Super Scope 6

They called it Super Scope 6, not because it was the sixth iteration of a series, but because it had six games or, more accurately, six game modes. I won’t list them all because they’re silly. They split into two primary categories: LazerBlazer, in which one shoots at aliens who fly menacingly in front of the screen like those last reluctant cheerios in my breakfast cereal, and Blastris, in which Nintendo explores the less violent portion of the light gun spectrum. I will now attempt to convey the grandly magnificent experience that is playing such a rampantly amazing title. I will share few factual details, as we have websites like The Wikipedia for that. I will, instead, dazzle you with metaphors and similes constructed in such a way as to create, in your mind, the feeling of playing Super Scope 6.

LazerBlazer

I am a baby. I turn effortlessly in my mother’s womb. Suddenly, I realize that we’re not alone. There is evil approaching. I bang on the walls of my cage. The captain comes. He tells me that the aliens are coming, and that everyone that they thought would help them isn’t going to help them anymore. It looks like it’s up to me. “Devils!” I shout as I man my turret. I am hungry like a cannibal with naught but children on which to feast. I blaze my lazer up with my lighter. Bam bam! But my lazer is a piece of orange dog shit. Instead of light, the thing fires big gobs of yellow jell-o at my foes! Sin! I am dying for a good kill and these jell-o gobs are too slow to hit anything. Then I remember what I was taught at the academy. I begin to shoot not where the alien is, but where it will be. My gobs of jell-o hit home! I am a slug on a lovely, tasty log. I munch and munch. Yum yum. But now I am like a turtle in a shell whose shell is being shot at by cannons the size of mountains. I cannot sustain this barrage! Dying, I am an old man who dies.

All babies are trained for war.

Blastris

This mode wouldn’t work for me, and thus I am armed only with imagination and luck for my next piece. I have been told only that this mode involves some sort of Tetris clone that one plays with a light gun. I will clear the stage and then begin.

I am a Russian man in the year 4000, surrounded by the crumbling ruins of mankind. I must be kind to the toppling nation before me. I must ease its demise with organization. “Not one piece!” I yell. But there’s more: “Not one piece of Russia will be wasted! Each will fill up holes in the earth, so that, one day, my kind will once again walk on a flat surface, and not have to live underground like rats in the sewers!” And I begin to fire my cannon at the tumbling structures. Somehow, this makes them flip around, I guess, and then they go into their respective holes. I am a champion! Nothing can stop me. Except… MOLES!! And they’re everywhere. Moles at my feet. I focus my shots on them now, to save my own hide. And civilization collapses because of my selfishness. The needs of one are put before the many. Oh dang.

Advertisements

Super Bomberman

It’s rare to come across a video game concept that can stand up as well over the years as that which backs the Bomberman series. I’m not saying that the entire series has been a paradigm of quality—just look at Bomberman: Act Zero for the Xbox 360 and try not to cry in your cereal. The ones that do stand out, though, can be just as fun (and frustrating) for today’s audiences as they were for those who first played them ten, twenty, or even almost thirty years ago.

Now, you might have a tendency to think that I’m just some aging gamer who loves to relive the nostalgia of games from the 80’s and 90’s. If this is the case, then you obviously haven’t been paying much attention to this site. I hated most older games, and looking back, I probably hate them even more. Unlike some people, I can’t reminisce fondly about a game that I had found so frustrating as to actually cause me to throw my controller in anger. I mean, if I threw my controller, arguably I was fairly pissed. Chances are, I was also no older than 10 at the time, so I was probably liable to throw a tantrum at just the thought of having to eat green beans for dinner when my mom clearly said I could have pizza.

That being said, I’ve had some time to grow, and have become somewhat more patient and understanding over the years. Playing some of the older “classics” again without needing to go into a blind rage and potentially damage personal property, I’ve been able to better appreciate what had originally drawn audiences to them. I still probably won’t ever pull myself to finish the original Super Mario Bros. though, but at the same time, I had a blast playing through Super Mario Bros. 3 in its entirety for the first time, 15 years after its initial release.

Bomberman is one of those games that I absolutely hated to play, but have grown to love over the years. The basic premise of nearly every game in the series is fairly simple: move your little Bomberman around a 2D grid, planting bombs in order to clear various obstacles around the way and take out the various enemies running around the screen. Each bomb will detonate after a few seconds, sending out an explosion of flames across a given number of spaces horizontally and vertically, but not diagonally (pretty sneaky, sis…). Some obstacles will reveal a power-up when destroyed that you can pick up, with effects such as increasing the number of spaces spanned by an explosion or allowing you to plant additional bombs at once.

