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Let’s Play (And Overthink) Clash At Demonhead: Part 1. #retrogaming #NES #

30 Jun

Honestly, I have no idea why this game was so obscure when it came out and didn’t become a classic with multiple sequels for this reason alone: THIS GAME GIVES YOU A JETPACK AND A SUIT THAT LETS YOU SWIM IN LAVA. Seriously, think about that for a second.

clashatdemonhead1Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

This game is amazing and full of wacky goodness, really. Anyway, this post is gonna focus more on the “Overthink” than “Let’s Play” part because there’s already plenty of play-by-play analysis of the game these days. I just want to compile all the oddball facts about the game into one place, because there is a surprisingly large amount of weird trivia for a one-off game.

clashatdemonhead8For instance, I went decades without knowing the names of all the bosses.

Also, I’m not gonna mention Scott Pilgrim. Because, meh.

Anyway, Clash At Demonhead was a platform game released on the NES in 1989 from Vic Tokai, the communications branch of a natural gas company. Seriously. A natural gas company. Apparently EVERYONE in Japan tried their hand at making video games in the late 80s.

The game has you playing Billy “Big Bang” Blitz, a secret agent who, for some reason, looks like he’s auditioning for My Chemical Romance. In the actual game itself, at least the English version, he’s just called Bang. However, his full name is leaked in this Nintendo Power spread about the game, which also mentions a few other things left out of the translation from the original, called Dengeki Big Bang.

clashatdemonhead2Which, incidentally, had a way cooler title screen.

Sargent Bang is pulled back to duty from vacation to rescue Professor Plum, who’s been captured by an evil gang called The Lawbreakers to build a Doomsday Bomb that threatens to blow the world up. What the gang planned to do after blowing literally everything up is not elaborated upon.

clashatdemonhead3These guys can’t collaborate on a dress code, much less a plan.

The bomb is set atop a mountain that dominates the map, which is possibly part of the Bear Lodge Mountain Range. You chase the members of the gang and other assorted baddies through this map, which might be set in North-Eastern Wyoming, based Devil’s Tower being a prominent in-game landmark.This would make the dense forests in the surrounding area part of the Black Hills Forest, which are dominated by pine and hardwood trees, much like the game depicts, and the winding river would be the Belle Fourche.

clashatdemonhead4I’ve, ahem, put a lot of thought into this.

As you go along, the plot spins completely out of control with a strange series of subplots involving demons and aliens, mind control, clones. At one point you even talk to a dead guy. You recover a magic sword and board a spaceship, fighting samurai, goblins, robots, punk rockers, bigfoots, and talking skeletons and mushrooms. And that’s before you even defuse the Doomsday Bomb. This game has everything.

clashatdemonhead6even, um, this

One of the really amazing things about this game, however, is the attention to detail and revolutionary programming/gameplay elements for a game with no licensed property involved. Apparently, it incorporates whatever Variable Width Fonts are, which is apparently a super rare thing. There’s also a huge range of dialog images depending on whether you are wearing any special suits. Not only that, but the outfit you wear changes the way some of the lower level enemies act around you.

clashatdemonhead7and they apparently get increasingly sarcastic

But seriously, the game is a whimsical treat with a ton of easter eggs and definitely worth tracking down. I plan on doing a sequel of this piece sometime where I follow a playthrough I created as a teenager, where you stumble across all the cut scenes in the correct (or at least most sensible) order and you don’t repeat paths (well, you don’t repeat paths more than a couple times, there’s some situations you can’t avoid it). There will also be comparisons between this and the import version.

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6 Oddly Specific Types Of Inappropriately Sexualized Vintage Computer Ads #retrogaming

27 Jun

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Sex is the McGuffin of advertising. It’s delivered without justification, hell in some cases it’s expected to be its own justification. It’s there to catch the eye, engage the reptile brain, fill any plot holes, and logic be damned. It’s commonly accepted as just another trick of the trade.

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The computer and video game industry, primarily targeting young men, is no stranger to sexualization. In it’s early days, however, they apparently had no idea how to advertise their products and instead just smeared a greasy, sticky, sexy film on top of everything.

sexycomputer1I’ve barely started this article and I need a shower.

We’ve reviewed dozens of these images from the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s (for, um, research of course). It occurs to us that many of these can be broken down into highly specific (and completely batshit) categories.

1) Computer As Marital Aid

sexycomputer3Sharing a keyboard wasn’t a thing in 1983, and it isn’t now.

Here in the 21st century the idea of bringing a computer into bed isn’t quite as absurd as it was in the days of 8-bit computing. And yet several of these images involve folks with clunky console computers and CRT monitors in all sorts of ridiculously intimate situations. This was decades before RedTube; the folks in these pics are playing (dubiously) sexy text adventure games. Because nothing gets you in the mood like squinting at mononochrome not-graphics and typing in commands to keep the action going.

sexycomputer4Am I the only one that noticed the monitor text is faked?

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Well that just looks… unsafe.

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And this, this just looks… sad.

2) Sexy Ladies Are Waiting… At The Arcade!

sexycomputer8WHAT. DOES. THAT. EVEN. MEAN.

