Tag Archives: amiga

FGC #363 The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants

Here come those SimpsonsThe Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants is either one of the most clever, innovative licensed games of the early 90’s, or it’s a steaming pile of garbage.

It’s The Simpsons!

TS:BvtSM was the first Simpsons videogame. At the time, The Simpsons was a bonafide cultural phenomenon, having premiered (basically) a year earlier (technically The Simpsons started [as an independent series] in 1989, but it was December 17, so that barely counts… there, satisfied, nerds?), and setting the world ablaze with that whacky Bart Simpson and his lovable catchphrase… uhh… it was something about eating cow, I think. It was a long time ago! Regardless, at the time, there was more Simpsons merchandise than you could shake an officially licensed Groundskeeper Willie protractor at, so a videogame was just a matter of time. This title scooted out the door before… let’s see here… the game was initially released the same week as the premiere of Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment, Season 2, Episode 13, Production Code #7F13. This means the game was likely planned and produced before the second season even aired. Imagine! A time when there were only thirteen episodes of The Simpsons! John Swartzwelder had only written four scripts!

This, naturally, led to the game being written while Springfield still had a pretty shallow pool of characters and quirks. Lisa Simpson, for instance, had barely been established as the smartest little girl in town, and was hardly more than Bart’s sister. Maggie did not possess her love of firearms, and Homer still only sounded brain-damaged, as opposed to actually being brain-damaged. Realize that Bart Simpson (who the hell are you?) was the most developed Simpson, and this game starts to take shape.

On the other hand

Did any of these versions even get the colors for our favorite family right?

It's Bart!

Don’t tell me the NES couldn’t support Marge’s usual green! Maggie got it for some reason! And the Genesis has absolutely no excuse! 16-Bits of raw power! And nobody look at Homer’s shoes! They’re weird! Basically, pick your version, but everyone is just off model enough to be recognizable, but completely wrong.

And that’s before you get into the actual usage of The Simpsons characters. Homer is known for dropping black sludge and hanging out at the museum, right? And who could tear Marge Simpson away from the mall? It’s nice that someone tried to wedge the whole family in there before their personalities were completely solidified (and then fossilized), but Maggie randomly shoving bowling balls at Nelson Muntz… doesn’t make the most sense.

The Plot ain’t Bad!

Here he comes!Bart was the pint-sized star of the show back in the 90’s, so naturally he was featured in an adventure where he… fought aliens?

That sounds a little crazy for a typical cartoon sitcom family, but it’s not that absurd. The whole point of a “side story” like this is that it is something you wouldn’t normally see on a “mundane” series until about the 562nd episode, so fighting aliens seems like fair game. After all, it’s an excuse for Bart to get out there and do something good. In fact, it plays into the whole “Bart the scamp” narrative, as it gives our lovable hero an excuse to commit mischief, but, ha ha, he’s doing it for the good of the human race, and no one must ever know. He’s not spray painting trash cans because he’s a lil’ bastard, he’s doing it for the world. Hey, look, this whole thing is a lot more believable than the entire family beating up Homer’s boss in a giant mecha suit.

On the other hand

This is the exact same plot as Fester’s Quest.

Sitcom protagonist learns there’s an alien invasion, gets some help from his family, and ventures forth to save the day.

It's Bart! It's Fester!

They’ve probably even got the same stupid glasses!

And, yes, for anyone wondering, Fester’s Quest was released two years prior. Is this some popular trope I’m missing? Am I out of touch? No, it’s the producers who are wrong.

The Gameplay ain’t Bad!

So the aliens are going to take over the world, and they need particular objects to achieve their global dominance. In each level, Bart is tasked with stealing and/or destroying every one of these objects he can find. For instance, in the first level, the aliens are using objects that are purple, so Bart must do everything in his power to mask or destroy all purple objects in Springfield. And you, Bart-troller, have got options!