What really gets you at first is just how easy it is to die. And you will die. A lot.

Touch an enemy? Dead.

Barely touch the tail end of a bomb explosion? Still dead.

Getting trapped in a corner by a bomb!? Ha ha, DEAD!

Trapping your own dumb self in a corner…with one of your own bombs!? YOU BET YOUR SORRY ASS YOU’RE DEAD!!

That’s what got me for a while when I first played the game. It’s one thing if you simply die in a game, but when you’re locked in a corner and helpless, those three seconds you’re waiting for the final detonation, while your so-called “friend” who planted the damn thing laughs maniacally to your side, can tear away the final shred of self restraint you have left in your body before you explode in a fit of rage and swear that you two will never be friends again…EVER.

Realistically, it doesn’t take too long to get used to playing, as the game itself is fairly simple. The “normal” game mode will get a bit repetitive, but multiplayer battles with a handful of friends is where the series really shines. Having those moments where you manage to get the best of your opponents, even if it’s a short-lived victory, can make things altogether more entertaining.

Super Bases Loaded 2

Honestly, as if having to review an inordinate number racing titles was enough, it seems baseball has been getting a bit jealous recently and is trying its damnedest to top the former category in the list of genres of SNES games that I’m absolutely sick of seeing. For some stupid reason, I tried to estimate the total percentage of titles that are baseball related the other day at a party, but trying to engage in rational thought after six tequila shots and several beers, I apparently divided by zero, mathed all over myself, and passed out in the front yard with only one shoe on and a slide ruler in my pants.

Super Bases Loaded 2 continues the franchise with more teams than its predecessor, although the number of bases and balls unfortunately remains the same. For my first game, I picked the Los Angeles Cyclops for my team, while the CPU controlled an Atlanta team under the banner of what appeared to be Sloth from The Goonies, although to my disappointment, everyone on the field looked more like normal people in baseball uniforms. The controls are somewhat easy to figure out, but three home runs for the computer team in a single inning managed to solidify my loss, with a final score well into the double digits against my team’s solid zero, something that I should have probably expected considering I picked a team whose mascot has no depth perception.

One thing of note is that on top of the standard options of playing against the computer or another person, you can also choose to “watch” a game played by two computer players. I mean, if there’s one thing I’m looking for in a video game, it’s the option to not actually play the thing. Especially when we’re talking about something as fun to watch as a baseball game. Brilliant stuff.

In conclusion, Super Bases Loaded 2 is a baseball game for the Super Nintendo, and drinking and math can lead to disaster, embarrassment, and potential physical harm to yourself and others. Stay in school, and don’t do drugs.

Stargate

Stargate wasn’t a “great” movie by any means. It did manage to spawn a cable TV series that succeeded in exploiting the franchise far more than what was ever accomplished by the movie, even years beyond the point at which it ran the whole damn thing into the ground. From there, we’ve seen two more spin-off series, a couple failed video game attempts, one not-so-failed (but not-so-successful) video game attempt, and a handful of made-for-TV movies.

Movies…

…made for TV…

…based off a TV show…

…which was based off a movie.

Just…just…okay now…

Like many other movies, the release of Stargate was also not without its lovely cross-media advertising. Like many other video games based on movies, Stargate for the Super Nintendo also sucks. In this wacky adventure, you control Colonel Kurt Russell as he hunts down varying numbers of miscellaneous items, fulfilling random scavenger hunts for others and generally risking his life amidst the dangers of the alien desert while everyone else simply loafs about.

You do get some laughably poor dialog which sometimes has a fleeting connection to the movie’s plot. When compared to the actual game itself, this is somewhat of a plus.

Space Megaforce

Space Megaforce
I seriously feel as if this might be a few baby steps away from staring at static and imagining it's a blowjob.

