[Editor’s Note: This article was originally set to be published in Issue #3 of Furry N’ Fuzzy Magazine however the publication folded before release resulting in this article never being seen until its republication here.]
Space Jam, released 1996, is a “movie” of the “comedy” genr– okay you know what, I’m just gonna stop with the sarcastic air quotes in this article because this gag will get real old real fast. Space Jam is a movie, I guess, but it’s a “comedy” in the same way as World Trade Center is one too. Both films document a national tragedy although while World Trade Center is a re-enactment of said tragedy Space Jam is the tragedy in and of itself. When this film came out the Looney Tunes were fading from public view and needed a reboot; they were literally being used by Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network to pad dead air between the hours of 1am and 5am before Adult Swim was a thing.
Space Jam is a terrible movie with a terrible premise. A bunch of aliens from “Moron Mountain” inexplicably invade the Looney Tunes world to capture and enslave Bugs Bunny & Company because I guess if I was bored as hell I’d do the same thing; Bugs Bunny says he isn’t going to take any of this bullshit so he challenges the aliens to a game of basketball and then cheats by enlisting the talent of Michael Jordan to beat the aliens who in the meantime have in turn cheated by stealing the basketball-playing talent of Charles Barkley and four other players whose names I did not commit to memory. Yeah. That’s the entire movie.
The movie is “so bad it’s good” and the special effects are “so bad they’re horrifying”, seriously. Using the term “special effects” to describe the CGI of Space Jam is an insult to the art of computer modeling because Jurassic Park came out three years prior and that film’s effects are seamless even today. All Warner Bros had to do was put a cartoon rabbit on screen the same time as Michael Jordan and they screwed it up so badly that pressing the pause button at the wrong moments will trigger a land mine of nightmare fuel. Between shoddy CGI applied to Space Jam‘s physical actors and “transition frames” where characters demonstrate exaggerated anatomy I can’t decide which is worse, so I won’t. Instead I’ll just share with you my favorite awkward, terrifying, or downright bizarre stills and call it a day.
Also, Bugs Bunny is anthropomorphic. That’s my excuse for shoehorning this article into a furry publication.
1. The Most Hyped-Up the Name “Bugs Bunny” has Ever Been
The opening credits to Space Jam are over three minutes long, feature that song by Quad City DJ’s – you know, the “come on and SLAM” one – and are filled with enough archival footage of Michael Jordan that it counts as an episode of SportsCenter. Throughout all of this, however, I must stress that this is the most emphasis anyone has ever placed on the name “Bugs Bunny” in the history of time itself. Somewhere Mel Blanc isn’t just spinning in his grave, he’s exploded. The film’s title credits are what happens someone literally presses every button on the special effects board and rumor has it the guy who had to cut out the word “BUNNY” and slap it on a chain link fence put a bullet in his head afterward. If I had to describe the opening credits in as few words as possible I’d go with “the” and “nineties”. Bugs Bunny is billed second in the film’s title credits between Michael Jordan and Wayne “Nah-Ah-Ah You Didn’t Say the Magic Word” Knight. His voice actor (Billy West) isn’t even credited. Nobody has ever been this excited to see Bugs Bunny. No one.
2. The Existential Nightmare that is “The Space Jam”
I could try and provide the context of these screenshots but it wouldn’t really serve any purpose. Space Jam is a nightmare and while watching it you start to ask yourself a lot of deeply personal and introspective questions; things like “who am I”, “why am I here”, “where is that large automobile”, “where does that highway go to”, “am I right or am I wrong” – and sometimes you might even say to yourself “my god, what have I done?!” At some points in our lives every one of us is a Grateful Dead acid trip rabbit superimposed on a white background or a basketball-playing alien presented in the stark contrast of two tones while in the middle of a slam dunk. When that happens it’s important that we look inside of ourselves for the answers to our troubling questions and, if that fails, there’s always the tranquility that comes with listening to an Enya album while binging on ice cream.
3. The Unintentional and Impossible to Explain Pornography
Looney Tunes have always been slightly “edgy” with toilet humor especially when the series was brought up to speed to appeal to kids in the 1990’s. Also, there were tons of jokes for “mom and dad” throughout the history of the animated shorts. I could try to explain what’s happening in each of these scenes but it’s no use. Sure, that might be Bugs Bunny trying to kiss someone but it really kind of looks like a butthole and in the very next image Bugs Bunny’s ass is literally exploding while one of the “Monstars” (yeah that’s what those horrid things are called) shows off his freeballin’ lifestyle and flaunts his ghetto booty. I could sit here for forty-five minutes explaining that last one too you and it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day someone had to sit down and draw that and they were paid to do so.
4. The Horrifying Monster Known As “CGI Michael Jordan”
Steven Spielberg was able to not just put a damn Tyrannosaurus on the silver screen he also made Jeff Goldblum act. You’re telling me that a handful of people whose professional titles include the word “animator” can’t apply CGI to someone without making them look like an episode of Reboot rendered in 240p? Every single time Michael Jordan’s CGI counterpart shows up on the screen it looks like a deleted clip from the music video to Black Hole Sun. The scene where the Monstars bend Michael Jordan into a ball and throw him around the court is the 20 most unsettling seconds in film history. It makes Old Yeller look like Tommy Boy and don’t even get me started on the scene where Michael Jordan gets sucked into a golf hole or stretches his arm out a mile and a half to make a game-winning dunk. Oh, did I spoil Space Jam for you? Good.
5. No, Really, The Unintentional and Impossible to Explain Pornography
So let’s get back to talking about my favorite thing in Space Jam: all the scenes that look like something promiscuous, like the part when the Monstars go to steal basketball talent but instead just look like The Invisible Man jacking off at a Suns game. I’m serious, that’s the entire gag – the lady in the still literally says “the guy next to us is doing something weird in his raincoat”. That’s the whole joke. Moving forward I’ve included the “foot inflation” image pre-emptively because while I’m not completely certain this is a fetish I fancy myself a gambling man and am putting up $50 that this exists as a searchable tag on e621. One thing I do know there’s a market for is butt crushing and self-rimming of which Space Jam has plenty of. Apparently Daffy Duck’s duckhole is shaped like the Warner Bros logo, who would’ve guessed?
6. The Scene Where Wayne Knight Walks in on Michael Jordan Masturbating
If you want an explanation for this scene you can send your inquiry to [email protected]
7. The Invention of Wayne Knight Inflatophilia Fetishism
Look, I’m not going to come in here and tell people what you can and cannot paw off to. Wayne Knight tried to do that to Michael Jordan in the previous entry in this article and you wanna know how that turned out? Michael Jordan got sucked into Looney Tunes land so he could bang that girl rabbit. You can be into whatever you damn well please but don’t tell me you can look at this gratuitous inflation scene and not revile in fear. This is an inflation scene with Wayne Knight. The first time I saw this I wanted to kill myself. This scene stole a part of my soul that I will never get back. When I die and go to Hell (because let’s face it we’re all going there) my eternity in pain will be watching this scene over and over again. There is nothing funny about this at all. People jerk off to this. I hate everything now. Let’s just go back and talk about unintentional pornography.
8. All the Unintentional Pornography I’ve Forgotten to Mention
I’m sorry. I really don’t know how we’ve made it all the way down to point #8 on this list without bringing up all the frames where it looks like something raunchy is going on. That’s a mybad and I feel like I should apologize for my neglect of journalistic integrity. To make up for it, here’s a naked fat guy and a babyfur, two upstanding citizens who took time out of their busy schedules of being in someone else’s nightmare to make it to The Space Jam. If that’s not enough for you the opposite end of the spectrum is covered as well with Bugs Bunny getting in on that musclefur action in a scene where his body literally looks like a bag of marshmallows being microwaved. Finally, I’d like to also introduce you to a still very near and dear to my heart that introduces the concept of “spacejamming” into the world. Spacejamming, for the uninitiated, is what happens when a condom breaks. That term isn’t on Urban Dictionary yet, but you can make it happen.
9. The Locker Room Money Shot Compilation
There’s this whole scene in the film where the Tune Squad get all butthurt that they’re all just a bunch of washed up cartoon has-beens and the Monstars are kicking their asses because of being on the juice. They mope around for like five minutes feeling sorry for themselves until Bugs Bunny discovers the secret to getting people hyped up for sports: blowjobs. Each of the Looney Tunes take turns taking a load in the mouth and then start fighting over who gets it next and in this scene we discover that Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd are pretty much traced from the same exact models because the animators recycle a motion loop between the two characters immediately after it’s used the first time. There’s this whole sub-gag where Wayne Knight doesn’t get any action because the cartoons play keep away with the bottle and you can really see the latent homosexuality of his character come out when he stares at that dog gargling cum. Yiffy!
10. The Scene Where Lola Bunny Tries to Say “Bugs”
Fine. Here’s a scene where it doesn’t look like a character is touching themselves or touching someone else or negotiating their anatomy to make it look like they have questionable genitals. Here’s one of the most popular stills from this stupid movie where Lola Bunny (that’s her name, glad we’re getting to it all the way at the end of this article) imitates Bugs Bunny dropping his spaghetti and introducing himself in a voice that sounds like a wet fart. It wouldn’t be a proper still for this article if there wasn’t something remotely sexual in it so to fill this hole we have Bugs undressing her with his eyes and in the process starting up an entire subculture of people who drawn terrible fanart/porn of this character because this was Lola Bunny’s debut movie. Excuse me, I’m going to go vomit now. You can finish the rest of the article without me.
11. The First Interracial Gay Kiss in Cinema History
I’ve ragged on this movie for 2,000+ words if you can believe that. I’ve sat here and written an entire article about how stupid this movie is and I’ve gone through the trouble of watching it at a quarter speed to find all these dumb animation frames to make fun of and you’ve actually read it. Or maybe you just skimmed it and looked at the pictures and then searched for “foot inflation” on e621. I don’t care, I’m getting paid either way and by “getting paid” I mean the complete opposite of that. For what it’s worth, as bad of a movie as Space Jam is, it actually gave the world the first interracial – nay, interspecies – gay kiss in film history. You can take your “rosebud” and your “here’s lookin’ at you kid” quotes and shove them up your Warner Bros-shaped ass because when it comes right down to it Space Jam has done more to progress acceptance of same-sex man-rabbit relations than any other movie in history.
Thanks, Space Jam. Thanks.
The Mountain is an American apparel company that sells shirts with mostly animals on them. They’ve been quietly making shirts from their facilities in New Hampshire for years and tend to really only come into public spotlight when they create something like oh I don’t know Three Wolf Moon. You know, that shirt with the three wolves… and the moon. The one that a million Internet nobodies made fun of on Amazon. The one Zach Galifinakis wore in The Hangover. That shirt. That was them.
The company makes dozens more shirts virtually identical to Three Wolf Moon in terms of how absolutely off the wall and ridiculous they are. Hilariously enough many of them have more than just a passing appeal to furries and in this article I’ll be showing you a handful of T-shirts from The Mountain that are amusing for all the wrong reasons.
To give you an immediate idea of the nature of the shirts I intend to talk about I’ve elected to start this article with an piece of clothing that is literally just a close-up of a dinosaur’s ass. This shirt has so much attention to detail that when I first saw it I studied it for at least fifteen minutes to see if there actually was a sphincter drawn somewhere in the scaly folds of that tyrannosaurus’ nether regions. There’s so much detail poured into drawing such a trivial part of this dinosaur that it puts the mud stomping scene from Jurassic Park to shame in terms of the sheer number of people that have regretfully pawed off to it.
For the sake of comedy I did some math with this shirt; I wanted to see just how much real estate was actually devoted to the triceratops that people are supposed to pay attention to. Fifteen percent of the this shirt has a triceratops in it, the remaining eighty-five percent is devoted to eye candy for people with questionable preferences.
Let’s step away from the pervy underbelly of the fandom for a moment and take a different route. Let’s say hypothetically you wake up one day and you have an inexplicably stronger link with your fursona than you did the day prior. Also, for the sake of making an example here, let’s say your fursona just so happens to be a dragon. One thing leads to another and you come to the conclusion that you must like dragons so much because you are (or were) one in another life and [insert some kind of rationalization using the phrase “astral projection” here]. If you’re looking for shirts with dragons on them The Mountain has about eight thousand designs to pick from because they know their audience is crazy.
But what if you’re a special kind of crazy and you can’t even decide what your spirit animal really is; you’re torn between wolves and dragons, arguably the two most common varieties of Otherkin. Fret not, The Mountain’s got you covered with Dragon Wolf Moon, a shirt with all the downright craziness of Three Wolf Moon but with two less wolves and a dragon instead. Since when do dragons howl at the moon? I don’t know, you tell me. You’re the one who’s supposedly a dragon.
You guys like voreaphilia at all? I only ask because there are only two kinds of people who are going to buy this shirt: middle-aged men who buy Harley-Davidson motorcycles to feel young and people who have a very peculiar arrangement of fetishes on F-List. Looking at this shirt actually makes me feel uncomfortable, there is too much detail on it. The inside of that snake’s mouth has far too many folds, shades of pink, and shiny streaks to be anything other than simple pandering. The snake’s fangs are literally one dribble of saliva away from being marked with thirty different tags on e621.
I can’t even tell if the anatomy is correct. The way the snake is drawn makes it look like the bottom of his lower jaw is directly connected to his underside and the perspective of the top jaw compared to the bottom looks completely bizarre. I honestly don’t even know if I should be complaining because in the time it’s taken me to write this entry I’m convinced this is less of an interpretation of a snake and closer to that of a Fleshlight.
If you have a moderate taste in music chances are you have a song playing in your head as you read this. Go ahead, let it play through, I’ll wait. Done? Fantastic. If you’re one of the readers who doesn’t get that joke then by this point you’re probably still putting together the fact that this is a shirt called “in the mood” that has a bull nuzzling a cow and you’re slowly recoiling backward and contorting your face into configurations that would have a Ripley’s Believe it or Not editor at full mast. This is an uncomfortably long stretch to make a “moo” pun.
Look, I’m not going to crap on someone’s preferences but livestock are kind of gross. If that’s what you’re into – if that’s what gets you “in the mood” – then that’s fine by me. One love. Same love. Whatever the saying is; this is a furry magazine so it’s pretty much guaranteed someone reading this has a bull fursona or is into udders or something. What I am trying to say however is that when the name and image of your shirt can elicit an olfactory memory maybe it shouldn’t be sexualized.
