Game Feature

Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: The Simpsons Wrestling

The Simpsons Wrestling

Yep, I’m afraid so. Strap yourselves in, gents, this one’s back for another round.

If you’re a follower of all things gametastic, you’ll know the horror of the licensed game. Usually, these ballaches are trotted out to coincide with a movie release, so fast that the developers forget to put any actual gameplay in there. Mostly because impressionable moms will buy them for their kids regardless, if they have Pirates of the Caribbean or Star Wars or whatever on the front of the box there.

I can only imagine the clogged underworld u-bend where Satan found Superman 64. But when he chose to inflict it on us, he started a precedent that continues today.

Still, as we know, there are different shades of shit. While some games-of-the-movie are irredemably awful, some are just plain bad. You might even squeeze a little fun from them. One barely passable example? The Simpsons Wrestling.

This one hit the PlayStation in 2001, courtesy of Big Ape Productions. It’s a simple enough premise: Springfield is in the grip of wrestling fever, and everyone’s at it. Lisa isn’t above wanging papa Homer in the face with her saxophone to come out on top.

On the one hand, it’s all familiar fighting game fare. You choose your character and proceed through rounds against everyone else. There’s an ‘end boss’ of sorts, and you’re done. It’s all health bars, special moves, all of that good stuff.

The Simpsons Wrestling 2

It isn’t, however, very wrestle-y. You’d be forgiven for expecting it to be, what with that huge eff off Wrestling in the title, but nope. There are two Springfieldites in a ring, sure, but bouts play out more like a beat ‘em up. Each character has a standard jab attack and two specials, one with more cooldown and generally more power than the other. Krusty’s custard pie projectiles, Flanders’ homing bible, Barney belching out a toxic beer cloud, that sort of thing. There are also some half-assed aerial attacks and limited use of the ropes.

All in all, button-mashy spammable attacks rather than moves. All of these work on a stamina system, with stronger hits needing more meter. You can also collect power-ups that appear around the ring. In short, liberties are being taken. Most egregious of all for the wrestling faithful, opponents hit the deck belly-down, and can only be pinned from that position. Blasphemy!

In its way, The Simpsons Wrestling is pretty damn faithful to the show. Every fighter is voiced by their original actor, and have their rings in their own familiar locales (Apu’s Kwik-e-Mart and such). In the background, you’ll see a range of cameos from more obscure characters like the Stonecutters. This is a neat little touch, and one that fans will surely appreciate.

The game does have its moments. The final rounds vs Kang and Kodos, Smithers wailing (Waylon-ing) on you while Burns throws nukes at you in the power plant stage… There are some mildly entertaining unlockables too, like the Itchy vs Scratchy matches and the ridiculous weapons they have.

The Simpsons Wrestling is a hard one to place on the licensed game shitometer. It looks like hell for sure, and is as simplistic as they come. But it’s still relatively playable, and is much less offensive than some offerings we’ve seen.

The Weekly WTF: When ‘Elder Scrolls’ Mods Kill (Kinda Sorta)

WTF- Morrowind Mod

Modding is a huge part of PC game-ery. The possibilities are endless, and usually completely freaking ridiculous. It’s usually a because I can, that’s why sort of deal. Ever felt a hankering to swim though a completely submerged city in Grand Theft Auto? Or dick about with a selfie stick and Instagram filters in Doom? Of course you haven’t, but you can.

Generally, it’s all harmless enough. Pretty damn technically impressive sometimes. It can take a turn for the pervtastic, what with nude mods and enhanced jiggle mods and that sort of business, but we’ll excuse the lonely gauchos who devise such things. If someone decides to dedicate months to removing that pixely blur from showering Sims, who are we to judge?

With big ol’ expansive RPGs like The Elder Scrolls, there are whole communities of nerdly creators doing their thing. Which is all well and good, until… THE DEATHS START. Hold on to your asses, gentlemen, it’s the tale of Morrowind Mod jvk1166z.esp.

Supposedly, this one started life as just another suspected virus. If you tried to install it, your copy of The Elder Scrolls 3 would be completely wiped on booting. For some 300+ hours players, that’s a goddamn horrifying curse in and of itself, but it gets worse. In some mysterious, lurid corners of the internet (not the ‘give us your credit card details to see GILFs violate their poodles with cucumbers’ ones, different lurid corners), jvk1166z.esp. has itself a nightmarish reputation.

WTF- Morrowind Mod 2

When you did manage to get the damn thing to work, you found that the mod has some really creepy effects. If your character remained stationary for too long, their health would drain away. If you went to take a leak or something and died in this fashion, a new guy would appear in the game. Players knew him as… The Assassin.

According to listverse, the Assassin is the kind of guy who’d make Slenderman sleep with his little Thomas the Tank Engine nightlight on:
‘He appeared to be a man except his legs and arms were long and bent like a spider. Players began to notice that if you paid close attention the player could see the assassin around corners or scurrying up the walls, but only for brief moments.’

No effing thanks.

The legend states that spending too long with jvk1166z.esp caused players to hallucinate and obsess. A new dungeon it added to the game had a door which could not be opened. Affected gamers would spend days on end, fixated with trying to get it open. More importantly, they’d see the Assassin crawling along their walls and ceilings in real life. I’ll leave you with that image.

