What’s a ‘NekoFever’?

By far one of the most common questions I get when people find out my email address or online handle is what the hell “NekoFever” means. I guess it’s not really a stupid question considering that most people don’t speak Japanese or play Japanese games, those that do don’t get the reference, and those who understand the Japanese are baffled by my general apathy towards cats. I should probably clear up that “neko” (pronounced “nay-ko“, although I tend to say “nee-ko“) is Japanese for cat before I leave you even more confused.

Most online names fall into the category of being an AOL name – something like groovybabe69 or cooldude420 – or being marginally more original by pilfering it from a popular anime, usually Dragonball Z. Names based on real names are, of course, increasingly uncommon as people realise that the 20 year-old blonde 32D supermodel on Yahoo Chat is more likely to be a 45 year-old fat man living with his parents. I could have chosen something like a favourite sports team or band, but I wanted to be original and pick a reference that no-one else could have gone for. What could I try?

How about a puzzle game?
How about an obscure puzzle game?
How about an obscure Dreamcast puzzle game? Surely many can’t have played that.
How about the Japanese version of an obscure Dreamcast puzzle game?

Eureka! That’ll work.

Mouse Mania!

In actual fact the selection of Chu Chu Rocket as my permanent online name wasn’t such a conscious one. I just had to choose a name for something (I believe it was Hotmail) and chose to make it the source of my new identity as I happened to be playing it and I liked the sound of NekoFever. I’m a creature of habit and I’ve been using it for so long now that I’ve barely even contemplated changing it to something else.

Anyway, those who did play CCR with any regularity probably doesn’t remember anything approaching NekoFever in it, and that’s where the Japanese version comes in. The power up known in English language editions as “Cat Mania” (see the second one down on the image above), which heralded the appearance of the ubiquitous cats which form the header of this page, was called “Neko Fever” in Japanese, complete with helium-affected Japanese voice. It always made me laugh so that seemed like a good enough reason – there’s no deeper reflection of my personality beyond the facts that I have a cat which I’m fond of and an affinity for niche Japanese titles on dead consoles.

That’s the story, then. You can probably see why I’m loathe to explain it whenever anyone asks about it on Xbox Live. I suppose the only thing left is to let you hear it for yourself. Click the link below to hear it in its crappy mono MP3 glory.