So, the Super Scope. As a kid, I often used to sit and think to myself "you know what would make this videogame more fun? If I had to balance a length of drainpipe on my shoulder and squint while I'm playing it". What could be more fun that that? Well, it turned out that just about anything was more fun than that, and Nintendo quietly disposed of the Super Scope in some dark dungeon, probably the same place they chucked the Virtual Boy. One of the Super Scope's problems, aside from the physical discomfort and the fact that you looked like a proper tool when using one, was that there were hardly any games for it. I found one, though, and here it is: Nintendo's 1992 robot-themed blaster, Battle Clash.

This is a game about shooting robots. Robots that you shoot and also robots that shoot things. Shooting robots shooting. I'm struggling here, because if there is a plot to Battle Clash, the game doesn't deign to share it with you. What I managed to pick up from playing the "story" mode is that I have to shoot some robots with my robot because another robot once killed my dad's robot and he's going to be evil in his robot. Or something. Whatever the reason, you fight the robot bosses one at a time, using the Super Scope. The gameplay itself is very simple: when you're not firing, a power bar fills up. Once it's full, you can shoot an "Energy Bolt", which is generally the only way to damage your enemy. If you press fire when your bar's not full, you fire a piddly little shot which you can use to shoot the enemy's bullets out of the air. It's all pretty simple. Things are made slightly more bizarre by the fact that every battle seems to take place while the afore-mentioned robots are sliding along parallel to eachother at hundreds of miles per hour. I understand that maybe my opponent wants to try and get away, maybe put some space between us and try up a different strategy, but when I can easily match his speed and course, you would think they would try something else instead of simply wasting their no-doubt expensive giant robot fuel by sliding around like a particularly rubbish ice-skater. They should just stand still and let me shoot them: it'd have the same overall effect. Maybe that's just how things are done in the far future, with every conflict decided by two robots running alongside eachother, waiting for their guns to recharge. Actually, that sounds quite fun. I've changed my mind about the futility of sideways-running-fighting: when I am in charge, I shall decree that all battles must be fought this way. In the unlikely event that giant mechanical war-machines aren't commonplace when I'm in power, the robots will be replaced by men sitting astride rockets. It'd certainly make the conflicts in the Middle East more entertaining.
All this is really just an excuse to look at the robot sprites from the game. They're pretty good!


If your giant robot is going to based on an animal, make sure you eschew the more obvious choices like tigers and eagles and go for the frog-based look. God, those eyes are piercing into my very soul. I'd like to to think that this robot is the ultimate conclusion to Galvani's famous "electric frog's legs" experiment. The screenplay is writing itself as we speak... in my mind! You can actually shoot his legs clean off, and his torso just sits there, looking forlorn and throwing the occasional plasma blast at you.


An Egyptian theme for the second boss. Hey, I've just noticed he's got the same eyes as Garam. Spooky. The complication of this fight is that you cannot damage Scarab until you hit his weak spot. And where is said weak spot? Why, it's between his legs. In the groin. His robot plums. SHOOT HIS BALLS.


Lorca's pilot sure is similar to Yuda from Fist of the North Star, and they both have the same obsession with their own beauty. He also complains when you damage his beautiful face, like certain other videogame narcissists. As for his robot, it has guns for breasts. This game is sick, it really is.


In a shocking turn of events, this battle scrolls downwards, not across! It's thrills and spills like that that make Battle Clash such an amazing title. I like this robot, though; it's just cool-looking all 'round. Although, it does bear a certain resemblance to various Eldar warmachines from the Warhammer 40,000 universe, especially in the leg region.


The pilot (see the top-right of the above picture) appears to be an evil robot version of John Denver:

A terrifying prospect indeed. The Schneider protects itself with some glowing orbs, so again, you have to shoot this robot in the balls. It also looks a bit like an Eldar vehicle.


Big, slow, tough and sterotypically Russian, the Ivan is a bit dull. He doesn't even slide around! The large square on the front opens up to conveniently reveal his weak spot. I've just noticed that he's got a smiley face: the two guns just under the big square are the eyes, the green strip is the mouth. That's another military idea that I think should be enforced: mandatory smiley faces for all death machines!


