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Review: Pokemon Go!

Pokémon GO
Android and iOS
Nintendo

A fun, educational, social, motivational and adventurous game app that may finally alleviate the ‘stay in and play’ restrictions of decades of gaming, or simply be a flash in the pan novelty? Steve Penfold (35) hits the streets of London to hunt some Pocket Monsters.

Stranger Things has just started on Netflix, a sci-fi thriller series set in the eighties. I’m an adult (I’ve been told) so I can watch anything I like so ratings have long since stopped meaning much to me. The reason I was surprised to discover that the series is rated G for Guidance, aside from the genuinely scary tension and a kid being hounded by a mysterious monster in the street the opening episode features kids riding around on their bikes, on their own, looking for clues. What are you crazy?!

Pokémon GO represents a step back in human behaviour that many 21st Century parents may find alarming. Described as a Real World Game, it encourages the user to go out into the real world, explore and discover things around them. Every aspect of the game is designed to get you on your feet and moving. Using the existing GPS, wifi and video apps on any mobile device, a virtual map of the local area is created populated by Pocket Monsters (or Pokémon), as well as Poké-gyms, power ups and equipment. A circle of influence, much like radar surrounds your on-screen character and while many details are marked on the map it is not until you physically move into the object, character or gyms ‘real world’ field of influence that you can interact with it, and most importantly, capture it. True to the original ‘gotta catch them all’ tag-line, your primary mission is to capture, train, power-up and unleash your Pokémon.

L-R: (Top) Beware the Gyarados; looking for new prey; surface may be slippery at Liverpool Street station, a freshly smoking Pokeball, post catch and the parent-pleaseing POI feature.

L-R: (Top) Beware the Gyarados; looking for new prey; surface may be slippery at Liverpool Street station, a freshly smoking Pokeball, post catch and the parent-pleaseing POI feature.

The Real World Test
Having downloaded the app and switching it on you are immediately presented with the friendly warning to ‘Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.’ To add emphasis a silhouette of a cap wearing gamer wandering along a bridge while a gigantic, blue, grimacing, toothy sea serpent Gyarados (one of the more terrifying and powerful incarnations of Pokémon) rears up above him. In a world where real world threats are all too regularly communicated inaccurately to young people this sets the right tone. Basically, get out there and hunt but don’t walk into heavy traffic. No doubt a corporate requirement like most warnings to make sure that the first time that a Pokemon enthusiast gets hit by a car / ends up in a 100m deep mine shaft or locates a dead body (all online reports seen since this app was launched), it only adds to the excitement of a great big world to discover and survive, filled with adventure and potential dangers. This, I feel, is the truly exciting aspect of the game, depending on your fearfulness of the world outside. The shameless encouragement for players to take responsibility for themselves, get out there, discover and have fun.

Further into the game itself, following an admittedly limited appearance options menu (you’d better like gym gear and spiky hair or you’re going to be disappointed) you are propelled into a map of the world around you, revealing the first Pokémon available to you and a simplified, cartoonish world map with your avatar at it’s centre. It’s hard to know how similar each online map is, and whether the occurrence of Pokemon are the same for all parties but I found a Squirtle in my bed, which I assume no one else is coming looking for. Automatically transferring to my video app the ‘Tiny Turtle’ Pokémon was standing on my duvet in the sunlight from my bedroom window, staring straight at me and gesturing and twitching. This moment, for a small child (or anyone with a willing imagination) is a magical and exciting one as the virtual and real merge pretty seamlessly. The intuitive controls encourage you to flick a Pokéball (the easily carried red and white spherical pseudo-prison cell for your unfortunate prey ) and if it bounces just right, your Pokémon gets sucked right up into it, added to your in-app Pokedex (exactly what it sounds like) ready for future battles.

