Tag Archives: collecting

FGC #548 Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

So shinyRecently(ish) on the ol’ World of Final Fantasy live stream, my compatriots, BEAT and fanboymaster, discussed the idea of a collectathon, and settled on the decision that the term “collectathon” is one that was designed by game reviewers who did not actually care for the genre in any conceivable way. The word itself speaks to the exhaustion that is caused by participating in a collectathon, and, more than likely, the term was coined after so many random games that required all kinds of esoteric methods to finally achieve some level of “game completion”. In short, according to my contemporaries, “collectathon” became a term to insult the genre it was describing.

However, I disagree (and I would have elaborated more on my position during the stream, but we had to get back to discussing episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force). For one thing, I used to date a woman who ran recreationally, and, to her, the idea of a marathon was actually a fun time. I, personally, am completely incapable of understanding such a feeling, but there are apparently people out there that that both enjoy what others see as a grueling gauntlet and have sex with me (wait… maybe there’s a connection there). But the idea of –thon being a watch word (suffix?) aside, there’s also the whole “collecta-“ part of the equation. And noting that a whole lot of collecting is going to be involved seems valid! Your biggest collectathons require amassing all kinds of crazy nonsense, and, in the same way that a shoot ‘em up contains a lot of shooting or a role playing game involves eating a whole lot of rolls, the noble collectathon is all about collecting. And, as collectathons progressed through the end of the 90s and into the current millennium, they certainly put more and more of an effort-based emphasis on collecting at the cost of boss fights, minigames, or other distractions from the primary goal of collecting. In short, according to this humble writer, the collectathon is well-served by its popular moniker.

And, besides, if you want to insult a collectathon, call it by the name that Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest so desperately deserves: a goddamn mindreading simulator.

This is funBefore I start actively swearing, let me state one thing plainly: Donkey Kong Country 2 is a good videogame. Hell, it’s one of the best on the Super Nintendo, and, considering its competition, that is very much saying something. It’s an action platformer that lives up to the pedigree of Mario or Sonic, but it is also its own animal with extremely unique, consistent physics. As would eventually be refined by the WiiU era, Donkey Kong Country has always had a very distinctive “feeling”; and, after its maiden voyage in Donkey Kong Country 1, DKC2 seemed to perfect that feeling for the Super Nintendo. And we got Dixie! A significant issue with DKC1 is that it never had a “raccoon tail” or similar option of having access to a character with a less precise, more forgiving jump (not like you can drag that flapping ostrich into every stage). DKC2 gave us Dixie Kong and her ponytail-copter that allowed for slower, but more easily-controlled jumps. And you’re going to need it, too, because absolutely every DKC2 level has its own discrete challenge, so not a single pixel is wasted on repeating or recycling level concepts over and over. In an age where every third platformer contained stages that were indistinguishable from each other (looking at you, Bubsy), you could never mistake one DKC2 stage for another. Yes, those briars might be familiar, but this time you’re using mobile barrels as opposed to flying a parrot. Or is this the stage with the spider? Maybe! Better play the level to find out.

But variety isn’t always a good thing, and that issue rears its ugly head when you get back to that collectathon aspect. The sad truth of Donkey Kong Country 2? It apparently expects you to be psychic.

SPLURTPreviously on this blog, I recognized Banjo & Kazooie as the perfect collectathon. Long article short, it is all about carefully explaining its challenges to the player, and then granting the player all the options available to say “so have at it”. There are ten jiggys in this world, you know there are only ten jiggys, so get to work, and when you’ve collected nine, know that that one place on the map with a weird squirrel is probably your final destination. Donkey Kong Country 2, also created by Banjo & Kazooie’s Rare, is obviously the ancestor of many of B&K’s indulgences (and we’re not just talking about the inexplicable, self-contained quiz show). Does every weird-ass animal in this universe have giant googly eyes? Yes. Speaking of animals, the buddies have now mostly been transformed from “power-ups” (ala Yoshi in Super Mario World) to required “transformations” that mean this stage is absolutely going to require the abilities of a springy snake. And, yes, so much more so than in Donkey Kong Country 1, collecting bits and baubles is a requirement if you want to see the whole of the game. Not only do you need to find Krem Coins in bonus areas if you want to complete all the levels, you also need banana coins to pay Kongs for the privilege of saving, and DK Coins so Cranky Kong can shut his fat gob for once in this damned franchise. Whereas bonus areas were simply bonuses in DKC1, now every last challenge must be conquered if you want to play the entirety of Donkey Kong Country 2.

And if you are looking for a little consistency in the “bonuses” of DKC2, you are cartwheeling up the wrong vine.

