had a chance to put things right after that screw up.
  
Everyday Savior

There are some story situations that can’t be avoided or failed and in these cases you will be forced to rewind if you mess it up. These moments typically involve saving one of the main character’s lives but you should never let your guard down when playing Life Is Strange.

This game has some of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make in a game. It made me feel like I knew the characters personally and that made it way harder to decide their fate. There have been multiple times I’ve had to put the controller down and talk it out with my girlfriend next to me. She’d been watching and was almost always just as conflicted as I was.

Over the course of the first 2 episodes they let you mess around and in time start to rely on your powers to get through conversations. Then you get to a life or death moment only to find out you’ve overused your powers that day and you have to carefully pick the correct answers and actually use knowledge you’ve hopefully have been accruing along your way. Luckily I had been trying to learn everything I could about this particular person and was able to save them. 

The way they take your powers away does a great job of making you feel useless in that moment. Add in that this was a character I genuinely cared about saving and this was definitely the most memorable moment of the game for me. 
  
Uncanny
Unfortunately Life Is Strange can show some signs of it’s low budget origin at times. Some of the lip synching doesn’t always match up with the audio and the facial animation isn’t on par with bigger budget games which have access to facial capture techniques. This can make the characters look a bit like creepy puppets at times. I don’t personally think this is a big deal in the grand scheme of the game and I still really enjoyed the character interaction in spite of this. 

I don’t really want to reveal anything else about the story because that’s basically the main reason to play it. The game is mechanically sound as far as I’ve seen. I didn’t experience any glitches or crashes during my time. So if anything I’ve said seems intriguing then I would definitely recommend Life Is Strange.

★★★★☆

Film: The Revenant

(156 Minutes, Rated 15)

If you’re looking for a light, breezy slice of escapism then The Revenant is definitely not the film for you. If you’re looking for a brutal and unforgiving piece of hypnotic cinema then roll up, slap your ten quid down, then maybe grasp for another fiver for a drink (clocking in at 156 minutes long you are probably going to need it).

The Revenant starts how it means to go on, with a bloody sequence in which Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) and his expedition, including his son (Forrest Goodchild), are attacked by the Arikara Indians who in turn are in search of one of their own. Goods and lives are scrambled for, arrows fly into limbs and jugulars, tomahawks are launched freely into spines, and Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) and his men are lucky to get away. It’s a brilliant opening, setting the tone and characters in one fell swoop. It also showcases Iñárritu’s dazzling work behind the cinema and Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki’s stunning cinematography, made all  the more impressive by the fact it was all done using natural light. The exquisite tracking through the carnage makes you feel in the moment, right in there with Glass and his men and things get even more immersive as the film progresses.

After the now infamous bear scene, which in itself is an absolute trial to sit through and not squirm and grimace at every rip and growl, Glass is left in the care of Bridger (Will Poulter) and Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy, a bug eyed villain of delightful proportions), who have offered to stay behind to make sure Glass is giving a proper burial in exchange for extra coin.

And then….. Fitzgerald royally fucks him over. And Glass does not stand for this royal fuck whatsoever.

What follows is one man harrowing trek across an unforgiving landscape all in the name of retribution. We feel every scar, every wound, and every aching step as Glass tracks his way through the cold wilderness. In a really nifty bit of direction, we even see his breath cloud up the screen. It’s beautiful grimness at its very best.

Yes, there are some missteps; the hallucinations of his dead wife and some pretty weak attempts at deep philosophical meaning jar with the sparseness and brutality of the rest of the film, and the pacing, particularly in the middle third, can be a little slow and glacial at times. But honestly, the performances go to some way in making up for these indiscretions.

DiCaprio does so much with so little dialogue. His pain, fear and rage all come through in a series of grunts and grimaces. It’s a commanding physical performance, requiring just as much work and graft as if he had 150 pages of dialogue to learn. The whole film leans on his dirty shoulders and relies on his grubby, bearded face. If you don’t give a shit about Hugh you lose the film. And DiCaprio makes you give a shit. Hardy is wonderful as always, putting in a strong turn as the money grabbing, itchy footed Fitzgerald, and Poulter puts in an emotive performance as the naive Bridger.

We’ve all heard the stories of the grueling conditions, the ludicrous over-runs of schedule and budget, and the daft game of Chinese whispers claiming Leonardo DiCaprio’s character gets raped by a bear (I can categorically say he does not). And of the firings, people walking off set unable to cope with director’s perfectionism and obsession with only using natural light, but the end product shows us that it was never in vain.

The result of all this madness is a raw and visceral work, and surely DiCaprio will pick up that much deserved Oscar statue (I mean the bloke got buried alive for it).

★★★★☆