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. 

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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.