I am positively salivating at the prospect of Monster Hunter World. Come midnight tonight the servers will go live and all the hunters will descend to feast upon joy, carve up the beasties and make dinky little hats from them. When my copy arrived I thought I'd dive right in and get to the slaying, but then the game presented me with an issue: character creation.
Most games, I don't care too much. With some I know I'll spend a tonne of time there, so I go with what I fancy. In Fallout 4 I play as Jeremy Corbyn (and all my weapons are awful in-jokes, like a bazooka called The Third Way) . In Bloodborne, I invade Mergo's Loft as the poet W.B. Yeats. Monster Hunter World isn't just for tomorrow, it's for life, so I knew I needed someone special – and no-one's more special than Bowie.
The first choice was: which Bowie? The man's defining characteristic was his protean nature, with almost every album – particularly the 70s stuff – featuring a new look or presentation of himself. I didn't want the early shaggy hair, or the too-obvious Ziggy, and thoughts of the Thin White Duke gave way to the realisation that one thing I'd never be able to do was get him in a suit. With a chum's help I settled on Aladdin Sane, one of his most brilliant albums and album covers. This is what we're after.
And this is the moment, of course, when my Bowie dreams crashed into the reality of Capcom's character creator. Sorry for the phone photographs by the way, there are some proper screens further down.
Oops. Not so much Aladdin Sane as Did You Spill My Pint Bruv. See, here's the thing about Bowie. He has a really weird face, and I mean that in the best possible sense. It's striking in unexpected ways, oddly proportioned and constantly framed by the world's most awesome cheekbones. He's androgynous, gorgeous, and extremely difficult to recreate with a bunch of sliders.
My friend offered some artistic guidance.
This needed a complete overhaul. Paler skin, new hair, fuller lips. I knew that faint heart never won fair Davie.
Erm... did Bowie ever do an album about Geralt of Rivera, a Witcher who... never mind. This wouldn't do at all.
Is that... Leon S. Kennedy? Un Forastero lives on his back. Un Forastero loves chimney stacks!
Hey, at least I'm getting there with the eyes.
By now the face is actually not looking a million miles away, if you accept that my terrible baseline skills always made success unlikely. But you can see in that faint blue line of boyband Bowie, and the star above, the beginnings of a problem. How could I get the damn lightning makeup on his face? Red and blue lightning bolt. The character creator lets you apply two different makeup effects, so perhaps some combo of two would get me close...
OK it's rubbish, but it's passable rubbish. Oh, he's lost the lipstick too. Are these even in the right order? By this stage I was getting a bit sick of fiddling with chin lengths and rotating makeup, so I decided to say 'sod it' and go with my gut. The short hair did work for me, but ultimately I went with the boyband Bowie haircut for reasons best known to my then-self.
Oh, actual useful tip time: you can change your hairstyle, eyebrows and makeup after starting the game (the option is at the storage box in your house). But you can't change the face itself after starting, unless Capcom patches it in. And you know what that means: the petition starts here!
Yes, I did make a thin white cat and give him the name Duke.
So there you are, one of my most anticipated games in years and I wasted my first hour on it trying to make a character look like David Bowie. And, I think it's fair to say, completely failing.
I don't regret it. One of the beauties of Monster Hunter is that you spend all this time fiddling about with how your character looks in the face when, to be honest, it would be more meaningful if that time went on their back and shoulder blades. But I know it's my best shot at Bowie under there.
Even if his face is a mess, how could they know? Hunter, I love you so.