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FGC #577 Rock n’ Roll Racing

VrooomGentle reader, what do you want from videogame music? Because, confession time, I have a… storied past with videogame music versus many of my nerd peers…

This sad fact is by no means universal, but… how do I put this? Ah, here is a good example: If it is retro videogame trivia night (an actual thing that happens, I swear), and I am on deck for “name that tune”, I am probably going to lose. Did I play Mega Man 2 approximately ten million times as a child? Yes. However, can my brain immediately identify Wood Man’s theme as a classic beat meant to invoke the dodging of robotic ostriches? Nope. I know the Wood Man theme, I enjoy the Wood Man theme, but, when divorced from playing the game or seeing a track list, my brain never makes that immediate connection that I am listening to Wood Man’s theme. Why? Because my secret shame is that I played Mega Man 2 over and over again, but I didn’t listen to the music.

Sorry, pointdexters, I’ve been listening to real music this whole time! Ha ha! Eat noogies!

Though, to be honest, this was more of an issue of my environment than anything else. As was the style at the time, I often played videogames at the family “entertainment center”. And, as this beast was predominantly a result of the eighties (even if it was used well into… well… right now… buy some new equipment, Dad!), there was a heavy emphasis on its onboard tape/CD player. So, if I was playing a videogame, I had a choice: I could crank up the (tiny, tinny) TV to listen to DuckTales’ amazing jams, or I could just hit play on whatever album was currently in the player and crank it through the gigantic speakers that adorned the room. And guess which choice my parents heavily encouraged over an afternoon of listening to a Nintendo’s beeps and boops…

Cruisin' Not USAUltimately, I suppose it has always been a matter of how “music” is to my parents in the same way that “videogames” are to my attention starved mind. I need a new videogame every seventeen seconds to survive, and my parents were often compulsively purchasing albums at about the same rate when I was a wee Goggle Bob. They have slowed down in recent years (primarily due to the generational issue of “music stopped being good when I was thirty”), but it seemed like there was a new record on the player literally every week when I was a kid. And, what’s more, if an album turned out to be particularly loved, it would wind up in heavy rotation in that 5-CD advanced sound system (which, incidentally, I believe is the most “luxury” item my father has ever purchased to this very day). As one might expect, I eventually wound up following in my parents’ footsteps as I grew older, so my playtime eventually included my own tunes. This means that, right off the top of my head…

· Breath of Fire 2 was released right about the same time as my dad got the Queen’s Greatest Hits 2-disc set, so I want to say that entire game is fueled exclusively by Freddy Mercury in my mind.

· My mother purchased Blondie’s Greatest Hits when I was finally allowed to have a Virtual Boy (there was some debate on whether it would permanently scar my eyes). This is why One Way or Another always makes me think of Wario.

· And, lest you think this list is only based on my parents’ musical tastes, the legendary Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a Christmas present alongside a Best Buy gift card that got me Ben Folds Five’s self-titled debut album. I am more likely to recall Jackson Cannery than Zelda’s Lullaby.

And, to be clear, there were some standouts in my childhood/teenage videogame library. Final Fantasy 3 (or 6) got a pass for “real” chiptunes thanks to Nintendo Power gushing about the music (Nintendo Power gushed about everything, but somehow that penetrated my brain before a playthrough), and Chrono Trigger snuck in there for much the same reason. But beyond that? Beyond games I knew I was playing “for the music”? Sorry, bud, but you can’t compete with this Van Halen CD I certainly didn’t pick up just to impress a girl I liked for ten minutes (yet my enjoyment of Van Halen lives on). My father said that “Sonic Boom! Sonic Boom!” coming from the TV was annoying, so I’m going to keep the Billy Joel cranked up, just as God and/or Dad intended.

But that is not to say if I am playing a videogame, even from the 16-bit era, I don’t want to hear videogame music.

