These days, to make a game about pandas is somewhat risky. There are various reasons behind this. Though pandas are still a large financial draw, they are declining in popularity and have been since the late nineties. It could be because people have become somewhat jaded by the facade of pandas. Are they, one would ask, cute and cuddly, or are they the bears who I shoot for sport in my local dump? They cannot be both. The second, possibly more interesting reason is that pandas appeal to a younger demographic. Hell, I remember when I was a young boy and went to kindergarten with a panda lunch box. All the other boys thought I was so cool, until I opened up the lunch box and they realized that I was vegan. Being vegan, in those days, meant it was somewhat hypocritical to like pandas. Sure, pandas eat bamboo and everything, but are they really vegan friendly?

Many people felt that pandas were corrupting nice young boys with their racial slurs and their glorified violence. When my classmates saw that I was, ostensibly, a pussy, they abandoned me for the more manly boys, who would talk all day about the numerous subtleties of the word “boobs.” Soon I, like many boys, gave up their love for pandas. It probably happened when I turned ten. It was then that I realized that the expectations of manhood that pandas so willingly propagate were simply unrealistic. I was like a girl in a Judy Bloom novel, except that instead of successfully integrating into society, I became a revolutionary. I silent revolutionary, but a revolutionary all the same. I tore up all my posters of pandas, cancelled my subscription to Panda Welfare Magazine, and started pumping iron. Soon, I was a successful businessman with several children. I look back on it now and realize that pandas were holding me back, keeping me from fulfilling my potential, from progressing, from evolving. So I changed.

And now, when I play games like WWF Raw, a game centred upon a panda named Mick who must collect as much raw bamboo as his little tummy-pouch can carry, I can’t help but feel a very substantial amount of cognitive dissonance. Yes, I can still “have fun” with the game, but never again with the wide-eyed wonder that accompanied my childhood experiences. There is, thus, no nostalgic value to games involving pandas, at least for me. Probably because I have too many bamboo shoots up my ass, though.

Wolverine: Adamantium Rage

A huge jacked-man.

Wolverine: Adamantium Rage features a huge jacked-man who gets turned into a small furry critter that, according to Wikipedia, mates with two to three females per lifetime in a rather monogamous fashion. Now, to human beings like ourselves, that may seem somewhat excessive, but one look at a wolverine will make you realize that that little dude is really holding himself back with his two-babe limit. Honestly, he could probably get more  ladies than a cowboy covered in mansicle powder. Like the woodland animal, the huge jacked-man becomes rather spiteful at times and is known to rather fly off the handle.

For example, the premise for this game seems to be that Wolverine is rather frustrated with his new personal computer. So frustrated, in fact, that he punches it and then punches everything else.

And that constitutes the entire back story. How great is that?

His rage is so great, that he becomes uncontrollable, as is the case with many side-scrolling, punching, kicking goofballs. To compensate for this, the developers have graciously given him a regenerating healthbar that allows him to be whacked around pretty good before he decides to stop being whacked around and just die. It begins at one hundred percent, about three to five percent being subtracted for every misstep and bullet taken by the faithful woodland creature. The one thing it can’t help you with is getting stuck in holes. I got stuck in quite a few holes. If you fall down an elevator shaft, there doesn’t appear to be any way to get the elevator to actually come down to get you. The elevators in Wolverine’s home seem to be controlled exclusively by entering them and then crouching. But no matter, I just restarted the dang game.

Despite it playing a bit fast and loose with the controls and the strangely easy enemies, this game is not so bad. I might venture to say the time it took to develop is made worthwhile by it’s theme music.

Check it out: I’m gonna rap to it.


He’s a sexy commando

He punches you

He don’t give a shit like Brando


He’s a punching machine

He even punches doors open

See what I mean?

He’s a cute little animal

Not a hungry cannibal

Cheesed-off hero

Sayin’ ‘did you real the manual?’

No I didn’t

‘Cause I ain’t in it to win it

But I am curious as to what they put in it.

Perhaps they detailed how to jump real high

Or how to get the guy to eat a meat-pie

On the fly.

It was probably pretty minimal

Just like how they apparently put the caramel

Into the Caramilk bar

I’ve got it figured so far:

They mold the chocolate into the shape of a bar

But then they leave a space in

And then spray some yummy taste in

And close it, sell it, and let the billions roll in.

But anyway,

It’s just another friday

Wolverine on the mic: ‘I did it my way’

Well thanks, Jack, but I was gonna tell them

About that elevator shaft I fell in.”

Top Gear 2

Top Gear 2. Well, I guess I’ll start with the basics. This is a Super Nintendo game, which usually means it’s either amazing or a canned soup alternative. Not that I don’t like canned soup, I just don’t want to write reviews about it. Thankfully, this game isn’t canned soup. It’s more like asparagus. Now, asparagus isn’t bad. By many accounts it’s quite good. But it’s just that: asparagus. It doesn’t do anything unexpected or innovate in any real way. It just does it’s funny little thing and does it well.