There is a lot of purple in Springfield, and this leads to a number of different techniques and tricks for repelling the purple menace. Spray paint is the first and most obvious option, but outright destruction through cherry bombs and firecrackers is allowed. And sometimes you can even find ways to make the purple come to you, like by crank calling Moe’s Tavern and spray painting his signature purple apron (?) when he comes out to murder the ten year old. Honestly, the whole situation, complete with a talking statue imparting sage advice, becomes almost indistinguishable from King’s Quest and other adventure games. And we needed more creativity like that in gaming at the time! We still do! And Mario should have access to firecrackers!

On the other hand

UGHEvery other level sucks.

The first stage presents this huge, expansive Springfield where you have to solve riddles and interact with the denizens of our favorite stink town. And, from that point on… it’s just a lousy platformer. The second level is all floating platforms (over “wet cement”, the lamest of all bottomless pit substitutes) and mini bosses. The third level seems like it might be returning to the “town” atmosphere of the first stage, but then it turns out it was just a few mini games that quickly devolve into more lousy platforming hijinks. The museum of the next stage is an excuse for rejected levels from other videogames (which would later become the theme of 16-bit Simpsons titles), and the final stage is a maze. This is not to imply that the last level is a fun maze; no, this is more akin to “find the right path” castles from the original Super Mario Bros. They were not fun there, and they are certainly not fun in a labyrinth featuring space aliens.

And this all wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Bart didn’t control so absolutely terribly. For reasons that can only be described as a hate crime, Bart’s “run” button is the same as his jump button, so you must hold jump to build momentum, and then… press jump to jump. It’s a little unintuitive. And it also makes some of the smaller platforms nearly impossible. This wouldn’t be noticeable if more of the game was like the introductory level, but instead we’re dealing with nearly impossible gaps seven seconds into the second stage. Oh, and if you want a little more momentum while jumping, then you press the action button, because that makes perfect sense and wastes whatever limited ammo item you might have for the stage. Everything is coming up Milhouse!

The Bosses ain’t Bad

It's Moe!Okay, the levels might suck, but the bosses are cool. The first level sees Bart battling Nelson, just like in Bart the General. The second stage is versus the Babysitter Bandit, who nearly stared in the first Simpsons episode! Krusty Land is dominated by Sideshow Bob, and Dr. Marvin Monroe is employing shock therapy at the head of the museum. There’s no boss for the final level at the Nuclear Power Plant, but one would assume that’s only because C. Montgomery Burns was getting ready for his big beat ‘em up premiere in the arcades.

On the other hand

None of these boss fights make any sense. Okay, maybe Nelson gets a pass, but hopping on a psychiatrist’s head is just confusing. And Bart and Lisa may have discovered the nefarious Ms. Botz thanks to her suitcase, but reversing gravity on bags while Marge chucks bowling balls is a little unusual. Sideshow Bob almost makes sense with the foot stomping thing, but if you somehow missed that episode, it’s nearly impossible to realize what you’re supposed to do during that battle. Is there a single other spot in the gaming universe where foot stomping is the right answer?

And that’s basically The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants in a nutshell. It’s unique among its videogame peers… but it’s also kind of terrible. No fun, and no satisfaction. And no fun and no satisfaction make Goggle Bob something something.

FGC #363 The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants

  • Thanks, GrandpaSystem: I always think of this as a NES game, but it’s also available for Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Game Gear, Master System, and Sega Genesis. The screenshots for most of this article are from the Sega Genesis version.
  • Number of Players: It’s Bart! He’s alone.
  • Port-O-Call: I’m not going to try every version, but I can safely say that the Genesis port has more faithful graphics (though not completely faithful graphics), but less official Simpsons music than the NES version. This is probably for the best, as you can only listen to the Simpsons Main Theme so many times before mailing dead lemmings to Danny Elfman.
  • An End: The finale features Bart Simpson defeating the Space Mutants, and then, in an act of contrition, they paste Bart’s head on Mount Rushmore. Depending on the version, Bart’s head is either erected on the far left or far right side of the monument. Does… that mean something?
  • Favorite Simpsons character (this game): Krusty the Clown is the icon for 1-Ups, and he’s got his own carnival, and you explore a giant version of his head, but I don’t think he actually appears anywhere in the game as a proper human being. So I think he wins by default for just providing a pile of off-brand merch in his absence.
  • HAW HAWDid you know? Bart fights aliens in this title, but they are notably not Kang and Kodos. And, for that matter, the space mutants don’t look consistent between their bipedal and tiny-tentacled forms. And they look totally different between different versions of the title, too. Weird aliens.
  • Would I play again: Nope. Don’t have a cow, man, but this game kinda sucks to play. It’s an interesting curiosity, but I’m not touching it again.