If you don’t believe me when I say that these shirts are for furries and pretty much no one else then take a look at these. If you’ve come this far into my article and you’ve done nothing but roll your eyes and say “wow this has-been is really grasping at straws to be funny and stay relevant when the last time he did anything worth noting was back in 2009” then you’re a terrible person. Also, here’s a shirt with an anthropomorphic elephant wearing his guitar the wrong way.
There’s an entire section of shirts called “Manimals” because I guess “Fursona” brings up too many bad Google results. I only picked out five to stick in the graphic above but there are literally dozens of these things and each of them are more ridiculous than the last. Do you want a shirt with an eagle pilot on it because you love redundancy? Done. Soliders with wolf faces because it’s a pun on the term “wolfpack”? You got it. A culturally insensitive portrayal of a Native American as a wolf? Yours. For god’s sake, there’s even a shirt for sale that I am convinced is a bootlegged Bucktown Tiger.
Finally, when all is said and done and you just want to get back to your roots as a furry The Mountain is here to take care of you with this T-shirt that looks like Taurin Fox smirking at something (probably tentacles). When you’re really ready to confront your inner demons and you’re looking for the perfect shirt to go with your rainbow-studded collar and floofy tail you bought at Hot Topic look no further than this. When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back. Also, the abyss is actually a fox.
Again, I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade and when it comes to The Mountain I honestly couldn’t not recommend their products to someone. As of this article’s publication in Furry N’ Fuzzy the official picture of me on my page over at Wikifur features me wearing one of their shirts. That wasn’t intentional, it just happened. I don’t have any coupon codes to hand out in this article mostly because I didn’t ask for any since I don’t know how to appropriately phrase “I’m going to make fun of your merchandise P.S. can I have free discount codes”. I will say, however, that you get free shipping on any order over $25 (which is only a couple shirts) so there’s that.
In 1996 Japanese video game fanaticist and developer Satoshi Tajiri realized his dream of turning his childhood hobby of bug collecting into a machine that automatically prints money in denominations that make the coveted $500 from Monopoly look like petty cash. I don’t know how bug collecting became such a cultural staple of Japanese childhood but my best guess is children became fascinated with discovering if the fallout from Truman’s rude awakenings in the forties gave rise to any strange mutations. Pretty sure they did, and because of it we now have hentai like Inyouchuu. If my logic is correct then 2011’s Fukushima power plant disaster will not just ensure a new generation of mutated bug hunters but what future snarky bloggers will refer to as a “pornography nightmare”.
And that insensitive joke, folks, is my segue into talking about the world of Pokemon, Tajiri’s ticket to an early retirement and masturbation fodder for thousands upon thousands of pasty permavirgin furries. Originally billed as Red & Green in its initial Japanese release the North American markets wouldn’t see this cultural phenomenon until 1998, two and a half years later (as Red & Blue). The series caught fire in the States and its popularity exploded; exploded like a poorly maintained nuclear reactor supervised by delinquents distracted with lolicon tentacle porn. Now that I’ve had my fill of completely tasteless humor at the expense of an absolute tragedy I can move forward with the centerpiece of this feature: the graphics from the first generation of Pokemon titles for the Game Boy were total ass. Mutated, radioactive, ass.
Some of you may not be privy to the following trivia but the original Game Boy lineup features three distinct sets of Pokemon art. The first of which is of course the original from the Japanese “Red & Green” release. These graphics were then retooled (read: completely fucking ruined) for the international “Red & Blue” release that you and I are likely most familiar with. Finally, the graphics were revisited once more for the worldwide “Yellow” edition. Across all of these releases each Pokemon was drawn a total of three times, usually by different graphic artists at Nintendo. Because of this none of the images look the same and in many cases are substantially different from the other two corresponding samples. In this feature article I’ll be covering what I consider to be the eight absolute worst examples of graphic design in a Generation I Pokemon title.
I have yet to figure out what the hell Nidoran is supposed to be since its species, “Poison Pin”, explains exactly nothing. I actually know less about these abortions after having “learned” that factoid. I’m assuming by their official art of the era that Nidorans (Nidoren?) are meant to be rodents though in Red & Blue I get the implication that the male of the species is a crackhead and the female is one half of a pair of novelty animal slippers.
Golbat is a creature that has never looked flattering in any Pokemon game, ever. Period. As I write this feature there is exactly zero porn of this Pokemon in existence (and yes I checked, you’re welcome). Nobody likes Golbat which is probably because its first evolutionary stage is a Pokemon whose cry is synonymous with Tumblr-diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. The international version of Golbat is pretty terrifying, but the gold star of failure here has to go to the original Japanese version that looks like some kind of cyclopic cock ring. With teeth.
Fuck everything about Rattata. It’s an entirely worthless Pokemon and its evolved form Raticate is equally as trite. The only time anything from the Ratt lineage has ever been useful was when the original Raticate TCG card showcased the Hyper Fang attack that instantly halved your opponent’s health. Other than that? Worthless. Red & Blue’s incarnation of Rattata is exceptionally bad in that not only does it resemble a dressed up vacuum cleaner with a blowup doll’s mouth but its pose implies the mouse is letting someone have a running start at its mouseflower.
Ditto is an animated mass of primordial ooze that can theoretically become any other Pokemon, I think that’s something we can all deduce just from learning its only move is Transform. Not only is this cop-out a blatant act of what I call “out of ideas syndrome” due to its simplistic nature you’d think it wouldn’t be hard to draw. Despite the fact that the sprite artists at Nintendo drew Charizard – a dragon – three times it seems nobody could master the art of drawing a squiggle. When not acting as a stunt double for Earthbound’s “Master Barf” Ditto enjoys a career of resembling a cross between a spitwad, a load of spooge, and the Nickelodeon logo.
With the worldwide success that was the Pokemon phenomenon Nintendo kept a close eye on the art featured in the third issue of Generation I. A Game Boy Color-enabled game, Yellow featured separate palettes for each Pokemon graphic enabling designers to give each Pokemon their actual color instead of a standard four color mess of crap. The QA department must have let Tangela slip through the cracks, however, because there is something seriously wrong with this dancing head of tentacle lettuce that emanates a sense of sheer terror. I’m pretty sure it’s the eyes and their ability to invoke bad memories of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Our resident “reptile inside of a rock egg”-ish friend Geodude looked like a total disaster until it received a much needed facelift (literally) in Yellow. I almost gave the title of worst sprite to Red & Blue’s familiar thumbs up toting snarky rock but the Red & Green version instead secured itself a place in this list for the sole reason being WHERE IS ITS FUCKING FACE? Dear god, it’s like a diseased basketball with flailing arms that’s just been checked to you. The original Geodude looks like a floating tumor with arms.
Arguably the jolt of life that rejuvenated the Pokemon franchise and sent it into overdrive, Mew was at one point the most elusive and secret of all known Pokemon. Thanks to MissingNo people began searching for other “PokeGods” but Mew was the first ever “newcomer” confirmed in the game. Normally I’d rag on the shoddy artwork in the international release of the game but believe it or not in my opinion the first revision of Mew is better than the Japanese original! Mew truly is a miracle. In the international release of the game Mew looks quite elusive, but in Japan’s it resembles a Pez dispenser with feet and a seashell face.
The original set of Japanese graphics were redrawn for international release and the entire roster was subsequently redrawn again for Yellow but did you know that throughout the entirety of Generation I the catalog of Pokemon “back sprites” never changed? Not once. Absolutely no revisions to this set of art whatsoever and every single one of them look like absolute shit. Part of the reason they look so trashy is because each graphic is a 16×16 tile blown up to the standard resolution of 32×32 instead of four separate tiles put together meaning that every individual pixel instead becomes a chunky block of four pixels.
Virtually none of the back sprites match the pose of its corresponding front sprite unless you’re playing the original Japanese version and for all the mostly decent work seen in the front sprites of the Red & Green release the back sprites were a total mess. Mew, for example, still has its grotesque brainiac-sized skull. Zapdos is probably a logo for a shitty telecommunications company. Ekans is Charlie-fucking-Brown and Mankey looks like the three-legged bedside table your grandmother had except flipped upside down. Poliwag has managed to lose its tail and I have no idea what the hell is wrong with Horsea and Porygon. Also, Kabuto resembles a haunted saddle.
You can’t blame it on the limitations of the cartridge because Nintendo found a way to improve and replace every single front sprite by the time Yellow rolled around. Perhaps it was a mere production oversight? Whatever the reason may be you have to admit the backs of every Pokemon left something to be desired. Like, I don’t know, bodily features.
But it could be worse. At least Generation I didn’t have Pokemon based after retarded shit like ice cream cones. (inb4 “Voltorb argument”)
As we prepare to enter the eighth generation of gaming consoles with a waning economy and a previous generation built almost entirely around motion controls and shitty gimmicks it’s arguable, depending on how you see a half-glass of water, that the video game market is doomed to crash again. In 1983 the market for video games became inundated with loads of worthless crap and consumers literally gave up on caring. After letdown after letdown from Atari due to the likes of E.T. and their Pac-Man port alongside the dubious quality and massive quantities of competitor consoles and shady third-party software consumers just said “to hell with it” and Atari ended up burying their trash in a New Mexico landfill.
Having to cower away and bury your trash in the ground is about as ultimately defeated as you can get. Nobody even does that anymore these days but they should (on principle, we can be less environmentally destructive than that today). What’s so different about Americans from the 80’s compared to today that prevents them from saying “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore“? Why is it that something as deceptively simple as a small handful of trashy games from a leading video game company can cause a market crash in the eighties yet in today’s world Nintendo has free rein to greenlight more trashy shovelware than we have trucks to carry it all to an unsuspecting landfill? WHY?
The Wii may be the gold standard in ninth-rate garbage “video games” but their portfolio of shame is nothing compared to these five current business practices that are destroying the market and in some abstract form have got to be some kind of illegal.
“DLC” is industry shorthand for “downloadable content” (e.g. bonus characters/players, extra missions, MMO expansions). Obviously, “download” is the keyword here. This is some kind of add-on that does not come on the game disc and is something you have to purchase separately and store on your console’s local hard drive before you can play it. Again, I’m stressing the fact that this is a game expansion that doesn’t come on the disc. Developers, however, are still selling “DLC” that amounts to nothing more than a suspiciously small file (around 180KB on most Xbox 360 games) that couldn’t possibly contain the data for additional characters or missions. Hell, one high-res JPEG picture can surpass 180KB by leaps and bounds, so what exactly does this “DLC” do?
It unlocks something already on the disc.
That’s not “downloadable content”, that’s “I’ve already paid for this so why are you making me pay for it again content”, and it’s presently completely permissible in the industry even though it’s shadier than Guy Fieri wearing two pairs of sunglasses while standing under an umbrella that’s under a pop-tent under a tree when it’s overcast outside. The counterargument to this bogus DLC is simple: when you paid $60 for that game you paid for that disc and everything on it. It’s yours to do whatever you please. What developers are doing with these DLC “unlock codes” amounts to your favorite band selling their new album but charging you extra fees to unlock the second half of the CD.
The good news is not all developers are fond of the idea of these predatory nickel-and-diming practices. That still doesn’t change the fact, however, that developers such as 2K Games and Capcom have been busted using on-disc “DLC” and hawking unlock codes online. Not even Street Fighter is exempt from dealing under the table, but honestly if you paid the $15 required to unlock character outfits you probably deserved to have been duped as such.
Quickly, what’s the best way to beat your competition in a market? That’s right, make a better and more available product. Or you can do what Electronic Arts has done with their football games and score an exclusivity contract with the NFL effectively shutting out any and all competition in the market. EA originally signed this deal in 2004 for the duration of five years, but they have routinely extended their agreement enough times that it is currently set to expire in 2013 which I only assume will be met with another extension when its expiration rolls around again.
It is no secret that I hate sports games more than I hate myself but for the first time in my life I’m siding with the people who buy these games rather than calling them mean names.
It’s pretty obvious why this isn’t right. Competition is what drives companies to make better products, to take chances and risks in an effort to outperform their competitors. When you nix all competition from the equation you also remove the necessity to execute a quality product especially when we’re dealing with a game franchise that is essentially the same thing every single year. Football is football but when it comes to expanding upon what amounts to running a ball back and forth the real deciding factors of what football game you’ll buy revolve around the presentation of the game. What kinds of neat “little things” did the developers include? Is it a massive replay/camera system? Impeccable voice-overs and fluid commentating? Maybe they focused on in-depth player/roster interactivity? Topless cheerleader mode?
You can throw all that out the window when there’s only one company working with such an open-ended idea. You’ll get their regurgitated shit and you have to like it because there’s no other competition and there won’t ever be so long as Electronic Arts maintains their contract with the NFL. For once I honestly feel badly for people who follow sports as a lifestyle as no other genre of games gets shafted as hard as sports titles has, but this isn’t Electronic Arts’ only shameful action, oh… no.
Remember what I said earlier about buying a game and being entitled to everything the game has to offer? Not only is “unlock code DLC” an example of shady dealings but our friends at EA again decided to take things a step further. Their latest dick move is called an “online pass”, a “product” featured on many of their games such as Battlefield 3, Need For Speed, and every single game on this list at Wikipedia. But just what is this “online pass”? Well, if you can’t be bothered to read the literature I’ve provided I’ll spell it out plain and simple:
If you bought a game used, then you can’t play it online without spending another $10 to unlock Multiplayer mode.
The reasoning behind EA’s wonderful idea is they believe they’re losing money on used game sales and providing a service to people who aren’t paying for it. This is complete bullshit. When the Original Owner of a game buys it at $60 he’s paying for the game and all associated fees for servers, online play, and whatever additional content is provided to him by the developers. When he is tired of using these services and transfers the product to the Secondhand Owner he is no longer making use of them, it is now the Secondhand Owner using the services. They are still paid for by the original purchase. Customers aren’t exponentially multiplying and people aren’t mass producing copies of games without paying for them. It’s not happening.
This kind of bullshit DRM should not be working in the market but the terrifying thing is that it clearly is. Electronic Arts has made at least $15 million dollars of free money at your expense and offering absolutely nothing in return other than online functionality that should have been yours for free to begin with. Stop buying into their shit; call them up and demand a complimentary online pass, and if they refuse to give it to you then inform them where they can shove their should-be-illegal scheme and also tell them that football sucks while you’re at it. Additionally, you can also inform EA that the last good game they ever released was Road Rash 3 on the Sega Genesis.
