Diet Go Go might sound like a Chinese energy drink banned by EU law because of its wildly carcinogenic ingredients, but it's actually a 1992 arcade blow-em-up-em-up by Data East. See, it's got a title screen and everything!

It prominently features two athletic children. They're probably on a sensible, balanced diet already, but they're not quite in perfect health as they're both suffering from a condition that makes one of their eyes droop closed, not that it'll hold them back from living the active lifestyle. Their eye problems might explain why they haven't spotted the giant cake behind them, a cake that represents a cruel barb from Data East. You can't start talking about diets and then show me a cake slathered in enough icing to disintegrate Godzilla's teeth, it's making me want to eat my body weight in marzipan and I can't afford that amount of marzipan.

Time for some plot, and here's the usual mad scientist type plotting word conquest. Funnily enough he's leering over the Earth in the same way I would be over that cake. So, what fiendish plan is Dr. Dingus here preparing to unleash on the planet?

He's giving out free food! That bastard! Well, it's a refreshing change from the usual doomsday-cannon-aimed-at-the-Earth's-core line of villainy. It's got a certain subtlety to it that I enjoy, because it relies on humanity's tendency towards excess - no-one is forcing these people to eat the downpour of fried chicken and cake, but they do and thus they doom themselves. Everyone becomes morbidly obese, which has no bearing on anything that happens in the game. I think that's the extent of the evil Doctor's plan - "make everyone fat". There's no step two, it's not like he's hiding outside the White House, twirling his moustache and saying "soon the President will be too fat to enter the Oval Office, and then I will be in charge! Muahaha!" Maybe the Doctor owns a company that makes mobility scooters, that would at least give him a motive.

Of course, our brave heroes will not stand idly by and watch the the people of Earth be condemned to a life of diabetes and elasticated trousers, and so the two youths set out to stop the Doctor. I've come to think of them as Punky and Spunky, the Exercise Extremists. They didn't eat the insta-fattening food. They must have been off somewhere filming a workout video or getting their headbands de-loused. They're here now, though, these nameless specimens of physical perfection, and they're ready to travel across the globe in search of the Doctor.

Okay, maybe the enfattening of the human race had consequences more grave than I first imagined. This map does not make for comforting reading - a devilish mountain now covers most of the USA, South America has become a vast, haunted graveyard and a giant carrot looms menacingly over India. No wonder that octopus wears such an expression of wild-eyed bogglement, the world has changed so much and it's left him reeling.

The game itself is a single-screen platformer that owes a great debt to Bubble Bobble and especially to Snow Bros., to the point that calling it "Snow Bros. with obesity instead of snow" feels like a fair assessment of the gameplay. Punky (or Spunky, I never did decide which was which) has to eliminate all the enemies on the screen before he can move on to the next stage, and to do that he has to make the enemies fat. Pressing fire makes him throw a sweet, which starts the fattening process, and once the enemies are fat Punky can run into the bad guy to defeat it. If the enemy was hit by one sweet they only get a bit fat - think Val Kilmer's chunky phase - and you can touch them to send them rolling left or right, where eventually they will pop and die. Hit them with more than one sweet and they'll gain the kind of bulk seen in your late-stage Marlon Brandos, and touching them when they're that size causes them to bounce around the screen, destroying any other enemies they bump into. If they're not fat at all, touching a monster is instant death, so the tactics for Diet Go Go are made apparent very early on: pump up some enemies as fast as you can and kick them around the screen, hoping that they take out the majority of their associates before they get close to you.

Each stage has plenty of monsters, too. Just look at all those gingerbread men, patrolling these platforms while peering at the player with eyes that are either soulless black voids or chocolate chips, the sinister silent guardians of the Dessert Kingdom. Why did I start my mission with the land of puddings? That seems like it would be the hardest place to free from the shackles of obesity. It'll be hard to affect change in the local attitudes toward healthy food when you can take a bite out of Jelly Mountain whenever you're feeling peckish. I should have started at the Giant Indian Carrot.

