Tag Archives: dinosaurs

FGC #278 Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus

Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus is an abysmal platforming game for the SNES. It has floaty controls, terrible stage design, and, despite having the entire prehistoric period to draw upon, populates its lousy levels with the least interesting group of sad little wannabe mascots this side of the last Sunsoft release. BtB is an awful game, but I can’t completely fault it, because it’s trying to help kids with asthma. Mind you, it’s not doing a very good job at that either, but sometimes it’s enough to see your malady, disability, or just plain “otherness” normalized. Superman and Batman don’t have asthma, but Bronkie does, and he manages to (ineptly) save his planet. It’s okay to have asthma! You can still do anything! Videogames told me so!

Which brings us to the sad, true topic of today’s post. Gentle readers, I think it’s time you knew the truth. I, Goggle Bob, have a disability.

I am left-handed.

It’s very difficult to be left-handed. The world is made for the right-handed, and even the most basic of tools are often aimed at the more dominant majority. Everyone knows about the trials of using the “wrong” kind of scissors, but have you ever had the pleasure of using a right-handed gravy ladle in your left hand? It makes properly pouring sauces impossible, and, as someone that subsists almost entirely on gravy, there is something distinctly dehumanizing about being denied even the most basic of (animal fat-soaked) meals. And then there’s the whole mentor thing: want to learn how to properly hit the ball or play guitar? Sorry, you’re going to spend the next couple of years trying to find just one experienced lefty for tutoring, and by the time that quest is complete, you won’t even remember why you started in the first place (reminder to self: it was to pick up chicks). Being left-handed is hard!

ArghBut there is hope. There are many famous and successful left-handed people. Oprah? Left-handed. Bill Gates? Left-handed. Clinton, Bush, Obama? Lefty, lefty, lefty. There are even some excellent, unexpected left-handed idols throughout history; we’ve got Hendrix, Van Gough, Curie, and Aristotle. Nietzsche slayed God with his left hand, and Napoleon changed European road safety forever with his left paw. And there are great fictional lefties in entertainment, too, like John McClane, Rocky, Arya Stark, Fluttershy, and half the Simpsons cast. They might not be local, but it’s not hard to find a lefty to look up to somewhere in the world, whether it be reality or fiction.

Well, except maybe in videogames.

The first videogame I really remember noting a character’s dominant hand is Final Fantasy 4. Most of the characters in that adventure are right-handed, but one of the earliest introduced warriors is Kain Highwind, a left-handed dragoon. That’s cool! He can jump and fly and wears awesome armor and… oh, wait, he’s a traitor. Twice. He’s endangering the world exclusively so he can make out with his best friend’s girlfriend, and, incidentally, he’s left-handed. FEARSo we’re back to lefty equals evil? Wow, how progressive, Square. How about Final Fantasy 4: The After Years? That game introduced about 10,000 new, original, useless characters whom we must pilfer, anybody new to the playable cast a lefty? Yep! We’ve got… Golbez. The other guy that spent all of Final Fantasy 4 trying to destroy the world. Boo, Final Fantasy 4. Boo.

Of course, there are some of you that are likely champing at the bit to smack that comment button and inform this lefty that I’ve missed the most prominent left-handed videogame character of all time: Link of The Legend of Zelda. And, a few years ago, I would have been right there with you: Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, Zelda, and Olimar, is left-handed, and, presumably in a bout of narcissism, made Link, the hero of Hyrule, a lefty as well. And that tradition continued with aplomb until Twilight Princess, when the “sword hand” matched the player’s right wiimote, and Link was transformed into a righty. However, this switch also caused all of Hyrule to become mirrored for the length of Link’s adventure, so it was kind of forgiven. This is just bizarro Hyrule, nothing unusual about that, of course Link is a righty in this world. But then it happened again in Skyward Sword, and the world didn’t even flip that time. First Link in Hyrule recorded history, and he’s a righty for some reason. And then we got Breath of the Wild, and now he’s right-handed again, and there’s not a wiimote/motion control excuse, he’s just, ya know, right-handed, like normal people. But don’t worry, lefties! Hyrule Warriors introduced an all-new left-handed character to compensate: Cia, the evil twin that is trying to take over the world so she can get laid! Yay! Another shining example of the menacing left!