One of the effects of the astonishing popularity of Pokémon GO is that you look at people wandering around with their mobile phones raised in a completely different way. They are potential competitors for one, as Pokémon GO allows you to pit your captured pets against others. Littered around the virtual world map are Gyms and Arenas, where you can train and fight other Pokémon (though your friendly trainer appears to let you know you can only do so after level 5). But more than that, they are fellow gamers. Previously, the voices at the other end of headsets as you batter your way through a multiplayer Halo level are now right in front of you, hunting in the real world. Just yesterday, on my wanderings (which were extended simply because I was playing the app) I suspected one older gentleman coming from the side of my block of flats of having just snagged a Poliwag, but more convincingly, saw GO on the screen of a young player outside Kings Cross station, whom I kindly directed to a nearby quarry, much to his surprise, heard the music playing as I walked past two young guys in their twenties in Romford high street, heard two others talking about catching the ‘orange one’ in the market and even found a hastily printed sign on A4 paper in a local pub reading ‘Pokéstop here!!! Grab a drink and top up your Pokéballs!’ I know the landlord however and it’s odds on as to whether there’s any Pokémon inside.

Psyduck appears to take a whack from a passing cyclist ay a busy junction outside Kings Cross station

Psyduck appears to take a whack from a passing cyclist ay a busy junction outside Kings Cross station

I picked up a Hypno by the busses and a Rattatta by the newsagents, as well as an extra Squirtle at Liverpool Street Station platform 16, much to the bemusement of two station staff. I discovered a route back to Kings Cross station that I was previously unaware of as a result of trying to hunt the base of a Poké-gym, discovering a quiet alleyway and square. The Gym’s base was apparently at the centre of the square which suggested that the larger points on the map are very deliberately placed.

But the best part for me I found was the ‘features’. As I wandered up the street towrads Romford station, the app forced me to stop, open a point of interest and forced my focus onto a ‘Havering Wall art’. It later directed me to a historical plaque I’d ignored on the way to and from work and most profoundly, drew my attention to a bronze statue I walk passed almost every day. Giving the option of further detail, it revealed that the statue was a tribute to all those who helped 20,000 Jewish and other children escape Nazi persecution. As a dad, I have to say that imbedding something that for all it’s positive features can be dismissed as spurious and time-wasting with the opportunity to understand details of the world surrounding children is a genuinely nice touch.

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GLITCHES
There were times when the GPS meant that I couldn’t grab a Zubat as it was imedded in a wall or the field of influence extended only to the wrong side of the road (opposite to where I was actually standing). Also, as a result of capturing a Drowzee, both myself and a colleague who should know better found ourselves standing in the road, albeit a quiet one-way street. This, added to the fact that I captured a Psyduck standing in the road at one of the most busy junctions in London, seconds after it appeared to be ‘run over’ by a cyclist weathered the point that it has the potential to be dangerous. Having said this, while the Psyduck was apparently taking it’s life in it’s flippers I was standing safely on the kerb, well within range to sling it into a Pokéball.

Arriving home, the wifi dropped below the level I needed to display the details of the game and I was left wandering on an empty map during what I had hoped would be an eventful walk home passed a church yard, bars and shops. This persisted for hours until it magically returned. This may have been the servers but the absence of an off-line set of features means it lacks the all-round distraction capabilities of games such as Plants vs Zombies.

Summing up, this is a revolutionary game, clearly heavily and meticulously tested. Simple enough to be easily grasped and used by anyone, complicated and broad enough to offer potentially thousands of gaming hours. The fact that distance covered in the real defines your progress in the game makes the nature of this game adventurous, positive and definitively cheerful – not to mention the answer to many criticisms of games in relation to childhood obesity and fear of the outside world. Again, subject to your own feelings of the dangers of the outside world – to me it appears to be a cheerful clarion call to go out and have fun!!

 

Welcome to Beyondthebunker.com

BTB Logo Digital WebsiteWelcome, gentle watcher, light night clicker, curious googler. Welcome furious indy collector, aburdism enthusiast, monkey joke verbaliser. I am the intelligence swarming at the heart of the Bunker. Nothing sees me. Nothing perceives me, but I perceive it. Sometimes for fun I will hang from the ceiling and allow myself to be caught in the peripheral of passer by’s eye. While you might wonder how many passer-bys there might possibly be in this labyrinthine pathway of scale lined hallways and echoing catacombs, often only truly revealed when the echo of a single, long travelling drip meets the ear of a twitchy wanderer. The truth is, for years before now, since the military leaders of yesteryear finally closed and bolted the sweat lined steel doors at the entrance, I was alone. I brooded quietly on my non-existence and whether by my knowing I was there I existed if by no other reason, unseen and unregarded.