This is simply unacceptable. Games that feature a one-time key for unlocking online play are the equivalent of a self-destructing message from Inspector fucking Gadget. The number of markets this scam intrudes on is staggering to say the least. I’ve already established how it ruins the used games market by effectively adding a $10 tax to a product and discussed how it also destroys lending to friends, but in a similar vein what about video game rentals? You can’t rent a game like Battlefield 3 to give a test run to see if you like it; you won’t get the full experience. Any kind of business model built upon secondhand merchandise is effectively screwed with EA’s worthless online pass.
Some of our website traffic isn’t domestic so here’s a description of GameStop to our foreign friends who mercifully may not have to put up with their horrendous business practices in their countries. GameStop is an American retailer of used and new video games and assorted gaming merchandise. They presently possess a slice of the “secondhand video game goods” market somewhere close to monopoly proportions. They have done this by purchasing all of their competition. Software Etc? Bought it. FuncoLand? Bought it (and received the hilariously biased in-house publication Game Informer with it). Electronics Botique? Bought it. Rhino Video Games? Bought it. The only retailer they didn’t buy was Game Crazy, a subsidiary of Hollywood Video, that went bankrupt in 2010 with its parent company.
The point I’m trying to make is there’s little competition when it comes to GameStop and just how massive they are. They have thousands of stores in multiple countries; their “competition” such as Play N Trade has under 200 stores in the US and Canada. Clearly there’s a rift between the operating income of these two companies. Other corporations such as Best Buy and Toys R’ Us attempt to compete with GameStop in some wacky imitation of the obstacle course from American Gladiators but these big-box retailers aren’t dedicated video game stores. They just happen to also sell video games.
Companies like Play N Trade can’t compete with GameStop because GameStop has so much money and so many assets in different markets that they can afford to operate in the red with “loss leader” products and incentives and simply make that money back. Play N Trade doesn’t own a shitty magazine that fellates every big-name game that’s coming out and only mocks the ones everyone else are mocking (read: Duke Nukem Forever) and they don’t own an online gaming website full of sellouts either (read: Kongregate). They can’t afford to be stupid with their money and they sure as hell can’t match the offers and incentives that GameStop has intertwined into the market: pre-order bonuses.
Sometimes when you pre-order a game you get a shirt or a goofy little figurine and most outlets who accept(ed) reservations would have one to give to you while supplies last. GameStop goes beyond the standard incentives and has managed to procure deals with various developers to net them exclusive bonus content codes that you can only get if you do business with their company. Sure, these incentives are arguably stupid and worthless — the awful Goldeneye re-remake included the cheat for Paintball Mode — but the fact remains that you’re getting free DLC, sometimes of the suspicious “unlock code” variety, for giving your business to one giant corporation that holds the reins on the market and can now continue to do so all because you wanted to shoot pretty colors in Goldeneye (which is something you could have unlocked yourself on the original Nintendo 64 release if you didn’t suck at it).
Through all of the following practices I’ve covered in this feature all of them in some way or another can be chocked up as “suitably annoying”. You’re getting shafted on DLC purchases, you’re getting reamed on football games, you’re getting cheated on used multiplayer games, and you’re getting robbed by GameStop’s pricing schemes for all of the above. At least you can still play games in some basic form, right? At the end of the day you can still go to GameStop, get the EA-only version of the latest NFL game, and spend an extra $10 because you bought it used, right?
Not when the new Xbox rolls around, apparently. Rumors are circulating like wildfire on the Internet right now stating the newest Microsoft console will simply not play used games at all.
Imagine, if you will, any other decade of gaming out there. With rampant international piracy on the Atari 2600, developers of unlicensed NES games reverse engineering the console’s lockout chip, and import game dealers offering regional keys for a variety of systems, a single feature that would effectively end it all. Everything. One game. One system. One player. Want to loan that game to a friend? Fuck you. Want to save yourself $20 and buy it from a GameStop? Fuck you. Want to do anything other than pay full price for a game and fly blind into a title that may or may not turn out to be a total let down?
“Life finds a way” is a nice sentiment from Jurassic Park and it explains the situation of generations of consoles gone by. Nintendo didn’t want unauthorized third-parties on the NES, but they showed up anyways. Sony wanted to split the Japanese and North American PS1 markets, but they were eventually bridged. Surely there will also be a way to “jailbreak” your Xbox 720 and get it to play used games but since the console doesn’t come pre-modded the release of such a monumental piece of trash as this would effectively destroy the “white market” for Xbox games (as if Kinect didn’t already open that can of worms).
As it stands right now, the Xbox 720 is the worst thing Microsoft has ever created. Windows ME was crap but at least it didn’t punch you square in the dick and bang your mother like the 720 does.
Get mad. Get really mad. Go out and tell your friends just how stupid the average video game consumer has become to let the market slowly trickle down into this. The American economy is circling the toilet right now but one thing is absolutely certain: we need another video game market crash. This has to end, and the only way to stomp it out for good is to make it end in the most spectacularly destructive way imaginable. Tell EA exactly how much you enjoy their “online pass” by coercing free ones from customer support. Don’t buy “DLC” that comes pre-loaded on the disc; don’t give the developers the “okay” to keep doing this. Stop supporting companies who practice such ridiculous highway robbery and criminal dealings.
And then maybe, just maybe, the market will explode and everyone will lose money and the market will return with a few less assholes. Companies like Electronic Arts deserve to die; the lowly employees don’t deserve to be unemployed, but it’s time for the company to go away now.
[Editor’s Note: This article was published by VentureBeat in 2012 under the above title however the content of the article was subject to heavy editing by the publisher for length and content; the original list of ten items was brought down to six and many of the less politically correct jokes were removed or replaced. The article’s republication on TwilightFoundry.com includes the original content.]
In the years I’ve partook in video games as a hobby and source for journalistic inspiration I too have experienced the phenomenon known as “Buyer’s Remorse.” In most instances the effect wasn’t immediate – otherwise I’d have returned the item unless I inadvertently broke it while trying to use it (e.g. the Tiger R-Zone) – but for one reason or another I regret purchasing, fawning over, or being excited about all of the following:
It’s not very often that you can get burned by the same console’s add-ons twice, not unless you bought both the HD-DVD player and Kinect for the Xbox 360. When the Mega CD was released for the Sega Genesis I happily nabbed myself one of the devices and then the moment I took it home and tried it out I realized I had made a terrible mistake. Let me just spell it out this way: one of this platform’s launch titles was Make My Video: Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch. Whether or not you subscribe to the belief that “console launch titles have an excuse to be bad” let me remind you that this is a game where your entire directive is to make a music video…
…for a Mark Wahlberg rap song.
When the 32X showed up I was hesitant to adopt the technology seeing as how the last Genesis “upgrade” was akin to installing Windows 3.1 on an Alienware computer but I took the bait (and edgy 90’s advertising) anyways and took home a device that made my ailing Genesis look like it had some kind of cancerous growth both on its head and coming out the side of its ass. Plus there were wires. Oh god, the wires. There were so many criss-crossing cords and three AC power cables that I couldn’t even play the damn thing without either unplugging one of the add-ons or getting one of those 6-way power strips. And for what? A version of Doom that was missing almost a dozen levels in exchange for two extra tracks in Virtua Racing DX? Sounds like a completely legitimate deal. My dead grandparents have aged better than these things.
Revisited in 2012: One of the handful of important cables to my 32X has been lost to the sands of time and thus I cannot actually use it anymore. I do, however, possess a JVC XEye – a Sega Genesis and built-in Mega CD combo console – because apparently being so dissatisfied with the console the first time around led me to eventually buy a second one. Must have been a drunken impulse buy.
I decided to confront an old nemesis in the form of Marky Mark himself and booted up his sole venture into the gaming world. Guess what? You’d be surprised to learn that not a whole lot has changed in the two decades it’s been since this thing’s release. I honestly forgot how poorly the Mega CD handled video compression; it’s like I’m staring at an over-compressed GIF of a shirtless Wahlberg rapping about Sunkist. I have a giant TV now, something I only dreamed of in the nineties, and good lord does this thing look atrocious on my television. It looks like someone added bacon bits to a lentil soup and dumped it on top of a Powerpoint presentation.
And honestly? I think that’s the first time anybody’s ever used that phrase to describe Make My Video. I feel like I’ve accomplished something here.
I’ll just be out with it, voice commands and video games do not work. At all. I can appreciate the novelty of Hey You, Pikachu but that’s all this game is: a novelty. And a shitty one at that. I don’t know what the deal was with Pokemon and the Nintendo 64 but for some unknown reason pretty much every Pokemon title except for Stadium was terrible and Pikachu’s solo venture into the world of 64 bits stands as a testament to that notion.
There is only one game in the North American market for the N64 that uses the VRU (“Voice Recognition Unit”, because “microphone” isn’t cool enough). This is it. I can’t even tell you what the microphone quality is like because there simply isn’t a way for me to figure that out. I don’t know if Pikachu can’t understand me because the mic is terrible, the recognition software is terrible, Pikachu is retarded, or all three. The first time I played this game “let down” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. Honestly, I have a hard time putting myself in the shoes of my younger years remembering this game because I’m about 99% sure I was anticipating something terrible to begin with. As a kid, one of my neighbors had one of those stupid “laser helmet” things for the NES where you could yell “FIRE” and it would shoot the screen. It was a glorified Zapper and it sucked because the aiming reticule didn’t line up with the lens that fired.
To be honest I should have just made this entry in honor of that goofy-ass helmet. Maybe I compared Hey You, Pikachu to the glorified Zapper because that’s exactly what this piece of trash is, a glorified Zapper.
Revisited in 2012: I’ve been making fun of video games for too long. I don’t have the patience for this shit. There is nothing redeemable about this game or its peripheral. You can’t even get anything funny to happen by tilting the cartridge. What a waste of time.
Before I begin I want to clarify that there is a difference between a special edition console and a “console skin”. A “faceplate” is something I am dropping into the limbo between the two because depending on what it is it may very well be a total piece of shit. Allow me to elaborate. Plain Nintendo DS? Okay. Limited edition Pokemon Nintendo DS? Pretty neat. Nintendo DS with a shitty Nerf faceplate snapped onto it? Eeehh. Nintendo DS with a fucking sticker on it? What in the hell is the matter with you?
A video game console is extremely difficult to “jazz up”. Not that all of them look beautiful to begin with (yes I’m looking at you original Xbox) but it’s pretty easy to immediately and permanently make your console look like utter ass. I personally have never put a skin on any console I’ve ever owned, and I say that with immense pride. Even if I were to have purchased a skin with beautiful artwork that complimented the shape and color of the console it’s applied to it’s still a sticker and as such it must abide by all the rules of stickers including the one where you can never and will never apply it straight. You can whip out a ruler, protractor, and a compass and make reference points all over the console but the moment you peel the skin from its backing to ready it for application it will fly out of your hands and fasten itself to the system sideways.
I’ve never personally applied a skin but I’ve inherited a console that had one already applied to it when I got it. It was a Nintendo DS and when it was given to me it appeared as though the previous owner loved Pokemon but didn’t love it enough to A) put the fucking lid sticker on facing the right way and B) resist the urge to attach all of the surrounding chaff to the inside of the DS when all was said and done. I don’t know who formerly owned this handheld but to this day I wish nothing but harm to come upon them mostly because the skin was a cheap paper one from eBay that did not come off at all.
Revisited in 2012: To this day I attest that there is not a single console skin that is acceptable for use. There are only limited edition consoles, faceplates, and professional console mods. If you have vinyl stickers custom cut to your shapes and specifications maybe I’ll give you credit, but if you’re the type to slap a promotional GameStop skin on your console then I don’t want to know you.
I am notoriously spiteful and hateful toward Pokémon Snap, the North American market’s debut Pokémon franchise title on the Nintendo 64; when Snap was released in the United States there was already a Pokémon Stadium available in Japan and that simply didn’t sit well with me. When Stadium was finally announced for release in the States I was ecstatic to say the least.
When they said you could use this device called a “Transfer Pak” to trade your Pokémon Red and Blue teams into the Nintendo 64 I just about shit myself. This may or may not be hyperbole.
For the first few weeks of having the Transfer Pak I relentlessly used it to upload every single Pokémon I had ever captured into Pokémon Stadium and meticulously stormed through the quest to unlock the fabled Surfing Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow. Non-stop Pokémania 24/7 all day erry day. Then, as quickly as it started, support for the Transfer Pak dropped completely. Outside of Japan the only other games that supported the Transfer Pak were Perfect Dark with its atrocious Game Boy Color port, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, and fucking Mickey’s Speedway USA.
Your options were essentially “Pokémon or that shitty Mickey Mouse rip-off of Mario Kart 64” while over in Japan the Transfer Pak was boasting connectivity between Mario Paint and the Game Boy Camera. No thank you, Nintendo.
Revisited in 2012: Every single accessory released for the Nintendo 64 was a load of crap, and I can say that with a clear conscience because there was technically only two of them: the Transfer Pak and the Voice Recognition Unit for Hey You, Pikachu!
The Transfer Pak still works fine for the purpose it’s intended to serve. I can still use it to trade my decade-old Pokémon into Pokémon Stadium and I can still use it as an awkward middleman to play Pokémon Blue on my television, you know, in case I manage to misplace my Super Game Boy. With the exception of being able to transfer my battle hardened pocket monsters into another game the Transfer Pak is wholly and entirely worthless. Do I look like the kind of jackass that not only owns Mickey’s Speedway USA for N64 but also GBC and am dying to do whatever it is that game could do with the Transfer Pak? I’ve never played that game, and I never intend to, because I don’t fit the criteria to be in that game’s demographic: I am not a socially challenged 10-year-old nor am I a child predator.
Believe it or not when I’m not livid about what a rip-off Kinect was or busy sperging it up about Pokémon glitches I enjoy funneling my creative energy into drawings and sketches. Right here at my work desk I have several hundred dollars of Prismacolor pencils and art supplies sitting on a shelf dedicated to just that. I’ve always been hesitant to own a tablet for my computer because I’m old fashioned and I prefer traditional handmade-on-real-paper artwork. No fill buckets, no color palettes for easy shading, no undo button; just pure talent and self-discipline.
However GameStop.com was selling uDraws for $20 in December so I figured I might as well bite and get a tablet for twenty bucks because in all honesty that seemed like a good deal and it actually was. The problem with the uDraw on the other hand is that it’s intended for kids. I realized this when I bought it but I had no idea just how dumbed-down this thing was going to be.
