Redline F-1 Racer

Real racers redline their speed. It's like freebasing, only with more blood and angles.

Meth. Ice. Bennies. Browns. Crank. Horseheads. Rippers. Uppers. White. Redneck Heroin. L.A. Glass. Albino Poo. Tweak. Crystal. Power Stone. New Mexico Clam Chowder. Fuzzy Illogic. Breakfast of Chumps. Violence Juice. Nose Whiskey. American Brothic. Nasal Douchebaggery. The Red-Eye Flight From Stupid To Despair. Lawnmower Gas. Monkey Ass. Lance Bass. Ritalin For Dummies. Dirty Chemical Sanchez. Punchfuel. Solid Jaundice. Hardy Boys And The Secret Of The Rented Apartment Uptown. Murder Motive. Devil Dust. The Hell’s Angel’s Construction Set. Wakey-Wake And The Sleepycrashes. The Other Gateway Drug. The Other White Meat. The Chemical Bungee Jump.

These are all popular euphemisms for the filthy drug known as speed. Speed is, sadly, big in the racing world, and they’re blatant about it. In Canada, atl east, there’s an all-racing television station called Speedvision. Speedvision! Can you imagine if there were a Weedvision? Heads would roll! And I don’t mean hip-hop heads, and I don’t mean roll L’s! For some reason, this disgusting abomination is allowed to exist, because Canadians don’t know the facts about amphetamines.

Look, I know a lot about speed. I’ve seen Spun, AND two seasons of Breaking Bad. I know it’s bad for you. Speed is so bad that a combination of cocaine and heroin is called SPEEDBALLS. It’s like someone said, “you know, SMACK-COKE or COCAOIN just don’t sound brutal enough for this. I know! Instead of calling it something involving the names of those two awful, addictive drugs, let’s name it after another, even worse drug! And male body parts! Let’s call it ICECOCK!” (I assume at some point later, someone decided speedballs worked better).

I don’t even get the appeal. Cocaine has Patrick Bateman and Scarface, intense crazy dudes with an edge. Weed has Bob Marley, a modern-day philosopher king (or so the crusty hippie at work loves to say). Even fucking heroin has tortured artists like Kurt Cobain. What the fuck does speed have? Corey Feldman?*

Speed kills. It killed Greg Moore. Buddy Holly. Dan Snyder. Left-Eye Lopez. Princess Diana. The thing about speed: as good as it feels, you crash eventually. And it’s never pretty.

*I don’t know if Corey Feldman has ever done speed, so, this isn’t libel, but, you know… look at him.

Realm

Is it a band franchise?

Now I think we can all agree that Treasure is pretty amazing. They made Gunstar Heroes which, to my mind, is one of the best run n’ gun games of its time. It had a bunch of different types of guns, silver suits, tonnes of ridiculous moves, good boss fights. It was, in short, amazing.

Titus published Realm 3 years later, and while it’s probably unfair to throw around words implying plagiarism, I definitely think they took a shot with the same formula. Run-n-gun, a bunch of different weapons, and honestly that’s about as far as I got. First of all, realm is HARD, but not in the “oh I’m sorry I jumped in that pit I’ll try to do better” way, but more in the “oh hey these torches continue to spawn little flame monsters that follow me through the level and if I kill them more come” sort of way instead. Not that fun.

So it may be kind of derivative and not terribly great, but look at the sun breaking through the trees in this screen. Isn’t that it breathtaking?

It's pretty cherry.

Sometimes makes me wonder what we’re all fighting about.

RapJam Volume One

There would be no second volume.

RapJam Volume One is really the only title in the RapJam series. The concept runs thusly: wouldn’t it be awesome if all the most hip-hopular hip-hop artists in America played basketball against one another? And let me tell you, it would be. Did you know that Queen Latifa was a rapper? Did you know she was skinny? I certainly didn’t. But check this action out:

Two people destined for greatness.
Damn you, Everlast!