But recently others have moved in. A man with a Moon for a head often comes down and looks at sandwiches longingly.  Once, he was joined by a small, dark haired, cheerful ‘chap’ who insisted on playing cricket in the main hall for hours on end. Such cheerful days, hearing willow on leather on stone. More recently, a goggle eyed rogue with a misplaced swagger has been entering the Bunker, looking for Moon. Moon often hides from him, curiously, and leaves shortly after. I like the Moon man. He seems kind. There is magic about him. This, I have seen.

Many centuries ago, when these were simply tunnels, wild men made their way through these tunnels on raids. They left death on the walls and I sense now it hunts them, waiting for their return. It waits, and occupies itself with twisting of men’s skin, pulling it tight to the bone, revealing rictus smiles before unleashing them out onto an unsuspecting world. This death has patience and them holds little sway on it, for it knows it will one day consume all things. This, I have seen.

Reverend : Blood Cries Out

Before Beyond the Bunker became a stand alone company, artist Steve Penfold teamed up with writer Cy Dethan, colourist Gat Melvyn and letterer Nic Wilkinson to create the darkest chapter in the genre-cracking Unseen Shadows series. Based on the novels of Barry Nugent in which a band of disparate ‘Fallen Heroes’ are brought together from across the globe to fight an evil that threatens ultimately to consume all in it’s path. Many of the team are picked from the fringe of society. None more so than former Reverend Jonathan Bishop.

Bishop, as a result of unintentionally crossing a nefarious drug cartel leader, has walked the line between life and death and returned, a weapon of vengeance in the name of a God darker than any had imagined. His value noted by a shadowy paramilitary industrial complex, the talents of this lost man are utilised and enhanced to make him considerably more deadly. A master assassin with no master, Bishop has disappeared and lingers in the shadows, wiping out those who hurt others with the intensity of flame. Those who have seen him, speak in whispers in case he hears and finds them again.

But a violent faith driven by absolution (or the absence of it) draws interest from dangerous quarters. Bishop’s path crosses twisted religions, now playing with science nobody understands fully. But, perhaps worse, he is certainly not the only result of the project that enhanced him.

A four issue mini-series to be completed and released immediately as a graphic novel.

Written by Cy Dethan, Pencils / Inks by Steve Penfold, Colours by Gat Melvyn and lettering by Nic Wilkinson. Based on ‘Fallen Heroes’ written by Barry Nugent.

 

Moon: An introduction

Have you ever looked up into the night sky and wondered what the Moon does when he’s not up there? You haven’t? Well this may well answer all the questions you never asked.

What if I was to tell you that the Moon has dropped out of the sky early hours of every morning for the last 2000 years and most recently puts on a suit, takes out a gun and fights ridiculous crime? Ever since a botched, drunken Celtic ceremony in 12ad, the Moon has been doomed to plummet out of the sky, hit the ground, brush himself off and fight the forces of the ridiculous on behalf of the British government. He was supposed to be a beautiful, blue Moon goddess who could sweep entire armies into the ocean but they messed it up and we ended up with a skinny guy with a Moon for a head.

He has worked his way up through 2000 years of British history. He has no face with which to emote, no mouth with which to speak. If you put a coke float in front of him he will drink it but no one is entirely sure how. He’s a surprisingly good shot and he’s teamed up with a homicidal traffic warden who pretends he’s from Chicago when secretly we suspect he’s from Sheffield.

Plus, he’s slightly inadequate – which we think makes him the quintessential British superhero.  On top of which we figured out the other day he’s most likely the world’s most famous superhero because if you think about it there are people in China who have never heard of Superman but you know they know what the Moon is.