After a couple of stages, each world ends with a boss battle and they're all pretty much the same. Because you can't directly hurt the boss, you have to inflate its minions and kick them into the boss to cause it damage. The first boss is this evil fairytale queen, who keeps summoning gingerbread men even after I've used their bodies to bash her about five or six times. For their part the gingerbread men suffer this ignominy with quiet grace, never complaining ever once I've pumped them full of sweets and they've ballooned into the grotesque globular freaks you can see in the picture above. That's fatter than you get just from eating sugar, I'm sure of it. I know what's really going on here: my sweets are carefully tailored to the allergies of each opponent. They're not swelling up through calorie intake, they're going into anaphylactic shock.
After kicking enough grossly swollen gingerbread men into the queen - it doesn't take long, as she covers most of the screen - the first world is over. From here our heroes will move from themed world to themed world, doing the same thing as they did in the World of Sweets: throwing overweight monsters at each other until the Earth is safe once more. Next up - a trip to the funfair!

The funfair is packed with killer Pinocchios and angry gumball dispensers, both of which can be made fat with the application of sweets despite that making no sense at all. Pinocchios are made of wood, and gumball machines? Their whole raison d'etre is to be filled with sweets, you'd think this would all be in a day's work for them.

The monsters can also get their calorific revenge by firing their own girth-increasing morsels at our hero. Get hit with one of these and you start getting plump, as you can see here, and once you're fat eating another item of food will cost you a life. Diet Go Go has a very weird relationship with the concept of a healthy diet. Any kind of food will make you fat and a second helping will kill you, which in itself is going to cause some hang-ups, but when your character does get chubby you can't shed the pounds by running around and jumping about, oh no - you have to find a "diet drink," the game placing a higher value on faddy weight-loss aids than on sensible, healthful exercise. Having thought about this nightmarish food scenario for a few minutes, I have reached only one conclusion: that I have spent more time thinking about Diet Go Go's premise than anyone in the western hemisphere.

The boss is a big evil marionette. How do I know it's evil? It's the hat. No man, beast or animated wood golem with a shred of decency would wear that, and the matching pink bootees mean that we can exclude "I got dressed in the dark" or "it's part of a silly joke, ha ha" as possible explanations. No, that outfit - such as it is - was planned, possibly by a mad sorcerer. I'm less worried about the boss than I am that our hero's poor congested heart is going to explode, mind you.

It's the obligatory ice-themed stage! Well, why not get it out of the way early? This one has the usual penguins and snowmen, but it also contains the wandering ghosts of doomed Arctic explorers. You can make these ghosts fat, somehow. I assume the sweets I'm throwing at them are just piling up under their sheets.

As you play Diet Go Go you'll occasionally collect big Data East coins, each of which gives you one spin of the slot machine at the top of the screen. If it hits the jackpot you win a prize - usually this is in the form of a rain of gems that you can collect for extra points, but sometimes it warps you to this special Bonus Game where there's a rain of gems but you have to jump between these clouds without falling in order to collect them. That, uh, doesn't feel very special. My one big criticism of Diet Go Go's controls would be that there's sometimes a delay between you pressing jump and your character actually jumping. In regular gameplay this doesn't matter too much because you can't fall off the bottom of the screen, but it becomes noticeable in the bonus game and it's never fun to fail at something like this, something where you're sure you should be able to do it easily. The game isn't exactly encouraging if you mess it up, either.

"STOP," it commands. "Just... stop. You're embarrassing yourself. We'll try this again later, if you promise to take it seriously, but for now get back to inflating penguins."

Or inflating blocks of ice, even, which I can then use to throw at this ice dragon. The ice dragon is the most challenging boss so far. This is because it is the biggest boss so far, and that means there's more of it to avoid. It also means that it's a very large target for me to kick inflated icicles at, so it's all swings and roundabouts really, innit?

