Missile Command (Various, 1980-2001. Part 1 of the War Games series)

Missile-Command-WarheadOne night politics and video games attended the same party. They got very drunk and had triplets (known as “Rockman Zero 2”, “Rockman Zero 3”, and “Rockman Zero 4”. Those will be addressed when/if I decide to play them again). But politics and video games met again, in a sleazy bar near downtown Detroit, and this article and any I can think of to follow in this series were born from that second drunken tryst. (Their third tryst, which is memorialized by stains of Old Crow and bodily fluids on the Corinthian Leather of a 1980 Cordoba, gave us Mass Effect 3 and a generation of SJW games.) 

As we watch the Democrats peddle their warmongering interventionist and laissez-faire let’s-wait-for-war attitudes, ie as they play their war games on their way to the fall brawl known as the midterm elections, where voters will probably vote Democrat to bring us nookular annihilation, I’ll take a look at some literal war games. Cold War video games, anyway.

wcw-fall-brawl-war-games

Image from WWE.com

Today, we address the Left’s push for World War III or at least a new Cold War- by looking at the Cold War thriller “Missile Command”.

Alias “Warheads(Not to be confused with Warhead 2000)

Depending on the version you play, you have between one and three missile defense platforms. You aim their salvos with a helpful cursor. You fire your anti-missile missile at incoming enemy missiles. And smart bombs. And these Sputnik/flying mine things that fly by. And enemy bombers (that oddly look like B-52s in some releases, making me wonder just which side you’re on in this game, especially given the modern leanings of game developers). Once all of your cities are destroyed, your game is over. The same effect might also be achieved if your missile platform(s) is(are) destroyed early on in a round, because that means the rest of the missiles will come in unopposed and flatten your cities. It looks something like this (a scene from the big blockbuster of 1977 that Fox had to delay releasing until Fall, releasing some obscure flick called Star Wars to whet the audience’s summer appetite instead).

You have a finite amount of missiles too, by the way. In later rounds as the action gets faster and incoming missiles become more numerous, you’ll start running out.

Missile-Command-Sega-Genesis-2

To defend against Fake News, one has to be able to counter the overwhelming number of claims. While distracted by one, another comes raining down, then another. Sometimes you can take down multiple claims in one shot. But eventually you’re not fast enough and are overwhelmed. What game does that sound like to you?

Strategy for stopping the smart bombs varies game-to-game. As far as I can tell, I think in the Genesis or 5200 version, the best strategy is to direct them (via detonating your missiles in front of them) into a city that’s already destroyed, or that you don’t like. The cities represent real American cities, so send the smart bombs to the second city from the left (San Francisco) or second city from the right (Los Angeles). They’re the liberal cities that most voted for nuclear war; let ’em have it. As for the other releases, smart bombs can be destroyed.

This Time, The Game Is Real

Nike-Hercules-SAM-Danville-Tank-Museum

Nike-Hercules missiles were armed with nuclear warheads and deployed across the country to defend against incoming Soviet bombers. This example is from the Tank Museum in Danville, VA. This picture was taken before I was kicked out, because SOME people just don’t like it when you repeatedly hit a nuclear warhead with a hammer! Typical nanny-state BS.

The game is grounded in reality, sort of. We had such missile platforms all over the country, but they were designed to take out squadrons of Soviet bombers  (we tried to upgrade them to take out some short to long-range missiles, but that just kind of stopped when the Soviets started focusing on massive ICBM strikes with hundreds of warheads instead of bombers). ICBMs of course are faster. A faster interception system was needed, and although we never got any such projects off the ground this game depicts what appears to be the Nike-X project (it was downgraded to Sentinel, which gave less coverage and could repel far fewer missiles, and then became Safeguard. Sentinel was both met with heavy protest, from the Left of course who found missile defense to be too belligerent. Ironic how the Soviets called it “imperialist warmongering“, just the sort of thing the Left (sources like Common Dreams,

Missile-Command-Atari-2600-Manual

Noo-cue-lar combat toe-to-toe with the Ruskies is a man’s job, that’s why he gets the helmet deary

