Nicktoons Racing (Game Boy Color, 2000)

Nicktoons_Racing-GBC-titleI never thought I’d ever actually play this game; I bought it off a friend 3 years ago. There were versions of it released for PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Windows, and even Arcades, so naturally I went with the most reduced version out there. This also happened to be one of the first versions released, alongside the Windows copy that I don’t have access to.

Some versions of the game have a plot, maybe this one does too but that would have to have been written in the manual since there’s nothing about it in the game. As far as you can tell, the game is much like Super Mario Kart where you just have a few random racers driving across random tracks to win trophies.

Gameplay

We start the game with the game’s logo and the appropriate jingle, and once the menu starts we hear another track… the theme to “Rugrats”. This plays until you’ve gone through the options and finally started a race. The only other long composition that plays in the entire game is heard when you’re actually racing. I don’t know what it’s from, or if it’s from anything. And that’s it, just 3 tracks.

Nicktoons_Racing-GBC-daggett_norbertt

The more astute observers in our audience might notice that they didn’t even bother to get the names of those pointy weasels right.

The esteemed roster of racers here includes: Arnold from “Hey Arnold!”, Norbert and Dagget from “The Angry Beavers”, CatDog from “CatDog”, Spongebob from “Spongebob”, Tommy from “Rugrats”, and Eliza from “The Wild Thornberrys”. Plankton is not present, like in other versions. I like the way the racers are drawn here- at this small scale they look almost 3D, like how Donkey Kong Country used sprites made from 3D renders.

Nicktoons_Racing-GBC-multiplayer

At least it lets you have separate names for multiplayer.

You would think that a racing game would have multiplayer capability where you race side-by-side, but you would be wrong. Wikipedia says this game is totally bereft of multiplayer support (my brother has the link cable and I have only one copy of the game, so I can’t test that), but that is just another lie from Wikipedia. This game gives a pseudo-multiplayer experience in that you can have up to four people play the same game, by swapping back and forth when prompted. When other people are engaged in play, the number of laps you need to complete to beat a course drops from 4 to 2, and once you complete a course you hand the Game Boy over to the other party(parties) involved.

Nicktoons_Racing-GBC-rugrats_track

The token landmark for the Rugrats course, Tommy’s house. The Spongebob track saw 5 buildings repeated over and over: Squidward’s house, Patrick’s house, Spongebob’s house, Mr. Krabs’ house, and a generic building.

The courses are standard racing fare, but the backgrounds are bland. The same small image repeated indefinitely, with a unique one around where the finish line/start line is. As best as I could assume, you need to play all 20 race tracks to unlock the game’s ending. And the password you have to remember is an absurd beast. 24 characters to enter and remember, just like with Metroid on the NES, but fortunately I learned during my attempt to play Zero Tolerance that my phone’s camera copies such passwords with much more speed and accuracy than my puny primate paw. Watching someone who used 41 minutes of their time to play this full game revealed that after 20 grueling tracks you’re rewarded with a congratulatory message.

Nicktoons_Racing-GBC-turns

Some tracks loop over themselves. If you don’t obey the arrow, it won’t count you as finishing a lap until you follow the right path. But don’t worry if you go astray- the other racers apparently stop if you are too far behind.

The racers handle ok. You can move North, North North West, Northwest, West Northwest, West, etc. In other words, 16 directions. The animation of your rotation is remarkably smooth. Your racer naturally moves faster than the others on a straight track, but at the curves the other racers catch up to you almost immediately. There are powerups laying about the track, which at least in my experience appeared in later laps (you have 4 laps to get through, usually in 3 or 4 a powerup might appear, or lap 2 if you are doing multiplayer). I couldn’t tell what one of them does, but one speeds you up and the third one stops all the other racers.

Conclusion

The music is short, the courses are bland, you can only have 4 racers per race and they flicker in and out of existence like the ghosts in Pac Man on the Atari 2600. In short- not much of a racing game, just some shovelware to remove $20-$40 from your wallet when

Nicktoons_Racing-GBC-password

How many people in this game’s target audience can even count high enough to figure out how many characters are in the password?

it first came out. I understand some technical limitations on the GBC account for the sprite flicker, but after playing Donkey Kong Country (and Pokemon Yellow, and Mega Man Xtreme, and Mega Man Xtreme 2, and Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, and Perfect Dark) I’m aware that the Game Boy Color has much more capability than you see in this game. So like this article, it’s a quota quickie (because I picked a Tuesday night to travel and I try to get these all done Wednesdays).

You know what would’ve saved this game? Novelty. Let’s see a version where you race as Nickelodeon mascots, racing through their promos (tell me this one isn’t right out of The Exorcist… that might not be the scene I was thinking of, or might just be part of it, it’s been 10 years but you get the point).

pinchface_nickelodeon_youtube

Totally worth it to race through nightmares.

Commando (Various, 1985-1989. Residual of the War Games series)

CommandoYou guys remember this series, right? From before the midterms. Well, the Left has been at it again this past month or so. Let’s take a look at Commando, some comments I had originally planned, and of course the principle topic at hand- Iran.

The Game

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From the Atari 7800 version

It’s basically the same on every system: a vertically-scrolling shooter that is very hard to play, like all arcade games- remember, these aren’t designed for you to beat, these are designed to eat your quarters by killing you early and killing you often.