This world's theme: all the enemies are something you might include in a warming autumnal soup, with the possible exception of the carnivorous plant at the top. My main preparation tip for this theoretical soup is to make sure you remove the eyeballs from the mushroom and onion creatures first. No-one wants their soup to look at them while they're trying to eat it.
If you're paying even the slightest bit of attention to this article - and I wouldn't blame you if you weren't - you'll have noticed that Diet Go Go includes pumpkin-headed monsters and therefore gets a big thumbs up from me and my personal cast-iron guarantee that it's worth playing. Maybe not for the gameplay, which is nothing special and requires no real skill, but you can't argue with pumpkin-headed monsters. Literally, I mean, they'll just stare at you with their eye carvings. They're too laid-back to get confrontational. Check out the engorged pumpkin on the right, he looks so mellow. He doesn't want any of your bad vibes, man.

Sadly, the boss is not a giant pumpkin and as such I have no interest in it. It's a one-eyed mushroom. "One-eyed mushroom" sounds like a phrase you really shouldn't search for on the internet.

The undersea kingdom (desolate ruins edition) of Atlantis now, and that penguin in the top-left looks on in horror as Punky causes one of his nest-mates to swell into a barely-recognisable sphere of feathers and blubber. The rest of the sea life is much less concerned with what's going on, which feels about right. I can't imagine the anemones having real deep feelings about their current predicament, if that even is a sea anemone and not a pink bag of fries with googly eyes drawn on it.

All will cower before CRABULON, doom of Atlantis! He is a crab that is significantly larger than a normal crab! Significantly! Yeah, I'm trying to hype him up and it's not working. Even Crabulon (probably not his real name) himself looks dreadfully bored with the whole affair. More interesting is the crab dinner that appeared when I popped one of Crabulon's attack bubble. It has a tiny skull over it, and any food marked with the symbol of the skull it probably not suitable for human consumption... but then again no food in this game is safe. Eating anything will make you fat and, eventually, dead, so why does this plate of crab get the special skull-signal treatment? Perhaps it's just poisoned. The big crab is trying to poison me with smaller crabs. What a dick.

I have to be honest, I thought the stages in Diet Go Go would be more obviously food-related. It started off that way in the Land of Dessert, and I suppose you could argue that the previous stage had a seafood motif, but that's all gone out the window now as our hero jumps-n-plumps his way through Transylvania, which according to the in-game map has been relocated to the USA. It's home to weird snakes that are just a head an a tail - although now I think about it all snakes are just a head and a tail - and Frankensteins that are subtly different than the norm, with blue skin and bolts in their temples rather than their necks. I like it, it makes a nice change.

The boss is Dracula, or maybe a dracula, "draculas" being the subset of vampires who dress in eveningwear at all times and say things like "velcome to my mountaintop castle, ah ha ha!" and then there's a crash of thunder. This dracula looks kinda grandad-ish. If the old man from Up was bitten by a nosferatu and started dying his hair, this is what you'd get. It's a combination of his bushy eyebrows and lack of non-fang teeth that does it.

"Okay, what shall we have as the background for this world? The Taj Mahal? Sounds good, but it need something else, something that'll really bring it to life. I know, how about colossal vegetables? Yeah, that's perfect!" says the designer of Diet Go Go, even as the nice men from the mental health clinic bundle him into the back of their padded ambulance. You might think it's unfair to judge a man just for trying to come up with a unique backdrop for a videogame but then there are those carrot men. They are not the product of a healthy mind.

Some kind of mechanical cooking pot attacks, trying to make our hero fat by throwing steaming hot ladlefuls of whatever's bubbling away inside it around the screen. At first I thought that to damage it you had to launch carrot men at him in such a way that they landed in the pot, but then I hit it on the side and it took damage anyway. I wasn't surprised - Diet Go Go isn't interested in creating a nuanced gameplay experience, you just make enemies fat and kick them around the screen. There's very little planning involved and almost no aiming necessary, so after a while it all starts to feel very rote and disappointingly predictable.