BAMThough it’s interesting that Hyrule Warriors, with a properly left-handed Link and Cia, allows for an actual lefty vs. lefty battle. That hardly ever happens, as, if you’ve got one (likely evil) left-handed character on the roster, you don’t need any more diversity hires. As an easy example, Soda Popinski is the one southpaw boxer in Punch-Out, so we don’t need another one (even though Little Mac is clearly based on lefty Rocky). And that one lefty is usually meant to be an evil twin of the more virtuous, right-handed hero. A right hand grips the Buster Sword, but the Masamune is firmly grasped only in the left (thanks again, Final Fantasy!). But there is one franchise that occasionally allows two lefties to be seen on the same stage: Soulcalibur. Here, we have both the villainous Nightmare and the villainous Raphael using their left… Wait, dammit… There are like sixty heroes and seven bad guys in that series, and our only two left-handed characters are both evil? Argh…

There are heroic lefties, of course. We’ve got sometimes Link. We’ve got box-art Crono. We’ve got Dunban of Xenoblade… who is only using his left hand because his right arm has been effectively destroyed through right-handed heroism. Um… huh. So you’re either evil, or it’s a handicap? Wonderful. Being left-handed is wonderful.

We got any other left-handed heroes lying around here?

Nero, the bastard of the franchise

You bastard! You destroyed the franchise and made me play the same stupid game twice!

So ya know what? You got asthma? That sucks, and I feel for ya. But at least you got a pair of platforming dinosaurs to make you feel better. The best us lefties ever got was an elf that got promoted to right-handedness when he got popular.

Hey, gaming, I’m saluting you with my left hand right now, but I’m only using one finger.

FGC #278 Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus

  • System: Super Nintendo. Maybe we can put together a petition to get this one on the Virtual Console. I’m sure we’d be able to get a whole six signatures.
  • Number of players: The headlining dinosaur is actually part of a duo. You have the choice between Bronkie and Trakie the Triceratops. I’m assuming Trakie is supposed to be female, but I’m dinosaur-racist, so I can’t really tell the difference between a boy lizard and a girl lizard.
  • Wanna get high? Seriously, there’s no other explanation for what is happening here:

    Dude

    Is this what the cool kids call vaping?

  • Pedantry Corner: Yes, I am aware Palom of Final Fantasy 4 is also left-handed. However, I’m not exactly aware which one of the twins, Palom or Porom, is actually Palom. And that’s the problem.
  • Back to Bronkie: Every stage contains at least two trivia questions about asthma. I’m pretty sure some of the “wrong” answers could lead to dead kids… and those wrong answers might wind up sticking in young minds… so maybe this game isn’t the best thing for children.
  • Did you know? Wavequest produced this game for children with asthma, but it also created Packy and Marlon, a game for kids with diabetes. And the stars of that game are elephants. I… feel like that is maybe a subtle insult.
  • Would I play again? Absolutely not. Reread the first paragraph for more details, but this game is so boring, it’s sinister.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Walking Dead by Telltale Games! Time for decisions, zombies, and decisions about zombies. Please look forward to it!

NOOOOO

FGC #228 Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

Here he comes!I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around Turok: Dinosaur Hunter since ROB chose the dang game, and now you’re going to have to read my meandering thoughts.

