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Thread: The Best Game (one-shot)

  1. #1
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    Default The Best Game (one-shot)

    doggone it I told myself I was going to post something here before the year was out, and screw it all, I'm posting something. Take that, 11:50 PM on New Year's Eve!

    So, uh, yes. This is actually a scene from a planned larger fanfic... well, I say "planned", but I'm still not 100% sure I want to go ahead with it in its entirety. This scene is complete and stands alone well enough, however, so even if the whole shebang never comes to fruition I'm content with it as a one-shot. Hopefully the rest of you enjoy it as well, and I look forward to any comments you might have! (Also, please let me know if I missed any italics BBCode... find and replace was less than cooperative today. So many titles, blargh.)

    --


    The Best Game



    Morph Revenge II is Blue's favorite game. Other seven-year-olds might be drawn to Super Chopstar Planet's brighter graphics, or Porykart Netracer '94's multiplayer with more options and that one cool mode where you can blow up the other drivers, but when Red comes over it's always Morph Revenge II that gets the dust blown off its contacts. The television hums to life, the title screen slides down, characters are selected—Red tries someone different every time, Blue always picks Reach—and then, as sure as day follows night, as sure as Gramps has to go to the back doctor whenever he tries to lift something heavy by himself, Red loses. He can choose whichever morph he wants, Kitsunegari or Debonair or Amelia K. or El Rana, but he is always doomed to fumbling his combos while Blue pummels him from the other end of the screen. Then Red loses, and Blue wins, and all, for once, is right with the universe.

    Chopstar might look a little better and Porykart might have more choices, but Red does not lose at those games and that means they are worse than Morph Revenge II.

    Today Red is losing as Devil Drill. He mashes blindly at his controller, hoping against hope that his random button presses will trigger her Morph Mode or at least move her a few steps down the battlefield. They do not. The fighter on the right flails her feathered arms uselessly, swiping at empty air, and for her trouble she receives a kick in her beak-face from clear across the stage. A few more stretch-kicks send her crashing to the ground in a spray of red pixels, the SNES makes a garbled screech that's supposed to sound like a dying fearow, and Morph Revenge II keeps its comfortable position as The Best Game.

    Red sighs and pauses the game before the announcer finishes counting down the start of round two. "Can we play Porykart now, Blue? We haven't played that in a while. Someone at school said he found something weird you can do with the turbo T-1 power-up, and I wanted to..."

    "You can try that on your own game when you get back home." Blue reaches over to press the start button on Red's controller. "But hanging out here is the only time you have to play Morph Revenge II, so you'd better enjoy it while you can!"

    "I wish Mom didn't think this game was too violent," Red says, not bothering to resist when Blue resumes the game without asking. "If I was allowed to play this at my house I could practice more, and also we could play more Porykart over here."

    Big, bold numbers flash across the screen as the announcer voice's gravelly countdown continues. Two seconds until I win again, one second until I win again, FIGHT

    Blue jumps as his bedroom door bangs open, and in the moment it takes for him to calm down and whirl around to see the intruder Red manages to land a few lucky punches. Blue restores things to their natural order with a jumping kick that bounces Devil Drill off the background and puts her well out of striking range. "Stay out of my room, Daisy," he snaps.

    Daisy ignores him. "There's someone I'd like you boys to meet," she says. Blue wishes she wouldn't sound so cheerful while Reach is trying to kick all of Devil Drill's blood out. "The new neighbors are going door-to-door introducing themselves now that they're all moved in. This is their daughter, Leaf!"

    "Hi!" says a girl's voice, and there's a faint rustle of fabric like maybe she's waving at them. Blue grunts and keeps his eyes on the television. Red ventures a careful "Hello" over his shoulder and turns back to the game just in time to watch his fighter's health drop to half.

    "She's your age, too! Isn't that nice?"

    Blue grunts again; Red grunts, too, although Blue's pretty sure it's because he's struggling to make Devil Drill do something useful and not because he's paying attention to the girl standing around behind them.

    "I bet you'll be great friends," Daisy ventures hopefully. She presses on when neither boy responds. "I'm going to head back down and chat with her mom and dad. Why don't you let Leaf play with you? Then you three can really get to know each other."

