Initial Stream: 11/10/20
3:00 – Everyone had two weeks to vote on whether or not they wanted to see additional story progress or the Final Fantasy character vignettes/side quests… and I didn’t see a single vote. Turnout is terrible this year. So we held a vote on the stream, and fanboymaster and BEAT both agreed it was time to hit the Final Fantasy Intervention Quests. As a reminder, these are all “out of time” moments provided by The Girl Who Forgot Her Name, and our heroes only pitch hit for the featured Final Fantasy character during battle, and the rest of these sections are simple “slice of life” stories (that often involve giant, malevolent sea monsters). First up are Tidus and Yuna aping some Final Fantasy X plot beats.
16:00 – The “bullet points” for the Intervention Quests are going to be mostly here to let you know when a new vignette starts. At approximately the sixteen minute mark, we are discussing “politics” and/or Quistis while Squall gets a featured story about future planning.
25:00 – Discussing Tidus while Faris and Edgar discuss something other than Tidus. And then it’s time to point out how Edgar is a pedophile.
33:00 – Terra encounters a certain unpleasant octopus while another bot invades the chat.
39:00 Bartz and Rikku is the crossover event you didn’t ever know you needed. It is mostly ignored in favor of Dragonball Z discussion.
What actually happened in the plot:
All Intervention Quests are canon in World of Final Fantasy, but are (almost) all considered “sidequests”, so this is all “optional” plot. That said, here’s what happened in this update:
• Yuna and Tidus, who met for the first time as part of the main plot, bond over repelling Bismarck (not the nazi ship) from Besaid.
• Squall, unlike his fellow Final Fantasy buddies, doesn’t have future plans, which worries his bulbous little head. Squall and Shelke go on a monster hunting mission, and Shelke tricks Squall into caring and planting a garden. This somehow makes Squall smile.
• Faris’s ship is attacked by Omega Bane, and she tracks it back to a potential dimensional gateway at the center of the desert. Edgar is familiar with the area, so he banishes Omega Bane with the help of Vivi.
• Terra teams up with, and then realizes she must destroy, Ultros, the least prime octopus.
• Bartz and Rikku try to rob Ifrit’s cave, but wind up inadvertently becoming friends with the fiery summons when they team up to repel some behemoths.
Initial Stream: 11/10/20
1:00 – Rikku is sailing the seven seas, and, hey, we’re actually discussing Rikku! It’s game related! It’s a game related, on-topic discussion! That hardly ever happens!
5:00 – Eiko makes a new wolf friend, so let’s talk about Justice League. The animated series, to be clear, as that is clearly the best iteration of the ol’ hero club.
10:00 – Tifa meets some zealots. How old would you be in the Final Fantasy universe? And would your hat stay on your head?
16:00 – Yuna and “The Sad Spiral” sounds like a good time. Final Fantasy characters need therapy, and so do we after discussing Fountains of Wayne.
26:00 – After some wedding discussion, here are Yuna and Rydia in a Volcano. Then BEAT gets hungry, and we fight Lady Ifrit.
32:00 – Cloud and Lightning are palling around while we discuss terrible streamers, teenage sins, and how we’re all attractive. Also, please remember the duck stream.
What actually happened in the plot:
• Rikku battles the Mimic Queen and discovers that literally all the treasures across the sea were a bunch of (now dead) mimics.
• Eiko investigates a “weird feeling” and discovers her ancestors’ “Fenrir” mirage, Elefenrir, who offers a cryptic warning.
• Tifa fights off a gigantic, robotic hand, and tells some religious fanatics that Enna Kros helps those that help themselves.
• Yuna helps Ami of Green Gables (thanks, Zef), a poor woman who wants to sacrifice herself for the good of her hometown. Valefor’s non-union equivalent, Nirvalefor, guides Yuna to help Ami by defeating Ultima Weapon. Thus, Ami no longer has to be a martyr, and she didn’t even have to lose her imaginary dream-boyfriend to do it.
• Yuna and Rydia enter a volcano to find Ifreeta, Ifrit’s cousin who has been possessing humans to be a general nuisance in the world. The two summoners banish the fire cat girl.
• Cloud and Lightning investigate a mirage (Iron Muscles) menacing a local village, but apparently Sephiroth has been in the area repelling the mirage. Cloud ventures off on his own to hunt his mortal enemy, but Terra convinces Cloud to go back and help Lightning. Cloud and Lightning destroy Iron Muscles, and Sephiroth is never seen.
Initial Stream: 11/10/20
0:30 – Vivi and Golems accompany a brief description of quests that have gone before. Long story short: when boiled down to their base archetypes, nearly every male Final Fantasy protagonist becomes Zidane. It’s weird!
13:30 – Discussing Fire Emblem/Lucina /Gachas while Quistis and Squall hang out in Garden.
16:00 – Ample Vigour arrives, and then leaves us wanting as Einhänder shows up again.
20:00 – Penguin time means we have to repeat a whole dungeon. There’s crying underwater from that stupid queen and yours truly, as this Intervention Quest contains an entire “level” that we already completed once. And it wasn’t that good the first time! Regardless, this appears to be the only Intervention Quest that is so intensive, so it’s at least noteworthy.
28:00 – “We’re going all in on this fried bread thing.”
41:00 – And the moral of the story is we’re never going to stop talking about that mysterious liquor lady.
What actually happened in the plot:
• Vivi stops a golem uprising and decides to live another day, confident he is not a mere golem (which makes sense, as golems in this game are basically just Pokémon).
• Celes tries to cheer up the still-recovering-from-vampirey folks of Tome Town by performing an opera, but Ultros arrives, and messes it all up. Ultros is repelled, but, sorry, Celes won’t be singing in this one.
• It is confirmed that Balamb Garden is apparently a mirage, Eden, even if stuff discovered there, like the Gunblade, could be Cogna related.
• Shantotto attempts to open a secret vault by killing the Quacho Queen, but Lann and Reynn convince the Quacho Queen to open the door without bloodshed. Unfortunately, there’s a monster in the vault that could potentially explode and crack the continent in half… but Shantotto uses a spell to disarm the volatile kraken. The day is saved, and our heroes loot the vault.