Marxists.org, counterpunch.org, globalresearch.ca, londonprogressivejournal.com, houstoncommunistparty.com, monthlyreview.org, leftvoice.org, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez who is the future of the party) refers to any U.S. overseas action or military buildup as today (globalpolicy.org and monthlyreview.org had examples of this belief, globalpolicy even linking missile defense to imperialism) (the Left also thinks colonizing Mars is imperialist and an example of “male entitlement”, so congratulations Democrat, this is the allegedly pro-science pro-truth group you are supporting. By the way, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale if you believe that the Left is pro-science), the same anti-Imperialist-anti-US-warmingering Left that wants war with Russia (note that after a century of brutalizing its own people and others worldwide, the only thing that made Democrats stop loving Russia was allegedly helping Hillary lose, not that whole “Soviets killed tens of millions of people” thing, so remember that when Dems say they’re compassionate and care about others) and celebrated Obama’s hawkishexcept-against-Islamic-terror-foreign-policy… and wanted Hillary The Hawk to win).

Hippie liberals, who now run the colleges and to an extent the DNC via the radical protesters they are producing, protested heavily against Safeguard being installed because they were afraid it would trigger an arms race or a pre-emptive attack or some such rot. And now these same hippies and their progeny (both ideological and biological no doubt) want to piss off Russia enough that they’d send nukes our way, right into the country they left undefended. In fact, their radical President wanted to disarm the U.S. entirely, their President who said Russia was our friend. If we are to assume that your side of the aisle is as intelligent as you claim, that means you KNOW that your decades of protesting the military and disarmament talk left America weak, your protests against missile defense left us defenseless, thus you must know that your demands for war with Russia mean the destruction of this country that you left undefended. Therefore, if you’re as smart as you claim to be, you’ve deliberately disarmed America to make it easy for Russia to destroy it. That fits with your antiAmerican procommunist proRussian rhetoric, which was the norm until your almost-century old position on Russia changed with Hillary. So unless you admit to gross incompetence, admit that your side is not particularly intelligent, we can only assume that you want America to be destroyed. For those who think I’m being a little hyperbolic and exclusionary, keep in mind that the Left for decades has believed anyone who doesn’t vote Democrat is a racist. ANYONE.

peace-symbol

“Peace!… n-no wait WAR! Uh… I NEED MORE TIME TO ANSWER!”

So tell me, liberal, just what the hell are we supposed to do to Russia when they “hack our elections” and make your candidate lose? If we have no nuclear weapons as you want, what do we do? We saw in the aftermath of Hawaii’s accidental missile alert that you liberals have no stomach for confrontation if you think it’ll actually hurt you. You began screaming at Trump to tone down his rhetoric against North Korea (all the while you still were very vocal against the much more heavily-armed Russians). So let’s say you decide to sanction Russia- they just have to threaten a nuclear launch and you’ll shut up and impeach your President for endangering you, unless you mean to tell me that all your rhetoric against Trump over his North Korea talk was just a bunch of garbage. No, I guess you won’t.

Speaking of that Hawaii incident, and blaming Trump for inflaming the situation, remember how Obama was ready to go to war with North Korea without even seeking negotiation? No, I guess you don’t. Definitely not your Senator who went after Trump after the false alert (then again even when combined with Kamala Harris’ vast intellect we find that both Senators have just enough brain activity to show that even people not in comas can be vegetables. Throw in Maxine Waters and you might have the same amount of activity as in tomato sauce. And no, liberal, it isn’t racist or sexist to say a minority or a woman or some combination thereof is an idiot. Plus, I think white male Adam Schiff and white female Sally Boynton Brown are similarly impaired, while white male Joe Biden is slightly above them because I’m pretty sure he just babbles to himself rather than deliberately lies, and I have a low opinion in general of the predominantly white anchorage at CNN. Or are you going to say I’m racist against whites, because last I heard from you liberal that was impossible). Actually, the Left is still ready for a war with North Korea, at least those liberals on the mainland who wouldn’t have to face an attack. 71% of liberals polled don’t want peace with North Korea if it means Trump gets credit for it.

Meanwhile, the creator of Missile Command found nuclear war to quite literally be a nightmarish scenario. Unlike the Left today, which would rather we have a nuclear war with Russia because they can’t admit to themselves that Hillary was a terrible candidate, and want a war with North Korea too if it means Trump’s reputation is hurt by it.