Video game nerds, not entirely unlike music or film or sports or whatever else nerds, are not without affectation. Some have more than others: the ones who unabashedly like “low” forms, like titty-filled JRPGs and generi-schlock FPSes, or are more interested in a particular title than the medium (WoW geeks, Call of Duty/GTA/Halo etc. fanatics), are often the least guilty of this, in the same sense that someone who lists The Matrix Reloaded as a favourite film is probably a lot more honest to themselves than someone who considers a typical laundry list of “important” films their favourites (keep in mind, though, that the displayed sophistication of that affectation can run the spectrum, from “I heard Citizen Kane is good so I like that because I like smart movies” to “my favourite films are those that predate and perhaps began the New Wave movements in their respective countries such as the Czechoslovakian O něčem jiném or the French Bob le flambeur). This isn’t to say that Bob le flambeur and O něčem jiném are unlikeable movies by any stretch: I’ve seen neither of them, but I know (of, Internet-wise) someone who has a very close place in his heart for the latter (side note: I don’t know if this is “a thing” but it seems that foreign language movies only have the first word capitalized in their names. Is this a normal thing? Is it only English names That Are So Important That Each Word Requires The Gravitas Of A Capital Letter?).

The thing is, some games and even genres get labeled as “important” and “relevant” and therefore a lot of people front like they like them a lot more than they actually do. Shadow of the Colossus is a great example. It’s insane how many people call this their Favourite Game Ever (the name of my new film) because it did a few things that weren’t really popular to do in games. All of the battles were boss battles! They were pretty well-made! There’s a story thing that surprises you! Here’s the thing: people blow loads about this game all over the Internet. It is one of the sacred-est cows in the Video Game World. And not in the “this is a ‘safe’ sacred cow to lambaste” kind of way, like the Final Fantasy series; it’s in a “we who know best deem this the best” kind of way. But really, there’s a lot of shit in this game that isn’t good. Riding around on the horse can be confusing, and it can be a pain in the ass to control. The story isn’t that goddamn innovative (although, yeah, I applaud the developers for, you know, doing a thing with a story, but this is akin to buying a Corvette for a four-year-old who just learned to stop using diapers). The game’s pretty at times, but at others, it’s kind of — yeah, I’m saying this — ugly.

That’s affectation for you. For all but the absolute least pretentious, Top Favourite Whatevers (script forthcoming) is a list made not to service the media that is on the list so much as it is to service the image of the maker of that list. By putting Shadow at the top of my fave video games list, I make it clear that I like art. By putting Earthbound at the top of my list, I show that I value honesty. I put Space Megaforce (although if I were to put this on a list I’d probably also be one of those folks who calls it by it’s “real” name, Super Aleste) at the top of my list, I show that I care enough about video games to really dig in and find out about things you don’t know about. I put Super Aleste not because it should be my favourite, but because I am representing myself as an obscurist. I want you to be aware that I know a lot of games and you don’t and some of the games I know and you don’t are actually pretty good and you’re missing out and my life is more full of wonder than yours because I Am A Renaissance Man (the studios refuse to pick this one up). It makes the games feel better, too, which is the purpose of games (that is, to make you feel good while playing: if it weren’t, it wouldn’t be entertainment, probably), if you don’t feel a tinge of guilt while playing them; that is to say, if you know that Shadow has some it-factor that makes it relevant you won’t feel as sheepish about playing it as you might, say, Just Cause 2. I played that recently, and I felt like I was stupid for playing it, because it had no redeeming qualities beyond being kind of fun and making me laugh a lot. Well, you know what? The time I spent playing that I think I still had a better time than the time I spent playing Shadow despite its clear “artistically irrelevant” handicap.

Don’t mistake this for some sort of Anti-Intellectual Kneejerk Reaction (Jenny McCarthy will be playing the lead role of Sarah Palin in this flick, if my agent actually gets it made like I hope) and don’t mistake it for an Extra-Pretentious I Hate What “Sheep” Love Gambit (starring Taylor Kitsch reprising his role as Gambit (fun fact: to find out that someone named Taylor Kitsch played Gambit in an X-Men movie, I had to go to a Wikipedia article called “Gambit in other media,” which was its own goddamn page)). I’m just trying to be goddamn honest, here. From one pretentious game nerd to another (that is, me, and you, the reader), I’m just trying to be honest. I’m not immune to this. I used to say my favourite genre was the shmup. I loved them, to be sure, but it was affected. I started playing every shmup in the same way that I started drinking whiskey; not appreciating them at first, and their differences, and finding them difficult to swallow (ha), but developing an appreciation over time.