    Blue grabs his remote and cranks up the volume, losing most of his sister's exasperated sigh in a stream of digitized shouts, shrieks and spatters. "I'm sorry they're being so rude right now, Leaf," she says, raising her voice on "rude" so Blue and Red don't miss it. "Boys and their video games, you know. Come downstairs with me and I'll get you and your parents some tea. I'm sure Red and my brother will be much friendlier when they're done."

    "Thank you, Daisy," the girl says politely—Blue rolls his eyes as he imagines her bobbing in a silly little curtsy—"but I don't mind! I can just watch, and then we can play something together afterward!"

    "Are you sure? I'd feel awful if you were just sitting up here while they ignored you."

    "It's fine," the girl insists. "Maybe I'll have a little tea later, though, if that's okay with you." Daisy makes a sound like she still thinks it's a bad idea, but she heads back out into the upstairs hallway all the same.

    Red pauses the game again, stopping in the middle of a hopeless attempt to block a hail of flying feet. "We can play something else if you want, uh, Leaf..." he starts, glancing over his shoulder at her and then hopefully at Blue.

    "No, we can't," Blue insists. He unpauses the game with a meaningful look at Red. "We're not stopping until someone has killed all the other Jetcorp mutants and defeated Boreas and had the ultimate Morph Revenge, and I don't think we're gonna get that revenge playing house or hide-and-seek."

    Red shrugs. "Sorry."

    The girl moves in closer, trying to get a better look at the TV. "What are you doing, anyway?"

    Blue grins. He can hear the note of disgust in her voice, see her frowning out of the corner of his eye. "We're playing Morph Revenge II," he says proudly. "It's a game about mutants who escape from the lab that made them, and then they go crazy and try to kill all the other mutants with their mutant pokémon powers. It's got lots of fighting and violence and blood and it's only for real men, so even if we weren't busy you couldn't play with us."

    "No, I mean just you," the girl continues, stopping next to Red and glaring at the screen. "What are you doing? Don't you know how to play Devil Drill at all?"

    She snatches the controller out of Red's hands before he can start saying "What?" and her fingers fly over a sequence of buttons before he can finish it. Blue only just looks back in time to see the fearow-woman leap over a stretch-kick and drive her own foot straight into Reach's face. His eyes go wide and he mashes the controls but his character has no time to respond—the girl has moved Devil Drill in close, too close, and in a matter of seconds she has drilled her beak-face into the other mutant's chest. Reach's health bar plummets in a shower of pixellated gore. Blue's jaw plummets along with it.

    "Devil Drill doesn't have any ranged attacks so you gotta keep her right in the other guy's face," the girl says, dropping the controller back into Red's lap while the announcer's crunchy voiceover proclaims Player Two the victor. "That's why she has all those long, flying jumps instead, to get in close. You should've been someone who can throw or shoot stuff, like Hollow or Shadow Man, if you were just gonna sit there and let him kick you all the time. Maybe El Rana 'cause he's harder to knock down."

    Red nods dumbly, pressing start one more time so the match doesn't progress to the third round while he's still staring. Blue doesn't stop him. Reach and Devil Drill are both standing again, back in their fighting stances, health bars full and ready to go as soon as Red's start button is pressed, but he can still hear the announcer's voice loud and clear. PLAYER TWO WINS. Player One loses.

    "Maybe you should watch me play this round so you can learn how to do it right," the girl continues. Red passes her the controller without a word, only remembering to look back at Blue for permission after he's already done it. Blue's knuckles have gone white around his own controller. He wants to say no, to tell her to keep her girl hands off his man game, but he can't do it. He can't just walk away like this. No, she can play, and she'll play from the beginning, and this time she won't surprise him and he'll beat her good because this is his favorite game. He does not lose at his favorite game.

    Devil Drill blocks his opening kick, dashes in and proceeds to tear into the struggling Reach; the boys can barely see what's happening through the haze of crimson dots, and Blue can't press buttons fast enough to keep up. "Then once you've got him pinned you do this and she goes into Morph Mode for the finisher," the girl explains, her thumbs moving effortlessly from one combo to another, her tone almost disinterested as her fighter transforms into a monstrous bird and plunges a wicked beak into Reach's back. There are more red pixels, there's another scream and then the match is over. Blue's health is at zero. The girl hasn't taken any damage at all.

