The Nerd was summoned by his audience to cover a game that is reportedly worse than Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Big Rigs, and Desert Bus. That game being Hong Kong 97', developed by Happy Soft (their one and only title). The game is incredibly rare. So rare that he couldn't get a hold of a cartridge, let alone a picture of what the game box art would look like. So he is forced to play the game on an emulator.
The Nerd picks on the game, talking about how desperate the developers were trying to contract other developers to work with, and retail stores to sell the game. He notices a lot of images that were stolen from different sources, such as Jackie Chan as seen in Wheels on Meals. He hangs up on the introduction screen, baffled yet giggling over how over the top ridiculous the concept was for better or worse. He was also surprised by the fact that it's a Super Famicom game that says fuck.
On the game itself, it is a shoot-em-up where you play as Chin who has to murder a bunch of soviet officers incoming, while dodging obstacles and collecting power-ups for points. All on one life. Forcing you to go through the introduction all over again before playing it. The Nerd is noticeably disturbed over the game over screen, which he is convinced that it features a corpse of a man who may actually be dead. He is also annoyed by the constantly looping music track that never changes, as well as the random backgrounds.
With not much else to add, the Nerd mentions that Deng Xiaoping passed away in 1997, which convinced the Nerd that the game predicted the future. He also notes that a movie that happens to be titled Hong Kong 97, which had the tagline "99 years of British rule are about to come to an end... Hong Kong will never be the same", that did actually happen in the same here. He starts going through the many coincidences in how many of the events that occurred in 1997. As he comes full circle, he makes one final conclusion that the game is all about a cycle of life, and what keeps life going: Reproduction and food. Which becomes shit... "The game is fuckin' shit."
Briefly featured NES games: Moon Ranger, Kid Niki, Dudes with Attitude, Deathbots, and Mad Max. Other games include: Duckwing Duck and Duck Tales
The Nerd goes over a bunch of NES games as he tries to find one to review, but is ultimately unable to think of any of them to try. So he decides to do something new: Review a game on the Turbo Grafx 16 (aka the PC-Engine). He talks about how the system was made to compete with the NES, but was soon trampled by the Sega Genesis, and became the black sheep of the 16-bit era. While it was not as popular, and it lacked the same third party support that its competitors had, the Nerd finds this to be a good thing as that meant "less shitty games" and praised the library for having a lot of good games without any major stinkers. He believes to had found one stinker with Darkwing Duck, based on the cartoon of the same name.
With the game started, the Nerd is impressed by the stage select and the overall presentation, but soon finds himself annoyed with the first level with how it is designed, and how incredibly difficult it is to collect a certain item, and how he had to take damage to progress the level. He also doesn't like how there isn't much ammo to collect, and how annoying the boss fights are where the hit detection gets incredibly picky, and sometimes outright cheats by moving you towards an obstacle to take damage. The other method of attacking is jumping on enemies, which sometimes result in you taking damage, and sometimes it doesn't. He also finds the puzzles you are presented to be too difficult for its own good, owing to how a detailed background is behind the puzzle itself, making it confusing to tell which piece is part of the puzzle or part of the background. He also finds the controls to be delayed, even demonstrating it on screen.
His breaking point occurs in a platforming section where the platforms are moving up-down and left-right. He decides to take his time to make the jump proper, before a safe falls on the player character. The Nerd gives up on the game, and is convinced that part of the game is the developers saying "Fuck You" to the child audience. He wonders how the NES version of the game, along with Duck Tales, played so much better, and yet the Turbo Grafx 16 version of the game is so bad. He introduces the shit-scale (to visually demonstrate just how bad the game is), and compares it to the CD-i Zelda games in terms of how bad it is. While he doesn't consider it the worst game ever, he does consider it the worst game he's ever played on the Turbo Grafx 16 so far.
