Family Feud

family_feud_swine

Family Feud would like to thank Gahd, Mom, and Apple Pie for its transition into Videogamedom.  Family Feud: The Video Game pledges allegiance to The Flag every morning.  It reaches for the shottie under the pillow and hollers “get off ma propertay, you dang varmints!” It straddles a warhead and rides into the Middle East yelling “YEEEEEEEEEEE-HAWWW!!”

Family Feud: The Video Game is a delightful little slice of Americana with a side of ass.  It’s a snapshot of post-war America and is most definitely not for the politically correct [or even the correct] at heart.  If you think you’re even remotely intelligent, and your heart beats in time with the rhythm of the masses, then I challenge you to defeat the Dunnigans, the Halls, and the Romeos in a round of Family Feud.  You will swear, you will be confused, and you will laugh your ass off*.

* Unless of course you are an American Baby Boomer from the Deep South, which, alas, I am not.

Spelling in clause, I kid you not.  (Protip: Hitler, Stalin and Churchill are at the bottom; the rest are American presidents.)
Spelling in clause, I kid you not. (Protip: Hitler, Stalin and Churchill are at the bottom; the rest are American presidents.)

Family Feud is by very nature a populist game show – there are no right or wrong answers – you must divine the Will of the Hive Mind to win.  In the SNES iteration, that Hive Mind seems to consist of one or two game developers, and it would appear that they were 51 year old white American males at the time of development (and presumably still are white, American, and male, provided they haven’t died and/or undergone drastic cosmetic surgery since then).  Discerning the most popular responses of the ‘virtual live studio audience’ to the survey questions, then, can be an exercise in frustration and hilarity.  It’s like one of those text-based adventure games, for example Hugo’s House of Horrors, where the real task at hand was to discern the quirky inner workings of the game developer’s mind**.  (Thank God Tim Schafer et al. came along to show us what commands were actually available to us with the introduction of the text menu so I could stop typing ridiculous things like ‘put knife in Igor’ and ‘put rubber bung in hole’).

Case in point: when asked to ‘name something that gives off heat’, I naturally responded with ‘fire’.  BE-BOW!  WRONG! A member of the Dunnigan family answered ‘sun’ – “number one answer!” – $5,000 bonus! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!  THE SUN IS FREAKIN’ MADE OF FIRE!!

Case in point #2: ‘name something you’d expect to find in a courtroom.’  ‘Gavel’ – correct.  ‘Judge’ – correct.  ‘Jury’ – BE-BOW! ‘Lawyer’ – BE-BOW! ‘Bible’ – BE-BOW! Handover to the Whitebread family, who sweep it away with an answer of ‘flag.’  God bless their bleeding star-spangled hearts.  The remaining answers on the board included ‘Jury Box’ and ‘Bailiff.’  So let me get this straight, the proposed majority walking into a courtroom would expect to find a judge, a hammer, A FLAG, and a jury box; but no jury in said box, no lawyers, plantiff, defendant, or even a Holy Bible to swear on?!  WHAT SORT OF HEATHEN TOPSY-TURVY WORLD IS THIS?!!

Now I know what it's like to travel without a Green Card.
Now I know what it's like to travel without a Green Card.

** (Unlike those text-based adventure games, these text-input events come in short, measured bursts.  If you don’t get the answer right, the reveal is not too far away.  The host will soon say, “and the survey says!” and either put you out of your misery or send you into a fit of blind rage.  This feedback loop of anticipation-revelation-response puts the game squarely in ‘so bad it’s good’ territory.)

I don’t know if these questions were lifted from a board game version or devised by the developers themselves, but as a 25 year old white Australian male lefty scumbag, they [and their answers] disturb me (you’ll find some of them scattered throughout this review).  The only way to claim victory in this game is to think like ‘them’ (this is simultaneously the game’s most frightening and entertaining aspect).  You must become the post-war white American slob, the one that can fit 16 hamburgers on his grill; the one that plays Battleships with his son while the women wash up in the background; the one that endures harsh northern hemisphere winters (more on that later).  There’s even “Duelling Banjos”-style Hillbilly music for ‘thinking music’.

“Quick, Huckleberry Finn, ya only got 39 seconds to come up with an ans-wer to this here question!”
“You’d best know that ah’m fixin’ to answer this here quiz thang in four, Mister Sawyer!”

God forgive me for my terrible Southern accent.

These are things you need to know.
These things are important to know.

Never before have I been forced to consider Family Feud as a purely American phenomenon, having enjoyed the relatively long-running second-last Australian series as hosted by Rob “where is he now?” Brough – complete with permed mullet and unnervingly resilient game show smile – as a child of six and seven.  The game show’s signature ‘be-bow!’ sound is so ingrained in Australian culture, uttering that very sound has become an acceptable substitute for the words “wrong!” and “think again!”  The writing you see here is the shocked response of a man whose senses have been assailed by something so thoroughly American, it is overwhelming.  But Family Feud is for everyone! I naively told myself on my initial playthrough.  The game then pulled out its mustard-ketchup-pickles mortars and blew me away with a resounding “NO!!!”