A mysterious masked man appears to challenge you! What is the name of this noble stranger? Surely something elegant, even regal. Oh no wait, he's called Eddie. His robot is the stealthy ninja type, a little mantis-esque, teleporting and creating fake copies to distract you (not that mantises can do those things). When you defeat him, you tell Eddie you think he was brainwashed, and he reacts with real nonchalance. Apparently losing control of his mind and being forced to commit evil deeds is something that just doesn't bother him, and that's the kind of apathy I can relate to.


My favourite of the lot, Baron is piloted by yet another mysterious masked man. Don't they know they'll ruin the mystique for eveyone if they all wear masks? At least his robot looks good, very reminiscent of anime like Patlabor. Also, you have to appreciate the chutzpah needed to paint your robot gold. It's a pretty bold statement. Baron also gets the best music, one assumes because he painted his robot gold:


The final boss. At first, he looks like a robot samurai. So far, pretty standard. Then you shoot him for a while and he turns into whatever this thing is supposed to be.

Honestly, I'm looking at it and I have no goddamn clue what's going on. Are the two bits at the front legs? They look like what I imagine a brain-damaged robot dinosaur would look like. The back region just appears to be spikes for spikes' sake. Maybe all those red dot are eyes and it's some kind of space-spider. Whatever he is, he is soon dispatched by the mighty power of the Super Scope, and the game is over. The end.

Battle Clash is short. Really, really short. It is fun while it lasts, but as it lasts about as long as one of my New Year's Resolutions, I can't really recommend it to you. If I did, you might feel compelled to try it out. That'd mean you'd have to use a Super Scope and that, my friends, is something I wouldn't inflict on anyone.



Megaman games are nothing if not predictable. Fight eight robots, steal their weapons, go through a castle and fight Dr. Wily. Replace Dr. Wily with Sigma, and there you have the Megaman X series. One of the other differences between the two series is that while the Robot Masters in the classic series follow the naming convention (Noun/Verb)man (Cutman, Skullman, Gravityman etc,) the bosses of the X series are usually a word followed by a type of animal. So, you get Megaman X fighting a collection of crazy robots called things like Crystal Snail and Storm Eagle. Except, in the original Japanese, things aren't quite that simple. Here are some of my favourite original names from the Megaman X series. Bizarre translation decisions ahoy!

Chill Penguin - Icy Penguigo, Megaman X

"Chill Penguin" makes it sound like he's, well, just a pretty chilled guy. As you will quickly gather, the general naming structure for the Japanese MMX bosses was to start giving them an animal name and then go crazy half-way through and just start chucking random letters in. Hence, Icy Penguigo. I think part of my enjoyment of these original names is that when I pronounce them in my head, I always say them in Beavis' Cornholio voice. "I am Icy Penguigo! Are you threatening me!?"

Spark Mandrill - Spark Mandriller, Megaman X

Spark Mandriller. Mandriller. Man Driller. Yep.

Bubble Crab - Bubbly Crablos, Megaman X2

D'aww, Bubbly Crablos. That's just... adorable! He is also known by his title "Pulverising Demon of the Oceans Depths", which isn't quite so adorable.

Gravity Beetle - Gravity Beetbood, Megaman X3

This is probably my favourite, and the one I wish they'd left alone. There's just something about the word "Beetbood" that pleases me on a deep subconscious level. Also, his stage has some of the best music in the Megaman X series, which is really saying something.

Megaman X5 (All of it)

This is where it all starts to go a bit peculiar. It starts off being business as usual, and in Japan Megaman X5 contains bosses with traditional MMX names like Spiral Pegacion, Crescent Grizzly and Volt Kraken. Then, during the translation process, a truly bizarre decision was made. All of the Maverick bosses were renamed after the members of Guns 'n' Roses. To the best of my knowledge, no reason for this has ever been given, and I sure as hell can't think of one. Imagine if Final Fantasy VII had been released in the west and your party consisted of John, Paul, George and Ringo. All in all, it's pretty surreal. The only reason I can come up with for this strange choice is that one of the bosses is rose-based and you shoot him with your (arm-)gun. So, Spike Rosered become Axle the Red for the western releases. Crescent Grizzly became Grizzly Slash, which I can kind of understand because I suppose bears do slash with their claws. Things start getting a bit stretched when Tidal Makoeen is renamed to Duff McWhalen after former GnR bassist Duff McKagan. McWhalen, McKagan... you might have just gotten away with it. Then Izzy Stradlin gets a Izzy Glow named after him and any pretence goes out the window. The best of all is Spiral Pegacion being renamed to The Skiver. I guess it must mean something different outside of the UK.
UPDATE: In a fittingly bizarre twist, this article right here reveals that the Guns 'n' Roses name-change madness was a localization decision taken by one Alyson Court, better known to videogame fans as the voice of Claire Redfield in the Resident Evil series. Her goal was apparently to keep up the Mega Man tradition of musically-named elements, so that's fair enough. Still, Capcom USA: what the fuck?