A Quick Aside On The Russia Warmongering

We the public don’t know that Russia leaked the DNC emails. Mueller’s charges mean nothing, and most of what was in his indictments of the Russian hackers was two years old at least, and reported in mainstream outlets as far back as June 2016, meaning that Mueller’s timing was rather suspicious given that he released the indictments around the time Trump had a major summit with Putin, apparently sitting on this info for his entire first year as Special Counsel. As for the indictments, Mueller knows damn well those Russians will never see a day in court so he doesn’t have to prove anything, doesn’t even have to be able to prove anything. Remember: Clinton associate and strategist James Carville said grand juries can indict a ham sandwich, meaning indictments flow fast and free through them.

Deep-State-Robert-Mueller

Mueller looks like he could be John Kerry’s brother.

Mueller himself has a history of pursuing innocent men and burying evidence showing innocence (he was head of the FBI during the anthrax case when prosecutors buried exculpatory evidence, and Mueller personally led that case), so his credibility is further diminished. Mueller was also very good friends with Former FBI Director James Comey (who helped Mueller prosecute innocent people) so we have in that a certain motive of retribution against Trump on Mueller’s part, which also explains the good timing that even the liberal media admits to in regards to Mueller’s indictments.

Wikileaks denies it was the Russians; there is evidence to suggest it was an inside job. Not that it even had to be, John Podesta’s password could’ve been cracked by a ten year old. Besides, if the server hack was such a damning thing, why did you liberals destroy anything that could provide evidence for your complaint? The only reason you would is that examining the servers would prove that no hack took place. Just like the only reason you would oppose a deal that would allow Mueller to question the indicted Russians is because you are afraid Mueller would have to prove his case.

You also contend that Russians colluded with Trump to get him elected. This lumped with the email hacking constitutes your sole reasoning for wanting war with Russia. There has been an army of bureaucrats and elected (Adam Schiff) leakers in the government complimented by a nation of journalists, all with a strong hatred of Trump. Yet in the two years since Trump obtained the votes needed to be the Republican nominee, not one shred of proof has surfaced. Now how about that, the best you can do is assume debunked and implausible documents like the Steele Dossier are true or say that US Intel Plant Halper giving a story to George Papadopolous who talked about it to the Australian Ambassador/Clinton Donor was somehow collusion.

The hardest evidence you have, the only items you’ve been referring to when asked for solid evidence aside from vaguely circumstantial stuff, are the debunked Steele Dossier and the intelligence assessment that you all kept touting as confirmation from 17 agencies that Russia interfered. I’ll write it here for your convenience- it did not involve 17 agencies, and was an intelligence ASSESSMENT. That means political hack and confirmed liar John Brennan assembled a team of yes-men who came up with the THEORY that Russia interfered, that is what an assessment is, it’s what that little committee theorizes, NOT what really happened (but to a liberal I guess the difference is only semantic, because what they think and feel are the only realities they acknowledge, as I’ve established in other items). And the debunked Steele Dossier was used in drafting the Intel Community Assessment in question. Oh, and Obama of course ordered this Assessment to be done.

Let’s Look At Some Quantities

journalists-wiki-tw

I’m getting a lot of mileage out of this chart C-Gaymer found.

Given that most of those in the Journalism industry are leftwingers, it’s safe to say that at least 22,241 reporters have motive and opportunity to research Trump and any connections to Russia. Now let’s add in every Democrat in Congress (193 Congressmen and 49 Senators), every member of those 242 Congressmen and Senators’ staff, every sympathetic contact in the private and public sector that they have, every leaker and anonymous source the liberal media uses, every Democrat in the bureaucracy, every liberal blogger, every liberal hacker, every liberal professor who might have academic means of research, private investigators these groups might employ (like Fusion GPS), every liberal in the DOJ (who tried to fabricate evidence against Trump, the Steele Dossier, which wouldn’t be needed if there was anything really there), every millionaire and celebrity in Hollywood plus billionaires like Tom Steyer and George Soros with their massive networks of personnel and followers nationwide, most of the tech industry which easily has access to all of Donald Trump’s tweets and Google searches and things like that, and it’s easy to assume that we’re talking about a group of people larger than the population of Iceland (maybe even larger than England), with more money than the GDP of Russia at their disposal, with a cyber army on par with the NSA and as capable of hacking elections as any Russian group, and the backing of multiple parts of the U.S. government from Congressional offices to departments in the DOJ to state-level offices and attorney generals. This massive ball of hatred has had two years now to work on this.

