Cinematech Episode 192: “Banned Games”
Often with justifiable reasons. Let's see if we can salvage anything funny from this episode.
Similar to the ep with canceled games, the editors put a big, red, “BANNED” stamp over the games shown in the queue, played to the sound of police sirens blaring.
Timecode: 0:08: Carmageddon, a controversial PC game from 1997. This game was banned in Australia for its graphic violence. Despite the primitive 3D graphics, they are pretty graphic and realistically styled. There was even a replay feature. The two playable characters were Max Damage and Die Anna. It is always nice when a game gives you male and female characters to choose from. The Nintendo 64 port of Carmageddon was one of the lowest-rated games in N64 Magazine ever. The PlayStation port was slightly better received, but still got some negative reviews.
1:59: IGI 2: Covert Strike, an FPS for the PC that was Banned in China for “smearing the image of China and the Chinese army”. The graphics look a little like Deus Ex but cleaner and more detailed. The game was eventually made available for purchase on the Good Old Games website.
3:33: BMX XXX, a legendarily bad idea from Acclaim. What happened here was, Acclaim basically screwed up one of their few successful franchises, a BMX game sponsored by Dave Mirra, and decided to make a Rated M for Money version of the game featuring crude humor, swear words, Stripperiffic female bikers, and FMV footage of real life strippers. Mirra was disgusted and pursued legal action to ensure that Acclaim could not use his name to be associated with the game in any way whatsoever, further allowing XXX to wallow in forgotten obscurity. Banned in Australia for “nudity and sexual situations”.
Wikipedia's summary of the game's development is revealing. It says that Acclaim decided to shift the game from a standard action sports title to a raunchy, sex comedy-style romp after determining that, in a rare moment of clarity, their latest entry in the series was shaping up to be mediocre. In the “Reception” section, Wikipedia actually goes on to say that, “Critics were not amused by the humor, nudity or the game itself”, which I find amusingly specific for some reason.
4:54: Rockstar Games's infamous Manhunt, banned in Australia for graphic violence. Somewhat amusingly, the first offending thing shown in the game's montage isn't violence but some pretty nasty swear words.
6:20: A montage of clips and cutscenes from Command & Conquer Generals: Zero Hour, an expansion pack for Command & Conquer Generals. Banned in China for the same reason as IGI 2.
7:27: Postal 2. Banned in Australia for graphic violence and sexual situations.
8:30: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2. Banned in South Korea because in the game, “The U.S. are seen policing the border of China and North Korea after relations between them have soured”.
10:05: Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001). Banned in Germany because “Nazi propaganda and swastika symbols are visible throughout the game”.
12:50: Duke Nukem 3D (PC). Banned in Australia for “graphic violence and sexual situations”, such as the strip club in the game where Duke can give strippers money to do a little dance move, and the following line of dialog from Duke upon seeing a Duke Nukem pinball game: “I don't have time to play with myself”. The title screen of the game says, “ Warning: Adult Content”. It should be noted, however, that this and other Duke Nukem games actually punish the player for killing strippers by spawning more enemies to kill Duke.
14:26: Hearts of Iron (PC), a strategy game banned in China due to the “Distortion of historical facts concerning Japan, Germany, and Italy during World War II”.
15:48: Everyone's favorite trouble-making sandbox game with a criminal theme finally reps with the revolutionary Grand Theft Auto III (2001, Rockstar Games). Banned in Australia for “graphic violence”. But really, the earlier games aren't that graphic compared to, say, Mortal Kombat (Mortal Kombat 9 was banned in Australia for its graphic violence) or some Survival Horror games. Sure, there's blood, but you can't dismember characters.
17:26: Conflict: Vietnam (PC), an FPS from Global Star. Banned in China for “The harmful effect this game could have on the youth of China”. The game uses Rolling Stones' “Paint It Black” and holy cow, Cinematech actually retained the song for the game's appearance in this ep.
19:21: Pokémon Red/Blue Version (1998, Game Boy). Banned in Sauda Arabia because it “possessed the minds of children, and promoted Zionism”. The Pokemon wiki, Bulbapedia, says that it was banned also because the game “promoted gambling”.
Cinematech Episode 193: “Bad Games”
An ep dedicated to some of gaming's most notorious clunkers. Each segment of this ep coming back from commercial break had a little “Cinematech Warning!” with white text on a red background. The first one:
- ”The following gameplay may be hazardous to your health and will probably leave a bad taste in your mouth...”