Metal Shark Player - Metalshark Prayer, Megaman X6

Ah, the all-too familiar L / R problem. I do like the idea of a robot shark being a playa, though. The "Prayer" in the original name is a reference to Metalshark's resurrection abilities, but I'm pretty sure he's not some kind of ultra-religious robot shark. I can't believe I just typed that.

Ride Boarski - Hellride Inobusky, Megaman X7

Hellride Inobusky is one god-damn cool name. If I had a band, that is what they would be called. Hellride Inobusky and The Mistranslations. I expect the major labels to be knocking on my door any day now. Dropping the "Hell" aspect from his name just leaves the translation looking that little bit anaemic.

Bamboo Pandamonium - Bamboo Pandemonium, Megaman X8

Nice to see that even the Japanese can't resist a good old (and I mean ancient) pun.

And that's that. You should all go and play some Megaman X now. It does a body good!

PS. Don't forget about the VGJUNK tumblr page!



"Johnson, get in here!"
"Yes, sir? What is it?"
"Have you finished that racing game yet?"
"Well, no, sir. We've got a working prototype but it's nowhere near finished and.."
"Yes, yes, but it's playable? Then we can start printing the discs."
"But sir, it's... it's awful. No-one in their right mind would buy this game..."
"Listen to me, Johnson. Do you know who buys videogames? Teenage boys."
"Sir, I'm not sure it's strictly teenage boys that bu..."
"Yes, that's right. Teenage boys. And do you know what teenage boys like, Johnson?"
"No sir."
"They like tits. Big tits, little tits, any kind of tits. And that's how we're going to sell this game. Get Hooters on the phone and send some people down there to photograph some of their girls. This game is going to be huge, my boy. Huge!"
"...Yes, sir."

And thus, Hooter's Road Trip was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world.

Yes, it's a Hooters-themed racing game. This is... not good. It was released in 2002 for the PS1 by a company called Hoplite Research, and once you've played it you will wish for the ghosts of a thousand actual hoplites to descend upon the creators and frighten them to death by doing, I dunno, whatever terrifying things the ghosts of dead Greek soldiers do.
The actual format of the game is fairly standard: It's sort of like OutRun, in the same way that Schindler's List is like Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS. You pick a car and drive it from one location in the southern USA to another, and then another, and another, interminably, for ever and ever until you finally snap and stab a passing kitten. So, that'll be the Road Trip portion of the title, then. What is most certainly doesn't have in common with OutRun is its complete lack of any kind of redeeming features. For starters, let's pick a car:

Oh dear. I'd like to point out that this game came out in 2002. To put that into context, Gran Turismo came out in 1997, and it's graphics looked like this:

Yeowch. Well, maybe the cars don't look quite so much like they're made of badly-painted cardboard boxes during the actual gameplay.

Oh no, they do. Well, that's unfortunate. And what of the gameplay? Well, it's pretty much exactly as terrible as you'd expect. The cars all seem to have been beamed down from some distant planet, some far-flung nebula where there is no friction or inertia and the cars (or Land-Boxes, as they are called there) slide around like they are made of wet soap. The slightest touch of the steering and the cars instantly begin fishtailing, and for some bizarre reason they all pull to the right when you're trying to drive in a straight line. Perversely, the car described as having the "worst" handling stat is actually the easiest to control because it doesn't slide around as much. It's a world gone topsy-turvy, I tells ya.
But you don't care about any of that, do you? You just want to see the girls. Well, okay then, you asked for it. Here's an example:

I bet she's called Debbie, or possibly Cindy. You actually get videos of the girls between stages. Their acting is so atrocious, it hovers somewhere between embarrasing and actually kinda sweet.

