Tag Archives: potato

FGC #406 Beyond the Beyond

FartImagine, if you will, a butt.

But this is no ordinary butt; no, this is a butt that is, somehow, completely divorced from a body. It is unmistakably a human butt, but there is no attached human to be found, so there is simply a large butt, hovering at roughly eyelevel. And, were this merely a disembodied, floating butt, perhaps you could live with that you are seeing. Perhaps it would be simply enough to know that there are now flying butts, and that’s that, may as well get out of here and go clock in at the hamburger factory. But, once again, this butt surprises you, for, you see, this butt, despite being attached to no figure or digestive tract, has a chronic, unmistakable case of diarrhea. Butt is pushing out a constant stream of liquid excrement, and that accompanies every sight, sound, and smell you can envision. As a result, it is difficult to look at the ass in question, because… Ugh… It just doesn’t stop. Why is this allowed to continue? Where is it all coming from? Where is all of this… substance going?

And then, slowly, you realize there is an answer to that question. You understand that your senses have failed you. The sensory overload of… everything involved in this situation caused you to miss something very obvious: There is a second butt.

And the second butt is much like the first. It is simply a butt, disconnected from anything that may actually support a butt. It is slightly lower than the first butt, but it still seems to be above the ground under its own, unknown power. If you look closely, you will notice this butt appears to have a mole of some kind, so it is not a carbon copy of Butt A, but you do not have the acumen of Sir Mix-a-Lot, so you cannot see much of a difference between butts otherwise. This is just a second, horrible butt, and… Oh God… it’s doing something… It’s doing something terrible.

It is made of poopButt #2 is… it’s absorbing… eating?… It is consuming the unending stream of gooey crap pouring out of #1. And, in response to this everlasting torrent of ordure, Butt #2 is somehow puking back at #1. It’s a butt! That substance is not supposed to come out of a butt! But, no, it is unmistakably vomit, and it is shooting straight up and into the first offending ass. And, lack of intestines or not, it appears this is how these Gemini butts maintain their equilibrium. They are constant. They are eternal. And you cannot look away. Despite everything. Despite the awful sight before you, despite the smell that you are certain is going to follow you for months, despite the fact that you can almost feel flakes of dung and bile clinging to your hair, you cannot leave. You could no more turn your back on this sight than abandon a needy baby, because you know you are gazing upon something unique. It is impossible and horrible and possibly the single worst thing you have ever seen, but you know it is something that may never been seen again. It is the product of a heartless, capricious universe, but, even as the juices start to rise in your own throat, you know this image is going to stay with you for the rest of your days, and it would be folly to try to escape.

You are now in a realm not of sight and sound, but of atrocious butts. You are in the Butt Zone.

And only there, in the Butt Zone, will you understand what it’s like to play Beyond the Beyond.

Beyond the Beyond is an awful game. Let me count the ways.

• Beyond the Beyond was a JRPG released in late-1995/mid-1996 (depending on your region). This was the golden age of JRPGS! We already had glorious Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger had just been released, and even “lesser” JRPGs were still unique, amazing experiences. Ogre Battle? Breath of Fire? They may not have been perfect games, but they were powerful, epic tales on systems that also hosted Rocko’s Modern Life licensed products. Beyond the Beyond is not an epic tale. Beyond the Beyond appears to be Dragon Quest. One. That may have cut it back in 1986, but not just about a year shy of the release of Final Fantasy 7.

These dudes

• It’s not just about the graphics, either. Mother 3 has “retro” graphics, but they’re some of the most expressive pixels you’ll ever see. Here, the graphics are woefully behind the storytelling, so a heartfelt scene wherein a family mourns their fatally wounded child accidentally features some manner of Mr. Potato Head.

POTATO MAN

• Beyond the Beyond apes Dragon Quest to a fault, complete with a limited, by-character inventory system, and a goddamn “TALK / SEARCH / ITEM” context menu. This could work in a 90s JRPG (it certainly worked for Earthbound), but it might have to be a JRPG where NPCs don’t continue walking while you bring up the menu, so you’re “TALK”ing to air after a villager hoofs it across town. Oh, there’s an “R” automatic check/talk button? Why not just make that the standard!?