Initial Stream: 11/10/20
00:00 – There is some interesting discussion regarding the production of Marvel vs. Capcom/Howard the Duck opposite Bartz and Gigglemesh saving a town. Eventually, there is discussion of Spider-Man arcade, a game near and dear to my videogame preserving heart.
8:00 – Additional discussion of Marvel vs. Capcom and what could have happened to Street Fighter 3 while Snow and Celes do… nothing.
14:30 – Moonboy and Devil Dinosaur are not Edgar and Vivi, but they’re not Primal, either.
19:00 – There’s no battle in this vignette, just cutscenes. This is weird, and prompts a discussion regarding Mr. Bucket, and how he wants you to put your balls in his mouth.
21:00 – Faris, Ifrit, and we’re apparently not worshipping Satan.
25:00 – Refia and Sherlotta venture into the snow while we discuss children’s cartoons and fetishes and let’s not talk about Totally Spies.
30:00 – We are done talking about Goodfeathers and how much we hate aspects of Animaniacs just in time to watch the ongoing adventures of Undead Princess.
34:00 Goblin Princess and the immortal question: is high school worse than working in The Simpsons writing room?
What actually happened in the plot:
• Gigglemesh and Bartz are more or less tricked by Bahamutian Soldiers, but team up to recover a victory.
• Snow and Celes fight Gigglemesh over absolutely nothing. Typical crossover fight, I suppose.
• Edgar and Vivi win over the support of the Figaro guard ostensibly through Vivi being annoying.
• Faris sponsors “Underdog Day”, a day when her crew can challenge the captain for control of the ship. An overeager moogle accidently summons Ifrit, whom Faris has to knock off the plank.
• Refia and Sherlotta battle Undead Princess (another refugee from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time), and then hire her to promote the Inn. Then Sherlotta and Undead Princess work together to stop some Metalliskulls that are haunting the area.
• Princess Sarah was kidnapped by Princess Goblin, who apparently has a crush on Warrior of Light. Warrior of Light lets Princess Goblin down easy, and rescues Princess Sarah.
Additional note that seems to explain a lot: In game, there is a running encyclopedia for characters encountered in World of Final Fantasy. The entry for Undead Princess reads:
Hey, Wait a Second…
You may be wondering why so many characters from the CRYSTAL CHRONICLES series have been popping up in Grymoire. Well, take a look at the person doing character design, and you may have your answer.
So that solves at least one unsolved mystery of World of Final Fantasy.
Initial Stream: 11/10/20
00:00 – Refia tries to build a bridge while we discuss how to own people on the internet. Or maybe we’re just looking at Dril tweets again. Or Spider-Man?
6:00 – Time for (what I’m pretty sure is) the DLC event. It is not a Gundam.
9:30 – Kishi joins us. Kishi is not a Gundam.
22:00 – We finally win as Omega God bonks over.
“He” is now Ted Woo, author of Shadow Mad.
31:00 – Kishi requests a repeat performance, so we’re watching the Faris bit again. Let’s consider this an example of how you can repeat these quests unlimited times.
36:00 – In an effort to torture fanboymaster, we close this stream out by taking a look at the World of Final Fantasy pokédex.
What actually happened in the plot:
• Refia tries to build an ice bridge, so she recruits Sherlotta to additionally recruit Shiva. The bridge is built, but doesn’t last long.
• Enna Kros has a conversation with Alexander, the gigantic mirage currently serving as a motionless bridge. Apparently they fought “for the throne” at one point. Eden of Balamb Garden, Lute of Ragnarok in Cornera, and Midgardian Ormr (presumably) of Midgar are all mirages, too. Alexander had Omega God hanging out on it in a pocket dimension (or something), so Enna Kros summoned Lann and Reynn to fight him off. Omega God is defeated and captured, and now, having completed all available Intervention Quests, Lann and Reynn are free to journey on to the endgame.
Next time on World of Final Fantasy: This stream was the same week I got married, so BEAT is responsible for the Bad End.
Chapter 18: March of the Tsundere
Initial Stream: 10/20/20
-3:00:00 – Eagle-eyed viewers may notice a different setup for our heroes’ stacks and timer and such. The reason? I spent about three hours battling through the coliseum to see if anything interesting was there. Was there? Nope! Only “plot” that happened was that Shiva and Ifrit revealed their opposite sex counterparts are out wreaking havoc somewhere in the world. That’s it! Other than that, it was just three hours of fighting the same monsters that have been seen elsewhere. I did add Gilgamesh to the team, though.
8:00 – Anyway, back to actually playing the game on video. Let’s talk about when World of Final Fantasy actually tries to be visually inventive before we board the Galaxy Express.
13:00 – Welcome to Not Really Besaid. Way to merge one of the most unique places in the Final Fantasy franchise (at least for Final Fantasy, those dudes rarely get to stop by a tropical paradise) with one of the most generic towns from OG Final Fantasy.
20:00 – Shantotto is here from Final Fantasy 11. Anyone with MMORPG experience want to fill in the blanks on what we don’t know about this character? Which is everything? I mean, we know she rhymes, and she’s already funko-sized in her original appearance, but if it ain’t in Dissidia, we’re out of ideas on her.
24:00 – Thank you, Shantotto, for being responsible for our fourth mandatory death. Let’s go drown.
30:00 – Tidus arrives, tosses us into the ocean, swims with us for a little bit, and then leaves. Class act, all the way. Let’s hit the real dungeon for this update.
43:00 – This is a long dungeon (and we haven’t seen anything yet) so fanboymaster explains Assassin’s Creed’s overarching plot. It is bonkers, and I recommend it. But to talk about the dungeon for a moment: many of the World of Final Fantasy dungeons have been pretty damn boring, with their usual “two branches, one has rewards, one doesn’t” structure and graphically nice, but conceptually mundane landscapes (the world doesn’t need another volcano or generic mountain dungeon). That said, this underwater dungeon with walls that can be scaled and “twisting” geography is pretty neat!… but the layout doesn’t really ever do anything with it. This and the Train Graveyard from the last update are pretty cool, but I guess we’re just not going to get a remarkable dungeon arrangement out of World of Final Fantasy.
