You can't run forever
You can’t run forever

Imagine running down a road forever. You’re running down this road and everything looks nearly identical. There’s some trees. Rocks. Bushes. Birds fly around. Every so often a dingo(…?!) on a motorbike tosses you a literal bone. That’s all Taz-mania is. Forever. You run in a straight line—I guess you can go backward, but why would you?—trying to devour birds. If you stomach the number of birds the level requires, you may even get to run down a road with slightly different scenery. It’s all roads.

Taz hallucinates his food survives digestion
Dying? no, nothing is so easy

Does this sound fun to you? It isn’t. It’s a Mode-7 abomination designed to hypnotize children into seeing the Tazmanian Devil when they close their eyes. Maybe he asks them to buy a Tweety Bird t-shirt. Maybe he asks them to eat their pets. I don’t know. I’m not going to play this awful, awful game long enough to find out what the Devil wants.

I started aiming for oncoming traffic. To let the bus sweep me under and away from this nightmare. But the bus can’t stop the Devil. It just slows him down. The Devil gets right back up and starts running again. He craves that bird flesh. He wants to crack those little bones in his teeth. He may fall in the middle of the road and start vomiting up everything he’s eaten, but he’ll never stop. He’s going back for seconds, thirds, fourths…it’s All You Can Eat on the open road, and the Devil is never full. He says he’s stuffed, but HE LIES.

I wish someone would "stuff" me into a woodchipper
I wish someone would “stuff” me into a woodchipper

Maybe you love this game. Maybe you close your eyes and imagine yourself flying down that blocky road, mouth agape and claws reaching for the winged food all around you. Maybe you already let the Devil take you and you ain’t noticed yet.

You got that Taz-mania.

Body image issues
Please let this end

Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back


A Star War
A Star War

I’m a big fan of Star Wars, as you can probably tell from my name—that’s right, I spell “Scott” with two lightsabers instead of the letter T. When I say “Scott” out loud I make the lightsaber noise at the end twice and then shout “NOOOOOO!” when you look at me weird.

With this fact out in the open I’m sure you can see why I was elated to be chosen to review Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It’s so firmly in my wheelhouse that I can fit one less wheel in there because of the space Star Wars is taking up. That’s why there’s an old wheel on my front lawn.

First of all, the music in this game is great! It’s just like the music from the movies except way shittier! Considering the technology they had to work with here I’m still fairly impressed that they managed to simulate it so well, even if it is like someone threw John Williams into a digital hole and then filled it up with spit.

Here’s a good example of a game that reminds me my reflexes have deteriorated almost completely: it tells me I’m a Jedi but the controls don’t let me feel like one—instead I’m the drunk guy in the cantina who makes some poor life decisions by threatening space wizards.

Graphically this game looks fairly nice: it has very sprightly sprites and all of the things on the screen look enough like the things from the movie that I can recognize them. Hoth is remarkably populated for an ice planet, but I guess everything just thawed out to run or fly back and forth to slightly inconvenience the player. Your life bar is a lightsaber, which makes sense because as Jedi get hurt their lightsabers slowly turn off.

I enjoy the way they emulated how Yoda talks with this Game Over screen:

Me too, Yoda
Me too, Yoda

This is a screen that you’re going to be seeing a lot because this game is pretty hard. I’m adept at jumping into the icy pits on Hoth that first murder your tauntaun, and then Luke very shortly after. Luke probably has just enough time to really contemplate the fact that he’s about to die right before he dies. He sees the tauntaun die and thinks “I’m next. I’m going to die next in a very similar way.” And then he dies.

He looks at me as if I killed him on purpose! He's right. I did.
He looks at me as if I killed him on purpose! He’s right. I did.

Yoda says “Do or do not, there is no try” at the game over screen, and I agree with him so this review ends here. 

Super Double Dragon

Here I am fainting on top of a phone booth. Luckily the friendly man caught me with his fist.
Here I am fainting on top of a phone booth. Luckily the friendly man caught me with his fist.

There’s construction happening right near my house as I type this. The construction has been going on for over a month now. If I’m at home during the day, I hear this:


It goes on for hours and hours. I can feel it in my teeth. My bones are disintegrating. Mind my is melting, the incessant vibrations reducing it to even more of a slurry than it was previously.

I mention this only because I’m totally unable to focus on anything aside from this noise. I have become this noise. I am now called THUNK. THUNK will try to review Super Double Dragon, but don’t expect much out of THUNK.

