Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the historic 100th Fustian Game Challenge Entry.
For no greater reason than I’m enjoying this, I do plan on continuing the FGC for the foreseeable future, but, considering how numbers work, there will never be a 100th Entry ever again. Try as I might, I do doubt that I will ever hit 1,000, so this momentous occasion is likely the last time an entire column will be added to the FGC count.
I am excited and proud of this occasion, so, obviously, we must celebrate with a special “change in the rules”.
As mentioned in the previous entry’s preview, I have lifted all restrictions on Random ROB, and now, for the first time ever in the FGC, ROB can truly pick any game from my collection. Downloadable titles? Allowed. “Already have plans for that one”? Allowed. Games I’m downright embarrassed to admit I’ve ever touched? Allowed. Even titles I feel are completely played out in games journalism are permitted. Whatever game ROB picks, I’m going with it, because random is actually random for once.
And now, without any further ado…
Drum roll, please?
Random ROB has chosen…
Double Dragon for the NES!
… What the hell?
ROB you doofy robot, we already did that one. In fact, it was the first one on this silly site! You should remember these things! You have a computer brain! I don’t care if it’s a computer brain from the 80’s! You should have a memory that goes back to June!
Oh. Wait, I see what happened. I lifted all restrictions, including the restriction that says “not the same game twice”. Dammit. I have no one to fault but myself, I suppose. It is a poor craftsman that blames his robot.
Alright, this is still the 100th FGC Entry, and I’m not going to let it go all sewer-level on account of a clerical error. Re-reviewing the game is right out… Some random fanfiction just sounds derivative in the face of the animated and film Double Dragons we already received… Childhood memories? Nah, save that one for Double Dragon 2.
Oh! I know!
One and all, welcome to the 100th FGC Entry! On this special occasion, we’ll be taking a look at how the sausage is made! That’s right! I’m giving you an all-access, behind the scenes look at the creation of a FGC article!
Every article starts with Random ROB. ROB, say hi to all the nice folks. Haha shut up you don’t have a mouth.
Random ROB is a capricious robot, so every time I need to get a new article out of the bot, I have to provide a glass of (grape) manischewitz and a porkroll ‘n egg breakfast sandwich. I have no idea how this is consumed, if ROB has any sense of taste, or the… disposal of the meal, but ROB will not operate without this “offering”. Note that the last time I asked ROB about this, he simply replied that, “The irony is more delicious than the banquet,” and laughed in a manor not unlike a supervillain. I have vowed to not speak to him on the matter ever again.
Also note that while a bottle of manishewitz is pictured, I learned a long time ago to only leave him a glass, not the whole bottle. I’m pretty sure that my lack of foresight in that situation is responsible for Amiibo.
So here’s ROB with today’s pick, Double Dragon. Traditionally, I leave ROB with his meal, go off and clean the bathroom or something, and come back to find my contribution (complete with the glassware) gone, and a video game clutched in his mechanical paws.
This process usually goes off without a hitch, but there have been a few anomalies throughout the Challenge. For Final Fantasy 4, for instance, ROB was convinced he had to retrieve every copy of FF4 in my possession, which was a herculean task for the lil’ plastic dude. Mega Man Legacy Collection, at the time it was covered, was simply a downloadable title, but I figured I knew what ROB was trying to indicate when he presented a “classic” Mega Man action figure (photographed for posterity above). Also, there was the time ROB returned with a pair of women’s panties. This was… disturbing, but I figured it was a sign to review Skullgirls, and maybe plant a tracking chip in a certain hunk of accessory.
The next step is actually playing the game in question. I’m not going to lie: this is the most fun part of the process. Even when the game is complete balls, I generally have fun playing the game, if only because I’m wincing the entire time and trying to figure out what the hell everyone involved was thinking. When you get right down to it, I have not bought a single game for the FGC, these are all games that, one way or another, I purchased for some reason, even if that reason was “it was two bucks and it had a neat cover”. Even when the game isn’t enjoyable, I can derive entertainment from the mere fact that I allowed this drivel into my home.
I guess that makes me a masochist?
Depending on the pace and length of the game, I do occasionally take notes on the featured game. As a special treat, here are my notes from back when I covered Shadow Hearts From the New World:
From there, it’s time to write the article. Ultimately, my first choice has to be what the article will be “about”. It is my personal belief that every piece of art has a story to tell, even if that story is brief and features poorly jumping Eskimos. Sometimes this “story” is something that speaks to the industry as a whole, whether through a game mechanic or unusual narrative choice. Sometimes the story is just dancing skeletons. Whatever the case, I take it as a personal challenge to draw out that tale in a thousand words or so.