DESPITE all of this at their disposal, enough raw power to destroy whole countries, DESPITE all of the time that they’ve had to research, they can’t find ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE that Trump colluded with Russia, nor can they provide solid evidence that Russia hacked the DNC servers, even though they have Russian oligarchs with access (as we know from when Clinton cash made its way to Russians, maybe even oligarchs close to Putin to loosen their lips and make this whole “we’ll reveal Putin’s evil plan while risking our lives for some guy we haven’t seen in 7 years” thing credible, through Steele in exchange for the debunked Steele Dossier), even though they have access to SPIES in the Kremlin as the New York Times leaked (which probably means we HAD a spy in the Kremlin, thanks to our intrepid reporters who just threw a life away even though they seemed scared to death that this very consequence would happen if someone leaked the identity of  Stefan Halper as the informant from the Trump Campaign- notice that NOT ONE of the folks like Senator Warner who said Congressmen could be charged for trying to unmask Halper or the folks in the media who said intelligence would be irreparably damaged from the ‘Halper reveal’ SAID WORD ONE about the Times’ leak that we have a spy in the Kremlin). Maybe you understand NOW why your Russian collusion claims seem so ridiculous? If your side brought that same power to bear against Russia itself or China, you could probably bring those countries to their knees both in cyber and economic zones. Instead, you focused all of it on Trump, and have come up with nothing after two years.

Alright, I think that about covers why the Russian warmongering is just another “U.S.S. Maine” (the press exploited the incidental explosion of a battleship to drive America to war with Spain, just like the press is exploiting the incidental leaking of emails to drive America to war with Russia, except this time the enemy has teeth and will ironically incinerate liberals by the millions. The only time I’d ever want to be at ground zero for a nuclear attack is at NBC, ABC, CBS, or CNN headquarters (or in Senator Hirono’s office, I’m lumping her in here because she never condemned Hillary demanding missile strikes on Syria and a no-fly zone where we’d shoot down Russian jets, nor did Hirono condemn the media and her colleagues demanding war with Russia) and see the look on the face of one of these warmongerers as Russia responds to their threats in much the manner they kept saying North Korea would respond to Trump’s heated rhetoric).

Uhhhhm… You Mentioned Different Versions?

Oh right! Well, I said this mixes politics and the game, so I became a skosh sidetracked.

Atari Ports

Missile-Command-Atari-2600

Naturally, we get one for the Atari 2600. One of the selling points of that console was having arcade games at home. As you can see this is a version where you get only one launcher to shoot down enemy missiles from. In later ports with 3 missile launchers, 3 buttons are used to differentiate them. The Atari 2600’s standard controller had only one button.

Missile-Command-Atari-5200

Yet another port where you have only one tower with which to shoot down missiles. Sure the 5200’s controller had a dial pad like a telephone, but it’d be kinda hard to use the joystick and the dial pad as would be needed to control three towers. The original arcade version used a trackball, so unless you got the trackball for your Atari 5200 you’ll be hard-pressed to emulate that experience with other ports. Not that you need it, the 5200’s joystick worked well enough. It was my favorite control setup, very responsive and swift. As you can see in the upper right, on the 5200 the incoming bombers are American B-52s.

B-52-Atari-5200

During a marketing campaign to prove the Atari 5200’s rugged durability despite its large size, Atari executives arranged for the U.S. Air Force to land a B-52 on one.

I was surprised to learn, but to the best of my knowledge, there was not a Missile Command port for the Atari 7800. You’d think they would’ve put their hit game on that console, but you’d think wrong I guess.

Sega Ports

Missile-Command-Master-System-TangelaMissile-Command-Master-System

 

 

 

 

 

The Sega Master System version (from “Arcade Smash Hits”) sort of plays like the real thing. You get multiple launchers too. As you can see, this is not about you defending American… or Soviet… cities. It’s about a race of Tangelas protecting themselves during an interplanetary war.

Missile-Command-Game-Gear

The cursor on the Game Gear version (part of “Arcade Classics”) moves like a sleepy Hutt, but the incoming missiles are slow as well. Feeling like you’re trying to move a heavy bookcase by pushing it across carpet is not conducive to a good gaming experience.

Arcade-Classics-Missile-Command-Sega-Genesis

The Sega Genesis port (part of “Arcade Classics”) does not particularly stand out in my mind. As you can see they took some liberties with the designs, and apparently made commercial airliners into nuclear bombers (a reversal of what was actually done), but there isn’t much more to talk about here.

Missile-Command-Sega-Saturn

With the Sega Saturn version (part of “Arcade’s Greatest Hits”, the gold version, also released for SNES and PlayStation) we get into the realm of arcade-accurate ports. Or emulations. Probably emulations.