53:00 – Final Fantasy’s Zoids return as our first murkrift victory. Spoilers: I’m going to go destroy all the other murkrifts throughout the other dungeons between updates this time. Not spoilers: They’re just as boring and irrelevant as the coliseum battles.
1:00:00 – Gearing up for the boss, talking about Johnny Cage’s terrible website, and then it’s time for the tsundere penguin queen. Looking it up afterwards, apparently the Quacho penguin creatures are based on Pavlov from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. So, yes, the featured characters from this chapter originate from a side character from a game that is so obscure, you can’t even buy it anymore, anywhere. I don’t know if I should be insulted or impressed by that kind of deep cut.
1:13:00 – Tonberry King! He’s so regal… and is that the point? Check out Tiny Gilgamesh using his best sword for the job.
And we end shortly thereafter because this chapter is long as hell. There are technically a few minutes left in this chapter, but they flow better into Chapter 19’s revelations. If you’ve come this far, you’re going to watch that anyway!
What actually happened in the plot: In an effort to find the final, water-themed key, the twins sought out Shantotto, who “cursed” them with the ability to breathe underwater. Tidus then guided the gang to an undersea temple, where Lann and Reynn eventually encountered the Quacho Queen. She had the key, but emphasis on “had”, as the local tonberry gang stole it. However, our party defeats the Tonberry King, reclaims the key, and bids the underwater world adieu. Also, it looks like some gigantic, clawed monster awoke underwater while no one was looking.
Chapter 19: Deadly Tower
Initial Stream: 10/20/20
00:00 – Starting off exactly where the previous chapter ended with talk of Outlaw Star, anime censorship, and maybe some gundams.
2:17 – Yuna becomes our first “returning” Final Funko cameo, and she is immediately kidnapped for her dedication. And then the four elemental keys we’ve been collecting unlock a crystal staircase. Stuff is happening! Don’t get used to it!
4:00 – The chapter for-real begins. Did I need to cut the other one early for the sake of four minutes? Whatever, let’s discuss Final Fantasy plot swerves. World of Final Fantasy is living up to its legacy, and, in that department, it’s only going to escalate.
8:14 – An ominous tower is growing out of a weird replication of Nine Wood Hills. And we’ve got Terra! Hey, this is a Final Fantasy Cameo fight that isn’t a mandatory loss! Also: Maduin visually sucks, and always has. Hang your entire backstory on a more exciting esper, Final Fantasy 6!
14:30 – Our dungeon officially begins. It’s an endless crystal-esque tower that is just staircase after staircase. We get bored with this almost immediately, which is not great, as the remainder of this update is just the tower.
18:00 – It’s time to talk about Family Matters. This is now the Let’s Watch Family Matters LP.
35:00 – What 80’s TV show would you like to write for? Live action or animated? Give me something to talk about, World of Final Fantasy, and we’ll talk about you again.
50:00 – This is a long-ass dungeon. Please enjoy Scooby Doo discussion.
1:01:00 – I want to thank 2001-2010 Adult Swim for existing and apparently inspiring a great breadth of this stream.
1:04:00 – Okay, we’re at the top, break time. We’re going to save the final boss(es) of this area for the next update, because that dungeon was exhausting and life-draining. Check back next time for the thrilling conclusion (of this dungeon we all hate)!
What actually happened in the plot: After being cured of their “can breathe water” curse, Yuna finally tells everyone about the other summoners being kidnapped… before being kidnapped herself. Thanks for the exposition! The lead bad guy (who we technically haven’t seen, in, like, fifteen hours) ominously states “The two worlds will be joined again!” as the twins use the four keys to produce a crystal staircase. A Mysterious Masked Woman appears and claims the twins have to climb the Crystal Tower to find their mom. Reynn thinks something is up, something that is deeply meta, but Lann… doesn’t care? Whatever. The staircase leads to the Nonary Region, which appears to be a ruined version of Nine Wood Hills, the twins’ home dimension. Terra, riding Magitek Armor, says we must not proceed, and attacks with the assistance of Maduin. We knock her unconscious, and proceed. Terra is menaced by Man in the Golden Mask after the “heroes” leave, so now four summoners have been kidnapped (and two in just this update!). At the top of a giant tower, a big door sits, sealed by the four elements. Reynn somehow remembers the place… but doesn’t know how.
Next time on World of Final Fantasy: Robots ruin everything.
Today, we’re going to address some reader mail. Let’s look at our first letter from one Mr. Tiger of Battle Creek, Michigan.
Well, Tony, if we want to know what parody actually means, we should look at some videogames. Are parody videogames supposed to be fun? Funny? A “send-up”? Let’s find out! We’ll start with the game that apparently prompted your question…
Parodius (Franchise) (1988, Konami)
What is it? In a long forgotten age, Gradius was one of Konami’s tent pole franchises. Given Gradius was a super-serious shoot ‘em up wherein the fate of the galaxy depended wholly on a ship that exploded every seven seconds, someone at Konami decided to produce a game with the same basic gameplay, but a wildly different tone. Parodius was born, and it featured an octopus saving the world from penguins. Or something. Parodius wound up becoming a franchise onto itself, and, for about a decade, you could count on at least one adventure every once in a while where a ship that shot boxing gloves attacked a giant lady that moved like a robot.
Is it fun? If you like Gradius, you’ll like Parodius. You’ve got overwhelmingly fragile “ships” (sometimes they are octopi) that can cycle through powerups by nabbing orbs to launch missiles against gigantic bosses. The game is just as difficult as its serious Gradius cousin, though, as death means losing your abilities and often starting back from an earlier point in the level. But it’s an excellent and ultimately fair shoot ‘em up, so if that’s your thing, it’s going to be a fun time.
But is it funny? Initially, it’s simply funny for the absurdity of sticking an octopus or lone option in the place of the Vic Viper. Eventually, the franchise tried its hand at adding more complicated joke characters, like a bald eagle decked out for American patriotism, or an entire stage full of slave-labor penguins (uh… it’s funnier than it sounds). Later games even added an overarching plot that involved a cantankerous octopus boss making off with your wages in clearly labeled dollar sign bags. That’s always funny! I think!
