Emperor Akihito and the Queen indulging in a session of Mario Kart DS in 2007.
(This is my first post, so apologies for bad formatting and dodgy picture sizes, I tried to shrink them, really I did! If anyone has any good advice or tutorials on creating posts, please let me know! Thanks!)
So, the rumours were true. Many of you will have spotted that the forums are alight about next month's Edge Magazine carrying an exclusive interview with Queen Elizabeth II. Until her recent UK advert for the Nintendo Wii, it was not known that the Queen took any interest in video games at all, let alone had a rich enough gaming heritage to carry a full and frank interview...
Born into a working class family of horse butchers, Elizabeth always dreamed of a better life. She passionately believed that the horses she loved so very much, yet was forced to kill, deserved a better future too.
There were a number of failed get-rich-quick schemes and ill-judged attempts at fame
(Google 'Elizabeth II marvellously messy banana trick 1951' for more details) before she came to prominence in 1953.
This was the year Elizabeth claimed victory in the popular TV talent show 'Bone Idol', where the prize was to be crowned the Queen of England.
As you probably know, she felt a resurgence in popularity earlier this year after she was crowned yet again, this time at the 2008 GQ Awards where she received the prestigious award of 'Britain's Bestest Boobs'
A candid snap of the Queen proudly displaying her magnificent breasts at the GQ Awards.
The Edge interview appears to be just a small part of the media frenzy stirred up by publicist Max Clifford in the wake of the award. While speculation is rife as to the content of this ground-breaking article, it is only here that you will find the real scoop.
Unexpurgated tracts of the interview have fallen into Destructoid hands, read on for the full skinny.
It is common knowledge that Nintendo were commissioned to create Pictochat for the Japanese royal family in 1950, as a way for the usually reserved family to communicate more effectively.
What has not been known until now is that when the now-emperor Akihito travelled to the UK as Japan's representative at the 1953 Coronation, he brought the Queen a very important gift...
Hotter than a Hadouken, you won't find this on eBay!
The limited edition Street Fighter II DS prototype from Nintendo and Capcom, complete with solid gold stylus, is held in the vaults of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and had not been seen by the public until this leaked photo.
While nowadays the item is priceless, back in 1953 it was virtually worthless, as, not only were there no dedicated DS games released for over fifty years, but also the concept of 'forwards compatibility' with the Gameboy Advance had clearly not been thought through.
However, the Queen, as always, puts a sterling silver lining on this cloud of limitation.
The Queen tells Edge, 'For the first year I owned the DS, I kept myself amused by changing the calendar and clock settings, pretending that I was travelling through time. When I got bored of this, I used to send Pictochat messages to myself. I was truly shocked at some of the disgusting pictures I received to be honest, and it was when I was blushing at a particularly saucy image that I first met my husband-to-be'
It transpires that, after the death of an important member of the Royal staff, a young Greek man had arrived at the Palace for an interview to be the new Deputy Chief of Peasant Culling.
Being a Greek, and not knowing the official procedure when entering the Queen's quarters, young Phillip simply sauntered into the room, finding a shocked and blushing young majesty, and as their eyes met, it was love at first sight.
'I'm not sure what I was most attracted to at first' ponders Elizabeth,.
'It was either his rugged good looks or the alluring smell of kebab'
Where did you get that hat?
Moving a little further forwards, those in the UK will remember that coverage of the Royal Ascot Festival in 2005 was overshadowed by the Queen's 'new' hat.
The hat, shaped like Pacman, was believed to be a fresh neo-retro design by the royal milliner Philip Somerville. However, the Queen revels in telling the full story; “Well, of course, for you journalists it was a 'new' design but I'd been wearing it among family and friends since 1960'
Pacman in 1960? WTF?
We all know that the game wasn't unveiled until 1977...
The Queen goes on to explain; 'Emperor Akihito introduced me
to (Pacman designer) Toru Iwatani in the mid 1950's. I distinctly remember that Toru was very impressed by the pizza my Italian chef had served when he'd visited us in 1958.'
