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FGC #292 Brutal Paws of Fury

Here come some bunnies!I misread the title, and now we’re going to talk about furries. This is how the world works, get used to it.

First of all, to be absolutely clear, I am not a furry. I have some friends that seem to be into the scene, and I know a few more people online, and that’s about it. I’m not a furry, and, more importantly to this article, I am not a furry expert by any means. I am sympathetic to the furry community to the extent that I have a peculiar inclination to defend any group of nerds that are generally derided in polite society (but while still calling them a group of nerds), but aside from going to one furry convention with a friend pretty much entirely because I had nothing better to do, I do not have any ties to the furry community. Oh, my step brother used to date a girl that drew cartoon lizards in sexual situations for money. Does that count? It sure made Thanksgiving conversation interesting.

To also be clear, my strongest feeling towards furries is, basically, ambivalence. You like to wear a fursuit or can only get turned on while Gadget is watching? That’s fine! I also don’t particularly care. Like one of our greatest heroes, I have a thing for redheads, but I naturally assume that nobody gives a damn, so I don’t exactly advertise. I feel much the same way about practically all sexual preferences and fetishes: what you do in your bedroom is your business, and, unless I’m involved, I couldn’t care less. Everybody is consenting? Then Goggle Bob doesn’t much care.

But I know “who cares” is not the worst graffiti written on the walls of furry message boards. There is a vocal contingent of people that seem downright militantly against furries. On one hand, this seems like kind of an inevitability, because, if history has taught us anything, it’s that human beings love to find a new minority to discriminate against at the slightest provocation, and “dresses like some creepy other” was always going to be on the hit list. On the other hand, people who completely misunderstand everything about furries think they have a valid point: “cartoon animals” are the domain of children, so, clearly, some level of pedophilia must be happening within each and every furry. This is completely insane, but I can at least see how our stupid lizard brains might leap to that conclusion. It’s a weird situation where someone is wrong, but I can at least tangentially see how they got to that wrong in the first place. This still barely makes more sense than “Asians can’t drive” or “African Americans love watermelon”, but, still, at least I can parse the source of the prejudice in this case. That counts for something (no it doesn’t).

And then there are the anti-furries that… well, they might have a point.

There's always a fox girlOkay, full disclosure, I do have a problem with the furry community. But not the whole furry community! It’s a minority of a minority here that bothers me, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that there have been occasional moments when I said, “damn furries.” I try to be nice! I try to be open to every one and every thing! But… I have limits. I also have a deviantart account. This is where I reach a sticking point. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, but I’m…. I’m just going to say it…

I don’t care about your original character. I don’t care about your original character at all.

I’m a complete fiction nerd. It’s probably a side effect of not sleeping nearly enough, but I am a voracious reader, and that has always applied across the board. I used to read Nintendo Power and instruction manuals like some people currently binge Netflix, and, I would spend ages pouring over a one-paragraph character profile for a dude that most people just thought was named “Player One”. I like fighting games and their ridiculous stories. I like that Ryu of Street Fighter has had decades of story material written all about him, and he could still be easily described as “just a dude that likes to fight”. I understand Kingdom Hearts. I spent most of last night reading through the Tekken wiki. I am a God damn sucker for practically anything with a story, and I have read the absolute trashiest books (some in comic form!) to prove it. Under normal circumstances, yes, absolutely, please tell me about your anthropomorphic aardvark that has a secret destiny to save the world.

But, despite absolutely adoring literal literary garbage (I dumpster dive libraries), I can’t stand the average furry “original character”. Why? Well, it’s a simple matter of dream interpretation. And, yes, I am talking about literal dreams, and not those wild and magical aspirations for a better life. Basically, the rule of thumb goes that nobody cares about your dreams, because dreams are basically about as personal as something can be (after all, you are the only one that is ever going to see your dreams, ever), and imparting dream logic to another individual is traditionally inadvisable. It’s like attempting to relay that one feeling you get in your thumb every time you do that one thing… you know? That thing? It feels like… I don’t know… stuff? You know? To me, nearly every furry “original character” is exactly that situation: a long, meandering rant that might provide some insight into another person’s psyche, but is at lot more likely to be a giant waste of time that is actually about as “original” as a dream about falling. It happens to everybody, Liz! It doesn’t mean you’re special!