Take thatThere is one DK coin in every level. You can always find it in the level proper… except that one time a DK coin is hidden in a bonus stage. And the final “jump challenge” of every level is always a simple bonus for consumables… except when it is required for the DK coin in about three stages. You can count on bonus rooms to appear in pairs across the various levels, but don’t let your guard down after you’ve found one, because there are a handful of stages that contain three. And speaking of finding bonus areas, don’t worry, because there’s always a banana arrow or even just a single banana indicating that something might be up with this particular wall or area. Or there isn’t. Better nudge a carried barrel against every single vertical surface any time you see one available. Maybe you should backtrack with the barrel, too, because that works, too. Not often, of course, but every once in a while it’s mandatory. Oh! And you know how those thorny vines are always going to obliterate your kongs? Well there are a few false thorn walls, so you might want to smoosh up against deadly spikes just on the off chance it’s that one part where that’s the only way to find the DK coin. Don’t ask me which level they appear in, but they’re there, so you better give it a shot more often than not. Sorry if you lose a life!

And if this sounds completely absurd, congratulations, you’re paying attention. Donkey Kong Country 2 does not effectively (or at least consistently) convey to the player the parameters of its compulsory secrets. The best way to play Donkey Kong Country 2 is to apparently fall into every pit and eat every spike, Kong health be damned. Or use an emulator, and rewind every mistake. Or read a FAQ. Or the only viable option available in 1995: be a goddamned mind reader, and know exactly what Rare was thinking at all times.

Go DiddyA collectathon can be fun. Donkey Kong Country 2 is a fun game. But literally banging your head against every wall is not fun. Trying to figure out what the hell Rare happened to be thinking from level to level is not fun. Sometimes it is fun to find a particularly well-hidden secret, but, more often than not, the path to finding that secret is fraught with trial, error, and a whole lot of dead monkeys. And nobody wants to see that! We have so many laws against that!

Disparage not the noble collectathon, but please acknowledge the woes of the olden mindreading simulator. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest set Rare on the path of defining the collectathon, but, in its pupal form, the collectathon was responsible for more frustration than fun.

… Or at least it sold a lot of copies of Nintendo Power…

FGC #548 Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

  • System: Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance, and now any Nintendo system that will support an emulator. Didn’t get loaned out to Xbox One’s Rare Replay, though.
  • Number of players: There are two Kongs on this adventure, so you may as well have two players.
  • Favorite Animal Buddy: Ignoring the snake that is the clear precursor to Spring Mario, I’m going to go with Squitter the Spider, because the ability to make your own platforms in a 16-bit platformer was a revelation back in the 90’s. Much like Kirby’s flight abilities or the P-Wing, this felt like breaking the whole game back in the day… even if the poor spider only appeared in a handful of levels. And the power-webs are a nice bonus, too.
  • Diddy on Top: Do you suppose Nintendo would allow this to happen in a modern release?

    WINNER!

    I kind of have to believe that Nintendo would let Diddy tie with Mario, not win, if something like this were tried today. Then again, maybe it only happened the first time because there is clearly an insult to Sonic and Earthworm Jim thrown in there.

  • Setting a tone: I have to say, it is downright impressive how the Kremling’s home island, the setting for DKC2, absolutely sucks. Give or take one vaguely malevolent amusement park, you can see why these lizards are constantly trying to conquer other realms, because sitting at home with the poisonous bogs, giant beehives, and castle overflowing with acid does not seem like a good time. Donkey Kong Country seems like a place I would like to stay, Crocodile Isle is… not going to get five stars on the ol’ vacation rankings.
  • An End: Find every last Krem Coin, and Donkey, Diddy, and Dixie will watch Crocodile Isle sink into the ocean, with K. Rool escaping on his pirate ship. Does this seem like a good idea, guys? To leave your mortal enemy homeless? That’s only going to lead to issues down the line, and you know it.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: This article is being published on my wedding day. This has nothing to do with anything, but I figure I’ll make a note of it.
  • It is hot in hereDid you know? Dixie Kong took some significant time off after Donkey Kong Country 3. She didn’t appear in Donkey Kong 64 (that was her sister, Tiny), but she did make it back in time for Donkey Konga and Jungle Climber. Now she seems to appear nearly every time we see Donkey, though, so it looks like her retirement was short lived.
  • Would I play again: I realize that this article makes it sound like Donkey Kong Country 2 is a bad game. But it’s not! I swear! It just has some horrible tendencies towards making my OCD flip out on every flat surface in every level. That hampers my ability to enjoy the game! But would I ever play it again? Yes, because this is some of the best platforming on the SNES. Like for another game, I just need to turn my brain off, and then we’ll be fine.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Garfield: Caught in the Act for Sega Genesis. Oh no! I hate Mondays, too! Please look forward to it!

