Space Ace

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I’m sort of glad that we’re back to visiting these old games. There’s a part of me that feels like we’re digging into this old bin of artifacts left behind by a long-past, at-least-marginally-loved family member. Like a belligerent aunt, I guess. Or, at least, some sort of contemptuous cousin. These dusty (not literally) titles represent lifetimes (I really hope not literally) of treasured memories. I know – from the myriad comments that arrived years after we posted reviews – that my panning of titles people probably spent a lot of time with sometimes hurt their feelings.  At the very least, the amount of time and effort that went into building these games was likely non-trivial. We can only do so much.

Largely what we discover is that our marginally-loved family members were only marginally loved for a reason. They were probably weirdos. Or malcontents with stacks of newspapers all over. And when you get a box of stuff owned by a dead person you don’t care about mostly you don’t have any feelings for the materials within that box. They only serve as a grim reminder that you and all of your shit aren’t long for this world.

Anyway, fuck Space Ace.

I just want to point out that when games like this were released they probably retailed for like $90 Canadian. Or more. And at this time (hello, 1990s) the key demographic for Super Nintendo games was, I think, probably teens and/or young adults. You had to save for a SNES game. Or rent it, I guess. If I’d rented it, I’d have returned it. Space Ace is a game where the guy from DragonQuest and a space genie are fighting over a woman. Honestly, the space genie can have her. This guy’s no ace. It’s not even close.

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Here’s guy one. He’s our Space Ace.

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Here’s guy two. He’s our villain, I guess because he is a different color (spacism was alive and well, I see).

But when you get down to it, guy two is a man flying on a disc machine shooting lasers at guy one. You tell me which of those two guys sounds like a Space Ace to you.

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The game itself can be characterized as infuriating. You die when you get hit by anything. You die when you miss a jump (you will miss many jumps). Achieving a game over will put you back at the beginning of the game. It’s a good thing that no one can hear you scream. I “cheated” to get a little deeper and the second level featured mode 6 flying graphics and additional abrupt deaths.

No, thank you.

So, I’d like for you to imagine a 10-year-old boy who fucking loves space waking up on his birthday. He gets home from school and his parents tell him they’ve got a cool gift he’s going to love. It’s Space Ace. And he’s like, “I fucking love space, you guys”. That’s what he says to his parents. He’s crazy about space. And he puts this thing in and dies 5 times in a row in ways that are vexing and/or unfair and/or baffling. He does this for the better part of the week. He gets deep in the game, memorizing every misstep and movement. By the end of his childhood, he can play Space Ace in his sleep. He’s written stories about the titular ace and his adventures. He’s done drawings. By the time he reaches high school he’s moved on to some different games but his bar is low. He ends up working as a records manager at a local government office and dies alone, tragically, from a heart attack at 50 years old. You were his nephew. In his house, after the wake, you see these framed drawings of a man in a space suit and many paperback books about space adventures. You didn’t really visit him much. You say, “man, what a sad guy”. You find a dusty, still-working Super Nintendo in the corner. You’re sure you can sell it for a few bucks. And in the console is this game called Space Ace. “Ha ha… you say. Motherfucker loved space, that’s for sure.”

You play the game for 30 seconds… that’s long enough to die to the point where the game will rank you as a “Space Freeboid” and make you start over. You turn the console off. You look around and realize the impact this game had on his life. The drawings. The paperbacks. You get up and walk out of the house, and you never look back. Your dad sees you on the way out and says, “jeez, you don’t want any keepsakes from your uncle’s place?”

“Nah,” you say. “He’s given me enough”.

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