So is it a parody? Yep! It’s right there in the title. Parodius features familiar bits from Gradius, R-Type, and other games of the era repurposed to be funny or occasionally sexy (and we are very much employing air quotes for “sexy” here). This is a “burlesque imitation” to a T.
Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti (1989, Namco)
What is it? Splatterhouse was a hyperviolent beat ‘em up/action title that was released in arcades in 1989. It is, at its core, a pastiche of horror movies of the 80’s roughly adapted for a videogame format where you’re the monster combating other monsters to save a princess. In a way, this already makes Splatterhouse a sort of parody. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, in an attempt to make Splatterhouse gameplay more palatable for the Nintendo Family Computer (emphasis on the “family” part of that Famicom), the gore was turned down to one, and the comedy was cranked up to eleven.
Is it fun? In so much as Splatterhouse gameplay is fun, S:WG is fun. It’s pretty basic: walk to the right, chop down baddies, eventually reach a boss, kill what you gotta kill to move forward. Not unlike Parodius, the game is very unforgiving, and you’ll want to take as little damage as possible if you want to stretch your three lives (continues) to the end of the adventure. With the caveat that this is an early NES game that should not be judged by 2020 standards, Wanpaku Graffiti is pretty fun to play.
But is it funny? Again, judging it as a NES game from 1989, it’s pretty comical. It follows the same pattern as Parodius and doesn’t rely on text, but presents bosses and opponents that are… amusing. The big bad is The Great Pumpkin. The boss of the first level is Thriller-era Michael Jackson. The finale sees “the director” accidentally stumble on set. It might not be laugh out loud funny, but it is at least silly.
So is it a parody? Transforming one of the most violent games of the day into its own “kiddy mode” sure seems like a parody. Also, the protagonist, Rick, is downright adorable in his chibi form, so it’s hard not to smile as you chop up zombies riding tombstone pogo sticks. There’s a lot of ambient amusement in this affectionate adaptation.
Kid Dracula (1990, Konami)
What is it? Parodius worked out for Gradius, so why not parody Castlevania? Kid Dracula is the story of Dracula’s son (or his younger self? Or Alucard’s younger self? Can we get a timeline here?) venturing around the world to stop the forces of Galamoth, a robot dragon from the end of time. Or… something. Whatever the situation, it’s Castlevania through a more comical filter.
Is it fun? This is basically Castlevania sensibilities mixed with Mega Man-style gameplay and the ability to walk on the ceiling or transform into a bat. If it was released in America in 1990, I would have married the game by now.
But is it funny? Like other games on this list, it has a general level of “whacky” to its humor. Once again, the basic concept here is that the original franchise is deathly serious, so any time you have to fight a “goofy” chicken, it’s supposed to be funny. Of course, Kid D’s shorts are always going to be funny on their own.
So is it a parody? Unfortunately, Kid Dracula seems to drop the distinct parody elements pretty early in the adventure. The first level is straight up Castlevania, and it’s a blast to deal with a castle full of spikey traps and inane zombies, but the franchise connection seems all but lost later when you’re fighting a giant robot on an airship. For better or worse, Kid Dracula moves past its parody factor pretty quickly.
Star Parodier (1992, Hudson Soft)
What is it? Parodius worked, so why not another parody shoot ‘em up? Hudson had the Star Soldier franchise kicking around since 1986, so why not give that shooter a send up? Will I ever stop asking rhetorical questions?
Is it fun? This is the vertical shoot ‘em up to Parodius’s horizontal shoot ‘em up. That said, it seems a lot easier to survive in Star Soldier/Star Parodier, as you acquire a shield a whole lot quicker. There’s also a slightly more cerebral powerup system, wherein you have a few options (not those options), and can enhance them by grabbing like-colored pickups, or switch to another color for a slightly different attack. It’s a neat idea for a shoot ‘em up, which is already a style of game that requires a lot of quick thinking and darting around the screen.
But is it funny? Parodius clone plays by Parodius rules. Star Parodier is definitely its own game, but its humor style is still “look at the next whacky thing that shows up”. Also a strangely high number of penguins…
So is it a parody? Yes. Or… I assume. I’ve only ever played like three levels of one Star Soldier game… so this seems like a parody of that. I think? They replaced a round boss with a ferris wheel, so I think that counts. Whatever! Look, you can play as a flying Bomberman, so that’s at least a parody of something.
ClayFighter (1993, Interplay)
What is it? Shoot ‘em ups are old hat, let’s move on to the next big thing: fighting games. Clayfighter is technically your typical fighter, but with a cast of Claymation loonies that lampoon everything from Elvis to… blobs? Is that a thing? Do people not like blobs? But… nothing beats the blob!
Is it fun? OG Clayfighter is a fighting game in the Street Fighter 2 mold (… was that a pun?), and plays very similarly. It doesn’t have quite the move variety as its target franchise (ducking attacks are often exactly the same as a standing or jumping action), but it’s still a much better fighter than some of the turds that were cranked out during the era of its birth. You ever play Fighter’s History? Don’t.
But is it funny? Hey, this is the first parody game on this list created by an American studio! And it’s pretty amusing in a 90’s kid kinda way. Remember when “Fat Elvis” was the target of every other late night show, despite the obvious handicap that he had been dead for decades? And “the fat lady sings” was somehow an oft-repeated and literalized phrase? And we were all afraid of clowns? Clayfighter spends all of its humor bucks pretty quickly after you see a fighter’s complete moveset, but isn’t that how all fighting games work, anyway?
So is it a parody? Clayfighter eventually went on to produce C2: Judgment Clay, which was more of the same, but with a veneer of extra MK parody, and Clayfighter 63⅓, which was a super specific parody of Killer Instinct Gold. That said, the original Clayfighter isn’t too precise of a parody (N. Boss is the closest we get to a fighter parodying an actual character from another game, and that’s mostly just the name), and more a parody of the concept of “serious” fighting games. So it qualifies, but it’s less “parody” and more “vaguely humorous”.