The tablet is nice. uDraw: Instant Artist, the “software” for the device, is not. The minigames are an enjoyable timewaster but that isn’t why I bought the tablet; I bought it to draw and that’s where the issues are. First, you can draw faster than the tablet can keep track of. I don’t know if this is a problem present on PC tablets as well but I’m so used to sketching with pencils and the like that my hand movements are very rapid and in quick succession. The uDraw doesn’t like this and lags behind me. Secondly, there is no “layer” function meaning that I cannot draw guidelines on a sub-layer and then add finalized lineart and coloring on additional ones. Finally, there’s this thing called a “Paint Meter”. It’s a limitation on the amount of lines and color you can have on the screen at one time. For all the perceived RAM and storage space of the Xbox 360 there’s a fucking limit on the amount of creativity you can execute with this thing. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “oh I can use the eraser tool and it’ll refill the Paint Meter”, but you’d be wrong.
Somehow, in some bizarre catch-22 universe-shattering paradox, using the eraser also uses up paint.
I feel like an ass because honestly the uDraw is a really nice peripheral for the Xbox; the software is just utter trash and because of it the enjoyability of the tablet ceases to exist.
Revisited in 2012: Considering the fact that I only bought the thing a month ago and used it recently, I’m fairly certain not much has changed regarding my feelings toward it in 2012. Let me check. Nope, still dissatisfied.
Words cannot express the joy I felt when I first got this device. Actually, that’s kind of a problem now that I look at it. I probably should find some words to allocate to that joy otherwise this’ll be a short entry on the list. I loved this thing. I loved it more than life itself back when it was new. When I purchased my Game Boy Camera the printer actually came bundled with it and I promptly burned up an entire roll of paper on all of the pictures of mundane crap I took those first few days.
Then I realized you could make stickers out of these things.
Everything became a sticker. When I bought Super Mario Bros. DX (the best re-release of the game, for the record) and discovered the entire sticker menu locked away inside of it my excitement attained prompt critical proportions and the rest of my paper went down the drain. On my wooden VCR shelf, which has now been repurposed as a place to hold my Xbox 360, I still have the “Nintendo Entertainment System” banner sticker I printed out with Super Mario Bros. DX all those years ago. Somewhere in a storage unit in south Texas sits an entire shoebox full of Pokédex printouts from Pokémon Yellow. That’s how fond my memories of the Game Boy Printer are.
Revisited in 2012: It’s been a long while since I’ve played with this. For the longest time it sat on a small shelf with my other Game Boy games and handhelds just because I liked the way it looks. When I started writing this article I had forgotten how needlessly intricate this was which is why I mouthed the words “are you shitting me” when I took the battery door off of the Game Boy Printer and rediscovered that it takes about $5 worth of AA batteries (6) to operate. Six. That’s three Game Boys. I could have a Pokémon link battle with myself and pay someone else to take pictures of the occasion with my archaic digital camera with that many batteries.
Six batteries later I powered on the printer and it buzzed to life. I smiled. Then I connected my Game Boy (with camera) to the printer and decided to print the first picture I ever took with the device (yes I’ve saved it all these years): a photo of me making a goofy grin with my name improperly centered below it. The printer began buzzing and humming and the paper began emerging from under the jagged metal paper-ripper-strip-thing. When the picture was halfway through its printing job I knew there was a problem. The paper was all blotchy and messed up; the picture looked terrible.
As it turns out the printer paper apparently has a shelf life. It’s thermal paper, e.g. the stuff that every fast food and grocery store receipt is printed on, and when it’s opened it can somehow “go bad”. The entire remainder of the roll that was loaded into the printer had expired like it was a gallon of milk. Guess what? That was also my last roll, and they kind of don’t sell that paper anymore. As it turns out you can use any thermal paper roll in the printer as a replacement, but none of those are sticker rolls.
So screw it.
Third-party accessory companies will create a fix for anything. From ridiculous magnifying lenses for Game Boys to automatic firing mechanisms for the Atari 2600 and even to the aforementioned NES Zapper that you wear on your damn head if there’s an idea someone will pursue it no matter how stupid it is. The Xbox 360 cooling station is one of those creations. The moment news started spreading that the death of first-gen 360’s was more of a “when” than an “if” companies like Pelican (pictured in the header graphic) stepped up to create a myriad of goofy-ass “cooling” devices for the starcrossed system in a shoddy effort to let gamers futilely prolong the life of their system.
They weren’t selling you a panacea for your shitty launch console, they were selling you a hunk of junk that actually drew power from the USB ports of the Xbox 360 and in most cases did the complete opposite of what they were intended to do because of it. Slapping a micro PC fan or two into a hunk of plastic is not going to cool the system down; that’s what the Xbox 360 had to begin with and it clearly wasn’t working the first time around.
Revisited in 2012: These devices simply aren’t needed anymore. Like a tapeworm without a host to infect every Xbox 360 cooling stand is now even more of a waste than it was five years ago not because Microsoft fixed the problem or anything like that, but because there is no more population to infect and leech power from. The cooling stands killed them all. Mission completed, or mission failure?
My cooling stand serves no purpose now other than a grim reminder that I was not only floozed out of money but that the quality of gaming consoles has left a lot to be questioned in recent years; my Xbox 360 ascended to that big anti-warranty in the sky long ago. I don’t remember needing a fan for my Sega Genesis and I certainly don’t remember my Atari 2600’s chips melting off. Pardon me while I continue to wax nostalgically about classic gaming in a very biased manner.
Save for maybe a Dance Dance Revolution pad never in my life have I seen a peripheral so fucking obtuse as the drum set from Rock Band. This god damn thing takes up so much space they may as well have advertised it as a piece of furniture because believe it or not Amazon will sell you an ottoman that this stupid thing will fit inside of to make it less of an eye sore than it already is. Look, this is really unprecedented but I’ve never heard of a piece of dedicated furniture where you can hide a shitty gaming peripheral. I just want to point that out. I can’t think of a single device in the history of gaming where someone had the bright idea of just hiding it in a damn ottoman to get rid of it.
Nobody I know knows how to play the drums on Rock Band. No one. They either have a golden voice or they suck at singing and just play the guitar instead. Maybe it’s because my friends and I are all white and thus none of us have a sense of rhythm but whatever the case the drums from this game are absolutely worthless. The pedal breaks, the drum heads make that horrible pat-pat-pat sound, and the entire rig is flimsier than your average dating relationship between two furries.
Revisited in 2012: Rock Band is dead. Sure there’s Rock Band 3 with a keyboard but this niche of the music genre is completely and utterly dead. There was a massive gold rush once Guitar Hero sold a few copies and now nobody gives two shits about the genre. I don’t even know why Harmonix bothers with DLC, they’re pandering to a dwindling market.
GameStop won’t accept musical equipment as trade because thanks to the guitars and drums being cheap as all hell they break all the time and there’s no way to test it in the store. Because of this Goodwill stores end up having more Rock Band crap than they know what to do with and the keystones of these piles of e-waste are none other than these stupid fucking drums.
There has never been a more star-crossed console than the Dreamcast, or rather, The Legend of The Dreamcast. Its downfall is a mystery to us all but it’s likely because the console was released too far ahead of its time. Legend has it that the Dreamcast was actually created in 2004 but a Sega representative traveled backwards in time to deliver the schematics to 1998 thinking that releasing the console six years before its intended release would equal massive profits. Unfortunately, that plan failed and the time rift left in 2004 resulted in Ashlee Simpson releasing a debut album.
I came into possession of my Dreamcast as a Christmas gift in 1999 and a couple years later, just before the Dreamcast gave its last breath in the United States, I picked up a copy of Typing of the Dead and a Dreamcast keyboard. I’m getting ahead of myself here, though.
One thing I loved about the Dreamcast was the fact that it came with a built-in modem, what seemed like an entire spool of telephone cord stolen from an AT&T truck, and a CD curiously titled “Web Browser”. See, I was always a big fan of being able to have the World Wide Web on a screen bigger than the crappy CRT that came with my Windows 98 brick but I was never too fond of WebTV (which I am surprised to learn is still around today). The Dreamcast was the perfect bridge between having a proper computer with Internet access but not being forced to use the clunky quasi-broadband crap that was WebTV.
Except I could never get the Web Browser to work. So I ended up playing Sega Swirl until I became very, very, good at it.
Revisited in 2012: SegaNet has been dead for a whole decade. Typing of the Dead is still a riot, though.
There’s nothing nice I can say about this company, now a subsidiary of Hasbro. Sega might have fooled me with the Mega CD and 32X but I feel like a real goon for being duped countless times by Tiger and their shitty LCD gimmicks. I honestly have no idea how a company whose entire portfolio of products consist of the kinds of tat that should be (and has been) made fun of by Stuart Ashens can become some multi-million dollar corporation. It makes no sense to me.
Let’s take a look at the Tiger R-Zone, the thing I mentioned in the article opener. This piece of shit was nothing more than a glorified handheld LCD game that you wore on your head. This was meant to compete with the Virtual Boy. Reread that last sentence once more so that sinks in. Tiger Electronics took one look at the Virtual Boy, a.k.a. That Red Thing That Makes Peoples’ Eyes Hurt, and said “well shit we can do better than that”. The end result of their labor was a hellspawn of a device that somehow manages to make the Virtual Boy look good in comparison. They made the Virtual Boy look good; not even Nintendo Power could do that.
You want another example of Tiger’s genius in action? Anybody remember the Game.com? That was a brick of a handheld system created to compete with the likes of the Game Boy Pocket despite the fact that their handheld was easily four times the size of the Pocket. The Game.com was “portable” in the same sense that a large piece of furniture is also portable. The Game.com boasted a ton of licensed titles and franchises, all of which were hilariously butchered by Tiger Electronics in increasingly bizarre ways. The best game available for that thing was Solitaire, and that came preinstalled on the handheld.
Revisited in 2012: I still hate LCD games. Maybe that’s the Bias of Time emerging forth in my psyche but I seriously cannot play with these things without wanting to commit a hate crime. The Game.com was an amalgamation of a bunch of flashy things the world wasn’t ready for but unlike the Dreamcast there was no acceptable or appropriate presentation of these things; it’s almost like the Game.com was born from the hastily scribbled meeting notes of a Tiger board meeting discussing what “futuristic” meant in a handheld game. The Game.com had Internet access (14.4K modem, BLAZING SPEED), dual cartridge ports, and even a touch screen. This was supposed to be the future of gaming.
Instead it was a crappy black & white handheld “gaming” system with a screen refresh rate in the negatives. They had the balls to release a Sonic the Hedgehog game for this piece of trash, if you can believe that. Not only is the Game.com’s version of Sonic Jam completely dissimilar to the Sega Saturn compilation of the same name, it’s literally unplayable. You can’t see the screen when you move around.
I have an almost complete library of Game.com games because apparently I really hate myself; none of the games are decent. They’re all flawed in some way or another ranging from Sonic Jam’s blurriness, to Resident Evil 2 being unclear about how to use its save function, to Fighters Megamix having broken characters, even down to Scrabble not having a dictionary challenge so you cannot dispute the CPU when it plays “ZXJBQ” across a triple word score tile.
The greatest thing Tiger Electronics has and ever will produce is the original handheld Lights Out, and yes I have one of those.
When “Pocket Monsters” was created by Japanese game designer Satoshi Tajiri in 1996 it was nothing more than a way for the designer to relive his childhood pastime of insect collecting and share it with the residents of his homeland. For all the options available in the original games it was still quite a linear adventure, and a simplistic one at that. Neophyte game developer Game Freak (directed by Tajiri) set out to produce the original two installments Red and Green, which became such a hit that Blue was also released. Never before had Game Freak produced a game so intricate and detailed and mistakes were made to say the least. Programming oversights, data omissions, and lack of a proper error handling system eventually led to trainers getting lost in places that looked like this:
Due to a lack of attention to finite details in their programming work, which is forgivable considering the sheer magnitude of their creation and this being their first time taking on such a venture, both the Japanese and North American releases of the original Pokemon games were riddled with glitches ranging from mildly amusing to downright terrifying. Here’s seven demons Game Freak unintentionally brought upon the world with their magnum opus.
MissingNo (literally “Missing Number”, #000 in the Pokedex) needs no introduction. MissingNo is the gold standard in Pokemon glitches and is quite possibly one of the most well known and celebrated glitches in the history of video games; MissingNo’s legendary status is on par with that of the Minus World from Super Mario Bros. Glitches in future generation Pokemon games are called “MissingNo” even though they are completely different entities, it’s a glitch that became the name for every other Pokemon glitch because that’s just what happens when you’re #1.
MissingNo’s familiar L-shaped appearance, non-threatening battle cry, amusing duplicate moveset, and item duplication properties are quite vanilla today but how would you have like to have been the first person to stumble across this beast? Can you imagine minding your own business when suddenly a random encounter begins and the screen freezes black for just a few seconds and…
Your butthole would have tensed up at this sight, and don’t you deny that.
Any self-respecting Pokemaniac in the 1990’s knew the entire Pokedex (and the PokeRap) like the back of their hand. You knew #’s 1 through 151 better than your own family so what in God’s name is this abortion?! It has a terrifyingly alarming name (“MISSING” appears in it), its graphic looks like the bowels of technological hell, and while it cries and fights like a regular Pokemon you have never seen anything like this before in your life. Confronted with the unknown you then do what any starry-eyed trainer would do in this situation: you catch the damn thing.
Sometime later you decide to show your friend your awesome trophy of a glitch and accidentally skip to the Pokemon League’s computer and bring up your Hall of Fame. The music crashes and turns to a single sound channel while the screams of tortured souls come through as pure static in another. Your screen flashes with the garbled mess of a computer virus and attached is a note from MissingNo reading “thank you for liberating me from my prison, this is only my first step to world domination.”
Remember that old man in Viridian City who won’t let you pass because he’s a grumpy old fart who hasn’t yet had his fill of coffee? He’s just an arbitrary barrier in the game so that you won’t proceed further without delivering Oak’s Parcel from the PokeMart and once you obtain your Pokedex he changes his attitude and shows you how to catch Pokemon. Unknown to him, the old man also holds the keys to unlocking MissingNo… which come to think of it might be the reason he seems so disturbed and angry at the world. Could you imagine having to harbor that thing? I mean, sure, all the free coffee you could ever want but still I don’t think MissingNo would be suitable company at all, ever.