It’s all BS, natch, but this mod actually exists. It’s probably not haunted and/or evil, but you won’t catch me downloading it.

We’ve Been Here Before: ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ PC Delayed to April 14, Heists Hitting Consoles March 10

Grand Theft Auto V PC Delay

Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? When there eventually was a wolf, nobody cared and he got his face chewed off. Or, y’know, something to that effect. The moral was don’t be a big ol’ lying asshole, anyway.

So when Grand Theft Auto V finally does hit PC, you’ll excuse us for not quite believing it. By then, we’ll all be OAPs anyway, and the game will be obsolete. Either because we can’t fandangle a mouse or controller with our arthritic hands any more, or because PCs will have been replaced by tiny nanochips in our foreheads.

The same’s true of the much ballyhooed heists, really. Snow across Los Santos and all these other spangly holiday updates are all well and good, but the heists have been ‘coming soon’ for months now.

But anywho, those are the breaks. Here’s the fresh batch of dates. The PC edition has been bumped back to April 14, which is possibly another tentative placeholder. On consoles, meanwhile, it does seem fairly certain that multiplayer heists will hit as scheduled: March 10.

Damn it, Rockstar. You’re a bigger tease than Katy Perry.

Via Destructoid.

Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Eternal Darkness

Eternal Darkness

Let’s not be snarky about a 2002 release counting as ‘retro.’ When you’re a renegade badass cruising into the mouth of hell on grandpa’s mobility scooter, you have slim-to-zero effs to give about trivial matters like that. And I am one. That’s so me. I won’t even apologize for starting that sentence with ‘and’ back there.

So, to business. Nintendo’s cutesy GameCube didn’t quite set the gaming world alight back in the 2000s. It got a nice crop of first party classics, granted; that’s what these guys do best. At the same time, though, there wasn’t a lot outside of Mario, Link and co. Third party support has long been a weakness of their consoles.

Ports are one thing, but exclusives from outside are as rare as sightings of Bigfoot having his wicked, hairy way with a unicorn in your backyard. Which does happen. So did Silicon Knights’ Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.

This survival horror has a Quantum Leap-ish, protagonist-hopping deal going on. You begin as Alex Roivas, a young woman investigating her grandfather’s fancy-ass mansion for clues to his murder (because the police themselves are being assholes). While cruising about the cavernous house, she finds a hidden room containing a mysterious book, The Tome of Eternal Darkness. Which is where it gets ugly.

Eternal Darkness 2

Reading from this human-flesh-bound book, she learns of mankind’s millenia-long struggle against the Ancients. These vast, powerful beings look like something that would give H.P Lovecraft nightmares, and they’re out to seize control of the cosmos. Fear not, though, because Alex’s ancestors and their buddies have been working against them behind the scenes.

Each chapter of the book serves as a stage of the game, is set in a different time period and stars a different character. The first tells of studly Roman centurion Pious Augustus, who started all this shit off in the first place by reviving one of the Ancients’ lost artifacts in 26 BC. He is possessed and corrupted by it, and then becomes the antagonist, trying to summon his big ol’ slavering master and destroy the planet in the process.

After his encounter, we move through the timeline and play as everyone from a Persian swordsman in 565 AD to a World War I soldier. Each has their own little piece of the story, which all fits together as a whole. Some of them even meet each other, and it’s all very clever and converge-y and all the rest of it.

Between chapters, you return to the ‘hub’ (the mansion, as Alex), where a little Resident Evil- style light puzzling and exploration turns up the next page. And so it goes on, until Alex’s own timeline meets with Pious’s in the year 2000 and she has to whup his undead ass personally.

Eternal Darkness 3

Whichever member of this motley crew you’re controlling, the gameplay is unchanged. It’s all very Resident Evil around here, in the puzzling and inventory-wrangling, but with a couple of crucial additions that set it apart. The biggest of these is magic, which each character can cast for a variety of effects. You can simply enchant weapons to increase their power and heal yourself, but it gets much fancier than that. By the end, you’ll be summoning hulking Horrors and effortlessly finding hidden secrets.

The second, and possibly most badass, innovation is the Sanity system. Your sanity has a meter just as HP and magic does, and it’s depleted whenever you encounter one of the stage’s enemies (if you’ve ever seen any of these crazy bastards, you’ll know why). There’s a spell that can refill it, and you can gain a little back by performing a finishing blow on said enemy, but you don’t want this dipping too low. As you lose sanity, all kinds of special effects will occur. Unseen babies will cry in the background, your character will hallucinate, and you’ll even see a message on screen reporting that your memory card has been formatted.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
was one of a kind. It did a great job of switching between characters and keeping the story together and engaging, which is an easy thing to screw up. It was a taste of Ye Olde survival horror, and also brought something new to the idea. It’s a little obscure, but this one’s got cult classic written all over it.

The Weekly WTF: ‘Home Improvement: The Video Game?’ Really?