Weeeeee
This counts as a minecart, right?

FGC #335 Rayman 2: The Great Escape

And now a comprehensive list of videogame consoles that support Rayman 2, and whether or not they ever needed Rayman 2.

Nintendo 64 (11/6/99)

DONT DO ITIt all started here… Rayman 2: The Great Escape is a 3-D platforming collectathon that premiered on the N64. This is appropriate, as the N64 was home to some of the most collecty collectathons that ever collected. Remember Donkey Kong 64? Jet Force Gemini? … Probably other Rare games? The N64 was made for either 3-D collectathons or racing games (and Diddy Kong Racing, the first racing collectathon), so one might assume this would be a good place for Rayman’s collectathon. Rayman was basically a 16-bit platforming mascot on the previous system, so aping Mario 64 on the next gen seemed only natural.

Of course, the downside to this is that Rayman 2 had to compete with the previously mentioned Mario 64. Good luck with that! Don’t worry, Rayman, it’s not your fault. Pretty much no one could compete with the raw joy of Mario skipping and hopping around a perfect wonderland built perfectly for his stubby little plumber legs, and no amount of quirky British humor was going to change that. And it probably doesn’t help that Mario’s robust moveset is right there from the moment Lakitu clicks on his camera, while Rayman feels sluggish and woefully underequipped for most of his journey. It’s a poor first impression, and that’s not so great when Mario 64 is inevitably right there. Never compete with the launch title, kiddies!

Did the N64 need Rayman 2? This is a firm “maybe”. On one hand, the N64 needed more games, as it was Nintendo’s first foray into the fun and frightening world of supporting a console almost exclusively with first and second party releases. On the other hand, Mario 64 is arguably the greatest 3-D platforming game of the generation, and no gang of mechanical pirates is ever going to change that. So I guess Rayman 2 is good for the N64 if you want a decent platforming game, but don’t want to make eye contact with Jolly Roger Bay.

Dreamcast (3/21/00)

Here we go!Okay, now we’re talking. The N64’s release list was anemic, but it looked like a bloodbath next to Dreamcast’s “twelve fighting games, and, I don’t know, that one game with the mice” output. And the Dreamcast controller! Do you see that analogue stick there? You know that is meant to assist with rad analogue movement, right? Did that come in handy in Street Fighter 3? SoulCalibur? A third Dreamcast game I haven’t already mentioned? No, it was there for Sonic Adventure, and then ignored for the rest of forever. The Dreamcast was practically made for at least one sweet 3-D platformer! And here’s one sweet 3-D platformer! Yay!

Did the Dreamcast need Rayman 2? Absolutely. The Dreamcast version of Rayman 2 is improved in every way (particular in the camera way), and it’s a great match for the system. With no Mario to compete with, Rayman shines (but does not collect Shines), and the emphasis on strafing/shooting is a lot more tolerable when you can see what you’re doing. The visuals are much improved, too. Rayman N64 is a clunky mishmash of 2-D and 3-D, but Rayman 2 DC feels 100% 3-D all the way. Couple this with a dearth of options on the Dreamcast, and it seems like these two failures were made for each other.

Playstation (8/31/00)

SPEAK!You gotta recoup your losses somehow. Rayman 2 was never meant for the tiny discs of the Playstation, and it shows. The graphics took a hit falling from the grace of the Dreamcast, 200 collectible whatsits are entirely missing, and a handful of levels are just gone. But on the plus side, there’s voice acting! So now you can sit around and wait for the damn tutorial… thing to finish its speech about properly pressing the R1 button. Progress! Has any game ever been enhanced by characters suddenly gaining the ability to talk? I love you all, Sonic, Samus, and Rayman, but I’m pretty sure you’d all be better off in the silent protagonist camp. Or at least just speaking Sims.

Did the Playstation need Rayman 2? I guess that if this was your only console, this would have been your only route to Rayman. I suppose there’s something noble about that. However, it seems that this is more a case of Ubisoft needing the Playstation, as both the N64 and Dreamcast were not well received consoles, while the Playstation had an install base of every cool kid on Earth. This is a severely compromised port, but it was likely more than worth it to get a few bucks off the Tony Hawk crowd (I assume that if you love being radical, you love Rayman). Of course, it would have probably all made a lot more sense if Ubisoft just waited for…

Playstation 2 (1/30/01)

Move alongOh, I get it. They had to get a Rayman out in the US before Christmas. Five months after the Playstation release, the Playstation 2 got Rayman 2. Wait, no, not Rayman 2, now it’s Rayman: Revolution, so as to properly trip up anyone with the kind of brain disease that encourages buying every last Rayman title. At least this seems to be the apex of Rayman 2 upgrades, as now we have voice acting, all the levels, all new levels, one extra Lum, and a hub world to replace the “world map” of previous versions. Your mileage may vary on whether or not any of these upgrades actually improve the game, but more is always better… right?