Time for a dinosaur-themed stage now, and it looks an awful lot like Data East's own caveman platformer Joe and Mac. I don't think this is an accident, either, because Diet Go Go includes several references to other Data East games. Not only that, it is heavily based - "directly copied" might be a better way of putting it - on a game that Data East released the previous year called Tumblepop. Tumblepop is almost identical to Diet Go Go in both gameplay and graphical style, the main difference being that in Tumblepop you suck enemies up with a vacuum cleaner and then fire them out instead of Diet Go Go's lard-based executions. The two games even share the same Mad Scientist villain, but Tumblepop has a boss based on the Flatwoods Monster so I'm regretting my decision to play Diet Go Go rather than it's predecessor pretty hard right now.

The two-headed pterodactyl boss lays eggs, which hatch into baby pterodactyls, as you would expect. I threw these baby pterodactyls at the boss until it was defeated, so essentially I beat the boss to death with its own children. That's a bit grim.

I do like these pink slime-blobs. They look like they're having a really good time, their eyes wide with wonderment as they look around this gelatinous alien world. I think it might be Yuggoth. An alternate explanation would be that the player character has been shrunk to microscopic size and placed in the nasal cavity of a very ill person.

A less endearing blob takes on the role of end-of-stage guardian. He doesn't look very happy about it. He's had to come into work during The Time of The Thousand Agonies, the slime-monster equivalent of Sunday morning, just become some weird kid in sweatbands is trying to give the neighbourhood larvae high cholesterol.

Hey look, another horror level! It's got grim reapers and pumpkin men and clowns, because Data East know about the clowns. They understand.

Oh no, a giant ghost! But how do you kill that which does not live? By throwing smaller enemies at it, of course. I thought we'd covered this. I don't have time to be helping it with the unresolved issues of its former life, and our hero can't pick up holy water in case it turns out to be too much like food and it makes him swell up so a regular exorcism is right out. It's going to have to be ghosts slamming into ghosts, like an X-rated Paranormal Activity parody.

I've skipped showing you this stage because it's just another alien world with a slightly different background and recoloured jellyblob enemies, but the boss is about as close as Diet Go Go comes to a noticeable gimmick so I thought I should mention it. The boss, a small germ monster who didn't get past the ausition stage for Dr. Mario, is surrounded by smaller amoebas that you have to pull away from him to use as ammunition. This means that as the battle goes on the boss gets smaller and, in theory, more difficult to hit, although in practise the inflated enemies you're using as projectiles are so big and cover so much of the screen as they bounce around that you're unlikely to have much of a problem landing blows. It's almost an interesting boss fight, but unfortunately it's also the game's best effort at an interesting boss fight, which makes it difficult to praise Diet Go Go as a gameplay experience.

The final stage is set in space, and the background give the player a preview of what London Bridge will look like when the Blade Runner-inspired cyberpunk future really kicks in. We've seen all the monsters in this stage before, except for the spacemen and hold on, I recognise those spacemen: they're Chelnov, the Atomic Runner! They run around the screen and are easily killed, and that's exactly how I remember Chelnov being in Atomic Runner so well done to Data East for really nailing down his character.

Okay, it's time for me to stop writing about videogames and break into the lucrative children's book market. My first effort will be the story of Harry the Grumpy UFO. Why is he grumpy? Because he got stuck annihilating the earthlings while the other UFOs get to go to the cool planets. The elevator pitch is "Thomas the Tank Engine with death-rays." I think it's going to be big.
A youth misspent watching The X-Files and reading paranormal magazines means that I immediately recognised this UFO as a based on the one "photographed" by UFO "expert" and "not a fraud" George Adamski. I forgot my PIN number at the cash machine the other day. It doesn't seem like a fair trade.

