Pokemon Power

Does your memory improve by playing Pokemon?
21 May 2019
Presented by Chris Berrow, Leigh Milner
Production by Chris Berrow, Leigh Milner.


A sign displaying Pokemon characters.


Scientists discover a specific region of the brain that reacts to Pokemon! But is your brain really like a Pokedex? Plus hear from the gamer whose character died in Minecraft after 5 years, losing everything. Leigh looks ahead at breaking news around a discless Xbox. As for new releases - we review RAGE 2 and Days Gone. And we’re going old school with “Retro Revival”... this time Alex Rhodes (banished after the last episode) is forced to play a Final Fantasy game for the first time! With Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner.

In this episode

The inside of a CD player

06:33 - Discless Xbox

Would you buy a console without a disc?

Discless Xbox
Leigh Milner

Leigh Milner looks at some breaking news about the Playstation 5 and Xbox...

Leigh - Imagine a console that doesn’t need discs – so none of this... (SFX disc case opening) or this... (SFX disc inserted in console).

Well it’s happening!  Yeah that’s right.. Microsoft has announced the new Xbox One S All Digital Edition will look exactly the same as the current Xbox One S console except it won’t have a drive. 
Due out on 7th May.. the makers want the £199 device to appeal to people who have "grown up without discs" .. so unfortunately that’s not us Chris – we’re too old!

But it will have the same technology as current models. It’ll have a 1TB hard drive.. enough room for 20-25 games .. and as a bonus .. it will be pre-installed with Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3 and Sea of Thieves.
If that’s not enough .. it will also come with a discounted subscription to Xbox Game Pass, which offers a library of more than 100 games for a monthly fee.

But if you’re not an Xbox fan like me .. you’ll be pleased to hear that Sony has finally released the first details about its next PlayStation console, and this one will still use disks. 

Gamers have been waiting patiently to find out any information about the PS4's replacement.. and what we now know .. is that it will be much faster, more powerful and include improved audio.

For example, because of its high-speed solid-state hard drive .. it will dramatically reduce things like loading times.

3D audio will be a big feature great for when you’re playing those zombie games.

And best of all – you’ll still be able to play all of your favourite PS4 games on the new console. Thank goodness .. I thought we were going to lose Spyro for a minute there Chris!
But don't expect to be able to buy one in 2019 .. you'll have to wait until at least next year to see it on the shelves.

A sign displaying Pokemon characters.

09:37 - Is your brain a Pokedex?

Did gamers who played Pokemon in the 90s alter their brains?

Is your brain a Pokedex?
Jesse Gomez, Neuroscientist at Stanford University

Neuroscientists from Stanford University  recruited 11 self-proclaimed Pokémon masters and 11 Pokémon-newbies and monitored part of the brain called the occipitotemporal sulcus. The brain region activated more strongly in gamer brains when presented with Pokémon pictures.

Chris Berrow spoke to Jesse Gomez - one of the neuroscientists who led the research.

Jesse - You know it turns out that as humans we're very social creatures. And so we're very good at things like recognizing each other's faces and in childhood we learn how to read and we get very good at reading. It turns out that these skills that we perfected our childhood actually have a lasting impact on our brain and in our visual cortex especially we develop these regions in the temporal lobe. Kind of just behind our ears that help us recognize things like faces and words. What's interesting to us though as a neuroscientist is that these brain regions always kind of pop up in the same brain folds across people. So let's still kind of an interesting mystery ties and you know the most definitive way to go about figuring out why they're organized the way they are and to kind of differentiate the theories is to you know have people can become an expert with a new visual stimulus that's kind of different from pieces and words and see if you get a new brain region. So it turns out Pokemon were excellent because they were something that kids learned in childhood. And you know it was like this natural experiment that happened in the 90s that I realised would have been like you know it's gonna be like a perfect experiment. So that's why we ended up using a placebo.

Chris - And people just happened to be learning this because they were really keen to learn about Pokémon and it just so happens that that's useful for your research which is quite amazing to me because people really wanted to learn all of what 150 hundred fifty one two of the original Pokemon you know.

Jesse - Yeah. And yeah the game was perfect because it was very motivated. Even the TV show if you remember it. Yeah. You know kind of motivated you for recognizing them. They would have like blacks the way. I mean like who's that Pokémon. So it was kind of this crazy like environment that just really motivated people for like knowing all these intricate differences between these hundreds of visually similar things. And what was super useful as an intern no just kept cranking out these games in the pokey my company just kept you know cranking these games out and so now there's almost a thousand I think by the end of this year. And so it's yeah. Yeah it's incredible.