Also featured: Explosive Fighter Patton (FC)
The Nerd opens up with admiring the Sega Dreamcast and how great of a game console it was before Sega stopped making game consoles. He finds that the dreamcast did not have many bad games for it, but he was requested to review the odd-ball of the whole collection: Seaman. The Nerd starts off the review by noticing how the Sega Dreamcast menu requires you to set a clock, which seemed to annoy him. However, his annoyance quickly turn into surprise as he is greeted with the voice of the late Leonard Nimoy, who narrates the game and provides commentary at key portions, much to the Nerd's admiration. In fact, he dedicates the whole review to Leonard Nimoy. The Nerd starts the game off by storing the egg into the tank and being forced to wait. After a review of the back-story, the Nerd is soon greeted by the Seamen .
Through out the game, he has to help mature the Seamen by taking care of the tank, pump in the air, turn up the heat, harvest some food by maintaining the insect cage, keep the Seamen fed, and utilize the microphone attachment to socialize with the Seamen , answering their questions and all whenever they are in the mood. The game requires you to leave and come back every now and then, but The Nerd, having nothing better to do, goes in and out the game after five minutes at a time (much to Nimoy's concern). He decides to pass the time by playing a Famicom game called Explosive Fighter Patton (another request), but was caught by surprise by the Precision F-Strike the game contained (an official Famicom game no less), which managed to distract the Nerd for over a couple of days. Once he realized he forgot about Seaman, he came back to find them passed away from neglect, forcing the Nerd to start all over. He does attempt to exploit the games' internal clock by setting it forward a few hours so that he can progress faster on a single setting. As he discovers a lot of quirky moments, even getting immersed and emotional with his conversations with the Seamen , he does manage to play it to the end.
The Nerd does admit that he was being negative on the game, but he does say that the game is actually really good as a pet simulator game, and how it does an excellent job with its speech-recognition. Soon, the Seaman starts to talk to him, insisting that they exist due to the Nerd's perception of their sentience. As he starts to show his approval of them, the Seaman would utter the line "All hail Sega! Buy another Dreamcast", leading the Nerd to believe that the Seamen are actually looking to take over the world, replacing the identity of many of its inhabitants, and decides that he'll speed the game up forward in time to prevent them from doing so, reducing himself to bones in the process. A sentient Leonard Nimoy decides to set the clock all the way back to the Nerd's childhood, in which the Seaman ends up playing him.
It's mischief night as the Nerd opens the door to find a paper bag lit on fire and puts it out with his shoe. He would then reveal that it is actually The Crow for the Sega Saturn. He decides to talk about the first movie, but mentions that there are actually no games based on it. But the sequel: The Crow: City of Angels, was released prior to the game being made.
As the game starts, the Nerd takes an immediate disliking to the controls, where he disapproves of the tank-controls and how delayed and wonky combat is, with how his characters' fists and feet keep going through the enemies without actually making the mark. He also disapproves of the awkward camera angles and with how dark the game appears, sometimes making it hard to see, and the camera angles sometimes don't even change up. When he has to combat multiple enemies at once, he has a hard time due to the poor controls. It got to the point where he points out that the CG cut-scenes in the game demonstrate some good fighting, which served to tease him. The gun combat is also hard to control due to it being difficult to aim, although the enemies have no such problem, as the Nerd believes the game to be over once you face enemies with firearms.
After attempting to see more of the game with the password system, he soon gives up and decides to remove the game and mock it with a wide variety of insults hurled at it, before throwing it to the ground. As the video is about to conclude, Board James shows up on the monitor, demanding a Halloween special of his own, leading to 13 Dead End Drive.
The complete marathon on youtube
Featured cover art from the following games* : Pro Wrestling (SMS), Mega Man 1-3 (NES), Shatterhand (NES), Action Fighter (SMS), Shingen the Ruler (NES), Phalanx (SNES), Snow White and the 7 Clever Boys (PS2), Action in New York (NES), Rallo Gump (DOS), Ghost Lion (NES), Eliminator Boat Duel (NES), Street Hockey '95 (SNES), Irritating Stick (PS1), Crackout (NES), Cock'in (C64), Treasure Master (NES), Karnaaj Rally (GBA), Hell Fighter (NES), Scrapyard Dog (A7800), Rollerblade Racer (NES), Killer Kong (ZXS), Hammerin' Harry (NES), Super Duper Sumos (GBA), The Ultimate Stuntman (NES), and X-Man (A2600)
As an extra bonus for the holidays, the Nerd decides to count down the days to Christmas by discussing some bad cover art in video games (in addition to another holiday AVGN special) one day at a time. The Nerd does mention that to never judge a book by its cover, but with video games, especially at a time where the Internet was not as prominent or present, the cover alone has to try to sell the game. The results were the covers for games that may not had done that job well.