The Mad Doctor was inside the UFO all along, but not to worry - with his advanced and miserable-looking spacecraft destroyed, he is utterly defenceless and our hero can balloon him up at will to bring an end to the game, and Data East get a thumbs-up from me for including my preferred "evil scientist is useless in an actual fight" ending. It's not as good as the petulant fist-waving from Crude Buster, but I'll take it.

Yes, I definitely feel like this picture of two gurning children dressed as fitness instructors from 1991 is a suitable reward for the time and effort spent getting through Diet Go Go. I don't even know what those facial expressions are supposed to be. Are they happy? Mocking me? Being injected with high-grade opiates? I doubt we will ever know.

Diet Go Go is not a very good game, especially if you're after a test of skill and reflexes. Every stage plays out the same: inflate the nearest monster, kick it around and then mop up any survivors. You might not think it given that I've written so many bloody words about it, but it's a short game, too, and it's not uncommon for stages to last less than twenty seconds. It's a tired copy of a game that had been released by the same company a year before, but still I warmed to it. This is in large part thanks to the graphics and specifically the creature designs - almost all of them are either cute enough to be endearing or weird enough to be interesting, and they're all very nicely drawn and animated. It's not like the gameplay's terrible, either, it's just one-note and, by the end of the game, unpleasantly repetitious. Give it a try if you really love single-screen platformer or cutesy monsters. Or don't, what am I, your mother? I'm not going to to tell you what games to play. The closest I'll get to that kind of advice is "don't eat poisoned crab dinners," but they've got little skulls hovering over them so you don't need me to tell you that.



The year is 1888, and on the dark and foggy streets of London Jack the Ripper goes about his murderous business without a clue that in a century hence his macabre deeds will end up as background fluff or character inspiration in a whole bunch of videogames. The more I think about it, the weirder it gets - one of the world's most infamous killers, plucked from the pages of history and given a mohawk by a Japanese designer who needs a new character for their fighting game, or transplanted into a murky cyberpunk future. I can't help but wonder what Saucy Jack's reaction to this would have been. Murder, probably. Anyway, here are just a few examples of Jack the Ripper's videogame appearances, starting with a VGJunk favourite.

Shadow Man

I've talked about my love for Acclaim's 1999 voodoo adventure Shadow Man before, a game that's sometimes awkward to actually play but which has such a great sense of mood and atmosphere that I'll let it off - I've described it as the game with the biggest gulf between how much I enjoy it and how good it actually is, and part of that enjoyment comes from Shadow Man's very Cockney and wonderfully hammy take on Jack the Ripper.

This version of the Ripper is an architect by trade and a part-time dabbler in the terrifying mysteries of the human soul, mysteries he tries to unravel by cutting open prostitutes. He doesn't have much success, at least not on the soul mysteries front - he does okay with the prostitute murders - until the biblical demon and Shadow Man's main antagonist Legion shows up. Legion explains only certain "dark" souls have the power that Jack seeks, and then invites Jack to come and work for him on his project to build the Asylum: "a cathedral to pain," a sort of Salvation Army shelter for the most depraved scum humanity can offer. This impromptu job interview goes something like this:
"Jack, you're an architect, come and help me build a Giant Hell Church."
"Sure! Where are you going to build the Giant Hell Church?"
"The land of the dead."
"So... I'll need to be dead, then?"
"Cool, I'll be there in two ticks."

Jack does not take a lot of convincing. He may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he has the sharpest knife in the drawer, and Legion gets his architect. I've gotta say, that's real convenient for Legion - how often do you find someone who's both an architect and a sadistic, unhinged killer willing to sacrifice their life for the promise of infernal powers? Now he has to wait for a mass-murdering construction crew, a satanic plumber, a psychopathic building inspector to sign off on the project. No wonder Asylum took one hundred years to build.

Jack reappears later as a boss. Self-disembowelment and a trip to Deadside somehow gave him the ability to climb on the the ceiling like a goddamn xenomorph, but mostly he's really into stabbing people with knives. As I watched him flouncing around in the cutscene, it dawned on me that Jack was really starting to remind me of someone. Then it hit me: the overwrought language, the East End accent, the open-chested shirt... he's Russell Brand. There you go, conclusive proof that Russell Brand is the modern reincarnation of Jack the Ripper. I'm just glad Jack didn't call them his knifey-wifeys.