Game look pretty nice. THUNK can appreciate colourful character designs and nice sprite animations. Little men punch and kick and jump and THUNK smile warmly, the thought of a quiet world where the only noise is screaming playing momentarily in what’s left of THUNK’s imagination.

But no, noise returns. Reverberate inside of THUNK.

Game has sound? Most of life sound like THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK so maybe some of it is lost.

As far as gameplay, THUNK think that game seem slow. Little man can only walk despite presumably time-sensitive life or death situation. RUN MAN! RUN LITTLE MAN! Why little man move like he under water? THUNK move faster when looking for ice cream truck, never mind when he in deadly street fight started by pushing gang members out of way to get ice cream from truck.

Also THUNK play game single player so there only one dragon. Should call game “Super Player-Dependent Number of Dragons.”

Alright, the noise has stopped so I’m capable of using first person nouns again. Me am very happy about this development.



I just played Spectre and managed to hold it together for like two minutes. It’s a vector based tank game kind of like battlezone but prettier. It looks sort of like this:


That giant checkerboard is the playing field, you gotta get all those yellow flags, the red tanks and the yellow tanks and some other tanks are trying to shoot you. You get points for killin’ tanks and getting flags, and you have a bunch of gauges that can’t go down or you won’t be able to shoot or you’ll lose.

It’s really simple, it’s hard to see how someone might get good at it. There are a lot of buttons that do things that aren’t super clear. There isn’t much I can say about Spectre, but there is a lot to say about manuals. Manuals aren’t really a thing anymore in video games, at least not paper ones. Almost every game just tells you how to play it now in a way that might not have been very easy or fun to do in old video games.

But it became crystal clear after about 30 seconds of playing Spectre that I was going to need a guide. A guide from spectre town. So I found a manual.

On the manual was a 1-900 number for their hint line, so I started by calling that. The number was out of service. I wonder what happened! Did cybersoft get phreaked? Phone-owned? It’s pretty clear that the manual is going to have to suffice.

So when I said that Spectre was a tank game back there? Total lie. Spectre is about roaming around the battlefields of the cyber-war, capturing flags and shooting cyber-enemies. Everything in the game that I thought was a tank thing was a computer thing. I messed up all the metaphors is I guess what I’m trying to say.

I went back and played a little bit more now that I had rich new metaphors to colour my cyber-war experience.


It didn’t help.

But I can say that knowing what hyperjumps and grenades and mines and flags and Soft I.C.E is helped me think about spectre a little bit with all its cyberwar trappings, and that it’s pretty great that people thought that maybe war in the future would be just like regular tanks stuff but in computers and that if you just drove around fast enough you could just take over everybody’s computer.

Because right now taking over people’s computer is tricking them into clicking on things or pasting things that they shouldn’t click on or paste and then you encrypt all their files and steal their memories unless they can give you enough bitcoins. I don’t think that would be a super fun video game but maybe it would!

Maybe somebody stole all of Cybersoft’s memories for bitcoins. Maybe that’s why their hint line is not running anymore! Maybe they became a real cyberwar target because they got too close to what the real cyberwar is like.





I think it might all be connected.

Super Alfred Chicken

A bird that could not fly
A bird that could not fly

I can still remember the fervor that accompanied the SNES release of Super Alfred Chicken. I remember the seemingly endless lines, the makeshift tent cities, and of course the elaborate Alfred Chicken costumes that captured our hearts while we all waited for this cultural touchstone.

It seems like a different world now, one so far removed from the violence and rhetoric that plague the cruel year of 2016. It was a simpler, happier time, and much of that was squarely on the tiny shoulders* of our hero, Alfred Chicken. Waiting in that gigantic line with other Chickenheads (as fans of Alfred Chicken are globally known) and breathlessly speculating on the game’s release and what it meant for the beloved franchise…these are some of my favourite childhood memories. Thank you, Alfred Chicken.

Alfred Chicken. Mother Teresa. Mahatma Ghandi. Jesus. Different names for the same being. A point of shining purity and light, staving away society’s shadows, if only briefly. Golden clarity to all those who might be lucky enough to steal a glimpse of history made flesh.

It’s only now, in retrospect, that the looming fall was obvious. At the time, no one could believe anything negative about Super Alfred Chicken. How could we? Here was a bird that had united everyone though his love of awkward jumping and being instantly killed by robotic mice. But unfortunately, we eventually found his true love: eating human ankle skin.

At first it was just rumors. Some journalist would hop out of an interview clutching their foot and swearing under their breath. A child would burst into tears and pull up their socks. Super Alfred Chicken would see a sign for Footlocker and mention that he hadn’t eaten in a while. But everything came to light.