You can fool with the poor old man all you want if you have a GameShark and play with the cheat codes to alter wild Pokemon encounters. You can have the old man show you how to catch one of the Pokemon not present in your version of the game, you can have him catch a Mewtwo, you can enjoy a spot of meta humor and have him catch a MissingNo, or… you can force him to fight a trainer, and the game just doesn’t know what the fuck to do.
The old man is programmed to do one thing and one thing only: throw a Poke Ball. He still does this after the trainer sends out their glitch Pokemon and as you might expect the trainer blocks it. The old man never sends out any Pokemon (even though he appears to have 1 fainted and 5 normal Pokemon) so right now you’re on the edge of your seat because the trainer’s glitch box of the apocalypse is about to rock this grandpa’s world…
…and out of nowhere the PA system from the Safari Zone chimes in and says “TIME’S UP!!”
The battle ends immediately and the old man acts like nothing happened. He reminds you that you must first weaken the target Pokemon and on the surface it appears no lasting effects have happened… until you check your stats.
Your name has changed to “OLD MAN”. Due to the way the game handles the old man encounter it stores your actual name in the place where wild Pokemon data is stored (because this data is empty in Viridian City) and temporarily changes your player name to OLD MAN. When the battle terminates improperly the game doesn’t have the chance to reset the data and your name becomes OLD MAN. Any Pokemon you have cannot be nicknamed because you are no longer their original trainer, they do not recognize you anymore.
Every single instance where your name would be displayed now says “OLD MAN”. If you access your PC from a Pokemon Center it’s called “OLD MAN’s PC”. If you speak to a character who addresses you by your name, like Professor Oak for example, he will (hilariously) call you “OLD MAN”. If you check the sign outside of your home it will read “OLD MAN’s house”. You have become OLD MAN. He has stolen your identity and pulled off the greatest psychic cleansing ever documented. Everybody you have ever known starts calling you by the incorrect name like nothing happened. Even your own mother doesn’t know you anymore.
This can’t possibly be scary, can it? I mean the name almost looks like the word “pizzazz” which is kind of gay but at the worst would end up being a Shiny Pokemon, right? Shiny things have pizzazz?
Wrong. The “ZZAZZ” glitch is named as such because of a very specific string of data it injects directly into your save file. Unless you’re tempted enough to fool with the game by using sequence breaks or a GameShark you won’t come across this glitch but God help you if you choose to peek into oblivion and play with things you shouldn’t. Like the saying goes, “when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back” except in this case the “abyss” is a glitched up zombie trainer who rapes you in the mindgina. Glitches are like drugs and after a while freebasing MissingNo just isn’t enough to get you high; that’s when you OD and this happens:
Let’s take a look at what the christ is going on here. First thing’s first, your opponent. It’s you as if you were staring into a mirror and there was an interdimensional time rift that sucked you into the cursed mirror world and unleashed the fury of Hell itself into the unsuspecting Kanto. Impostor Red has a full stock of Pokemon, though the first one appears to be poisoned. When he sends this Pokemon out it’s at level 153 and its health bar wraps around the fucking screen. This is what it looks like when you attempt to use a digital Ouija board to channel spirits.
By this point it’s already too late; you are completely and utterly screwed. The game is operating by itself and is pulling code and instructions from the 7th dimension and the only thing you can do is get your ass kicked by Pokemon of the netherworld while the mirror image of yourself laughs in a mocking tone. There is one escape, though: throw a Poke Ball. No, seriously. Bizarro Red will block it, the game will buzz for a second, and the battle will suddenly end.
But that’s not the end of it. Merely looking at the source of the ZZAZZ infection is enough to let its mnemonic properties propagate throughout your entire game. Earlier I mentioned the game injects a certain string of data into your game save. Check your trainer name. It’s a bunch of Z’s. The hex value for the letter “Z” is “99”. In base-10 “99” is “153“, you know, the level of the Pokemon that the Mirror World Red sent out. Check your Pokemon roster. They are all now level 153. Not only that, they are all Bulbasuars. Bulbasaur occupies hex value “99”, which of course translates to 153. Check Bulbasaur’s moveset. Every attack will be Explosion. Can you guess the hex value of this move? I’m sure you can by now; it’s like a bad Jim Carrey movie.
Any trainer you fight, no matter who they are, will now be ZZAZZ. And now you are, too.
Try to watch this video without shitting your pants:
Do you have an inexplicable fear of the unknown? Do you worry that one day you’ll open the door to your house and on the other side instead of seeing your living room it’ll be some unknown place in space and time? Are you afraid of being in an elevator because you don’t know what will be on the other side of those cold steel doors when they open? Holy shit, you are going to love this next glitch!
“Dokokashira” is Japanese for “Where is it”, as in “where is the door”. This isn’t “where” as in “it’s right around the corner”, it’s “where” as in “where does the other side of that door lead?” Yes, that’s right, this whole glitch is about the phenomena of walking into what you think is the Pokemon Center and ending up in the middle of the burned out Cinnabar Island laboratory, with or without a sore B-hole. The “Dokokashira Door” glitch is the roofie of the Pokemon world.
This glitch is only accessible in Pokemon Red and Green, the original two Japanese titles from 1996. It was patched up by the time the Japanese Blue was released, and is not present in the North American release of the game. The reason given is that this glitch was “extremely hazardous” unlike, you know, the ZZAZZ glitch or anything like that.
Starting the glitch requires a fresh game because you need to have Oak’s Parcel in your inventory. You then must press Select and act like you want to change its place in your item list except rather than swap an item you attempt to exchange it with the first Pokemon in your party (which also requires use of the Select button). From this point the glitch is active and every “cycle” of the game (every 4 steps taken) will cause the warp point of every door to change to another location. By forcing the game to swap one set of data with another it turns your only Pokemon into the anomaly stored at hex value “FF” and also shuffles around other data in the game, namely the door location data.
Oh, and that bastard Oak won’t ever get his package because you just decided to open it and found out he ordered the key from The Lost Room.
Of course, with such a rigid set of operations with the glitch (every 4 steps) there’s no doubt a table that has been created by someone with way too much time on their hands. With careful planning you can use the Dokokashira door glitch to walk straight into the Hall of Fame room, access the computer, and beat the game with zero Pokemon in your party.
In basic terms the Pokemon game stores its Pokemon data in a single location occupying 256 slots of data (256 converted to hex is “FF”, the maximum). 151 of these slots are legitimate Pokemon, about 40 of them are MissingNo, and a few dozen are trainer data. Attempting to use a GameShark to “force” a specific encounter with a trainer ID will cause you to fight a glitchy trainer, not a Pokemon. Through creative circumnavigation however, you can force the game to read these slots of data as “Pokemon”. If it sounds like a bad idea you’re absolutely correct but people do it anyways and that’s how “EC” was discovered.
“EC” is the hex location where this glitch is stored. Most glitches have a name that people can use to describe it even if it’s a garbled mess of letters and symbols (e.g. “LM4”). EC has no discernible name. The safety net, then, would be to name it based upon what its sprite looks like. EC also has no sprite, not even a garbled “L” shaped mess like MissingNo. At the very least people could use its type, species, or other identifying data to name it, but it simply does not exist. EC is literally an invisible specter whose data normally corresponds to Lt. Surge.
Entering “01ECD8CF” into a GameShark and playing the game results in battling Lt. Surge in the middle of nowhere. Most of these glitchy trainer fights possess the same roster of garbage data, but Surge is different. The Lieutenant will actually attempt to send out EC, which is frankly unheard of. EC almost always freezes the game but if the ROM remains stable enough the Pokemon you send out to battle it emerges from its ball with a “frozen” status effect, its HP bar wraps the screen, the location where its name belongs fills up with 9’s, and the screen eventually crashes and turns into a mess of HP bars and numbers.
“EC” is the only hex location in the game where data actually does not exist. There is nothing there, which cannot be correct because Lt. Surge is there. EC is the equivalent of Schrodinger’s cat. It exists and does not exist simultaneously.
Most people who are familiar with MissingNo are familiar with its close cousin M. The two glitches are almost identical at first: they share the same attacks, they both look the same, they both duplicate items, they both crash the Hall of Fame, and their names both start with (or consist of) the letter “M”. M is entirely different, however, and that should be realized the moment you first encounter it and hear it scream like a Zapdos hyped up on crack.
M occupies hex slot “00” in the ROM; it is not known why M is the odd-man out when it comes to the other 40-something MissingNo but M is “the one”. M is also the only MissingNo to feature evolutions, and has three of them. At level 138 M will evolve into Clefairy, M can spontaneously turn into a Rhydon unprovoked if you already have an M in your party, and at any level other than 138 M will evolve into Kangaskhan. To Pokemon theorists everywhere M is the “missing link” in the whole Kangaskhan, Cubone, and Marowak trifecta of mommy-issues bullshit even though it’s a block of pixels that also has two other unrelated evolutions.
But none of this is the reason why M has made this list. If you initiate battle with M and decide to capture it, after the game tells you M’s been caught…
ENEMY M USED WATER GUN!
What the fuck? It’s still there?! When fighting M if you capture it, the battle doesn’t terminate properly even though M’s sprite has vanished. Either that, or M can replicate itself endlessly and you can never win. If his surprise post-capture attack doesn’t scare the living hell out of you and you throw another Poke Ball at it… you’ll catch a Ditto. A perfectly harmless and completely 100% legitimate Ditto staring at you with his goofy expression of being completely stoned and complacent.
And nobody knows why this happens.
Dozens of basement dwellers have disassembled and reassembled the Pokemon ROM and studied it in and out, bit by bit, and there is no explanation for the “phantom” Ditto. It’s just “there”… and nobody has a reason why. None. Not even a theory.
For something as benign and goofy as MissingNo the creature can evolve into some pretty scary shit rather fast, and this isn’t “evolve” in a Pokemon sense. First there was the original MissingNo that started this list off. Then there was M, a distant cousin with a bunch of branch evolutions to rival that of Eevee’s. Finally, we’ve come to Charizard M, the embodiment of Hell itself in a Game Boy game.
Charizard M is not a Pokemon. It certainly looks like one (guess who) but it’s not. It should not exist, it is not from this world and is comprised of a programming language forged in the very core of the Earth. Charizard M is beyond what can be described as a “programming anomaly” and mythology states that Game Freak didn’t even put it in the game; the master copy of Pokemon was blasted by a bolt of lightning and this happened. Do not treat Charizard M as a Pokemon for you will be sorely indebted to the Beast in the worst way possible for a Pokemon trainer: without warning or provocation it will eat and transform your Pokemon. Permanently.
Charizard M occupies slot “FF” on the cartridge. “FF” is as far as you can go in hex data; Charizard M is the end of the road. The couple dozen or so glitches before it are all boxy glitchy messes that don’t do much until you reach “FF” and discover the final boss of Pokemon. “FF” doesn’t even correspond to a Pokemon, it’s where the game stores the data for the “cancel” menu option. If you dare try to force an encounter with the Cancel button then you’re a goddamn retard and deserve the full fury that this demon can unleash upon you. It’s cry is a mess of static that ruins the audio of the game and by the time you hear it you cannot run. You are in his domain now.
If you’re stupid enough to capture Charizard M and add it to your party you won’t even see it in your roster; it will appear as a blank space. If you move it to the top of your list guess what happens? You will lose your other 5 Pokemon; they will be masked in nothingness by Charizard M because the game reads this creature as a “stop” order. You will no longer be able to heal these Pokemon at a Pokemon Center nor can you interact with them in any way. You just shoved them into a portal to oblivion where they are being violated (by furries) as we speak.
Think it’s a good idea to store Charizard M in a Pokemon Box? Uh, are you stupid? If you put this thing into a box the same will happen to everything in that box; it will vanish. Poof. If you’re not careful with how you handle Charizard M you will end up with more Charizard M’s. No, you didn’t misread that; these things multiply if left to their own devices. Not only that Charizard M has the ability to turn your other Pokemon into copies of itself. If you play with Charizard M everything you have ever caught in your game will become Charizard M.
Dracophile Charizard M
[Editor’s Note: This article was published on BitMob.com in August 2011 where it received the accolade of being the most-read and commented on article of that month.]
Back in 2009 Microsoft released an incredibly well received promotional buzz trailer for the then-titled “Project Natal” which would later become the Kinect motion detection system. The trailer debuted in E3 ’09 to incredible interest and applause at the amazing feats depicted in the video (and no that’s not sarcasm, people assumed this would be the next level of gaming and were thrilled to see it taken a step higher). Project Natal, as it was called, boasted an honorable assortment of features and functionality compared to its predecessor the Xbox Live Vision Camera which featured picture quality on par with the Game Boy Camera for the most part. Seriously, Daguerreotypes had better clarity than that thing.
Project Natal’s trailer caught the attention of the masses with its promises and when it was finally unveiled as “Kinect” the following year we all simultaneously wondered “what the hell just happened here?” We just saw a kid transmute his skateboard into a video game object and now a year later we’re in some kind of fucking circus act? And when they finally unveil Kinect all we get to see is a white guy dancing like a white guy and a young Asian girl giving a handjob to a tiger? What the fuck went wrong?!
One year (give or take a few months) after the official release of the Kinect we are nowhere near coming to the grand stuff displayed and showcased in the Project Natal trailer. Here’s what the original preview trailer promised us, and exactly what they failed to deliver on. (You can view the original trailer here to refresh your memory.)
What you see in the Natal trailer: Ian, a scene kid with a hair helmet, approaches a nondescript martial arts fighting game wherein a generic kung fu guru taunts “you’ve come back for more?” Ian responds “let’s do this” and the game laughs at him and responds with a mocking tone. Ian then kicks Master Wong straight in the dick.
Upon first glance this just seems like some generic transaction of comments assuming you’re speaking to somebody in real life but Ian is speaking directly to a character in a video game who can apparently acknowledge and respond to answers more complex than a simple “yes” or “no”… and we’ve been screaming “no” at shitty games for decades now. The game scoffs at Ian’s rebuttal to its challenge and therefore actually shows some level of “thought” depending on the answer given. The pseudo-Japanese game shown in the trailer is also exactly one Hot Coffee mod away from being an ESRB nightmare.
No Xbox game presently available offers this level of linguistics understanding. Yoostar 2, a game where you re-enact scenes from popular movies, comes closest by giving you a script for you to read that the game judges your performance on but the quality of judgment is so poor it’s hilarious especially if you’re playing this in a party setting and you’re surrounded by ambient noise from other guests. You could hire the original actors themselves to repeat their lines and the game will still tell you that you have the acting talent of Howie Mandel.