Missile-Command-Dreamcast

The Dreamcast version (part of “Atari Anniversary Edition”, also released for PlayStation) takes this arcade-accurate emulation to its logical conclusion by simulating an arcade machine’s monitor. This also shrinks the amount of space your game takes up on the TV screen, and the shrinkage is very noticeable in the graphics. You can see the difference for yourself if you have this copy because you can play it in either arcade cabinet or fullscreen mode.

Nintendo

There is a Super Nintendo port, on the gold “Arcade’s Greatest Hits” cartridge. But clearly I do not have it. Same goes for the Game Boy Color version, which I did not know existed until just now.

Missile-Command-Super-Game-Boy

I do have the Game Boy version. It’s lumped in the same cartridge as Asteroids, titled “Arcade Classic 1” (there were more, at least 2 more, in the “Arcade Classic” series on Game Boy). The game is obviously enhanced not just beyond the original story, but beyond the Game Boy’s capabilities. If you plug it into the Super Gameboy you get some colors and an arcade cabinet around your screen.

Missile-Command-Game-Boy-Advance

Controls on the Game Boy Advance version (on the “Atari Anniversary Edition” cartridge) aren’t that good, it’s like your cursor is sliding on ice. It’s otherwise a great port, and even manages to give you three missile launchers. Looks like it’s more or less an emulation, like the Saturn and Dreamcast versions.

PlayStation

Missile-Command-PlayStation

The PlayStation had a remake, with a different plot than the Cold War terror and graphics altered to suit (just like the Master System and Genesis versions. The Atari 2600 release had a different story, but it was clearly just a port with no extra touches). Same with the Atari Jaguar’s Missile Command 3D. The PlayStation remake offers a 3D, first-person perspective as you man a missile-shooting aircraft. This version also offers a more familiar mode of gameplay, pictured left.

Warhead(s)

Warhead-Warheads-Windows-Fun-Pack

In the game it’s “Warheads”, on the CD label it’s “Warhead”. Released on the FunPack CD with clones of other games (like Pac Man, Asteroids, Tetris, and Super Breakout), we get the Missile Command clone Warhead. Yes, it’s legitimate. I think. My parents bought it in the early 90s from a store, probably a big chain store since they don’t seek out small used video game shops and there certainly weren’t many around, so it must be. The FunPack version has tiny explosions and the missiles move kind of slow, so your aim needs to be more precise than the original. This works on Windows 3.1 through Windows 98. I don’t know if it’d run on anything stronger than that, even with Windows 98 the Pac Man and Tetris clones do not function right.

What Do You Think?

Looks like such a fun game, vote Democrat and make it happen! Much as Trump undid Obama’s legacy, I suspect Democrats, if given the majority in Congress, would work to undo Trump’s. And then in 2020 we’d get President Kamala Harris or President Elizabeth Warren, who’d bring back tensions with North Korea and become such hawks against Russia that Queen Hawk Hillary would tell them to take a chill pill. Because nuclear war with Russia and North Korea is what their base wants these days. Obviously, otherwise they’d vote these warmongerers out of office or at least support the peaceful foreign policy initiatives Trump has pursued, right?

Trump killed 200 Russians with his missile strikes in Syria, that’s 200 more than the past two Presidents combined. Democrats think that killing only 200 Russians, expelling diplomats, and increasing sanctions means Trump is too soft on Russia, a treasonous collaborator and a Russian puppet. That’s the bar Democrats set- meaning their idea of cordial relations with Russia under Trump would be if we nuked only Moscow. So who will YOU vote for? Or maybe just sit this one out…

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Donkey Kong (Game Boy)

Donkey-Kong-TitleDo I really need to introduce this? It’s Donkey Kong, but on the Game Boy. Warning: some changes were made when porting from Arcade to Game Boy.

You play as Mario in the archetypical battle of man vs. damn dirty ape, because this one Donkey-Kong-Mariowon’t keep his stinkin’ paws off your maybe girlfriend (it’s assumed, until Mario later trades in this generic-lady-being-kidnapped-by-a-monkey for a princess-being-kidnapped-by-a-lizard. Based on the character art for her in Super Mario Odyssey, we know Mario’s girlfriend from Donkey Kong went on to strangle cats). You have to hop and climb your way through the stages to rescue her.