Remember when rappers were allowed to be egotistical? These days, all we get is Kanye. He tries his best to live up to his forefathers, but in the end he’s just a lost child, sad and alone. Now that I think about it, the mid-90s was really a renaissance for rap in many ways. These days, even rappers don’t want to be rappers. (c.f. popular culture.)

This game celebrates the rap ego. The concept is just a rap battle that kids can take part in. I watched a youtube video where a dude demo’s this game (and complains a bunch — what a douche). He makes it abundantly clear at 48 seconds that he is “NOT picking L.L. Cool J.” however much it may have appeared that way. What’s wrong with L.L, man? I guess he’s not a cool as Everlast? Or maybe he’s not as white.

In the end, this game unites two subjects that seem inseparable in the public eye: basketball and rap. Though it may be racism that conflates the two pursuits, I like to think that they are both equally driven by an individualist outlook.

The man who makes the dunk; the man who is the crunk.

What sport are you playing, America?

Ranma 1/2: Hard Battle

I knew this would be a bad fighting game as soon as I saw that the jump button was X.

The word “Ranma” stirs dusty memories in the abandoned and forgotten halls of my brain.  I remember it, from a time when my friends were into anime and I wasn’t, when the idea of watching Japanese cartoons was new and exciting instead of old and revolting.

I remember weird adolescent sexual hijinx, and the switching of genders, and a giant panda, and weird pervy old men who stole underwear, I think?  And martial arts, sometimes.  I guess.

I remember a card game.

I could go to Wikipedia and look it up, or I could Google the damn thing and surely find millions of results, all positively bursting with information that I have no interest in.  I don’t know if the weird fetishisized fanfiction would be aggravated or diminished by the fact that the characters already switch genders in the actual show; it is not a topic I am interested in pursuing.

What Ranma 1/2 really is to me, honestly, is a pulsing psychic wound, a rift in my very soul, a nexus of shame and denial and self-loathing.  It is not the sole element of this swirling vortex, of course.  It’s only a signpost, or a reminder.  It is an indicator, pointing me inwards towards the dark underside of my geekdom, the side that remembers slouching in chairs on a university campus and watching subtitled Japanese animation on a big screen when I was in high school, and wearing baggy black shirts and baggy black sweaters and baggy black cargo pants and thinking that, if I was having a bad day, in the morning, somehow, I should wear all black and then they would see, and playing Final Fantasy games for over six hours a day, and of reading R. A. Salvatore books and thinking they were actually good and inventing my “own” character with long hair and pointed ears and two weapons who was also a sad ninja, and playing Dungeons and Dragons in my friend’s basement while eating Doritos and drinking liter upon liter of non-diet soda – a marvel that I am still underweight – and arguing about an interpretation of the rules while pushing my long hair back from my greasy forehead, and lying in bed wondering if I’d ever touch a breast.

These things have shaped me, and they are inextricably part of the person I am even as I distance myself from them, but the kind of complete absence of self-awareness and social awareness that they bespoke still disturbs me.  I think that perhaps this is part of what makes someone a nerd or a geek or whatever you want to label them; a lack of awareness of their own identity as it would be perceived from the outside.  A lack of perspective.  A lack of understanding that superficial things often do matter, and aren’t as superficial as you think, and that the depths you see might not be very deep at all.

This is what Ranma reminds me of.

It is not a good fighting game, either.

Rampart

OK, listen.

THIS

PLUS

THIS

EQUALS

Seriously, I don’t know what you’re doing right now. Probably not a lot. I mean, you’re reading this. But here’s what you do. You go find some old arcade cabinet of this game (yeah whatever SNES whatever who cares), two friends you maybe sort of hate a little, and you blow each other the fuck apart. That’s what you do.

I SAID GO, DAMNIT!

Raiden Trad

Things shooting at things.

Among other things, Raiden Trad is an anagram for Dad Trainer. You might think this is nothing but a coincidence, but in the sinister world of SNES games, there’s no such thing as a coincidence: every single part of a game is deliberately designed to frustrate, annoy, and ultimately train people’s dads. Wait no, that’s just this game. Dad Trainer.