Did the Playstation 2 need Rayman 2? This is a better fit than the Playstation 1 version, and all of the new bells and whistles are certainly nice. On the other disembodied hand, though, this game was released almost a full year after the launch of the PS2, and that’s about a full year past when a system should be supporting ports from the previous generation. This is still a game that isn’t quite at Banjo Kazooie levels of playability, and it should be completely ignored in favor of other big Playstation 2 releases, like The Bouncer.

Gameboy Color (1/1/02)

This one barely counts, but I suppose it should be noted for posterity. This is a 2-D platforming game, and is an entirely new experience. An entirely new experience that has the exact same plot, but gameplay is king here on Gogglebob.com, so we’re sticking to our assessment. What’s important is that this is not a Gameboy Advance title, but a Gameboy Color release. Remember the Gameboy Color? It could barely support Super Mario Bros. I wouldn’t hold out much hope for… Oh my God, this thing looks like it was made in MS Paint.

NO!

Did the Gameboy Color need Rayman 2? I don’t even understand why this game is Rayman 2. Couldn’t they have just made this its own thing? Rayman and The Pirate’s Curse? I don’t know, something like that. Was it really worth preserving (and sullying) the Rayman 2 extended universe? And does this game do absolutely anything for the Gameboy Color? Not on your life. Let those Lums die.

Nintendo DS (3/25/05)

Up we goWe thought we were safe, but three years later, Rayman 2 returned. After somehow skipping the Gameboy Advance, Rayman followed Mario 64 back down to the DS. This is a port of the N64 game, so can anyone confirm if the DS was somehow running on N64 parts? Seems like we got a lot of N64 ports on that little system, and it can’t just be because the world wanted to see a version of Star Fox 64 that wasn’t slathered in the N64 fog. Regardless, this is N64 Rayman 2 all over again, so most of the improvements seen on the intervening systems are nowhere to be found. Like Mario 64 DS, touch controls where implemented to compensate for the lack of an analogue nub. … Which was just another way to copy Mario…

Did the Nintendo DS need Rayman 2? Same N64 game, same N64 problem. Just play Mario 64! It’s right there! Available right from the launch! Or play that damn Yoshi game! Don’t play Rayman 2! You’re encouraging the wrong kind of behavior!

iOS (3/1/10)

It’s the Dreamcast game! But with touch controls! UGGGGGGGGGH.

Did iOS need Rayman 2? UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH.

Nintendo 3DS (3/22/11)

So hot!How does this keep happening!? It’s been twelve years! You already had a Nintendo portable system, Rayman 2, you didn’t need another one! Couldn’t Ubisoft have pinched out a Rabbids title? Maybe upscale the GBC release for a little variety? No, this is the Dreamcast release, again, but now with minor 3-D features. Is Rayman 2 somehow this beloved? It has to launch with another damn system? Another damn system that already plays better games? Why does Rayman 2 keep coming back? Are robot pirates eating things they should not eat that perennial? WHY?!

Did the 3DS need need Rayman 2? Are people still buying Firefly Blu-Rays? Like, they were already discounted down to $10 two decades ago, and the show got cancelled after a season, and, like, it’s cool that you still support the series, but… we’ve moved on. The franchise has moved on. Everyone has moved on. It’s over. Let it go. Let it rest. Some things are best just… done. Go collect 999 Lums somewhere else.

FGC #335 Rayman 2: The Great Escape

  • System: Did you read the article? Note that all images are from either the N64 or PS2 version (and one GBC shot). I ain’t playin’ anymore Rayman 2 than that.
  • Did I miss anybody? I guess the PS2 version is available on PS3. Also, the PSX version is available on PS3. Huh. I wonder if that’s just for Rayman purists.
  • Number of players: Just one Rayman.
  • Yay!Say something nice: No matter the version, I do enjoy Rayman interacting with the weird little denizens of his world. This is clearly the company that would eventually give us a gaggle of Rabbids.
  • Sexual Dimorphism is a Scourge: I’m not even going to touch the difference between the traditional (male) Rayman, Globox, or Pirate vs. your average fairy. Actually, is there a female Rayman-looking creature anywhere in the series? Nothing immediately comes to mind.
  • Did you know? Apparently the 3DS (and hopefully final) version of Rayman 2 includes at least one glitch that makes collecting all of the Lums completely impossible. This is important, because it indicates that not even the producers of Rayman 2 are playing through these ports anymore.
  • Would I play again: Did I mention that this game was outclassed when it was first released two decades ago? Rayman 2’s time was over before it began, and I’m not going to waste any more of my time on it.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… World Heroes Anthology! Let’s gather up all the heroes of time… and make ‘em fight! Please look forward to it!