Chris - It's interesting that because obviously it shapes part of the brain. This learning experience the desire to learn all the Pokemon is there's some evidence because you know parents will always say my parents used to say to me as a kid if you watch too much TV if you play too many computer games your eyes will go square it will melt your brain stuff like this is there any evidence that actually this is a bad thing that your brain is being shaped by a game biased cartoon series.
Jesse - I think a parent's worry was that if they're watching TV or playing video games then like they're not learning math they're not doing homework and I think that's probably where a lot of that fear comes from. And you know there was a craze especially in the 90s like there's violence in videogames and it's like affecting people and you know I don't think there's ever been a definitive study to show that there was anything negative about this. You know if anything I think it's very interesting because it suggests that at least in visual cortex where we were studying you know it's capable of representing more visual stimuli than we thought because previously people have observed you know special regions for like words faces numbers bodies in places like things that are important for us to recognize. And so the fact that you can get an additional one suggests that the brain's you know capable of more than we thought and we're probably just limited by you know how much time you have to experience stuff in childhood.

Chris - Gotcha OK. And are you a Pokémon fan yourself I mean or is it just something that happens to be perfect for what you were looking at.

Jesse - Yeah. No I was a huge Pokémon fan. I think that's what helped kind of motivate the. The thought of why it would work because the original experiment and motivated it was done in monkeys and they kind of taught monkeys new like Helvetica characters and Tetris figures and showed that they get new brain regions. And I was like oh this would be really cool to do in humans but you know like trapping kids in a lab for like for what could potentially be hundreds of hours to teach them a new experiment it would just wasn't feasible. So for a few days I was kind of bummed and then you know I still play, I think they come out you know they still come up with games and I watch the movie and everything. And it was just. Yeah. It just dawned on me I was like Oh my God this you know like the 90s already did this experiment is it perfect.

A picture of a character from Minecraft

15:38 - Minecraft epic Game Over

How do you cope when your character dies in game after 5 years?

Minecraft epic Game Over
Philza, Minecraft Streamer

This was the moment that Philza AKA Philip Watson died after playing a single game of Minecraft for 5 years!

Philza - Noooooooo!

The video has been viewed millions of times on Twitch. The kind of mode Philza was playing means that his game is completely over… 5 years of building in a world… all gone. Chris Berrow found out all about it, and it turns out that this was the first game of Minecraft Philza had ever played in survival mode… and he had spent quite a long time creating a world.

Philza - I was really proud of chaos cabins. That was that was basically like this big cavern that I dug up. It took like a year to finish and inside there is like there's really a big cave and inside that Korea it all these different biomes which are basically just areas in the world so like the nether realm I made down there. I mean dark oak forests I mean at the end run down there and basically just took all the hostile mobs I could get hold of and put them in there like a museum. So they all had their own little sections and I could just walk through it like see them like without getting hurt I could just be like this guy this guy this guy.

Chris - So basically you started to kind of master this very difficult mode because people die in this mode all the time and I think I suppose the main thing to say about you know what people describe as the more hardcore mode is that it is really game over you have to start again.

Philza - Yeah. You just you have to say goodbye to the world. The whole point of hardcore is you get one life. And when that life is done when you die that's it. You stop playing in it.

Chris - I mean I've seen the video loads people are seeing the video of the moment where after five years essentially you do die in that world and it's it's kind of heartbreaking to watch.

Philza - Oh it's rough it's rough. It was such a surprise. Like I was just full of disbelief and then like depression and anger and then like the space of 20 seconds you can you can really feel it. I guess just something about it resonated with people. And like really kind of like it spreads all these different audiences like people who didn't even play the game could understand like how like how hard that hit me.

Chris - Well you can see I think it's just think about the way you react and it's just you can see almost like crushing defeat if you like. It's awful to watch it one way but then you sort of think we've all been there we've played games for a long time but I think it's just because of the sheer scale and the length and you know the scope of what you've actually done to have it taken away.