It’s much like Guerrilla War, except Guerrilla War came second and it was fun because I didn’t have to worry about running out of lives. Dying every 5 seconds, meaning a total of 15 seconds of gameplay, isn’t conducive to a good time. As I mentioned in Guerrilla War, these games about wars of attrition were designed to bankrupt you through attrition- depleting your supply of money until you had none, never letting you actually win. When translating this from arcade to video game system, the developers decided that they’d just give us a ludicrously tiny amount of lives to get through the game since we can’t pop quarters into our console. So while in the arcade you might’ve been able to beat the game after spending $50 worth of quarters to get 200 lives or whatever, at home you have 3 or so. Now you see the problem?

Commando_Atari_2600_sandbags
Maybe that’s a lie for the Atari 2600 release- this looks like a desert. This is  almost the same scene as shown above in the Atari 7800 release, just scrolled a little farther up.

Anyway, the story of the game is that you’re a soldier in a jungle shooting enemies and rescuing your allies. That’s about it. I guess it’s a video game adaptation of Rambo: First Blood Part II, except you weren’t sent on this mission by one of the space hippies from “The Way To Eden“.

I can’t really say much more than that, because I am not a skilled enough player to make it to the end without a code for more lives. I do not know how a mortal human would be able to do that, on any release of this game.

The Jungle

When I was first writing this pre-2018 midterms, I had a vague idea about mentioning the Left loosing Vietnam for us 50 years ago, and then demanding we fight another war that they’ll make us lose- with Russia this time. Democratic Presidential hopeful Eric Swalwell made it clear last month that they still view what Russia did as an act of war, at the very time Swalwell’s fellow House Democrats wanted to cut defense spending, a move which fellow Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders supports (the cutting part, not necessarily what to do with it).

Now you may ask yourself– why would a political party want to cut military spending while demanding a war, so that we are assured a loss? The real reason probably is due to the following:

  • Democrats usually are all about cutting the military.
  • The Democrats talked themselves into a warmongering corner when trying to stir hatred against Russia as a scapegoat for Hillary’s pathetic 2016 performance (she lost again to a first-timer, a much-maligned first-timer, in fact more people voted for the Republican and Libertarian candidates than the Leftwing ones).
  • The “America is evil” Progressive Caucus is running the show, and they’re the totally oblivious (I am starting to want to go easy on Omar, because I’m wondering if her rampant anti-Semitism really is just stupidity) sloganeering socialists that Nikita Khrushchev warned us about, so they don’t even pay attention to what their moves are doing in relation to policy overall or the rest of the party (or they do, and they hope we lose a war). Seriously, they think that causing economic turmoil and then printing an infinite amount of money is the best way to pay for their big spending plans, so either they have less understanding of the economy than Homer Simpson or they are looking to sabotage it (which if true could mean they also are onboard with the idea of forcing the U.S. to fight a war that their legislation ensured we’d lose).
Commando_PlayStation_2_bridge

This is from the PS2 release, as part of a collection of other arcade ports. I suppose it’s “arcade perfect”.

Of course the most likely reasons are no fun. Let’s run with the speculative reasons- let’s assume that the Progressive Caucus is smart and trying to destroy the country to make way for globalization or Latino Supremacy or to create a socialist paradise or whatever, and their beliefs are what Democrats themselves believe as a whole, but which the party sweeps under the rug when it comes time to woo independents for elections (kind of like when they promised (over 50 on the campaign trail, yet only 15 didn’t vote for her) on the campaign trail not to elect Pelosi as House Speaker). Remember- Vietnam was only unwinnable in the eyes of the media (I assume Lefty Cronkite lied about the Tet Offensive, rather than merely getting it wrong) and Democrats in Congress, who stabbed our South Vietnam allies in the back with specially-made punji sticks of betrayal. Also, remember that it reeeeallllly looks like the Left sank our economy just to win the 2008 elections. Making us lose a war so that their communist buddies look more appealing on the world stage, sinking capitalism leading to the rise of socialism amongst millennials: like I said, it’s fun to speculate, and it sure looks right (unless you’re a real Leftist, because I’ve talked to one who’s active in the community and it was reported to me that Bernie and AOC are too far to the Right and thus not true Leftists).

 

The Desert

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The NES version. The ground at the top is darker than it should be; it should be the same color as the ground at the bottom. I may have mentioned before that my HD screen does this when I take pictures of it while using it as a TV.

Checked off Russia and Vietnam and wildly factual speculation, so now we move on to something thematically similar: Iran. Democrats figure that Trump is evil for backing out of glorious Obama’s deal to pay Iran $1.7 Billion up front and a few billion down the road in sanctions relief and corporate opportunities in exchange for Iran building a nuclear weapon around 2028 instead of in 2016. We’re told that the Iran deal was working even though some people on the Left (I just assume offhand The Atlantic is Left, based on stuff I’ve seen from them, and Alan Dershowitz is on the Left- he voted for Obama and Clinton) are saying it wasn’t.