FGC #323 Sneak King & Big Bumpin’

DO NOT LOOK AT THISA lot of people ask me why I bother with collecting videogames. It used to just be concerned adults/parents/mentors that claimed I had some kind of hording brain issue, but I learned to ignore those squares pretty damn quickly. Then, as time has gone by, I have learned that this question has come from the most unlikely of sources: other gamers. “Why, Goggle Bob, do you buy all these physical releases of games when digital is so much easier? You don’t even have to leave the couch! You’ve filled an entire room with these mountains and mountains of cheap plastic. Why are you doing this to yourself? We’re worried about…” etc. I’ve heard it all before, and, for anyone willing to wait for an answer, I have one response: Burger King’s Sneak King.

Okay, that might not be my only response, but it’s definitely one of ‘em!

I am hopelessly addicted to buying videogames. I know this. I have this pathological need to own any given piece of videogame history entirely because… what? I think discs are somehow going to outlive my Playstation account? In fact, I want to say the first game that ever really got me out of my “no digital” shell was Mega Man 9, but I was downright excited for the recent physical release of Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 because it meant I could finally possess a physical version of the exact same game. Never mind that I still have my “original” Mega Man 9 download transferred to my WiiU, and never mind that I bought the game again on sale on Playstation 3 because I had nothing better to do with five bucks; no, ignore all of that, because I have a disc in a case that, let’s face it, is more likely to be destroyed than an entire videogame console. But it still somehow grants me this all important illusion of permanence. So I still debate on the merits of purchasing a digital version of the latest fighting game (you know the “whole game” isn’t on the disc! They release new DLC every other week!) Dance it!and lament the lack of physical media for any digital game I love (hi, Sonic Mania). I need my totems of power, and if I don’t have a physical version, what’s the point? Playing a game for fun? Please.

But, while that is obviously a prominent psychological disease the likes of which medical science has not yet fully explained, I am aware of that problem, and I can overcome it. I have loosened my grip over the years, and I am capable of buying digital releases. Given the choice, I would prefer a physical release, but I can deal with purchasing, say, every Naruto game ever for fifteen bucks during a Playstation flash sale. I’m okay with that, because I know it isn’t a game (or franchise, whatever) that is “important” to me, so I can buy in bulk, stuff it all in the fridge, and… watch it rot.

And that’s my latest problem.

Like every other videogame hoarder (particularly those with Steam accounts), I now own about 200 downloaded titles that I have barely acknowledged (left alone actually played and beaten). This drives me absolutely insane, as sorting through these games is… not pleasant. I try to put them in appropriate folders! I try to organize my collection… but then there’s another flash sale, and I haven’t even played these games yet, so is this latest purchase a beat ‘em up or a “generic” action game? Dear God, maybe it’s an action-adventure with JRPG elements. I don’t even know what to do with that! Bah, just put it in the Dark Souls pile. And this all sounds innocuous, but when I finally feel like playing X-Men Arcade again, I have to search through not only multiple “what is that” games, but also numerous systems in an BUMP!attempt to even remember where I downloaded that game in the first place. And don’t even get me started on those downloaded “collections”, as I don’t want to be reminded that I own every 20th Century Capcom release seventeen times over.

But the real losers here are the games. I can safely say that there is not a single game in my digital collection that I bought “just because”. In all honesty, from the Narutos to the experimental shoot ‘em ups to the occasional “is like Dark Souls, but” title, every game I have ever purchased, I have purchased because something about the game appealed to me, and that’s worth a Lincoln. “Sure, I don’t have time to play this game right now, but I’ll get to it when I have a chance,” I foolishly told myself. And then it went into the pile, lost forever under a mountain of Vita titles that I’m going to transfer to the system real soon, I swear, just give me another day to clean off that memory card. I’ll get to it!

But physical games! Physical games I’ll never lose! Because they take up so much space! And my failures and impulse buys are all right there on a shelf (many, many shelves, in fact). They all stare back at me, not lost to some cavernous hard drive, but teetering on the edge, ready to collapse and inevitably crush my fragile skull beneath a deluge of SNES cartridges. I can see (right now!) every physical videogame I’ve ever purchased, including those that came with a BK Value Meal.