Did I mention the music? It's... surprisingly not soul-rendingly bad. I mean, it's not good, but it's not something you might expect to hear being piped into Hell's shopping centres. Some of it sounds like it was written and performed by a ZZ Top tribute band who had never actually seen or heard ZZ Top, and all of it sounds like the soundtrack to either a corporate recruitment video or something with a name like American Footballers Fall Over Part XXX.
What? You want more girls? Well, here's another Debbie-Cindy.

I've played a fair few bad videogames. Hell, I played the NES version of Dragon's Lair quite a lot in my youth. H:RT is truly awful, but it also made me feel kind of... dirty after I'd played it. Grubby you know, coated in a thick layer of grime that I can't scrub away. It's not very often a game make you feel like that. Is it the worst game I've ever played? I'm not sure, but it can be proud that it has secured itself a top-ten position at the very least. Any driving game where driving in a straight line is a difficult and frustrating task is never going to be good, but at least H:RT went for that extra "ick" factor. Full on, baby, that's how these Hooters' girls live.
Anyway, that's all I can bring myself to say about this travesty. Say goodbye, girls!

Ouch, you might want to have those artefacts looked at by a professional.

Do you want to see all of the cutscene for this game, you pervert? Well, here they are!

I love the bit at 1:39 where she says "Nice racing, champ" and sounds really sarcastic. Perhaps a woman speaking sarcastically about how good my performance was just strikes a chord with me.



Don't get me wrong, I love Robocop, but he really isn't all that suited to starring in videogames. Sure, he's indestructible, but he's also slow and clumsy. It's a bit like playing F-Zero as a cement mixer. Robocop did end up starring in a whole bunch of videogames, though, which I guess is just more proof that that games developers will still turn any old licence into a side-scrolling shooter if it'll make them some money. Still, at least none of them are the DaVinci Code game.

Robocop, 1989(?), ZX Spectrum, Data East

That doesn't look like Robocop here; in fact, he looks more like The Stig. Well of course he doesn't look great, it's a sprite from the goddamn ZX Spectrum. What did you expect? I actually had this version of Robocop when I was a wee bairn, and all I can remember about it is that it never seemed to work properly. I quite like the high-contrast black black-and-white look for Robocop, though: Sin City: Robocop, perhaps. I'd buy that for a dollar! HAH THERE I SAID IT.

Robocop 1, 2 and 3, 1989-92, NES, Data East / Ocean

There was whole trilogy of Robocop games for the NES, and here are the sprites in 1, 2, 3 order from left to right. There's some kind of Goldilocks thing going on here: Robocop 1 is too thin! Robocop 2 is too fat! But Robocop 3 is juuuuust right! Now I like to imagine the director of Robocop 3 (The Movie) searching on Google, seeing the phrase "Robocop 3 is juuuuust right!" and thinking that finally, finally after all the long, bitter years, he has found someone who doesn't think Robocop 3 is awful. But he'll be disappointed when I tell him that his movie sucked. Ha! Well, at least it was better than the live-action series.
Man, Robocop 2 does look a bit porky there, and he appears to have a little goatee beard. Wait, that sounds like a description of me.

Robocop, 1988, Arcade, Data East

Strikin' a pose there, huh Robocop? Yeah, you look kinda cool. Yep. Well, see ya.

Robocop 2, 1990, Arcade, Data East

And this sprite started off so well, too. From the waist up, this sprite is pretty good, but then we pan down to the mangled mess that used to be Robocop's legs and it all goes a bit pear-shaped. He could do with some kind of super-strengh Thighmaster. Y'know, cuz he'd break a normal Thighmaster between his powerful robot thighs. I wish I hadn't just typed that.

Robocop vs The Terminator, 1993, Megadrive, Interplay

This is probably the best sprite of the lot, with the right level of detail and pretty much the right colours. He's very nicely animated too, and he lights up due to the muzzle flare when you fire his gun. It's little touches like that that I appreciate in my videogames. They even captured the awkward-looking pose he makes when he fires his gun, which make him look like he's just been stung by some unwarranted criticism and taken aback slightly. That's a very difficult emotion to captue in pixels, you know.