With Christmas here again, the Nerd comments about how the weather is getting really cold, which reminds him of an N64 game he had never played before: Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. He briefly talks about the Mortal Kombat series and how much of an impact it had on the world, even briefly commenting on the different versions available. He also spoke highly of Mortal Kombat Trilogy, but never ever looked at Mythologies. So he decides to play it.
While he finds the game to be similar to the other Mortal Kombat games, he is quickly surprised by the side-scrolling style of the game play where it behaves more like an adventure game. He is annoyed by the RPG elements present, considering that he played other Mortal Kombat games in the past, and said that having Sub-Zeros special moves locked from the beginning is more of a tease. The combat itself feels awkward (despite being just like the previous Mortal Kombat games) due to how the player now has to press a button to change where Sub-Zero is facing, and it made the platforming elements stiff to perform. The Nerd also had a hard time navigating past death traps, and notes that there are an abundance of them.
The Nerd briefly talks about the Playstation 1 version of the game, noting that both games are similar, but the N64 has still images and text to advance the plot, while the Playstation 1 version featured full-motion video. The Nerd could only comment "just stick to Mortal Kombat Annihilation."
He was unable to find enjoyment in the game due to the huge abundance of death traps, the stiff jumping, and the ridiculous enemies he had to face, one of which was able to stun-lock him into defeat. He then decides to shut the game off and perform a fatality on it.
The Nerd starts off, gushing over how awesome the Mega Man games were, going into how each one made the series better, although they were getting stale. He then starts to gush over Mega Man X, which revitalized the franchise with a new trilogy of games that he loves, although he is a bit irked by the amount of dialogue present in X3. He is annoyed by it in X4, but he excuses this because it was an early Playstation 1 game and the storyline was bigger than the first three games. By the time of X5, the Nerd ended up hating the game due to the dialogue now obstructing the game play, and how slower paced the game is. After seeing just how far the X series has fallen, the Nerd figures that he has played too many shitty games, and decided to quit once again. He trashes away some games and undoes his shirt as he walks off in the sunset.
Somehow, the Nerd got transported back in time, to the year 2007 where he was just finished reviewing Independence Day for the PS1. Past!Nerd throws the disc away, only to smack the Future!Nerd in the face with it. As the two of them come to terms with their existence, Future!Nerd tries to talk his past self into quitting his career, and even finds Mega Man on DOS and convinces him to play this game just to show how bad that series gets. As the two of them play on a PC, they both find the game to be really lacking in comparison to the NES games, with the really poor level design, uninspired enemies, and clunky controls, the latter of which is not helped by the poor gamepad support, forcing the Nerds to use the keyboard. They also played Mega Man 3 on DOS (there was no Mega Man 2 for DOS), which does properly support a gamepad, and has twice as many levels, but it suffers from the same problems, with the addition to being very confusing to navigate. After that, Future!Nerd tells his past self to review the Simpsons games on NES if he doesn't believe him before disappearing.
Further back in the year 2006, the Nerd makes a dynamic entrance to the four Nerds (actually one Nerd having a dream) who were just playing Nightmare on Elm Street for NES. The Future!Nerd attempts to convince all of them to stop their career, and even offers to review Mega Man Legends for the Playstation.* All of them play this game to find that the dialogue boxes are a problem once more, finding themselves being interrupted by the in-game characters almost every step of the way, and even notice similarities between this game and Legend of Zelda. They also do not like the control scheme, finding the tank-like control to be a hindrance, even with the N64 version. Otherwise, they do say that this is more of an alternative take on Mega Man, and in that sense, it isn't really bad as some people may actually enjoy it. The rest of the review are all the Nerds commenting on the fact that Mega Man is out shopping at a shopping center (even finding a particular sort of magazines). After that, Future!Nerd orders one of the Nerd clones to take the Nightmare on Elmstreet cart and evacuate their bowels all over it... only to had already done so in his pants, which somehow got the Nerd to go back further in time, just before the episode starts to finish proper.
