Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Milk Chocolate Gaming

I absolutely love chocolate. I eat a square (or two) almost daily, and recent data has shown it can help you live longer. They have also shown that having two drinks per day can also decrease your chances of heart disease, and thus increase your life expectancy. Looking at my daily habits we can assume, then, that I’ll easily reach 220 years of age. No problem. If they were to increase that allowable drink total to three or four per day I’d be practically immortal. Mwah-ha-ha: take that teetotallers. Winner: me and my well-used liver! Huzzah!

I ate candy bars growing up but I don’t remember them being an obsession. I enjoyed them, like any kid does, but didn’t overindulge. I likely tried every candy-bar in existence, and though I wasn’t especially fussy I recall liking Crispy Crunch, Eat More, and the now defunct Cuban Lunch. Mmmm..I loved that Cuban Lunch bar and its odd shape. 

Notice I say ‘candy bar’, and not chocolate. I didn’t fall in love with chocolate, real chocolate, until I moved to Ireland and discovered Lidl. I say ‘real’ chocolate because the EU has some strict trade rules and there is a minimum amount of cocoa required in anything to be called ‘chocolate’. They have to label North American imports as ‘chocolate flavoured’ because they don’t meet the minimum. Similarity (random fact time) chocolate milk is labeled as a‘chocolate flavoured milk beverage’. Hardly as catchy as something which refers to liquid chocolate (which was, incidentally, invented by the Maya).

Early cappuccino machine? Blow on the spout for frothy chocolate...or that's a theory anyway. Another is that they put a tube in that pot and blew the concoction elsewhere. Mmmm chocolate enema. Maya Burial Pot, Tomb 5, Belize, Central America. Copyright Maya Research Program.

I sometimes miss Lidl and it’s odd assortment of German goods at low, low prices so much I salivate. My pocketbook yearns for them! For those unfamiliar with Lidl, it is a German chain which sells a little bit of everything you might need on a daily basis: meat, vegetables, alcohol, soda, dry goods, dog food, and whatever crazy impulse items they can fit in that crazy middle aisle: car mats, shovels, hoses, satellite dish, Eastern European plumbers......you name it, they’ll eventually stock it. It’s a weird little store (pun intended) that did offer some quality products at rock bottom prices.

They carried a brand of chocolate by J.D. Gross that remains the best commercially available chocolate I have yet to find. It started out innocently enough. I tried the 60% dark chocolate and eventually developed a taste for it. But that wasn’t enough. Soon I was up to the 70%, and when Christmas came (another fine German invention) I bought the special editions: Mit Coco Nibs and Mit Chili! That was it for me. I was hopelessly hooked (on chocolate, not Germans).

Seriously. My kingdom for the man, or woman, who can supply me with these on a regular basis.

Like any good addict I became steadily unsatisfied with my dosages. I jumped up to 75%, then settled into the 80%, but by now you can see where this is going. I have now settled nicely into the 90% and find anything less than this to be a ‘sweet treat’. I also have, in my stash box, a 99%. That’s right, almost pure coca. Bring it on! It’s a lot like eating a spoonful of plain coca powder from the tin and, dare I say it, it’s actually too much for me (for now). I enjoy it infrequently, but that 90% stuff? Love it. It’s my crack-cocaine. Or is it Ice? I think (know) I'd prefer meth to coke, so make it ice. Whatever the analogy, I’m hooked.

Loving the dark. The small square is the 99%. The Stone Ground 'Mexicano' is made in the USA and is a very different texture from most chocolate you'll encounter.

So I’m a hopeless dark-chocolate junkie. Not a "I’ll suck you for a tenner so I can get some more" kind of junkie. No, not that, but it has to be dark. You know what they say, once you go dark, you never go back (and I do mean chocolate, and they do actually say that because it's true). She Who Will Be Named Later enjoys a  60% with sea salt that Lindt make and I consider it a nice, naughty treat: I don’t actually consider 60% dark anymore. I've gone over to...omg....why didn't I think of this theme earlier....it's so obvious....are you ready.......The Dark Side!

I'm eating some now while she's at work and can't stop me. When will she learn, silly rabbit, work is for suckers?
I am, however, a sucker (again, not literally) for hazelnuts and chocolate (Nutella thy name is mmmmmmm) and Lidl carried a milk-chocolate bar with hazelnuts that I couldn’t resist. Like any good vice, a friend turned me on to it during one of my darker (residential) periods when I lived in a council estate in Athlone, Ireland.

