Tag Archives: super nintendo

FGC #419 Super Alfred Chicken

Here comes a chicken!Let’s talk about Alfred Chicken, and what he means to the current state of our democracy.

The Alfred Chicken franchise, on its own, is not much to write home about. It’s one of those “weird European platformers” that seemed to pop up since the creation of DOS and carried on into the 32-bit days. Alfred Chicken (damn, I’m going to have to pick up some chicken alfredo before this article is over) runs and jumps around a number of levels that were maybe assembled in seventeen seconds through randomly smoothing graphical assets together until, I don’t know, I guess this collection of alphabet blocks looks like something passable. Alfred’s moveset includes both jumping and pecking, as he must to retain his chicken status. Eventually, the game ends, or maybe it doesn’t, and, look, I bounce off European platformers like a quick boomerang off a leaf shield, okay? I’m too used to my Marios and Castlevanias to waste too much time on some damn game where poultry has to peck at balloons.

And, really, that’s just fine in this case, because America, land of the free (chicken nugget deal), only ever saw one Alfred Chicken title. On my corner of the Atlantic, Super Alfred Chicken was only ever available for the Super Nintendo. But in the fabulous land of lifts and roundabouts, Alfred Chicken dominated (loosely) the NES, Gameboy, Playstation, and whatever the hell an Amiga happens to be. Some platforms had different versions, some featured 3-D, but they all had Alfred Chicken to spare. Oh, and speaking of platforms, there was that whole Alfred Chicken political party, too.

Yes, if you lived in the Christchurch, Dorset constituency in 1993, you could have voted for Karl Fitzhugh of the Alfred Chicken Party.

Blah blah blahNow, before you go thinking that the Alfred Chicken Party had anything useful to contribute to political discourse at the time, consider that Karl Fitzhugh was absolutely just the marketing arm for Alfred Chicken’s Amiga (amigo? Were you trying to say amigo? How about amiibo?) debut. The Alfred Chicken Party was rightly pegged as a publicity stunt, and wound up placing second from last in the election (and, to be clear for my American readers, this is not a situation where “placed last” also means “won the popular vote”). In fact, the Alfred Chicken Party was such a flagrant and obvious publicity stunt, it rapidly inspired new legislation that would require a candidate to acquire many more signatures to actually appear on a ballot. Democracy works! Through Alfred Chicken!

And, 25 years later, it would be nice to believe we had learned a single blessed thing.

Alfred Chicken, in his time, was immediately identified as a spurious, frivolous candidate. This was just a random animal mascot character (arguably before they were cool) attempting to use general politics as a springboard to some free(ish) advertising. No one would legitimately elect a member of the Alfred Chicken Party, because you’d have to be some kind of moron to actually think there is anything more to that “political party” than a naked cash-grab.

But how many people reading this article would vote for a candidate from the Nintendo Party? Hell, how many people writing this article would vote for the party of Mario, Link, and Pikachu? The answer to that question is a firm “all of them”.

UglyIt has come up again and again in recent months, but people show a surprising amount of loyalty to faceless corporations that don’t care if the average consumer lives or dies. Toys Я Us recently went out of business, firing every last employee while its board of directors skipped town with giant bags adorned with dollar signs. But it’s been determined that “the brand” is still viable, so Geoffrey the Giraffe will be back in our faces soon enough. And a huge portion of the population is going to eat it up with a multicolored spoon! Toys Я Us? I love that place! That’s where toys come from! And videogames! Just like Gamestop! And who cares if one single company has been selling me $60 games for years, and then buying them back at 60¢, I’ve got brand loyalty! I’m a Powerup Rewards Member! Sometimes I earn a free pen! I will follow these companies straight into Hell, so please show me your viable political candidates! Who is the leader of the Think Geek Party? Does he need a donation!?

And, at first blush, this all sounds insane. After all, there is no Wal-Mart party, and, while we vote with our wallets every day, no company is brazen enough to actively run a candidate. Except… that’s completely wrong.