 

On the Iran question, Democrats want to remove Presidential powers in the area of armed conflict, to prevent Trump from going to war without consulting Congress. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made an extremely wrong statement about Congress’ role. He said that Congress wants legislation passed so that the President has to consult with them, and states that such a thing would have prevented us from getting into the Iraq War. Several issues came to mind off the top of my head:

  1. Congress was all-in on the Iraq War, so even with more power then we’d still have seen Senator Chuck Schumer vote to support it as he did in 2002.
  2. New York Times and Washington Post both reported that Iraq actually had WMDs, and an Obama Administration official thought that it’s possible that the Syrian chemical weapons Obama/the world/Obama again (depending on when you asked Obama) set a red line about were the missing ones from Iraq.
  3. Why is Schumer taking a stand now? Obama and Clinton misled us into a war with Libya, without Congress. Why wasn’t Schumer so hot on repealing Presidential powers then?
  4. Why was Schumer quiet when Obama talked about striking Syria without Congressional approval?

Obviously Schumer’s views are shared by his Democratic colleagues, otherwise they wouldn’t have made him their leader.

What Do You Think?

Commando_Atari_7800_bridge

Here’s the bridge in the Atari 7800 version. Either I didn’t get to it in the 2600 version or I couldn’t find the pictures.

Uhhhhh… yeah, I can’t really do the usual response this category of post ended with. The Left is too confused on what it wants. It wants the U.S. to disarm and stop with these imperialist wars, so it backs warmongering liars who supported said imperialist wars, but then oppose a war in Iran even though it’d be the same as the Syria and Libya strikes they loved under Obama. Is their aim to have endless (Democrat-caused) wars? Is their aim to disarm us so we can’t fight wars? Is their aim to disarm us so that we’re conquered during one of the wars they start? Maybe they don’t have any aims, maybe they’re just saying the first thing they think of that sounds good. Or maybe the party is fractured and only acts unified when it comes time to win elections.

Nah, it isn’t that last one. The House has been pretty unified when it comes to measures aimed at destroying America, like their bill that forces taxpayers to fund Democrat campaigns (and Republican campaigns allegedly, but since when have liberal bureaucrats applied the rules equally?) whether they want to or not (and do a bunch of other stuff, like more easily send mobs after people that donate to the wrong organization). It reminds me of something Khrushchev said, about how candidates for elections weren’t chosen by the people, but rather by the secret police. And we all know how liberals love Stalinism.

Charles_Napier_The_Way_To_Eden_MemoryAlpha

I forgot to get the “Game Over” picture, and I spent 45 minutes going through my picture folders earlier trying to find all the ones for these games. I don’t have the ability to do that now, so please settle for this image of the government guy that was ordering Rambo around and then abandoned him in First Blood II. Image from Memory Alpha.

Star Wars: Rebel Assault (PC/Sega CD/Panasonic 3DO, 1993)

Star_Wars_Rebel_Assault-PC-Sega_CD-Panasonic_3DOAn evolution of the FMV shooter. It will never compare to the strangeness of one of the progenitors of the genre (seriously- who the heck thought no one would notice where that footage came from?).

The plot kinda sorta follows the first film mixed with the second film. You start out as a new rebel recruit training on Tatooine. You then fly through some asteroids, fight a Star Destroyer (Imperial-II model, because no one ever made an f***ing model kit for the Imperial-I!!!!), fight Imperial Walkers on what looks like but isn’t Hoth, and then you blow up the Death Star.

Star_Wars_Rebel_Assault-Star_Destroyers-3DO

The Imperial-I seen on the left has most noticeably the top of a cell phone tower sticking out of the top (in between the two white bulbs on top of the rectangle), while the Imperial-II seen on the right does not have that (other differences include the general shape of the rectangle that the cell tower is sitting on top of). In the game, these scenes depict the same starship.

You are presented with several different types of gameplay. In some stages you control the ship from a 3rd person perspective from the rear and dodge stuff (and sometimes shoot). Other stages have you in a 3rd person overhead perspective of your ship where you shoot stuff under you. Other stages have you in the cockpit shooting whatever (and moving the ship based on how far to the side your targeting cursor is), while other stages have you controlling your character from a 3rd person perspective. Your control is limited though, you just aim the gun and fire.

I challenged myself to all three releases of the game last year. Let’s take a look at what I found.

PC

Star_Wars_Rebel_Assault-PC-crystal_stage

Is this where the Crystalline Entity came from?

How the game’s supposed to be played… I think. My copy had some issues running- I have a laptop that runs Windows 98 (BTW- I learned over Christmas that you can make a festive background video for any occasion by modding Windows 98’s built-in 3D Maze screensaver with some images of your own), but even that was too advanced for Rebel Assault to function. There was no sound, and the controls were way off, but bear in mind I was also using a mouse rather than a controller or fighter stick. Plus, I recall some issues in setting controls for the mouse. (I know, I know, I should have used my most recent PC and just ran DOS-Box. Well, my modern laptop can’t read discs worth a darn).

But it certainly looked great! The graphics were pretty sharp and smooth. It’s like this was a DVD, compared to the 3DO’s glitchy first-generation laserdisc, compared to the Sega CD version which may have been filmed by Abraham Zapruder.

3DO

Star_Wars_Rebel_Assault-Panasonic_3DO-Death_Star_Surface

Skimming the surface, about to pull a Porkins

If you don’t have the right vintage PC, then this is how to play the game. So I’d say this is the most accessible version that won’t turn you off the game completely (I am assuming that as many people out there with Sega CD’s have a 3DO too). The controls work well, certainly better than what I was able to get out of the PC version. The sound is… not CD quality as we know it, or as any music fans at the time would know it, but it wasn’t terrible.