And, while you see this kind of thing in all sorts of communities (let me tell you about my original Zelda characters), it seems to be the most prominent in furry circles. Look, you’re dressed as a blue, bipedal wolf. That’s cool! That’s how you see yourself, or that’s how you’d like to see yourself, and that’s just super! That’s A-Okay with me! But please don’t tell me your origin story… No… no, please stop… I was proud of you a moment ago for making this intricate suit… please don’t tell me you’re the chosen one… No… you’re my sixteenth chosen one today.

And, bad news for anyone that is hoping to get a nice, light fighting game out of Brutal: Paws of Fury, what we have here is a damn furry fic fighting game. Go ahead, choose a character.

Hoppity
We’re gonna be here for a while!

I’m not certain who is responsible for this, but the credits list a whole fourteen people, so it has to be one of those dudes. Dave Exile, listed as programmer, seems to have stuck his name into every fight, so this might be his handy work. On the other hand, Rod V Humble is credited for design, so he might be the guy that decided Prince Leon the Lion needed a complicated backstory and a fortune cookie-esque explanation of who exactly would most enjoy Prince Leon. Whatever the source, somehow Brutal: Paws of Fury relies on its excess of words, because it clearly didn’t put effort into any other part of this game.

B:PoF has fluid animation, but its hit detection is wonky, and every movement feels about 200% more floaty than it should be. There’s an interesting system wherein your character “levels up” and learns new special moves as the game progresses, but that same system just creates a barrier for head-to-head play, and, honestly, no one wants to have to “learn” a move that is merely a taunt. And, while this is technically a passable fighting game, the damage ratios are all over the place, so expect a battle to end after a whole three heavy kicks, or twelve billion consecutive jabs. In short, B:PoF needed a solid month or two of actual play testing before it could even stand in remote vicinity of Street Fighter 2, and that clearly didn’t happen.

Winner?But there are words where gameplay might be. Every character has a complicated biography (well, “complete” compared to the 16-bit days of simply knowing Dhalsim’s blood type), and every battle ends with a comprehensive recap of the preceding fight. And, sorry, Brutal, but you absolutely do not need an oral history of a fight you just participated in thirty seconds ago. Look, I’m a damn verbose kind of guy that has difficulty getting through one sentence without hitting some ridiculously high word count for stating the simplest of brief concepts, and I think this is excessive! Brutal is a fighting game! Feelings are supposed to be expressed with fists! Ryu told me so!

And, in that way, Brutal: Paws of Fury is the ultimate furry game. The game needs a gameplay upgrade, but there’s a good foundation here. Unfortunately, it is also married to an unending stream of words and characters and.. ugh… Shut-up. Just… shut-up. Look, you had me at kung-fu fighting bunnies, why did you have to ruin it?

Don’t tell, show me why your original character is cool. And then get that original character to beat up a coyote swordsman. Then we’ll be on the same page.

FGC #292 Brutal Paws of Fury

  • System: This particular version hit the Genesis, Sega CD, and Super Nintendo, but there was a “Champion Edition” for 32X. I understand it did not help any problems I have now spent an entire article complaining about.
  • Number of players: Two furry lil’ dudes, duking it out.
  • To be perfectly clear: Furry culture is good and cool. People waxing poetic about their original character need to stop. Please, please stop.
  • Best bearFavorite Character: Ivar the Bear is basically Zangief in furry form. Actually, Zangief is already pretty furry to begin with, isn’t he? Maybe someone should check to see if he’s a regulation human.
  • An end: The final boss is Dali Llama. Look, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about Eastern Culture, but I’m pretty sure the “real” Dalai Lama didn’t attain his position through a fighting tournament. Or maybe I’m wrong? He just doesn’t look like a really tough dude to me.
  • Did you know? Brutal Unleashed: Above the Claw included a new character named Psycho Kitty that is a cat with hyperactivity disorder. So, ya know, a cat.
  • Would I play again: So many 16-bit fighting games, so little time.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… WTF? Wait, no, that’s the name of the game. WTF: Work Time Fun for the PSP. Well that sounds like fun, now doesn’t it? Please look forward to it!