What you see in the Natal trailer: A family is sitting down to play a formula one racing game where the daughter mimics the motions of driving and her family follows suit by leaning side to side with the turns the car makes (because ololol women can’t drive nur hur). Her father stands up and replaces a tire on the car during a pit stop. In a second hypothetical game a kid is seen playing a Godzilla-type city destruction game and swings his arms around to wreck buildings; he then makes a roaring sound and assumes a pose while the monster breathes fire.
Kinect can detect motion. I’m not going to say it can’t because that’s the entire focus of the peripheral but I will say that while it does indeed detect movement it definitely doesn’t do it at the caliber required to sense rapid “Z-axis” movement akin to replacing lug nuts on a tire or to see when you’re making a retarded roaring face to tell Not Godzilla to give macrophiles a shameful and awkward erection.
If you want the Kinect to see you do something you have to move in very pronounced motions so large movements can be seen by the stereoscopic cameras on the sensor. This works great for exercise games where you have to run in place or otherwise be “full body active” but when all you’re doing is making a pushing motion the Kinect can’t see this and doesn’t do anything and if it does actually do something then its detection is on par with the Nintendo Wii in terms of the likelihood that you’ll suffer first-world country ragequit and kick your plasma screen TV in.
Additionally, the Kinect doesn’t “like” when there’s a bunch of movement taking place all at once. The entire family moving side to side while the daughter drives? Doing that will cause your Kinect to overheat and explode. No, seriously, it’s just too much input and it will simply not detect your hands or the steering motion. It’ll be like driving a Toyota.
What you see in the Natal trailer: After kicking the sclerosis right out of Master Wong, Ian returns with a skateboard and instructs the Xbox to scan his deck into what I can only assume is the highly anticipated game Tony Hawk: TONY TONY TONY TONY TONY TONY. The Xbox takes two pictures of his skateboard and transmits them into a usable custom skin in his game.
The Kinect sensor can take pictures of things but as far as I’m aware there is absolutely nothing that features something of this fashion in any game, it’s simply too intricate of a concept for it to work properly with the Kinect. There are too many variables that would screw with the results such as lighting and whether or not you happen to own a skateboard. If there was a game out there that could properly translate mindless jumping and goofy stances into a skateboarding game then we wouldn’t have any use for the retarded miniature kayak that came with both Tony Hawk: Ride and Tony Hawk: Shred.
Upon watching this trailer the first thing I thought of was “what happened to the kid’s fingers?” No, really. Where did they go? His hands are obstructing a ridiculous portion of the skateboard but yet the game still somehow magically removes them from the complicated and intricate design shown on the bottom of the board. The second thought that entered my mind was “what’s stopping you from scanning your dong into the game and using that as a skateboard?”
What you see in the Natal trailer: A girl calls her obligatory black friend Sarah to talk about a party they are both going to. Sarah asks if her friend has a dress, she says no and proceeds to vomit profusely. Sarah offers her condolences and then says she has a solution because she found a dress for her friend. Sarah then waves like an idiot at her Xbox to cycle through a bunch of outfits in an unnamed dress-up type of menu and picks out a black dress that Unnamed Girl of Dubious Ethnicity “picks up” and puts onto a picture of her, which then turns out to be a 3D model of her body that can rotate depending on her stance in front of the television.
Seriously? This is just stupid. The amount of attention to detail it would take to set up something like this is ridiculous not to mention the sheer un-feasibility of it all. If anything this demonstration poses more questions than answers. Where did all of those outfits come from? Are they downloaded from some kind of JC Penny catalog? How’d they get that perfect model of the unnamed chick in the sassy pose? What if someone grotesquely fat tries to use this feature, does this program support XXXXL T-shirts with Internet memes on them?
What you see in the Natal trailer: Ian returns again with his adoptive family to play a quiz show game where he attempts to play Rock, Paper, Scissors with the host before blurting out the name of a random American president to the question “what is the capital of France”. Upon giving his answer he and his father have a quick contest to see who can make the best bewildered expression followed by the game show host confirming a correct answer. Of importance in this scene is the fact that the game addresses Ian by his first and last name (Dixon). The host then sets comedy back a decade by making a Chuck Norris joke.
Again, I’m not really going to harp on the whole “you have to do more than pretend you’re fisting a horse to get the Kinect to see you” thing but I do want to point out that it’s simply not possible for a game to seamlessly incorporate something as complicated as a first and last name into a sentence without sounding roboticized* and choppy. There are games out there (such as Grid) that have some prerecorded names that you can choose from that the VO will announce throughout the game but generally these things only cover the rudimentary bases. If your name is Joe then the host will call you by your name, but if it’s something more exotic then I hope you like being referred to as “Contestant”.
Also the fact that they’re dominating the black family by a 900 point margin is pretty goddamn racist.
*Fun Fact: I have not used this word at all since I wrote awful Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction in elementary school.
I understand that this trailer is just a conceptualization of what Microsoft
wants wanted to do. I get that. They even say it on-screen for the first five seconds of video but part of the bargain when you’re making an announcement — an E3 announcement at that — is at least coming close to what you’re showcasing in your trailers and previews. Out of all of the shit demonstrated in the video by Project Natal do you know which things the Kinect can actually do?
You could do that with the Xbox Live Vision Camera.
In last week’s article I took a look at some of the most ridiculous Xbox achievements out there and in the article I detailed just how much I hate sports titles. Of course, I used the platform of “worst online achievements ever” to levy my complaints but from an honest and critical standpoint…?
I fucking hate sports games.
Do we really need a new sports game every single year? Do we really need an annual football game when EA, the developers, hold exclusivity rights with the NFL to ensure there is no competition within the market? The obvious answer here is no. No, we don’t need any more goddamn sports games now or ever. How about instead of an annual release EA and 2K Games actually try putting some effort into their turds and make a sports title that can stand on its own for the life of a console with roster updates and other functionality provided as DLC? Or is that idea too obvious for “AAA” developers like EA to figure out? It must be, because I almost failed college-level business classes but even I know a retarded idea when I see one. Sports titles are a worthless waste of money and after only a matter of months aren’t even worth the plastic they are printed on so how do they hold up against the rarest and most valuable games of all time?
As you might imagine, releasing a sports title each year significantly decreases the value of the preceding years. Sports titles are worthless to collectors and they’re literally the only other games other than pack-in titles that collectors avoid like the plague. Even in that case, however, the games that came included with classic consoles (Super Mario World, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc) are still sought after by nostalgic gamers, there is still a market for them. Collectors don’t want pack-in titles and nostalgia buffs don’t want a one-of-a-kind prototype of some obscure game but both types of people can agree on one thing: fuck sports games. You can sell a copy of Final Fantasy and you can sell a copy of Intelligent Qube but if you’re left with a copy of Barkley Shut Up & Jam then you better have a wobbly table that needs fixing because you have better odds of winning the lotto by picking the same number six times than you do of ever selling that game.
To put this into perspective, sports titles are so worthless that the only conceivable usage one collector found for them was making a fucking urinal out of them.
Just for the hell of it I decided to analyze the values of various titles in an assortment of sports game franchises (Madden, NBA Live, etc) using a number of different video game pricing guides, none of which unfortunately go below $0.50 in terms of the lowest values given. This means that almost every copy of these games displayed as 50 cents in value. Regardless, I settled on NBA Live for this experiment just because out of all of the franchises I looked at this one ran the longest (1995 – 2010) with the least amount of “collector’s edition” and special releases to mess up the average value of each installment. I took an average of each annual release that combined all of the values for each console it was released on and decided to make a graph to track the nosediving worth of each game.
The numbers don’t lie. After the first year of release the value of each game goes down in value with the first drop being the steepest (the new worth only 25% of the most recent game’s value). I was upset that the graph stopped at $0.50 so I decided to find out just how worthless the original NBA Live 1995 really is. Warning: Math content follows. After omitting the first giant drop in value I decided to calculate each subsequent drop in price since they seem to be strangely uniform. On average each time the value of these games goes down the new worth is approximately 73.4% of the total value of the game before it. With this in mind I started with NBA Live 2009, worth $2.43, and began multiplying it by .734 for each year until I got down to 1995. The result?
NBA Live ’95 is worth two fucking cents.
For an investment that cost about $50 brand new the return on it is mere pennies and just barely pennies plural. Not every game is able to break its original price tag with its collectors’ value but none of them sink as low as sports titles in terms of how disproportionate their worth is to their original price. All, not just some, of the worst games of all time are worth more than NBA Live ’95. All of them. Any game you can possibly think of that doesn’t involve putting an inflated ball through a hoop or into a net is worth more than this game. Every. Single. One.
See why I hate sports games now?
But how does that match up to the rarest and most valuable games ever? Just how many copies of this crappy basketball game would it take to equal the value of just one copy (and in many cases the only copy) of the most sought after games out there? Let’s find out.
The first game in our list isn’t actually a game at all but a programming tool for the Atari 2600. Magicard is one of the few titles produced by the company CommaVid, an Atari 2600 developer that specialized in making their games needlessly difficult to obtain. Magicard, for example, was only available through a special mail order form direct from CommaVid and another one of their games (Video Life) was available only to people who purchased Magicard. Marketing was not their strong point. Technically, then, Video Life is more rare than Magicard but the value of this particular cartridge reaches “Jesus Christ” proportions when you have it complete with its 100+ page manual and keyboard controller overlays. Magicard lets you create simple programs using your Atari (since Atari’s in-house game Basic Programming was a load of crock) via an assembly language. Needless to say with its incredibly boring and hard to understand premise plus a manual that’s about the length of a short novel Magicard is one of those titles whose playability caters only to the incredibly technologically savvy among us; to everybody else Magicard is just an inconveniently-sized blank check waiting for someone to cash it in at the National Bank of Game Collectors. Even if you find a copy loose (that is, without its manual, overlays, and sample programs) the game will still fetch enough to help extinguish the credit card debt incurred from buying this thing.
Magicard is worth 338,334 copies of NBA Live ’95. This many copies of NBA Live ’95 is equivalent to the weight of seven fully grown African elephants.
Before the death of VHS and the advent of Netflix, Redbox, and rampant DVD piracy there was actually a point in time when Blockbuster Video was sitting pretty and raking in the super big bucks. At one point in time they were acquired by Viacom… but ultimately when profits began to falter Viacom had the smarts to throw Blockbuster out into the deep end and let them struggle for a while presumably while the Viacom CEO relaxed in a hot tub of liquid money and watched. This game is a relic of Blockbuter’s better times.
Blockbuster World Championships II is a special promotional cartridge that was utilized in various Blockbuster stores during a contest they held to see who could get the most points in their two challenge games. The games included on the cartridge are truncated versions of NBA Jam and Judge Dredd. Judge Dredd was such an awful movie that if you stare at the theatrical poster and say “Sylvester Stallone” three times it will come to life and kill you in your sleep. Despite what I previously said about basketball and sports games, however, NBA Jam is one of those few sports titles that are genuinely fun to play. Why? Because it’s full of wacky twists, flaming slam dunks, the phrase “BOOMSHAKALAKA”, and a huge assortment of hidden characters ranging from The Beastie Boys to President Bill Clinton. I hate sports games but I love NBA Jam. Everybody does.
Unlike Blockbuster’s previous “championship” games (such as Donkey Kong Competition Cartridge and StarFox Super Weekend, which sounds more like a furry porn marathon than a contest game) BBWC2 has a minimalist and ugly label; it’s just boilerplate copyright text about the cartridge contents. This label, ugly as it is, actually helps determine the value of each copy of this game. Remember those silver “VOID IF REMOVED” stickers that Blockbuster used to place on their games? Sometimes when new games came in you’d have an incompetent bastard behind the counter who would place the void sticker directly over the front of the label making it so if you tried to remove the sticker it would destroy the label of the game. If your copy of BBWC2 is one of these then sadly your game won’t fetch the mythical 8G’s but it’s still a valuable game; however if you have a pristine copy (with its original box) cash that sucker in and pay off that junker of a used car you’re driving around.
Blockbuster World Championships II is worth 400,000 copies of NBA Live ’95. This is enough copies to give one to every US soldier wounded or killed in the Vietnam War.
Gammation is one of those independent Atari developers who came and went relatively fast in the marketplace, the kind who don’t stick around long enough to produce a full library of games or products. Gammation’s only real claim to vintage gaming fame was a device called the Fire Power 100 which can arguably be hailed as the first controller mod ever offered in the gaming market. The FP-100 required you to plug your joystick into a device that would then let you customize a rapid fire option to a speed that suited your preferences. Gammation was also rumored to have at least one game in development, Gamma-Attack, that never saw the light of day for almost thirty years. Until now.
“Phantom”, as he likes to be called, is a member of the Atari Age community who enjoys the sport of hunting for rare games in the wild at flea markets and garage sales. On a whim one day he purchased a large box of Atari 2600 stuff which he almost didn’t buy because he thought he was overpaying (according to an interview). What he didn’t know, though, is that he just made a purchase that would forever alter the history of classic video games. Amidst a bunch of crap sat a solitary black cartridge stamped only with a “Gammation” label and no other means to identify the game as the famed Gamma-Attack. Phantom seriously took one look at the game and almost wrote it off as a worthless homebrew. I’d like to imagine that he shit his pants the second he punched “Gammation” into Bing and was greeted with the prospect of having found what is now considered to be the rarest Atari 2600 game in existence. Phantom had, in his possession, the only known copy of this game to ever exist.
So he listed it on eBay for $500,000. It didn’t sell. A man can dream, though, right?
The eBay listing, according to Phantom, was just a gag because he literally had no other way to get the news out there that he had found this game. Where do you go to release this kind of news? Sure, channels like Fox News air stories on bears stuck in trees when it’s a slow news day but not even they would care about the impact this find would have on the gaming community. Using eBay as his platform Phantom was also able to get some feedback and serious offers from other serious collectors inquiring about his copy of Gamma-Attack. The end result is a value estimated to be around $9,000.00 for this one-of-a-kind game, the release of which led to a series of faithful reproductions offered to the collecting community.
Gamma-Attack is worth approximately 450,000 copies of NBA Live ’95. This is enough copies that when stacked on top of each other (standing up like it was in the system) the tower of games will be as tall as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 2,717 feet… if the building was stacked on top of itself forty-eight times.
