Perhaps I am not properly enculturated in the world of how to be a manly man. I’m not a fan of football (or sports for that matter), I could care less about NASCAR, I think hunting is pointless, and any kind of outdoorsy activities bore me to hell and back. UFC (or Ultimate Fighting Champion-something-or-other) is the latest “craze” amongst overly aggressive men and how they choose to spend their weekends and Pay-Per-View credits. UFC has been around a while but it’s only recently gotten popular as the “in” thing to do. Spike Network adopted the series into their programming lineup and since then they’ve also produced a crappy reality TV show akin to “The Next Greatest UFC Fighter” or some other pointless manufactured nonsense. You know the kind of show I am talking about.
However what’s a popular franchise without a sub-par video game based off of it? Yes, that’s right there’s a UFC video game out there. Honestly, I don’t see how it’s any different from every other fighting game where you beat the everliving hell out of somebody but I’ll just bear with the developers and agree that its GROUNDBREAKING FIGHTING COMBAT totally blows my mind. And speaking of things being blown that’s a great trantsition into the point of this article: UFC is the most in-the-closet homosexual thing I have come across since the last time the forbidden love between Republicans and health insurance providers was big in the news. Just as a forewarning to cover my own rear, I personally am not a fan of saying something is “gay” when I mean it sucks or is stupid, because that is quite unacceptable. When I call UFC “gay” I don’t mean it as “it sucks”, I mean “gay” as in “hey man you wanna go shower together after this and rent a copy of Brokeback Mountain“.
What is my proof of this claim, you ask? Or rather “what you be sayin’ you stupid (expletive deleted)” as the average UFC fanatic will say shortly before punching his wife and asking for another Bud Light. Allow me to point to one single solitary achievement in the UFC: Undisputed game as the source of my information:
Yes, you get an achievement in the game for watching the “Round 2” card girl prance around in her bikini before every fight without skipping it. Now, seeing as how I have played this game only once I don’t exactly know how long this cutscene is but I am willing to bet it is anywhere between fifteen to twenty minutes long and features an accompanying soundtrack by Kid Rock and Lynard Skynard and a tribute to Dale Earnhardt right in the middle of it all.
Seriously could there be anything less insecure about the average fan’s sexuality here? I seriously can’t think of anything else than being rewarded for asserting your “male superiority” by watching a bikini model hold up a card. Even down to the name of this achievement (“Two of my favorites!”) it screams “YES I AM TOTALLY STRAIGHT NOW SHUT UP AND LET ME WATCH THESE KNOCKERS.”
Perhaps it’s just the fact that I have been clinically diagnosed as being “permanently seven years old mentally” when it comes to certain things but I watch this show or play this game and I always wonder if I am the only one in the room who is really picking up on these vibes. I mean, I know everyone else is seeing what I’m seeing, last time I checked I wasn’t wearing my Elton John FABULOUS VISION shades and I had left my copy of Top Gun at home. Look at that pose, seriously look at it. I’m not even going to take it out of context because 70% of every UFC fight is that. Picture watching that for fifteen minutes and throw in some dry commentary from Joe Rogan (yes the guy from Fear Factor) and you have your average UFC bout.
Basically every UFC fight boils down into two almost naked guys punching each other in the face repeatedly until one of them has an aneyurism and has to be wheeled away to the nearest hospital. Between Point A (the start of the fight) and Point B (the ambulance ride) lies a bunch of awkard groping, pinning, sweating, and grunting. Seriously folks the jokes write themselves. I wish I could say more about it, but that’s it. That’s what’s popular amongst the “look at me I’m so tough” guys these days; a show where after each fight where both competitors clearly showed how impressively not-gay they both are secretly talk about their favorite songs by Aretha Franklin and consider adopting a toy poodle as a pet.
I went to a UFC “party” whenever everybody was making a big deal about UFC 100. I spend a hell of a lot of time driving around during the week and on the radio without fail every single commercial break was about some local sports bar that was going to have UFC 100 “ON THE GIANT PLASMA SCREENS” (Sidenote: Putting UFC on 60+” TV’s does not make it any less homoerotic.). I remember specifically the big deal was about Brock Lensar and this other guy whose name I didn’t actually care to remember because the fight was the Heavyweight Title Bout meaning whoever won would be King In-The-Closet, I guess. I don’t know, really, but I bet he got a fancy golden belt that said “CHICKS ONLY, NO GUYS, I MEAN IT. SERIOUSLY” at the end. Brock Lensar won in literally the least engaging way possible: he sat on his opponent and punched him for the entire duration of the fight.