With asparagus, it’s just a matter of heating it up and eating it. There’s no mambo jambo with saucepans or colourful napkins. No. Just stick that bad boy in the oven, turn it up all the way, and sit back. Blam: simplicity. Blam: food. So too with Top Gear 2. I press the go button and then the go button a couple more times, and then it puts me in a car and I can drive around a track. Well, that’s good enough for me. I wasn’t expecting anything more, Top Gear 2, so you have earned yourself a place upon my gaming spread, my games-as-food metaphor table.

So, you drive around a track, and as you do so, the vehicles you drive by become more and more detailed and larger and larger until you pass them, and then the game ceases to render those vehicles. That means you’re winning. And your driver never hesitates to rub it in your opponents faces. A speech bubble comes out of his head and he says things like, “Smell that, you good-for-nothing!” and, “Taste the colours that are present in my fumes!” and, “Hear your own screams of agony!” He’s a very sensual man — meaning he uses sensory information as a means to taunt opponents (Smell, taste and hearing, to be most accurate).

I find this offensive and tasteless. Much like the dirt that he demands that I eat.


All said, the asparagus was stringy. My significant other says I don’t know how to cook it. Well shucks to her!

As for this game, well, it’s pretty much just driving around a track. And that’s cool. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t make me grab my groin with either anger or pleasure. What it does do, though, is allow you to change your controls. I’m not sure if that offends me or placates me. Either way, it’s nothing short of unprecedented for SNES game. So, good on these guys. These gremlin, gremlin guys.

Super Solitaire

“Solitaire, huh?” said Private Witherspoon, “Sounds dangerous.”

“Oh? It may be,” said his commanding officer, Grumbles, “I’m not sure.”

Witherspoon glared out of the window and thought of pianos and Prague. He liked things that started with the letter P. He liked pickles, too. But he didn’t like cards. All those faces glaring up at him. They were all dead. Jacks, kings, queens. All of them staring at him, dead. Dead. It reminded him of the shit. It made his head go all fuzzy and his bowels run in reverse. The shit.

It had been four days since he had been in  the shit. It was his cousin’s birthday, and they were celebrating with a joy ride through Taliban territory. They were hammered. At the time, it seemed like fun. But in retrospect, it was probably a stupid-ass idea. His cousin kept saying things like, “We’re in the shit, now!” and stuff. And Witherspoon kept on ignoring him. The shit. What a dumb-dumb.

Suddenly, their car vanished. Vaporized by lasers. I can tell you, it didn’t end well.

And now there was Witherspoon. Going on another mission. What a dumb dumb.

At, oh, eight hundred hours, Witherspoon sat down with some crunchy crackers and a block of old cheddar and some cards. One deck, to be precise. The military all crowded around. Anxious for him. Whispering prayers under their breath and fingering themselves through their pantaloons.

“Klondike,” he said, and the dealer dealt a pile of cards into specific rows. Then Witherspoon sorted them into more piles and piled them on top of one another in order. “Again,” he quavered.

The dead. They were looking at him. He looked away.

There was nothing to be done for them. Rigor mortis had long since set in.

This time it wasn’t as easy. He couldn’t get an ace out from behind its own two. Eventually he jumped it to a three, but not before he had stabbed a knife into his leg in frustration.


This time, he had no hope. The cards just weren’t falling right. It wasn’t his fault, but he took it hard.

“It’s over.”

Everyone reached for their pistols. A gotterdammerung. That was what was needed. One bullet for each man.

“I should have played alone,” said Witherspoon. “I shouldn’t have brought you all into this.” His was holding his pistol to his head.

“It’s okay,” said the crowd. “It’s okay.”

Spindizzy Worlds

There is a glass on the table. In the glass is a blue liquid. Where I come from, people drink this liquid to improve their speech patterns. As you can tell, I have gorged myself on its juices many a time. If you drink from it, I cannot be held responsible for the consequences. If you do not drink from it, I actually might get a bit upset. But never mind that now. Under the glass is a roll of parchment. The parchment is stained blue; I forgot a coaster. Interestingly, the parchment’s syntax and grammar have only been improved by this mishap. It now reads: “The successful manipulation of a topwise spinning article of physical matter will allow for ultimate transcendental mood-swings.” So, there’s that.