The Nerd goes back further to the year 2004, to the very second episode he had ever done. Just as this Past!Nerd just finished up ranting about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Future!Nerd makes another attempt to dissuade his past self from starting a show, only to notice Mega Man X7 for the Playstation 2, which happened to be released around the same time as when Past!Nerd ranted about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The both of them decide to play the game. The Nerds find it to lack the challenge that the previous games possessed with the inclusion of the auto-targeting system for Axl, regardless of the level playing in a 2D or 3D phase. The camera is sometimes uncooperative, leading to many hits the Nerds couldn't see coming. Their breaking point was when they played one level which is an invisible maze, complete with sections that place their character upside down and reverses the controls, much to their frustration.
Afterward, Past!Nerd made a comment about how in Future!Nerd's time, they must had made it to X20 by now, but when he was reassured that the franchise was put on hold, he begins to talk about why that is a good thing, being that you cannot rush out a new installment just to meet consumer demand or it wouldn't be very good. This left in a revelation in Future!Nerd, who then asks what would his past self do if he had a show. The kind of question did puzzle him somewhat, but he responded by saying that he would love to have such a thing if people wanted it, and while he can't keep it going forever, it's always good to bring it back now and then. Future!Nerd decides to depart on good terms, while the Past!Nerd reviews his then-very short NES collection, which gives him some ideas.
Future!Nerd returns back to his time in 2016, only to find Bugs Bunny taking over the angry nerd duty, and even peacefully inform him that he doesn't have to come back to it. The Nerd responded with violence, beating up Bugs Bunny, taking back his title as the Angry Video Game Nerd, and goes straight into reviewing another bad video game. Once he finds out that it's Mega Man Soccer, and he plays just a little bit of it, he ends up screaming and flying out of his basement.
Described as a mix of Godzilla, Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Voltron, and Saved by the Bell, the Nerd enthusiastically hypes up Power Rangers, a series of action shows using stock footage from the Japanese Super Sentai series that were a pop cultural phenomenon during the 1990s. As with any pop cultural phenomenon, it had a slew of video game adaptations, too many for the Nerd to be able to review in one episode, so he would review a small selection, at least one of which he is certain will piss him off.
He starts with a Super Sentai video game, Choujin Sentai Jetman for the Famicom. It is an action platformer that, like the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game, gave players a choice of one of five Rangers with their own abilities, and like Mega Man, the option to choose which stage they wish to play. The Nerd describes the game as being mediocre, but otherwise inoffensive: aside from the pause button being Select while Start activates a special attack, and the giant robot boss battles being mildly frustrating, it was servicable.
Next, also on the Famicom, is Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, the series that would be adapted into the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Unlike Jetman, level progression was linear and players were assigned a different Ranger for each level. Each Ranger starts off with a gun, but later gets their signature weapon, leading to frustration in the first level when the Yellow Ranger's gun is replaced with short-ranged daggers that are swung randomly. Thankfully, the later stages are not as difficult, since the other Rangers' weapons are better. What is puzzling, however, is the sudden Megazord ping-pong and hot-potato bonus stages between stages, where failure constitutes an automatic Game Over, and trivia quizzes that are, while not impeding progress, are impossible without knowledge of the Japanese language. The game also had a unique password system, consisting of selecting three poses for the Red Ranger instead of traditional passwords. Like Jetman, it is also mediocre, but otherwise okay.
The Nerd then begins reviewing the Americanized Power Rangers games with Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers on SNES. It is a simple, but fun side-scrolling platformer beat-em-up where players take control of each Ranger, starting off in their civilian forms before Morphing halfway through the stage. While each Ranger is a pallet swap of each other, they each have different weapons and fighting styles that make it fun to try each Ranger out. The final stages are dedicated to Megazord battles which are a mild improvement over Jetman and look amazing.