What’s next?
Random ROB has chosen… The Adventures of Bayou Billy for the NES! I guess it’s suddenly very hard NES games week! Or something! Please look forward to it!

FGC #345 Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

SLASHAs the proprietor of GoggleBob.com, I feel that, on occasion, I must take a break from talking about mutant ninjas, fighting games, and whether or not Sonic is good, and talk about the real issues of the day. I have an obligation, nay, a responsibility to tackle the tough stuff, and get some real answers for my loyal followers.

Today, we shall answer one simple question: is gross scary?

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is the pick of the day, so let’s start our research with that apparently forgotten franchise (“Didn’t you just play a game featuring Arthur, like, yesterday?” “Yes. Shut-up.”). Ghosts ‘n Goblins was technically an arcade cabinet that started the franchise, but most people remember that title from its NES port (and also the Commodore 64, assuming you spent a lot of time in your school library, nerd). Despite the fact that no one made it past the second level, most people remember GnG fondly. And it was spooky! There were ghosts and goblins! So the franchise flourished, and we eventually had Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, and its follow-up, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Lot of little n’s, and a lot of ghouls later, we never saw the franchise again, and it was probably for the best. For the best.

But for only containing three entries, GnG had a surprising amount of variety. No… wait, that’s wrong. GnG had almost zero variety between entries, and that’s what makes it all so very confusing. All of the GnG titles start in a graveyard with infinitely respawning undead creatures. Every GnG game must be completed twice, and you have to find some lousy weapon to access the final boss. The final boss is always a huge pile of suck. Possibly every boss is a huge pile of suck. Oh, and, give or take the fidelity of your chosen system, you might be fighting the same monsters as last time, but… uh… are they supposed to be the same? That’s Firebrand again, right? Was he always supposed to be wearing armor? Why is he naked again in the next one? Wait… is this supposed to be a prequel or sequel?

Going up?And it’s that all important bestiary that can confuse the layman. Look, let’s face it, while you or I know that there is some nuance there, is there really that much of a difference between a large monster man with a head in his chest and a large monster man in armor with a head on his arm? We’re still dealing with the same basic concept (head in unusual place) and the same basic boss pattern (head in unusual place can shoot fireballs). Infinite zombies may as well be infinite grim reapers, and an annoying bird is always an annoying bird regardless of genus. Firebrand is the marquee monster of GnG, and he does set the scene for a number of generic monsters across the series. This isn’t Castlevania, you’re not going to encounter Frankenstein(‘s monster) or a werewolf: GnG is all about the demons of the Demon Realm, so we’re basically looking at an army of wings and teeth and maybe a monster plant. Obviously, Capcom created monsters that are better than the modern 3-D standards of “some wolves” and “some wolves, but a different color”, but even the most ardent GnG fan has to admit that it’s difficult to recall which title had the blue guy with an axe (not to be confused with the blue guy with a scythe).

But Ghouls ‘n Ghosts does have something that separates it from its peers: it’s gross.