Another entry in the “fly your spaceship forward/up while shooting endless bullets as endless bullets are shot at you” genre, Raiden Trad is absolutely—and let me stress this here—absolutely nothing you haven’t seen or played before. How do you review a game you’ve played before again and again? What new things can you say that haven’t already been said? Much like the endless bullets, nearly endless words have been expended on other games exactly like this one. In some cases, my words! My precious and quickly diminishing words!

Speaking of endless bullets, it’s clear that these craft aren’t nearly large enough to be storing this seemingly infinite ammunition, which begs the question: why are we fighting? The population of this world has managed to invent a way to either convert matter into ammo of various types, or it can create said ammunition out of nothingness(!!!). Surely this technology could be adopted to solve the world’s problems? Infinite Jessica Albas…

Pointless pot shots at video game conventions aside, Raiden Trad is the exact kind of video game I used to love when I was younger and vehemently despise now. I can no longer abide the relentless repetitive nature of the twitch-based overhead shooter. All the tiny bullets and explosions and twirling machines blend together into a pulsating blanket of motion that wears on my eyes and makes me sad inside as well as outside.

In the quest to review Every Game Ever, there are some standouts, some great disappointments/hilarious mishaps, and then there’s the rest. Raiden Trad falls calmly into the “rest” category. The controls are a little pokey which makes it hard to dodge the cavalcade of tiny orange bullets, the music is blah, and the graphics of the game are bland and in many cases kind of really (super) boring a lot++.

This is the second last sentence in the article where I often try to sum up the game and my overall opinion of it so then the last sentence can be where I say something funny.

Raiden Trad is also an anagram for A Diner Tard.

Radical Rex

OH SNAP DINOSAURS RUN AMUCK

I thought the word “radical” had just about died out by 1994 outside of those simply trying to be ironic (wait, has that word died?) and mock the 80’s. I guess we could have been on the cusp of phasing it out to the relics of time by this point. Either way, it still makes me think of my parents trying to sound…umm…”cool”, umm…man.

“No, I agree, your last apartment was completely wack.”

“That woman looks like a ho. You should ask her out.”

“Yeah, you’re dad is totally crunk off of wine right now…well, and weed of course.”

Thanks, Dad.

So, despite not having any children myself to make my fleeting youth all the more obvious, I still think I’m aware of which words are properly antiquated and which are, well, fucking retarded to begin with for use in conversation in any era. Words like “cusp”, “fleeting youth”, and “antiquated”, maybe.

Regardless, Beam Software apparently figured we didn’t have enough platformers with dinosaurs on skateboards, belching fire and kicking charred critters into dust. To their credit, they’re probably right, but I can’t help but feeling their execution is lacking. Partly because it is lacking, and partly because of their use of “radical”, which I still can’t get over.

I can see how they tried to cop some bits from Sonic the Hedgehog and inject them into the level design. I mean, it is right in your face. Grab a skateboard, speed through some crazy bends, then crash and start jumping around on foot again like a brain-damaged kangaroo. Unfortunately, the levels are so boring that it does little to help you get through the game without the need of prescription ADHD drugs.

And did I mention that it’s called “Radical Rex”? Fucking hell…

Race Drivin’

Sickenin'. Seriously, this game is awful. There are no redeeming qualities, aside from the animation of watching yourself crash.

G is for gameplay.
G is for good.
G is for graphically competent.
G is for going to actually keep playing this.
G is for gambling on a new, innovative idea.
G is for greativity (which is creativity, spelled more creatively)
G is for gut – the place where you feel it when something’s awesome.
G is for gushing with praise.
G is for “golly, who’d’ve thought this’d be fun?”
G is for “get more Mode 7 up in my face! I can’t get enough!”
G is for G-Spot, something that provides better orgasms (or so says the cover of Cosmo I saw the other day)
G is for “Grandma managed to find a game worth having, what a wonderful Christmas!”