First of all, if I hadn’t already written that Goldeneye article, this one would be almost exactly what you see there. I have never been “into” FPSs, and, frankly, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter never did that genre any favors. I guess it was the first unique FPS on a Nintendo platform? If we’re not including Faceball? Look, I’m not a FPSologist (I’m still trying to work out the plural of “FPS” here), but I can tell you that Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was a big deal with people that would care about such a thing. It’s like Doom! But for the home consoles! Think of the inevitable rage wars to come! And, honestly, before I played the game, I was kind of excited about Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I mean, seriously, you can’t go too wrong with dinosaur hunting, and I want to say I was still riding a wave of dinosaur excitement from Jurassic Park, the movie that reaffirmed everyone’s longstanding belief that T-Rexes are cool. Oh, and it’s one of those games that has every weapon from bow ‘n arrows to grenade launcher. I’m always happy to see that.

And then it occurred to me: the only reason I knew about Turok’s better points before it was actually in my hands was Nintendo Power. As I’ve mentioned before, I read that magazine from cover to cover on a remarkably frequent basis (I can probably quote Counselor’s Corner more accurately than my own mother), and if some game made it into that elusive (re: not at all elusive) cover spot, then you better believe I was on board (Well, except Ken Griffey Baseball, I’m not one for the sports). And Nintendo Power spoke of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter in the same excited tones as other N64 hits like Mario 64 or Killer Instinct Gold, so obviously there must be some meat on these dinosaur bones.

GET EMSo I got Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for Christmas and, spoilers, it sucked. It’s not my genre, I know that, but I’ve made it past the first level in a few other “not my thing” games. I’ve never been a big fan of the pre-RE4 Resident Evil games, but I always gave the ol’ college try on those zombie ‘em ups. That didn’t happen with Turok. And, yes, I have to add the caveat that maybe Turok gets better after its introductory stage, and maybe the raptors stop running into my bullets, and maybe any opponent with heavy weaponry doesn’t instantly kill Turok, and maybe, just maybe, the jumping improves from the absolute horror show that inevitably leads to a mountain of Turok corpses…. But I don’t have much hope. I have (had?) friends that were into Turok back in the day, and, as far as I remember, not a one ever mentioned, “Oh it gets so much better after it turns out the whole thing is taking place in primitive Middle Earth, and you’re secretly King of the Dwarfs”.

Suffice it to say, I did not hold out much hope for the ROB-mandated half hour of Turok that preceded writing this article. “Let’s get this over with” was my primary thought on the matter. And then I actually played Turok for the first time in… wow, the game turns twenty this March? Yeesh. Anyway, I played Turok and…

Well, it still sucks.

But I can see where they were going with this. There are arrowheads that, like coins in Mario, lead Turok forward. There are initial “weak” enemies, and then a progression of stronger critters. Initial “sub bosses” and such seem to be easy to take down even if you suffer a few hits. And, while it is still absolutely annoying, the first major “jumping area” is over a shallow lake that forgives misses, and doesn’t instantly lead to total Turok death. There are some… passable concessions to “is this your first FPS?” in the opening areas of Turok, and, given its placement in the grand timeline of videogames, that seems completely reasonable. Turok is still awful, but the opening “soft tutorial areas” seem less… militant about it.

And then I realized what I wanted all along: I needed a straight-up Nintendo produced FPS.

Hot hot hotSay what you will about tutorial stages and golden guide blocks and whatever, but Nintendo is great at “is this your first videogame? Well, we’re here to help!” World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. and Miyamoto’s “I design world 2 first, then I go back and make the baby training levels” design philosophy have been analyzed repeatedly by smarter men than I, but it seems that you can point to nearly any Nintendo game in existence and see the similar thinking. Star Fox? This is how you play a shoot ‘em up, and, by the way, if you’re feeling saucy, trying flying through those arches, and see what happens. Wii Fit? Let’s start with basic standing, and eventually you’ll be twisting yourself into a pretzel and balancing perfectly. Mario Kart? Assuming you don’t start time trialing Rainbow Road right out of the box, those opening tracks and the 50cc are there specifically so you can learn the ropes and maybe win a trophy while you’re doing it. And that same guiding hand even seems to have been applied to “second party” games, like Pokémon or Donkey Kong Country. Pokémon is the most beloved JRPG series worldwide, and part of that must be because of its general… gentleness in poking the player forward. That, and the sheer adorableness of Hypno.