FGC #281 Doom (32X)

Starring DoomguyI remember being cool in high school. … Wait, no, that’s a lie. I was never cool in school. I’m sure you don’t remember me. However, I know I was cooler than a lot of other losers. I was, like, the coolest kid in the computer club, bar none. I dated actual, real-live women. I went to two proms with three dates. I’m moderately certain I was the envy of at least seven freshmen. And, when I graduated high school, I easily cruised right into college, and wasn’t some lame, always-stuck-in-his-hometown dropout of society. I might not have been the coolest kid in the class, but in high school, I was at least… cool enough?

But a funny thing has happened in the intervening million, billion years since high school. I look at pictures from my old yearbook, or albums from cherished field trips, or even some random pic that gets posted on Facebook, and I see… a nerd? Okay, I’ve always been a nerd, but I at least always had an idea of what was stylish, right? What the hell am I wearing in that picture? And why is my hair… doing that thing? Wait… why in God’s name am I wearing nail polish? I wasn’t goth! Wait… I was dating that one girl for…. But that was just a gag! Like, I didn’t look like that for… where did this picture come from again? Can it be burned? Can we destroy the entire internet and any record of human life from before about 2010? That’d be great!

It's a party!Of course, the only thing keeping me going is that I’m not alone in this phenomenon. My best friend looks like just as much of a nerd as me, thank God. That girl I had a crush on for a solid ten years has hair that looks like it lost a fight with a stylist from Full House. And back to that terrible yearbook, even the cool teacher that was literally voted “Coolest Teacher” looks like something out of a particularly poorly cast 90’s after-school special (maybe something hosted by Garfield?). In short, it is horrifying to gaze upon your own past, as it turns out it’s not just the kids these days that have rotten trends and fashion, it’s everybody.

So what else was popular when I was rocking an ill-fitting Final Fantasy t-shirt and thinking I was the coolest thing since Coolio? Doom.

Doom is a classic videogame. Like Super Mario Bros, Doom basically invented a genre that is still going strong today, and, also like SMB, Doom established that genre by just plain being a good experience. … Except, as has been mentioned once or twice, I’m not a big fan of that genre. And there’s probably a reason for that! I was a console gamer. I’ve never been a fan of using computers for gaming because, basically, I rationalize computers as “work” devices, and have since sixth grade. Couple this with years (years!) of learning that keeping your computer “up to date” is a fool’s errand (I realize this has gotten better in recent years, but the mere mention of “video cards” still makes me indirectly nauseous), and it all adds up to Goggle Bob generally avoiding “computer games”. Sadly, this has continued into the modern age, and I still haven’t played Undertale (I’ll get to it!). Whatever the reason, Doom: The Game To Play wound up not being my thing, so I missed that particular trend, and any fond memories of a Doom-based childhood.

Except… that isn’t completely accurate.

Word!I may not have had a gaming PC, but I did have a whole pile of videogame consoles, and a serious drive to be one of the cool kids playing the cool videogames. This eventually led to purchasing Doom on the 32X, obviously the most superior Doom. It’s got all the Doom you love, and hasn’t been reduced to 16-bit low-fi. It’s got a six button controller, so you’re not limited by a keyboard or a mere four buttons! And it’s a cartridge, so no load times! Eat it, Playstation. This is the game of games on the system of systems! This is the best thing ever! … Or at least that’s what my friends seemed to believe.

And I play it now, and… huh. This is embarrassing.

First and foremost, that precious six-button Genesis controller is not meant for a FPS. In Doom’s defense, for exclusively working with a crosspad, Doomguy controls pretty alright, but little things like, ya know, aiming are impossible. Are the legions of Hell slightly above you? Sorry, you’re going to die. And, as far as I can tell, there’s no jump or climb button, so there are these awful pits that just leave you there to die… but not nearly fast enough (side note: I have no idea how body armor is impacted by standing in a puddle of acid). So, right off the bat, steering Doomguy is about as fun as navigating a hallway full of iron maidens in the dark.

But that kind of thing is understandable. You can start a genre, but it’s unusual to start a genre and perfect it, so a few hiccups are to be expected. And, hey, this was designed for the computer in the first place, of course the ol’ joypad is going to have a problem or two. Nobody ever chastises a teenager just for being young, and nobody chastises a port for not perfectly emulating the source material (this entire sentence is a lie).

No, what is most embarrassing about Doom is… Doom. Or, more appropriately, what Doom used to be.