That’s all he did. From what everybody was raving about for weeks prior I was expecting the two fighters to at least whip out some chainsaws or battle axes or something, anything to make it worth watching (and spending $100 for on Pay-Per-View). Nope, instead I was subjected to watching a bunch of littler people fight (Lightweights, not midgets) before this “monumental fight” wherein Lensar demonstrated his ability to do impressions of a blanket made out of fists.
I don’t even follow this lifestyle of misplaced testosterone but I felt somehow letdown by that fight and I’m pretty sure if the squirrely reptile geek who isn’t interested in UFC was letdown by UFC then everyone else in the room who kept a mental encyclopedia of how big every fighter’s biceps are were certainly angered as well. In short they basically spent $100 to watch a glorified version of that scene from A Christmas Story where Ralphie beats up that bully with the yellow eyes.
Except more gay.
It would seem appropriate to say that this month is pretty shitty in terms of celebrity deaths what with Farrah Fawcett being claimed by cancer and Michael Jackson being anticlimactically taken down by heart failure (I was personally expecting him to go insane and literally explode or at least have his hair catch on fire again). Amongst the chaos the demon hands of the Grim Reaper bitchslapped American infomercial star and co-host of Discovery Channel’s Pitchmen Billy Mays.
Say what you will about Billy Mays being an actual “star” but personally I loved the guy and I am known to pretty much dislike everyone and make fun of them at their collective expense. When he first debuted on television with that god-awful OxyClean commercial I couldn’t stand him, dare I say I “fucking hated” Billy Mays – yes, I hated Billy Mays. Every single time his goddamned OxyClean commercial came on I literally wished it would be the one where he dropped dead in the middle of the show. I was tired of seeing him do that stupid fucking trick where he turned the Taco Bell diarrhea brown water into an opaque white substance akin to a jar of horse semen full of clothes. Much like that retarded trick where you make a quarter disappear inside of a plastic case with a sliding door it lost its effect about half way through the first demonstration.
Then something happened. I was watching television one day and I heard that familiar “HI BILLY MAYS HERE FOR” sentence, but instead of it being finished with “OxyClean” it was “Orange Glo”. I looked up from what I was doing to pay attention. Billy Mays had bragged about OxyClean for so fucking long that now I was genuinely interested in what the hell Orange Glo actually was. Was it like Soul Glo? Was it some kind of an energy drink? Maybe it was a really badass substance that gave you superpowers, either way I was ready to hear about it. It turns out all Orange Glo ended up being was some stupid floor cleaner that could get spots off of just about anything you sprayed it on. How it managed to not just eat through the plastic bottle was beyond my understanding but at least now whenever Billy Mays would show up on TV there’d be approximately a 50% chance that you’d get to see him scribble a turd on a piece of finished wood with a black grease crayon and make it magically disappear while making your house smell like citrus fruit at the same time.
Things only got weirder from there even though it doesn’t seem possible. Billy Mays became the spokesperson for whatever fucking retarded gadget or miracle cleaner that was shat out for $19.95 and he made it seem like it was the best fucking thing this side of sliced bread. If I had a credit card during Billy Mays’ heyday in television advertising I’d have so many useless fucking portable lights and tubs of OxyClean that I could solve the world’s energy crisis if it were possible to condense them into a makeshift fossil fuel. Mays eventually stepped out of his circle of comfort by demonstrating and supporting this piece of plastic called a Ding King. It looked like a shitty dollar store tool used to keep wine fresh but in reality it was a magical little suction cup that fixed dents in your car. Turns out it was only because you used a hot glue gun (don’t try and fool me with “magic Ding King serum of goody make boo boo all better juice”) to affix a piece of plastic to your car’s door and then pulled it back into place. Regardless, it seemed that Mays just about shit himself in glee every time that resounding “thud” let us know that the door had been fixed. I was sold; he had me at “HI”.
If you haven’t guessed by now, this is an article about all of the fond memories I have about watching Billy Mays make sales of gimmicky infomercial crap go so high that if they were RIAA certified albums Michael Jackson would have to literally get his ass out of his grave and reenact Thriller to stay competitive. Billy Mays came a long way from merely screaming at the top of his lungs about OxyClean at three in the morning; for me he was now pretty much on par with watching decent sketch comedy when I should otherwise be seeing a commercial for a potato peeler with fourteen blades or something. He was like a show within a show and if Turner Broadcasting is listening I think making a 30 minute block of Billy Mays commercials and naming it “The Best Fucking Show on Television” would fit nicely in their Adult Swim programming block. They could stick it right after that Tim and Eric show and no one would probably even notice the change.