Robocop 3, 1992, SNES, Ocean

With a curiously flat head and marshmallowy-looking limbs, this is not the lean, mean crime-fightin' machine you might have expected from a Robocop game. Perhaps we shouldn't mention the tumour he has swelling in his calf. He's probably sensitive about it. Oh no wait, he's a robot and therefore doesn't have feelings. HEY ROBOCOP, NICE LEG TUMOUR YOU GOT THERE! (Disclaimer: I am fully aware that Robocop is technically a cyborg and not a robot. Maybe you should write to Orion and tell ask them to rename him to Cybocop.)

Robocop vs The Terminator, 1993, SNES, Interplay

Robocop has goat legs. Goat legs. He may well be a cyborg version of the Devil, or, even more terrifyingly, Torgo. Rather than a gun, he has one enormous middle finger that he's sticking up at us. Truly, this is the most evil of Robocops, and I will gladly fall in supplication before our new cloven-hooved robot cyborg master.


Also, go and visit the VGJUNK Tumblr. It's pretty sweet.



Ahh, Metro City, town of a million punches, where the mayors are filled with ferocious justice and people store their meat in oil drums. Come with me as I go through Capcom's 1993 NES jaunt to The City That Never Sleeps Because It's Too Busy Punching People, Mighty Final Fight.

Everyone knows Final Fight, don't they? Well, if you don't, it's a side-scrolling beat-em-up, and for many it's the side-scrolling beat-em-up. Of course, the NES couldn't handle a direct arcade port, so instead Capcom chibified all the characters; thus MFF was born.
The plot is the same as every Final Fight game: Mayor Mike Haggar's daughter Jessica is kidnapped. Haggar blames Cody at first, which is a little harsh, but of course it turns out that the Mad Gear gang is behind it all. This time, instead of kidnapping her to force Haggar to do their bidding, Mad Gear's leader Belger has fallen in love with her. Aww. So, our heroes set off to rescue her, and Belger will soon learn that love really can be painful, painful like an elected city official drop-kicking you in the face.

Haggar, Cody and Guy are all playable, and, it must be said, kind of adorable. Well, except Haggar.

Obviously, I'm going to play as Haggar. Guy appears to have learned a form of ninjitsu based on tickling your enemy into submission, and Cody doesn't have a sweet moustache, so Haggar is the only choice. The gameplay is pretty much the same as the grown-up Final Fight, all of it coated with that unmistakable Capcom sheen of quality. One difference is that MFF features an experience point system: clobber goons, get stronger. You get more EXP for dispatching them with certain moves: the lowly and oft-repeated jumping kick scores a measly one pont, but suplexing a guy is worth more. Plus suplexing is just better.

You start off in the slums, moving forward and suplexing guys left and right. The enemies are chibi versions of previous FF goons, including Rolento, who sports a truly sinister smirk. The boss is Damnd / Thrasher, and he is great. He asks you to join Mad Gear, and of course I said yes. Well, joining a gang is what all the cool kids are doing, right? But I saw turned down because apparently I looked like too much of a mama's boy. It's takes some brass balls to say something like that to Haggar, so credit to Damnd. I still beat him to death, though, and then it's on to stage two, the Riverside. WARNING! The riverside contains Poison!

She really doesn't look impressed, huh? I really love that sprite. There's a lot of character crammed into about twelve pixels there.
The boss is Sodom, and Haggar wastes no time in letting the Japan-obsessed weirdo know who's boss:

Damn right.

Stage three is set in the old town, and the very first thing I did on this stage was suplex a guy down a hole, and yes, it was as cool as it sounds. Haggar didn't get to be Mayor for nothing, you know.

The music, which is excellent throughout, is especially good in this stage. If you like the music from the NES Megaman games, then you'll get a kick out of it:

Stage three's boss is Abigail, and he's angry. Well, you would be, being called Abigail and all. A nice touch is that when he grabs you, instead of his normal deadly grapple, he tries to kiss you. Haggar does not look impressed.