• But that limited inventory might be the greatest sin in this title, as it pairs poorly with the other grand problem of Beyond the Beyond: the encounter rate is insane. There is a new random encounter every three to five steps. You will encounter as many battles walking from a town to the next dungeon as would normally be inside the final castle of most JRPGs. This means you are constantly depleting healing resources, and the idea of keeping anything else in your inventory is folly. Even one antidote for a poison status that never comes seems silly. But if you do wind up poisoned? Hoo boy, that’s gonna be a fun time.

• And that encounter rate also makes the mages of the party completely useless. If you must fight thirty random battles in the smallest dungeon, and your wizard blows through his fireball charges within the first seven fights, welcome to 1 HP Staff Damage Town. Your (one) healing mage isn’t much better, either, as keeping everyone topped off is nigh-impossible on her meager spell charges. Like every JRPG, MP gets more plentiful as the adventure continues, but the spells also escalate in pricing, so you’re pretty much always going to be lacking oomph from your mages.

• Look at this bullshit

Terrible

• But speaking of healing, at a normal leveling pace, monsters pretty reliably cut off about a third of your HP per hit. To be clear on that math, your chosen hero will have zero HP after three hits during any given battle. But! Beyond the Beyond introduces the LP system, which means that after your HP hits zero, you will simply be temporarily stunned, and then a seemingly random amount of LP will restore about half of your HP. That’s a neat concept! Unfortunately, in execution, it just means that fighters with low HP are stun-locked forever, constantly being “healed” by LP, but then taking that next hit, and going right down again. And LP is impossible to restore (either impossible, or I found no way to do it through the entire game) while inside a dungeon. And dungeons don’t even have floor numbers, left alone an indicator on how long any given maze might be, so good luck with rationing your HP/LP/MP.

• The monster designs might be the best part of the game. Though that is sullied somewhat by the fact that there are approximately ten monsters reskinned and recolored roughly 10,000 times. And there’s no geography to the monsters! There are the exact same monsters half way across the planet from each other, simply because the plot dictates you’ll be visiting those two locations in quick succession. And why the hell are there monsters on the gigantic beanstalk you just grew!?

I hate you• And there are like seven bosses in the entire game. Three of them are in the final dungeon. But some dungeons do end with a boss, so you never have any clue if you need to save up your assets for that final push against a dark knight, or if you’ll just get to cast an exit spell and call it a day. And, lest we forget, bosses are HP sponges that demand your mages be in fighting shape. The final boss has 4,000 HP; the average monster in that dungeon has 80 HP.

• It’s not related to anything in particular, but there’s a sewer level, and the plot mandates that you trudge through it five separate times. That is a gross affront to God.

• While we’re on the subject of trudging, the dungeons seem to be designed around punishing the player into walking more, and thus suffering more encounters. Puzzles within dungeons are constantly wasting your time (“Oh, now I have to walk back to the first switch, flip that, and then switch the third switch”), and wasting your steps. Which means more battles, and more resource drains. So every time you don’t solve a puzzle immediately, it hurts. It really hurts. You’ll be begging for really easy puzzles so your poor party can survive to the next save point… but then what’s even the point of having a puzzle at all?

• Oh, and of course you can only save in towns. Your average dungeon can take an hour, and if you wipe on its (potential) boss, you’ll be wasting another hour to skulk back through. Death in this game at least lets you save your levels and treasure… though you do restart with a completely dead party, save the hero. Good luck wasting your treasure on reviving your buddies at the only church in town!

DAMMIT!• But, through it all, Beyond the Beyond’s greatest sin is constantly chastising the player for having hope. Samson is an early recruit, and he has amazing stats, and strength enough to make random encounters a breeze. So, naturally, after three battles, he’s cursed to Level 1, and not only has dramatically weakened stats, but he will be randomly paralyzed and damaged by the curse affliction for half the game. A wise old sage gives each of your combatants an orb of light for switching party members… but it will still be another three hours or so before you get an extra party member. If you don’t recruit any of the hidden characters, you will never need this orb of light… but it still takes up a sport in everyone’s inventory anyway. Teleporting between towns is only unlocked after you’ve acquired extra party members, and is the most aggravating version of character juggling I’ve ever seen. Class changes don’t actually increase your stats, they’re simply an excuse to reset to Level 1 to hopefully gain more levels/level up bonuses. You acquire a freaking dragon as your first airship, but there is literally only one extra place that he can access. When you gain an enormous, flying monolith, you’re still only flying to one new location, and have to walk the rest of the way. And at no point in the game do you ever earn a “Knights of the Round” or “Ultimate” spell; you’re always stuck struggling upstream, and even hidden “ultimate items” seem to be all but required. There’s a revive spell! It’s nearly impossible to find without a FAQ! And the spell’s MP cost makes it useless! Beyond the Beyond hates the player.