Afterwards, the Nerd plays Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie on SNES. It is a side-scrolling brawler in the same vein as the game based on the TV series, albeit with a plane-switching mechanic where players can jump between the foreground and background. Unfortunately, unlike the previous game, it is brutally difficult, such that the Nerd can't complete the first stage.
The Nerd then switches consoles to the Genesis for its own version of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Unlike the SNES version, the Genesis version is a Street Fighter clone that doesn't use all of the buttons on the Genesis's controller and featured cheap enemy AI that forces players to be cheap just to have a fighting chance. Not terrible, but otherwise fairly lame.
Next is the Sega CD adaptation of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Instead of adapting the Genesis version, the Sega CD version is an FMV-laden Dragon's Lair clone, albeit one that is ridiculously easy since players are barely punished for missing a button prompt. The combination of barely-present gameplay and low-quality FMVs makes this game, ultimately, forgettable.
The Nerd then jumps forward a few seasons and a console generation with Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue on the Nintendo 64. The on-foot levels task players with cleaning up slime and fighting enemies, both activities being mind-numbingly boring due to simplistic controls and enemies that die in one hit without posing any significant threat. Meanwhile, the driving levels task players with rescuing civilian cars while the player is assaulted by two grating voice clips that play constantly throughout. The Megazord battles and flying stages are, similarly, unremarkable. The game ultimately proves mediocre, but more boring than infuriating.
With the games thus far being fairly average in general, the Nerd decides to see how shitty the games can get by playing the Game Boy adaptations, starting the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. This game is, ultimately, a scaled down version of the SNES game. It's worse than the SNES original, but still not enraging.
Finally, there is Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers the Movie on Game Boy. The game is distinct from its console counterparts, but suffers from poor hit detection, sluggish controls, cheap bosses, and inconsistent rules. For instance, during the mine stage, players jump on a minecart. While on the minecart, the D-pad controls the minecart until a second minecart appears, then the D-pad controls the Ranger again. The player is supposed to jump onto the second minecart, but they are just as likely to accidentally fall onto the tracks and die instantly just from moving to avoid obstacles, with the difficulty of this stage being increased severalfold by jump physics that require the player to be exact in making the jump to the new minecart, lest they fall and die. Worse still, the attack button alternates between punching and kicking in an irregular pattern, which wouldn't be as big of an issue except except for one part of the game where players must punch and kick their way through sand while a drill chases them and kills them upon contact. There are three heights at which attacks hit depending on whether the Ranger is crouching, standing, punching, and kicking. There is also a pattern of which attack is launched, so this segment is doable, but extremely frustrating.
It is Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers the Movie for Game Boy that ultimately brings out the sheer unbridled rage the Nerd was looking for. The Nerd summons his Power Glove, Power Pad, Laser Scope, U-Force, and Roll'n'Rocker to become a human game-themed Megazord, and destroys the cart with a solid whack from his Super Scope.
The Nerd is taken aback at the gorgeous level of quality in the opening FMV, although with Sonic not appearing until later in the cutscene, the Nerd finds it hard to believe that this isn't "Final Fantasy meets Pacific Rim". The Nerd is also confused as to the setting of the game, which is quite unlike anything from previous Sonic games.
After myriad cutscenes and loading screens, the player is finally given control over Sonic in a coastal town inhabited by human beings, which is a first for the Nerd: aside from Dr. Robotnik (or Eggman, as he is now known), there has never been any humans in the series to his recollection. Many of the human NPCs also fall very squarely into the Uncanny Valley.
Loading screens continue to appear at what seems to be the slightest of provocations, which wouldn't be too awful were it not for the fact that it can take upwards of twenty seconds for the game to finish loading.