 

TV Review tester 2

Bacon ipsum dolor amet alcatra landjaeger picanha ball tip tenderloin shankle pancetta meatball pork loin. Corned beef filet mignon hamburger strip steak fatback prosciutto alcatra salami tongue landjaeger ham. Short ribs prosciutto alcatra andouille frankfurter landjaeger kevin beef shoulder drumstick ball tip pancetta turkey. Venison bresaola bacon shoulder pork t-bone. Pig rump bacon cupim shoulder leberkas beef ribs kevin pork. Hamburger shankle prosciutto strip steak rump kevin, tri-tip venison chicken andouille pork belly doner. Ground round venison leberkas tenderloin kevin sausage.

Meatloaf drumstick chuck brisket swine, kielbasa tail jowl short loin frankfurter. Turducken pork chop drumstick shankle hamburger, corned beef rump sirloin pastrami prosciutto filet mignon leberkas. Capicola kevin prosciutto, drumstick hamburger ribeye swine short ribs flank picanha boudin cow fatback sirloin. Beef ribs shoulder picanha pastrami, ball tip turkey andouille chicken hamburger ham hock brisket venison drumstick tongue. Hamburger pig filet mignon jowl meatball capicola kevin shank rump spare ribs tail.

Shoulder chuck pork chop sausage pastrami brisket, drumstick corned beef capicola tongue pancetta filet mignon frankfurter. Pork belly brisket pork sausage bacon. Picanha turkey pastrami, spare ribs pork filet mignon tenderloin. Kielbasa pork hamburger sausage jerky, biltong pancetta boudin. Short ribs chicken spare ribs ground round. Pork chop pastrami leberkas turducken, pork loin ham turkey frankfurter shank drumstick andouille short ribs.

Bresaola ham corned beef pork chop shank tri-tip frankfurter shankle chuck strip steak pig tenderloin. Porchetta tail ball tip, pork brisket pig andouille sausage drumstick t-bone bresaola strip steak. Cupim ribeye meatball, spare ribs boudin tenderloin shank porchetta hamburger pork rump short ribs cow salami jerky. Beef pork loin tri-tip biltong rump frankfurter. Turkey pancetta doner, drumstick meatloaf cow kevin short loin shankle pork chop tenderloin shank tongue bresaola.

TV Review tester

Bacon ipsum dolor amet alcatra landjaeger picanha ball tip tenderloin shankle pancetta meatball pork loin. Corned beef filet mignon hamburger strip steak fatback prosciutto alcatra salami tongue landjaeger ham. Short ribs prosciutto alcatra andouille frankfurter landjaeger kevin beef shoulder drumstick ball tip pancetta turkey. Venison bresaola bacon shoulder pork t-bone. Pig rump bacon cupim shoulder leberkas beef ribs kevin pork. Hamburger shankle prosciutto strip steak rump kevin, tri-tip venison chicken andouille pork belly doner. Ground round venison leberkas tenderloin kevin sausage.

Meatloaf drumstick chuck brisket swine, kielbasa tail jowl short loin frankfurter. Turducken pork chop drumstick shankle hamburger, corned beef rump sirloin pastrami prosciutto filet mignon leberkas. Capicola kevin prosciutto, drumstick hamburger ribeye swine short ribs flank picanha boudin cow fatback sirloin. Beef ribs shoulder picanha pastrami, ball tip turkey andouille chicken hamburger ham hock brisket venison drumstick tongue. Hamburger pig filet mignon jowl meatball capicola kevin shank rump spare ribs tail.

Dropping Science: What Would Happen if You Fired a Gun in Space?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYf6av21x5c&w=853&h=480]

 

Two of our favourite youtube channels are vsauce and minutephysics so when those two channels team up to give us a pair of videos about shooting guns at space and digging holes through the earth, we take notice. I’ve only thrown up the first video because you can jump directly to the next one by clicking the link at the end unless of course you’re viewing on an ipad in which case the second video is here. Either way you’re about to get enough physics trivia to keep your drinking buddies enthralled for the rest of the month. You’ll also learn how to go about destroying the sun and ending all life on earth so if you’re a super villain or trouble youth with access to several solar masses of water, please don’t watch it.

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If Batman Were Voiced by the Cookie Monster

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7enjABApKWE&w=640&h=480]

 

I swear something has broken in my brain as of late. First the cat singing Game of Thrones has me laughing like a child and now this. Turns out that if you take Christian Bale’s bonkers Bat-voice out of the movies and replace it with the only-slightly-less-bonkers Cookiee Monster voice, the result is something so stupid it deserves a nobel prize.