Sega CD

Ohhhhhh boy. So hard to compress the game onto the disc that amongst other things an entire stage was omitted.

Star_Wars_Rebel_Assault-Sega_CD-Trench_Run

Wouldn’t be a Star Wars game without a trench run.

The colors are marginally worse than the 3DO, as the Sega Genesis/CD combo can’t match the 32-bit powerhouse above. I had played a level or two in the past, but I came in this time thinking this version was much worse than it was as far as colors went, so that was a pleasant surprise.

 

What was very much unpleasant however was how the game controlled. In the 3rd Person Fighter Piloting levels, the magnetic force pulling your craft to the side was much stronger, and you had to hold up and right or up and left to break away, no matter where you were on the screen. If you just wanted to go left or right, forget it. Just to experiment I tried holding left, and my T-16 plunged to the right and into the canyon wall, and stayed there until it blew up.

One thing this game did better than the 3DO was that on the levels where you’re in the first person flying a ship, the cursor flowed nice and smooth. However auto-lock wasn’t a thing in this game, and you could be right on top of the enemy and blasting away and still miss every shot.

Star_Wars_Rebel_Assault-Sega_CD-Death_Star_Surface

The downside is that the background on all of these top-down stages isn’t as distinct as it is on the 3DO version, so you get to run into all sorts of things if you’re not careful.

The top-down Death Star level was easier since I knew what to do, but there were some points of interest to it. The lasers seemed to stand motionless in the middle of the screen. My fighter randomly took damage when nothing should have caused it. As with the other top-down section in this game, and with the 3DO version, if you push down lightly on the button nothing happens, but as you add more pressure eventually your ship will suddenly jerk wildly in the direction you’re trying to go. That’s how the controls feel, it can come out kind of smooth on the screen.

The Sega-CD had another issue- it kept crashing. The disc was ok, but the system kept stopping the game. The video playback for the backgrounds and the background music would stop, but the lasers and their sound effects would function. The cursor could still be moved. This struck three times. Twice at the AT-AT stage, so intense the game could not continue. There was a third time at the AT-AT stage, but the game recovered.

The ground stages seemed to have a similar cursor handling to the 3DO version, but it felt and looked choppier.

The Verdict

Star_Wars_Rebel_Assault-Sega_CD-Panasonic_3DO-PC

Sega CD on the left, Panasonic 3DO in the middle, and PC on the right. The video sizes aren’t that big relative to each other, I don’t really know how big they are. Depends on the TV I guess, but the video on my laptop was kinda small.

Well… it’s good to have on the 3DO because it is a good game and the 3DO’s library is pretty poor. Avoid it on the Sega CD: there are better games to be had, and that’s the worst-done port. Only suitable for Completionists. The PC version is perfectly handsome but needs the right hardware. On the plus side- if you have the right hardware for this to run, chances are you can run some other classic Star Wars games, and other old games too (like the PC version of Mega Man X which I found to be quite fun).

Trek Wars: A Star Story (Star Trek Arcade 1983, Star Wars Arcade 1983-1984)

Star_Trek_Strategic_Operations_Simulator-Atari_5200-TitleI started writing this a year ago, I think. That last rant at the bottom was all I had to show for it by the time I picked this up. The timeline is tricky. I played the games I review here at the beginning of June 2018. Whatever. So why am I combining reviews for a Star Wars and a Star Trek game? Well, neither game has much going for it on its own. And as for the rant… well, this blog and certainly some of my earlier posts tied-in opinions on social and political issues with games. It’s also a good thought experiment and once again shows that you can always out-Progressive a Progressive, relating to a point I made a while ago about them eating each other.

Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator

Star_Trek_Strategic_Operations_Simulator-Atari_5200-Klingons

Atari 5200

This came out for a few systems and computers, but I only have it on the Atari 2600, 5200, and Colecovision. The arcade version looks pretty awesome, it’s like you’re playing in those vector graphics that we see on the viewscreen in Star Trek II during the opening scenes. But not on the home ports-they just did sprites for those. The sounds are about what you’d expect- beeps, boops, and static.

Star_Trek_Strategic_Operations_Simulator-Colecovision-Klingons-BW

Colecovision- it’s supposed to be in color but A: the system gives you the option to do black and white and B: the cord or the system was messing up so all I got was the black and white image.

The premise of the game is appropriate for the vector-graphicked version: you are a cadet playing around in a simulator just like at the beginning of Star Trek II when we saw the aforementioned vector graphics. You fight Klingons, and then Nomad for whatever reason as sort of the final boss. The game doesn’t really end- you get a congratulatory screen for beating Nomad, then you go back to the beginning and do the levels all over again. They come in a pattern- a couple of Klingons assaulting a starbase (dock at it to repair and reload your ship), then an asteroid field you have to navigate, then more levels of Klingons attacking other starbases, then the Nomad fight, rinse and repeat.

Star_Trek_Strategic_Operations_Simulator-Atari_2600-Klingons

Atari 2600 version. You’ll note that in all 3 screenshots in the bottom half of the screen I am targetting the same type of ship (Klingon Battlecrusier) from the same angle (the front), and in each game it looks different.

Such a complicated game! So much so that you need the Atari 2600’s joystick AND the single button on it! Well, like I said, there just wasn’t enough about it to warrant its own article.