Sneak King is a game wherein you, as the Burger Nightmare King, sneak around teeny tiny arenas, and attempt to deliver random BK menu items without being seen. It gets old after approximately twelve seconds. Big Bumpin’ is a party game that pumped all of its resources into making really interesting and ornate bumper car arenas, but forgot to design anything approaching fun gameplay. There’s a kind of air hockey mode available that ain’t bad, but everything else is sub-Monkey Ball. Well, the air hockey is sub-Monkey Ball, too, but you don’t notice its badness quite as much as the one where the best way to play is to hide in the corner forever. Come to think of it, that technique works in a bunch of Sneak King levels, too. Maybe these games don’t actually want you to play them?

BUMP!But play them I shall! Because I have the memory of a goldfish, and actually seeing a game makes me about 1000% more likely to play the game than stowing it in the digital fridge. And, like eating some rotten Whopper from the fridge of your choice, I will barf at the sheer rancidness of this selection. It’s crap! I should know it’s crap! These are videogames that literally came with a side of fries! But I’ll play them again, because I bought a pair of plastic disc coffins, and, by God, I’m gonna play some Burger King nonsense this week!

So, in conclusion, I collect videogames because I’m a masochist. Glad we settled that.

FGC #323 Sneak King & Big Bumpin’

  • System: Technically these are supposed to be Xbox 360 games, but they’re secretly Xbox titles that are abusing the 360’s backward compatibility. Everything is a lie.
  • Number of players: Sneak King is a solo affair, Big Bumpin’ allows for up to four quickly bored players.
  • Let’s talk about fast food: When I was growing up, the only fast food in town was Burger King. Since I was a child and had the palette of a heathen, any trip to Burger King was precious. Then, when I was in high school, a McDonald’s moved in, with a Wendy’s shortly thereafter. So the Burger King went out of business, because who can compete with the cardboard-flavored hockey pucks available at Wendy’s? NummyAnd that was that. Now I have to drive like fifteen minutes if I want to eat a Whopper, which, thank goodness, rarely ever happens.
  • Favorite Sneak King Level: Why does Sneak King start in a lumber yard? Why is that the first thing someone thought would be a reasonable location for a crazy plastic king to deliver breakfast items? Is there some kind of lumberjack breakfast thing being implied here? Also: how did this game get made?
  • Favorite Big Bumpin’ Stage: I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore. Let’s say the blue one.
  • Did you know? There’s also a third Burger King game from this era: Burger King Pocket Bike Racer. It was not in stock when I picked up its cousins. I have never regretted that fact.
  • Would I play again: I guess? Nobody ever asks if Final Fantasy really ever happened, but that might come up with these titles. I must prove their existence to the masses!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Tiny Toon Adventures Buster’s Hidden Treasure for the Sega Genesis! I would expect the next article to be tiny, toony, and just a little loony. Please look forward to it!

What?
Don’t even ask.

FGC #072 Hologram Time Traveler

JUMP JUMP SLIDE72 games into the Fustian Gaming Challenge, it may surprise you to learn that I am someone who cares about video game preservation.

It’s just an accident of my own birth, but I have grown up with the video game medium as we know it: the Nintendo Famicom was literally born the same year as myself, and, appropriately enough, my grandfather owned and loved the hardware offering of the “previous” generation, the Atari. Some of my earliest memories are of playing (horrible Atari) Pac-Man and, later, Super Mario Bros. I got into fights with my first real friend over what was the proper distance one could sit from the television while playing Duck Hunt. As I grew older, I remember sleepovers involving staying up to watch Saturday Night Live by alternating lives on Castlevania 3, and later having entire “parties” based around playing Super Bomberman. I’ll admit that, as a result of all this, my video game collection started not as a concentrated effort to build a video game library, but because I simply couldn’t “trade in” that copy of (the awful) Friday the 13th, lest I feel like a jackass the next time Jimmy comes over and wants to see if we can finally beat that axe-wielding maniac.

I want to say it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I really considered video game preservation. At the time, the DVD format had just come in to its own, and it seemed like every “forgotten” hit of the 80’s was back in special edition form. Actually, when I think on it, I can tell you exactly when it happened: my college buddy Moko (owner of the tiniest TV in NJ mentioned in this article) was excited about the DVD release of Willow. Alright, truth be told, we were all kind of excited about it, but he was the one actually buying it, and I seem to recall we watched it with glee and made constant references to drunken brownies for the rest of the year. But you want to know what never saw a rerelease? Willow for the NES, a YOU'RE DEADCapcom Zelda-like game that sucked up hours of my life during my younger years. It was, frankly, awful for a small child to play, because it was about as straight-forward as a Charlie Kaufman film, and its various RPG elements made just about as much sense to a young Goggle Bob as Synecdoche, New York would have. That said, with my newfound appreciation for Willow the movie, I would have loved to play Willow for the NES again as an adult, but… no dice, unless I wanted to hit any given seedy emulation site. Even beyond that, there was Willow the Arcade Game, also made by Capcom, which I had never seen before in my life, but is a damn fun game, and never saw a home release in any form. And, given how licensing works for video games, the odds of ever seeing these games on anything outside of a computer monitor are pretty dang low.