Hm… Maybe comparing Beyond the Beyond to a ceaseless stream of shit was too kind…

FGC #406 Beyond the Beyond

  • System: Playstation 1. Somehow, this title has not seen a rerelease anywhere.
  • Number of players: You’ll have to suffer this one alone.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: I’ve had this article in mind for a long time.
  • Say something nice: The localization ain’t bad for the time, and, for an early Playstation 1 game, there are barely any noticeable load times. … And that’s about it.
  • This seems niceNow for further complaints: There’s a super secret character available for going against your normal instincts during the boss of the second to last dungeon. Your “reward” for acquiring this character is a fighter with practically Level 1 stats and equipment that could barely handle the first dungeon. This game hates you.
  • Do you know about Timed Hits? There’s a sort of “active” battle system in Beyond the Beyond, and you can theoretically smack the right button at the right time for blocks or criticals. Unfortunately, it’s very finicky, and there isn’t a single tutorial or scrap of evidence the system even exists during the game proper. It is mentioned in the manual, though, so it doesn’t seem to be a Gamefaqs rumor…
  • Return of the King: This title was developed by Camelot Software, who would go on to develop the Golden Sun franchise. I’m pretty sure I never got into that series as a direct result of BtB PTSD. This is also why I can never shop at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
  • Did you know? There’s a secret opening cinema that you can view by holding Up+Triangle when the game is first loading. It’s weird that it’s hidden behind a code, as it is literally the start of the story, and the first thing referenced when the game properly starts up.

    COLD, DEAD EYES

    On the other hand, it makes the hero look like a dead-eyed fiend, so maybe there’s a reason it was ditched.

  • Would I play again: I never beat this game as a child, but I decided to finish it now simply to say I have experienced the entirety of Beyond the Beyond. And you know what? This game is appalling. It will never be played again. Ever.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Knuckles Chaotix for the 32X! Yay! It’s finally Knuckles’ time to shine! Please look forward to it!

NOW GO AWAY

FGC #010 Ice Climber

Birds are basically dinosaursPopo could not remember a time when this was not his life.

Winters were cold in Popo’s village. A chilling frost blew over the land, and the once verdant greens of his happier days gave way to an icy white that left nothing but death in its wake. What few, precious vegetables had been harvested were collected and stored for the long winter, hopefully enough to last until Spring, hopefully enough to stave off death.

The arrival of the condor was the worst day of Popo’s life even before it came to define his existence. The children were playing, building snowmen and imprinting angels, when the shadow of real wings appeared. Cries were heard all around, not of fear of the bird itself, but what it represented, and the repercussions of its dastardly act. The condor stole all of the food in the village, every last crop, and now life had gone from “difficult” to “unsustainable”. No more would the children play, for how could they? The young and old alike knew the darkness that was waiting for them, and without provisions, it would be there before the thaw. Hell, now it seemed that glimpsing the full moon may be an impossible goal.

Popo didn’t have much, but he had what he needed. A heavy coat, thick shoes, a wooden mallet (used for cookery back in happier days): this would be all he would take on his venture to reclaim his village’s vegetables. He would climb that icy mountain, and steal back the food, nay, hope that the cowardly condor had pilfered. He didn’t do it for glory (which, he may admit, was tempting), nor for the food itself (as one of the heartiest villagers, he might have survived on what meager crumbs remained), but for his people. For the elders that had raised him up from a babe, for his friends who had supported his endeavors, and most of all, for the children, who had no future without the vittles atop that mountain.

Popo nearly left alone, but he was joined by Nana at the last moment. Nana had all the same provisions as Popo… well, nearly the same, her parka was more of a pink than blue… and, while many claimed “a girl” would simply slow Popo down, Popo welcomed Nana with open arms. This would be a long, tireless journey, and companionship would be welcome. There, at the base of that first mountain, they vowed to support each other, but if ever there was peril, if ever there was a danger that would threaten to destroy them both, but one could be saved, the way was clear: someone had to survive this expedition, so leaving a man, or woman, behind may be that price. With steely determination, and a mutual understanding of their own mortality, Nana and Popo, the Ice Climbers, scaled the mountain, hammers gripped tightly in their mittened hands.

