Cinematech Episode 223: “Rare and On the Air”
This ep is one of my favorites because it's not your usual ep of CT. This ep is all about some of the rarest and subsequently most expensive video games ever. When they introduced the games, they had a little coin block from the Super Mario Bros. games appear, get hit by the “Going Rate” for the game, making a “cha-ching” sound, and then the average going price of the games floated above the block.
Timecode: 0:21: Panzer Dragoon Saga, a highly praised Genre Shift to RPG for the on-rails shooting series. Going Rate: $150
Panzer Dragoon was one of the few hits for the beleaguered Sega Saturn. It was an inventive shooter where the main characters went on an adventure with a dragon. The only one of the games I played extensively was Panzer Dragoon Orta on the Xbox, and I treasured it. Remember when SEGA gave the Xbox a really big development push? Memoriiies~
Since SEGA lost the source code for the PD games, it's probable that Saga has become even MORE expensive over the years.
2:18: Burning Rangers, which, like Saga, was one of the final games released for the Saturn in North America. It was a game created by Sonic Team, and it was about firefighters who battle fires in an advanced, futuristic society. The game also featured anime cutscenes. The intro features such Engrishy phrases as “Sense a split second”, “Treasure the life”, and “Have goddess on your wings”. Going Rate: $60. Also features a cheesetacular English theme song in its intro.
3:44: Christmas NiGHTS (Saturn), one of those rare, seasonal editions of video game rereleases. Going Rate: $20. I believe that I had never heard of this game before watching this ep. This version of NiGHTS into Dreams… became available as an unlockable in the HD version of NiGHTS for sale on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
5:51: Faselei!, a turn-based strategy game for the Neo Geo Pocket Color with giant mechs piloted by humans. Going Rate: $100. Hardcore Gaming 101 did a review of it.
The NGPC was one obscure, short-lived system in the States. Probably the only reason I had heard of as many NGPC games as I did was because Electronic Gaming Monthly was the only magazine I read that gave them any coverage at all.
6:56: A collection of rare Atari 2600 games:
- Quad Run, the first Atari game to feature a voice sample, which says the game's title. Going Rate: An astounding $400.
- Chase the Chuck Wagon, a game based on an ad campaign for Purina dog food. The game was apparently developed in three days. The game was only available by mailing proofs of purchase to Purina, but due to a lack of demand, the unshipped cartridges were destroyed. A bit like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, eh? Going Rate: $100.
- Coke Wins, a sort of Space Invaders clone, but with letters spelling out PEPSI as enemies. Basically, a corporate dick measuring contest as a game. Going Rate: $500.
- Swordquest: Waterworld, the third of four planned games in the Swordquest series. Airworld, which was to be the fourth game, was never finished. Each game shipped with a comic written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway with art penciled and inked by George Perez and Dick Giordano. The games were made as part of a contest. The comics supplied a part of the solution to the puzzles. The first place winners of the contests won a prize embodying one of the artifacts in the games. Real stuff, such as the Crown of Life made of gold and encrusted with jewels, as if it was one of those treasures you find in Resident Evil 4 and/or 5. Going Rate: $100.
- Crazy Climber, a game about a guy climbing to the top of buildings. Sadly, he does not say, “I'm gonna wreck it!” when he gets to the top. Going Rate: $125.
7:47: Now here's a curiosity: a Neon Genesis Evangelion game... for the Nintendo 64. A game based on one of the most popular anime of the '90s released only in Japan goes for $30 on average. The footage shown features cutscenes attempting to mimic the style of the anime.
9:07: Rendering Ranger, a Super NES run-and-gun game from the creator of Turrican with some side-scrolling shooting levels. When they showed this game on this ep, I was astounded. Maybe I just haven't seen a really good-looking 16-bit game in a while, but this game's graphics are amazing. Interestingly, the game was released only in Japan and was published by Virgin Software, of all companies. Note that, if you want to check the game out yourself and don't feel like paying $300 for a cartridge copy, not to mention for the Japanese Super Famicom that you would need to play it, there are ahem alternative methods you can use to play it. The game doesn't have a lot of text or story to get in the way, and has a life bar, eschewing One-Hit-Point Wonder unlike Contra. Later levels in the game seem to have a biomechanical horror motif, sort of like H.R. Giger, but without the sexual elements. The game was also reviewed by HG101.