Philza - It's like oh man yes it is actually it’s four things in total but three things mainly that happen. So the things that hurt me did physical damage were the zombie baby the fire from the zombie because I set him on fire. I was getting like I was getting fire damage as my own fault was my sword had like a fire and chairman on it this skeleton which shot me that you don't really see but you can hear him he shoot me back into the spider and spider finishes me off. So I think the spider hit me like twice or maybe three times and then the skeleton hit me once but the fourth thing that most people miss the creeper. So the creeper that I keep pushing back was causing me to like kind of like switch between the creeper and the zombie baby so I wasn't concentrating solely on killing the zombie baby. And it was just causing a longer amount of time that I was taking damage from the fire as soon as I could even get close enough he's going to explode. So I kept on like push him back and then hit the zombie baby then push him back again. It is zombie baby. Yeah it just it really escalated after that...

A playstation controller

20:35 - Review - Days Gone

Is the latest zombie game worth buying?

Review - Days Gone

Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner review Days Gone.

Chris - it's a survival horror game with lots of zombies, and motorbikes


Chris - See I'm interested to know what you made of this because you're not really a fan of zombie so how was it playing days gone the zombie game. You know what.

Leigh - I loved it.

Chris - No way.

Leigh - I absolutely loved that.

Chris - No.

Leigh - Yeah it's a little slow. Yeah but I think it has a really good storyline for a zombie game for the whole thing. You know it actually gives you some time to get used to the controls when you're taking on hordes of zombies or you know in this game called freakers which I think is a bit weird.

Chris - Yeah didn't like that they were called freakers because I know what you mean it's it's just not that we just call them just call them zombies or walkers I don't mind.

Leigh - But yeah exactly. I think maybe for someone though who plays a lot of zombie games like you I think you would have wanted to tackle those zombies much earlier in the game.

Chris - Yeah. But that's exactly what I was thinking.

Leigh - But for people like me and usually as you know I'm kind of having a meltdown. Yeah right at the beginning I'm thinking where's my weapon. I can't even get out of the door. This had some pace. Yeah some time to breathe. So the fact that you can play a bit of detective at the start you can track people down because there's quite a lot of tracking early on. Look I love prints and stuff like that.
It's much more than just killing dead guys. Yeah for that I'm going to give it a strong 8 out of 10.

Chris -  See for me I didn't if you played the last of us which is it's kind of like not a million miles away. There's no motorbikes in it but it was like the last of us rubbish. Then you want the motorbike you might have loved it. Yeah. It was like a slow the last of us for me and you're right that like it takes a while to get into it. I got a bit bored to be honest during that I wanted it to throw the zombies at me thick and fast that way. You know people watch the video and the video sold you the game like oh there's a horde of zombies running at you need to kind of be able to manage them and run away but it takes so long it takes like 30 hours to get to that point. And that's the pace I'm super slow yet free cause I didn't like they were called freakers the humans were more dangerous than the undead are kind of like that you know the human bad guys were. Yeah I think actually it's pretty difficult to fight but there was one thing that really annoyed me and that was you get a lot of messages over the walkie talkie from your mate who's calling who's called Boozer quite right Boozer keeps going. Are you okay. I'm just I'm just not feeling very well at the moment. Oh come on mate just shut up. It's not a spoiler to say he gets a bit injured early on. Those messages were driving me nuts. Shut up Boozer. No one cares. So for me if you want the definitive zombie game you can get Left 4 Dead or The Last of Us I'd say probably get them over this. But for me 6 out of 10 nothing that special but solid and it's available on PS4 now.


A playstation controller

24:05 - Review - RAGE 2

Chris Berrow and Leigh Milner put the sequel to RAGE through its paces.

Review - RAGE 2

RAGE 2 is the sequel to the first person shooter RAGE which was released in 2011.


Chris - I've played this one this morning so I've had about an hour with it. I'm intrigued to know what you think. I'll go first. I started off and I thought this was an awful game. I thought this is really boring since the first person shooter right now if you played rage one. It's quite funny. It's quite slick. You get some quite fun weapons you get something cool like a wing steak where you throw this kind of almost like a three pronged like frisbee type thing. Enemies and it kills them and then it flies back to you and that's quite cool then you get to fire your guns. The first level the tutorial essentially was so boring. All the enemies were the same nuff. There was just nothing good about it. Then I got past that and I got the shotgun and I did the first missions and I started to enjoy a bit more overdrive. You get kind of slow and then I thought this is just a really boring game. So then I put on the Danny Dyer mode.

Leigh - I didn’t find that Danny Dyer mode.

Chris - No because he's not very well listed right. So to get Danny Dyer mode which is basically Danny Dyer doing commentary over the top of your shooting and killing game... you go to cheats and then you put on diamond geezer. Like geyser right and it's exactly like that. Except that they obviously only bothered to record about 20 minutes with Danny Dyer. So after five minutes he starts saying the same thing again. Who spilled crimson me. Sorry about the impression it was that spilled crimson.