Look outToday’s game is Rock n’ Roll Racing. It is one of those racing titles from before Nintendo and Gran Turismo apparently codified the genre. Like Mario Kart, there are weapons, powerups, and the occasional opportunity to expertly steer into a shortcut or straight off the course. However, unlike the “Mode-7” inspired racers that dominate the genre today, this one looks almost like a classic Zelda adventure with its isometric perspective. This had been seen in many racing games (I will never not have a quarter for Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road), and had recently been seen in Silicon & Synapse’s own SNES title, Radical Psycho Machine Racing. In fact, give or take the futuristic setting, Rock n’ Roll Racing is RPM Racing 2 in all but name. So why the brand jump? Why forsake the previous game that must have dazzled upwards of thirteen supporters and latch onto a completely different title, potentially offending the rabid RPM Racing fanbase? Simple. When you’ve got rock n’ roll licensing, you make your game about rock n’ roll. Rock ‘n Roll Racing got Bad to the Bone, Highway Star, Paranoid, Born to be Wild, Radar Love, and (most importantly) Peter Gunn. When you’ve got songs like that, you forsake everything RPM Racing ever stood for, and promote the rock n’ roll, baby!

Hot stuffOf course, having the license to a song or six does not mean you can actually play the song. Rock n’ Roll Racing was always intended for the Super Nintendo, and, unfortunately, Nintendo technology of the time could barely support the Clayfighter theme, left alone Steppenwolf belting out a little ditty about being wild. As a result, Rock n’ Roll Racing had to “reduce” all of its greatest hits to chiptunes. And it works! Vocals may be gone, but these are unmistakably the driving anthems that will propel your racer from planet to planet via a rockin’ rocket ship or two. The rock n’ roll of Rock n’ Roll Racing may have been midi-ised for the Super Nintendo (and eventually the Sega Genesis), but it was still recognizable, and thus unlike anything else available at the time. Those dumb baby games with Mario could never support even the slightest slice of Black Sabbath.

But time marched on, and, despite all odds, Rock n’ Roll Racing got a remaster on modern consoles. Silicon & Synapse became Blizzard, had a hit or two with some kind of Diabcraft-watch thing, and someone with an affectionate heart greenlit Blizzard Arcade Collection, a title that featured zero games made by a company named Blizzard, or ever appeared in an arcade. It is a collection, though! And it’s not just a collection of retro titles, either, as every one of the included games (The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne snuck in here, too) included a “best remix” version that modernized aspect ratios, merged levels from different versions, and upgraded the graphics all around (as best as one can do such a thing with 30 year old games, of course). And, in the case of Rock n’ Roll racing, the “real” Rock n’ Roll was finally included, and now the full vocal tracks of these classic hits are available for your racing pleasure.

And I hate it.

I understand that this makes zero sense. When given the choice, if I am playing an 8/16/sometimes 32-bit title, I will listen to “real music”, because that is the way I was raised. But when a game tells me I will listen to “real music”, I’m out. Despite years of conditioning, I immediately find the situation… offensive. You not only want me to listen to Peter Gunn, a song I love, but you want me to listen to the full instrumental track of it? The same song I have chosen to listen to over and over again? You monsters. This modern take on Rock n’ Roll Racing should be the version that grabs my attention immediately. It is a great game! It has got great music! Yet here I sit, switching back to the SNES version, because I don’t want to hear Ian Gillan smashing out his hits. I’m playing a videogame, so I better hear videogame music, dammit.

Winner!  Maybe!What do I want out of videogame music? Apparently I want chiptunes. I might enjoy listening to other jams while playing my games, but I absolutely do not want a game to tell me what songs I should be listening to. You hear that, other franchises? I don’t care how funny you think your fake DJs are, I can jockey my own discs, thank you.

So… uh… guess my answer is kind of complicated. I want either my own music, or what my dad will still call “that beepy music”. And there can be no middle ground. What do you want from videogame music, dedicated reader who suffered through this meandering article? Is your answer more… sane?

