SOS Sink or Swim

DON'T WORRY A NERD IS HERE

God damn this game to a watery hell. SOS Sink or Swim is the game that almost avoided review by sharing a name with its presumably superior alphabetical predecessor, SOS. It also nearly avoided review when I accidentally refreshed my browser after I’d finished writing it the first time, and even though it SAID it auto-saved, it clearly DIDN’T and even though I work in I.T. I’m too STUPID to save my work, so now I have to review it all over again. The first one was pretty funny, too.

Well, fuck it. Maybe this one will be just as good. It probably won’t, though. Sorry. Sorry about that. You can apply for a refund by clicking the link at the end of the review, assuming I remember to put it in there (and since it doesn’t exist, I probably won’t).

In SOS Sink or Swim you fill the shoes of an underwater nerd who drives a submarine into some collapsing factory in order to save a bunch of incompetent construction workers from drowning in water instead of in booze, the way construction workers normally die. This is interfering with nature, and so of course there are grave consequences. You run around, a bespectacled little so and so, and frantically try to lead the lemming-like workers to safety by pulling levers and flipping switches. I guess this would verge on amusing if the game worked. My copy didn’t, so I’m not really sure. I couldn’t interact with anything in a meaningful way, much like I feel in society among other humans.

Let’s be honest: it’s not like anyone ever bought this game. I’m not convinced it even existed as a real SNES title. I think this is someone’s attempt to make a homebrew game, and they got sort of bored working on it and just put what they’d finished online and called it a day. And you know what? Kudos to them! They’ve accomplished more than the vast majority of us. They made a nerd get out of a submarine and climb up and down ladders, and that’s more than I’ve done on a submarine. My nerd died because I forgot to refill the oxygen tanks, and my construction workers were all irregular chimpanzees I bought really cheap from a zoo in Beijing. Man, that whole operation was a mess.

Anyway, this game sucks but it’s better than the non-existent game I never made. I’d also like to point out I was totally right about this review not being nearly as funny as the first time I wrote it, so here’s your link to get your refund:

YOUR MONEY BACK, NOT A JOKE LINK MAYBE

Run Saber

If only we had some kind of... directive

Run Saber has both running and Sabers. It plays a little bit like if Ninja Gaiden had a life bar, sort of a weird beat-em up with otherwise neat moves. But it really grinds my gears.

There’s about three minutes of combat against what seems to be unarmed dinosaur people. Sure they start chucking molotovs after a little while, but if some spandex-clad dick started chopping up your friends you’d probably start stuffing rags in Colts too.

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that every single piece of science fiction that has strict rules about non-intervention is the most likely to habitually murder and otherwise interfere with alien cultures? It’s like the second anyone talks about some lofty principle of non-intervention they’re essentially guaranteed to cut the first alien they can find. Okay sure, if you accidentally pick up the last of a race of shapeshifting salivore that starts picking off crew members, stun or ice it or send it back. I get you. No, I don’t care if they’re the last of their species. If god didn’t want us to wreck up endangered aliens he wouldn’t have given us lithium crystal.

And I understand if you’re the last of a race of time custodians and there’s really nobody to keep you honest, but it’s probably poor form to continually show bias for a single group of aliens over every other group. Sure, it seems that humans are the only race that aren’t bent on complete assimilation and destruction of every other race in the universe, but give them a couple of centuries and some lithium crystals and then you’ll have to find another underdog planet.

You can fly for way longer without a tail than I thought.

The real problem here is that you can’t actually tell an interesting story without conflict, and that every science fiction story about exploration would play out in about five minutes otherwise. Captain we’ve found an M-class planet. Signs of life? Yep. Go to warp in the opposite direction. Engage. And that would be it, until some alien culture without a set of snappy principles decided to reduce our series of barren asteroids to cinders because we make an awful cup of coffee.