There were three of us: me, my friend from Essex, and another friend from Cork. It was.....interesting. My friend from Essex was right at home, having grown up in various council flats in some very disadvantaged (and by that I mean crime-ridden cesspools of drugs, poverty and violence) areas of London, but I was a little freaked out, I have to say. In fact he used to mock the council estates in Ireland. He'd say:

There's a bit of green space there, that's not a proper estate. In England we'd put another three or four high rises on that.
In any case my Irish friend was mad for that Lidl hazelnut chocolate. He bought a large sized bar of it everyday, mostly because he had this strange sort of sleep-walking problem where he’d wake up at around 3am and eat the entire thing. I kid you not. It was quite bizarre. I developed a taste, or perhaps a weakness, for that chocolate there, on that estate trying to prevent him from becoming obese due to his binging. I know, I know, in retrospect, just stop buying it right? Well, what can I say, we needed some joy on that estate and chocolate was it (or all that I’ll admit to).

Google maps must have taken this at the crack of dawn otherwise they'd have had their van stolen, or burned, or probably both. We were in the 3rd from the right. What you can't see are the ones behind whoever took this photo which were boarded up....but still inhabited, if you know what I mean.
I would say I love dark chocolate like I enjoy intelligent, challenging games. It is my preference.....but every once in awhile I want to get hold of one of those large, hazelnut, milk-chocolate bars and gorge on it like my mate used to. The gaming equivalent of that? Saint’s Row II.           

I blame Van Hemlock to a certain degree. Or was it Jon Shute? God, why can’t they just be one person? It’s so verbally annoying to try and reference them both! How about Van Shute, or Jon Hemlock. Hey, that sounds quite good, doesn’t it? Ya, lets go with that one.

So, in one of Jon Hemlock’s podcasts they mentioned, in passing, that Saints Row II was quite a good game. I had briefly played it on a friend’s console while my PC was in transit, and again stumbled upon it while researching the Sandbox Challenge. Jon Hemlock’s comment got me thinking I should check it out again, but Gamespot’s review (among others) said it was a poor port to the PC and was buggy as hell.

Oh how I wish that were true. I decided to try it and boy oh boy that milk chocolate game is yummy! I doubt that I’ll stick with it for long (I only ever managed to get 60% complete on GTA) but I have racked up a few hours on it this weekend. It’s sugary, gaming goodness. I enjoy a challenge. I enjoy using my mind and being allowed to create, and even shape the world I’m playing in. I like to think I am a strategically-inclined gamer but sometimes....sometimes I just want to shoot someone in the face. Is that so bad?

I find the port works just fine and there is no struggle with the keyboard/mouse combo like there is in some first-person-shooter types I have tried (are you listening Dead Space 2). Obviously driving a is a bit jerky using the arrow keys, but in the absence of a game pad, it’s not too bad. I’ve rolled a fat dude with loads of tats, and have chosen the ‘Mockney’ accent for my voice. I’m sure Jon Hemlock is to blame for that as well as the ‘Mockney’ accent was commented on in that podcast (sorry, I really can’t remember which one it was...140-something).

My quest for a rewarding, challenging sandbox game continues, as does my search for a good tank clan for the upcoming release of World Of Tanks. Never fear. I have not abandoned the cause. I’m simply sleepwalking at the moment gorging myself on Milk Chocolate Gaming.

What can I say? Haters gonna hate. The resemblance to me is, actually, uncanny. Rawrrr!

Play Me!

I'll be Surprised (Scratch Perverts Fabric Live Mix) by Gankalicious


  1. Ah, Saints Row 2... absolutely glorious game, so much lovely character, car and gang customisation, so many magnificently stupid activities. GTAIV gets most of the plaudits, and has its own strengths, but for sheer start-to-finish fun Saints Row 2 is right up there.

  2. Seriously now, you really got me wondering if I was getting a bit crazy. That Lidl sign didn't seem right. I had to go check. Good job, sir, on making me doubt myself early in the morning.

  3. @ Sara- lol, ya, I didn't actually notice until after I had finished the post and was reviewing it! By then I was too lazy to bother changing it. It was just the first one that came up when you Google search Lidl images :)

    @Zoso- ya, I'm not sure why I didn't keep playing it...likely because I moved and didn't have access to the Xbox anymore. Once my PC arrived I kid of forgot about it as I got back into MMO's. Good fun though. Fun in the sandbox, literally!

  4. It's funny you compare GTA with dark chocolate and SR2 with milk chocolate, because if there was one argument in SR's favour over GTA that keeps getting repeated is that it's simply less serious and more fun. Just like milk chocolate compared to dark chocolate. Or lager compared to ale. :P I have yet to play it myself, but I think I'll wait for SR3 to come out before taking the plunge.

    Oh and I love Lidl's almond chocolate, the hazelnut one isn't that bad either. I can eat it every day, nanana. :P

    I don't care much for the dark chocolate though. The chili one is kinda... different, but meh not for me. :P