WeeeAnd now I kinda feel like the entire reason I missed out on enjoying so many FPSs along the way is because Nintendo never made its big “this is the FPS from Nintendo” franchise. Before and after Turok, it was a long time before I played anything that even looked like a FPS that took the time to “train” the player for the hard parts, and, without that base level of skill, I never got into the genre. It’s not Acclaim’s fault. It’s not Id Software’s fault. It’s Nintendo’s fault! You failed me, Nintendo! Where’s the whacky, cartoon FPS that gets me into understanding the genre? Help me get good at death matches, Nintendo!

Anyway, I feel like washing the stink of Turok out of my brain with some Splatoon, so if anyone wants to hop on later, let me know.

FGC #228 Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

  • System: N64 and PC. And I guess there was a remake recently for modern systems? I’m not even going to address that concept.
  • Number of players: Just one. The days of mandatory death matches were still a few months away.
  • Hey, wait, you cited Donkey Kong Country as an example, shouldn’t Goldeneye count, too? Let’s claim Rare was well on its way out at that point, and was taking fewer notes from Nintendo. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  • ARGHRelics of a bygone age: Oh, my controller pak isn’t saving data properly? I am shocked by this information.
  • Say something nice: Turok climbs vines/ladders/etc like a boss. So fast! A certain Hyrulian Hero could learn a thing or two from this guy.
  • Dirty Rotten Cheater: Like GTA, this is yet another game that is enhanced by its extensive cheat list. Disco Mode? Yes please.
  • So, did you beat it: Actually, I lied in the article. I did play levels other than Level 1, as I cheated forward quite a few times to see what was going on. I was not impressed. I do think I cheated straight to the credits one time, though?
  • Did you know? Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was actually basically a promotional game for the Turok: Dinosaur Hunter comic published by Acclaim Comics. Acclaim Comics came about when Acclaim purchased Voyager Communications (founded by Jim Shooter) back during the 90’s comics crash, and then Acclaim Comics became simply Valiant when Acclaim went bankrupt. Look, what’s important is that Ivar, Time Walker is in the same universe as Turok… or… something?
  • Would I play again: Not even if it meant I could win my own pet T-Rex. And I really want a T-Rex.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Wrath of the Black Manta for the NES! Look out, Crocodile Hunters, the Black Manta is coming to town! Please look forward to it!

Noice

FGC #110 Primal Rage

No one really wins65 million years ago dinosaurs roamed the Earth. They ruled the world with an iron fist, crushing all other life forms with their clawed talons and mighty jaws. They were the dumbest creatures on the planet, but they were the majority, and the strongest, so they owned the place. However, political allegories must come to an end, and, according to top ranking scientists, Lavos fell to Earth and wiped out our giant lizard friends. Thus ended the tale of the dinos.

Now, even after millions of years, there is still a romanticism involved with the thunder lizards. Whereas the average adult hardly gives the lumbering lugs a second thought, children are often fascinated with creatures that, given the opportunity, would crush any manner of mammal that made them eat asparagus. Dinosaurs are embodiments of reckless power and strength, and, to the average hyperactive five year old, man is that cool. And, since most of us were once five, it will always be in our collective unconscious that dinosaurs are cool. Dinosaurs can do anything! And they can market anything.

Or at least try…

Meet Primal Rage, and, in this case, the SNES version, because it holds a special place in my heart… as cancer. Yes, one day I will die of heart cancer, and one of you crazy readers will say, “That’s because of Primal Rage! It killed him! It killed Goggle Bob!” And then, following a frivolous lawsuit with national attention, all heart cancer will be referred to as “Primal Rage” and my life will not have been in vain.