'In 1960, Toru gave me the hat as a gift and told me that, though I might not recognise the cute yellow character now, give it twenty years or so and he would be even more well known than me!'
Queen Elizabeth playing happily in her real-life Pacman maze
The Queen proceeds to spill the beans on the inspiration behind the gameplay of the original arcade game; 'After the pizza, my son, Prince Charles, asked Mr. Iwatani if he would join us in a game of Hide and Seek in the Royal Maze. Charles has since told me that the reason he wanted Toru to play was due to the general lack of height of the Japanese. This somewhat increases the difficulty of the game, creating Hide and Seek v2.0!'
Whilst people worldwide detest Prince Charles for many reasons, providing the inspiration for insipid sequels and yearly EA updates must surely rank highly as one of the most valid.
Iwatani is on record as saying 'It was my first experience of pizza that led me to create the character of Pacman, but as for the game design, I owe that solely to my absolute terror at being chased by a young British aristocrat with a large stick'
This has historically been attributed to a badly translated Japanese interview.
It appears we can now see this comment in its purest context...
Interestingly, the traffic of inspiration flows both ways in this case.
Following her first game of Pacman, Elizabeth immediately ordered her gardeners to redesign the Royal Maze to match the layout of the popular arcade game.
'Everyone thinks that Atari created the first home conversion of Pacman' she chuckles “but our version was ready almost two years earlier! Not only that, but I think we took an important step towards alternate reality gaming too.'
In a rare moment of whimsy, the Queen also tells how the game earned her a nickname among two of her grandchildren. 'William and Harry used to refer to me as Nanny Pac-Hat' she reminisces, 'In fact Harry was shocked and to tell the truth, a touch distraught when we told him last year that it wasn't my real name!'
While, due to embargoes, we cannot bring you the full interview, we can confirm that the hedge-based Pacman maze was not the Queen's last foray into designing a real-world version of a videogame world. Many years later, Nanny Pac-Hat embarked on her ultimate folly...
'I had always been into my retro games, and had not owned a console since the Megadrive days. I think it was Christmas 2002 when my grandsons brought their Playstation 2 with them' explains Elizabeth. 'They let me play on several games, but the one which most took my imagination was called 'The Getaway' by Sony Europe. I immediately set my chief architect to replicate the entire level at the end of my driveway, The Mall, and work was completed by the Summer of 2004'
Anyone who has tried the game, set in the fictitious city of 'London', will recall how the designers managed to make us feel like we were playing in a living, breathing metropolis, but there were only two women in the world who could afford to recreate this in real life, and Oprah Winfrey was beaten to the punch.
'It wasn't just a case of copying the work of the Sony designers, as only about thirty of the
in-game buildings had interiors, the rest simply being façades.'
The royal architects painstakingly took hundreds of thousands of screen grabs in their efforts to match the blurry, murky textures of the game, and anyone who has visited the UK since 2004 cannot fail to be impressed by this faithful bricks-and-mortar replica of The Getaway's London.
A screenshot of “Chinatown” on Playstation 2 and the same view in the real-world replica.
As you will see from the above comparison, the attention to detail is mind-blowing.
However, you will also notice that there are many more people and vehicles in the Queen's copycat London. Is this a design decision, or simply a mistake?
Her Majesty explains
'When we populated our version of London, we kept the exact same number of inhabitants as in the original game. My husband and I personally auditioned just over a million cosplay actors to fill the 35,000 strong cast we required. What we hadn't accounted for were the millions of tourists and fans of the game who would want to see the finished project with their very own eyes.'
An early screen from The Getaway on PS3
Ironically, the next-gen iteration of The Getaway on Playstation 3 sees art imitating life imitating art.
Due to increased processing power, many more of the in-game buildings are said to be explorable and the number of non-player characters has increased multiple times, as you will see from this screenshot.
A monarch on a mission
For legal reasons, this is as much of the interview that we can divulge at present, but if you're planning to visit the UK, and have played any of The Getaway series of games, we can heartily recommend a visit.
Who knows? You may even find yourself taking a tragic starring role in one of Elizabeth's weekly mission re-enactments!
(see Buckingham Palace website for times and bookings)