Pyst (1996, Parroty Interactive)
What is it? Myst was an adventure game that was the most popular videogame of 1993/1994. It was ubiquitous, and, somehow, everyone from your next door neighbor to your dad to your other next door neighbor that was secretly your real dad had played it. Realizing that such an omnipresent game was ripe for parody, Parroty Interactive (a division of Palladium Interactive) was founded to produce a game mocking Myst and its associated culture. Pyst was released three years after Myst, and… it wasn’t great.
Is it fun? Pyst is barely a game. There had been adventure games that were funny in the past (the entire LucasArts oeuvre was amazing, and would be featured in this article if they weren’t their own thing, completely eschewing the need to be a parody to be funny), and there’s a lot of potential in lampooning the esoteric puzzles of Myst… but this ain’t doin’ it. Pyst is little more than going from screen to screen and clicking on buttons to activate videos. It’s about as fun as “playing” Youtube (but marginally less racist).
But is it funny? I will admit that I chuckled a bit at Pyst when I was a young’un. It’s like Airplane! But for a videogame! That said, the jokes are rough, and it’s less an affectionate parody of the game itself, and more of a parody of the culture and general public reactions to the game itself. It’s not something that was produced by someone that played Myst for twenty hours and then ran out and bought the companion books, it’s a Saturday Night Live skit based on one those videogames the kids seem to like. And, further cementing the SNL connection, John Goodman is in a few scenes for some reason. That… is something.
So is it a parody? Well, certainly, even if it barely qualifies as a game. Someone forgot to fill in the whole “videogame” part of the “videogame parody” equation, but it definitely happened. Take that, game that revolutionized what a videogame could be, and was then somehow forgotten presumably because all the sequels sucked!
Star Warped (1997, Parroty Interactive)
What is it? Parroty returned the next year with Star Warped, their “parody” of Star Wars. In this case, someone decided to include a videogame in the videogame, as there are some meager minigames and a skimpy fighting game pastiche. The whole experience is hosted by a pair of brothers that are Star Wars superfans that supposedly have not left the house since first watching and consequently dedicating their lives to Star Wars. But they were somehow able to collect oodles of Star Wars merchandise in the meanwhile! Before the advent of the internet being “The Internet”! This parody has some gaping plot holes!
Is it fun? There might be a game this time, but nobody said those games had to be any fun. Do you enjoy using your mouse to play whack-a-ewok? A fighting game that looks like it was animated in the most primitive version of Flash available (actually, in 1997, that might be a completely factual description)? If you’re looking for actual gameplay out of a Parroty Interactive title, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
But is it funny? Do you like laughing at nerds? Great! Enjoy watching them caper around and talk about Star Wars like it’s a religion. And then you can play as Cool –Handless Luke and fight Pizza-Flipping Greedo. Yes! Someone took the time to make a parody of Greedo! Are you laughing yet!?
So is it a parody? Man, this game sucks, but it’s why parodies are important. This is one of the last remaining relics of the “before time” for Star Wars. You know how Disney bought Star Wars for $4,050,000,000? They did that because Star Wars is a very serious film franchise for very serious people (and certainly not children). And it only got to that point because the hype around the “Prequel Trilogy” rebranded Star Wars as a cultural phenomenon on par with the Moon Landing. Before 1999, though? Star Wars was just some weird franchise for weirdos that hang around in their weird basements. Star Warped is a perfect encapsulation of that embarrassing era for the franchise. It’s a parody of a particular time and place in a cultural zeitgeist, and it would be all but forgotten if not for digging Star Warped out of the dustbin of history. In the same way that Scary Movie can remind us all of the Scream-craze of the late 20th Century, Star Warped inadvertently can remind us of the Dork Ages of Star Wars.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day (2001, Rare)
What is it? Parroty Interactive went on to produce an X-Files parody and a parody of an operating system (seriously!), and then went out of business. Or pivoted to making learning games. Whatever. They didn’t survive to make it to Riven, so somebody else had to pick up the parody torch. Rare had always produced games with a generally humorous bent (even Donkey Kong Country premiered with DK kicking out the old man), so it seemed natural when they produced Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a game meant to clash with the traditionally “squeaky clean” image for Nintendo systems/releases. Join a typical “videogame mascot” that has become a little more surly than your average bear or hedgehog.
Is it fun? This was Rare at the height of their 3-D action/adventure/collectathon powers, so Conker’s Bad Fur Day is, if nothing else, a pretty fun game to play. For the personal Goggle Bob rankings, I’d put it above Donkey Kong 64 and Jetforce Gemini, but below Banjo-Kazooie or Mario 64. And those are all top tier games to begin with! It’s right up there! And, hey, it even foresaw the future of Mario with context-based abilities that only appear in particular levels. Mario should write Conker a thank you note.
But is it funny? I was the exact right age when this title was released (old enough to not be shocked, but young enough to find peeing unequivocally funny), so your mileage may vary, but Conker’s day is a funny one. The basis of much of the humor is the cute animal creature (Conker) having to deal with “real world” problems, like war or hangovers. And the juxtaposition works! It (as is always the case with Rare) maybe relies on being a little too talky and anxious to explain the joke on many occasions (a googly-eyed poop needs no explanation), but it’s about twenty times funnier than anything else on the Nintendo 64 not involving a giant ninja robot.
So is it a parody? One could easily argue that the gameplay of Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a 100% mundane 3-D platformer experience, and the occasional jokes or wisecracks from his furry friends aren’t enough to warrant a full parody label. But CBFD is more than that! The gameplay doesn’t have to be that subversive when an alien bursts from out of a panther’s chest. The incongruity of this Diddy Kong Racer facing a world that is about twenty miles above his maturity level is the joke here, and it winds up as a perfect parody of the heyday of videogame mascots. Gex could never touch this squirrel.
The Simpsons Game (2007, Electronic Arts)
What is it? Hey, everybody, it’s another Simpsons video game. Try to sound excited! This time, we’ve got a game that was actually penned by writers of The Simpsons series! That’s good. But it is The Simpsons writers of 2007, and it gets very self-referential, very fast. That’s bad. But it’s the best videogame The Simpsons have ever seen. That’s good. But it is also looking at videogames from a very “dad” perspective, so the jokes are more broad than biting. That’s bad. But you can earn all kinds of achievements. That’s good. But the achievements contain Potassium Benzoate.