BLAMMOMy social circle was convinced that Doom was the most mature game in history. There aren’t silly yo-yos or swords here; this is wall to wall guns. You’re not fighting daffy robots or whacky Universal monsters, you’re up against hellspawn and spikey eyeballs. There’s no puerile plumber bounding fifty feet in the air, Doomguy is a real person, he can’t jump or shrink or turn into a raccoon; it’s just him and his bare(ish) fists against the world. Monsters bleed. Doomguy grunts. This is real videogames for real adults, not those childish antics you see on your ‘intendo.

And revisiting that attitude as an actual adult? It doesn’t exactly do the game any favors. Have you been looking at these screenshots? Doom looks about as realistic as something you’d hang on your fridge after Timmy has been a good boy. Hell, some of those “scary” demons look downright cuddly. Cuddly isn’t cool. Cuddly isn’t cool at all!

Doom is a great game. Doom is responsible for much of where gaming “is” today, and nothing will ever change that. However, I opened up Doomguy’s yearbook last night and… uh… Bad news, Doomguy, I think…. I think you might have been a nerd.

Please don’t hit me.

FGC #281 Doom (32X)

  • System: Doom got around, bro. It was on the computer. It was on the Super Nintendo. It was on the 32X. It was on the Jaguar. It was on the Playstation, Saturn, and 3DO. It eventually wound up on the Gameboy Advance. It was released on something called “The Acorn”, which sounds pretty nutty.
  • Number of players: I think we’re stuck with one on the 32X. Was there a deathmatch version here? I’m not going to go back and check.
  • Really?Hot Takes from 1993: Why is Doomguy wearing ab-bearing armor? He’s wearing gloves on the title screen, but his fists are bare when punching demons. John Romero has silly hair! Ha-cha-cha-cha.
  • Favorite Weapon: I am partial to chain guns. Chainsaws are a second runner-up. Maybe I just like chains?
  • Did you know? A lot of people seem to forget that Doom claimed a lot of notoriety by being partially released as share-ware at its release. Trying to make your franchise the hottest thing since sliced bread? Give it away! That always works!
  • Would I play again: I feel like I should… but nope. This is another one that isn’t nostalgic enough for me to hold my attention, and has been improved in every conceivable way by later editions. Sorry, yearbook, you’re going back on the shelf.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Breath of Fire 3 for the Playstation! Now it’s time to see Ryu’s baby photos. Please look forward to it!

FGC #280 Super Troll Islands

Huh?The eyes always have it.

It’s fascinating how much humanity is obsessed with eyes. When you get right down to it, eyeballs are just another in a long series of random bits of anatomy, but it’s not like any gems are named “cat’s elbows”. Eyes are said to be a window to the soul, while absolutely nobody is looking up your nostrils to determine the contents of your heart. Maybe the gateways through which we see the world were always destined to be a focal point of our collective attention, or maybe a beautiful set of baby blues just are that gorgeous. One way or another, eyes have been the subjects of more sonnets and songs than fingernails could ever hope to imagine, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change. Eyes are here to stay (in our collective unconscious/skulls).

Symbol or no, though, there is power in the humble eyeball. Obviously, people behave differently when they’re being watched. Do you read this site at work? Look out! Your boss is right behind you, and the jerk knows you’re reading a site with a series of articles titled “Wankery Week”. You’re fired, you damn pervert. … Or no one is watching you right now, so you can do whatever you damn well please. Want to open up a bag of doritos at your desk and dip ‘em in hot fudge? Go for it! Don’t get any fudge on the keyboard, and you’ll be fine. But what does that really mean? Essentially, there are two different realities, one where you are being supervised and restrained, and one where you can do anything in the world. And if this sounds bonkers, consider that the basis of some entire religions is simply “capital-G God is always watching you”. God has got his eyes on you, and he knows what you’re doing with those doritos.

But here’s a fun fact: people react to simple representations of eyeballs, and not just actual, living eyeballs. Studies have proven (google it!) that when an eye is in the area, like a simple poster with eyeballs staring straight at ya, people perform… better. People litter less when they get even the impression they’re being watched, and face punching incidents drop by almost 85% [citation needed]. Basically, humans are social creatures, but we’re also stupid creatures, so if we’re in the presence of even a fake audience, we behave more responsibly. This is why I’ve painted pseudo-eyes on the side of my house, and now those neighborhood kids have stopped peeing on my lawn. Life is good with eyes!