Master of Darkness

Sega's Master System definitely-not-Castlevania-em-up Master of Darkness now, and in a game about spooky goings-on in Victorian London an appearance by Jack the Ripper is more thematically appropriate than in many of the games I'll be mentioning today. That doesn't explain why Master of Darkness' Ripper greets the player with a piratical "arr!," however.

"You wish to hinder me?" asks Jack, and as his plan is to stab me to death I think I'll have to say yes, I do wish to hinder him. It'd be weird if I just let him stab me to death, right?
His purple suit makes him look a little bit like the Joker, but otherwise this Jack is of a fairly standard type. He's wearing a suit, he's got a big knife. You know, the usual. I think the pirate voice was merely an effort to throw the police off his scent. The Ripper will never be caught if the police are wasting their time looking for Blackbeard.
He's not a very threatening Ripper, either. Any boss that can be defeated by standing on the same spot and wildly swinging your axe about like Conan trying to swat a mosquito is unlikely to engender heart-stopping terror, especially when he's so bouncy. I think he might have been conflated with Spring-Heeled Jack, a different character from Victorian folklore whose party piece was jumping out at servant girls and frightening them.

After you defeat him, it's implied that this Jack the Ripper was actually a waxwork dummy animated through strange magics. I'm sure Madame Tussauds are working hard to recreate these incantations, the punters will be pouring in if they can manage to get Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse up and singing again.


Speaking of waxworks, here's, erm, Waxworks, Horrorsoft's computer graphic adventure. It tells the story of one man's trials as he attempts to remove an ancient curse on his family by travelling back in time via haunted waxworks, including a trip to Whitechapel at the time of the Ripper murders.

That's a heck of a swoon there, lady. It's nice that you're getting into the spirit of things.
So, the player arrives in Victorian London, but unfortunately they arrive right next to the still-warm body of Jack's latest victim, making the local constabulary understandably keen to have a few words with you. Sadly those words are "you're Jack the Ripper" and "here, tell me if this noose feels tight," so the traditional adventure game experience of moving between locations, collecting items and solving puzzles is made more difficult and honestly kinda frustrating by your constant need to avoid the Old Bill. It's the 1880s, they're not much interested in things like evidence and fair trials.
If you manage to avoid both the law and the roaming mob looking to dish out the kind of justice that bears their name, there are still plenty of puzzles to solve, including feeding a dog offal laced with tranquillizers and liberating some tea from a locked warehouse. That last one is the most British adventure game quest I've ever heard of, but once it's done you can face off against Jack the Ripper himself.

Who would have thought that a doctor's bag could make such an effective shield? The big twist here is that Jack the Ripper is actually your brother - the curse I mentioned earlier is that every time twins are born into this family, one will be good and the other will be evil. I thought that was just how twins worked naturally? It's also pretty lame, as gypsy curses go. For starters, how often are twins born into a family, and how does one of them being evil punish said family for their ancient ill-treatment of the curse-inflicting gypsy? Seems to me the only people suffering under this curse are the working girls of Whitechapel. Okay, so trying to kill his own brother is probably not much fun for the player character but have some perspective - at least he gets to stay alive, or at least he will if I ever figure out how to get past Jack's impenetrable doctor's bag defence.

World Heroes

In ADK's World Heroes series, a time-travelled scientist called Doc Brown somehow avoids Universal Pictures' lawyers long enough to reach into the past and gather various historical figures together for the noble goal of watching them beat each other up. Jack the Ripper is one of those historical figures... sort of.