There’s a lot of these images from the 80s. Women in implausible Leg Avenue outfits in the general ambivalent proximity of an arcade machine. Not actually playing the games, mind you, but just sort of draped over them awkwardly to the accompaniment of increasingly incomprehensible “sexy” captions.

sexycomputer9“Oh hey, not like I’m playing a reflex-dependant arcade machine”

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“Yeah boys, just picture this joystick, that I have a suffocating death grip on, as your… ugh never mind can I sit down? This is obviously an incredibly uncomfortable way to stand.”

sexycomputer11“Yes, this is a plausible scenario.”

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“Why yes this anti-aircraft gun would likely give multiple 2nd degree burns to my unprotected legs. Are… you into that?

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WHAT. DOES. THAT. EVEN. MEAN.

3) Sexy Ladies Are Waiting… On Everquest?

Honestly, I haven’t found many examples of this one. However, the idea of marketing old online service subscriptions like Prodigy, and especially early MMORPGs like Everquest, like one would a phone sex line is too bizarre not to mention.

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4) Computer Users Sexily Doing Things You Should Never Do With Computers:

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Poses of women and computers, but also doing the opposite of demonstrating the computer and almost definitely endangering it. Because nothing speaks to the effectiveness of highly expensive, delicate electronic equipment like…

sexycomputer7…posing nervously with it next to a massive body of water…

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…standing on it, with a gogo boot, in the woods for some reason…

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…and whatever the hell is going on here.

5) Computer Literacy Makes You A Sex God.

This is, like the ultimate nerd revenge fantasy. All the years spent pecking away at machine language and studying error codes and… I dunno whatever. This knowledge makes them damn near godlike or something. All of that pays off when they discover the legions of sexy ladies craving that tech prowess.

This is extra depressing when you consider that computer programming was largely a realm of women throughout the early 20th century, and was turned into an interest for antisocial male nerds through calculated effort in the late-1960s. The fantasy of these ads is rooted in women craving the knowledge that had been theirs for decades before it was denied them and they were forced out of their own dominant field.

sexycomputer16sexycomputer23sexycomputer18sexycomputer17

Honestly, I look at these ads and root for one or all of those ladies to stab one of those smug bastards in the face Game Of Thrones-style.

6) Computers Themselves Are Sexy, Maybe Even Sexier Than Sex Itself.

And this… just turns the whole thing on it’s head. The ladies are still there, are still sexualized, but they’re a distraction. Because the machines and games themselves are the real object of desire.

sexycomputer20Like, seriously, he’s fucking that Game Gear isn’t he?

sexycomputer21This seems like the opposite of multitasking; doing both things badly.

sexycomputer19
“So distracting you’ll forget you’re a serial killer.”
Seriously someone just needs to call 911 here.

These are ads that someone had to pitch and that magazines eventually ran. Dozens of people looked at these images along the way of their design and were like “Yes, this seems like a sensible way to represent our product”. Like even the one where it’s like “screw it, just fuck your Game Gear what do I care you hopeless chronic masturbator… that I hope will buy our product”.

I don’t even try to understand anymore.

COGIATI Is The Worst Classic Text Adventure Game #Retrogaming #90snostalgia

19 Jul

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So I know it’s been ages since I’ve done a video game review on here, despite promising I would be more proactive in that regard. So today’s game is a classic from the mid 1990s.  It appears to be some sort of text adventure created by the same designer that made the classic Apogee game BOPPIN.

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The game is called COGIATI (which is probably one of those nonsense magic words like XYZZY or PLUGH). It promises the acquisition of a “transsexual gender inventory” which honestly doesn’t sound very epic, but I’m not too good to grind for unusual and rare items.

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The game opens up with an admonition to “answer truthfully” to some questions that will follow, which I thought was cool because it reminds me of that fortune teller from the Avatar trilogy of Ultima games.

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It’s kinda dated, but I do get a kick out of the non-traditional methods of character generation. Some of the questions seemed to lead to certain classes, even though they were kinda sexist:

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And others that seemed to be pointing towards special super powers your eventual character may possess-

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The thing is tho, the questions never seem to stop coming. No recognizable character development or progress is shown, and some questions seem irrelevant or morbid-

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So then I finally get to the end of the questions, and instead of presenting a well-rounded character and a world to explore, I was presented with an ending screen:

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What a ripoff, right? I go through all that and I get is a psych recommendation. I mean, it’s better than the endings of River City Ransom or Ultima Exodus on the NES, but still. It’s almost as disappointing than the ending of NARC where it tells you to become a cop-

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So seriously, even if you’re somewhat of a completist when it comes to classic text-adventure games, you may want to pass this one up. There’s no plot to be seen, just endless grilling about your identity forever. Real life provides way more than that to spare.

#retrogaming Famicom Camera Is Pretty Dope.

3 Mar

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Been playing around with 8-bit camera apps lately, and my favorite free one so far is Famicom Camera. It’s pretty straightforward, with only options to change between 27 and 64 colors (most of the pics on here were taken with lower color rate), some retro borders, and the thickness of scanlines.

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I’ve had a chance to play with it with multiple subjects, and it works great for creating dramatic chiaroscuro but loses a *lot* of detail, even for 8-bit art. Still, it lends a very distinct look to photos, resembling more the graphics of, say, a PC-99 graphic adventure game. Really cool stuff.

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