That’s the real problem: we, as game nerds, are too embarrassed by our pretension to call it what it is. We don’t have two separate lists, one for the games we like the most, and one for the games we appreciate most. I like Just Cause 2, but I appreciate Shadow of the Colossus. I like Tetris 2 but I appreciate Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. I like Hackers but I appreciate Loves of a Blonde (I know, I am kind of focused on Czech new wave here). It’s like we can’t decide if enjoyment or relevance is more important, so we sandwich the two together and directly compare them to each other, but it’s impossible. It’s like comparing apples to Jackson Pollock paintings.

I know this hasn’t been about Space Megaforce, but, I promise you, it kind of is. Among a certain type of video game nerd, this game is a certain kind of Shadow of the Colossus (although that perhaps does this game too great a favour). And, yeah, for a shooter it’s kind of cool. All sorts of candy-coloured shit is going on all over the screen and you can get some neat powerups or whatever. But (and I don’t mean to get too nihilistic or existentialistic or whatever the fuck is the right word here) what’s the point? Big upping this game is just big upping yourself. It places the self above the medium. And that’s fucked up.

Space Invaders: The Original Game

Space Invaders: The Original Game is exactly what the title says—an almost exact recreation of the original Space Invaders arcade game. No fancy gimmicks. No crazy AI. No absurdly written, tacked-on story line about a cold-as-ice space marine sent as the Earth’s last stand against the alien threat. Just the classic, 1978 action of fending off waves upon waves of space bugs as they slowly descend upon the planet surface in a zig-zag fashion, with only a laser cannon and your cat-like reflexes to assist you.

Dick move.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. Space Invaders was indeed an amazing and revolutionary game when it originally came out, and still remains to this day as one of the greatest video games of all time. Over the years, the game has managed to embed itself almost universally in our popular culture, a feat that not many video games can claim. It would be difficult to find someone of just about any age today that doesn’t recognize the iconic alien creatures or the rhythmic, low-frequency pulses emitted as the invaders descend upon your lone ship. Space Invaders and its simple yet addictive stylings helped pave the way for the entire video game industry to reach the state where it is today.

You might think that now is where I would start to delve into the counter-point, where I begin to talk about how Space Invaders would quickly get left in the dust by the bigger and better games to come out over the later years as the capabilities of computers, arcade machines, and home consoles improved, but that really isn’t the case. While it’s true that many games have surpassed the bar set by Space Invaders, we’ve also had to deal with a bevy of horribly punishing and cheap platformers, half-assed merchandising tie-ins, clones of clones of clones of some random game from the 1980’s that no one knows about any more, and E.T. for the Atari 2600. You can even find a plethora of examples of completely awful games for the Super Nintendo on this site alone!

Further still, we have seen the target audience of video games make a shift over the years, from games with simple mechanics that one could pick up on somewhat easily using only two buttons and a directional pad, to more in-depth titles using significantly more complicated controls, dominated by angry 12-year-old boys screaming into Xbox 360 headsets with some of the most racist, sexist, and obscene language one could imagine. Much of this has started to come full-circle though, with companies like PopCap a handful of mobile phone developers making a decent profit on much more simple and accessible games that have arguably reached a larger fanbase than even some of the most popular, big-budget titles today.

But still, it’s kind of annoying that all we get is a fairly simple copy of some old arcade game Taito had lying around in its back catalog.

Capcom’s Soccer Shootout

Do…do you feel it? In the air? It’s nearly here…

IT’S WORLD CUP FEVER, BABY!

And what better way to celebrate the upcoming tournament with a retrospective look at Capcom’s Soccer Shootout for the Super Nintendo?

Wait…no, don’t answer that.

Soccer Shootout (or, as it is known in Europe, umm…also Soccer Shootout) lets you and up to four other players compete as one of 12 international teams in an effort to kick a ball into the other team’s goal more times than they manage to kick the ball into your own goal. It may sound easy, but keep in mind that you’re also not allowed to use your hands. This frustrated the hell out of me at first, but it turns out that this rule doesn’t apply when you’re playing a video-game version and not the real thing.

MOVING ON…

I don’t really have much soccer video game experience with which to compare this to, so I’ll leave you with these thoughts: while Capcom’s Soccer Shootout is by and far a better soccer game than this chicken burrito I had for lunch, the chicken burrito was much more delicious and filling. Despite having completed the burrito in less than ten minutes, I can almost guarantee I will purchase another in the near future as I have done so in the past, perhaps many more times over the upcoming years. In all, the chicken burrito has far more accessible controls, a much more widespread appeal, and tastes multitudes better than Capcom’s Soccer Shootout.