Okay, already uttered their name, let’s take Wal-Mart as an example. Right off the bat, apparently Wal-Mart has made $2,192,327 in political contributions in 2018. And, if you’re curious, about half of that money went to candidates, and the majority of the rest of that went to PACs or political parties. In addition to all of that, fifteen senators own Wal-Mart stock, so there might be a bit of an interest in our government keeping that poor company afloat. And if that wasn’t enough, in 2017, Wal-Mart spent $6,880,000 lobbying for various causes. And the kicker? Wal-Mart isn’t even in the top 50 for purchasing government support.

In 1998, $1.45 billion was being spent on lobbying. In 2018, that has become $2.59 billion. And how much is that? Well, to revisit Wal-Mart, that’s a company that makes $14.7 billion in profit a year.

So, to be clear, the US government can be purchased for a little under a fifth of one company’s total profits.

SliceyAnd the most unfortunate thing about all of this is that there is literally nothing you can do about it. You can vote for your favorite party, you can vote for the candidate that is going to save the world, and you can canvas your neighborhood and drum up support in every way you know how. But, end of the day, Wal-Mart is still going to make literally billions of dollars, and whoever is in charge of those billions of dollars is going to make just a smidge more of an impact on the political landscape than anything you could hope to achieve with a “grassroots” campaign. And do you think you’re ever going to compete with Wal-Mart? Fat chance, little voter.

Except…

I always look to Blockbuster Video in times of hardship.

When “video rental stores” (ask your parents) first became popular, there was one in every shopping center (ask your parents, again), and they were all local mom & pop shops with names like “Microplay” or “No Name Video”. Then Blockbuster Video hit the scene with inventories that would be completely impossible for any given neighborhood shop to ever procure, and, almost overnight, Blockbuster Video was literally the only game in town. And, by about the late 90’s/early 00’s, Blockbuster Video was the only way to rent anything. The chain had eliminated all competition, and there was no way to borrow a copy of Leprechaun 3 (that’s the one in Vegas) without your trusty Blockbuster membership card. Had overdue fees on your account? Sorry, you’re stuck in DVD-less purgatory for the rest of your days.

No, it is notBut a funny thing happened. Netflix came along, and, in a few short years, Blockbuster was dead in the ground. Netflix was cheaper, more convenient, and less overtly evil than Blockbuster, so people took their business elsewhere in droves. And it didn’t matter that many areas still have terrible internet connections. It didn’t matter that Netflix and its ilk could never support the historical selection of a well-stocked Blockbuster. It didn’t matter that streaming services would doom us forever to a fragmented system wherein you just kind of hoped your favorite new release would drop on a subscription you already own. No, none of that mattered, because Blockbuster simply could not compete with the new monolith that was streaming, and, in practically no time at all, Blockbuster was resigned to the same fate as the dinosaurs (mostly frozen in remote regions of Oregon). Blockbuster was once king of the hill, and now it is barely a footnote in history.

And if there’s any hope for the future, we could learn a thing or two about Blockbuster’s failure.

No company is too big to fall. Just within the last few decades, we’ve seen hundreds of once enormous companies fall to the inevitable march of the internet. Technology moves forward, and with it, new opportunities arise for those that will take risks (and get lucky). Fossil fuels are killing our planet as we speak, but they could become a thing of the past with cheap, effective alternatives. It sounds impossible, but if every new car with a new fuel system cost just a couple hundred less than the gas-guzzlers currently on the market, we’d have a healthier planet in no time. We just have to find the people willing to support these companies, and not those that foster the industries that should have died decades ago because God forbid Mickey Mouse fall into the public domain. We have to vote for people that are going to support forward progress. And not just in the voting booth! We need to be conscientious consumers, and support companies that in turn support good candidates and business practices. VroooomNo company is ever going to be perfect (they are, almost literally, money making machines. That has a tendency to step on a few ethical toes), but maybe you don’t need the latest make believe horsey game if it is also apparently responsible for 80% of all crunch misery in North America. Or maybe that company could just produce one god damn game with a female protagonist. That would be a step in the right direction…

My final thoughts on this subject are simple: absolutely vote on Election Day, but remember to vote every other day of the year, too. Support candidates that encourage progress, and support companies that do the same. It won’t happen all at once, and it might not even seem like it’s happening at all, but change is possible, and you can help it, every step of the way, every day.

And don’t vote for the Alfred Chicken Party.

