Project #Murflocke: A Final Flame. #Pokemon

Last time on Project Murflocke …


Revenge is simultaneously simple and complex. It has one direction: it travels singularly and unquestionably toward retribution. Real revenge requires meticulous planning and hard work. I knew this journey would not be easy, but I took it any way because a flickering hope can always be rekindled into a greater fire.

With Bro and Hepha, I knew I’d need to gain levels immediately. There were no more areas left to capture new Pokemon, so my only hope was to hit Norman’s Gym with all the might I could muster.

This meant turning every stone in the land for trainers I had missed or intentionally skipped. This meant a second journey across Johto, only a much more somber one. As I wandered the countryside once again, my thoughts never drifted far from how little a chance I stood.

Being the lowest level, I let Bro take the lead first. We traveled and battled and rested. Of the few close calls we had, Hepha was always there to bail him out.

Then I wandered along Route 117 and remembered all the stress that had once drawn me into the game as a kid. I met a Breeder who wanted to battle me with all six of his Pokemon.

Few things strike fear in my heart as a Pokemon trainer, but seeing six lit up slots versus my two made me truly fear that I’d lose to a simple Breeder. When your team is so small and so limited, even a bunch of significantly weaker Pokemon can pose a threat. It’s a war of attrition and my job was not letting a single teammate fall.

The first Breeder wasn’t a problem. In fact, he was really good experience, and the ease in which I dispatched him gave me a false sense of confidence. Like many battles before, the illusion that I was a master of Pokemon fighting from my prior experience misled me to believe that no mountain could not be climbed.

After resting, I engaged a second Breeder with a second full party. Unlike the prior trainer, this one came to town with my biggest fear: Water Pokemon.


If you aren’t familiar, Hepha is a Fire/Ground Pokemon and Bro a Rock Pokemon. Water Pokemon are strongest against exactly three other types: Fire, Ground, and Rock. In other words, there are no Pokemon I should fear more.

The fight wasn’t as bloody as the Zangoose in my father’s gym. In fact, Bro’s heroic last stand where he barely escaped that fight would be mirrored here. Saving Hepha’s life and prolonging this run a little longer, Bro nearly gave his own for the cause, but held onto his few remaining HP to see the other trainer fall.

It was a brilliant moment, but we were still nowhere near ready to take on Norman. In need of stronger challengers, I took my team north, ascending the mountain from which Hepha had descended, to continue our tale of revenge.

One such challenger ended up being a fellow Numel, like Hepha, who I opted to have Bro fight. It didn’t go well. The beauty of a good Numel is its immense special attack, coupled with the firepower of Fire attacks and the earth-shattering might of Ground attacks. Both of those strengths were potential weaknesses for Bro, but I had to protect Hepha at all costs if I wanted to at least challenge Norman.

Bro inflicted serious damage, but he and my chances were melted away by the enemy Numel. Never as strong as he could be, Bro kept my chances alive – I can’t thank him enough for the honor.

With my final Pokemon, everything seemed so much clearer. I must continue this path of righteous destruction, extract from the land all the might which I can carry, and evolve Hepha into her true form. Only then would I be ready to challenge my Father and exact my wrath.

Combined, Hepha and I lit Johta in a blaze of broken hearts and burnt Pokemon. It didn’t matter what challenges I had to face, I was taking them. Every enemy trainer would meet the wrong end of Hepha’s greatest attacks or we’d both die trying. We descended on resort beaches where we challenged children. We rode the bicycle lane and took out athletes. We scoured the desert for scientists and archaeologists who weren’t smart enough to run.

Hepha was on the doorstep of true evolution. She was ready to take on a new form which would be the weapon worthy of fate’s demands.

And then we met an Ace Trainer whose renown would live long past our own. On his team of nearly equal strength Pokemon, he had this guy:


In a single attack, his Brine washed away all hope, all possibility, and all potential. He swept Hepha away from this mortal plane and drowned my destiny in a torrent of pain and agony.