    "Easy," says the girl, and Blue fumes silently as he reaches forward to turn off the console. "I dunno why you're still playing this anyway. My dad and I beat it forever ago. Morph Revenge III has way more fighters and better graphics, and the blood doesn't look all blocky like that. You two can come over and play it sometime if you want! Devil Drill has three new moves and a gross new Morph Mode attack, too, although she's nowhere near as awesome as Tank, the new blastoise guy..."

    She heads out the door, rattling off the list of new characters and new combos in between questions about what kinds of tea Blue's sister has downstairs. Red, following close behind, says he doesn't know but can she teach him those combos if he comes by tomorrow? Blue stays where he is and yanks the cartridge out of the system. He glares at the characters on the worn sticker, then tosses the game into a corner when he can't look at Reach's smug face any longer.

    Morph Revenge II is Blue's least favorite game.
    Last edited by Phoenixsong; 2nd January 2014 at 6:50 AM. Reason: typos in story: mostly rooted out. typos in author's notes: whoops
    Review requests currently on hold for contest judging + some other stuff. Sorry!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenixsong View Post
    doggone it I told myself I was going to post something here before the year was out, and screw it all, I'm posting something. Take that, 11:50 PM on New Year's Eve!
    *high fives!*

    In any case, I’m excited. I’ve been wanting to see your writing since forever, and of course, you come up with an adorable gameverse fic about Red, Blue, and Leaf.

    But let’s dig right in before we get too ahead of ourselves.

    brighter graphics, or Porykart Netracer '94's
    Can’t help but point this out, but you actually don’t need a comma here because this doesn’t lead into a compound.

    I’m also more amused by the titles than I probably should be. You do a hilarious job of spoofing the 90’s tendency to have mashup titles. Like, this could actually be a game title back then. Nowadays, you have actually coherent titles like Portal and Metal Gear Solid.

    …. *yells at the kids on her lawn again*

    Then Red loses, and Blue wins, and all, for once, is right with the universe.

    Chopstar might look a little better and Porykart might have more choices, but Red does not lose at those games and that means they are worse than Morph Revenge II.
    This does a pretty awesome job of establishing Blue’s relationship with Red (or people in general) in two sentences. But at the same time, you can’t really blame Blue too much because he’s a kid. He thinks he’s good at this game, so of course he would cling onto it and beat Red over and over again. Kids like winning at games because there’s no “doesn’t matter if you win or lose so long as you have fun” for them. Winning is fun, especially winning against someone who doesn’t put up a fight about losing all the time.

    Tl;dr, Blue just feels like a typical kid, and it fits so well with his character.

    "I wish Mom didn't think this game was too violent," Red says, not bothering to resist when Blue resumes the game without asking. "If I was allowed to play this at my house I could practice more, and also we could play more Porykart over here."
    And then of course, you have Red, who doesn’t think much about Blue’s insistence on playing the same game over and over again. It’s not losing constantly that bothers him; it’s the fact that they only play Morph Revenge II. Red is bored (as any kid would be with doing the same thing over and over and over again), but he never questions Blue’s attitude.

    That says a lot about their relationship itself because if you think about it, canonically, Red never protests against Blue’s attitude. Every time Blue whines about not getting a Pokémon first, every time Blue forces him to battle, every time Blue taunts Red on how behind he is, Red doesn’t protest. He’s just okay with interacting with Blue—not for any particular reason, just because Blue’s there.

    "I bet you'll be great friends," Daisy ventures hopefully. She presses on when neither boy responds. "I'm going to head back down and chat with her mom and dad. Why don't you let Leaf play with you? Then you three can really get to know each other."
    And, of course, there’s Daisy, who’s always the motherly figure in this household. Even here, years before canon where she’s most likely just a kid herself, she’s so mature, and she sounds more like a parent as she tries to pry her brother’s attention from the video game.

    Blue grabs his remote and cranks up the volume,
    And of course, Blue will have precisely none of that. XD

    Come downstairs with me and I'll get you and your parents some tea.
    Nitpick! You’ll probably want a comma right after “me.” Technically, it’s optional, but this is a compound sentence. So!