FGC #419 Super Alfred Chicken

  • System: Super Nintendo. I understand the other versions/ports of Alfred Chicken are pretty similar to this version, but there is no way I am going to confirm this in any way.
  • Number of players: Start and options? Yep, looks like this is one of those single player platformers.
  • Chicken or the Egg: So the plot of this title is that eggs are being kidnapped, and Alfred Chicken has to venture forth to save the widdle eggies. Except… Alfred Chicken appears to hatch from an egg at the start of every stage… so why are eggs seen driving cars and being their own, autonomous creatures? Are eggs just, like, the unevolved forms of chickens in this universe? Is this U.S. Acres fanfic?
  • What is even happening?Other Questions: And Alfred collects eggs as one-ups, and hatches from a new egg after every death. Is there more than one Alfred Chicken? Does each collected egg start the cycle of life anew for our hero? The theological implications of this game alone…
  • So, did you beat it? No. Come on, this game gets repetitive by approximately the third level. And there are at least fifteen? No thank you.
  • Favorite… uh… Stuff: This is a very generic platformer. Alfred… barely does anything. He jumps! He pecks! He has some sort of weird power-up ball thing that doesn’t work quite right! There is barely anything that distinguishes this game from any other… so… uh… The colors are nice?
  • Did you know? The Alfred Chicken Party came in second-to-last in its election. The biggest loser was, apparently, the Rainbow Party. There is no force on Earth that would allow me to effectively google “The Rainbow Party” in 2018.
  • Would I play again: Nope! This chicken doesn’t have any meat on it.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy for the Nintendo Switch! The prophecy has come to pass! Please look forward to it!

Happy Flower

FGC #245 Super Bomberman 2

Plasma changed color?The last time we saw a console Bomberman experience was seven years ago, back in happier times when the president wasn’t orange/bonkers and Super Mario Galaxy 2 had just been released. The last time Bomberman seemed nationally relevant was four years earlier than that, when Bomberman: Act Zero made us all laugh ourselves stupid at a realistic re-envisioning of a character that is best recognized with a purple deeley-bopper. And even before all that, twenty whole years ago, Bomberman 64 was the last time Bomberman was spoken of in the same tones as Mario and Zelda. Or… well… at least he got mentioned in Nintendo Power. That’s kind of the same thing. And, if you go back even further than that, to the far off epoch of 1994, you’ll find Super Bomberman 2, a game starring the titular Bomberman opposite The Dastardly Bombers, a group of nogoodniks that only ever appeared in one North American console Bomberman game.

So imagine my surprise when they were announced as the headlining antagonists of Super Bomberman R, a 2017 Nintendo Switch launch release.

So, since it’s been 23 years since Super Bomberman 2, I broke out the ol’ Know Your Bombers trading cards to help everyone get caught up in time for Super Bomberman R.

COLLECT 'EM ALL

FGC #245 Super Bomberman 2

  • System: Super Nintendo. It’s super!
  • BLOPNumber of players: Four! The original Super Bomberman came with the super multitap, and I’m betting pretty much everyone that snagged Super Bomberman also went for Super Bomberman 2. Well, except the six guys that just wanted that multitap for Secret of Mana.
  • Favorite Bomber Color: This was the first Bomberman (that I played) where you could freely choose your bomber’s color (as opposed to being stuck with white/black/red/blue forever). Green is a fine choice, but I have a tendency to go for Purple Bomberman. He’s so… regal.
  • Poor decisions: There are two additional stages in battle mode that are hidden by a secret code. They’re… not that exciting? They’re fun, and they’re “classic” stages, but I can’t find any rhyme or reason for why they’re hidden. It isn’t even a “beat the game to unlock” situation, they’re just… secret stages for the sake of being secret. What’s your angle here, Bomberman?
  • Did you know? Legend tells of Milon skulking around the password screen. Actually, there are four Milons to be found. That’s four more Milons than should ever be allowed on the Super Nintendo.
  • Would I play again: Here’s hoping Super Bomberman R supplicates any and all desires to return to this classic. Then again, if jelly bombs aren’t included…

What’s next? We’re going to look at the launchiest launch game of all time. No, not Mario. Let’s try something with a few more sports. Please look forward to it!