But Run Saber isn’t really about any of that. It’s a far more uplifting story wherein we mess up our own planet, fill the atmosphere with chemicals to fix the planet but instead create a race of mutants and slaughter said mutants on account of some scientist attempting to craft them into an army. Why you would want to conquer a planet after having turned everyone into mutants is beyond me, and why you would want to craft a couple of cyborgs to stop them by performing posthuman pogroms is even weirder. But you get to cut up an F-14 mid flight while unspeakable horrors break free from the chassis and attack you.

So that’s something.

R-Type III: The Third Lightning

R-Type III defies metaphor.

Is it an abusive husband?  Well, yes, except it’s usually sober and really good in bed.

Is it the bad boy you bring home to your parents who just hate him, and he teases you uncontrollably but you can’t help but love him so?

Or is it the Drunken Master, who makes you do the washing and beats the ever-loving crap out of you in exchange for the mystic secrets of Kung Fu?

R-Type III is all of these things and none of them.  It chews up your metaphors for breakfast and spits out rivers of free-flowing gameplay until you screw it up and turn off the taps.  All you manage to extract is a few bite-sized chunks of crunchy, frictive gameplay and it’s all your fault.

BASK IN MY GLORY, BITCH!!

RPM Racing

When I’ve got a hankering for poorly forced acronyms, I look no further than Radical Psycho Machine Racing, or RPM Racing for short.

I see what they did there. It’s like “revolutions per minute”, only radder!

When I’ve got a hankering for weak-ass RC Pro-Am clones, I look no further than Radical Psycho Machine Racing, or RPM Racing for short.

I see what they did there. It’s like RC Pro-Am, only more radder!

When I’ve got a hankering for a sweet-ass sandwich, I look no further than my own damn kitchen, or “MOD Kitchen” for short.

I see what I did there. It’s like that other poorly forced acronym, only even more radder and delicious and nourishing as well!

So whether you want some rad vehicles with alleged mental issues, or some rad alternatives to commonly used abbreviations, or even some rad lunch-time concoctions, we’ve got you covered. Solid.

High…fucking…five.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire

At first, I thought this would be one of those terrible (a relative term, I’m sure) historical simulation games from Japan. It turns out that it’s a porn film! Let’s enjoy!

Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV: Wall of Fire

Screenplay by Michael Heavyhand

Scene 1

Camera fades in on a really hot girl with awesome huge tits. Pan to really hot dude, but not in a gay way. Heterosexual panning motion.

King Nesbit: I was informed recently that you are an awesome lay, Princess Isabel of the neighbouring kingdom of Planzia.

Princess Isabel: I feel that it is necessary to inform you that those rumors are only half true.

King Nesbit: Whatever do you mean, my darling? Is there some treachery afoot?

Pincess Isabel: Nay! It is true that I am an awesome lay during the nighttime, but during the day I get grouchy and sad and don’t like sex at all.

King Nesbit: Dear me! Well, if I can only have you in the night, I will simply have to find some other coochy-coo for the daytime.

Princess Isabel: Seems logical.

Narrator: And so the king made his way to Azrabal, which was about a hundred thousand miles away, and found that princess, too!

Shot of him riding a horse, but with no penetration.

Scene 2

Starwipe.

Princess Gangu: Hello, large man!

King Nesbit: I tire of your games, lass! Bring on the lovemaking!

Princess Gangu: Wait! My father may be home at any minute!

King Nesbit: The King of Azrabal?

Princess Gangu: HE!

King Nesbit: O’ shit!

King of Azrabal: Who’s fucking my daughter?!

King Nesbit: Actually, I’m not.

King of Azrabal: I’ve arrived just in time! It looks like you were about to stick your rod into something lubricated!

King Nesbit: It’s true! It is a Romance of the Three Kingdoms!

Princess Isabel: It was really hot in the car and… oh… hot… old men…. women…. daughters… lubrication…. romance…

King Nesbit: Ladies, commence your dance of love!

Ladies do dance of love

King Nesbit: Excellent.

