Joe & Mac

Joe & Mac may be a clone of Wonder Boy, Chuck Rock and just about anything else you can think of, but at least it’s an endearing one.  Kind of like Ewan McGregor in The Island (let’s not go overboard and compare it to Scarlett Johansson), but even less self-aware.  It utilises the prehistoric theme pretty well, throwing a decent mix of dinosaurs at our Cro-Magnon companions.

Say, is that Marv from Home Alone?
Say, isn't that Marv from Home Alone?

I was originally going to recommend this as a decent game for your kids, but I’ve since had a rethink.  Its deeper, overarching theme is quite brutal.  The in-game narrative, as I have discerned it, goes something like this:

Another tribe has stolen your women, so Joe and Mac have been dispatched to kill any and all who stand in their path, and steal them back.

It’s fittingly primal for a piece of prehistoria, but not exactly suitable for children.  Perhaps with the preface of “son, this is what being a man is all about”, I will one day sit my son in front of this videogame and allow him to play it.

This recalls the excellent writings of masculinist David Deida[1].  He asserts that strength and confidence are traits that women desire most in their men (on a base level) because it affirms their ability to protect their young (and produce healthy offspring).  He goes even further to suggest that your woman, believe it or not, subconsciously wants to believe that you could and would kill for her*.  Just watch what happens when an insect enters your woman’s vicinity – ever noticed that killing the poor thing seems to be the only way to make everything alright?  Ever noticed her disappointed facial expression and the subsequently castrating vibes she emits when you simply gather up the tiny creature in an envelope and calmly take it to the garden outside?  Being one with all of God’s creatures is for the chaste monk; the sexless abbott!  Man’s lot in life is to kill, kill, kill.  Kill that bug, stomp that pathetic insect into the ground for even daring to enter your goddess’ presence!

KILL KILL-KILL KILL KILL
KILL KILL-KILL KILL KILL

Kill for Love.  Be that Dark God.  Tear down all barriers** and impart your dark gift.

joe&mac_it

That, my son, is what it means to be a man.

1.  The Way Of The Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire (1997, 2004)
* Thankfully (mercifully?), Deida offers ways of demonstrating this without actually killing anyone, though insects may need to be sacrificed.
** These may be real or imagined barriers.  Often a woman will erect these obstacles herself to test your love.  Your job is to melt through these barriers with your fierce love and conquer your woman’s heart.  Be on the lookout for these tests at all times.  They will never stop.
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Home Alone

Home Alone
Home Alone

Another movie game.  Turn off brain.  Check.  Set expectations low.  Check.  Let grey matter ooze out of ear.

Mlllaaaaargggggghhhh…

It’s funny because you figure with all the failures in the dawn of gaming, they would stop making this sort of shit.  But that’s the rub: they’re failures in terms of anything remotely related to a gaming quality metric, but, somehow, they still sell.  Video games (and other media and pop culture to a similar extent) are somewhat unique in that respect: they sell almost entirely based upon their marketing appeal.  The game itself is separate from the marketing.

Get used to seeing this screen a lot.  It would be so much funnier if someone appended "es".
Get used to seeing this screen a lot. It would be so much funnier if someone appended "es".

The experience of playing Home Alone is based pretty much entirely on the nostalgia of the film.  That’s it. The developers make a point of trying to tie it in to the good-guys-bad-guys silliness of the movie, which was amusing as a kid, granted, but fails here when your worst enemies are in fact bats and rats, and the kind developers somehow decided that when there are bats or rats, you CAN’T USE YOUR SLINGSHOT CAUSE THAT MAKES SENSE!

Fucking bats, and rats. Why can't I shoot you with my slingshot?!? WHY?!?
Fucking bats, and rats. Why can't I shoot you with my slingshot?!? WHY?!?

The game is full of the usual poorly designed, half-assed side scroller theme.  There are a thousand games like this, and the only thing that sets this one apart is the “collect the valuables” aspect, where instead of mindlessly moving sideways, you have to think enough to go back and forth to the drop spot.  Once you’ve amassed enough valuables, you have to get past the nigh interminable array of bats and rats to seal the valuables in the vault.  I don’t remember any bats and rats in the movie, and with this number, the house would be condemned!

If you want to gather loot, go play the original Duck Tales.  It was fun while presenting an interesting challenge.
If you want to gather loot, go play the original Duck Tales. It was fun while presenting an interesting challenge.
Same concept, better level design, better controls with two buttons, and a lot more fun.
Same concept, better level design, better controls with two buttons, and a lot more fun.

Verdict: Home Alone is exactly what you expect: A poorly thought out movie-based game with awkward controls, frustrating gameplay, dismal music, terrible graphics, and laugh-out-loud design choices.  If you really want to be nostalgic about the movie, watch it with silly subtitles or commentaries and heckle it.  You’ll have more fun.