PUNT

FGC #183 Super Punch-Out!!

Here comes... not Little MacFor better or worse, Super Punch-Out!! is the black sheep of the Punch-Out!! series.

Punch-Out!! for the NES was a surprisingly popular game. Despite the fact that the actual gameplay was more puzzle than action, it seemed like every kid in my neighborhood was playing “that boxing game”. It also had tie-in comics, King Hippo on Captain N, and a real-life celebrity/maniac endorsement. Punch-Out!! was a phenomenon back when videogames were barely considered more relevant than breakfast cereal.

Less popular but still randomly seen during the 80’s were the two Punch-Out!! arcade games, Punch-Out!! and Super Punch-Out!!. Both arcade cabinets required two screens to contain all the ferocity of the sweet science, and matches against the likes of Glass Joe and Bear Hugger were prevalent any time one could scrounge up a quarter. This was also where Nintendo seemed to start its love affair with big, colorful characters, and the original Punch-Out!! was even the start of the videogame composing career of Koji Kondo, the musician behind Mario and Zelda aka your childhood.

And then, nearly ten years after the release of Super Punch-Out!! in the arcades, we received Super Punch-Out!! for the SNES. And then no more Punch-Out!! for fifteen years. What the hell!?

Super Punch-Out!! did have a few digressions from the usual formula. For one thing, it seemed a lot more loose than the more precise NES game, which may have been a deliberate move to properly compete with the entire Street Fighter 2 thing that was taking over the world at the time. Additionally, a healthy number of the boxers don’t actually… box. I’m no sports doctor, but I’m pretty sure someone got hit in the face with a stick during at least one match, and that can’t be kosher in a more faithful match. Punch-Out!! on the NES was never realistic (very rarely is a boxer punched so hard his shorts drop), but Super Punch-Out!! Right in the kissertook it to outrageous levels at a time when gamers more and more wanted “realistic” experiences. Ya know, like Mortal Kombat.

And, oh yeah, there was no Little Mac.

There was a Little Mac-alike creature, but this rando was more intended to be a stand-in for the player (that, hopefully, is a blonde, white male) than the “hero” of the old Punch-Out!! boxing circuit. To a degree, it makes sense, as, right from the beginning, “Little Mac” was meant to simply be a nobody that, depending on the game, didn’t even have a body. And, if we established Little Mac as the man that beat Mike Tyson on the NES, then what’s he doing fighting Gabby Jay a few years later? The SNES was a time when gaming franchises seemed to being trying out this whole continuity thing, and hadn’t just resorted to “here’s level 1-1 again for the 8,000th time again” shenanigans. It makes sense that the next up and comer would be an actual new up and comer… it just was kind of disappointing to deal with this… whoever this is supposed to be.

And then there are the other boxers. Super Punch-Out!! has a number of returning opponents: Bear Hugger, Piston Hurricane, Bald Bull, Dragon Chan, Mr. Sandman, and Super Macho Man all had their start in the arcade (one way or another), and may have appeared on the NES, too. Gabby Jay is your training battle, and he may as well be the similarly named Glass Joe (assuming Glass Joe has an equally amazing voice). And other than that? Well, that’s where it gets a little dicey.

As of this writing, there has only been one other Punch-Out!! game, Punch-Out!! for the Wii. That version of Punch-Out!!, for whatever reason, only featured one new boxer out of its total cast of sixteen (and even that one newbie might be the secret reincarnation of Kid Quick). So, of the fifteen classic opponents, only one single star of Super Punch-Out!! returned: Aran Ryan, the Irish maniac. Every single other Super Punch-Out!! character, including its protagonist, got left on the curb Dancin' Madwithout so much as a reference to their collective existence.

So… why?

Some Super Punch-Out!! characters make perfect sense to be dropped. Rick and Nick Bruiser are the champs of SPO!!, but they’re more of a gimmick fight than anything. Rick is an impossibly difficult battle, and then, when you finally conquer his flurry of fists, you find the next opponent is exactly the same except even more powerful. It’s the kind of trick that only works once, so it stands to reason that the characters that are pretty much only defined as “tough twins” would be dropped for two potentially unique characters. Similarly, Hoy Quarlow, aka the old man with a stick, is another gimmick fight that relies on the fact that he’s not so much boxing as just being a jerk at all times. He “punches” open handed! That’s not allowed! So I suppose he’s disqualified for being… disqualified.