Yes, that’s why I maintain this site. For the future.

But back to our past. Closer to our epoch than the Age of Dinosaurs, the Age of Fighting Games occurred the precise moment it was cool to watch a FIGHT!hairy Russian wearing a speedo smash a petite Chinese woman into a pile of barrels. Think it was ’92. Anyway, from there, Mortal Kombat came out of nowhere to become a tech demo that went on to create a franchise based on unfettered violence. So producers knew people wanted fighting and they wanted violence, but there needed to be a new gimmick, something to separate a new game from all the Art of Fightings and Time Killerses. And who should come up with that new gimmick but Atari. Yes, the people responsible for the Atari Jaguar, the people who nearly leveled the gaming world with their amazing marketing strategies and game releases, the people who turned away little old Nintendo and that silly Donkey Kong, they had an idea. And that idea was Primal Rage. It’s dinosaurs fighting!

… Now you know everything you need to know about Primal Rage.

Well, to elaborate a little, it’s a Mortal Kombat generation fighting game, which means:

  • 1 on 1 fighting in 7 different arenas, each themed after the 7 different fighters
  • Unintelligible, seemingly random button motions required just to make your character burp fire
  • Combos that consist of guessing the proper button order for “punch in the face twice”
  • Fatalities with even weirder button motions for the major payoff of maybe a decapitation

But there were a few new and interesting things added to the fighting genre:

  • Eating humans chilling in the background for additional health

Yummy!And that’s it. There’s also the “final boss” that refuses to exist, so you just fight the previous six opponents again in an endurance match. Then the game ends, which is an event that should make anyone happy.

Speaking of endings, the plot of the game is that a meteor crashes on Earth, decimates civilization, awakens dinosaurs (dinosaur gods to be precise), arbitrarily moves the continents about, and irreparably destroys humanity’s ability to spell, as Earth becomes Urth. So a meteor destroys man and brings about dinosaurs? Man, those guys at Atari should get a prize. A “Being so Smart” prize. These dinosaur gods are awake and anxious to beat each other to death, because apparently that worked so well the last time they were animated.

And let’s meet those dino gods!

Armadon is an ankylosaurus, which is the walking armory of the dinosaur kingdom. Roughly every inch of this guy is covered in spikes, which would make him a horrible Mega Man stage. As essentially a walking mace, you’d think this guy would be one of the “evil” dinosaurs, but instead he’s a lover of nature and harmony, so naturally he clubs the tar out of his enemies. Blood is good for trees, I think. Evil trees.

Talon is the velociraptor, and has a special finishing move wherein he opens a door really slowly. It’s not very useful, but it builds tension. He’s the fastest of the group, which syncs up with actual raptor facts, but they’re supposed to be faster because they’re Yuckdramatically smaller than the other guys, so I guess Atari only got so far into The Big Book of Dinosaurs: A First Book for Young Children before quitting.

Blizzard is Sub-Zero.

Chaos (not chaos) is a giant ape who coincidentally looks just like Blizzard, except Chaos is red and Blizzard is blue. Really, who needs extra character models when you’re doing alright with just five? Chaos is based on every seven year old you’ve ever met, so he flails, farts, and pukes to victory. And if that isn’t bad enough, he has one fatality where he vomits into his own mouth, and another (which is censored in the SNES version) where acidic pee is involved. Kids love dinosaurs and farting, why didn’t this game do better?

Diablo is our complimentary fire-based tyrannosaurus. As if his name didn’t give it away, he’s supposed to be evil supreme around Urth, and thus hates the good, ice-based Blizzard. Diablo also brings to the forefront why a dinosaur-based fighting game is stupid. Imagine yourself the same size as a T-Rex. Now imagine boxing that T-Rex. You win! T-Rexes are not meant for fighting with their limbs: their arms are nigh useless, their legs are meant for standing, and when their tail isn’t in its normal spot, it’s falling down time. Oh well, at least this one evolved to fire breathing level. No one winsDiablo and Bowser should hang out.