The original Ghosts ‘n Goblins had endless hordes of Hell, but they were polite hordes of Hell. When Arthur encountered a tattooed ogre, that monster would purely punch a ball (or something?) at his rival. Zombies merely meandered, and multi-headed creatures had the good sense to spit fire, not icky spit. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts took it all a step further. Now there are pig-demon orcs, and their main method of attack is… barfing. And, no, there is no question here. This isn’t lava or… pig juices? Is that a thing? No, this is definitely brown/green puke, and it’s delivered in a disgusting, nonstop stream. And it doesn’t break with the pigs! There are wriggly demon tongue platforms, realistic bugs bigger than buildings, and the infamous Boss of Level 4. Its name is Ohme, and it is an immobile slug with five beating, exposed hearts and a plethora of parasites of multiple shapes and sizes. It’s disgusting, and the way its flesh (scales?) opens to release more and more… bugs is like something out of Dante’s Inferno.

BLECHActually, let’s talk about Le Inferno for a moment. Aside from being Facebook for an era that barely had moveable type (Pope Boniface VIII doesn’t like this post) it also had its share of… fart jokes. Or… something like that. Yes, we’ve all heard of Satan eternally devouring the betrayers while stuck in the coldest of ice blocks, but your English teacher may have skipped over the part where flatterers are cursed to endlessly muck about in a pile of crap. That’s it! Eternity wading through poop. It’s not Shakespeare (note: also full of shit), but it doesn’t exactly sound like a fun time. And Dante knew that! Dante knew that something we’re intimately familiar with on a daily basis (again, to be clear, I am talking about pooping. Everybody got that? Poop) is still considered inordinately gross. It’s a perfectly natural thing! That has created entire industries! Look, there is no other reason in the universe that air freshener exists other than for yo’ stinky ass (and, yes, I am just talking about you. Eat more fiber).

And it is simultaneously ridiculous and completely justified. Poop is gross. Pee is gross. I want to have a man (or pig man) puke on me about as much as I want to jab out my own eyeballs with a rusty pipe. I’m sorry, did that simile disturb you? Yes, blood and guts are gross too, even though many of us eat fresh animal flesh on a daily basis. All of these “natural” secretions are sickening because they’re familiar. Everyone reading this article knows the appearance, texture, and odor of crap, so the idea of splashing through it is wildly unpleasant. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s a lot more relatable than the average afterlife punishment of eternal fire. You’d get used to the heat after a while, right? But poop? Not so much.

DIEAnd maybe that’s why gross is scary. A demon is abstract, worms slinking over your flesh are not. Try as I might, I do not believe there is any circumstance in my life that could ever lead to me facing a fire breathing monster. But having someone puke on me? That could happen. It’s a lot less likely past my college days, but the very thought of such a thing, to feel the chunky, sticky slop of someone’s digestive track on my own skin? I might have to shower for a solid week at just the thought of such an encounter. And, while it’s a little unusual that such puke would melt Sir Arthur’s flesh to the bone, I’m not quite sure it’s a fun experience for Ghouls ‘n Ghosts’ protagonist, either. Can you imagine picking pig vomit out of your beard? Ugh.

So I suppose Ghouls ‘n Ghosts did separate itself from its GnG brethren. Low-fi ghosts and goblins haunted the first adventure, and, while Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts seems like the better game, it did return to the sterility of the first adventure. Give or take a bloody conveyer belt and monster belly in SGnG, the series forsook gross for the multi-headed dragons and fire breathing wolf-bears of traditional fantasy. And, while we don’t exactly need Firebrand literally pissing all over Arthur (we have Deviantart for that), it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for the franchise to return to its “gross” experimental phase. We’ve got the mature rating for a reason, after all, and maybe we can have it applied to a game for something other than blood and tits. Gross is scary. Now maybe we can see some frights beyond jump scares.

Poop scares.

FGC #345 Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

  • System: Sega Genesis for the review, but also available in arcade cabinets and Amiga… did that thing have discs? Cartridges? I have no idea. And before you say it, let’s suppose that “gross” had nothing to do with not appearing on a Nintendo console…
  • Number of players: Two player alternating, which is basically one player for people that can’t share.
  • Favorite Weapon: I love the sword. I love the idea of having a powerful, short range weapon in a game that is meant for projectile weapons. I love Zero. Though I don’t love that the sword makes one of the bosses literally impossible. That’s not so great.
  • So, did you beat it: Yes! And, because this game seems more manageable than the other GnG games, it might have been the first I actually “for real” beat (as in, didn’t use a stage select code). Oh, also, the ending is completely incomprehensible.
    ... What?