Bob Charlie, the dreadlocked Rastafarian from Jamaica is an angel hair thin stereotype in a game full of them. In a way, there’s no reason Bob Charlie couldn’t replace Disco Kid in the Wii title, but you certainly don’t need two guys based entirely on a music/rhythm gimmick. Leave that behind, and, what, is Nintendo going to go whole hog on the 4:20 thing when they can’t even make a reference to Vodka? I don’t think so. Heike Kagero is a Japanese kabuki dude that falls into the similar trap of having his mirage ability claimed by the more popular Great Tiger. All you have left is a bishounen that whips his silver hair around, and this ain’t Final Fantasy, buddy. Speaking of pretty boys, Narcis Prince is basically a younger Super Macho Man, and, oh man, we are not losing Super Macho Man for anything.

Mad Clown must never be seen again. You know why.

Masked Muscle, though, I want to say there’s some meat on that bone. Masked Muscle is a heel luchador, which, as we all learned from Lucha Libre, means that he’s a dirty rotten cheater. There’s a boxing match going on here, but don’t be surprised if he head-butts the contender right in the face. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll just spit right in his Yuckopponent’s face. That’s not good sportsmanship! I’ll admit that it’s probably not a good thing to have one Mexican boxer in all of Punch-Out!! history, and he’s the worst, most despicable character in the game. But he’s supposed to be a deliberate heel, so… is that okay? It’s a big part of the luchador culture, so it’s not that different from Super Macho Man being a giant dick in a banana hammock, right?

Though what’s most disappointing about a lack of Masked Muscle’s return is that Aran Ryan stole his shtick. Aran, in his Super Punch-Out!! incarnation, is no crazier than your average Irishman. His man gimmick seems to be a hurricane of punches nicknamed “the Irish jig”. Once Aran resurfaces for the Wii, though, his defining trait seems to be cheating. Maybe this is just his way of representing his Super Punch-Out!! pride (there are a few cheaters in the game…), but it seems a little sad that Aran had to take a heel turn and leave the real heels by the curb. Then again, that is a very heel thing to do…

But Aran Ryan does prove one thing, and that’s that everything in Super Punch-Out!! could easily be imported into the next generation. Any of the bruisers of Super Punch-Out!! could return for the next circuit (except Mad Clown), and make the next Punch-Out!! game a winner. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another fifteen years to see the next one (it’s already been seven…), but I hope it remembers to bring in some Super Punch-Out!! people when it finally arrives.

Hey, even a black sheep could make some neat looking sweaters.

FGC #183 Super Punch-Out!!

  • System: Super Nintendo, though I can confirm it’s on the Wii & WiiU Virtual Consoles, because I am all over that.
  • Number of players: Nobody could figure out how to make a two player Punch-Out!! until the Wii, so just one player here.
  • Don't make eye contactPort-o-Problems: Ya know, we’ve had the dual screen portables for years, and still no port of the arcade Punch-Out!! titles. That seems wrong.
  • So, did you beat it? Not until save states were invented! My brain deals poorly with any game where my character is suffering concussion after concussion. Some sort of 16-bit empathy?
  • What’s Up, Doc: No Little Mac, no Doc Louis. There’s still more cultural representation in this game than any other Nintendo game, but it’d be nice to hold on to Nintendo’s only significant African American biker.
  • Favorite Boxer: Dragon Chan will not hesitate to jump kick you to the mat. That takes some cojones.
  • Did you know? Glass Joe has a record for beating Nick Bruiser in time trials. I’m assuming ol’ Joe is better with a controller than boxing gloves.
  • Would I play again: Like most Punch-Out!! games, I enjoy replaying this game until I hit my first brick wall, usually sometime around the second circuit. I haven’t seen the Bruiser Bros. in years.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Milon’s Secret Castle for the NES! Okay, how do you keep an entire castle secret? Maybe we’ll find out! Please look forward to it!

Jive
Another disappointing Bob in gaming…