Taz-mania

 

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:

THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK  THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK

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.

 

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.

 

X-Zone

SUPER MOUTHWASH
When I first read that I’d be reviewing the SNES game X-Zone, I was pretty excited. Finally, I thought, a game that I’ll enjoy: pornography. Well, as it turns out, X-Zone isn’t porn. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

“Unknown circumstances” are responsible for a malfunction in Compound X’s central bio-computer that controls “X-TRA” (really?), the external threat recognition assault system. Basically what this amounts to is that a bunch of robots are going to try and kill people. If it launches its “global retaliatory strike,” then all life on this planet will be “x-tinguish(ed).” (REALLY?!)

Fiine.

The game begins with you entering the “X-termination zone” (ok, fucking whatever) to activate the bio-computer’s shutdown sequence. So, let’s do it!

Hmm…not sure how to proceed here since X-Zone makes use of the Super Scope and I don’t have a Super Scope. Damn my lack of proper tools! I’ll just follow in the grand journalistic tradition of making up facts to suit my lack of preparation in writing this story. Here we go!

Wow! I didn’t realize the SNES was capable of photorealistic graphics! It’s like there are ACTUAL BIO-COMPUTER DRONES flying out of my computer monitor! Whoa! That was a close one! I need a haircut, but not that bad! Yikes! If these—and I can’t emphasize this enough—incredibly realistic SUPER VISUALS weren’t enough to recommend X-Zone, then the cunningly well-designed sound should! Heck, if I was blind I’d be utterly convinced that it was time to take shelter in my basement from a cloud of laser-firing future machines!

Jumpin’ Jehosaphat! I thought things were intense on the first level of X-Zone, but it was nothing compared to the second level! This is a whole new experience! My exclamation key is getting worn through writing this review! The second level of X-Zone involves some kind of experimental sound wave that makes the game float in front of your eyes in 3D! I don’t understand how this preceeded IMAX by so many years and is so much better?! It literally does not make sense. My ears are ringing from explosions and I can barely keep my hands from shaking as I type this. It was like being in the centre of the greatest futuristic light show in the universe. The big bang was probably junk compared with this.

The third level. You can’t understand it and I feel sorry for you. When you witness the light, you will be at peace. X-Zone is the greatest work of humanity. Our civilization continuing to produce anything after its creation is a foul joke.

Level four. Life is the game, compared to level four.

Level five. It is everything.

World Soccer 94

Take that, opposing team!

World Soccer 94 is the first soccer video game where I’ve had less trouble scoring a goal than I do in real life, so that’s a plus. I’m not great at video games any more (already short attention span destroyed by drug use and testosterone rage-issues, old age, handless) so when I can succeed at something with a reasonable amount of effort it instantly endears me to the game that let me win like I was a particularly dumb child.

While I’ve got all this good will at being allowed to win floating around me, I have to admit that this game doesn’t seem very good. Graphically, it’s on par with drawing a bunch of stick men and moving them around as you roll a marble between them. It doesn’t look good, even considering the 1994 release date of the game. The ambient noise of the crowd watching the game sounds a bit how I’d imagine it would if you drowned a little group of happy robots.

Controlling the little guys is an interesting experience. I found that mashing the button rapidly was an excellent strategy, often ending with me stealing the ball from my confused opponent. Once the ball was in my grasp I had no problems deftly maneuvering my way around the other team—they were powerless to stop me. Well, until I sneezed. But that has nothing to do with the game.

Ultimately this game looks pretty cheap and is really easy, just like your

MOTHER