Stage four is the factory. The factory has a section where you're in a lift. Of course it does, this is a side-scrolling beat-em-up. They always have lifts. Always. Always. At least on this one you can kick guys of the side for an instant kill. You can also see the floor number changing as you descend, which is a nice touch. The boss is Sodom again, but red. Once you beat him up a bit, he changes his atack pattern and starts dashing around, trying to tun into you. I fail to see what running in Haggar is supposed to accomplish; You might as well run into a tree. It is a rare example of a boss getting easier once you've dealt him some damage.

The final stage is set in the Bayside area, with more great music:

You have to fight Abigail again and Sodom again, again, which feels a little cheap, but I can't feel too bad when I can do a piledriver. Yes, you can pick a guy up and piledrive him into the floor, or, if you prefer, you can piledrive them onto another enemy's head. Performing that maneuver gives me a kind of satisfaction that should probably be reserved for more important things, like getting promoted or becoming the first man on Mars. It's like a tiny voice in the back of my head says ...yeah! under its breath every time I do it.
The last boss, Belger, uses a nice turn of phrase at the start of the fight:

Unfortunately, he is a dick. I know that, as the head of a vicious crime syndicate, it was unlikely that he was going to offer me a cup of tea and a biscuit, but he's cheaper than bargain-basket copies of Jordan's last single. He stands at one side of the screen shooting rocket fists at you (oh, did I not mention that he's a cyborg now?) and when you make it over to him, he legs it to the other side of the screen. This is very, very frustrating, but I guess it made it feel all the sweeter when I trapped him in a corner an pummeled the everloving crap out out him. Then he explodes (because he's a cyborg, you see). Jessica is reunited with her meat-mountain of a father, and Metro City is once more at peace. Yay!

Mighty Final Fight is damn good fun, you know. By not trying to shoehorn the arcade version into a NES cart, Capcom came up with something a little different, and it's definitely worth playing. So go to Metro City, young warrior, and punch an oil drum for me!



Do you know what made the fine, upstanding member of the community that I am today? A near-constant diet of videogames and horror movies. Yes, I've been ingesting both these media for longer than I can remember, and they have yet to turn me into a cannibalistic mass-murderer, but that may change if the vision I am about to put forward ever comes to fruition.
You see, I love slasher films, and I love videogames, but the two have never really come together in a truly satisfying way. Each of the big four slasher franchises (Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Hallowe'en and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) has had a videogame made of them at somepoint, and they are all invariably terrible. For example, here's the terrfying Jason Voorhees in the NES version of Friday the 13th:

Yes, well. He's hardly very menacing in his lilac jumpsuit. I love the way he's holding his clenched fists at his sides, as though he's hopping from one foot to the other in excitement/anticipation/murderous rage.
There was a Texas Chainsaw Massacre game for the Atari 2600, too. If you have any sense, that sentence will scare you more than any film ever could. Here's some gameplay footage:

And so on. What I want to see is a modern slasher-film stlye videogame. A serial-killer sim, if you will. We probably shouldn't put that on the advertising, though. That's one of the problems with this kind of game though: people will object to the violence, but then again, is Nightmare on Elm Street really any bloodier than, say, MadWorld?
What I'd like to see is a game not based on any particular horror franchise, but rather one that takes all the various tropes of the slasher genre and uses them in the game. So, at the start the game you must create your playable monster. The choices you make at the start of the game determine the kind of killer you end up with. Why did they become a killer? Childhood trauma and mental impairment, a la Leatherface? A Freddy Krueger-esqe villain from beyond the grave? Religious mania like Carrie's mother? Their genesis would affect the way they play the game, whether they have supernatural powers or just like stabbin', whether they're more at home in a rural or urban environment, that kind of thing. You can choose their trademark weapon, too, and then it's on to the game.
The gameplay would be a kind of action stealth-em-up, I suppose, where you sneak around disposing of slutty teenagers and nosy strangers. Of course, you can't just machete every single one, oh no; we don't want the audience getting bored. So, you get points and prizes for mixing it up a bit. Sure, take the first few out with the knife, but then you start hanging them on mounted deer heads and trapping them in cages made of chainsaws. That'll get 'em scared! Bonuses will also be awarded for using typical slasher film scare tactics. For instance, you make your victim think you're hiding in the bath. They gingerly creep over, summon their courage and yank back the shower curtain to reveal... nothing. Then, just as they breath a sigh of relief, you step out from behind the door and bash 'em on the head with a spade. ONE MILLION BONUS POINTS AWARDED. If you can kill the teens just as they're about to start having sex, taking drugs or both, well, so much the better.
With the addition of an early-eighties VHS-cover design ethic and a John Carpenter soundtrack, this could well be the best game ever made. I expect the larger games companies to be knocking on my door any day now with offers of fabulous wealth. Until then, I guess we'll have to make do with Splatterhouse. Here's hoping the new one is the god-awful trainwreck I'm assuming it's going to be.