Is it fun? Continuing the platforming/collectathon tradition of Conker, The Simpsons Game predominantly vacillates between “obstacle course” style levels and excuses to bump around and find random crap all over the place. And The Simpsons get super powers! Which is fun! Homer turning into a big, doughy wrecking ball is always going to be a great time, and the different ways the various Simpsons can work together through diverse levels is a great.
But is it funny? It’s basically a Simpsons episode in videogame form, so what is there to complain about? This is the first game on this list that allowed for the “modern” convenience of overt and incidental voice acting, so quips come fast and furious. And the various super powers and situations the Simpsons encounter add some much needed physical/visual humor to the proceedings. Humor is hard when all you can do is make a whacky looking dancer boss, it’s a lot easier when you’ve got next gen graphics and the best voice actors in the business.
So is it a parody? While The Simpsons themselves are the yellow butts of a few jokes, the main target here is generic “videogames”. The family ventures through levels themed after Dungeons & Dragons, Pokémon, and whatever franchise is exploiting World War 2 the most this week. And one of the big collectibles for the game is simply “videogame clichés” that can be amassed for achievements. And special guest Will Wright wants to destroy NES cartridges full of 8-bit Simpsons. It’s still very broad (Patty and Selma are a two-headed dragon! That’s a thing happens in games, right!?), but it is very much “The Simpsons tackle videogames”, so calling it a parody of the medium at large (of 2007) seems accurate.
Hatoful Boyfriend (2011, PigeoNation Inc.)
What is it? It’s another Japanese visual novel where you’re the transfer student at a high school, and you’re about to get into all sorts of weird and wacky situations with your new classmates. Maybe even romance will bloom! One minor caveat, though: you’re the only human in a world of giant, intelligent birds. Yes, this game started as an April Fool’s Day “prank”, but it’s one of about three visual novels this author can stomach.
Is it fun? It’s a visual novel, so that’s a resounding no. What? Press X to advance text isn’t my bag on a good day. Oh, I’m supposed to enjoy the roleplaying? Well la de da, give me a call when your roleplaying involves killing god.
But is it funny? You don’t play visual novels for the gameplay, you do it for the sweet, sweet writing. Or the pictures where “you” fall face first into a cyclops’ panties. Whatever floats your boat. Regardless, the writing and scenarios for Hatoful Boyfriend are some top notch anime bullshit. And that’s great! Because the entire cast is comprised of photo-realistic birds, so it’s immediately apparent how everything in your average visual novel is absurd nonsense even when there aren’t avian creatures abound. And then a doctor eats you.
So is it a parody? Most visual novels “reward” the player with scenes of…. Can I say pornography? How about art? You receive art for taking particular paths or options. A game where your potential suitors are replaced with pigeons is certainly going to qualify as a parody, as it draws a stark contrast between the usual expectations and our feathered friends. It is parody in absurdity in a genre that has had already entered the realm of self-parody. Good birds. Pretty birds.
Divekick (2013, One True Game Studios)
What is it? It’s another fighting game, but this one more or less the result of decades of giant nerds playing fight games. Years of scientists studying characters, tiers, and frame data have determined one thing: the divekick is the only viable fighting game move. So here’s a fighting game where all the characters can only perform a diving jump kick. There are different combatants. There are different techniques. But there is only divekick.
Is it fun? In a way, this is a fighting game boiled down to its absolute essence. There’s a variety of characters, a story mode with rivals and endings, and warnings about the prevalence of concussions. But it’s all in the service of a fighting game where one hit wins every match, and one (or two) buttons is all you will ever need. And that’s fun! It’s not the kind of game anyone would want to be alone with on a desert island, but it is enjoyable for short bursts. The ideal downloadable title for the modern console/computer.
But is it funny? There’s a mutated skunkbear that is named Redacted because it is way too similar to one of Marvel’s mightiest mutants. That’s funny! Kicking someone in the head might not be the funniest thing in the world, but the characters and general situations are filled with humor. Oh, and the master wears boots on his hands. That’s silly.
So is it a parody? This is one of those “affectionate parodies” I’ve been referencing elsewhere in the article. This is insider politics for fighting game fans, and a true work that was created by fanatics, for fanatics. It’s a parody that loves its source material, but still acknowledges fighting games are more than a little goofy. There could be another paragraph here just explaining the seven layers of dumb Street Fighter jokes surrounding the final boss, and that’s a sign that something parody-related has happened here.
Lego City Undercover (2013, TT Games)
What is it? The Lego Videogame franchise finally got away from straight franchise adaptions in 2013, and produced Lego City Undercover, a game featuring an average (Lego) cop that runs over a strangely high number of (Lego) pedestrians. The game is a large departure for the traditional gameplay of the Lego titles, as it is less “levels”, and more of an open-world, mission-based situation. Also, there is full voice acting and a wholly original plot, so this is like a real videogame, and not just Star Wars-lite.
Is it fun? Damn right it is. Lego City Undercover is basically a Grand Theft Auto title with Lego sensibilities, and it’s kind of amazing how effectively those two genres mesh. What’s more, Lego City Undercover is better than your average Lego game, as it doesn’t require the player to obsessively break every goddamn thing every seven inches for additional studs (there is more than a little breakage, of course, but it doesn’t have nearly the same emphasis as seen in other Lego titles). This is just swinging, driving, and busting criminals all over a Lego city, and that’s pretty damn great.
But is it funny? Double damn right it is. Lego City Undercover is generally hilarious on occasion, which should come as no surprise, as actual comedy writers were hired to punch up the entirety of the game’s script. If there are seven seconds of “downtime” in the plot, you can be sure that space will be filled with some manner of capering. And, on a personal note, while cops and robbers are equally lampooned across the game (along with anything else that wanders into the frame), I am currently enjoying any humor derived at the expense of the boys in blue. Those egos could stand to be deflated a pinch…
So is it a parody? In Grand Theft Auto, you are a criminal. In Lego City Undercover, you are a police officer. Somehow, the gameplay is exactly the same. Funny how that works. Lego City Undercover manages to present a family-friendly take on the genre that also provides some insightful (and seemingly deliberate) commentary on the state of the world, and that’s a sign you’re dealing with an excellent parody. Some of GTA’s imitators may border on parody (Saints Row comes immediately to mind), but Lego City Undercover distinguishes itself as its own, albeit parodic, animal.