Of course the 4 stages you get are based on the arcade, though I’ve read they were scaled back a little to fit on the Game Boy. I wouldn’t know, I’ve only played Donkey Kong on two non-consecutive Atari systems and the Colecovision. I had the e-Reader version but I haven’t touched it in 15 years and probably lost most of the cards.

Donkey-Kong-25mAnyway, unlike the other iterations of Donkey Kong I’ve played, there is a timer on these stages. Once you’re past the 4 from the arcade, you go on to another 93 stages. I didn’t count; I had to rely on the internet to tell me. They predictably ran out of ideas along the way and repeat the first stage, but with a different art pattern (castle instead of construction project). Some stages also allegedly came from Donkey Kong Junior, who himself appears in this title to help his pep-pep.

The stages get more complex as you progress. Your main task after the first four, aside from in the boss battles, is to move a key from one part of the stage to another, similar to some levels in the American Super Mario Bros. 2. Each stage after the first four and excluding the boss fights also give you three items dropped by your girlfriend: her purse, parasol, and hat. It’s worth the trouble to collect all three of them in each stage, as doing so gives you a chance to get more lives in one of two minigames. One is a slot machine, the other is best likened to a roulette wheel or wheel of fortune. If there is a pattern for when you will get a certain minigame, I don’t know it.

In addition to more stages, Mario has more moves. He can swing from a thin line (a tautDonkey-Kong-Stage-1 rope or power line). Another one of the new moves would go on to show up in Super Mario 64 in a modified form- when he leaps onto his hands and then bounces very high. He can do that either stationary or in motion. He can throw barrels like Dash O’ Pepper, and when standing on his hands he can even stop barrels from hitting him, and then throw them afterwards. We also have the opportunity to see Mario swim. I was hesitant at the first such occasion, since in the original versions of Donkey Kong any fall into a pit meant death. I assumed the water pits were the same, and was pleasantly surprised when they weren’t.

Just like Mario’s Picross, Donkey Kong is enhanced when played on the Super Game Boy. Unlike Mario’s Picross, it really is enhanced. You get more than just a unique border- stages and maps are colored. Donkey Kong and your girlfriend are sometimes colored. Mario… either changes his race (it is fluid you know) or gets jaundice. While I enjoyed the SNES’ presentation, portability was needed for me to complete this game.

Most of the time, things are not so difficult. At least for me. However, there were some stages (such as the final boss) that definitely qualified as difficult. But it’s not as difficult as its successor, Mario Vs. Donkey Kong. Very similar in gameplay- no doubt in part because originally it was to be a remake of this game- but with a much greater difficulty level. I got stuck somewhere in there over a year ago and never looked back.

Donkey-Kong-Game-Boy-CartridgeUnlike Mario’s Picross, I have some criticism here- Nintendo seems to have run out of boss ideas the year this game was released, 1995 (despite the release date, this game is usually referred to as “Donkey Kong ‘94” because that was its title in development). The final boss battle has Donkey Kong taking a super mushroom or two and growing to gargantuan size. Basically, this is the Gamma battle from Mega Man 3, or the Wily battle from Mega Man IV. Donkey Kong’s head sits in the middle, and he attacks with his hands. But that’s not the real reason I cried foul. In 1995, we have another battle where a traditional Mario villain is supersized and mostly in the background: Bowser. This was the year Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island came out. And the villains are fought in a similar way too- chucking objects at their heads. Why couldn’t we have had a gigantic robot Kong of steel instead?

The game passes the time. The puzzle elements kept me coming back, because I didn’t want to be outwitted by yet another Mario Vs. Donkey Kong-style game. I managed to wrap things up in a week or two of intermittent playing, if that is in any way useful for gauging how long it would take to beat the game. At least you come away from this with more knowledge than I had going in- this isn’t a straight port of Donkey Kong to the Game Boy. Yes, I did think that when I saw it in the store (used, no box, no manual, two excuses).

Mario’s Picross

mario's-picross-title - Copy

He’s watching…

It’s a plotless game. A plotless puzzle Game Boy game. A powerful plotless puzzle Game Boy game. Perhaps playing powerful plotless puzzlers pleasantly passes protracted periods. Excuse me.

 

What’s their game?