    I’m pretty sure the actual writers never beat the game. Or at least the proofers.
  • The Devil Made Me Do It: Firebrand first appears in this title above a pile of skulls. Like, a giant pile of skulls. A pyramid of skulls. I assume this is meant to represent every death-by-Firebrand that happened in the previous title.
  • Did you know? Color palettes for monsters are determined by area. Watch the reaper.
    ... What?

    Adorable.
  • Would I play again: Maybe, when the moon is full and the witching hour is upon us, I might give it another go. I prefer Super (mainly for laser daggers), but this ain’t bad. And it’s a bit more manageable than its less gross predecessor, so that’s a point in its favor.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Taito Legends for the Playstation 2! Hey, remember when you used to be able to buy like sixty “retro games” for twenty bucks? Taito does! Please look forward to it!

QUACK!

FGC #080 Zool 2

NINJA!On a nigh daily basis, I drive into Atlantic City (no longer the highest unemployment rate in the country: those people died of starvation!) via the fabulous Atlantic City Expressway, a strip of roadway paved with the tears of broken dreams. Atlantic City, for those of you that are blissfully unaware, is basically the East Coast’s Las Vegas. I draw the comparison not only because of a heavy emphasis on gambling, stripping, and general debauchery, but also because much of the history of the town is centered on various criminals, to the point that there are random statues around town memorializing so-and-so who founded what-and-what but spent the last years of his life in jail for such-and-such. Combine this with the fact that it’s difficult to cruise so much as a block in this city without passing a pawn shop or porno palace (or both, Dave’s Dildos for Dollars is pretty popular), and you might start to get the impression that Atlantic City is a den of depravity.

But everyone, from the humble smut peddler to whoever is running Trump-not-Trump Taj Mahal, has to make bank, and advertising is the way to do it. Radio, TV, Internet, that’s all fine, but my main exposure to local businesses is through the parade of billboards that I zoom past on the Atlantic City Expressway. I prefaced this article with that little screed on the lack of morals of Atlantic City because if you think you’re driving into a Mormon retreat, you will be divorced of that notion shortly after your third billboard with a “tastefully” nude woman advertising a burlesque show (and, to be clear, that isn’t a turn of phrase, we’ve got actual, honest-to-God “burlesque shows”. It’s like a damn Clint Eastwood flick). I would estimate that, whether they’re advertising sex directly or not, about half the billboards are based almost exclusively on the premise that your wang (don’t have a wang? Meh) will be pleased with Atlantic City (“Come to Generic Beach Bar, our lady customers are sluts!”), and the other half are based on appealing to man’s other baser desires: money and steak. It’s… an oddly specific roadway of ads, particularly when you consider a healthy portion of people keeping Atlantic City financially solvent (or close) are (and this isn’t a stereotype, it’s the actual demographics) elderly Asian women. But, sure Atlantic City, keep hammering that tasteless horny white male demographic. That really seems to be working out for you.

Amongst these billboards for the best ways to satisfy your (assuming you’re a white male, age 25-40 or so) creepiest desires is one, and only one, billboard that “advertises” public serviceGotta go fast messages. It’s an electronic billboard, so it can advertise anything in rapid succession, and it flips between ads for sports events or television shows, but it also displays important messages about stopping child trafficking, prostitution, and underage drinking.

And, in a weird way, it might be worst billboard on the expressway.

Advertising is something of the great equalizer of modern society. Even if you’ve “cut the cord” on cable or adblock every site you find, you’re still constantly bombarded by advertising if you choose to leave your home for greater than five minutes. There mere act of buying groceries, even if you ignore the weekly circular, is now a cold, calculated attempt to get you to buy everything in the store, complete with fresh, green items enticing you at the entrance, and bread and dairy way the hell at the other end of the store so you may be tempted by delicious Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows ™ in the intervening aisles; and you’ll experience this all with a piped in intercom system either playing the greatest hits of yesterday and today (available on iTunes) or a friendly salesvoice just telling you what to buy. That’s a mere, what, hour of your week? Advertising is gonna getcha, whether you know it or not.