I’m sorry, where was I before I got distracted by Bavmorda? Ah yes, video game preservation. So it was somewhere in my early twenties that I decided to build a true “video game library”, with the capability of playing any video game worth playing as easily as pulling a book of a shelf. I had never traded in or discarded a single game in my life, so I already had a head start with the collection I had grown since my childhood, but now I decided to use some spare income to jockey on EBay and fill my shelves with every game I had ever rented or even heard of (which, thanks to the likes of Nintendo Power and Gamepro, was more than a few games). Again, by sheer accident of my birth year, the first time I had some significant disposable income coincided with a period of time when the old games were more “let’s get clear out the attic” cheap prices than “collector’s item” valuables that many games have graduated to today. And, no, before you ask, I don’t have any (well, many) of the insanely rare games like Little Samson (my own personal holy grail), and I’ve never given much of a flip about boxes or instruction manuals (have ‘em if they’re available, but not going out of my way). But, all told, I set out with a “shopping list” of essential classic games when I officially started this collection around ten years ago, and that list has long since been completed. See you next mission, EBay.

SO NEONThere is, of course, a giant gap in my video game collection, and that’s the arcade games. Like Willow Arcade mentioned earlier, there are a great swath of arcade games of varying quality that have never seen a living room. Yes, I just reviewed another game that had something like twenty arcade games on one disc, and I’m always down to grab the latest Midway or Taito collection of arcade games (even though half the time I’m just buying the same games over and over again), but much of what I loved in the arcades is forever out of reach. I must have sunk thousands of dollars into 90’s Beat ‘em Up cabinets over the years, but it’s only within the last console generation that we saw home versions of The Simpsons and X-Men, and the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game is currently only available as a bonus on the PS2/Xbox/GC Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus game, as the download version of the game alone has been removed from the digital marketplace, presumably thanks to previously mentioned licensing issues. And that’s just the big guns, so good luck playing a game of Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder.

It’s a shame, too, because the arcades were, in their time, a shining bastion of creativity in the video game universe. Thanks to video game consoles, we tend to think of video game history as a straight, continually improving line for both graphics and gameplay, but in the arcades, amazing “playable cartoons” like Dragon’s Lair hit the arcades two years before “Jump Man” decided to save the Mushroom Kingdom. Police 911, an arcade light gun game that used motion sensors to allow the player to “dodge”, saw release in 2000, and while the consoles saw a gimped port, the arcade version pioneered the motion controls that would print money for Nintendo six years later on the Wii. The arcade was, for decades, a proving ground for new and exciting ideas, and anyone could take hold of the future for a few It is tempting...measly quarters. Now, those joysticks have long since gone to the scrapheap, and all those promised futures have been long since forgotten.

Hologram Time Traveler was a noble attempt to grasp one of those futures. The HTT arcade cabinet was a sight to behold: a short, fat machine that looked like something that could clean bowling balls squatted at a random corner of the arcade projecting a tiny digitized woman begging for rescue and quarters. Yes, HTT was one of the first games to use digitized actors to tell a story, and, more importantly, it projected the lil’ troop into holograms right there, with full voice acting and costumes appropriate for the time travel motif. Your hero was a cowboy, your princess was clad in space chic, and every time you died, there was some bonkers wizard waddling around and claiming to know what you did wrong.

I played the game once, and only once, in the arcade. HTT, likely due to the advanced technology involved, was an expensive machine, demanding at least fifty cents, maybe even 75. At a time when that sum could buy maybe a full five minutes of Ninja Turtles, I wasn’t quick to bite. It was also what I’ve always privately referred to as a “controlled” game, like Dragon’s Lair, Brain Dead 13, or practically the entire Sega CD library, that basically played a prerecorded video, and it was your job to press up, down, left, right, or shoot as is appropriate, pray you guess right, and make the video proceed unabated. Assuming you pressed the wrong button (or didn’t press the right button fast enough), a freaky skull would appear, and, bang, you’re dead. Unfortunately for the player, the game was built, from head to toe, to make you dead; and even went above and beyond the average arcade experience by including a slot machine “bonus stage” that was tremendously more likely to deplete your credits than increase your life count. Combine this all with the fact that there was an arcade game that featured Binky the Rabbit like right across the aisle, and, yeah, I wasn’t coming back any time soon.