0:12: “John Romero is going to make you his bitch.” -Daikatana Advertisement, 1997
Ahh, yes. Cinematech came out swinging with this ep. The tale of Daikatana is indeed a sordid one of ambition. The game was supposed to be the next masterpiece from Romero, who co-founded id Software and worked on Doom. It was advertised in 1997, but the release date slipped all the way to 2000 when the developers had problems with their game engine and had to start from scratch in the middle of development. It reminds me a little of the Development Hell that Aliens: Colonial Marines went through...
Romero actually thought that the team could finish 24 levels in just seven months to meet a Christmas, 1997 release date. When Romero saw what id was doing with their engine for Quake II at E3 '97, Romero decided to license the Quake II engine and try to finish Daikatana for release in 1998. Long story short, the game slipped to 2000 and was finally released in April of that year. By then, the Quake II engine had already become dated.
Daikatana was to be an FPS with RPG elements. You had basic stats that could level up throughout the game. One of the most contentious elements of the game was the party system. The main character, Hiro Miyamoto, gained two companions over the course of the game: “Superfly” Johnson, an African-American mercenary, and Mikiko Ebihara, the daughter of the old man that tells Hiro about the Daikatana and its time-warping capabilities (so it's like a TARDIS that you can stab people with?). The implementation of sidekicks was heavily criticized due to their Artificial Stupidity, and, of course, if either sidekick died, the game was over. What fun!
Perhaps the funniest part of the montage is when Superfly welcomes the hero and Mikiko to a place called, “The Vault”. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with Fallout or Borderlands. There's another funny part where Mikiko is poisoned and delivers a truly pathetic cough.
The game was ported to the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy Color. The former was considered a Porting Disaster. The GBC version is in another genre entirely. A planned PlayStation port was canceled. In the N64 version, Superfly and Mikiko were removed from gameplay but were still present in the cutscenes.
Romero himself actually disowned the “bitch” ad, accrediting the idea to a marketer, and wishes he hadn't allowed the ad to be created.
1:06: The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about the Fight Club fighting game for the PS2 and the Xbox. I genuinely find it saddening that the author of the original book, Chuck Palahniuk explained its existence by saying, “They can do whatever they want as long as the fucking check clears”. Eh, at least he was honest about it, but that still doesn't change the game's reputation. In Kimble Justice's alphabetical “The History of Licensed Games” series, FC was the “Shit Room” title for F.
One last fact about this capitalist hack job: It's one of at least two games to feature Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, the other being a WWE SmackDown! game.
2:31: Bible Adventures, an obscure, unofficial NES platformer from 1991 by Wisdom Tree. This game featured three stories from the Bible: “Noah's Ark”, “Baby Moses”, and David and Goliath”. At least the graphics are cute, and it's not as absurd as The You Testament. The graphics are actually credited to “Nina” on the title screen. The gameplay looks a little like Super Mario Bros. 2.
According to the game's Wikipedia page, there are two variations of the cartridge – one colored light blue, the other, black. Fancy!
7:06: Clips from Acclaim's infamous Total Recall (1990) licensed game. This game is probably most remembered for Acclaim's butthurt reaction to Electronic Gaming Monthly's low review scores for the game. Acclaim threatened to pull their ads from the magazine. EGM didn't flinch, and so they did.
Sigh. Anyway, this is another game that has been reviewed by Jon Tron (who discovered that the game is apparently Unwinnable by Mistake because one of the levels loops over and over), and the Happy Video Game Nerd (who discovered that, if you let the game go idle, the Angel being controlled will bust out a terribly-animated dance move).
12:01: Night Trap! This was an FMV game for the SEGA CD in 1992 by Digital Pictures. It tasked players with managing the security system of a house where some sorority girls are throwing a party. Unbeknownst to them, they are being targeted by Augers, vampires whose teeth haven't even come in yet, so they abduct people and extract their blood with tools.
When I read the TV Tropes article about this game, I was kind of disturbed that people who hadn't played the game declared that it had much nastier content than it actually has. Makes you think, doesn't it?
It's downright amusing how NT was one of those games from the early '90s to incite moral panic. It's so utterly quaint now.
14:01: Clips from Bubsy is 3D in Furbitten Planet, the game that killed the Bubsy franchise. This was a platformer from late 1996, a few months after the revolutionary Super Mario 64 came out. Bubsy 3D had abstract, rudimentary, geometric levels and tank-style controls that made the game irritating and unplayable for many. A planned SEGA Saturn port was cancelled after the game's negative reception. Somewhat interestingly, it was developed by Eidetic, who would later go on to make the Syphon Filter series for Sony.
The game's box quotes a “Gold” award review from a magazine called PSExtreme; however, Wikipedia says that it “has never been known to actually exist”. Wow.