Hepha never reached her true potential, nor did I.

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Goodbye, Hepha. Goodbye, Johto.


Project Murflocke is a written Let’s Play series where I play Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire with certain limitations. Known as a Nuzlocke Challenge, I am also incorporating three community voted rules into the mix. Here’s everything I am self-enforcing.

Entertainment =/= Fun: Games should be more than fun.

A post by Liore and a comment on said post by Talarian reminded me of a conversation on Twitter from a while back. The reminder, in turn, reminded me that I needed to write this post. After my initial draft, I was really unhappy with the end result of this. I did some serious refinement for this finalized piece, but there are definitely parts of the argument that feel like they are missing. This does not represent my final view on the topic, but I think it is worth sharing and discussing.

Far too often, when we are presented with the prospect of a new game by a friend, we either ask or are told about the game’s level of fun. For most, a game is only as good as it is fun and a game that is not fun is, obviously, not very good.  Despite deeper stories, more nuanced themes, better developed characters, richer settings, and more complex mechanics, the entire medium still gets reduced to ‘how fun is it’, but I think games can, sometimes are, and more often should be more than just sources of fun.

Part of the issue is how interchangeable words like ‘fun’, ‘entertaining’, and ‘enjoyable’ have become to modern English-users. For the purposes of this post, I am going to use more rigid definitions than I expect of even my own speech. To highlight this, I will leave these words in quotes to differentiate them from a more standard usage. If you have a disagreement you wish to express, please keep this in mind.

‘Fun’ is a bare minimum form of ‘entertainment’. It is the kind of shallow experience that many mobile games provide. Similarly, I would consider a ‘popcorn flick’ to be a ‘fun’ movie, and every Dragonlance book I read as a kid to be a ‘fun’ fantasy novel. The quality of ‘fun’ implies a lighter and simpler nature that can sometimes border on being frivolous or even foolish. While ‘entertaining’ in their own right, these experiences are far less interested in educating or inspiring the experiencer to critically think, and are more interested in simple enthrallment.

‘Entertaining’ does not equal ‘fun’. Something that is ‘entertaining’ may or may not be ‘fun’. This article (I hope) will ‘entertain’ you, but I am not lacing it with simple jokes or easy puns to make it ‘fun’. Instead, my aim is to keep your interest and to present you with an idea worthy of your fullest consideration. I wish to challenge you to think, to critique, and to respond. My goal is not your mirth; it is to provide you a different perspective – a bit of enlightenment either from your acceptance of my view, your rejection of it, or something else entirely.

The ‘enjoyment’ of something that is ‘fun’ may be easily extracted, but a more enriching and engaging form of ‘entertainment’ may come only after serious trial. For example, Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange is a notoriously difficult read due to being written in a fictional slang, which mostly combined elements of Russian and English. I read it in high school and loved it, but there were many moments where I wanted to give up and others where I had to get help. I persevered and am better for it. The book, aside from being culturally important, is a feat of writing worthy of overcoming any difficulties in experiencing it.

Video games are still young, but I think the time has come to stop using ‘fun’ as the highest peak to which they may ascend. The last few years have given us games worthy of deeper inspection, which have also inspired more introspection. Papers, Please is a fantastic example since its mechanics aren’t exactly ‘fun’, but the whole of its parts remain utterly engaging, transcending the aspirations of more simple-minded video games like Donkey Kong or Frogger. Despite difficulty in games being almost a faux pas at times, series like Dark Souls have garnered mainstream success while focusing on challenge, rather than accessibility and instant gratification. The rise of esports and theorycrafting also reflect the deeper, more scientific elements of playing and competing in games on a serious level.

As with books and movies, my utopian vision of gaming still has room for shallower and more frivolous gaming experiences. I am simply advocating a mindfulness that mindlessness isn’t the end game of all games. Video games can and should be about more. Increasingly they are, but it is still up to us to be a little more specific than ‘fun’ when arguing the value of those experiences we love and want to share. Behind the bleeps and bloops, deeper meaning can exist, and once the screen fades to black, we may find a reflection of ourselves locked deep in thought. Games may never have to be limited in what they can do, say, or inspire again.