This is like killing a dinosaurThe mountain was a place of wondrous creatures, both amazing and deadly. The topi appeared to be an unfathomably fuzzy yeti, but its ability to undo the ice chiseling efforts of Nana & Popo labeled it as a threat. At times, perhaps as a result of snow blindness, Popo believed the topi to resemble blue seals, but Nana never corroborated these sightings. A bird that Nana nicknamed The Nitpicker often taunted the duo with its flight and endless mobility. Popo could not stand this bird, and, believing it to be a crony of the condor that had imperiled his loved ones, often struck it from the sky with a mighty jump and an even mightier swing of his hammer. This bird carried no foodstuffs, but its defeat did ease Popo’s nerves.

At times, it seemed that the mountain itself was on that blasted condor’s side. Icicles would form and fall with near no warning, and in the most inconvenient of places. It’s a small wonder the Ice Climbers didn’t acquire any new holes in their parkas (or heads). Worst of all, whenever Nana and Popo dawdled, a created of pure malevolence appeared. This animal was a towering polar bear, somehow equipped with shorts and sunglasses, that could cause an avalanche with the shallowest of leaps. Anyone left at the base of the mountain when this white bear started its assault… well… Popo didn’t like to think about it.

Hey, first time I'm playing another game to play the gameAfter much trepidation, Nana and Popo reached the apogee, and encountered the dreadful beast of their nightmares. It would be wrong to recount an epic battle, hammer against talon silhouetted against an icy winter sunset. No, at this point the pair just wanted the deed done, so Popo leapt, recaptured the eggplant, and hurried back to the village. It was laborious, it was treacherous, some even claimed it was suicidal, but Nana and Popo did return, vegetables in hand, and all was well.

Except the job was not done. By the calculations of the village accountants, a mere 3.1% of the village’s crops had been recovered. That condor was hiding more food on other mountains, and, having already proven their courage and skill, Nana and Popo were tasked with retrieving every last gourd and green.

Each mountain was more difficult than the last. Some peaks featured icy trails that seemed to push Popo back as he advanced. Other cliffs required Nana to balance herself on the clouds themselves for footing, if only for a short time. The white bear’s pursuit allowed no time for even the briefest of respites. The topi grew in number, their continuous compulsion to impede the twosome’s rise sapping whatever optimism they once had.
Despite it all, Nana and Popo conquered mountain after mountain, besting the condor each time, until it became a second nature for both of them. It was a difficult climb, but it had come to be almost comforting in its repetition. The Ice Climbers came to know their foes better than their friends in the village. None of the creatures on these mountains were pleasant, mind you, but they were familiar, and, like the snow that brought peace in the form of tranquility or death, they were a part of each other’s world. Finally, Popo retrieved every last eggplant, carrot, cabbage, cucumber, corn, turnip, pumpkin, napa, potato, and mushroom, and ventured back from the final mountain.

You'd cry tooAnd Popo wept, for there were no more peaks to conquer.

The village was saved, but Nana and Popo could no longer go home again. The mountains had not claimed their life, but it had claimed their lives. As Spring came, and the time of parkas receded, the legendary Ice Climbers ventured back to the mountains, this time not to scale the heights, but to build a home, to build a new life there, at the base of the cliffs that had brought them together. No one else would understand, no one else could grasp what they had been through. They would be together there, forever, and if that condor tried his same tricks again next Fall? Well, twin hammers would be ready and willing to climb.

FGC #10 Ice Climber

  • System: Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Number of Players: 2 players, simultaneous, which is always nice.
  • Favorite Ice Climber Vegetable: Potato
  • So it’s come to this, Ice Climber fanfic? Yes. It was either that or my stunning creation: the Ice Climber theme song.
  • Is this “Ice Climber Theme Song” just the Clayfighter theme song, but with the words “Ice Climbers” in place of “Clayfighter”? …. Yes.
  • Did you know? Ice Climber was the pack-in game for the NES in some areas of Europe. This is exactly why the Master System is so popular over there.
  • Would I Play Again? %^$ no.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Lucha Libre Heroes Del Ring. I’m not even sure that’s a real game, ROB. Are your language subroutines degrading or something? I think you might need a diagnostic. Please look forward to it!