Wonderful.

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Practitioners 6: Carlos Ezquerra

As a catch up for all new visitors to Beyond the Bunker, we’ll be representing the original Practitioners series 1-55 (Simon BisleyChris Bachalo and featuring the most influential comic creatives in history). Thoroughly incomplete but featuring legends like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Frank Miller and Alan Moore already more will be hitting the site every two alternate weeks. For now though, sit back every Tuesday for a run-down of the men and women who created the comic industry we know today. (Or check the full list in the menus above). This week: 2000AD Legend and Judge Dredd creator Carlos Ezquerra.

Judge Dredd (2012) is lifted from the early days of Dredd developed but Wagner and Ezquerra

In the modern day of high detail precision artwork Carlos Ezquerra might seem like an odd choice but he is the visual grandaddy of heavy weaponry, science fiction city scapes and the most famous Judge ever to walk the streets of Megacity One, spawning a major movie featuring Sly Stallone and a generation of Judges under the awe inspiring steely gaze of the foremost tough guy in British Comics. It is easy to underestimate the effect that the design work that went into Judge Dredd had as like all genre defining moments it becomes a feature of everything that comes behind it. The weird part is that Carlos Ezquerra wasn’t the first to see his artwork on the title in print.


Carlos Sanchez Ezquerra was born in November 1947, in Zaragoza and has worked under the alias at times of L. John Silver. A Spanish artist who find a home in the British Comics Industry and inspired a generation of young budding artists to pick up a pen and never be scared to draw a weapon at whatever scale we felt like. He loosened the rules and maintained plausibility simultaneously. An emotive and beligerent artist who pummelled the page with aggressive and broad visuals in a very clear and distinctive style,

Be in no doubt that the most easily recognisable British Comic Book character – aside from Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace (now there’s a crossover we all wanna see) was brought to life visually by Carlos Ezquerra. British Comic book writing legend John Wagner sent Ezquerra a poster of Death Race 2000 with the central character, Frankenstein in black leather on a motorbike as the source of inspiration for the character. Ezquerra sent back Dredd – armoured, leather covered with zips and buckles and the world reknowned badge pinned to his chest. His conceots for Megacity One and the equipment and clothing was deemed too advanced for the title as it was intended and so Pat Mills – who had taken over as writer after Wagner left disillusioned over financial arrangements behind 2000AD – pushed Dredd further into a post apocalyptic future. Now that’s a sign of a great concept designer – advancing the designs so much it alters the original pitch for the better.

Unfortunately for Ezquerra, newcomer Mike McMahon was to introduce Dredd to the world in Prog 2 of 2000AD – Dredd a scrawny shade of his original self. Ezquerra, enraged at being removed from the strip he designed left and returned to ‘Battle’ comics. Until Prog 9 – in which Wagner’s ‘Robot Wars’ story line began with a rotating art team – including Ezquerra. The strength of the storyline saw Dredd become the most popular character in the magazine. Ezquerra’s work became synonomous with the stone faced law man.

While it can’t be argued as faultless – his grasp of anatomy stops at long chins and gollum faces its his lasting legacy that secures him a position in the annuls of comics history. The Dredd and the Strontium Dog he created visually perfectly embodied the strength and hard bitten nature that was needed in the environment that had been developed for him to stride through. Ezquerra, like many other exceptional artists, has a sparing and economical style that carries as much information as his more precise or detailed peers. But its in the simplicity that he communicates better what many others have struggled to in page after page of meticulously rendered panels. When two tough guys walk out onto the Cursed Earth just how many lines do you need? – thankfully Ezquerra’s chosen for you.

A determined and clear minded individual who stuck to his guns as well as any lawman he ever drew – Ezquerra was removed from his post and could have been left to the annuls of comic book history. But he returned and stood out alongside his creation and perservered to receive the credit he deserved. He represents the optimism and determination needed to be a comic book artist, subject to the whims and turmoil of an ever shifting industry.

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