Leigh - sounds like my dad still some Yorkshire there.

Chris - So it started to get acceptable when I got the shotgun but after an hour's worth of play I was basically bored of Danny Dyer and I don't know if I could continue to play. I found it really boring. So for me it's a it's like a four out and I've got to agree. I think the storyline was so basic Yeah basic can I can I just add it because you've just reminded me it is basic because loads of characters die around you in the beginning. You know it's not really spoilers in the first 10 minutes they go oh they've died anyway Oh yeah your auntie's died.

Leigh - It loses that emotional touch unlike the previous game but I think it's for me it was also pretty full on at the start.

Chris - All the bad guys were doing exactly the same thing they looked the same I was just like yeah.

Leigh - I think the first person view is also a little bit awkward, if you want to run around killing mechanical aliens without a clue what's actually going on exactly what you actually meant to be doing. Yeah. Then this is the game for you. So I think RAGE 2 Definitely gave me rage. Did you like that? So not really my jam. I will give it a 5 out of 10.

Chris - Okay well if you want it you might bear repeat playing but don't buy it for Danny Dyer. You can get it on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

A group of retro game characters including Space Invaders

28:19 - Retro Revival - Final Fantasy VII

Alex Rhodes plays Final Fantasy VII for the first time. Will he suck?

Retro Revival - Final Fantasy VII
Alex Rhodes

A Final Fantasy newbie discovers the definitive FF game for the first time. Can Alex Rhodes defeat Sin, after being forced to play by Chris Berrow?

Hello Chris. Yes I'm at home getting ready to play Final Fantasy it's a retro game so I thought I play in a retro manner well for me anyway. I'm back at my parents house with a PlayStation 4 is not quite in my mom's basement. I'm in the living room sat in front of the telly in the dressing gown as it's a Sunday probably too much information. But let's let's get going. I thought I'd go back to my gaming roots. I've never played a final fantasy game before. I don't really know what it's about. I think one of the characters is called Cloud the bad guys called surfer off. Maybe. Okay so.

We got new game special movie and additional credits. Let's go new game. It's flashing of all he controls. Now I'm never gonna remember all that but I'll pick it up.

Right. I'm gonna watch this. Cutscene. And I'll catch up with you when I've got to grips a little bit with the controls.

Okay here we go into the first battle. Right. Oh I've got a massive sort of good.

I'm going to attack Magic what item I thought was turn based but it looks like it's happening at the same time. It was basically a magic bolt.

Smashed it. My character has massive thighs I've noticed and it's called ex soldier. Level up used to be used to be in soldier. I don't think that's a mistranslation. I think that is the group. There's a group called Soldier 2 groups. OK so the soldier and avalanche. I think it's time based from what I can tell if I don't. Let me just experiment. So if I. Don't do anything Yeah it will just continue to attack me. It's not like take it in turns. It's kind of speed as well which is interesting. He's dead as well. I celebrate with my massive thighs and the equally massive sword.

I'm kind of with this team. The squad is kind of annoying. It's old glowered he's a bit. Angsty.

I'm enjoying it. So fights it's lots of like changes of camera angle the background. Things are looking really nice for the remastered version they probably did more on the models than they did the backgrounds the backgrounds probably look about similar in the models look kind of like this sort of chippy style sort blocky but they look good but another encounter this looks like the first boss encounter. Why is this thing. It's almost like a big four legged spider thing. He want me with his big scorpion tail they ever explain sometimes but this is A I suppose the other end of the spectrum. After you've been dropped in it a little and I don't really know what I'm doing in terms of the combat. You know. Getting.

Shot through here. Both characters down to low health is that it. Oh they're both dead. Game over a failed bet.

I thought at first though maybe this is one where you have to lose but clearly not. I've just failed so that's me dipping my toes into the world of Final Fantasy ending in horrendous failure as to be expected. I'm enjoyed it. You know I think it's good game I'm gonna definitely keep playing after I stopped recording this. I'd like a little bit more in terms of information on what is supposed to be doing. It's a remastered version but it's clearly pushing itself. You know this is making the most out of the console it was originally on the ringmaster is good it looks good it's buying colorful and you quickly get into it. The age definitely is a sort of barrier to enjoying it. It's good fun. Who knows maybe this will be the year to properly get into the Final Fantasy series.


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