FGC #577 Rock n’ Roll Racing

  • System: Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and now part of Blizzard Arcade Collection on modern consoles like Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Super Nintendo WiiU… I mean Switch. There was also a Gameboy Advance version in there, too, but never a 3DO edition.
  • Number of players: 2-player split screen, or maybe 4 if you can use modern technology. What’s important is that multiplayer is definitely involved.
  • Who will win?It’s a Personal Problem: This might not be the best racing game of all time or something, but it does have personality in spades. The “lore” for the various planets, racers, and even advertisers is fun all around, and, had this game been even more of a hit, we’d probably be looking at a few Loudmouth Larry Geocities fan pages. Let the carnage begin!
  • Favorite Racer: Katarina Lyons is my favorite pick, because she successfully foretold the coming of Avatar (the cats, not the cartoon). She also handles really well. Olaf gets a bonus mention though for being the best cameo/crossover in the Blizzard library.
  • Favorite Rival Racer: Ragewortt is some manner of malevolent frog king, and I am here for that.
  • Level Up: I appreciate the concept of purchasing new/customizable cars, but, in practice, it seems like you either have to be an expect racer, or “level up” according to the planet difficulty tiers. And I hate leveling up in skill based games! You hear me, beat ‘em ups!? I don’t want to wonder if my proficiencies are subpar, or I just haven’t grinded enough! I don’t need more stress in my life right now! Though I guess it does give prize money a reason to exist, so it can’t be all bad…
  • Did you know? I swear the only reason the announcer uses the “(Character) looks lost out there!” expression repeatedly is so that we can get a decent “Olaf looks lost out there!” whenever that particular viking is lagging behind.
  • Kinda mustard coloredWould I play again: Rock n’ Roll Racing was always on the FGC docket, so it is kind of a wonder it got a modern rerelease just in time to satisfy the random robot. And now I can play its prequel, too! RnRR is the kind of title I always get a hankering to play every five years or so, and I can (hopefully) say my Switch digital library isn’t going anywhere, so we’re definitely looking at some additional rocking and rolling in the future.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Capcom Fighting Evolution for the Playstation 2! Is this evolution, or devolution? We’ll find out! Please look forward to it!

FGC #387 The Death and Return of Superman

SUPERMAN!The Death and Return of Superman is a singular event in comics and videogames.

But not for the reasons you think…

First of all, let’s address the inevitable vocal nerd in the room. You might not comment, you might not say it out loud to anyone in particular, but I see you, comics nerd, because I am right there with you and your inevitably contrary opinions. In this case, my imagined strawman is spouting off the modern response to The Death and Return of Superman: “it doesn’t matter anymore, every comic book character dies”. And that’s true! In the current, modern age of comics (so defined as “any comic that came out after Iron Man: The Movie made Marvel a mint”) pretty much everyone has died and been revived in one manner or another. Spider-Man was mind-killed (but got better), every Green Lantern was killed and/or banished at one time or another (they’re all cool now), and even the Human Torch died and was revived in an event absolutely no one cared about. Death means nothing in modern comics, and even some of the “perennial” deaths have been overturned. Jean Grey is back as a teenager and a head-sock wearing adult, Bucky Barnes is an (apparently) immortal cyborg, and, despite the presence of like sixteen Wolverines across the X-franchise, it appears “regular” Wolverine is going to be back in action shortly. Death holds no sway over the comics page, and it’s a shock when Professor X actually stays dead for longer than ten minutes. Remember that time he got shot in the head, and it cured his paralysis? Good times.

So The Death and Return of Superman should have lost some of its luster after a thousand imitators. Heck, it wasn’t original in the first place, as it wasn’t even the first time Superman died. He used to die every other week back in the Silver Age of Comics! I know that sounds ridiculous, but, come on, if you found out your marriage to a gorilla (which only happened because you were cursed with a lion head) was legally binding, wouldn’t you rather conquer death before having to familiarize yourself with gorilla divorce law? Just leave your will etched into the moon, and you’re good to go hang out with mermaids again. WeeeeePoint is that Superman was never going to stay in the grave, and, while there was a bit of buzz over “how does he die?” and “how does he come back?”, The Death and Return of Superman was never going to be all that original an idea right from its inception. It started as a writer’s room joke! The entire thing happened so they could sync a comics wedding with a television wedding! This whole event should have been more doomed than Superman!