This is a problem, because, let’s face it, it’s bad for humanity. No, I’m not one to claim advertising will turn us into mindless pod people that are simply awaiting our next instruction to consume Butterfingers™ now; no, what I’m talking about is the thick layer of cynicism and distrust that is inadvertently created by a world of advertising. How many people do you know that claim advertising “doesn’t work on me,” yet wear any number of branded items? Oh, that doesn’t count, I just bought these randomly… at a humongous retail store or online retailer. But that’s just a side effect of the disease, the most overt symptoms are people that see any kind of advertising, whether it be on television, internet, or olde tyme radio, and naturally assume they’re being tricked into buying something they don’t want. Okay, yes, that’s all advertising is, when you get down to it, but it creates an innate feeling of “everybody is out to get me,” I just don't knowwhich is simply not a good thing when people that need people are the most productive members of society (like, we’re talking almost literal definition of society).

So let’s revisit that billboard. Amongst a string of (occasionally literally) naked attempts to appeal to primal desires is a billboard that is plainly asking you to be a good person. Report child abuse. Stop teenagers from underage drinking. Stop drunk driving. These are all worthwhile, noble pursuits… heck, they’re barely even that “noble”, they’re just how you be a good human being. We need more good humans! They’re in short supply around here! But there’s a problem when the “be a good person” billboard is stuck between every other appeal to a lizard brain that desires only sex and chocolate (that’s what lizards eat, right?). I don’t want to generalize (this is a lie), but the person that starkly tracks the naked breasts billboard is not someone that was worried about drunk driving to begin with, and the person that thinks everything is a scam is going to lump the good message in with all the bad, and assume it’s some kind of trick just the same as the lottery billboards. Give your dreams a chance? Bah! Save a child’s life? Double bah!

I’ve always considered it a point in video gaming’s favor that it is a medium primarily not dominated by advertising. Yes, before you flood the comments with examples of Mutant Turtles shilling for Pizza Hut or how Smash Bros reminds you to buy buy buy every time a new costume is coded, I am aware that advertising and video games are already well and truly connected; but what I’m lauding the medium for is the fact that it is not so entrenched in the advertising world as its other entertainment brothers. Television was brought to you by cool, smooth Death Stick Cigarettes ™ since its birth, and movie theatres make more money hawking products at the preview crowds than actually selling tickets. Comparatively, video games are downright quaint when they’re only shilling a season pass that works with the game that already holds your interest.

Which makes it all the more obvious when a game is so totally soaked in corporate sponsorship.

Zool 2 is a not completely terrible Sonic the Hedgehog clone. Specifically, it’s very reminiscent of Sonic & Knuckles, as you have Sing it with me now!two different heroes (Zool and Zooz) who each have different techniques for overcoming the same obstacles. Actually, that’s kind of inaccurate, the two control very similarly, but their weapons affect different distinct blocks throughout the stages, so it’s possible to take different paths. It’s less the difference between Sonic and Knuckles, and more the difference between Sonic and, I don’t know, some lazy, darker color swap of Sonic. Regardless, this is yet another video game that learned the wrong lessons from Sonic, and while it’s always fun to dash around at top speed, it loses something when you have a very limited life bar, and enemies don’t spawn quickly/obviously enough to be avoided. So creep along like an old lady, because you’ll be in the grave if you’ve actually gotta go fast.

But, as you can likely guess this far into the article, that unpleasantness isn’t what caught my eye. What’s more interesting to me is that Zool 2 is covered from head to toe with ads for Chupa Chups lollipops.