In my eyes Billy Mays really became a commodity of good television programming when he began touting the Awesome Auger. The thing was basically a pool cue with a blade on the end of it that you stuck onto a cordless power drill; the fact that the creators had the tenacity to name it “awesome” was proof enough that they weren’t here to fuck around. It was the most ridiculous looking shit ever but in between shots of old people fake-breaking their backs pulling weeds we got to see Billy Mays wield that thing so fucking awesomely that if there was a dragon nearby it would shit its pants and run. Billy Mays was fucking weeds up so hardcore with that thing you’d have thought he got a chubby from tearing up all of that chlorophyll.
If you didn’t believe that Billy Mays could sell anything then I’m sure you changed your mind when you saw the commercial for the Hercules Hooks. The entire idea for the product can be described as “cutting the top of a coat hanger off”. That’s it. It’s just a piece of metal bent in a loop that you stick in the wall through the sheetrock. How it manages to not completely rip out the wall and inspire Tim Allen to make a 47th season of Home Improvement is beyond me but Billy Mays found a way to make you disregard the integrity of the walls of your house because he could afford to literally fill the bed of your truck with the things for a little under twenty bucks. Billy Mays gave a big “fuck you” to the hooker-beating stylings of “Vince from ShamWow” by 1-upping him with Zorbeez and even demonstrated how sports goes directly into your computer via ESPN 360. Mays told us our flipping, flopping, squishing, and squashing days would be over with the likes of the Big City Slider press in our kitchens. He even sat us down for a serious (but still loud as all holy fuck) talk about life insurance. No rapper had anything on the Billster, because he could rhyme “dump truck” with “medical catheter” if it meant selling fifty of something to you for a Jefferson (plus shipping and handling).
The wildest moment in Mays’ career, however, came with the demonstration of Mighty Putty which a substance akin to PlayDoh that somehow bonds to anything with the power to reach herpes levels of inseparability. Billy couldn’t explain the science of it to you (nor could the radical 3D rendering of animated mushy clay) but rest assured he’d scream and yell at you until you bought it. If you weren’t a believer after seeing Billy Mays scream a leaky cup and pipe to death while applying gratuitous amounts of Mighty Putty to them then you were sold when he started dry humping a truck towing another truck with Mighty Fucking Putty. Normally you’d think that a truck built for transporting houses being pulled by a stick of magic PlayDoh would be enough but not for Billy “Motherfucking” Mays. In an episode of Pitchmen Billy was on the set of the sequel to the Mighty Putty commercial and much like a real theatrical movie sequel the company pulled out all of the stops here. For Mighty Putty Wood they hung Billy Mays from a tiny-ass swing while a tugboat towed the entire fucking ship that Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed on. They did this with only two paddles, some chain, and God knows how many sticks of Mighty Putty Wood.
Many television personalities have their own stupid catchphrases to get you to remember their products. The Video Professor guy almost begs you to try his product and with his sheepish voice you’d think his company was about to go under. The tone of his voice doesn’t say “try my product”, it says “oh my god my house was foreclosed on and my wife left me please buy my back stock of PowerPoint CDs or I will hang myself”. Taking a step further into the scale of catchy phrases the Ronco knives managed to drill the phrase “slices and dices” into your skull while they cut everything from pineapples to shoes in midair with their blades stolen directly from the popular Japanese story “99 Samurais and The Room of Pineapples and Shoes”. Billy Mays didn’t need a retarded slogan or a gimmick to sell you his product, his catchphrase was his fucking name and when you heard it you damn well knew to shut the fuck up and pay attention because Billy Mays was about to blow your primitive mind with a new invention that made an inane and easy task even that much more obsolete.
Perhaps Billy Mays wasn’t cast in a popular action show in the 1960’s or wrote songs that sold more copies than there are people working in the tech support departmt for Dell, but god damn it Billy Mays was a television legend whether you choose to accept it or not. His friends and coworkers reported his pleasant demeanor on and off the camera and in a world where some people sell shitty German made chamois cloths while punching hookers off camera one can only think we need more people like Billy Mays filling advertising timeslots on TV. His voice was every aspiring Chinese factory line company’s wet dream come true but everybody buying his products didn’t care, because Billy Mays somehow worked with the only magical factory in China capable of making PlayDoh that could pull a ship and shelf-mounting hooks that defied all laws of gravity and physics.