Yes, that’s an actual game in the picture there even though it looks like the aftermath of someone disassembling their console and thinking they could put some sw33t haxOr modz in it. Nintendo Powerfest 1994 is the rarest of all competition cartridges for the Super NES outranking the likes of the previously mentioned Donkey Kong Competition Cartridge and StarFox Super Weekend. Blockbuster Video was pretty careless about how they handled their contest merchandise but the ones coming straight from Nintendo were watched by the company a little more closely; 33 copies of this “cartridge” were created and all but one were returned to Nintendo to be “recycled”. The lone competition board, the last of its kind, has been valued at approximately $10,000.00.
The reason why the cartridge looks like a busted up piece of crap is because the board itself appears to have sockets for EPROMs that can be switched out to change the order of the games included or the actual games themselves. If there was ever a decorative top for it the piece has long since been lost or destroyed; the only pictures available of Nintendo Powerfest 1994 show it without a top. The entire array itself sits on top of the Super NES console like a serving tray for robot overlords or a piece of decorative nerd art. The games included in this competition cartridge are Super Mario: Lost Levels (from Super Mario All Stars), Super Mario Kart, and Ken Griffey Jr Basebell. Why they shoved Griffey in there and not another Mario game is beyond me but I guess having a shitty sports game on a competition cartridge is the only way to really separate the casual “good at Mario” gamers and those who really do master every single game out there.
Nintendo Powerfest 1994 is worth 500,000 copies of NBA Live ’95. If each cartridge were a brick this is enough of them to build almost twenty-eight average American homes.
Something I’ve realized while doing my research for this article is that the rarest games in the world really don’t have much in the way of labels. Those that do have labels either have a cheap typewriter sticker or just have something that identifies the company who produced it. Tetris for the Sega MegaDrive (the name of the Genesis in international markets) is the only game in this list that has a proper label, box, and manual. If you manage to have all three of them you’re well on your way to an estimated $16,000.00.
Tetris is a game that is more common than anything else on the planet. It has been released for every single console ranging from the Atari 2600 to the Xbox 360 and never once has the formula for the tetrominos changed. If the game is so painfully common, then, what makes this the Holy Grail of Russian block stacking? Take a look at the header graphic; this game was never released. Sega was producing this game along with Tengen, a company notorious for causing all sorts of legal shitstorms with the developers of the platforms they released their games on. It seems that every time Tengen touches the Tetris franchise there is money to be had. The officially licensed version of the game for the NES is common and mostly worthless but Tengen’s unlicensed version of the same exact game is worth boatloads more (maybe because it has two player simultaneous Tetris, who knows). In the midst of creating their games Tengen lost the publishing rights to Tetris likely because when they weren’t creating unlicensed titles Tengen was busy falsifying documents to receive patent details on Nintendo’s “NES10” lockout technology so they could reverse engineer it. They were basically expert trolls.
When Sega lost the publishing rights to the Russian puzzle game they were ordered to destroy their stock of it which they sadly did. Somewhere along the line, however, a single box of cartridges made it through the destruction. Inside this box were the last ten copies of this game in existence. Whether or not these games were intentionally saved by an employee we may never know but one thing is for certain: Tengen are a bunch of dicks.
Tetris is worth 800,000 copies of NBA Live ’95. This is enough cartridges to create 15,120,000 square inches of real estate, either the equivalent of 2.4 acres of land or enough room to play 105,000 simultaneous games of chess on an average-sized board.
This is it, the most valuable game of all time, and yes it’s another competition cartridge. Not only is this the most valuable game in the world, having a recorded sale price of over twenty thousand dollars, but its origin story is one for everybody who dreams of someday coming across that big haul in the simplest of places: NES Campus Challenge ’91 was found at a garage sale in New York.
Rob Walters is a video game collector just like you and me but when he stumbled upon a seller asking $40 for an assortment of sealed and rare Nintendo products, a seller who also said “I have more stuff that I’m not selling”, Walters found the strange occurrence far too surreal to pass up. He bought the $40 lot, netting him five copies of StarFox Super Weekend in the process (because fuck you everybody who gets hyped about finding one “in the wild”), and later paid the man a visit to find out more about this “more stuff”. The man showed him all sorts of one-of-a-kind rare items ranging from other competition cartridges to this very game. The seller was an ex-employee of Nintendo who had personally saved these relics from destruction; he said “I’m not allowed to sell them”. Walters offered the man $1,000 cash.
A transaction was made.
NES Campus Challenge ’91 is worth over one million copies of NBA Live ’95. If you lined these games end to end they would stretch for 85.6 miles (137.7km). If you took this road of games and pointed it straight up it would extend into the Thermosphere and there’s a chance you might knock the goddamn International Space Station out of orbit.
One thing I’ve learned from writing this article is that the rarest games out there look like utter garbage. Some of them look like broken and dismantled products inadvertently created from the accidents of people tinkering with things they know nothing about but that appearance is just a fallacy, they are worth thousands of dollars. NES Campus Challenge ’91 looks like a busted up jury-rigged cartridge that wouldn’t work in a million years. It’s so big that to play it you have to remove the top half of the NES and its loading deck. It’s such a bizarrely sized and shaped cartridge that it doesn’t even work like the rest of the NES games out there but that’s to be expected considering that Nintendo Powerfest 1994 was a giant tray that sat on top of the Super NES. Rob Walters’ story is truly one of the greatest finds in collecting history and the sheer fact that this game was obtained because of a visit to a mere garage sale is enough to spark the inspiration and dreams of everyone around the world. This wasn’t a game recovered from an inner-company filing cabinet, this was one collector meeting an ex-employee who had the smarts to hold on to these important relics of history.
For the uninitiated, when Microsoft launched the Xbox 360 console way back in 2005 they included a new twist that would revolutionize the way people with lots of free time would enjoy games: achievements. Microsoft would then attempt to “revolutionize” gaming further by offering both HD-DVD and Kinect support for their console and we all know how that turned out (expensive paperweights that can occasionally play a dead media format or take your picture and upload it to Microsoft’s YouTube). Achievements are so commonplace these days that most of us can hardly remember a time when you’d turn on a game and not have explicit directions on what you’re supposed to do to “beat” it; you knew there was a credits screen of some sort and that’s basically where you set your goal marker when you started playing. The first few games released for the Xbox 360 featured only a small number of achievements where confused developers would issue you a 200 point award for throwing a football or for managing to sit through a loading screen; they truly didn’t know what in the hell they were supposed to do with this (especially the developers who did nothing but release trash for the original Xbox).
Regardless, once developers figured out that you didn’t have to give players a thousand points just for pressing the B button they began getting creative with their objectives and goals using achievements to give otherwise straightforward games new missions and such for players to explore. Games are now no longer measured by an RPG completion percentage or whether or not you collected all of the Chaos Emeralds and stuffed them up Robotnik’s ass; if you don’t have 1,000G in an Xbox game and all of the achievements unlocked then guess what? You didn’t beat it.
With that said below are six achievements who’s sole purpose in life is to make your gameplay experience a living hell. These are the achievements that, for whatever reason, are almost impossible (or in some cases are absolutely impossible) to unlock. They are “Completionists’ Nightmares”.
Hail to the Chimp is a game that strives to cash in on the lucrative “party games” genre of titles. The only problem here is that this genre was over-tapped about six years prior and by developers touting bigger and better franchises such as Mario Party and Microsoft’s Fusion Frenzy series. Hail to the Chimp features no franchise characters of any sort, just a bunch of random animals with ridiculously hard to pronounce names such as Ptolemy and Murgatroyd which sounds less like an animal’s name and more like something you’d see a proctologist for. The whole game itself is based upon a fake “presidential run” where each animal apparently beats the shit out of one another for votes. The game never mentions if this is a WWF presidency or a domestic presidency.
Between a bunch of insipid and uninspired minigames we’re treated to carryovers that make the game appear as a “GRR News” broadcast. The game is so generic and unfunny with its humor that it literally took me about fifteen minutes to realize that “GRR” wasn’t some creative or witty acronym but is literally just the “Grrrrrr” sound. Hail to the Chimp doesn’t even make an attempt at being cute, it just gives you a bunch of tired and unfunny jokes and expects you to either never have heard them before or be completely retarded. This begs the question of who the game is for. Is it for kids? Surely it’s not because this game is ridiculously hard after the first few rounds. Is it for adults then? No, because the jokes are such painful groaners that hearing them after a certain age will guarantee permanent erectile dysfunction.
The cutesy characters are so one-dimensional and generic that even feral representations of actual animals are more original than this game. That didn’t stop MTV, though, who said this game was funnier than The Colbert Report. MTV doesn’t even know what the fuck “music” is and it’s in their company name, anything they say about video games is a lost cause because when it comes to video games they might as well stick their thumbs in their asses and renew Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory for another 29 seasons. I’d rather listen to Atari Corp’s Jack Tramiel talk about proper video game industry etiquette than ever take advice on entertainment from MTV.
Animal’s Choice is an achievement that requires you to “win the single player campaign without losing a primary”. The description is already vague enough to allow for at least three George W. Bush jokes but what the game is literally asking you to do is beat the game by coming first place in every single round of which there are over fifty. Each round takes about five minutes to complete so with the addition of loading screens you’re looking at about five hours of gameplay. If the game was a cakewalk this would be inconvenient at best but after a certain threshold of “primaries” the game drops its cutesy feel and becomes insanely difficult to the point where it reaches controller-smashing proportions.
To put the difficulty of this achievement into perspective here’s a link to this achievement on an Xbox gamerscore website that “weights” achievements based upon how many people actually have it. This achievement, literally worth only 50 points, is worth 1,614 points when calculated for its “Bullshit Factor”. There are over a thousand logged gamers who have this game and out of all of them only one guy has it. This achievement is so goddamn ridiculous that out of every achievement ever created for an Xbox 360 title this one is sixth for weighted value. Earning this badge is the only way to ascend to true furry nirvana.
Borderlands is one of those games that people either hate or love. In my experience the game is just an exercise in how far a developer can go before they piss their players the hell off. Between what seems like endless collection missions and DLC about as broken as the aftermath of a monster truck rally this game is just a mess. It’s tolerable at its best and completely infuriating at its worst. Upon its release this game had an insanely high number of glitched achievements that simply would not unlock even if you met the requirements for them. Because of this I never unlocked the achievement for leveling up to 30. I had to start a whole new game to get that achievement and for the longest time a handful of other menial achievements were all glitched and locked as well, but this one right here was the very last achievement I unlocked for this game.
The requirement is painfully, and deceptively, simple: “rescue enough Claptrap robots to earn 42 inventory slots”. A “Claptrap” is a robot that drives around on one wheel and spouts out phrases that Gearbox desperately tried to make the new “Cake is a lie”. Claptraps are among the worst video game characters ever conceived and are right up there with Oblivion’s Adoring Fan on the “what the fuck were you retards thinking” list. They never shut up. Ever. They all universally spit out the same unfunny shit and each Claptrap literally only comes with like four action phrases before they all start repeating. Broken Claptraps are hard to pass up, because you just want them to die, but the catch is that the only way to shut them up is to find a toolbox and fix them. Your reward for your troubles is a “Backpack SDU”, an item that grants you three more inventory slots.
The issue here is that you don’t always get a Backpack SDU, it’s just a random chance. If they don’t give you an SDU they’ll give you a worthless grenade mod that’s about 15 levels under your current one and drive away. There also isn’t an unlimited supply of Claptraps to fix either, once you fix one they’re gone from the rest of the game. Borderlands has two playthroughs available (“easy” and “hard” if you wish), each one has the same story and missions and each one has their own set of Claptraps. I played through both playthroughs and rescued every single Claptrap and was stuck at 39 inventory slots and mind you if you rescue every Claptrap in just one playthrough you can get to 42 slots; I went through both and was stuck at 39 because the little shits wouldn’t give me my required final SDU. After beating the game I was forced to turn to the DLC where only three more Claptraps existed and the first two dispensed a worthless grenade mod as well.
I was down to my last Claptrap who appropriately enough was broken down right beside a sawmill. If this little shit didn’t give me my SDU I was going to summon the powers of the dark lord and throw this son of a bitch straight into the decorative spinning saw blades that I could see in the background.
He didn’t give me the SDU. The second this happened I shut the 360 off as to not let the game autosave. I loaded my file three more times before he finally gave me the SDU. If I had missed this achievement the only way to get it would be to start a new file from scratch and play through this monumental waste of time yet again, and frankly there was no way this was happening.
And remember, this wasn’t the only bugged achievement in the game; this is just the one that pissed me off the most. There were at least six others that would not unlock for me that I had to either start a new save file for or do over until it gave it to me. Screw this game.
Mega Man is a legendary game from the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Sure, the box art was terrifying but the game went on to be the only NES game to have five sequels released for it in the console’s lifetime. In the late 80’s and early 90’s this was completely unheard of for a game. Super Mario Bros had one sequel (I refuse to acknowledge the existence of Super Mario Bros 2) and that was enough as did The Legend of Zelda but five for Mega Man? What can I say, the formula works. Mega Man is an incredibly fun and engaging game that has a difficulty that isn’t too steep but also isn’t completely easy either. It’s a winning combination and that’s why there’s more Mega Man games than there are pesos in Mexico.
To celebrate the success of the games that started it all Capcom released retro-inspired sequels to the NES games in the form of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, two games that were made to look and play exactly like an NES game but without the hassle of fellating your cartridges to get them to work. Each game is a reasonable and affordable 800MSP ($10) and to be honest I don’t have a single bad thing I can say about either one, well, except for the achievement “MR. PERFECT” (caps required for emphasis most likely). What’s the requirement?
Beat the game. Without taking any damage.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Mega Man as much as the next guy, but seriously when was the last time you made it through any level in any Mega Man title without getting hit from a stray bullet or cheap shot from an enemy that just randomly appeared? I grew up playing Mega Man 1-6 and even though I know each game better than I know most of the members of my family I still can’t make it through even the Robot Master stages without getting hit.
Was Capcom high when they created this achievement? Were they not aware that one of their Dr. Wily bosses is basically the equivalent of that goddamn yellow blob goliath from the original Mega Man who has attacks that are almost impossible to dodge? Part of the reason why Mega Man is so difficult is because every enemy, not just bosses, have attack patterns that you have to memorize and keep track of because the game will quickly throw multiple enemies and multiple kinds of them onto the screen all at once.
And you’re expected to not get hit a single time while all this is going on.
No thank you, Capcom.