Oh, I forgot. What I really came to tell you about was the worlds of spin. First, let me explain that all worlds spin. Some worlds, however, spin harder than others. These worlds are called spindizzy worlds. Earth spins at about 1,038 miles per hour at the equator, relative to the sun. These spindizzy worlds spin at about eight times that speed. What’s really interesting is that the inhabitance of these worlds experience massive centripetal force and must wear very heavy boots if they want to stay on the ground. Some choose to take another route, however. And that’s where you come in. Turns out Einstein was wrong about special relativity. Turns out if you spin really really fast, light ends up traveling at the speed of sound, at least for you. Essentially this breaks space-time completely, and you enter an alternate universe.

Oh, I forgot. I’m actually talking about a Super Nintendo game. Oh, shit, I’m so high on that blue shit! Do you have any table salt? That brings me right down. Yeah. Table salt.

Uncle Owen! This one's got a bad motivator! Look!

Okay, so, Spindizzy Worlds for the SNES… kinda like that Sonic game. Got that whole 3/4 isometric stuff going on. Also got that thing where up isn’t up: it’s up and to the right. Keep that in mind. Dead frustrating game though. Odd mechanics. Like, one tried to fix my car, but he was so odd that I had to buy a new car. Odd mechanics.

Anyway, if collecting gems is your bag, and if your bag is full of gems, you might like this wonderfully frustrating game. If you’re like me, you might get bored. Then again, if you’re like me, you play these games for the nostalgia factor anyway, so beans!

Finally, I don’t have any answers for you. Ask a mobile phones expert, not me.

Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare

A man and another man sit across from one another in a restaurant booth. The red pleather squeaks as one — the balder of the two — shifts in his seat, uncomfortable.

“Marty, what’s going on?” says the other, calmer, man. He is probably a serial rapist.

“I had a dream last night…” Marty doesn’t know how to continue.

The serial rapist urges him onward: “Explain what you mean, imbecile!” he howls, and stabs his knife into his seafood salad.

“I had a dream last night where… well… I was sitting in this booth. And you… you were standing by the register over there. And I had this terrible feeling that something was behind the restaurant… something horrible.”

The serial rapist wanted to make Marty’s nightmare a reality. He eagerly jumped up and scurried over to the register. As he did this, Marty, who looks a bit like Quentin Tarantino, actually, heard a snapping noise coming from behind the restaurant. He was like, “oh shit! It’s my dream! It’s real!” And then, like a huge douche, he actually went BEHIND the restaurant to meet his impending doom.

Imagine, reader, his surprise when his dream became reality! He turned the corner behind the restaurant and there loomed… a mailbox. When Marty saw this, he immediately ate an entire watermelon and spat all the seeds at the mailbox. Then he was run over by a bus.

When the serial rapist discovered his tattered, bloodied body, he said these words: “nex est tunc valde farina.” And then he ate Marty’s body in a very environmental, getting back to nature, kind of way. Cannibalism is less wasteful than burial, after all.

But as it turned out, Marty wasn’t dead. He had been dreaming the whole time. And when he died in his dream, he awoke to find that he had gotten an F in school and his dad was pissed. Watch out Marty, he’s a strangler!

Mailboxes are the proverbial stick. The carrot? Nowhere to be found.

But the moral of this story is: Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare is a game almost solely focused on avoiding flying mailboxes. If that’s your bag, man, go for it. Cowabunga.

Saturday Night Slam Masters

Saturday Night


Wrestling’s just a name

For another kind of game

It’s a sport without shame

And even though they call it lame

I speak softly into the microphone

And my tone grows louder

And I start rhyming

With the stress on every third

… Syllable

My hair is pink!!!

… I scream at my mother

Who is my best friend actually

And this is the funny part:

I don’t even know why I did it

My sister gave me the bottle and I put a little… little… little in my hand….

Then suddenly…. !!!! !!!! !!!!

I’m a wrestler on the stage!

Lights flashing




Tubular bells


Everybody been havin’ em

Where I’m from the schools got rules

And the rules got on the wrong bus and headed to the states

One last cookie on the tray

I’m satay

Before the match…

And there’s the music




Wind chimes out my backdoor.

I’m a wrestler with a cause

Or at least… I was.

The end result?


“There is no end but death”

A line a try to pass off like it’s Shakespeare

And say, “Oh, yeah, I think that’s from King Lear

When really it’s The Cure.

I step into the ring

And I haven’t learned a thing

Because as soon as I get swinging

I get pinned.




And I’m out.

Metaphorically, physically, singularly out.

And that’s the end.

Or is it?

Continue, 10 seconds

9 seconds

8 seconds

Do I care?

Do I give a fucking SHIT?

I do….

Pink hair

I care


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.

Mega Man X 3

Whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?
Who died and made you king?