That's quite the makeover. The best thing about this animation is that if you look closely you'll see that Jack not only shreds his Victorian clothes but also shaves off his moustache in a stunning display of precision claw manipulation.
Clearly what happened here is that upon being dragged into the modern age, Jack spent his time catching up on the entirety of cinema until he reached the Eighties and discovered the man he was meant to be - a cross between a Mad Max villain and Freddy Krueger.

He gets really into the whole 80's street punk persona, too, and nothing demonstrates this more fully than seeing him lick the blades of his claws. Punks love licking sharp things. Knives, claws, the lids off tin cans, if it's metal and you can cut things with it then chances are some mohawked thug has slobbered all over it. Videogame hospitals must be full to bursting with vicious young men in sleeveless jackets who are suffering from lacerated tongues and tetanus. I could almost understand it if he was licking blood off his claws, but those claws are clean. Of course they're clean, he keeps licking them.

The World Heroes version of Jack really likes blood, by the way. I know, it's a real shocker, but I thought I should mention it just in case you were still harbouring suspicions that he was a loveable Edward Scissorhands type (he isn't).

MediEvil 2

Another Jack the Ripper with Slicing Claw Action appears the in the Playstation game MediEvil 2, where once again he is wearing clothes that show off his chest. That's three bare-chested Jack's so far, it's bordering on becoming a theme.

This Jack is also green and somewhat snake-like, pictured above menacing a mummy. The mummy is called Kiya, and she's the love interest of Sir Daniel Fortesque, the skeletal knight who is MediEvil's main character. It's very tense and all as Jack looms over his helpless victim, (and the top hat gives him an extra fifteen percent or so in looming capability,) but the MediEvil games are jolly, cartoony romps so I'm sure Sir Dan will be along any second to save the day.

Yikes. Well, he is Jack the Ripper, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, and it all works out anyway because Sir Dan goes back in time and stops this from happening. If nothing else, all these games are providing good explanations for why the Ripper killings suddenly stopped, be it via skeletal knight interventions, abductions through the space-time continuum or simple axe murder. These explanations are no more far-fetched than some of the real-world theories put forward about Jack the Ripper, if I'm honest. After all, someone once wrote a book claiming that Lewis Carroll was the Ripper and that Alice in Wonderland is full of clues about his dark deeds, which falls somewhere between "the murders were an elaborate conspiracy orchestrated by the Royal Family" and "Jack was an exceptionally clumsy vampire" on the wacko-meter.

Power Stone

Capcom's Power Stone series is also a colourful cartoon adventure enlivened by the inclusion of a terrifying serial killer because sure, why not? It certainly perks things up a little. I'm waiting for Jeffrey Dahmer to move into my Animal Crossing town, that ought to make things more interesting. Anyway, this is Power Stone's Jack, and he looks like he wants a hug.

A pointy hug, a hug with knives, but a hug none-the-less. That's the body language of a man desperate for human contact, but his commitment to knives is as strong as any of these Rippers and thus he is destined to suffer a life full of loneliness. Presumably he is swathed in bandages because he keeps trying for unsolicited hugs without putting his knives down, which leads to him getting beaten up a lot.

This ending sequence suggest that his name is actually Jack the Slayer, but I don't think it means of the vampire variety and his sinister stalking of young women of darkened streets means I feel comfortable about including him in this list of Rippers. I'm still not going to give him a hug, though. Not until he puts on some trousers.

Shin Megami Tensei

The Pokemon­-with-demons-em-ups of the Shin Megami Tensei series also get their own take on Jack the Ripper, and as in Power Stone he looks more lonely than anything else.

"Why do they always run away from my barber's shop?" cries Jack Ripper as he chases after his fleeing customers with a cut-throat razor in his hand, the scent of shaving foam heavy in the air. It's because of your hideous face, Jack Ripper. You look like a carved pumpkin that's been left on the porch until mid-December. I don't care how dapper your clothes are, you should not be working in an profession like hairdressing where there are lots of mirrors around.