Sauron is the good tyrannosaurus, and the orange version of Diablo. He seeks the one ring that will allow him to conquer Middle Urth, and finally… dammit! Wouldn’t it have been cool if the finale of Lord of the Rings was a hobbit fighting a t-rex? Like, Frodo’s all like, “I must use the one ring for good!” and puts it on and becomes this giant robot that shoots lasers out of its eyes and Sauron the tyrannosaurus is all like “You should have stayed in the shire!” and then they fight for a while and finally Sam has the good judgment to press the self destruct button on the ring which blows up the robot and Sauron and Frodo has sacrificed himself and the day is saved. Dude! That would have been bitchin’! Oh, and Gollum is a cyborg from the future or something.

Vertigo is a dilophosaurus, so she has all of the abilities of the dilophosaurus from Jurassic Park, which is basically just spitting acid on Seinfield extras. Vertigo is the only female dinosaur in the group, which doesn’t automatically draw comparisons to another fighting game with fatalities, color swapped fighters, an ice wielding warrior, a fire based warrior who hates the ice warrior, and a 14.2% female ratio of playable characters. Sonya Vertigo is also supposed to be the goddess of chaos, despite another character being named Chaos. The world is a complicated place.

If this game sounds flat and horrible, then I’m doing my job. There’s a mere seven characters, with five character models among them, which has to be some sort of record for laziness put forth by an established video game company. And the animation of these fighters, especially on the SNES, is Poundinginsanely limited. If there’s one thing a fighting game needs, its animations that seem to actually correspond to what you’re doing, and these guys… one step and it’s about a half hour before it looks like you can use a move again. Forget about jumping, it all moves at a pace that is indescribably wrong. Somehow the AI knows when to attack, though, so get ready for a long haul if you’re hoping to win. And I bet you never thought seven fights would be a “long haul”.

So Atari, in the same year Squaresoft released Chrono Trigger, gave us all Primal Rage for the Super Nintendo, a game so bad, it will eventually be the death of me. Don’t weep for me, for I know my fate, I chose it, albeit without knowing the full extent of the pain involved, but it was my choice. Just remember, for future generations, that this game is pain, inside and out, and should be avoided like radioactive ass lice.

… Dinosaurs are still cool, though.

FGC #110 Primal Rage

  • System: Super Nintendo, but also Sega Genesis, Game Gear, 3DO, PC, Gameboy, Playstation, 32X, Sega Saturn, and not just the Atari Jaguar, but the Atari Jaguar CD. Oh, and arcade.
  • Number of players: Can I just say “fighting game” and be done with it? No? Two.
  • Merchandising: I guess someone thought this game was going to take off, because, in addition to being released for every system that ever was at the time, they also produced a Primal Rage comic series, action figures, and even a novel. Michael Crichton was not involved.
  • And I bet you bought all the action figures: Well… they were cool! And there were a couple of characters that didn’t appear in the game, like this rad skeleton-dinosaur with wings that… oh man, so cool.
    So cool
  • Legacy of Rage: I guess that skeleton-dinosaur, Necrosan, was supposed to appear in Primal Rage 2, but that game never materialized, because there is a God. I guess the plot of Primal Rage 2 is what the novel is based on, too.
  • Favorite Fighter: Blizzard has Don King hair. Winner.
  • Did you know? Primal Rage was the first fighting game to show a “percent of damage done” indicator after performing a combo. Goes to show that even in the smelliest turd, there still might be a peanut worth saving. That analogy just made be throw up a little.
  • Would I play again: I’m more likely to play with the action figures again.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Konami Classics Series Arcade Hits for the Nintendo DS! I believe that’s the compilation that contains arcade Contra, Gradius… and probably at least one other game? Guess we’ll find out. Please look forward to it!