    "No, we can't," Blue insists. He unpauses the game with a meaningful look at Red. "We're not stopping until someone has killed all the other Jetcorp mutants and defeated Boreas and had the ultimate Morph Revenge, and I don't think we're gonna get that revenge playing house or hide-and-seek."
    And of course, like a typical boy, he thinks all Leaf wants to do are girly games. It’s adorable how Red wants to play with Leaf and welcome her to Pallet Town, but to Blue, she’s just a girl.

    "We're playing Morph Revenge II," he says proudly. "It's a game about mutants who escape from the lab that made them, and then they go crazy and try to kill all the other mutants with their mutant pokémon powers. It's got lots of fighting and violence and blood and it's only for real men, so even if we weren't busy you couldn't play with us."
    ….

    I’d play that game.

    Every day.

    She snatches the controller out of Red's hands before he can start saying "What?" and her fingers fly over a sequence of buttons before he can finish it. Blue only just looks back in time to see the fearow-woman leap over a stretch-kick and drive her own foot straight into Reach's face. His eyes go wide and he mashes the controls but his character has no time to respond—the girl has moved Devil Drill in close, too close, and in a matter of seconds she has drilled her beak-face into the other mutant's chest. Reach's health bar plummets in a shower of pixellated gore. Blue's jaw plummets along with it.
    And here’s the beginning of my favorite part. It’s not that Leaf proves that she’s more than just a girl. It’s that Leaf proves that she’s fantastically competent. She knows these characters right down to their stats and most common techniques. She executes strategies as if they’re nothing. And she’s better than Blue. I can just imagine her in a cutesy little dress, rolling off the details about the Morph Revenge characters as she beats the crap out of Blue and puts him right in his place. Easily, no less.

    In other words, Leaf is still a girl, but that’s what makes her victory over Blue so fantastic.

    Nitpick, though. Dashes don’t really serve to separate independent clauses, but you can use a semicolon in the above excerpt instead to get the same effect that you’re trying to achieve here.

    the girl explains, her thumbs moving effortlessly from one combo to another, her tone almost disinterested as her fighter transforms into a monstrous bird and plunges a wicked beak into Reach's back.*
    Last one, I swear!

    Personally, I think this could be divided into a couple of sentences, but this is a totally optional point. While you do have some wordy dialogue tags throughout this work for stylistic reasons (and it does, in fact, create a rather punchy, fast-paced narration, like you seem to be going for here), this one seems a bit longer than the others, which causes it to feel a little bit slower. What you could do is pull out the part about how her thumbs are moving and the description of the Morph Mode and combine the two into its own standalone thought. That should help smooth things out and bring the bit about tone closer to your actual dialogue tag. Like I said, though. Optional point.

    She heads out the door, rattling off the list of new characters and new combos in between questions about what kinds of tea Blue's sister has downstairs. Red, following close behind, says he doesn't know but can she teach him those combos if he comes by tomorrow? Blue stays where he is and yanks the cartridge out of the system. He glares at the characters on the worn sticker, then tosses the game into a corner when he can't look at Reach's smug face any longer.

    Morph Revenge II is Blue's least favorite game.
    And that is the cutest origin story for why Blue is such a dick.


    No, but really, this was an adorable read. I think that what worked best for it is exactly what I’ve been going on about: the characterization. You hit each character pretty dead-on. First, there’s the competitive Blue, then there’s the meeker but more easy-going Red, and finally, there’s tomboyish but still somewhat girly Leaf. And on top of that, you did a great job portraying kids as being kids, so it’s fun to watch because I can almost remember having friends like these or babysitting other people’s kids exactly like Blue, Red, or Leaf.

    And of course, like I said, I really, really liked the conflict itself. It provides pretty hilarious backstory to everything Blue does to either Red or Leaf in canon, plus new girl waltzing in and proving her worth to the boys by being awesome at something they’re good at? Yes, please. Not to mention it’s also a little heartbreaking because I can just imagine Red suddenly preferring to hang around Leaf a little more (because she teaches him how to play different games and because she doesn’t keep him around just to make him lose all the time), which means Blue’s probably going to perceive this as losing a friend. On the other hand, he kinda deserved it, so!

    So, yes! This was a fun read, and I hope you do write up that longer fic.

    REBOOT: Chapter fifteen now available. | Original: Chapter thirty-one now available.