10:47: Something a bit less obscure with Bust a Groove, a very cute PlayStation rhythm game. Kind of like a fighting game, but with motion-captured dancers instead of martial arts. Going Rate: $50.
This was a game with some stylish characters and J-pop music. I rented the game but sadly lack a copy of my own. My favorite character was Shorty, the young lady in overalls and a backwards cap. But what was with that busty adult woman Kelly with the baby-themed stage and onesie outfit? She carried a rattle around. I sometimes hate the “LOL, Japan” attitude, but in this case... seriously, Japan, WTF? Other wacky characters in the game included an overweight guy who loved hambugers named Hamm, and a cute lady in a catsuit named Kitty-N.
12:43: Color a Dinosaur, a kiddie coloring book game... for the NES. A game I had never heard of before I saw the ep, although I think an old issue of Nintendo Power may have mentioned it years before. The color palette is limited. The game is even included on our SoBadItsHorrible.Video Games page. The craziest thing about it is that Tommy Tallarico is credited for the music. The show highlighted his name in pink in the credits. Starving artist, eh?
13:21: Rez, a very strange, on-rails shooter originally released for the PS2. Going Rate: $75 for a crazy, but kind of cool, head trip of a game.
15:27: Ladies and gentlemen, Great Greed, one of the rarest games available in North America for the Game Boy. Going Rate: $15.
This game drives me nuts, because it is obsessed with food. Everything is named after a food item. It's like the Kingdom Hearts of food. For example, there is are enemies such as an Eye Cake and a Weiner; a nation called Sushi; a princess named Candy; a dog named Calorie; a character named Microwave; a town called Shishkaburg (at least that required some creativity); and a captain of the guard called Lunch Box. The montage of clips for this game featured mocking music with kazoos and a chorus going, “Wah wah wah wah”, so I'd guess that Cinematech didn't like it very much, and had fun at its expense. Oh, and the developers of this game? Namco. It's a long road from this to the Tales Series. Strangely enough, GG is supposed to have an environmental theme, but that doesn't show in the footage on this ep. To its credit, the game lets you save anywhere outside of battle. A website called Gaming Sanctuary gave it a pretty entertaining and in-depth review.
16:08: Run! It's The Legend Of Zelda CDI Games! First up: Zelda's Adventure. Game intro. Going Rate: $100. This game features the Princess of Hyrule, Zelda, going on her own adventure when Gannon takes over a place called Tolemac and captures Link. This game for the Phillips CD*I system had live-action FMV cutscenes. The game utilizes a top-down perspective and digitized sprites which aren't as good-looking as the 2D sprites of the Nintendo-made Zelda games. Interestingly, the game's obscurity is magnified by the fact that it can not be emulated.
Next up, we're not out of the woods yet with Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Going Rate: $50. This game is infamous for weird, crudely-drawn cutscenes and hokey voice acting. The fact that most Nintendo games still lack voice acting could be traced back to the failure of these CD*I Zelda games. For example, there's this breathless non sequitur:
- King: Enough! My ship sails in the morning. I wonder what's for dinner...”Link”: Oh, boy! I'm so hungry, I could eat an Octorok!
There's also a part where Zelda's handmaiden, Impa, tries to comfort the princess and Impa's hands are frighteningly bigger than Zelda's entire head.
Finally, Link: The Faces of Evil. Going Rate: $50. “Link” complains that, “Boy, it sure is boring around here”, and then this guy with a magic carpet comes into the castle saying that the island of Korudai has been taken over by Gannon. He has a scroll that says, “Only Link can defeat Gannon”. Boy, that is one specific prophecy.
And finally, we're brought to the surreal ending of this ep, which features a montage of several of the games featured, and a very strange song that sounds like cowbells and guys mooing. There were also pictures of G4 personalities pretending to eat the games. One guy pretended to cut the jewel case for B-A-G like a steak.
Do you have any rare games in your collection? Also, could you what imagine seasonal rereleases of some of your favorite video would be like? It could be hilariously narmful to picture.