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
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Vortex

IN THE FUTURE THERE WILL BE A FUTURE WHERE THERE WILL BE A LONG PATH IN SPACE THAT IS A STRAIGHT LINE. THIS STRAIGHT LINE WILL BE A STRAIGHT LINE FILLED WITH VARIOUS TERRIFYING AND HUMONGOUS SHIPS! THE DEFINITE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH THIS IS TO GET INTO A BIPEDAL MAN-SHIP EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NOTHING TO WALK ON SINCE IT IS IN SPACE! HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED A VIDEO GAME? BECAUSE I THOUGHT I HAD BUT NOW I HAVE! BECAUSE I HADN’T BEFORE! I COULD BE PLAYING ONE ALL OF THE TIME IF THERE WERE MORE!

WHERE ARE ALL OF THE OTHER VIDEO GAMES? SO FAR AS I KNOW THERE IS ONLY ONE VIDEO GAME THAT IS IMPORTANT AND I ALREADY PLAYED IT FOR LIKE 20 MINUTES!

VORTEX!

THERE SHOULD DEFINITELY BE MORE VIDEO GAMES BECAUSE THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH OF THEM!

Twisted Tales of Spike McFang

Wow, this game is insane. It starts with a van with a dinosaur tail driving over a bridge. Then some sheep dudes and a hat dude and an old dude pop out. Then they start talking about all of these places that I suppose exist in this world: Vladamasco (!), Batland (!!), and Ratville (!!!). Then there’s something about zombies taking over the world or something. All right! It’s fucking GO TIME!

Or is it? It isn’t. Despite this, there’s a fair bit of exposition left. Pre-playing exposition. If there’s something excruciating in these older SNES games, it’s making me hit A and making me read a bunch of nonsense before I start playing. Come on, game.

Eventually, though, you get control. Hurray! Testing the buttons reveals a jumping button, and a spinning-and-probably-hitting button! Upon reaching the next screen, an old fairy man (awesome) makes you jump over a bunch of logs to show that you can jump correctly (not awesome). Fifteen logs, in fact. Fifteen! And when that’s done, you have to spin-hit 30 rocks! THIRTY! And then, a hat throwign thing that takes like 10 seconds — FIFTEEN TIMES! This game’s ahead of its time — stupid exposition before gameplay, then stupid tutorials before gameplay? This is Okami, decades before Okami!

Here’s the rub — the game itself seems pretty good. It looks insane, and lovely, and the player control feels tasty. But all of this junk at the beginning does NOT inspire confidence. Am I going to have to follow the poorly-translated (and it IS a poor translation) political machinations of Ratville when I just want to be spin-attacking dudes in the face? Will they slowly introduce new mechanics and make me “practice” them over and over? I think there are levels up — will I need to do that for hours upon hours?

Oops, I spoke too soon — I now have to collect cards, apparently. I guess I’m a magician or something, and they’re “card tricks.” VIDEO GAMES I AM SO MAD AT YOU!

Super Battleship

Yeah, this isn't the game I remember from Grade 3 rainy day recesses.

Video games based on board games lately have been pretty okay. Like, Ticket to Ride, Carcasonne, Catan, even Monopoly basically stay true to the original title and just speed up the irritating bits, like getting/giving money to the bank, sorting through your supplies cards or whatever, lining up square pieces so you can line up more square pieces later, annoying rules conventions, etc. They even let you play online! Can you imagine?

It wasn’t always this way though, young readers. Once upon a time, a game base on a board game needed to offer more than the board game had. Why? Probably three reasons:

a) it wasn’t ‘exciting’ enough to just have a board game.
b) graphics weren’t ‘better than the real thing’
c) there was no added value with online, so what was the point? just play it with a mate in the room using the real board.

So the board games video games would be like this: utter nonsense only based in the most superficial of ways on the original. This is some sort of turn-based strategy game with boats, like Harpoon Lite or something. It also, like many of the turn-based strategy games of the era, probably requires a goddamn manual because it makes precisely zero licks of sense when you boot it up. At one point I even said “what?” out loud, to nobody, in my room, the defeated, empty, flat syllable bouncing off of the barren walls and back into my stupid fucking face.

Battleship isn’t even a very good game to begin with. Is there even skill? I suppose there is, if you believe rock-paper-scissors has skill. You’re trying to make your opponent guess wrong, and trying to guess right, or something. All I know is that a bunch of dumb kids in school would jam all of their pieces in one place and make it real easy for me growing up. Whatever. Boats.

Obligatory 'showing a crappy game in a fail state' image trope that I'm apparently so fond of.

Street Hockey ’95

Ahh, a game about street hockey! Virtually every recess in school was dedicated to the sport, if you had a stick to bring from home (eventually I did). Most of these kids (me included) played actual ice hockey, on a team, at least twice a week (for the real good kids who had skills even more because they were on the “rep team” and not “house league”). And, on top of that, some of us played after school, back at home. That’s crazy! So much hockey! So imagine my excitement! A game based on the street-level, kids-passion version of the sport. Hurray!

OH SHIT WAIT A SECOND. This is some insane nonsense game played with INLINE SKATES and in A SWIMMING POOL where you can TRICK OFF OF THE POOL EDGES. What the hell. Also, you can’t jsut score goals? Or there are more points for certain goals? THIS IS A FUCKING GAME DESIGN MESS. Like, hockey wasn’t insane and exciting enough? They needed to add douchebag characters and insane draconic scoring rules? WELL DONE, WHOEVER MADE THIS. I like how your game says ’95’ but you never made a ’94’ or ’96’ version. Serves you goddamn right.

God. So mad about hockey right now. I think my Canada is showing.

Spider-Man: The Animated Series

Yo, guys, check out Spider-Man. He looks like a juicehead gorilla guido. He looks like snooki-bait in tights. I don’t remember him looking like Ronny from the Jersey Shore on the cartoon, but, you know. Often we forget things about cartoons, glossing over the bad bits in our memories. Maybe this is one of those times.

I also don’t remember the World Trade Center getting exploded in the cartoon, but it’s happening in this game!

Spider-Man: The Animated Series: The Video Game: The Most Offensive Thing To My Sensibilities Ever On SNES: Discounting That One Final Fantasy Game

Soldiers of Fortune

This is definitely a game I would have liked before I had all of the games in the world at my fingertips. I mean, dudes with awesome names and different guns going around and shooting other dudes? Sign a motherfucker up. Sadly, I just don’t have the patience anymore. It’s weird; videogames and I have had a pretty weird relationship for the past little while. It’s like, selection got the best of me, and I got paralyzed, and all I do is play Football Manager, and it’s barely a game — I spend more time doodling and watching TV shows (finished The Wire!) than I do constantly over and over hitting the space bar to continue to the next same-old same-old day. It’s like a rich person with a cook who can make them anything ever, and they taste pretty much everything, and they eventually got to a point of crazy where they will only eat week-old bread with non-hydrogenated margarine on.

So there it is. I am a kung-fu master who’s done so many kungs and fus that I’m over it, and I live in a cabin in northern China making pointy wooden sticks instead of kunging/fuing. I’m sure there’s some way to make myself excited about games again (or, hell, writing again — I am months late on this and haven’t written ANYTHING I haven’t NEEDED to write for ages), but if it’s out there, I’ve yet to find it. In the meantime, just so you know, this game is actually pretty good. I just can’t summon the effort to enjoy it anymore.