Home Improvement- Power Tool Pursuit

With games, as with movies, there’s often a tendency to stick with the sure thing. Sequels, really, or the umpteenth Mario platformer. These are where the cashtacular lies. As we know, when fancy business dudes aren’t racking in the cashtacular, something is very wrong with the world.

This is why licensed games, despite generally being huge steaming heaps of horseshit, sell so well. As long as it has Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Caribbean written across the front of the box there, that mother’s getting bought in droves.

But sometimes, the idea’s taken a step too far. The Crazy freaking Frog getting his own kart racer, for one. But for the ultimate in licensed weirdery, feast your eyes on Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit.

We all know Home Improvement. Of course we do. Tim Allen, Pamela Anderson, the show-within-a-show that was Tool Time… what’s not to like? It’s just difficult to fathom how we got from that to a platfomer involving cruising through jungles and temples and such, wanging enemies in the face with a power saw. Who, in any Bizarro World, could have possibly come up with that?

Imagineering Inc., that’s who. These mad bastards brought the game to the SNES in 1994. Strap yourselves in, gentlemen, and we’ll take a look.

Home Improvement- Power Tool Pursuit 2

It all starts simply enough. Our ol’ buddy Tim sets out to introduce his fancy-ass new line of Binford-Taylor Turbo Power Tools on a Tool Time episode. They’ve been tool-napped, naturally, and the only clue is a note demanding Tim ‘goes back to the Stone Age where he belongs.’

If you want to see Tim Allen cruising through the Stone Age (they’re filming a dino-movie close by, stick with me here) and taking out dinosaurs with power tools, that’s probably as good a setup as any.

Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit is a weird-ass one in every possible sense. On one hand, it’s as tediously cliched as it’s possible to be. Familiar level themes, hidden areas behind suspicious-looking walls, collectibles lurking about, weak-but-perfectly-placed-to-screw-you-over-while-making-jumps enemies… it’s all here. But at the same time, you’re Tim Allen and you’re shooting giant prehistoric dragonflies in the face with a nailgun. And that, right there, is something you can’t put a price on.

Certainly not ‘put a price on’ in the sense of actually buy this game, because it’s ass. Still, though, did I mention the nailgun? And the dinosaurs?

Forget Call of Duty, Real Men Need the Retro Love: Resident Evil 3- Nemesis

Resident Evil 3 Nemesis

Let’s be frank here, studly dude to studly dude… Resident Evil has kinda sorta gone to shit in recent years. The glory days of Jill sandwiches, tank controls and actual survival horror seem to be long behind us.

Since the fourth release, the series has mostly been transforming into an actiontastic TPS. There have been flashes of the ‘old style,’ with 2012‘s Revelations bringing a little of the puzzley-explorey goodness of yore, but otherwise? Nope.

If you are still down with the Evil, you’ll have noticed the freshly-released HD remake of the original. So while we’re diving into that, let’s continue the Ye Olde Resident Evil love-in with a look back at the last release before things started going awry: Nemesis.

The Weekly WTF: ‘The Rub Rabbits’ Brings PG Nekkidness; Confusion

The Rub Rabbits

When the DS was born in 2004, touchscreen doohickeys were not mothereffin’ everywhere like they are today. This was a new, befuddling technology; the sort of witchcraft that almost had a fire lit under Nintendo exec’s asses in the town square as they did in Ye Olde days.

Pokable, strokable, stylus-jabby video games? What the shitballs is this? That was the world’s reaction to the announcement. Two screens? Balls to that.

What the fledgling DS needed to do was show the world that it wasn’t just a gimmick. That the machine’s unique functions really could bring something new to the medium. Microphones, dual screens, stylus control… what a time to be alive. Naturally, with the first wave of DS games, every developer was shoehorning that stuff in there, just to get in on the action.

Racing games with half-assed spinnable steering wheel controls? Don’t bother, that sucks. Bust out some pure madness like Project Rub (or Feel the Magic) and its sequel The Rub Rabbits, though, and we’ll be happy.

The first game was a launch title for the system, a minigame sort of deal from Sonic Team. It was, as the Interwebs like to say, a much better love story than Twilight, or the one Taylor Swift was wanking on about a couple albums ago. It’s a familiar scenario: boy meets girl, girl doesn’t even freaking notice, boy has to massage strangers’ stomachs to extract goldfish and pop creepy bull-men’s heads with the stylus to get her attention. Obviously. We’ve all been there.

Project Rub was a combination of comic cutscenes and brief minigames, all of which used the system in different nutty-ass ways. This one right here, for instance:

The second title, The Rub Rabbits!, took the concept a little further. The story here was that your guy has an admirer of his own, and competition for his lady-lust in the form of performing troupe The Rub Rabbits. There’s druggings, kidnappings, nekkid touchscreen fondlings (guaranteed 100000% less sexy than they sound) and wedding cakes being sawn in two. There’s also a pervtastic, stalkerish game of dress-up involved.

At one point, you’ll have to turn the system upside down to drop coconuts on a huge angry mofo of a robotic crab, which is pursuing you up a palm tree. That’s not a sentence I ever thought I’d type, but this is just the kind of BS you have to deal with in these games. You don’t often see something out-weird Nintendo’s own WarioWare, but I think this one about does it.