For a guy whose fortune was built merely on the ability for him to probably out-yell Sam Kinison while selling products on TV he left behind a pair of shoes that nobody will soon fill, not even the fancy-voiced Anthony Sullivan. Godspeed, Billy Mays. Godspeed.
Update: It seems from a post on the GatorAIDS forum that this article has worked its way to Billy Mays III (his son) and the Mays and Sullivan families. Billy, your dad was one hell of a guy and a role model that a lot of people should subscribe to. He worked for everything he had and gave with an open heart until the day he died. I wish the best for you and your family.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written as “bonus” content that was formerly hidden inside of the original GatorAIDS’ “Coming Soon” page.]
Platform: Tiger Game.com
The Game.com was an interesting (and short lived) handheld game system from the late nineties. The company responsible for creating it was Tiger Electronics, a company you may recall also being responsible for churning out crap like the R-Zone which was a little flip down screen you wore over your eye that projected a shitty LCD game onto it entirely in red in an attempt to imply that it’s VIRTUAL REALITY… you know, since in the nineties we were all hooked on that “future” crap and whatnot.
The Game.com had a lot of interesting features going for it that predated all of its competition. For example, the thing boasted a touch-screen long before the Nintendo DS was around to cash in on that. It also could connect to the Internet before any other handheld could including even the ridiculously overpriced Cybiko; the connection speed was only 14.4 Kb which by today’s standards is professionally defined as “slow as all fuck” but the fact stands that Tiger wasn’t going to dick around with their handheld. Users who purchased the Internet bundle could upload high scores and surf the Web with their Game.com because mercifully at the time the majority of the web was text. Attempting to surf the web on a Game.com today (if your computer even has the proper place to plug it in) will result in you effectively reversing the flow of time. Early models of the Game.com also featured two cartridge slots and allowed players to choose their desired game from the main menu. Future models known as the “Pocket” Game.com only featured one and despite the misnomer “Pocket” the thing was still the size of a brick.
How you can manage to include all of these features before your competition and still manage to fuck everything up is beyond all human comprehension but Tiger Electronics against all odds managed to pull it off and sell a grand total of three Game.com systems. Four were returned.
Sonic Jam is an example of one of the many licenses that Tiger was able to secure for their handheld and then subsequently butcher in an array of colorful ways. Upon starting the game up you’re greeted by the Game.com’s ability to have only one sound channel (two half-assed ones add up to one whole) as the Sonic Jam title screen clips into view. For those who aren’t up to par with their Sonic the Hedgehog trivia Sonic Jam was a Sega Saturn title that included Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles from the Sega Genesis system. How they could manage to fit all three games onto a tiny cartridge sounds crazy but once you start the game up you’ll discover how they figured it out. They could make a triangle out of a dodecagon with the number of corners they cut with this port.
There’s a simple game selection screen that lets you choose your game where the developers were nice enough to include a little cartridge picture of each title although for Sonic 2 and 3 “GENESIS” is replaced with “GAME.COM” and “TIGER”, reminding you that this is indeed not a Sega Nomad and that you are about to sink your teeth into some really nasty bile. Since Sonic & Knuckles‘ cartridge was shaped funny rather than spend the extra five minutes to draw it for the compilation the Sonic Jam team decided that putting a black box with “SONIC & KNUCKLES” on it would suffice. It did.
For old time’s sake I selected Sonic 3 and instead of an emulation of the Genesis title playing it skips straight to the character select screen (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles each with bizarre 3D-ish concept art as their pictures). I chose Sonic since he’s kind of the star of the games and rather than being able to watch the Angel Island opening where Knuckles takes all of the Chaos Emeralds it just throws you straight into the game without any titlecards or any inclination as to what the hell is going on. I’m assuming the level they throw you into is Angel Island only because I know that’s the first level in Sonic 3 for the Genesis. In this bizarro mirror-land incarnation of this could be Wild Wacky Cowboy Zone for all I know. Right from the start I can tell that the level design is completely off and the game plays more like a Game Gear title than anything from the Genesis. Moving and jumping is clunky and largely unresponsive and trying to move around on the screen just seems like it takes forever, which brings us to another problem altogether.
Once you move the bigger problem becomes apparent. Sonic the Hedgehog is known for speed; for Christ’s sake Sega even coined a bogus marketing term (BLAST PROCESSING) to promote the raw seizure-inducing speed that Sonic was tearing ass through his Genesis titles with. On the Game.com Sonic feels like he just power walks to wherever the hell he is trying to go. The Game.com is also blessed with having a screen that has a refresh rate of about a frame and a half every eight minutes which is fine if you’re playing something that requires no movement like Scrabble, but in this case it reduces all of Sonic’s speed down to a monochrome blur of gray and staticky-sounding effects. If you manage to get to the end of the first Angel Island level you’ll be greeted with something resembling the hollow tree that you run up in a spiral fashion, which apparently wasn’t programmed properly in this game and does nothing. Did anybody ever fucking playtest this game before release? Nobody could be assed to even test the first goddamned level?