Let me set the scene for you: I live in one of the hottest countries on God’s Green Earth; I have played an outdoor rock gig in 50 degree (that’s 122 degrees Fahrenheit to you, Joe American!) sunlight on a stage with no roof; sanctimonious Poms/Yanks/Poles come down here and proudly declare that we have no winter at all.  Imagine my culture shock when the virtual host asks me something to the effect of “what would you need to put away when summertime arrives?”  What would I put away?  I, who saw my first snowflake at the age of 22, in a foreign landI wouldn’t put away anything!  No!  Think like an American!  Ummm…“mittens” – ding!  Uhhh…“sled?” – be-bow!  Damn! “Bob-sled?” – be-bow! “Scarf!”, come on, Americans are always going on about scarves– be-bow!  WTF?!!

Then comes the swearing.

Thank GOD this wasn't the correct answer!
Thank GOD this wasn't the correct answer! But look at the question - SEXIST MUCH?

Play this game.  Play it with a sibling.  Give your virtual family a swear word for a name.  Laugh at the implied sexism of the questions.  It’s like digital crack from an alien world.

Clue

Watching a hand roll a die has never been this...visible
Watching a hand roll a die has never been this...visible

Plum scraped brain off his sleeve. He stood, his knees shaking slightly as they propelled his tired body upwards. He turned and silently regarded the gathered crowd. They stood watching each other. “He’s dead,” said Professor Plum, cupping a hand to his mouth as he broke the tense silence. “Murdered.” Looks of shock and dismay rippled across the faces of the crowd and some of them backed away, glancing around nervously.

“Clearly,” said Plum, “the killer is still here.” A murmur. “Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell what killed our poor dead friend Mr. Boddy – just look at him!”

The crowd regarded the crumpled heap. “It could have been anything that did that: a pipe, a revolver or a candlestick…”

“Maybe even a noose or knife!” Mrs. White called out with her completely useless and uneducated maid’s opinion.

“Yes, of course!” replied Plum. “Maybe the killer used a…a…wrench, you imbecile! A noose or a knife – don’t be ridiculous!”

“I hate the entirety of humanity and hope the world burns as a thousand suns explode,” whispered Mrs. White under her breath, deciding to call the INS on one of her coworkers.

Miss Scarlet rose from her knees and wiped her mouth as Colonel Mustard’s fingers relaxed their white-knuckled grip on a nearby end table. “It occurs to me,” she said, seductively wrapping an arm around Plum’s shoulders, “that we should probably summon those boys in blue.”

Mr. Green slid forward, running his eager hands along the edges of the corpse. “I say we empty his pockets, take his rings, pry the gold out of his teeth and sell his organs. Let’s wrap him up in this rug. Let’s take all of these rugs.”

“Sir!” screamed Colonel Mustard, drawing a revolver from his coat, “I CHALLENGE YOU TO A DUEL TO THE DEATH!”

“Whoa fella,” said Green, throwing his hands in front of his face defensively, “I ain’t got no heater. That’s no fair.”

“I say!” Mrs. Peacock’s monocle popped off her withered and fallen face as her surprise at this boorish display caused her a series of small heart palpitations. Plum couldn’t find his glasses and they were on the top of his head!

What a zany goddamned cast of characters!

This is what the board game “Clue” would be like if you played it on the SNES. There are representations of the cards. A creepy hand rolls the die and throws it on the board. Your marker hops around, an uninspired digital copy of the game’s pieces. The computer figures out who killed Mr. Boddy before you do because you’re high and tired and not paying attention. You sit there and blink stupidly while a tiny digital curtain raises and then the murder is outlined in front of your eyes as irritating music loops in the background. Coincidentally, this is what OJ Simpson sees every night as he dreams.

I’ve had a lot of fun playing the REAL LIFE (board game) version of Clue in the past, but this video game version falls pretty short since the thing I like about Clue is the interaction with the other players. In the absence of people you can verbally torture and interrogate, the game becomes rolling dice and waiting. How can I waterboard a video game? I can’t. How do you dangle sprites out of a fifth story window over the snow-dusted hard streets below? I’m denied about half of my best Clue strategies.

The only way I can really recommend this game is if you’re a Clue fanatic that needs to play EVERY SINGLE DAY and you don’t really have any friends to play with (probably because you’re a Clue fanatic who needs to play it EVERY SINGLE DAY and does weird shit like write Clue fanfiction).

There, I killed this review in my office with the candlestick.

I typed all of this with a candlestick.