Narrator: And they had so much sex that the desert dried up and it snowed. Next week: Roman bath houses! Find out how you can get low with Cicero in this special two-parter.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms III

It's like this screen is specifically designed by a team of expert psychologists, UI designers, and professional sadists to make me want to stop playing the game.

Historical strategy games on the SNES, as we have discovered, can all be described in the same way.

But I cannot identify the exact word, the precise adjective, to define that ephemeral quality.

So let’s just look at all of them!

  • Impregnable
  • Indecipherable
  • Unintelligible
  • Nonsensical
  • Unfathomable
  • Impenetrable
  • Inarticulate
  • Incognizable
  • Incoherent
  • Incomprehensible
  • Opaque
  • Tenebrous
  • Perplexing
  • Baffling
  • Bewildering
  • Confounding
  • Confusing
  • Exasperating
  • Inscrutable
  • Enigmatic
  • Sibylline
  • Indiscernable

Surely there are more, but we can agree: the right word probably begins with the suffix in- or un- or similar.

Here’s a thing game designers seemed to have learned, bless their hearts: if you have to compress every single word in every single menu into a meaningless abbreviation by subtracting, seemingly at random, various vowels and occasional consonants, you are probably reaching beyond the reasonable capabilities of your platform!

Romance of the Three Kingdoms II

Try as I might, I can’t seem to come up with a witty way to write something about Romance of the Three Kingdoms. There’s nothing in the game I could point out in a humorous manner. I don’t really feel like turning into one of those things where it’s not really a review but some sort of short story about the exploitative realities of working in an Epic Chinese Novel mine. And I definitely don’t want to actually play it and give it a fair shake because I know that not only will I not understand what the fuck is going on, but that I won’t have the patience for it.

I feel the exact same way about Romance of the Three Kingdoms that everyone else on this site feels when it’s time to review another hockey/baseball/football game.

Not only could I care less about whether or not this game is good, the fact that there’s something like 9 of them means I care even more less (grammar police, arrest this man).

I bet it’s as good as Nobunaga’s Ambition. It looks identical. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on in Nobunaga’s Ambition either.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that everyone who likes Romance of the Three Kingdoms probably knows that they like it. I think the entry point on appreciating this series is pretty much sorted out.

Here’s how I bet this would have gone.

– Long introduction explaining backstory of three kingdoms.
– I hit start, select “campaign”, and pick a campaign.
– I pick a side in the campaign.
– I get another intro/context slideshow.
– I’m greeted with a map and a bunch of wacky shorthand statistics.
– I hit A a bunch, and this issues some commands (or a lack of commands, from a series of pop-up options)
– My turn ends, and I have no idea what’s happened or why I should care.
– I turn it off.

Here, I’ll even play along, let’s find out!

1 for 1
2 for 2
3 for 3
What?
Ugh

I’d say I was pretty close. I definitely turned it off at roughly the same time.

I feel like any time someone says that videogames are bad for kids they should be shown this. Kids fucking love fucking numbers.

Roger Clemens MVP Baseball

When life hands you Roger Clemens MVP Baseball, you make Roger Clemenaide.

…and here I was thinking how much I missed playing poor digital representations of my least favourite sport. Phew! Thanks, Roger Clemens MVP Baseball. I came perilously close to enjoying life!

This is another baseball game. Another baseball game. I can’t even begin to describe how uninterested I am in this game. Remember that scene in that Indiana Jones movie where he (Indiana Jones, probably) swaps a bag of sand (or whatever) for some relic? If I was him and I found out that relic was Roger Clemens MVP Baseball, I would just knock it to the ground and then when I saw that giant boulder rolling toward me I would put my head in front of it. My last thought as my skull and brain were crushed into pulpy bits? “Well, at least I don’t have to play another baseball game.”

Guys, I wish I could review this game for you. I wish I could play it and talk about its important points, its flaws, its relevancy, its Roger Clemensness. But I can’t. In the same way a dog likely can’t understand what it means to be audited (the tax kind, not the Scientology kind; I have it on good authority dogs find the latter insulting to their intelligence), I can’t understand why anyone would willingly play a video game based on, around, or near baseball.