The footage of the shootout between Super Alfred Chicken and the Virginia State Police was all over the news for days. School was cancelled on the first day. Flags were half-mast out of respect for the Great Bird…but as the details began to come out, national mourning became national outrage. It wasn’t until Super Alfred Chicken’s basement was dug up that the true horror began.

It’s strange to be confronted with this grisly spectre of the past. How do you write about such a game without mentioning its lurid history? You don’t. You drink for a while and try not to see yourself in the mirror. We all try to forget and let the skin on our ankles heal.


* I’m not sure if chickens have shoulders and I refuse to educate myself on this matter. Please leave this as a fun mystery for me to take to the grave.


Space Ace

Space Ace 2016-08-03 15.32.22

I’m sort of glad that we’re back to visiting these old games. There’s a part of me that feels like we’re digging into this old bin of artifacts left behind by a long-past, at-least-marginally-loved family member. Like a belligerent aunt, I guess. Or, at least, some sort of contemptuous cousin. These dusty (not literally) titles represent lifetimes (I really hope not literally) of treasured memories. I know – from the myriad comments that arrived years after we posted reviews – that my panning of titles people probably spent a lot of time with sometimes hurt their feelings.  At the very least, the amount of time and effort that went into building these games was likely non-trivial. We can only do so much.

Largely what we discover is that our marginally-loved family members were only marginally loved for a reason. They were probably weirdos. Or malcontents with stacks of newspapers all over. And when you get a box of stuff owned by a dead person you don’t care about mostly you don’t have any feelings for the materials within that box. They only serve as a grim reminder that you and all of your shit aren’t long for this world.

Anyway, fuck Space Ace.

I just want to point out that when games like this were released they probably retailed for like $90 Canadian. Or more. And at this time (hello, 1990s) the key demographic for Super Nintendo games was, I think, probably teens and/or young adults. You had to save for a SNES game. Or rent it, I guess. If I’d rented it, I’d have returned it. Space Ace is a game where the guy from DragonQuest and a space genie are fighting over a woman. Honestly, the space genie can have her. This guy’s no ace. It’s not even close.

Space Ace 2016-08-03 15.46.32

Here’s guy one. He’s our Space Ace.

Space Ace 2016-08-03 15.46.34

Here’s guy two. He’s our villain, I guess because he is a different color (spacism was alive and well, I see).

But when you get down to it, guy two is a man flying on a disc machine shooting lasers at guy one. You tell me which of those two guys sounds like a Space Ace to you.

Space Ace 2016-08-03 15.50.43.png

The game itself can be characterized as infuriating. You die when you get hit by anything. You die when you miss a jump (you will miss many jumps). Achieving a game over will put you back at the beginning of the game. It’s a good thing that no one can hear you scream. I “cheated” to get a little deeper and the second level featured mode 6 flying graphics and additional abrupt deaths.

No, thank you.

So, I’d like for you to imagine a 10-year-old boy who fucking loves space waking up on his birthday. He gets home from school and his parents tell him they’ve got a cool gift he’s going to love. It’s Space Ace. And he’s like, “I fucking love space, you guys”. That’s what he says to his parents. He’s crazy about space. And he puts this thing in and dies 5 times in a row in ways that are vexing and/or unfair and/or baffling. He does this for the better part of the week. He gets deep in the game, memorizing every misstep and movement. By the end of his childhood, he can play Space Ace in his sleep. He’s written stories about the titular ace and his adventures. He’s done drawings. By the time he reaches high school he’s moved on to some different games but his bar is low. He ends up working as a records manager at a local government office and dies alone, tragically, from a heart attack at 50 years old. You were his nephew. In his house, after the wake, you see these framed drawings of a man in a space suit and many paperback books about space adventures. You didn’t really visit him much. You say, “man, what a sad guy”. You find a dusty, still-working Super Nintendo in the corner. You’re sure you can sell it for a few bucks. And in the console is this game called Space Ace. “Ha ha… you say. Motherfucker loved space, that’s for sure.”

You play the game for 30 seconds… that’s long enough to die to the point where the game will rank you as a “Space Freeboid” and make you start over. You turn the console off. You look around and realize the impact this game had on his life. The drawings. The paperbacks. You get up and walk out of the house, and you never look back. Your dad sees you on the way out and says, “jeez, you don’t want any keepsakes from your uncle’s place?”

“Nah,” you say. “He’s given me enough”.

Space Ace 2016-08-03 15.31.57.png