But… it wasn’t. Whether it was because of a surprisingly focused media campaign or just a bunch of nerds really interested in watching Superman bite the big one, The Death of and Return of Superman was a cultural event. Actually, it was probably that “Death” that was more read than the inevitable “Return”, but it’s likely at least 12% of that audience stuck around to figure out exactly why Clark Kent suddenly had a mullet. And, by comic book numbers, that’s an unprecedented success! Superman dying reinvigorated the whole of DC Comics, and paved the way for all sorts of amazing new story ideas and characters. Remember Kyle Rayner? Please say you do!

And, as an inevitable side-effect of being popular in the mid 90’s, The Death and Return of Superman got its own Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis game. This, taken on its own in 1994, should not have been a surprise. What is a surprise is that, in the intervening (nearly) 25 years, we haven’t seen a single other videogame based on one single comics arc.

That… is a bit absurd.

OuchFor those of you that don’t follow comic books, comic “arcs” are frequent, numerous, and often define a solid six months or so at a time. Because it’s difficult to write new and interesting plots every month, comic books often pursue arcs that are generally based on one hero battling one villain… but a lot of little problems get in the way for issue after issue. Often times, these arcs are transformed into “events”, and an event comic sucks every other comic it can find into its orbit. It’s not just about Batman fighting Joker, it’s about Joker infecting every other villain he can find, and, this month, The Flash has to battle Captain Cold, but he’s wearing clown makeup, so that’s new and interesting… right? These events are frequently just an excuse to goose the sales on good but publicly ignored titles (“This week, Yellow Lanterns fight The Blue Beetle! Next week: The New Gods!”), and, while we’re at it, maybe get some buzz from the fans thanks to some killer pull quotes like “things will never be the same again” or “Radioactive Man dies on every page”. Again, it’s all been watered down after years (decades) of repetition and hyperbole, but it appears to be the lifeblood of the superhero comics industry. Marvel Comics without sporadic events where everyone turns out to be a Nazi would hardly be Marvel Comics at all.

What happened here?But, for every giant arc and epic event that has gone through DC and Marvel comics, barely any have made the leap to videogame land. What’s more, of the few arcs that made the transition to pixels (and weren’t just based on movies that came out a month prior), all of those stories were rewritten and repackaged as more generic adventures. It’s not “The Fantastic Four battle Galactus”, it’s “Marvel Superheroes”. It’s not “Spider-Man vs. The Green Goblin”, it’s just “Spider-Man”. And when he teams up with the X-Men… it’s not exactly because someone loved that time Arcade built his latest Murder World, it’s entirely because some company wanted to smoosh two super popular franchises together. There is a huge market for people that would absolutely kill for a Blackest Night or Sinestro Wars videogame… but the best we’re ever going to see is a generic Green Lantern game starring only Hal Jordan. And even that is probably only going to happen if there’s a new movie to promote.

So what was different about The Death and Return of Superman? Why, of all the many, many comic book “epic stories” to come out over the last few decades, was this story of man vs. rock monster chosen to be exalted into beat ‘em up Valhalla with Mike Haggar and Michelangelo? Why is The Death and Return of Superman in my Super Nintendo, and not Generic Superman Adventure #327?

And, in playing The Death and Return of Superman, I think I have an answer: This is all about Superman, and that’s it.

The Death and Return of Superman technically features five playable characters: Steel, Cyborg Superman, The Eradicator, Superboy, and Superman: Original Flavor. Officially, that is five different people (mostly people), but, for the purpose of this beat ‘em up, they all play exactly the same. They all have a projectile, they all have a screen-clearing “super move”, and they all have a flurry of generic combos and attacks. And, in a way, that is fairly on-point gameplay, as there is supposed to be confusion as to who is the real Superman. Superboy is a clone, The Eradicator has the power, Cyborg Superman could have the body, and Steel has the heart and drive of the Man of Steel. They’re all supposed to be worthwhile Superman replacements, and, since they all play the same, they could all qualify. So machoIt’s not lazy coding, it’s a feature! And speaking of potential laziness, every boss (aside from Doomsday) is either an anonymous “trap” (like an angry robot), or another one of the Supermans. Cyborg Superman vs. Superboy. Eradicator vs. Steel. Superman vs. Cyborg Superman. This could practically be a fighting game for much of the plot, and it would be one featuring only variations on one character.