Mega Man X 3 is like a whitewashed tomb: its pristine and beautiful exterior belies the putrid, rotting corpse within.  I don’t usually subscribe to the whole graphics versus gameplay diametric, but this time the relationship is definitely inverse.  In Capcom’s efforts to make a better looking, better sounding Mega Man, they actually forgot how to make a Mega Man game in the process.  Deliberately unforgiving level designs densely populated with death machines hell-bent on your destruction give way to sparse, open, and redundant rooms, sometimes filled with nothing at all.  The former – characteristic of the NES originals – was frustrating yet strangely fulfilling, to the point where you may find yourself yelling to no one in particular, “I AM A HARDCORE GAMER!!” after some astounding feat or other.  The latter will have you scratching your head, wondering when the game will suddenly kick into gear and become a real Mega Man game.  This, of course, never happens.

Mom?  Dad?  Is this a joke?
Hello? Is anybody there?

I kid you not, some of these rooms exist for no reason whatsoever.  You run into the room, only to immediately run out of it again (you even unlock a door on both ends).  And yet, during both these events, the ‘camera’ slide-transitions as if to signify ‘this is the next area’.  That’s just stupid!  If I was the artist, I’d be pissed, not only for wasting a perfectly serviceable room, but also for wasting my valuable time.

X 3 is full of these unnecessary flourishes that force you to expect more than it can hope to deliver.  The polished visuals and cyperpunk settings scream ‘anime’, but its back foot remains firmly planted in the NES era.  The ‘story’, ‘acting’ and dialogue is especially cringeworthy, and while I’m sure it’s no worse than what you’d expect to find in Mega Mans (Men?) 1 through to 6, at least they were upfront about their intentions: to be games.  By bringing the presentation forward, Capcom have announced their anime aspirations.  By leaving the rest behind, the game appears naked and antiquated.  The playable ‘intro’ would have been nice if it wasn’t just a pre-game wank.  You’re Mega Man, you run in there, blow up a few things, only to get punked by a former ally within the first minute (“you’re far too trusting, Mega Man!”).

Excuse me, waiter! There's some Elizabethan acting in my Mega Man!

This is the game’s ‘Raiden’ moment, where Zero (a robot replete with ridiculous anime hair, originally groomed to be the star of the X series) must rescue Mega Man.  Except, instead of saying “I thought this was called Metal Gear Solid because it had Solid Snake in it”, you’ll be saying, “I thought this was a Mega Man game!”  Once you’ve rescued him, though, it’s back to business as usual, and Mega Man will be handling things from here, thank you very much.  This ‘intro’ seems to have served no other purpose than to show off a playable Zero character, only to neuter the titular character in the process.  For the rest of the game, Zero is relegated to piece work and similarly showy cameos.

The hair humanises him a bit more, get it?
Robot hair is all the rage in 21xx.

I tried oh so hard to love this game, but I couldn’t help but compare it to its uglier, more frustrating cousins – you know, games with some semblance of level design.  And then it dawned on me that level design, important though it is, is never graded by the mainstream gaming press alongside the bullet points of graphics/sound/gameplay/replay value.  Even though graphics should be servant to level design; good gameplay is a symptom of good level design; and replay value is a symptom of good gameplay. Followed closely by: how many poorly designed videogames got a pass on those four bullet points alone? Answered by: probably this one, for starters! And then I started thinking about games with good level design, and booted up a new game of Super Metroid.

Mario’s Time Machine


It’s a summer’s day, you’re playing hockey in the street with your pals, as all North American kids your age do, when you notice what appears to be a Super Nintendo cartridge lying on the ‘side-walk’.  You run over to it and read the label – sound it out – “Maaa-rii-O’sss…Taiii-mmm…Maa-sheeennn – Mario’s Time Machine! Cool!  A new Mario game!  And he can travel through time!”  You reach down to pick it up, but it’s pulling away from you, across the front lawn, up the driveway – it’s attached to a length of string!  You follow the cartridge-on-string up the driveway, and you notice the garage door rolling up ever so slowly.  It’s a surprise from Mom and Dad!, you think to yourself, squinting to see what might lie beyond the gaping maw.  As your young eyes adjust to the dark, you begin to make out shapes of a chair, a desk, an apple, a man with right arm outstretched.  Depth of field returns to you, and shapes give way to objects.  The apple, red and juicy, sits gleaming atop the desk beside pencils, books and sheets of paper; the chair tucked neatly underneath.


This familiar conglomerate of images evokes a feeling of immediate danger; you swirl them around in your head as if to taste them all.  DANGER.  Before you hear the next five words, you know you want to run, but you can’t.  Your joints are frozen; your legs like pylons sink into the concrete floor.  All you can do is look, listen, and taste.  The figure steps out from the shadows – it’s your father, and his right hand is holding a stick of chalk.  Your dread is confirmed by the final image – a blackboard mounted on the wall behind him – and those five, fateful words:


Your summer is ended.

Fade to black.