PACKET RAT

PACKET RAT

The Rat feels his age and longs for the good
old days of Duke Nukem

By R. Fink

The Rat's offspring recently received gifts from the high-tech evil empire of Redmond, Wash., that is bent on world domination.

No, not a bribe from Microsoft Corp.'that's the other high-tech evil empire in Redmond.

The gifts, bought by Grandma Rat, were Color Game Boys from Nintendo of America Inc.

Within hours, the ratlings had ensconced themselves on the couch to play nonstop Pokemon.

Pied Pokemon piper

That's the Game Boy cartridge that has mesmerized just about every 6- to 12-year-old in the neighborhood.

One kid under the spell of Pokemon walked straight into the cyberrodent on the sidewalk the other day, bouncing off and rolling right on without ever looking to see what the obstruction was.

The ratlings have even ceased applying security patches to their Web server. They sit quietly, occasionally asking each other, 'Did your Pidgie evolve? Use the Air Stone on him, and I'll give you a TM to teach him 'cut.' ' Or, 'Oh, no, my Charmander fainted!'

The Rat began to understand how his wife felt at so many work-related parties where the whiskered one had been drawn into techie shop talk. Now his two spawn were holding detailed conversations about something of which he had absolutely no grasp.

But in a way it was good that the ratlings had deserted their computers for a while. He felt sure that the volume of complaints to the Computer Emergency Response Team would be cut in half.

The cyberrodent also realized that some of his underlings at the agency had been passing off the units for the past few weeks as colorful new network wiring testers.

'Whatever happened to Duke Nukem?' the Rat asked the ratlings.

'Oh, Dad, that's so mid-90s,' replied the elder tail-nipper as he put his headphones on to better appreciate the electronic twinklings of 'Polly Wolly Doodle All Day' belted out by the Game Boy.

The furry one, feeling baffled, began to investigate the Pokemon cultural juggernaut. He quickly discovered the draw for his kids: The star of the game, videos, animated series, trading cards, lunch boxes and other cross-marketing products is a critter called Pikachu, billed as an electric mouse.

Eradicate e-toons

Despite the alleged pedigree, Pikachu bears no resemblance to the whiskered one's family tree. 'He looks more like a yellow marshmallow bandicoot,' muttered the Rat. But it's a different story for another critter in the game, called Raticate. The resemblance is a little too close to be coincidental.

Naturally, this distresses the cyberrodent. Not only has Nintendo stolen the essence of his personality for a trivial electronic animated character, but the company hasn't even had the decency to offer him a consulting fee. And there's the infringement on the Rat's signature phrase for handling slacker underlings: 'Gotta catch 'em all.' The Packet Rat is awaiting his royalty checks.

He also has another puzzle to solve. The ratlings took pity and gave him a Game Boy of his own for Father's Day. Now he's going to have to find a network analyzer cartridge for the cursed thing.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.

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