I was challenged to a fight the other day. It came as quite a shock – you see, the challenger was someone I considered to be a friend. But I thought, well, if he’s going to be like that, then he can bring it on! Sadly, I underestimated how hard my mate was, and I took a bit of a pounding. We’ve since fought a number of times, and I’m starting to get my own back. I also decided to pick a fight with another of my friends, and have now given him a number of beatings he won’t forget in a hurry. Before you start wondering, I’m not a psychopath. This isn’t in real life. No, it’s online. So I’m not a psychopath, but I may well be a geek. You see, my friend had discovered the Lycos Fight Club website. It’s run by, well, by Lycos, the people who do the search engine and the text messaging service and all sorts of other useful things. The point is simple one-on-one, no-holds-barred combat, for no good reason other than that it’s a good laugh. How it works is simple. First of all you must sign up to the site. No personal details, no cost, all you need to put in is your email address and a password. Once you’re in, the fighting can begin! You can either challenge your friends, or you can access a league table (where almost everyone will be a lot tougher than you to start with) and challenge someone on that. They will then receive an email, plus a message on their Fight Club page, telling them about the challenge. They will either decline it (the pansy) or take you on. You can also be challenged in exactly the same way, which is how I was introduced to the site. However, if you’re not keen on the idea of receiving random emails from violent strangers, you can opt out of this bit and just be a challenger rather than the challenged. So, the fighting… This is done in a couple of steps, which are the same regardless of whether you’re challenging or challenge d. Firstly, you have to pick a character. They’re all the same, and you pick them each time you fight; so don’t worry about committing yourself to one in particular. It’s purely an aesthetic thing. You can choose from: A Kung Fu guy, A teenage girl, An ‘ard Scotsman, A rat, And, in this season of goodwill to all men; Father Christmas, A Snowman. Secondly, you decide your attacks. You have half a dozen slots to fill to make up a sequence of offensive moves, which each be one of a high attack, a middle attack, a low attack, or a special attack. The first three do exactly what they say, whereas the special attack is, um, special. These are various moves that can be bought using your chips (more on them in a bit), do varying damage, and can’t be blocked by your opponent. Some of them also require you to have invited a certain amount of new people to the site. They range from attacking your opponent with a newspaper to spraying him with a flamethrower, and the animations are funny. OK, next, you do exactly the same with your defensive moves. The same half a dozen slots, the same choice of blocking high, low, or in the middle. Finally, before the violence starts, you get to put in a victory cry. I guess some of you are starting to see how this all fits together, and you’re right. It is all down to chance. You pit your first attack against his first block, and vice versa, and so on. If you hit, you do damage, if he blocks, you don’t. Whoever’s got the most energy left at the end is the winner. After the fight, you are told how many points and chips you’ve earned, and get the opportunity to challenge your opponent again if you want. Then it’s back to your home page to start over again with someone else! Now, the points and chips thing. Points are what determine your ranking on the league table. If you beat someone below you, you don̵ 7;t get many. If you beat someone above you, you get more. Not a lot to it. The chips are earned in lots of ways, successfully hitting an opponent, successfully blocking an opponent, winning, and winning with a knockout all earn you chips. And as I said before, the chips are used to buy special moves. The only other thing to tell you all about is the ranking. There are ranks on the league table, which require a certain amount of points for advancement into. You start off as a Big Girls Blouse, and progress through such categories as Couldn’t Beat A Drum until you eventually reach things like Who’s The Daddy and Top Dog. It looks like you have to actually live on the site to reach the top, though. When you go up a rank you get to spend a couple of experience points that can be used to increase the strength of one of your attacks or to give you more health. That’s about it really. As for requirements, you need Flash 5 installed on your computer. If you haven’t got it there’s a link for you to do so. According to the FAQ it’s a little touchy if you’re running Netscape, and I don’t think it works on Macs. So is it any good? Well, it’s a laugh, but it can take quite a while to put in all your moves and stuff, then there’s a pretty lengthy loading time before each fight. You also have to persevere with it to actually get anywhere, but, well, I reiterate – it’s a laugh. It all comes down to whether you’ve got anything better to do really. And ultimately it is of course totally pointless. You don’t win anything; it won’t impress your girlfriend or the bloke in the pub. But it’s fun. Oh, and it may not be for the kiddies. The violence and animations and stuff are all cartoonish and nothing to worry about, but some of the user names are pretty obscene, and you can’t know what sort of filth will crop up in your opponent’s victory cry … Finally, if you check the site out, feel free to come and take a pasting at my hands! I’m Crispy on there too, and you can use the email address on my profile to challenge me. Bring it on!!!