Just chillSo it’s interesting to look at how eyes evolved in videogames. Nowadays, even Link is looking fairly realistic, but back in the early times of 8-bit adventures, eyes were a luxury some heroes couldn’t afford. Simon Belmont? No eyes. Bill & Lance? No eyes. Orin the Falconer of 8 Eyes? Barely got eyes. OG Pac-Man is eyeless (his opponents are sometimes only eyes), and Samus Aran can only win eyes through defeating Mother Brain. In fact, you could probably point to some of the most known mascots of the NES/Gameboy era for their eyes. Mega Man and his signature blinks come to mind, and Kirby is all about the eyes, angry or not. And then we’ve got Mario and his world that is filled with eyes. Turtles, chestnuts, mushrooms, bushes, clouds, and I’m pretty sure I saw a few eyeballs on flaming plants somewhere in there. And guess which franchise captured children’s hearts for a generation or so? Yep, it’s the one with the googly eyes all over the place.

But by the age of the Super Nintendo, sprites were getting a bit more spacious. Now we had room for big, cartoony creatures with appropriately scaled eyes. Now we could actually get some of those Mickey Mouse/anime eyeballs in there, and…. Sometimes it went terribly wrong…

Super Troll Islands is a very limited game. You control one of four trolls, and an evil fog has made the whole of the world (Troll Islands?) monochrome for some bizarre reason. But I guess trolls leak color wherever they go, so you’ve got to guide your troll to, basically, just walk all over the place, and thus this fog thing will just work itself out. Your troll doesn’t even have to walk everywhere, you just have to aim for places where, thanks to a number of ladders, you can navigate in a general square/rectangle around an area. Repeat forever, throw in a few bonus stages, and call it a day. Actually, to be honest, I have no idea how many levels are in this game, as I got bored about seven levels in, but there are definitely those seven levels. Are there bosses, too? Who the hell knows.

But that’s not what’s important about Super Troll Islands. What’s important is that, for reasons that can only be imagined by mortal man, at no point in this adventure do these damn trolls stop looking at you.

WHAT IN GOD'S NAME!?

They’ve got cold, dead, black eyeballs, and they’re always staring right at you, player. Running left? Running right? Climbing a ladder? Swimming? There is nothing you can do to get these damn trolls to look in any other direction. Actually, forgive me, there is one thing: the tornado “super move” will temporarily transform your chosen troll into a whirlwind of deadly hair (?), and, for one brief respite, you are free of the troll menace. Then, after the powerup wears off, it’s right back to staring history’s lamest fad right in the face. Trolls are watching you. Trolls will always be watching you.

ArghAnd you really have to wonder what the designers were thinking. This troll staring thing is immediately and obviously… disturbing. Some people might like troll dolls, but nobody wants to have a staring contest with the little buggers. This isn’t “that should be fun for kids”, this is the game you see in the opening to a particularly poorly planned horror movie from the 90’s starring Macaulay Culkin as the unfortunate child that thought he was just purchasing a simple Super Nintendo game, but wound up taking home… a monster! Super Troll Islands isn’t fun, it’s horrifying, and that’s not exactly a good match for a game where you collect ice cream after spreading rainbows. There’s… a bit of a disconnect there.

So remember the lesson of Super Troll Islands: eyes are important, but do not use eyes for evil. Just don’t do it. You are being watched.

FGC #280 Super Troll Islands

  • System: Super Nintendo exclusive! Obviously, it was too much for the meager Sega Genesis.
  • Only Troll Game on the SNES? Nope!
  • Number of players: There isn’t even a perfunctory two player alternating mode here. One troll at a time, losers!
  • Optional: The options menu allows you to adjust the control scheme, or…. Change the direction of your troll’s hair. That’s… important?
  • BONUSFavorite Troll: I don’t know, the green one, I guess. I’ll also note here that I enjoy fluorescent colors… though you probably already guessed that from the site design. Hm. I should switch things up again at some point.
  • Did you know? Troll Dolls have been around since 1959, but they really did the whole fad thing sometime around the early 90’s. This would be right around when the trolls released singles covering Beach Boy songs. It was a weird time to be alive.
  • Would I play again: The eyes… they… they haunt me.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Doom! DOOM! DOOOOOOOOOOOM! For the 32X. Please look forward to it!