Tag Archives: law

FGC #302 RoboCop Versus The Terminator

According to James Cameron, the original Terminator film came from a literal fever dream. While being laid up with a particularly bad flu, Cameron experienced a vivid vision featuring a metallic torso of a man lurching forward with some very pointy weaponry, and that image eventually gave birth to Arnold Schwarzenegger the terminator. It’s not difficult to understand why: the picture of an “undying” and relentless pursuer is one that seems to be lodged pretty firmly in our collective unconscious and, metal monster or not, I think a lot of us have had “that dream” involving an unyielding, inescapable monster. This is a primal fear (probably courtesy of one or two saber tooth tigers that were real dicks), so giving such a thing robo-flesh was inevitably going to tap into an endless market of people that want more homicidal android action.

Just kind of a shame someone forgot about that invincible torso somewhere along the way.

The Terminator franchise has been complicated from the very beginning. Right from the get-go, we’ve got a time travel story that is doing its best to simultaneously create a “new future” and a stable time loop. John Connor sends his best bud back in time to become his dad (thus creating a future where there is a John Connor) and prevent the Skynet robopocolypse from ever existing (thus creating a future where there is no reason for a John Connor). That’s a surprisingly convoluted plot to get to “there’s an unstoppable robot on the loose”, but I suppose credit should be given to Cameron for not just tossing out a “btw there’s a killer robot now” story and putting some thought into the whys of an unstoppable metal torso. Of course, this begat Terminator 2, which brought the concept to its logical conclusion: Stay still!what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? What happens when two relentless robots collide? And maybe there’s an annoying kid involved, too, because we have like another hour to fill? Yes, Sarah Connor is a great role model, and her PTSD from a future that might never be is pretty neat an’ all, but the focus of T2 is the Judgment Day when two invincible bots clash. And, once again, audiences seemed to react well to that kind of thing.

Then it all went to hell.

The image of an army of terminators, whether they have flesh or not, is a chilling one. These are unstoppable androids, and even one seems to be completely invincible. What hope does humanity have against an entire planet of the buggers? No wonder time travel seemed to be the only option: once Skynet has built an impassable wall, there’s nothing that’s going to bring it down short of rewriting history. But there’s a problem with terminators, and it’s basically the same as the inverse ninja law. Duel one threat, and you can have an exciting, one-on-one battle that is all about tactics and psychology and the very real threat of one combatant exploiting the tiniest advantage and pulling a victory out of seemingly thin air. But pit one hero against a group of greater than, say, four, and suddenly everything is tilted in the favor of the lone protagonist. Storm Troopers can’t shoot straight, ninja get kicked in the face, and terminators are suddenly about as threatening as a Roomba. Yes, maybe you can’t “beat” an army of terminators, but they’ve rapidly lost that ability to actually hit a target, mow down humankind, and, ya know, terminate. The more terminators, the better for humanity.

I am the law?And this is where we join RoboCop Versus The Terminator for the Super Nintendo. Robocop is a fairly unstoppable cyborg himself, and he’s also had a number of videogames to his name. That’s no mistake, as he was practically built for 16-bit battles. He’s powerful, but he’s not invincible, so he’s one of the few protagonists that possess a life bar and an excuse for said life bar. Heck, you could even make such a thing some part of Officer Murphy’s in-visor HUD. And then you’ve got the whole “future Detroit that is moderately more deadly than OG Detroit” thing to provide an army of criminals, mutants, and criminal mutants to indiscriminately gun down. Toss it all together, and you’ve got a complete videogame. Throwing in a terminator is just sprinkles on the hyper violent sundae that is Robocop.

But the problem isn’t that Virgin Games involved a terminator, it’s that they went for terminators. Terminators leave their lovely dystopia to visit Detroit’s slightly less futuristic dystopia, and the mechanical malcontents descend upon Robocop. One Terminator is encountered at a construction site, and, with the right positioning, it can be defeated without Robocop even having to move. But the next terminator is slightly more invincible! He can’t be defeated with simple armaments… but there is a pretty conspicuous pit nearby, and you know what you have to do. The next terminator is similarly doomed, but his death is slightly further away. And then Robocop takes the long way to a future full of terminators.

And then it gets really silly. Robocop is stuck in a future filled to the brim with terminators, so, naturally, he has gained the ability to mow the mechs down like they’re less killing machines and more farm equipment. Yes, the story does offer the tiniest concession in Robocop grabbing a futuristic pistol and other advanced weaponry to gain the tiniest edge, but previous levels granted ol’ Robo a rocket launcher. This isn't funIs it even possible to improve on the destructive power of that old standby? (Please don’t tell me the answer to that, I’d prefer to sleep at night.) This all comes to a natural conclusion in “the vehicle stage”, wherein Robocop is piloting a futuristic (maybe) flying thing, and the goal of the level is to destroy twenty terminators before moving on. Can they really be called terminators anymore at that point, though? Aren’t they more… target practice?

And, unfortunately, it seems the Terminator franchise has followed the lead of this misbegotten Super Nintendo game. Terminators are no longer terminators, they are simply fodder for our rebellious humans to trick and humiliate. The days of invincible torsos are behind us, and a dramatically less invincible robot army explodes in its wake.

The dream is dead. The future has failed us.

(But that is pretty good news for Robocop.)