Star Wars Arcade

Star_Wars_Aracde-Colecovision-TIE_Fighters

Those little fuzzy balls you see two of on the right of the screen in between the TIE Fighters are energy bolts of some kind. When of them hit my X-Wing, it made my Colecovision’s video output change from a clear black and white to this grainy colorized image.

I only had this on the Atari 5200 and Colecovision.

Star_Wars_Aracde-Atari_5200-Towers

Atari 5200- going against the towers

You re-enact the climax of the first Star Wars movie by fighting your way through TIE Fighters and then running along the Death Star’s trench. Once you beat that, you are taken back to the TIE Fighters, but then once they’re cleared you’re treated to a new stage: you skim along the surface of the Death Star blasting the towers (shield towers I think is what they were called in Star Wars Rogue Squadron II). After that, you’re back in the trench. Then back to the TIE Fighers. Rinse and repeat. See? Not enough to float its own post!

Star_Wars_Aracde-Atari_5200-Trench

Atari 5200- trench

I do have a bit of a gripe with this game though, a gripe I extend to some segments of Star Wars: Rebel Assault. Aiming the crosshairs (except in the TIE Fighter swarm) also moves your ship around. So if I’m aiming at a tower to my left, then move the crosshairs over there, the whole ship is going to move over towards it. That makes me somewhat reticent to actually aim at anything, and it makes dodging things a slow process because your crosshair has to go all the way across the screen before you lurch in that direction.

Trek Wars Section III: The Last Rant

Yup, this would be way too short, so I’ll use the above discussion of Star Wars Arcade as a farcical justification for this total non-sequitur. Besides- above I gave the “Trek Wars” mentioned in the title, so I owe you a “Star Story”.

Here’s a long overdue critique that I touched on in a previous post (a 16 month old post). But I haven’t really gone after culture warriors or elaborated on my earlier remarks, so I might as well get that taken care of here. Maybe these remarks are still sort of current at the least because there hasn’t been a new Star Wars since I wrote them.

I ran into a reddit thread where the gist was that if you hated any of the recent Star Wars movies you were a sexist. That was the view held by every person in that thread. So I’m sexist, because Last Jedi was less enjoyable to watch than the Holiday Special. At least the Holiday Special had Jefferson Starship and Harvey Korman! Last Jedi on the other hand was a racist and sexist dumpster fire.

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Rumors that David Duke designed the Mary Sue Asian character after attending an anime convention have so far not been substantiated. Image from Politico

You read right- it was racist. First of all, let’s start with the “diverse” human cast. If I were to ask a Klansman to build an anime fangirl from the ground up, he’d come up with Rose (I found it particularly ironic that “Twitter user @fangirlJeanne tweeted, “This isn’t just ‘hate of the character.’ This is sexism and racism. They don’t like Rose because she isn’t a racist stereotype of Asian women. She’s not sexually objectified, not demure, and she doesn’t have purple streaks in her hair. They resent her being a actual person.”” Because guess what, she is a hilarious racial stereotype! Asian female otaku Mary Sued into the plot, to use the parlance. The Trade Federation were subtle and nuanced in comparison.). Second, let’s get to the human-centric nature of the films. Star Wars takes place in a galaxy where millions of sentient lifeforms exist, yet Last Jedi revolved solely around humans. I thought the message was diversity? Why am I watching a human-centric film where humans save the galaxy? Are all other races inferior to the human race? #GunganLivesMatter. And what about the human races NOT represented? Blacks, Asians, Whites, and Hispanics, but where are the Indians and Native Americans? I don’t recall any Somalians or Samoans or Saudi Arabians either. Hmmmm… only blacks, whites, asians, and hispanics matter?

You read right about the sexism allegation too- where were the trans characters? We had some skin color diversity and a mix of males and females, but what about transmen and transwomen? Where are they? Were any homosexuals represented? The filmmakers left that out. And where was the Muslim character? Seems the filmmakers forgot a few boxes on their diversity checklist. Having more than one skin color and a smattering of male and female humans does not make your cast diverse, especially when you have a whole galaxy of races and genders and sexualities that are not represented, or in this case implied to be inferior because the cis humans are the only ones that matter. Liberals complain about how Western-centric world history and culture is, yet here they are showing that we are supposed to support such a thing in a galaxy far far away.

Rainbow-Flag-wikimedia

Can’t even rely on the ol’ rainbow flag to symbolize Star Wars’ diversity. How many species in that universe can’t see one or more of these colors (for that matter, how about the colorblind in the human race?)? How many species can see MORE than the colors the human eye is capable of seeing? Infrared and Ultraviolet are probably colors to a sentient Star Wars race. Image from Wikimedia

Beyond their agenda for diversity exposing how racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, transphobic, and Western-centric the scriptwriters really are, we also get to just plane bad writing. The First Order can’t target capital ships far away, but can target the much smaller escape pods of those capital ships when they get even farther away? If going into lightspeed to destroy an enemy fleet is so easy, why was the Death Star so big a threat? Why was the planet superweapon in Force Awakens such a big threat? And those stupid speeders on that salt planet- first of all their existence is an abomination, but also why was that scene even needed? If all they had to do was shoot at the cannon that was about to destroy the base’s front door as the cannon was getting ready to fire, why didn’t they wait until it was closer to being ready? Why didn’t they just aim a cannon at it from in front of the base and shoot it? The way they make it sound, and the way the blasters on the speeders are, you’d think that if Han shot first with his trusty DL-44 then the cannon would explode like Cannon after a wafer-thin mint (a warning to the squeamish- that wafer thin mint link goes to the relevant clip from Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life)! And Princess Leia suddenly learning to use the force while dead in space- where did that even come from?!