Goat Simulator (2014, Coffee Stain Studios)
What is it? You’re a mundane goat. That’s it. Thanks for playing.
Is it fun? Oh, wait, little caveat here: Goat Sim is more of a game physics demo that evolved into a full-fledged game… Or… almost evolved, at least. There are general goals for your goat simulating here, but, by and large, it’s just you (a goat) in a medium-to-large playground, and your only real tasks are finding new and interesting ways to be destructive. It’s like Blast Corps, but, ya know, with a goat.
But is it funny? In a way, this is a total “make your own fun” adventure. However, despite the fact that the game generally lacks legitimate goals or a level structure, the “playgrounds” available are all meticulously designed. What does that mean? Well, imagine a million perfectly aligned dominoes, and you’re playing as the wrecking ball that just crashed into this clumsy metaphor. This is not a game that relies on clever dialogue, this is a game that relies on the player’s innate need to lick a moving tractor to see what happens. Spoilers: it winds up funny.
So is it a parody? Goat Simulator is the kind of game that could only happen after decades of established videogames. This is a game that looks at the many, many ways you can interact with a world in a videogame, and then pushes them to absurd levels. Yes, you can climb that gigantic crane and jump off… but please don’t do that while aiming for the highly volatile gas station, or bad things might happen. Combine this with a variety of “cheats” and achievements that encourage complete lunacy (a basic rule of the universe is that you should never give a goat a jetpack), and Goat Simulator is more than a simple goat game, it’s a parody of gaming as a whole. And then there’s that MMORPG mode. Class: Microwave is just silly.
Rainbows, Toilets & Unicorns! (2019, Fantastico Studio)
What is it? A man eats a unicorn-flavored ice cream, and, yada yada yada, now he’s being propelled through the sky on a toilet and shooting up his worst fears. And if you guessed “worst fears” included “Salt Bae”, then congratulations, you’re one of the cool kids for today!
Is it fun? It’s a modern “bullet hell” shoot ‘em up, so if you like that, this one is pretty great. The gameplay conceit du jour is that every explosion drops rupees, and catchin’ ‘em all will lead to your arsenal being immediately upgraded. Like with Star Parodier above, this is an interesting mechanic for advancement in an already frenetic genre, so it fits into the shoot ‘em up genre like a glove. Oh, and you can barf unicorn puke all over the place if things get too overwhelming.
But is it funny? This is referential humor at its most obvious. You could be shooting ships or wieners or whatever, but, no, it’s all references to pop culture. Is it overtly funny? Not necessarily. Is it satisfying to lay suppressing fire on a giant, orange toupee? It’s not bad. The basic joke in this game is seeing what ridiculous thing pops up as a boss next, so please enjoy a chuckle when you have to go hand-to-hand with The Pope.
So is it a parody? We’re right back to where we started: a shoot ‘em up with the usual nonsense replaced with joke characters. If Parodius was a parody of Gradius, then it makes transitive sense that Rainbows, Toilets & Unicorns is the modern (and American) parody of Gradius’s same genre. This parody doesn’t have much to say beyond “yes, these things exist”, but it winds up being an amusing way to spend an hour or so. Not all parodies are created equal, but there is certainly room for parodies in the videogame sphere.
So what does parody actually mean, Tony? It means you’re going to have a good time.
… Until you die sixty times in a row to the same stupid boss. Then the joke gets a bit stale.
FGC #525 Parodius
- System: You may find Parodius on practically any videogame system… outside of the United States. Even Europe saw a couple of Parodius games! The best the Americas can hope for is the occasional big fat nothing. I somehow have a Gameboy version, though. Blame Europe again.
- Number of players: 2 player simultaneous! Who cares if Americans wouldn’t get the references, here’s a reason this shoot ‘em up could have done well in the West.
- What did you actually play: As is my wont, I played through the complete Parodius arcade collection for this article (even if ROB did technically choose the Gameboy version). This is definitely a franchise that gets better as it progresses, and Sexy Parodius is great with its branching paths and gigantic monsters/ladies. My understanding is that there is also a Parodius Tactics game for the Playstation 1 by the name of Paro Wars… and I’m not touching that with a ten foot penguin.
- Favorite Pilot: Michael and Gabriel are flying pig angels. I’m pretty sure there need be no further explanation.
- Worst Powerup Ever: The Oh!/!? powerup block will immediately strip you of all power. It is horrible beyond measure, and, considering the average arcade game doesn’t come with much of a manual, downright mean-spirited. One would suppose it at least gives you a reason to pay attention to manual powerup activation…
- Konami gonna Konami: If you’re wondering what the Parodius franchise is up to nowadays, may I interest you in a series of pachinko machines?
- Most Excellent: Otomedius carried on the basic concept of Parodius for a little while, basically focusing on the “sexy” part of Sexy Parodius. It didn’t last very long, but at least it gave the Twin Bee franchise another spotlight.
- Did you know? Koitsu, Aitsu, Soitsu and Doitsu, the little dudes riding paper airplanes, reappear as monster cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise. The Vic Viper pops up there, too, so Konami kept its crossovers going.
- Would I play again: Yes! Can someone look into porting this entire franchise to the Switch? Get to working on that! That system needs more penguins!
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Final Fantasy 7 Remake! Time to get reacquainted with some old friends! Please look forward to it!
In a world where Spider-Man isn’t popular enough to merit game preservation, what hope does an overweight penguin have?
Yume Penguin Monogatari is a supremely unusual game. Hailing from a time well before videogamin’ had codified itself into anything that made sense (you know, back when your next mascot creature could be an electric rat that hides in the forest), Yume Penguin Monogatari is the story of… a penguin. And that penguin has a girlfriend. But! Our hero penguin, Penta, has gotten fat. And previously mentioned penguin girlfriend, Penko, is not having it. So Penko dumps tubby Penta, and leaves him for Ginji, a nefarious penguin in a top hat and shades. Now Penta is setting out on a quest to lose some weight and reclaim the heart of Penko, but Ginji is on to Penta’s plans, and schemes to recruit an army of ridiculous creatures that all aim to fatten Penta back into obesity. So Penta has to find his way through six or so levels, and hopefully maintain a slim figure while battling monsters like a sentient/delicious birthday cake. It’s a hard life for an overweight penguin!