15:20: Oh, come on, guys, Zero Wing isn't that bad of a game. The English translation, or lack thereof, was what made it infamous. The game's infamy goes waaay back to 2000, when someone made a techno dance track that remixed one of the songs from the game, which vocalized the "All you base are belong to us" phrase. And what about that intro?
- Captain: What happen ?Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.Operator: We get signal.Captain: What !Operator: Main screen turn on.
Suddenly, a dude in a purple cape with really weird hair appears before the befuddled crew of the ship.
- Captain: It's you !!Cats: How are you gentlemen !! All Your Base Are Belong to Us. You are on the way to destruction.Captain: What you say!!Operator: Captain !!Captain: Take off every 'ZIG' !!Captain: You know what you do.Captain: Move 'ZIG' !!Captain: For Great Justice.In A.D. 2101. War Was Beginning.
I tried to recreate the intro as much as I could with text, including the weird space between the end of the a sentence and any punctuation mark besides a period, as well as the seemingly italicized exclamation points.
I don't think ZW is bad, per se. It's translation is obviously So Bad, It's Good. The game itself is another average SEGA Genesis shmup.
I remember when the meme first broke out and a video game magazine made a reference to CATS. I had no idea who CATS was or what "All you base are belong to us" was about. I didn't understand the meme until ZW was featured on the G4 fan-voted countdown show Filter featured it on their own "Worst Games Ever" ep. Then it all clicked! On that ep, some of the video game magazine editors talking about the game disputed its status as a bad game overall besides the translation.
16:03: Sigh... Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003, Core, PS2). This was the game that finally put the tapped-out vision of Lara Croft to rest before Crystal Dynamics rebooted her. Cinematech got kind of clever and juxtaposed clips from the game's serious, moody intro with clips of the game acting glitchy and/or weird. For example, this was a Tomb Raider game that was supposed to have stealth elements, but they show Lara in sneaking mode, bumping up against a guard from behind without alerting him; an clip where Lara seems to inexplicably make pained grunts when she climbs down a pipe; and her swimming through an area that doesn't have any water. Through thin air. This was not an isolated incident, apparently.
TR: TAoD was another case of a publisher forcing its hand and making a developer release an unfinished game. In this case, it was because it had been delayed multiple times already. When the second movie underperformed at the box office, Paramount Pictures blamed the game's poor reception for killing interest in their mediocre movie.
In hindsight, the year of 2003 was littered with unfinished games, and TR: TAoD was not the only case of a game rushed to release to coincide with a movie...
18:19: Big Rigs. This... this thing was supposedly a racing “game” “developed” by a “company” called Stellar Stone for PCs. In reality, it is mind-bogglingly unfinished. It barely resembles a game. The graphics, bland; physics, nonexistent. So, too, is the competitive AI. There is only one other truck present in the “races”, and it never moves in the prepatched versions of the game.
The devs couldn't even work up enough meh-nergy to make a finished product. The fact that this game broke most ratings scales demonstrates just how mind-bogging the depths of laziness could go in regards to video games. When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares also into you, and the truck from this game is driving somewhere in the background, taunting you with its incredulous violation of space-time physics as we know them.
Of this game, Gamespot said, “Just how bad is Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing? It's as bad as your mind will allow you to comprehend. “
Many years later, Stellar Stone proved that they were no one trick pony with The War Z, which currently resides on the SBIH page for video games. It's kind of amazing/exasperating that they have even made any more games since Big Rigs, and that it's another hated game, at that.
18:50: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, an infamously bad licensed game. In fact, it provides the page image for The Problem with Licensed Games. But is the story as cut and dried as that? It may be a bad game, but some reviewers have actually delved into the game's mechanics to try to figure out what the game's objectives are.
19:23: A montage of clips from Enter the Matrix set to goofy, old-timey music.
At the end of the ep, Cinematech apologized for the last 30 minutes and suggested a list of games to “cleanse yourself of the layer [of] filth that you are now wallowing in”. The list included such games as Animal Crossing, Burnout 3: Takedown, Chrono Trigger, Civilization 3, City of Heroes, Deus Ex: The Conspiracy, Doom, DuckTales, Duck Hunt, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X (hey, no love for VIII or especially IX?), Goldenye 007, Half-Life, Half-Life 2, Katamari Damacy, Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear Solid, Metroid, Metroid Prime, Ninja Gaiden, Perfect Dark, Pokémon Red, Ratchet & Clank, Resident Evil, Resident Evil 4, Rygar, Secret of Mana, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Street Fighter II, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., Tekken 3, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and (gasp) Tomb Raider.
Stand Burdman reviews Circuit Chung, a game that I think is comparable to Big Rigs
Kimble Justice's The A to Z of Licensed Games: E is for... Enter the Matrix