But just because a game is terrible doesn’t mean it should be forgotten. We have the entire works of Tor JohnsonI hate you available, and I assume The Room is going to be a viewing staple for a generation. Despite the costly and huge arcade hardware involved, and the obviously impossible to replicate for the living room holograms, Hologram Time Traveler did make its way to the television during the PS2 era. Yes, the game is still terrible, and, given its concessions for home release, it has only gotten worse, but the whole package is surprisingly worthwhile. The game is crap, but the disc itself contains interviews with the creator and news reports from the time of the game’s original release, and it all adds up to a lovely time capsule of the early 90’s and the arcade arms race that lead to so much innovation (and, incidentally, maybe the entire fighting genre). And, best of all, the game allows you to simply “watch” the game being played in a perfect run, which, given the difficulty of the game, was probably something only six people had previously ever seen.

As I write this, I am in the shadow of my Playstation 2 collection, a pile of DVD cases stacked on shelving that nearly reaches the ceiling. If I lived in a more earthquake-prone area, the coroner would inevitably conclude that my cause of death was, “crushed by video games, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum lodged in brain.” Be the OCD you want to see in the world. But you know what? Games like Hologram Time Traveler do make it seem worthwhile. This isn’t some one-and-done affair, a game that was snagged thanks to prerelease hype and then forgotten seven seconds after it received the sixteenth “Game of the Year” accolade that year; no, this is a piece of gaming history, preserved by people who genuinely seem to care about the medium. Yer outI might not ever actually play the game again, but it’s good to know that it’s there, that it’s available, and I can learn from its mistakes as easily as popping in a DVD.

It might be a bad video game, but it is a good memory.

FGC #72 Hologram Time Traveler

  • System: Arcade, Playstation 2. Okay, technically this isn’t a PS2 game, it’s actually a DVD (like, movie DVD) that has been modified to the point that the usual menu navigation keys on the remote work like a controller. Technically, you could “play” this game as easily on any given DVD player as the PS2, but the PS2 does seem to offer a better response time. If memory serves, this makes the PS3 impossible to use, though, as its button layout for playing movies is different. Another poor example of backwards compatibility.
  • Number of Players: Two players alternating in the arcade, just one at home. No such thing as dual DVD remote controls… though that would make watching a movie with a five year old more interesting.
  • So, you’re an arcade rat? I basically grew up on the boardwalk. Here’s a beach cam so you can watch that very boardwalk right now. You may still randomly see me on that camera, too, as I am physically incapable of change. Anyway, the boardwalk was always arcades to me, and my grandfather was always happy to oblige with, in retrospect, what must have been hundreds of dollars in quarters. I think I “beat” every worthwhile arcade machine from 8th Street to 12th (that… is a much larger area when you’re ten). I’m sure there will be at least one article in the future that will just be talking about local arcades. It will be exclusively for my amusement.
  • Lookin' goodThe goggles do nothing: This game also comes with a pair of 3-D glasses so you can enjoy the 3-D effect of holograms in your own living room. Come to think of it, how has this game not been ported to the 3DS?
  • Favorite Time Period: I did wind up playing through the game for this article, and all the time periods are basically just “random dudes running around in costumes shouting”. It… loses something when you’re not being impressed by holograms. No matter, through it all, I preferred the “Magical” Time Period, as it allowed you to finally encounter that stupid wizard in a non you’re-already-dead setting.
  • A brief downer aside: It occurs to me only as this article is about to be posted that my grandfather, mentioned earlier as a source of Atari and infinite quarters, passed away exactly four years ago today. It’s a complete coincidence that I would be writing an article that reminded me of him today of all days, so, in the name of certainly-not-irony, this article on not forgetting the past, good and bad, is dedicated to my grandfather, who was a source of particularly good moments in my past. Also, general tip for everybody, if you’re going to die, do it on a day that is already nationally remembered.
  • Did you know? According to the news report included on the game, Hologram Time Traveler was the third best performing arcade game for 1991. While I can’t immediately find any sources for this, I’m going to have to go ahead and claim, based only on the whole of history, that Street Fighter 2, also released that year, was number one. Number Two? Uh… let’s say that was… errm… Was this the year you could play Super Mario World for thirty seconds in the arcade? Let’s go with that one.
  • Would I play again: No. God no. I’m still kind of upset that I blew nearly a dollar on this in the arcades. I want my money back!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Claymates for the SNES. Woof, get ready to be buried under a mountain of putty puns. Sculpt out some time in your schedule, and please look forward to it!

Make a wish
Early Shantae inspiration?