You’ve probably figured out the punchline: this game has NO G. Race Drivin’. They couldn’t even bother to finish the name of the game before pinching this code-loaf.

Q*Bert 3

The word maximalism is very rarely used. So rarely, in fact, that the spell checker is bitching at me to change it. Apparently it’s not in the dictionary or whatever. It’s singularly linked in my brain to this picture that Esquire ran of Takashi Miike awhile back (apparently his name’s not a word either):

Maximalist. MAXIMALIST. maximalist. MAxImAlIsT

Now what I wasn’t aware of before starting this article is that maximalism is apparently a poorly documented artistic movement. Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace have been described as maximalist writers due to their extensive use of reference, digression, and like 100 pages of fucking endnotes that one time. Endnotes, also not a word. You heard it here first. Another lit-wonk called their work hysterical realism, which seems pretty accurate considering that reading enough Wallace could probably make anyone uneasy. The Big Red Son is an essay so jam packed with extra facts and figures about the porn industry that you won’t even look in the mirror after a shower for a week.

This kind of throws a wrench in my whole line of thinking, because there is no way, in good conscience, that I can compare Q*Bert to these giants. Q*Bert  is something, but literary is not that thing. In its original incarnation Q*Bert was a game that involved turning colored squares into other colored squares. There are occasionally snakes. Q*Bert says cuss words when he loses. It’s basically isometric Pac-Man without AI or tight controls or pop culture currency, but I digress.

This update to Q*Bert, which I was going to call maximalist, I am instead going to call a hot mess. It’s like a tech demo for the Super FX chip with Q*Bert pasted on top of it. It’s immensely distracting, possibly seizure-inducing, and severely unpleasant to play. I’ve been entirely unable to suss out the designer’s reason for doing this.

It is important to note that those dodecahedrons? Maybe whatever a 12-sided polygon is? Are spinning in unison while you play

We can probably chalk up the stark minimalism of the original Q*Bert to technical limitations, but how do we account for this? Was this what was going through the creator’s head when they first started putting pixels to screen? Was this their chance, at long last, to make this 16-bit fever dream a reality?

Maybe this is an early 90’s example of web design creep? Did a series of compromises lead to this?

I’m not sure what to believe.

Pushover

Here we are. The last of the P’s.

What better way to pay tribute to an alphabetically sound section than with a game about dominoes? This game represents the final outcome of Pac-Attack‘s first push — a push that resulted in a month and a half full of P’s. And while it had its highs and it had its Pitfalls, it really was a Paladin’s Quest, a PGA Tour. And so… Pushover!

Chapter 1: The Ant in Question

It seems only yesterday that I met the ant that would one day become husband to my daughter, father to my first grandchild, and keeper to my heart-key. In fact, it was only yesterday; yet, to Martin, it seems like eight years. He perceives time at a much faster rate than we do. While it seems to us large people that he moves very quickly, he may actually be stoned out of his mind and looking for a bag of chips. It is for this reason that, having impregnated my daughter’s womb with his semen, the baby only took about four hours to grow into a mammal-insect cross that was, while adorable, equally delicious.

Chapter 2: The Mind Game

Soon after Martin learned that we had eaten his offspring, he had begun to organize his ant friends into a giant mass of flowing bodies. I guess he was angry. The mass of flowing bodies appeared at my door, dressed as a hooker from the eighties. I took her inside and immediately began to tap that ass. Suddenly, the illusion broke! He was exposed! He was the nipple! I made a grab for him, but he slipped through my fingers. He was running for the fire axe I keep mounted to my wall. “No you don’t!”

It was over. He was mine.

As punishment, I put him in a puzzle-environment in which he would knock dominoes into each other for eternity. The eternity part wasn’t hard to do, because I really only had to keep him in there a week (a week is ant-eternity).

Chapter 3: The Uprising

Martin learned fast. Soon he had beaten all the puzzles in the game by picking up dominoes and putting them other places. There was nothing left to do but end him.

Five in the morning. Sun rising. Gun in hand.

Martin tied to a salt-shaker.

It’s gonna be a good day.