Oh, and one more thing- the Resistance and First Order ships spent much of the movie constantly accelerating at sublight speeds.  Well, for those versed in relativity you should understand that while minutes were passing for the people going at that speed on the ship, days and years were passing for the rest of the galaxy. Look up the twin paradox. So when they went to find Benecio Del Toro‘s character, to the Resistance ships that whole segment should have lasted only a couple of minutes if not seconds. I bet the real reason no one responded when Princess Leia asked for help at the end was that decades passed for the rest of the galaxy while the Resistance and First Order were at relativistic speeds. With all the Resistance and the might of the First Order travelling out of time in that one area, the rest of the galaxy could easily have forgotten about all of them by the time she signaled for help. Now, for the audience too it probably seemed like years, but that had more to do with bad storytelling than it did with relativistic travel and time dilation.

However, to the people in the reddit thread I read, none of the above matters because I’m sexist, I’m just mansplaining why the female head of the Star Wars franchise should be replaced by a man or something according to the redditeers. The irony of course is that I didn’t know and didn’t care who that Kennedy lady was; I only judged by what I saw on the screen. Besides, if she was around for Solo: A Star Wars Story then she made up for Last Jedi, because Solo was a good one… at least until the end, but my friend told me that if I had watched some of the non-live-action stuff then that ending would sort of make sense (my complaint had more facets than what you might think, which is why the non-live-action stuff didn’t answer all the issues raised).

Star_Wars_Aracde-Colecovision-Trench

To make my point succinctly: stick it in your exhaust port! And this is the Colecovision version of the game.

For those stinging from the remarks that the franchise head Kennedy made about not needing to cater to male fans, let me just say that this alone isn’t a bad statement and in the context presented at the link she’s right. Male fans make up the bulk sure, but you want a product for everyone if you’re a big studio. Star Wars I don’t think was ever designed just for men, maybe just by men but not just for men. Even in 1977 it wouldn’t fly if Lucas told a big studio like Fox that his film was solely for men; they probably wouldn’t even take a chance on it. Besides, poor Ms. Kennedy has to worry more about criticism from her Left flank since that’s the Achilles Heel of every liberal in Hollywood and could easily bring her down. If you don’t like her, pile on where it hurts. As you hear in this quote they pretty much just added Rey because they wanted to sell toys to little girls, not because feminism or anything noble. Capitalism is why we get Rey, and isn’t the male-dominated capitalism the enemy of the female-friendly-inclusive-socialism? Thus wouldn’t Rey, a product of male cisgendered heteronormative capitalism, be actually more a thing for the female Trump supporters than any woke SJW warriors?

Arcade’s Greatest Hits: The Atari Collection 1 (PlayStation 1996, Sega Saturn and SNES 1997)

Midway_Arcade's_Greatest_HitsYou might recall the Sega Saturn edition from previous entries. I thought it was interesting that the Super Nintendo version wouldn’t be released until August 1997, coming behind the Saturn and PlayStation releases by months- there were only 8 SNES games released after it in the U.S., a line which stopped in 1998 (in Japan they kept going right up until November of 2000, less than a year before GameCube was released). Nintendo 64 came out in 1996, 11 months before this game was released on the SNES, which makes me wonder why they didn’t do an N64 release.

Midway_Arcade's_Greatest_Hits-PlayStation-menu

the in-game menu on the PlayStation release

Unlike other compilation releases I’ve seen, like the Atari Anniversary one, each port here comes complete with all 6 games: Asteroids, Battlezone, Centipede, Missile Command, Super Breakout, and Tempest.

Sega Saturn and PlayStation

I’m wanting to say these releases are identical. The only thing that sticks out is this: for Battlezone, the tank controls sort of reflected how real tanks work in that the buttons sort of simulated levers like you’d use to drive one. But I don’t remember dealing with that on the Saturn.

Midway_Arcade's_Greatest_Hits-PlayStation-Missile_Command

Missile Command on the PlayStation

Otherwise, it’s the same game. Same intro movie, same transitions when you start a game, same documentary. The games emulate the same way- in the documentary they’re claimed to be “arcade perfect”. You wonder how the same game can play differently? Just look at Mortal Kombat Trilogy and Doom on the PlayStation and Saturn. MKT has longer loading times, and while running smoothly on the PlayStation, Doom on the Saturn runs like your system is also trying to download Doom 2016 in the background- a choppy mess.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Midway_Arcade's_Greatest_Hits-SNES-Missile_Command

You’ll notice that the score isn’t cutoff at the top of the screen on the SNES version.

I only tried two of the games on the SNES. Instead of having a menu to switch between games like on the disc versions, for the SNES you have to reset every time you want to change the game you’re playing. Fortunately the menu loads pretty quick.

Midway_Arcade's_Greatest_Hits-SNES-Battlezone

The crosshairs for Battlezone flickered in and out of existence on the SNES version

As for emulation, I noticed that it isn’t quite arcade perfect. Missile Command played ok, actually better than the PlayStation as you’ll notice in the screenshots that some parts of the PlayStation screen got cutoff. Battlezone on the other hand didn’t fare so well, it seemed a little sluggish. The best comparison I can think of is that is that it was like playing SNES Doom compared to PlayStation Doom.