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    *high fives!*

    In any case, I’m excited. I’ve been wanting to see your writing since forever, and of course, you come up with an adorable gameverse fic about Red, Blue, and Leaf.
    *Jax calls fic adorable*

    *melts*

    *attempts to coalesce long enough to respond coherently to review*

    Can’t help but point this out, but you actually don’t need a comma here because this doesn’t lead into a compound.
    Ah, the comma. My old nemesis. You're right, now I look at it, although it still seems like it needs something to make it look less like an egregious run-on. Would "or to" be a better option in this case? Maybe it's a parallelism issue, idk.

    I’m also more amused by the titles than I probably should be. You do a hilarious job of spoofing the 90’s tendency to have mashup titles. Like, this could actually be a game title back then. Nowadays, you have actually coherent titles like Portal and Metal Gear Solid.

    …. *yells at the kids on her lawn again*
    I tried, hahaha. I'm just young enough that I missed any personal experience with most early video games of that sort, but it probably helps that I've been following a retro gaming blog recently. Oh, old games. You amuse me so.

    This does a pretty awesome job of establishing Blue’s relationship with Red (or people in general) in two sentences. But at the same time, you can’t really blame Blue too much because he’s a kid. He thinks he’s good at this game, so of course he would cling onto it and beat Red over and over again. Kids like winning at games because there’s no “doesn’t matter if you win or lose so long as you have fun” for them. Winning is fun, especially winning against someone who doesn’t put up a fight about losing all the time.

    Tl;dr, Blue just feels like a typical kid, and it fits so well with his character.

    ...

    And then of course, you have Red, who doesn’t think much about Blue’s insistence on playing the same game over and over again. It’s not losing constantly that bothers him; it’s the fact that they only play Morph Revenge II. Red is bored (as any kid would be with doing the same thing over and over and over again), but he never questions Blue’s attitude.

    That says a lot about their relationship itself because if you think about it, canonically, Red never protests against Blue’s attitude. Every time Blue whines about not getting a Pokémon first, every time Blue forces him to battle, every time Blue taunts Red on how behind he is, Red doesn’t protest. He’s just okay with interacting with Blue—not for any particular reason, just because Blue’s there.
    aaagh the characterization was the one thing I was most worried about. I'm relieved to hear that you think it worked! Blue keeps veering off to god knows where for god knows why in my planning for this story/a different story, and I'm just happy I was able to keep things more or less consistent here.

    Nitpick! You’ll probably want a comma right after “me.” Technically, it’s optional, but this is a compound sentence. So!
    COMMAS, fistshake, how do they work, etc.. Noted!

    And of course, like a typical boy, he thinks all Leaf wants to do are girly games. It’s adorable how Red wants to play with Leaf and welcome her to Pallet Town, but to Blue, she’s just a girl.
    Yep! I hadn't originally intended for the typical "ew girls" thing to be so prominent, but Blue decided he was going to complain about girls so, eh, I let him. Shrug! Not like anything else went his way here, haha.

    ….

    I’d play that game.

    Every day.
    I probably would, too, awful as I am at fighting games that don't involve punting plumbers clear across a city. I had entirely too much fun coming up with even the few details about MRII that made it into the story, let alone all the other nonsense I started making notes about before I forced myself to stop. I... I might have a tiny problem when it comes to things like this.

    And here’s the beginning of my favorite part. It’s not that Leaf proves that she’s more than just a girl. It’s that Leaf proves that she’s fantastically competent. She knows these characters right down to their stats and most common techniques. She executes strategies as if they’re nothing. And she’s better than Blue. I can just imagine her in a cutesy little dress, rolling off the details about the Morph Revenge characters as she beats the crap out of Blue and puts him right in his place. Easily, no less.

    In other words, Leaf is still a girl, but that’s what makes her victory over Blue so fantastic.
    The other thing I was worried about was whether this part would actually be interesting. It felt predictable, though whether that's because it is actually common or because I've had some variation of this exchange in my head for literally years (not with these characters until recently, though), iiiiidk! And maybe it was predictable, but as long as it was still entertaining I am okay with that!

    Nitpick, though. Dashes don’t really serve to separate independent clauses, but you can use a semicolon in the above excerpt instead to get the same effect that you’re trying to achieve here.
    Makes sense. I think that may have been intentional—might've thought it looked more abrupt or something, idk—but I have a bad habit of twisting punctuation around to fit the way things sound in my head, and my head is not as accurate as it likes to think it is. A semicolon works!