As you’ve no doubt noticed on this site, I occasionally make a story out of the story. While I’d love to hog the credit and claim that each of these flights of fancy spring from my head fully formed like Palutena from the forehead of Beuz. I do actually keep notes on “ideas” that, eventually, get matched up with games. Don’t believe me? Take a look:
So once I’ve got a rough idea of where I’m going, I shape that into something that resembles a completed article. Since I produce three of these articles a week, I don’t have time for such trifling concepts as “writer’s block”. I find it works best to, no matter what, get a spine of an idea, and then turn it into a skeleton that can eventually be modified into something worthwhile, like an angry skeleton, or a skeleton with magic powers. In a weird way, early articles wind up looking like peculiar letters to myself. Here, for example, is an early draft of Hologram Time Traveler:
After that, it’s a matter of turning that angry skeleton into a usable article. I usually slap together a metaphor or two, sprinkle in a dash of alliteration, bake on 350 for about an hour with a generous application of amusing asides, and, like a cooking simile, it all comes together into a delicious main course.
Then I wait about two hours, come back, and run it by the mysterious Editrix X (a baffling English Major with poor career prospects [redundant]) because I can’t spell or grammarize (is that a word? [no]) for a damn. Luckily, Editrix X works for unusual facts about my other friend, Speed Editor, so an article is pretty cheap to produce.
At the point that my words have congealed into a properly readable article, it’s time to play with the pictures. I wait for this step until last, because I never know ahead of time whether or not I’m going to need particular shots to literally illustrate a point. It would do me no good to talk about how Rocksteady has inexplicably turned green and not actually include a picture, after all. As a result of this process, I record all my game-play during my first run through, sit on it, reference it randomly for the article, and then revisit it to pull out screen captures. I likely could do this while I’m playing the game, too, but I like to keep the experience “pure” and devoid of lunging to a keyboard to capture a key frame “live”. My coordination is bad enough as is…
And while we’re on the subject of images in articles, I want to note that, as you may have guessed, I love gifs. I love ‘em so much. I want to marry a gif. When I was a kid reading Nintendo Power in the back of an 80s Oldsmobile driving to and from school, all I could do was imagine the “future” of games journalism, and, to my childish mind, it basically looked like a modern day tablet, with article pictures that “played themselves” to show you how the game worked in action. The Future has failed me, though, because Nintendo Power is in the grave, and magazines are still made of dead trees. But I can hoist this future on my readers, and, God help me, I do occasionally peruse old FGC articles just to stare at the gifs. I’m sorry if it slows down the loading of any given article, but I will not risk losing Kirby earning a 1-up for love or money.
Also, for the record, even though the article is usually finished by the time I’m grabbing pics, I almost always overshoot my goal of “enough screencaps to look ‘right’”. You know how many random extra shots of Mad Maestro I have just lingering on my server? Too many!
Finally, we have the bullet point section at the end of every article… whether it makes sense or not. I find this area is most important on the more “fanfic-y” articles, as it ties everything together into a nice little “yes, this is a video game” for anyone that might be unfamiliar with the source material. But, seriously, who hasn’t played the 24 year old aquatic mammal vs. alien simulator, Ecco the Dolphin? They should be teaching that game in schools, now!
And that’s how the donuts are baked, folks. Follow these steps, repeat about a hundred times, and you could have a FGC of your very own. Actually, wait, don’t do that. I like doing this, and I’d hate to have to force Random ROB to give the lawyers a call. Random ROB might be a jerk sometimes, but he’s nothing compared to his buddy, Litigation Bot.
Wait, whoa, Editrix X has informed me it’s a bad idea to end the article on a threat… so… uh… hm. Oh! Bullet points!
FGC #100 Double Dragon (NES)
- System: NES. I want to say this version also popped back up on the Wii. … What do you mean it’s weird that I’m actually writing about the game?
- Number of players: Two. Wait, no, one. Really? Just one player for Double Dragon? Oh, no, wait, it’s two player alternating. But that’s still terrible!
- Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: I already did!
- Port o’ Call: The significant difference between this and the arcade/master system version is that NES Double Dragon lacks the simultaneous 2-player mode that is the entire reason you play the game. Seemingly to compensate, there’s a rudimentary “leveling” system that allows Billy or Other Billy to gain new skills through defeating foes. It’s kind of weird, considering this is a game where beating everyone up is required, but I guess it’s nice to be rewarded for doing your job. Now if only the game was more transparent about which skills are earned when…
- Fight!: NES Double Dragon’s “Mode B”, where you can select a number of different characters and square off against the computer or a human opponent, is very similar to what would one day be the entire Fighting Game genre. Of course, given how much this Mode B sucks, I can see why it didn’t catch on until the next generation.
- Embarrassing Goggle Bob Fact: I may or may not have adopted Abobo as a character in a number of really terrible fantasy stories I wrote around sixth grade. One random kid noticed the connection, but no one else ever did. A benevolent Lizard-Man from The Adventure of Link was also in there.
- Did you know? Jimmy Lee is the bad guy in NES Double Dragon. Couldn’t just drop two player mode, could you, porters? You had to mess up the whole canon…
- Would I play again? It is imperative I now modify my robot so he never picks this thing again. It’s… important.
What’s next? Like the last time I hit a divisible by 50 milestone, I’m taking a break from talking about video games for a week. Come back next Monday for… whatever I come up with. FGC resumes normal service on March 7 with… Persona 4 Dancing All Night! I’m… not excited about that choice, I just think the exclamation point is required for that title. Please look forward to it!
And here’s to a hundred more!