Should You Buy It?

It’s the only 16-bit way to play Asteroids, Centipede, and Tempest. Battlezone had a few modernized clones, Missile Command made its way to the Sega Genesis, and Super Breakout had a clone in the form of Arkanoid. I suppose you could argue that Tempest was succeeded by games like HyperZone with the whole “3rd person perspective as you shoot up incoming enemies” notion, but that’s a bit of a stretch in my view.

Midway_Arcade's_Greatest_Hits-PlayStation-Centipede-start

Usually it’s bad if you see caterpillars coming right at you (centipedes are flat, caterpillars are round like the creature pictured).

As for 32-bit systems? Missile Command and Tempest received updated versions that came out on the Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, and PlayStation. Super Breakout found its way to the Jaguar in an updated form, and another altered version ended up on the PlayStation. Asteroids was remade on the PlayStation. And every game in this collection (plus 6 others) was re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-released for the PlayStation later on in the Atari Anniversary Collection Redux.

Atari_Anniversary_Advance

Game Boy Advance counts as 32-bit, so here is another release. Like with the PlayStation Atari Anniversary game, all 6 of the games in the Arcade’s Greatest Hits collection are on here. Actually, those are the ONLY six games on here- aside from the added trivia challenge this might as well be just another port of Arcade’s Greatest Hits.

HyperZone (SNES, 1991)

HyperZone-cartridgeIt’s like someone made a ROM hack of F-Zero.

The Book of Wikipedia says that HyperZone’s design was based off the trippy climax to “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Well… it sort of looks like that, but it seems more like it just happened because of how the game would look if you made a shooter like this. Mode 7 and those slit scan effects look a bit alike, the way flat surfaces run at you from a well-defined horizon. I suppose they could have seen what they were able to do with Mode 7 and someone said “Hey this looks like 2001” and they ran with it for the backgrounds.

HyperZone-recharge

And they stole the yellow box obstacles from Super Mario World!

But as for the tracks you fly along… basically they took F-Zero tracks and gave you movement along the y-axis. I mean you are flying along the tracks from F-Zero. Same road, same yellow circles and black barrier, same health recharging portions of the track (though they’re colored differently) that are often in the same locations as their F-Zero counterparts. Your ship looks like it could be a car in F-Zero.

The controls weren’t particularly fast or responsive in this game, but on the other hand when you got to smaller areas it felt like the ship jumped a little too fast, like every tap on the D-pad moved you thirty feet. So maybe the struck the proper balance and my varying levels of desparateness shaped my interpretation. I also think you couldn’t fire rapidly enough.

HyperZone-Stage_2_Boss

Cyborg lava monster that shoots blue balls of energy past your HUD? Sure. Whatever.

There isn’t much of a story to the game. Just blast your way through 8 levels because evil alien cyborgs are attacking humanity’s attempt to leave a version of Earth where global warming alarmism was ignored for too long… or maybe we all decided to follow China/the USSR’s model and pollute like there was no tomorrow until eventually there wasn’t a tomorrow. I’m glad it said the enemies were evil anyway, because otherwise it looks like you’re playing as something/someone from Earth who is killing aliens so that we can steal their territory because we screwed ours up too much. That would be morally objectionable if the aliens weren’t already bad hombres.

My Take On It

HyperZone-Ship_Change

For some reason, at the start of Level 3 (you’d be forgiven for thinking this was Mute City) you change cars.

I suck at shooter games of any kind. I think I alluded to that before. But I do like me some Mode 7 effects like what we see in this game. Super Mario Kart, F-Zero, and Pilotwings will always be tops with me, and for weirdos like me who said “I want Star Fox but without the Super-FX chip” then this is the best thing I’ve played like that… well, at least the best dedicated game like that. The Star Wars games have some Mode 7 stuff goin’ on, but A: there’s too much detail dagnabbit! and B: it’s not entirely what the games are about. And C: they are hard. Very hard. I only was ever able to beat Super Star Wars without cheating; the rest I needed infinite lives for. And I’m pretty sure Super Return of the Jedi’s graphics were achieved by infusing the microchips with midichlorians.

HyperZone-Game_Over

Level 3, out of 8. But I think I got to the boss anyway… during an earlier run that I lost a life on leading up to this final life lost.

WCW: The Main Event (Game Boy, 1994)

WCW_Main_Event-title_screen

On the left is Scott Steiner, on the right is Rick Steiner. NEITHER of them had been in WCW for an entire year preceding the release of this game.

WWE’s biggest pay-per-view event, Wrestlemania, is this Sunday. So like I did with the Super Bowl, here’s a wrestling game.

I have played wrestling games, WCW and WWF/E, across multiple systems. NES, SNES, PlayStation, N64, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Game Boy. They’re all the same, or at least all where you’re supposed to be wrestling. You get some exceptions like Wrestlemania Arcade which are exceptional, but I’ll look at that one next year maybe around this time. Right now I’ll do a “if you’ve played one you’ve played them all” review focusing on WCW: The Main Event.

WCW_Main_Event-Vader-Rude

In 1997, both of these men were in the WWF. Thanks to the “Montreal Screwjob”, R. Rude would only last 3 months in WWF before returning to WCW in anger.