Chupa Chups (is that… plural? Should I be… oh, nevermind) is a company that is no stranger to interesting advertising avenues. Supposedly, it was CC’s founder that first recommended that its candies be placed near the cash register, so “little hands” could grab for the treats and badger their parents well into the 21st century. The Chupa Chups logo was designed by Salvador Dalí, and Madonna was a spokeswoman at one time. Chupa Chups!The current advertising for Chupa Chups lollipops is a play on anti-smoking campaigns with the phrase, “Stop smoking, start sucking”. I… want to say that there had to be a better way to phrase that, but it certainly gets your attention.

So it likely seemed like a good idea to sponsor an “up and coming” video game character like Zool. History has forgotten Zool, but at the time, he had not only video games across every platform, but also a pair of YA novels. Zool was poised to be the next great video game mascot, and we’d all be begging for Zool to join Smash Bros in a few years (“What’s Smash Bros?” “A N64 game.” “What’s a N64?”). Chupa Chups hitched its wagon to the franchise, presumably to get in on the ground floor of this star’s ascent, and must have provided a lot of cheddar for Zool 2.

I presume this because the Chupa Chups logo is everywhere in this game. It’s right there as the game first boots, it’s a scrolling background behind all the text, and it’s a large pickup item that should be discovered and claimed in every level. I assume some of the smaller collectibles are Chupa Chup lollipops, but they’re not nearly as prominent as the logo that is freaking everywhere. You will never forget the company that ponied up for this game.

Which is why it’s kind of funny when advertising mixes with video games. I mean, really, any executive can sit down and watch a movie or read a book and confirm that, yes, their sponsorship has gone to something good, and their product is well represented. Video games, however, are wildly subjective because they have to be “played”, and, Go get it!depending on your experience, you, the player, can get a very different impression than what the designers intended. I literally have no idea what the creators were thinking, in, say, Mega Man X7, but I can safely say that just typing the words “Flame Hyenard” causes a PTSD, reflexive twitch in myself that is unlikely to ever go away. Similarly, if I see the “Now Loading” screen from Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 ever again, it will be far, far too soon.

Zool 2 is a forgettable and not wholly enjoyable video game. It’s probably somewhere around Bubsy in the pantheon of “generally regrettable mascot games” of the era. But good job, Chupa Chups, now every time I see one of your lollipops, I’m going to think of this not at all fun experience. Zool 2 left a bad taste in my mouth, and I rather hope your product doesn’t similarly cause the bile to flow.

So, like the one good billboard on the Atlantic City Expressway, keep advertising out of video games. Yes, it might work, and your product might wind up wrapped into a good experience, but it’s a lot more likely that your pride and joy will get sucked into a void of crass commercialism and anti-fun, and it’ll come off as yet another awkward con in a world filled with them.

Because that’s how they get you.

FGC #80 Zool 2

  • System: Atari Jaguar for the review, but also available on the Amiga and DOS. That’s a murderer’s row of forgotten platforms.
  • Number of Players: 2 player alternating. No, you can’t have two ninja save the world at the same time. They don’t play well together.
  • Animals didn't teach me thisGo Ninja Go: Zool (and Zooz) has one acrobatic ability over his platforming brethren: he can perform triangle jumps off flat walls. Couple this with Ryu of Ninja Gaiden, and I’m forced to conclude that Space Bounty Hunter Samus Aran is also a ninja. And Mario, depending on the game.
  • Just play the gig, man: Also forgot to mention: the soundtrack is primarily composed of fart noises, as if everything was slapped together by a sixth grader with a Casio keyboard.
  • Favorite Chupa Chups Lollipop flavor: Cherry. Wait… where are these questions coming from?
  • Did you know? Zool’s female counterpart is named Zooz. Replace the Z’s in that name with B’s. Classy.
  • Would I play again: Even if I was hungering for some white, hot Atari Jaguar action, this wouldn’t be the game I’d play. Hell, if I really wanted to satisfy the Zool 2 itch, I’d hit Bubsy, and you know that’s a bad sign.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Toki: Going Ape Spit for the Sega Genesis. Oh, what lovely punnery. Come on, do the monkey with me! Please look forward to it!