FGC #302 RoboCop Versus The Terminator

  • System: Super Nintendo for this review. There are also Gameboy, Game Gear, and Genesis versions available, too.
  • Number of players: Robocop is a singular hero. … I’m kind of surprised there wasn’t ever a Lady Robocop with an obtrusive ponytail. Meh, maybe in the animated series.
  • BoooPort-O-Call: Apparently the Genesis version takes the smarter route of focusing primarily on the present (not too distant future?) and a baddie or two from Robocop 2. Meanwhile the SNES version is pretty evenly split between past and future. The Gameboy version is all bad future… That is to say it is the worst possible future, one wherein videogames are absolutely abhorrent.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: Robocop is simultaneously built for videogames and… absolutely not. His jump is more of a hop (maybe even a skip), and he controls about as precisely as a walking corpse. That said, there’s the potential for a good game here… if it wasn’t wall to wall stupid mazes and lame traps. See also: B.O.B., Harley’s Humongous Adventure.
  • Favorite Boss: The first boss of the future area is a tank… that doesn’t move. It just sits there, and you shoot pieces off of it. The NES Technodrome was a more mobile threat!
  • Did you know? Meanwhile, the inspiration for Robocop’s prime directive of “serve the public trust” was inspired by… a fortune cookie. Robocop and Terminator come from very different places.
  • Would I play again: Nah. Another lame SNES platforming/action game that involves too many easily defeated robots. I’ll just play Mega Man X, thank you.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Nier Automata! Wow, now there’s a game about robot on robot violence. Please look forward to it!


FGC #002 Fighter’s History

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

“Great poets imitate and improve, whereas small ones steal and spoil.”

This looks very familiarGee, I wonder which quote gets tossed around more often: the quote supporting theft, or the one comparing it to curdled milk? Well, here’s some milk way past its expiration date: Fighter’s History.

Fighter’s History is Street Fighter II with a randomizer attached to practically everything good about the game. Special moves and even entire animations have been lifted wholesale from SFII to FH’s cast, and haphazardly distributed so Not-Zangief has Bison’s signature scissor kick, and Very-Not-Guile has acquired a head stomp. It’s blatant, and, for any fan of the genre and Street Fighter II in general, pretty disgusting. It’s Avengers Grimm to Street Fighter’s Avengers.

But theft in an artistic medium is inherently artistic, right?

There are original aspects to Fighter’s History, if you look hard enough. Yes, the principle players here basically are Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li, and even Sagat with the numbers filed off, but there are a few interesting cast members. There’s a female judo practitioner who, yes, is dressed exactly Original Character, Do Not Steallike Ryu, but her “powerful” moves and general personality seem to be a precursor to Street Fighter’s own Makoto (who would debut years later). Marstorius could be a simple Russian grappler clone, but he’s a Grecian wrestler recalling the myths of Heracles and alike, which, if you’re going to randomly pull cultural stereotypes, that one seems a little more appropriate than Brazilian beast-men. And Abe Simpson’s favorite Matlok is a British punk rocker with bombastic movements that could have easily inspired Darkstalkers’ Lord Raptor. Yes, once you get into the gameplay, they’re all clearly Street Fighter knock-offs, but their design and origins aren’t bad.

This “original” game is, nuts and bolts, all about aping Street Fighter, but its coat of paint is generally different. I could easily brush off this game as an uninspired effort to grab some of those sweet Street Fighter quarters, but let’s indulge in the conceit that this is a game someone or some team created as an actual creative (created/creative.. ooooh that’s how that works) pursuit.

Man, that's racistSay someone had an idea about a fighting tournament. This tournament was started by a repentant emissary of (a) god, who wished to prove he was the strongest fire-breathing fat man in the world. His direct rival, a purple clad circus clown named Clown, fights against him, as has been the way since the days of yore. Joining the battle for supremacy are fighters from all over the world, from all works of life: a French gymnast, a 20-something delinquent high school student, and even an L.A. Detective who rumbles in front of the United States Capitol, which I’m pretty sure is in Los Angeles. Say someone wanted to present this idea to the masses, but only had skills in spritework and music composition. Man, that's racistAnd it’s 1993 for some reason. Well, obviously, the only way to get this product out to the nation would be to slavishly ditto Street Fighter II, the greatest fighting game of the time and possibly all time, and get Karnov’s Great Fighting Times Fun Game out there. It’s the only thing that makes sense!

Hey, you can’t copyright poetry, man, the person that invented rhyming didn’t horde the idea for himself for all of time, and you can’t claim you own the idea of how some dude throws a projectile at another dude. It’s, like, totally Scène à faire, bro.

At least that’s what some idiot judge decided when Capcom sued Data East for this piece of $%* being the exact same ^&*$ing game as Street Fighter II. Christ, our legal system.

FGC#2 Fighter’s History
Look it up!

  • System: Super Nintendo
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Number of Fighting Games I Ever Expected to See Featuring Matlok: 0
  • Number of Fighting Games I Ever Expected to See Featuring Karnov: 1¾
  • Did You Know? Clown the clown is actually distinctly noted as homosexual in the Japanese release. Hey, that’s neat, maybe that makes him the first “out” gay character in a fighting game. Good job, guys, maybe you’re not… wait.. what’s this? “Clown is depicted as a homosexual who is attracted to younger men.” Oh. Younger. Always finding new ways to ruin clowns, eh? Stay classy.
  • Would I play again? Never. Though, in a way, I’ve been playing it for years.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man V (GB). Wow, third pick and it’s a game I actually want to play! Good ROB! Please look forward to it!