Blueberry-Lattice-Pie-Cross-NYT

Is this a picross? Image from New York Times

The purpose is to draw a specific picture using the “instructions” given. For what there is of a plot, you are playing as Mario at some Egyptian ruin “chiseling” the images because he doesn’t want ants to get at them or something. He doesn’t know, he was drunk. The screen is taken up by a grid with squares for each space (unlike a certain other “grid” for “leveling up”). The controls allow you to mark a square so that you know not to chisel it, remove a mark, chisel the square, or unchisel one (this is only useful in Time Trial, for the other modes any tiles you chisel that should not be chiseled are unchiseled automatically. Chisel Chisel Chisel Chisel CHISEL!).

You are given grids of varying sizes in the tutorial stage and easy mode. The normal

Mario-Pie-Cross

Is THIS a picross? Original image from Village Inn

mode presents only 15×15 grids. Regardless of size, you’re given 30 minutes to finish a puzzle. My cousin picked it up, started randomly guessing spots, and was out of time inside of 30 seconds. That’s because when you chisel the wrong area, you lose a bit of time on the clock. Each wrong area takes away increasingly larger chunks of your allotted time, with the largest being 8 minutes.

The tutorial is of course a good starting point, but to me its explanation about the numbers to the left and on top of the grid was faulty. I probably just misread it. The numbers are the “instructions” for each picture- they tell you how many squares to chisel in the row or column they line up with. They don’t tell you where in the row or column that the chiseling needs to happen, just the amount that needs to be done and in what order it should be done. For example: “5” means five squares together need to be chiseled while “5 1 2” means five squares together need to be chiseled, followed by one square, followed by two squares. Each one of these sets of chiseled squares would be separated by at least one non-chiseled square, so it would look something like 55555x1x22 where x is a non-chiseled square.

Tips (I usually do 15-20%)

There are shortcuts to take, and every puzzle is solvable with the information given,

mario's-picross-puzzle-a - Copy

The puzzle grid. Notice how I used my tip to fill in the 2nd row from the bottom a little bit. Chisel on, fellow players too cheap to buy stuff that lets you take a proper screenshot!

so no the game is not broken. We’re just dumb as hell. The most useful shortcut I found was that if you’re told that you need to chisel a group greater than half the number of spaces in the row or column, you can chisel the center spot safely. So if you had a row of 15, and you needed to fill 8 together, you can chisel the spot that’s in the middle (8 spaces in). If you had a row of 15 and you needed to fill 10 together, you can chisel out the center 5.

So… that’s about it. There are at least 192 puzzles, over 128 of which are 15×15. I say “at least” and “over” because once you complete the first 192 you get a Time Trial mode, wherein the mechanics change somewhat in that you have an infinite amount of time to solve a puzzle and you are not told if you chisel the wrong space. Unless my memory is failing me, the first puzzle I completed in that was unique from the previous 192, so that potentially means many more puzzles than I’ve seen so far. And to the best of my ability to determine, at this point the puzzles become impossible. Give up.

mario's-picross-cartridge - Copy

Says right here that it’s Super Game Boy compatible. Next to Mario’s soulless, vacant stare.

Oh yeah, this game is enhanced by the Super Game Boy. It doesn’t do much. I didn’t notice any fancy colorization like some games do (and yet still can look inferior to their Game Gear counterparts as “Star Trek Generations” showed). All I saw were two different borders around the screen. I would suggest playing it using the Super Game Boy since I’d imagine whatever appears on the TV screen would be easier to see than on the Game Boy’s screen, unless your SNES is connected to your Game Gear. Sometimes exhaustion and insufficient lighting make the tiny numbers blend together.

Yup, That’s It

 

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“HAHA! Your official movie tie-in jigsaw puzzle shows a version of the ship that didn’t appear in the movie!” See? Doesn’t work. You can’t make fun of a jigsaw puzzle. Image from Fordos Models

To those expecting a scathing review like I gave to “They Were 11”, sorry to disappoint.   The material is lacking. What exactly am I going to make fun of? TELL ME! There’s no plot to put holes in, other than apparently Mario committing vandalism against Egyptian landmarks which last I heard was a criminal offense. Other than this bizarre item there’s nothing to mock, there’s no there there as our thought leaders like to say. It’d be like making fun of a jigsaw puzzle.

I find this game addicting. It has a strange effect on me, to where it puts me to sleep after I’ve done a few of the puzzles. So… I’m addicted to a sedative. Mario’s Picross is part of the opioid epidemic.

mario's-picross-wink - Copy

Title Screen for a Schedule II Controlled Video Game