I can’t even play this game for more than a few seconds before all my brain functions start to close down even further (they’re pretty closed down) and I start weeping 15% more blood than usual. My will to live trickles out of my body, and I contemplate utter oblivion as my ability to feel disappears.

When does the numb start to get comfortable?

Rocky Rodent

**Okay, so embarrassingly I managed to hit the wrong key to take all of the screens for this game, but I’m going to make this review extra super descriptive to make up for it, promise.

This game is a work of mad genius, and one of the weirdest depictions of Italian-America that can be found. Which makes sense, on account of it being a Japanese game. It uses Little Italy less as a context than as a collage of stereotypes and setpieces. This game, which in Japan was called Nitro Punks: Might Heads, plays like a platformer informed by the collected works of Martin Scorsese combined with all of Rocky but without any of the boxing, spousal abuse, or cuss words.

You are Rocky Rodent, a self described (I think he’s just an egomaniac, but it can’t be proven) world famous dine and dasher who finds himself at the end of his rope when cornered by the owner of the restaurant he recently stole from. The plot thickens when it’s discovered that Rocky inadvertently ate said owner’s protection money. Another restaurant owner overhears the altercation and confesses that his daughter has been stolen by the Mafia in a similar extortion related beef. You, Rocky, are to rescue said daughter in exchange for a free meal. This is a nice touch as it neatly sidesteps any questions of inter-species relationships, which is remarkably sensitive for a game that feels as though it is constantly saying ‘fuhgeddaboudit’ in garbled double-dribble speak.

Rocky must free-run through the city, past  unusual obstacles (hopping soup cans, angry motorists, even weirder things) while collecting discarded food items (I had no idea there were so many flans in new york) in effort to save a daughter for a free meal. This sounds like a tremendous amount of effort, but you aren’t alone. You will be aided on your quest by a variety of hair-care products which will grant an otherwise hideously balding rodent unusual powers to go with his implausible coifs. I got one that allowed me to stick my head in the ceiling and flip up to the platforms above.

There is nothing like Rocky Rodent. If you have never played an animal-themed speed platformer before, make this the one you play.

Rocko’s Modern Life: Spunky’s Dangerous Day

Rocko’s Modern Life was a cartoon whose presence I merely tolerated. The 4 o’clock Ninja Turtles slot had long since been dissolved and non-commercial television had become the sole bastion of after-school cartooning. I was completely at their programming mercy – it was either the news, or them, and by extension, Rocko’s Modern Life. But watch it I did – and while I didn’t outright despise it, it certainly did nothing to raise my heart rate, or stifle my yawning.

This was probably the point, but the sheer mundanity that underscores Rocko’s life filled me with existential terror. It was depressing to observe the mediocrity of Rocko’s life and that of his friends. His best friend Heffer was an air-wasting dole bludger.

GETAJOBGETAJOBGETAJOB!!!

His friend Filburt was a socially-stunted loser. Rocko was the most responsible out of the lot of them and even he operated at the bare minimum. Probably mission accomplished, as far as the show’s creators were concerned, who no doubt sought to make pointed observations on the mediocrity of modern life through the medium of cartoon. But that doesn’t make the show any more enjoyable. I mean, I can appreciate how others could like it, but I would rather escape my mundane life than study it.

Videogame titles don’t get much more suspect than this.

But none of this compares to the horror that is the videogame adaptation. The entire game is an escort mission. You are Rocko, and you must walk your dog Spunky through four unremarkable levels – featuring none of the warped architecture that characterised the cartoon – clearing mundane articles from his path, and punching/kicking enemies that respawn every time you go back to find your stupid dog.  There’s a word for that: annoying.

From where I’m sitting, there’s only one clear positive outcome of this game’s existence:

Watching a pelican get punched in the face.

Take THAT, Pelican!