    Last one, I swear!

    Personally, I think this could be divided into a couple of sentences, but this is a totally optional point. While you do have some wordy dialogue tags throughout this work for stylistic reasons (and it does, in fact, create a rather punchy, fast-paced narration, like you seem to be going for here), this one seems a bit longer than the others, which causes it to feel a little bit slower. What you could do is pull out the part about how her thumbs are moving and the description of the Morph Mode and combine the two into its own standalone thought. That should help smooth things out and bring the bit about tone closer to your actual dialogue tag. Like I said, though. Optional point.
    Nah, keep the nitpicks coming! I know I'm rusty as all get-out; you've seen me whine about how infrequently I write. I'm surprised there don't seem to be more issues, hahaha. I appreciate you taking the time to point this out!

    Also, glad you think the wordiness (mostly) worked out. I was hoping it would read in a way that kinda-sorta mimics how a seven-year-old might think, excited and not always as coherent as it probably should be, but the rushed "thoughts" came across looking like a bunch of run-ons and I wasn't sure it'd go over well.

    And that is the cutest origin story for why Blue is such a dick.

    No, but really, this was an adorable read. I think that what worked best for it is exactly what I’ve been going on about: the characterization. You hit each character pretty dead-on. First, there’s the competitive Blue, then there’s the meeker but more easy-going Red, and finally, there’s tomboyish but still somewhat girly Leaf. And on top of that, you did a great job portraying kids as being kids, so it’s fun to watch because I can almost remember having friends like these or babysitting other people’s kids exactly like Blue, Red, or Leaf.

    And of course, like I said, I really, really liked the conflict itself. It provides pretty hilarious backstory to everything Blue does to either Red or Leaf in canon, plus new girl waltzing in and proving her worth to the boys by being awesome at something they’re good at? Yes, please. Not to mention it’s also a little heartbreaking because I can just imagine Red suddenly preferring to hang around Leaf a little more (because she teaches him how to play different games and because she doesn’t keep him around just to make him lose all the time), which means Blue’s probably going to perceive this as losing a friend. On the other hand, he kinda deserved it, so!

    So, yes! This was a fun read, and I hope you do write up that longer fic.
    I might just go ahead and write the whole thing if I can puzzle out a bit more of it, maybe work a bit more on keeping Blue's character straight in my head. It's actually a pretty simple idea, so at least in theory it shouldn't be too terrifying for poor, rusty old me. I hemmed and hawed a bit because I wasn't sure whether it was too simple for other people to care much about, so instead I'm giving serious consideration to just writing it for myself at first. Just get something done, even if it is simple, and then, hey, if it turns out to be less atrocious/boring than I was anticipating, maybe I'll post it after all, eh?

    Thank you so much for reviewing this, and I'm glad you enjoyed it! Really, this was more helpful than you know—as I said, I've been worried about their characterization for a good while now, and you pointed out some details about their canon relationships that I wasn't consciously aware of. So yay on me for getting close to the mark, even if only subconsciously, and thanks for bringing those to my attention so I can keep them in mind as I move forward! Red, Blue and Leaf being snarky/quiet/whatever bess frans has become one of my favorite things to think about recently. IDK why but I'mma just roll with it.

    And now I feel bad because I still haven't gotten around to reading the AEM reboot even though I've been meaning to for months Now that the contest judging is out of the way I don't have to worry about the guilt of not having that done yet, though, and getting back on board with AEM is right up at the top of my to-do list!
    Last edited by Phoenixsong; 2nd January 2014 at 6:56 AM.
    Review requests currently on hold for contest judging + some other stuff. Sorry!

  4. #4
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    Jax already pointed out some of the great points of this fic, but I do want to drop by to say I really enjoyed this a lot!

    A pretty basic premise but the conflict works well to fit the characters' ages there, no need for something grand. Really love how Leaf knows the characters' best moves and which other characters they're best against at. Also neat that she's already up to date with the next version/sequel of that game series. I smile at the mention of Red wanting Leaf to teach him the new moves and such. I also think you portrayed Blue having a large ego as a kid well, him jealous a girl is better at him in games (of course there are grown men that think the same and just...gaming culture >.>; ). But yeah, overall this is a fun read and enjoyed this very much!


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