And that is the genius of it.

Remember those gigantic, epic “event” comics I mentioned earlier? Well, it’s not an exaggeration to claim that those stories often feature a cast of hundreds. And it’s easy to see how that happens, because when the average super team has an average of ten members, and everyone has to show up all at once, suddenly you’ve got a convention crowd battling the latest invader du jour. And that’s difficult to follow! Sure, you understand Superman or Batman’s deal, but what’s up with Elongated Man this week? Wasn’t he dead? Why does he look like a 20’s gangster? And is that supposed to be Martian Manhunter over there? Why the heck is he cosplaying as Blade? And this is all assuming this event isn’t occurring at some random point in another comic’s current “event”, so Wonder Woman isn’t inexplicably being played by her mom, or Batman isn’t a crazed Frenchman. In short, most comic book events require a primer just to know who’s who, and the industry has solved this problem by… releasing “the road to” comic events that explain the premise for the next event. Also, sometimes there is a denouement “aftermath” series that explains how everyone is reacting to the events of the last event. It generally previews the next event, too. What I’m trying to say is that reading comics requires a healthy amount of dedication, possibly bordering on constructing a bulletin board with a number of multicolored push pins.

WeeeeBut The Death and Return of Superman doesn’t need any of that. Yes, the original series was grand and sweeping, and we certainly had at least one tie-in where we learned exactly how Aquaman felt about losing his land pal, but the core of the story, that which could be converted into a 16-bit title, is just a Superman story. It’s Evil Superman fighting Sidekick Supermans until Real Superman decides to make the scene. You don’t need Lois Lane. You don’t need Lex Luthor. And you certainly don’t need a guest appearance from Robin #4,187. No, all you need is a bunch of Supermans punching each other, and we’re good to go. The Death and Return of Superman is the ideal comic book event, because it can be converted into any format, and the audience doesn’t need to know anything more than the title. What is the Eradicator’s deal? Who cares! It’s time for super punches now!

And that’s why The Death and Return of Superman is the only videogame distinctly based on one comic book event.

Well, except Maximum Carnage. But that one sucked.

FGC #387 The Death and Return of Superman

  • System: Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. The SNES version came out first, so I’m assuming the Genesis version is more of a port.
  • Number of players: Despite the host of extra Supermans laying around, it’s only one player. A real shame there isn’t a playable Jimmy Olsen available.
  • Friendly Fire: One interesting shift in the beat ‘em up standard here is that the random mooks can accidently fire missiles and punches at each other. Some really deft and careful dodging could probably lead to a successful “pacifist run” of everything but the bosses.
  • Super Destructive: On the other hand, there’s something just plain satisfying about tossing a mutant into a background window, and earning a powerup for your troubles.
  • Get 'em!The Superman Problem: This is a beat ‘em up starring Superman, so, naturally, we have to deal with the whole “he’s not that super” problem. Doomsday is one thing, but OG Supes can lose health and lives to random punks with chainsaws! And so many random robots! Bah! Repeat to yourself it’s just a game, and you should really just relax.
  • Favorite Superman: I’m going to say Steel for this game, as he’s the only Superman smart enough to show up with a weapon (a rad hammer, at that). Look, I know Superman has twelve billion powers, but kryptonite surfaces every other day, so maybe it would be a good idea to have a backup plan, Clark.
  • Did you know? This game was developed by an early Blizzard Entertainment. Yes, that Blizzard. If you ignore Blackthorne (which almost everyone did anyway), this might be the first chronologically developed Blizzard game as Blizzard (as they were previously Silicon & Synapse). That’s just super.
  • Would I play again: This is a beat ‘em up, and, while it’s interesting as a cultural artifact, it’s neither two players nor interesting enough to play again. Pass.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Secret of Mana 2018! Or I just spent all weekend playing that game, and I really want to talk about it! Which I’m going to do! Please look forward to it!

I hate your little jacket

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!