In 1993, Data East released a game called Dashin' Desperadoes, and it was met with pretty much no response of any kind. Well, yawns maybe. But I'm going to do my part to stop it simply going gently into that good night by writing this article. You'll all thank me when the post-apocalyptic survivors find this article and form the new world religion around a game about cartoon cowboys and their quest to please a vicious harridan.

Before we start, I'd just like to mention the bit of speech at the start that says "Presented by Data East". Any regular readers will know I love little bits of digitized speech, and this is no exception. I think it's the way the announcer speaks like he's slowly, gradually being paralysed by the venom of some particularly unpleasant tropical spider. You can listen to it here.

Anyway, the game itself is about running from one end of the stage to the other. Yup. You play as a cowboy called Will who has to race his rival, a cowboy called Rick, across the various obstacle-strewn stages. The reason they race? Well, it's because they want to get to a girl called Jenny.

See, now, I have to take issue with Jenny. She clearly has some kind of sociopathic disorder, encouraging two men to risk life and limb by running through ever-more-dangerous landscapes simply to win her affection. Also, she makes out with whichever cowboy gets to her first. She's not fussy, the slut.

The gameplay in Dashin' Desperadoes is surprisingly good fun. Sure it's lightweight, throwaway fun, but it's still fun. The concept of a platform racer was not one that was mined particularly deeply, and on playing DD it did strike me that it seems pretty unique. Considering I've been playing videogames for around twenty years now, any videogame that feels unique is worth a look, frankly.
The basic mechanics are simple enough: You've got a jump button, natch; you can roll along for a short while in a sort of dash maneuver, and you can throw a weapon at your rival. Both players are completely invincible, but getting hit makes them stop for a while. So, the game boils down to running and jumping from one end to the other while trying to touch as few of the obstacles as possible. There are different routes to take in each stage, the general theme being that the higher-up routes are harder to get to but contain less obstacles.

You will learn to hate your rival Rick with the searing intensity of a thousand exploding stars, though. On any difficulty other than easy, the slightest mistake means failure, as Rick blithely jogs past you, effortlessly avoiding the hedgehogs/lava falls/crows/men opening doors that populate the stages while you seem to stumble into every obstacle around. His bombs seem to find you whereever you are, and his explosions last much longer than yours, I swear. He never misses a jump. In fact, if he's so perfect, why doesn't Jenny just have him!? What a dick.

Rick's dickmoves grow in scale during the third stage of every world, where he kidnaps Jenny and tries to escape in some kind of vehicle, be it a car, a plane or a blimp. You have to chase behind him, throwing bombs at the vehicle until they stop. Bear in mind this happens every three levels, so during the course of the game Jenny gets kidnapped six times. That's well beyond even Princess Peach levels of kidnap: at least she usually manages to stick to one kidnap per game. Despite her protests during these stages, by the next level she is encouraging the cowboy's rivalry again. Jenny has serious mental issues.

The music's pretty good too. The highlights are stage 2-3 during the blimp battle:

And stage 6-2, in the pyramid. The pyramid is full of lava. I presume the pharaoh wanted to take hundreds of tons of boiling rock with him into the afterlife.

So, all in all, Dashin' Desperadoes is not awful. It's fun while it lasts, the graphics are nice and the music is pretty good. More importantly, it's a bit different. In these days of bald space marines, that means something. I'll leave you with this advert, featuring the box art:

(click for bigger)
Jesus, look at those mouths. They look like the Rice Krispies elves after seeing terrible... things in some distant war. And what's going on with Jenny's arm in the background there? At least the buzzard looks happy...

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