Jack Ripper's most prominent role - if anything on the Virtual Boy can be considered "prominent" - was as a playable character in the game Jack Bros., released for Nintendo's ill-fated console and thus almost completely forgotten. It's a Gauntlet-style monster-maze game, and Jack Ripper's power is that he's really good at stabbing things, so Atlus stayed fairly true to the source material in that regard. In the US version of Jack Bros., Jack Ripper was renamed Jack Skelton. I assume that this is because even in the free and liberated year of 1995, Nintendo of America did not feel comfortable about having a character named after a real-world murderer in one of their games.

Duke Nukem: Zero Hour

Okay, so here's the lamest Jack on the list, appearing the Nintendo 64 game Duke Nukem: Zero Hour.

At least he buttoned his shirt up. A mere mid-boss, this version of Jack seems even less intelligent than the others, and that is some stiff competition. Here he's just standing in front of Duke Nukem, trying to stab him to death while Duke pours round after round of semi-automatic fire into him. Then he dies, with no fanfare. The whole thing feels like kind of a waste.

Nearby, there's a recreation of the Goulston Street graffiti, with the word "juwes" replaced by "Dukes". It's an interesting if not particularly well-thought-out reference, which makes it rather fitting for a Duke Nukem game. Zing!


Finally for today we have Ripper, an FMV adventure game released for the PC in 1996. I have to confess, I've never played Ripper, so I read about it for a while only to discover that it's set in the future year of 2040 and it involves the kind of virtual reality that The Lawnmower Man briefly made popular. Would you like to see the Ripper's blood-curdling cyber-visage? No, you wouldn't, but here it is anyway.

He doesn't look comfortable in there, does he? Well, he's got plenty of company because Ripper stars some actors that you've actually heard of and none of them look comfortable either. Yes, it's quite the cast. Christopher Walken giving the performance of his career! Sorry, that should read "worst performance of his career!" Paul Giamatti, the very physical incarnation of the phrase "slovenly bachelor uncle"! Burgess Meredith, in what I really hope was not his final role! Here, check out the trailer, it's... something, chrome-skinned genderless VR humanoids and all.

Naturally I was curious about exactly what the hell was going on in this game, so I read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia. Unfortunately I didn't learn much. My eyes just kept sliding off the page, as though my brain was refusing to accept the existence of a cyberpunk Jack the Ripper adventure starring Christopher Walken. The few bits that I did pick up include the startling revelation that everyone involved in this spate of futuristic Ripper murders all once belonged to the same group of online gamers who played a Jack the Ripper-themed adventure together. So the basic plot could be described as "extreme online gaming guild bust-up," then? Also, the connection is made between the killer and Jack the Ripper due to their matching MOs, but it is later discovered that the murderer kills by hacking people's brains and forcing their body's internal pressure to rise until they burst. Okay, so, I am in no way a medical professional but I'm sure I could tell the difference between a corpse that has been slashed with a knife and one that fucking exploded. Explosions? Not Jack the Ripper's MO. He's a ripper. He rips. There's a clue in the name. He's not called Jack the Popper.
From what I've heard, Ripper is a pretty bad game, but it does have a gimmick where one of four characters can turn out to be the Cyber-Ripper. One of those characters is played by, you guessed it, Christopher Walken. Christopher Walken once played a virtual reality Jack the Ripper who kills the people on the 2040 equivalent of his Steam friends list. Nope, that's finished me off, it's time to wrap this one up.

On reflection, it becomes clear that Jack the Ripper is a perfect candidate for inclusion in a videogame. He provides a soupcon of real-world interest and he needs no introduction or explanation beyond "hey look, it's Jack the Ripper", but his crimes took place so long ago that his appearance is unlikely to cause offence, and because no-one knows who he was you don't have to worry about any living relatives demanding his removal. The mystery surrounding him allows writers plenty of space to work in weird theories and motives, and he comes with knife-fighting almost pre-defined as a combat style if you want to make your protagonist fight against him. The only thing you should really stay away from is making Jack the Ripper the hero of your game, but no-one would be daft enough to consider that, right?

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