P.S. They can still be ‘just for fun’, but like doing better to depict women or minorities, I’d like some discussion about how video games can do more than be passing frivolities.

I Drank This! Mountain Dew Dewshine

C. T. Murphy:

I finally wrote a new post for 8bit Kitchen!

Originally posted on 8bit Kitchen:

2015-03-17 22.52.20I don’t smoke, I rarely drink, and I can avoid dessert most days, but a cold (or even warm) soda is always welcome. I almost never have coffee, so sodas often provide my only caffeine kick. Despite the danger of high calorie liquids, sodas are one of my guiltiest pleasures.

Of all the sodas, Mountain Dew is one of the more in-your-face drinks you can buy. Its thick with High Fructose Corn Syrup, saturated with a ton of sugar and calories, and only comes in hypnotic colors like radioactive green. Until now; until Mountain Dew Dewshine.

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It’s a dumb name, but the packaging is charming. It hearkens back to the good ole days when Mountain Dew wasn’t some rad X-Games sponsor, but a not at all subtle reference to moonshine. When pitted between ’90s levels of x-treme or a moonshine your kids can drink, I’d rather have intoxicated preschoolers! At…

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Journal: A New Starting Zone

It has been so long since I’ve done a post tagged ‘journal’ that I doubt many of you remember any of my previous entries. As my life is starting to pick up speed, I thought it’d be a nice change of pace to write another one. If you are less interested in my personal life away from the things I normally write about, then please feel free to skip this one.

There comes a time when you must re-roll. You want a new class or a new look. You want fresh surroundings or to start over on your goals. You want a new starting zone, a new character, and a new role to play.

My life has reached some degree of normal. After living at home again for a little over a year, I finally feel like its the right time to move on. She’s a lot better than she was – not perfect, mind you, but better. It amazes me to see how much fight she has given and how much fight she has left to give. If the cancer doesn’t kill you, then treating it often will. In my mother’s case, it took away most of her physical form, but she’s just as sharp, just as smart, and just as amazing as I have always remembered.

The choice to leave is never easy, but it can become less difficult when you have help. I am incredibly happy with my girlfriend, but neither of us is especially happy with where we live. It is small, small-minded, and the job market here is limited almost exclusively to big retail or franchised restaurants. When her sister offered her a chance to move in with her, it wasn’t a big stretch for either of them to extend the offer to me.

I said yes.

Florida has never been one of my first choices. It’s too hot, it’s still the South, and it is REALLY hot. I can’t turn down the opportunity to live with two good friends, in a new city with a significantly larger job market, while still remaining only a few hours from home if need be. I couldn’t think of a more perfect stepping stone to my future.

It isn’t happening immediately, but within the next six months, I will be moving to Tallahassee, FL. I am actually excited about the city itself, and I am looking forward to living in a swing state with the Presidential election coming up late next year. I have never lived in a state that mattered (Alabama is deep red, and Obama’s Illinois was solidly blue).

It is good to feel hopeful again. I probably won’t get a significantly better job immediately, but I am sure I will find something in time that beats my current position, even if it is entry level all over again. It’s difficult having a whole brain when so many jobs only expect you to use half of it, if at all.

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Project #Murflocke: I Choose You, Revenge Route. #Pokemon

Last time on Project Murflocke …


Ten votes is about the most I can expect from this series, so I am officially calling the poll today. The path of the righteous mon is beset on all sides by the inequities of levels and the tyranny of not having a full roster.

For those who have fallen, we will overcome and triumph.


Project Murflocke is a written Let’s Play series where I play Pokemon: Alpha Sapphire with certain limitations. Known as a Nuzlocke Challenge, I am also incorporating three community voted rules into the mix. Here’s everything I am self-enforcing.