But, depending on how badly you want to see Penta achieve his chubby penguin dreams, it might not be a hard life for the player. Yume Penguin Monogatari features fairly unique gameplay for a NES (well, technically, Famicom) title: Penta cannot die. Get hit by every enemy across any given stage, and Penta will still survive. In a time when a mere life bar was a godsend, Penta is practically invincible compared to his dramatically more fragile 8-bit brethren. But, make no mistake, Penta is not going to experience a cakewalk (wait… dietwalk?) on his quest to cut out calories. Every stage features a generally unforgiving timer, and, should the hourglass run out for Penta, it’s time to repeat the stage from the start. Additionally, every stage has a “diet goal”, and if Penta manages to beat the boss, but still looks terrible in a speedo, it’s back to the beginning. Considering every boss tosses out copious amounts of edibles, and Penta is an accomplished glutton, there is a very real possibility Penta will be forced to restart a stage due to excess flab. Said it before, say it again: it’s a hard life for an overweight penguin.
But, hard life or no, you’ll probably see the whole stage. Which is more than I can say for so many NES games…
Yume Penguin Monogatari is a Konami title. For Konami, much of the NES/SNES era was the epoch of the shoot ‘em up. Whether it was lil’ ships battling big cores, or lil’ dudes gunning down gigantic hearts, Konami had a number of titles available for satisfying your inalienable right to run around and shoot aliens. But the downside of nearly all of those titles? One hit kills. Assuming you don’t forsake your missiles and laserbeams for a shield immediately, the Vic Viper is going to fall to the forces of Bacterion after the slightest tap from a… one of those roundy things at the start of a stage. They probably have a name. Or Contra! The greatest game of all time that absolutely required a cheat code or you were never going to make it to the third level! Bill and Lance might be heroes of an alien invasion, but they’re just as vulnerable to bullets as weird dudes with backpacks. Basically, back in the day of 8-bit heroes, if you saw the final stage of a game (or even the boss of approximately the fourth level), it meant that you had a nigh-superhuman level of reflexes, or the ability to memorize a level like nobody’s business. I don’t care if Nintendo Power was helping you out with maps, you still had to have some major skills to make it to the end without that precious Konami Code.
And Yume Penguin Monogatari feels like it may be an answer to all those crying Nintendo kids. Yes, thanks to the timer and weight requirements, it may be impossible for some people to beat even the first level, left alone finish the entire game; but will everyone be able to see the majority of level 1? It’s pretty likely! Penta merely “trips” or inflates to bulbous size when attacked by an enemy, and is not immediately obliterated like so many Gradius defenders. And that’s great! The worst part of any of those one-hit kill games (or games that require a continue after rapidly vanishing “lives”) is that it was nearly impossible to be prepared for the end of a level. People expect increasing difficulty, so it’s only natural that the end of the stage would be the most challenging section. But if you spent all your lives on the initial, “easy” bits (because you’re, ya know, an eight year old just trying to have fun), then the finale is simply going to be a swift kick in the teeth before getting booted back to the beginning. In Yume Penguin Monogatari, however, you actually have a chance. Yes, Penta might be waddling along at maximum fat levels, and it might be abundantly clear that he’s going to get his tubby tail feathers dumped at the end of the stage, but at least you get to see what’s at the end of the stage. At least you get to play the actual game, as opposed to simply being annihilated at the starting gate. At least you can learn from your mistakes, and not be completely blindsided/destroyed by some manner of pig-zeppelin at the end of the level.
And, thankfully, this helps the player learn how to play the game. There may be traps and pitfalls all over the level, but with the ability to play the whole level, a player is going to get better and better with every run. All effort won’t be expended immediately just in an effort to conquer the start, and practice can make perfect across the entire breadth of a stage. In short, in one silly “fat penguin” game, Konami cracked the “difficulty appropriate for everyone” nut in 1991.
And then no one in America ever got to play the game, because it was never localized.
And, likely because it had the global appeal of… well… an overweight penguin, Yume Penguin Monogatari only ever saw rerelease in 2006, on the i-Revo… and I have no idea what that is. Some kind of smart phone? Smart TV? Smart penguin? No matter. Point is that this penguin adventure isn’t something that can legally be played in any country where there is currently an ongoing debate on the nature of videogame difficulty.
Yume Penguin Monogatari is an excellent, fun, weird game with some interesting twists on videogame difficulty…
And it’s lost forever.
FGC #427 Yume Penguin Monogatari
- System: NES… or Nintendo Famicom. And, as previously mentioned, whatever the hell an “i-Revo” is.
- Number of players: Oh lawd, one penguin comin’.
- Everything you know is wrong: Considering the goal of many videogames (and nearly all NES games) is to consume as many food items as possible, it is really weird playing any game where you must avoid, say, succulent apples and enchanting rice cakes. The fact that apples are anything but a diet item pretty much goes against everything I have ever learned.
- Let’s talk about fat, baby: One could make the argument that this game is anti-fat, and ultimately body-shaming. And it is! On the other hand, being fat doesn’t kill Penta, it simply is the reason his girlfriend is going to leave him for another, slimmer penguin. So think of the moral less that “fat is bad” and more “some penguins are superficial, and will make you pilot magical planes to satisfy their own twisted desires”.
- An end: Oh, and after defeating the final boss (it’s the bad alterna-boyfriend, natch), the ending is a now slim Penta hanging with the pleased Penko. But now Penko has developed an eating disorder, and she bulks up to gargantuan size. Ha ha! You two silly penguins are bad for each other!
- Did you know? Pentarou, the penguin of Parodius titles, is supposedly Penta’s son. So I guess it is canon that Penta and Penko shake their collective penguin booty after the finale.
- Would I play again: This is a great game! It would probably be right up there with Kirby’s Adventure and other late, great NES titles if, ya know, there was a legit way to play it.
What’s next? In the name of the moon, I will write about another forgotten videogame. Please look forward to it!