You cannot have a list of “worst achievements ever” and not include this one, the grand-daddy of all frustrating awards. See the guy in the tile? That’s Otis. He’s a genuinely nice old man who works as a security guard at Willamette Mall. He’s like a black and not fat version of Paul Blart. Otis keeps tabs on everybody in the zombie-infested mall via the building’s security cameras and is kind enough to let you know when he sees survivors so you can go rescue them. He sounds like a decent enough old man so how does he reach you? He calls you on a yellow industrial cell phone that he gives you in one of the game’s opening cutscenes. It can’t be that bad, right? So what do you have to do to get this achievement?
Otis calls you when he sees any survivor and he generally doesn’t seem to tell you whether they’re a psychopathic boss or a stranded shopper. You have to answer every call, not just the ones where he says “so I saw a lady getting double teamed in the women’s restroom in the East Wing you should go check it out”. Otis will call you about story-related events pertaining to the game’s main plot. If you fail the storyline you fail this achievement because you won’t get all of Otis’ calls. You also have to save certain survivors because they will request things later. If you answer the calls and just show up and just murder everybody with the rake you found in the hardware store you will fail this achievement because Otis will not be able to call you with their follow-ups. There is more to this unlockable besides just sitting in the storage room for three days answering a phone. This is Dead Rising, not a Dell Tech Support simulator.
For a guy who mentions that he can see everything on the mall’s security system he really doesn’t understand the concept of being appropriate with the timing of calls. On numerous occasions during boss battles Otis will call you and ask you to bring him some KFC or whatever. Not really, but you get the idea. While an insane photographer is trying to shove a zombie larva inside of a survivor’s spread eagle ass for a good photo op (this actually happens in the game but I may be exaggerating certain details) Otis will calmly ask you what you’re doing and tell you there’s a perfectly safe woman hiding in a record store because since she’s already safe there’s apparently a pressing need to call you at the very moment when you’re about to get the kill shot on your enemy.
Oh, and by the way if you’re thinking about waiting in a location where he’s going to call about a survivor so that you can get there quickly? He won’t call. You will fail the achievement.
Capcom, you assholes.
At least they have a sense of humor though as in Survival Mode where every survivor is an enemy you must fight to stock up on food and items. Otis is the very first survivor you fight and there is nothing more rewarding than using the disembowel move on him 50 times in a row.
<string test> is not an achievement. Well, it is but you can’t unlock it. There is no way to obtain the achievement because its unlock parameters are never defined anywhere in the Osmos game code. Really, with a name like <string test> it already does just look like a piece of messed up placeholder code and that’s exactly the issue. This secret achievement is a last-minute insertion by Microsoft when they realized how badly the developers of Osmos screwed up the way their game would work with the gamerscore and achievement system.
A brief rundown of the standards and practices for achievements in an Xbox 360 game for those who don’t know: Console and PC titles are allotted 1,000G to divide up between up to 50 achievements (99 in special cases such as The Orange Box). If DLC is planned for the game the developers are permitted to increase the game’s total gamerscore by 250G each quarter of the year not to exceed 1,750G total. With Arcade and Windows Phone 7 titles developers have 200G they can divide up between a required 12 achievements.
Osmos has only 11 achievements.
Somehow in a fluke miracle of mathematics Hemisphere Games can make a list of numbers that add up to 200 but they can’t count to 12. Rather than make a 0-point achievement called “Thanks For Buying!” that unlocks at the game’s title screen Hemisphere Games’ developers looked amongst themselves with shifty and nervous eyes asking “do you think they’ll notice”. They submitted a game with 11 achievements and the moment Microsoft’s quality assurance department (like that really exists but just bear with me here) looked at the game they said “okay, which one of you didn’t pass second grade?” It’s not Microsoft’s job to come up with achievements for games, that job is given to the developers to carry out assuming they know how to perform basic math, so when Hemisphere Games shifted their gaze down to the ground and started kicking rocks I’d like to imagine Microsoft let out a long exasperated sigh and stamped their game with this unobtainable achievement.
<string test> is included in this list because it’s a great example of the first real demonstration of developers not knowing what the fuck they’re doing. Perhaps a mistake of this caliber could be tolerated at the launch of the console when the achievement system was brand new but we’re about six years into this system’s life. The only excuse here is “ourbad we am no count good”.
It is possible to get the full 200G on this game with the 11 “real” achievements, but depending on how you want to gauge true completion you can go by gamerscore or total achievements. If 200/200 and 11/12 is fine for you then that’s great, but for the gamers out there who focus more on keeping their achievement completion percentage as close to 100% as possible this is a game that will forever screw up your ratios.
If there was ever a definition of a truly worthless game genre it’s the sports genre and yes I’m just going to be right out with it. Sports games are a shameful disgrace to video games and their presence is just a long filthy blood-tinted skid mark on the face of the gaming market. There’s a new sports game every year and honestly when all you’re doing is playing football is there really anything more you can do to your games before you’re playing XFL? The same goes with basketball; basketball is basketball and we don’t need one game every year. We also don’t need a bunch of FIFA games or NHL titles, how about making one good game instead and just sticking with it? Environmentally the system we have is wasteful and economically it’s its own mini disaster. NBA Live 1994 is worth so little money that if you try and look up its trade-in value at a GameStop you’ll crash the system and cause a rift in time because you cannot display a number that is both zero and negative simultaneously.
Because sports games are a dime a dozen, and because 99% of them are shit out by Electronic Arts, it goes without saying that their online play is tentative and fleeting at best. EA knows so little about maintaining quality with their products that their website shamelessly boasts almost 450 released titles, about 400 of which are sports games. This section isn’t devoted to just EA alone, I’m not ragging on them specifically, they just happen to be the “most guilty” since the last time they ever had an original idea for a video game that didn’t involve some kind of inflated ball was sometime in the 1990’s.
The catch-22 with sports games is that their achievements are notoriously simple; the first few rounds of “2K6” and “Live 2006” games literally showered you with achievement points for performing completely inane tasks. Their online achievements are no different; most of them have requirements as mindless as “don’t fall asleep“. The problem here is that the window of time for obtaining these online achievements is insurmountably small to the point now that most of them only have a window of about a year to be completed so that server resources can be put toward the next worthless sports title. There are some games whose online servers will never be shut down (Halo 3, Reach) so their achievements are obtainable no matter how late you arrive to the show, but when it comes to sports games it’s not a matter of “if” the servers will shut down, it’s literally “when”. The only thing more worthless than sports games themselves are the achievements contained therein. They are the crowning example of “not giving a shit” when it comes to developers being in touch with their customers.
Depending on what decade you were born in the Activision company was one of many things: the “first third-party video game developer in the history of gaming” (the 1980’s), the “hardened team of veterans who knew how to keep their old classics alive” (the 1990’s), the “old school company who liked to cash in on their old titles but also created Guitar Hero so that’s okay I guess” (the 2000’s), or now most recently “that worthless shovelware publisher who very rarely puts out anything marginally worthwhile and just shit all over Spyro the Dragon” (the 2010’s). Activision, like the more infamous Electronic Arts, isn’t so much a developer anymore as they are more or less now portals for third-parties to pipe their awful games directly onto store shelves. Rather than actually having to posses some amount of technical finesse and knowledge to create a game these “developers” can just copy tech demos from back issues of PC Gamer magazine and release them as games so long as they fork over a handsome amount of money so Activision can make a profit and then press copies of such grand titles as Guitar Hero 17: The Best Tracks from the Performances at Woodstock that Weren’t Rained Out or Canceled Due To Rioting, Hippies Having Sex on Stage, or Hell’s Angels Raping Their Guitarist. Where would we be without such memorable titles?
In a less crap-saturated market. That’s where.
Part of me hates hating on Activision and EA because while they’ll go on a binge of releasing nothing but absolute trash they will once in a while put out something good like Blur or DragonAge and suddenly I find myself questioning my hatred but that usually ends around the time the next Madden is released. My loathsome attitude toward Activision is fleeting at best but recently I caught wind that Activision is planning on releasing the eleventh installment to the Spyro the Dragon franchise. Now, I didn’t say that they were creating it, no, they are just responsible for letting this get published and that’s where I draw the line. After Vivendi Universal thoroughly gutted and castrated Spyro into an absolutely worthless franchise I was suddenly thrown into hating a character I once loved but I realized “at least it can’t get any worse”. Oh my, how I was wrong. I don’t quite understand how you can possibly go any worse than The Legend of Spyro, because there isn’t a term or some kind of qualitative value that exists at this time to explain just how terrible of a series that was, but this new title — Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure — is in such a whole new dimension of time and space of awfulness that Stephen Hawking popped a science boner in an alternate universe when the game was announced. And Activision gave it the green light.
How the fuck do you even pronounce that name? What the fuck is “Skylanders”? Is it a person named Skylander? If so, is this plural or possessive? Is it some kind of world named Skyland? If so why is is Skylanders? It makes no fucking sense. I can understand “Spyro’s Adventure” on its own but when you pair it with an ambiguous noun like Skylanders it sounds so phonetically bad that simply trying to say it aloud causes the same reaction with speech therapists and English teachers that blowing dog whistles has on canines. It’s a name you can’t say properly, and when you do actually say it you feel retarded for saying it because immediately afterward you find yourself asking “what the hell did I just say?” [Fact: 78% of the people reading this just said “Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure” out loud. The remaining 22% said it mentally and suffered a stroke.]
“Okay,” you might be saying, “so far all you’ve complained about is the fact that it has a bad name. But names change during development, what is the game itself like?” I’m glad you asked. When I first read about the features this game has I learned about how the game features 32 little collectible figurines based upon characters in the game that you can place on some magic mousepad (called a “Portal”) which are then rendered into the game presumably as playable characters. Yes, it sounds like a composite fail of every single time this gimmick has ever been attempted by a game developer but it’s different this time because it’s Spyro right? Part of me wanted to believe so much in this game because it’s Spyro and despite what his creators have done to him I still have so many fond memories of him on the PlayStation and it would be awesome to have a new Spyro figurine to go with my PS1 era collectibles.
And then I saw what they did to Spyro. Behold, God’s mistake:
I saw this photo in a second press release about the game and for the first time in all of my years as a gamer, as a writer, as a dragon lover, and as a combination of the three I was at a loss for words. I wanted to crack a joke, but I couldn’t think of one. I wanted to shout “NO DO NOT WANT”, but I couldn’t speak. I wanted to facepalm but I couldn’t move. I had an expression on my face somewhere between just having watched a box of puppies be fed into a wood chipper and sitting on the toilet after having eaten Taco Bell for lunch and the only sound that came out of my mouth was a stiff grunt that tapered off into a puberty-broken scream.
Look at him. Don’t even say a damn word just look at him. Look at that face.
Spyro wants to die. He wants you to kill him. That expression is him begging you to pick up the nearest object and beat him to death with it no matter how much you start crying in the process. He is standing there begging you to put him out of his misery and if he could speak he would tell you exactly what terrible experiments “They” are probably doing to Crash Bandicoot too, but Spyro can’t tell you who “They” are. He can only show you what they did to him. He is dead on the inside, and he yearns for the day when his soul can finally be liberated from its fleshy prison.
I looked at that picture and a very specific and frightening urge was injected directly into the reptilian part of my brain: I suddenly wanted to find the CEO of Activision and strangle the life out of him with my bare hands. I felt like a Manchurian Candidate and Mutilated Spyro was my activation key. I can understand the idea that nothing but pure profits fuels the vast majority of the gaming industry today but at a certain point there has to be a limit where things aren’t profitable anymore. I stare in amazement as I see the sheer number of shovelware titles clogging the market and I cannot help but wonder as to why the market hasn’t crashed again like it did in the 1980’s, and this time I’m hoping Activision doesn’t survive the crash. Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea? A follow-up question to that: Who the hell is “Toys For Bob” and why are they producing this game? The last title they created was the game adaptation of the latest stupid Madagascar movie, and while I haven’t played it I’m sure it won Game of the Year from every publication and convention when it was released and is a game that will live on in the annals of history right next to Tetris and Metroid.
The game is intended for kids, and by the time Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure is released I will be 23 years old so perhaps it’s wrong of me to stand here and beat a children’s game into the ground, but in that respect what does it matter? Why does it matter that this is a kid’s game? The bigger question is why destroy the integrity of a franchise (moreso than it already has been) and kill the lovable factor its main proponent once had regardless of who its intended audience is? I have yet to discover what was so bad about the original Spyro character design and world probably because there was nothing wrong with it. Characters change and evolve, yes, but they don’t have to turn into Toothless the Dragon’s “after” picture from a Faces of Meth poster. Super Mario has lasted decades with only so much as a change of clothes and he’s still sitting pretty as a mostly unscathed franchise character. Why Spyro? Was How To Train Your Dragon really that great of a movie? (Hint: No.) I don’t think it’s a matter of basing a character design off of another one, I think Spyro’s new design is more or less irrefutable proof that originality in the gaming industry is a rare sight these days.
But how can I scream “unoriginal” when this is the “first game” to feature this Portal technology to change characters? Because the developers basically took the purpose of a Character Select screen and came up with a half-assed way to make a profit on it. Their “creative” twist on the game is not unlike playing Mortal Kombat and then realizing all of the locked characters are unlocked by paying actual IRL Kredits for them instead of in-game ones. It’s fucking stupid, not to mention ridiculous. The character figurines themselves also contain a little memory storage unit to hold your progress effectively undermining the point of your console having a hard drive which appear not quite to save only your progress but also as a means of having some underhanded digital-rights management thrown in for added flair. Perhaps the best part is that the game comes with three random figurines meaning that there’s a pretty decent chance you won’t even get Spyro, the “star” of the fucking game, with your copy.
The cast of characters, if you can even call these third-trimester abortions that, aren’t original either. Each and every one of them look like uninspired and generic characters from every single design convention in video game history. A fire-element character made of magma and rock is such an unoriginal cop-out that I’m quite sure the first time such a character was ever conceived regardless of when it happened that the creation was met with sighs, rolling eyes, and affirmations of “gee, couldn’t think of anything less obvious?”
But best of all Activision’s CEO Eric Hirshberg (whose hobbies include seeing how many testicles he can fit into his mouth all at once) had this to say about the new “game”:
“These are more than action figures. They are inter-action figures … pairing world class character design, world class video game design and world class story telling into one…”
Fuck you, Eric Hirshberg. There’s a “world class buttfucking” waiting for you. In Hell.