For those not in the know, WCW (pronounced “dubbya-see-dubbya”) stands for World Championship Wrestling and it was WWF/E’s biggest nemesis in the 1990s. WCW was backed by Ted Turner who was siphoning profits from his other projects to support what I’d best describe as a company full of government workers- overpaid, unfireable, and often rewarded for bad behavior because of poor oversight. Anywho, the 1980s and early 90s WWF ended up effectively being the talent developing arm of the WCW. 80s stars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage signed up, while folks like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall who were bounced out of WCW ended up finding their footing in WWF and then returning to WCW after achieving popularity- not as a conspiracy on anyone’s part, it’s just that WCW started writing checks they couldn’t cash once they ran out of Ted Turner’s money (Turner’s company merged with another, and the new company found that WCW was a giant loss, and they didn’t really care about wrestling anyway), kind of like socialism and the fall of the Soviet Union really… so yeah, overpaid government workers. But for a time, WCW was dominating WWF. 80 or so weeks. WWF survived the onslaught… and then lost to a greater nemesis, a power neither company could ever hope to defeat- the World Wildlife Foundation. So WWF had to rename to WWE.

The game in question here came out prior to WCW’s height, prior to when they’d even think they could stand toe-to-toe like they did with WWE. In other words, prior to when they brought Hulk Hogan onboard. 4 months prior, in fact. The more astute observer might be wondering why WCW giant Ric Flair is absent. Well you’re not the only one! Instead we have the Steiner Brothers, who left WCW two years before the game was released.

WCW_Hulk_Hogan_Dungeon_of_Doom

THERE’S NO HULKAMANIACS HERE! I’VE NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE!” Image from WWE… not that they’d want it.

So… WCW could’ve pushed back the release date of this game, removed the Steiner Brothers, and replaced them with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan (because by the time they got through removing the Steiner Brothers and drawing Ric Flair, Hogan would’ve been onboard with WCW) thus making this the 2nd video game where you could have a match between the two (the significance of that is Hogan was as synonymous with the WWF at the time as Ric Flair was with WCW, so it would be like playing out the rivalry between the companies, like that weird HHH v. Sting match at Wrestlemania 31). All of the characters used the same moves so all they had to do was replace the Steiner Brothers’ sprites with hastily-drawn Hogan and Flair sprites banged-out in an afternoon! Seems like a missed opportunity to me.

Another advantage to waiting- if the game were released in June or July of that year as opposed to February when it actually did come out then it would’ve A: capitalized on sales of Game Boy games to parents trying to keep their f$%#ing kids quiet for three g#%$@mned seconds on long car rides to summer vacation destinations and B: capitalized on the publicity of Hogan signing with WCW. And no, they did not need 2 years to manufacture the game- Doom on the Sega 32X wasn’t even finalized 2 MONTHS before its release date!

You know what the weird thing is? 5 months after Hogan joined WCW and won its top championship title, WCW released a game on the SNES that didn’t feature him. It would be another 2 years after that before any WCW game was released.

The Game

WCW_Main_Event-outside-ringAs usual, I have no idea what’s going on here. I’m just mashing buttons and hoping something happens. A winning strategy- as in I won two matches. I might’ve done better if I knew how to escape a pin. The computer did that a lot, but I couldn’t. So, in other words, it’s like any other wrestling game I’ve played! I’m sure this would be a trifle more bearable if I had the instructions. Unlike some other games, I feel I might actually have a shot at winning in this one if I had the manual. So… buying used didn’t pay off afterall.

As I mentioned earlier, each wrestler is imbued with the same moves. Punching, bouncing off the ropes and kicking in the air, suplexes (suplexii?), jumping off the ropes which as far as I can tell can’t be dodged and pins you instantly (if the computer does it), and some kind of piledriver.

You get several game modes, but they all end up being the same- pin the other guy more times than he pins you. You can either do a one-off bout to win, or go with the elimination option and systematically face the whole roster. Timed matches mean you get to pin him as many as you can in a set time, or you can do just 1 pin and win, or 2 out of 3, or 3 out of 5. And you can either just compete to compete or set it so that you win a title if you win. Doesn’t matter, none of this affects the gameplay.

The Verdict/My Take/Whatever I Usually Head This Section With

WCW_Main_Event-Ron_Simmons

What is going on with Ron Simmons’ sprite? I mean, DAMN he looks like the Robot Monster got to him.

This seemed easier than other wrestling games like it that I’ve played. The most comparable ones I guess would be on the NES since they too were 8-bit with only 2 buttons to work with, and this came off as easier than those. Even easier than any of the other ones I’ve tried, with three or four buttons or more allowing for complicated move sets.

I like fighting games. I grew up on Mortal Kombat 3 and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. I lost a summer beating Ultimate Mortal Kombat on the DS with every character. Take it from me- WWF In Your House and Wrestlemania Arcade are the only two wrestling games that are like fighting games! The others are… well, wrestling games I guess. Though with fighting games getting more complex, maybe in modern times the two once-distinct styles are blurring together. I haven’t a clue. My fighting games are 2D/sprite-based (except the first two Virtua Fighters)  and that’s the way I likes ’em!

WCW_Main_Event-defeat

Also, when you play as Ron Simmons, apparently the other wrestlers beat the black out of you.