I changed characters to Tails so I could properly play and review this abomination of software seeing as how he’s the only character capable of upward flight and thus able to get through the tree. Taking it upon myself to simply skip the levels by flying over everything I discovered that you can pretty much fly through the “roof” of the game and then spindash across the entire level and skip everything. That aside I believe this incarnation of Sonic Jam is the first time that a series has featured four acts in a zone. I’m well aware that the Sega Genesis version of Sonic 3 only had two acts but hey I guess nobody told the developers that. It’s impossible to tell just what storyline these games are following because while you’re tearing ass through Emerald Hill Zone in Sonic 2 you end up fighting the Chemical Plant Zone’s boss. After playing through a handful of zones all with the same music and seemingly random sets of enemies and out of place bosses it becomes crystal clear that nobody knew what in the fuck was going on with this game and rather than porting the titles to the Game.com they just wrote things on notecards and threw darts at them to draw conclusions on how to port their games.
The special stage level is a fucking joke. They somehow thought it would be a smart move to put the Blue Sphere special stage into this game. A better idea would have been to figure the fuck out how to translate a two dimensional game to the Game.com before thinking that stepping it up to 3D would be a smart move. Rather than getting colored spheres the game says to get “black” ones and before you have a chance to actually figure out what in the hell is going on the special stage takes off at a speed unmatched by anything else in the game thus far.
The problem with Sonic Jam is the Game.com is simply just not capable of processing something with the speed and detail demanded by a fast-action platformer so to combat this Sonic Jam was dumbed down as far as possible without becoming Pong and it still was not enough. Programming oversights lead to your character falling through loops, not interacting with level objects, and being able to skip entire fucking levels by flying straight up. Sonic Jam was one of the first of many skid marks on the Sonic franchise’s reputation and is so laughably bad that not even hardcore furries will find something positive about this title.
The soundtrack (or lack thereof).
Graphics: If you actually quit moving around for a second, adjust the contrast knob on the Game.com, and look at the sprites you’ll notice that they actually did a passable job of porting graphics and images from the compilation’s Genesis titles. Graphics are supposed to look nice all the time however, they aren’t supposed to reenact Will It Blend the second you take a step in any direction. 8/10
Sound: What little sound there is for this game is god awful. It really defies description because you can’t really call it sound or music to begin with. To further make my point here is a recording of the game’s only music track. It starts out as the “theme song” and then simply changes pitch or one or two notes depending on your level. It doesn’t speed up when you get the Speed Shoes, there is no Invincibility track, and there is no Level Clear track; just this… over and over again. 0/10
Control: The Genesis titles that comprise this compilation (or rather, the shriveled husks of those games) were games that required effective but manageable controls for each of the characters’ special abilities and also for the player to be able to keep up with going through loops and flips in each level. Everything in Sonic Jam is unresponsive from Tails’ ability to fly to Knuckles’ ability to glide and climb walls. The Game.com boasts four buttons for their games but I have yet to come across anything that required all of them and for a handheld that had a touch-screen it doesn’t do a damn thing in any of these Sonic games, not even on the menu. 1/10
Replay Value: Technically upon playing the first title in the compilation there should at least be the urge for two more playthroughs, one each for the remaining two. No. There’s no reason to subject oneself to the pain of attempting to play the other two titles because literally once you have played one of them you’ve played them all seeing as how they all look the same, sound the same, and are all equally as unplayable as the last not to mention likely non-canon in the storyline to diehard Sonic the Hedgehog
masturbationists fans. 1/10
Overall: The only serious reason I could see someone buying a copy of this game is if they’re a collector of video game merchandise and in that respect there are only two kinds of people who will buy this game. On one hand we have the yiff addicts who will purchase any and everything with Sonic’s mug on it and on the other hand we have collectors who are attempting to collect games for a Game.com. May God have mercy on their souls. Sonic Jam is a vortex of pure blackened shit that sucks the fun out of anything within twenty feet of it. 1/10
(Note: There is no emulation support for the Game.com so these screenshots are courtesy of Brian Provinciano. His capturing device produces clear images, whilst playing titles on the actual handheld looks infinitely worse. You can visit his website at www.bripro.com.)