The game is riddled with glitches, including one where Tails falls through the floor and becomes trapped under the scenery, and an AI oversight that makes Tails jump into the ocean, as though the game was so shitty that the poor two-tailed fox couldn't take it anymore. The town also has several guards preventing access to some areas, with other areas cordoned off by invisible walls. In order to progress, you need to get shoes from a "raving madman" and complete a trial by running through giant rings within a time limit, evoking unfavorable comparisons to Superman 64. After getting the shoes and buying a "Light Chip", players can finally proceed to the entrance of the first stage.
Wave Ocean, the first zone of the game, plays more like one would expect of a Sonic game, yet is not as fun as it could've been. Much of the stage seems "automated": progress is made automatically at regular intervals, and to destroy robots, Sonic has to perform an automated homing attack. The rules of each stage also seem to change constantly. For example, when Sonic grabs onto the fin of an orca, the player's control switches to Tails with little forewarning, causing the Nerd to accidentally run into the ocean.
When the Nerd runs out of lives, he finds himself having to start over from the opening FMV. He manages to make his way through Wave Ocean and get to the end of the segment where he controls Tails, only to be flung headfirst into an on-rails running segment where Sonic dashes across the stage at breakneck speeds, leaving precious little time to evade obstacles. The Nerd manages to beat the level and is treated to a cutscene where Sonic learns that his princess is in another castle.
Proceeding to the next stage requires returning to the hub town and completing another sidequest to unlock the stage's entrance, which becomes very tedious very quickly. In this case, the player must find a guard captain. The five guards that the player must talk to to ascertain the captain's whereabouts give no indication to where he might be. The Nerd takes a wild guess that the guard who gave him the task was the captain...and he's right, leaving the Nerd incensed.
Afterwards, the Nerd must find a boy's lost dog. The dog proves hard to find (no thanks to the kid pointing at a wall), but the Nerd manages to find it, and is perplexed at the dissonance between Sonic's cartoony design and the fact that the dog he rescued was designed like a realistic dog that is somehow smaller than Sonic.
The Nerd continues to run into even more glitches, such as coming to a complete stop at a wall and sliding to the side for a moment, standing at a weird angle, and falling through the scenery and seeing the bottom of the game's skybox, all of which the Nerd finds oddly amusing.
The Nerd manages to defeat a boss and rescue the princess, but he must carry the princess through the following stage which throws another curveball: if the player doesn't raise a barrier by holding the right trigger, they will sink into the sand and die. After completing the stage, he is shown another cutscene, where the combination of the uncanny valley and the romantic undertones between a cartoon hedgehog and a relatively photorealistic human prove to be very unsettling.
Things go from bad to shittastic when the player must contend with one of the most frustrating bosses in the game: Silver the Hedgehog. The only way to attack Silver is from behind: otherwise, Silver will grab Sonic with his psychokinesis and leave him helpless before tossing him back and damaging him. This proves to be a tall order, since it's hard to keep Silver on-screen for long enough to attack him before he attacks you.
The Nerd concludes that while there are far worse games in the world than Sonic '06, it was particularly infuriating because of the fact that it wasn't just any game, but a Sonic the Hedgehog game, which demands a certain standard of quality which this particular game falls well short of. The Nerd deems this game worthy of "The Collection": a torture chamber containing all of the particularly horrendous games the Nerd had to put up with, such as Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Silver Surfer, and Dark Castle.
The good news is the ship could be repaired, so the Nerd would not be stranded for long. The bad news is the ship's computer needs to reboot, which can take a while. The worst news is that the only way to pass the time until he could return to Earth was with one shitty game that somehow managed to avoid being vented into space: Planet of the Apes for the Playstation.
Confusingly, the game was made to coincide with the otherwise forgettable 2001 reboot, but featured characters from the original 1968 film. The reason for this came down to the rebooted movie's own Troubled Production: development for the game started while the film was being made, but the film got delayed, so the developers had to use elements from the original film to proceed with development, only for the movie to be rushed. The game was meant to be released around the same time as the movie, but was released on PC about a month after. The Playstation version, however, was not released until in 2002, over a year after the PC version and well into the twilight years of the PS1. Ports for the Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance were also made, but the less said about them, the better.
The player begins in a prison cell. In order to escape, they need a key. The controls, however, are obtuse and very far from intuitive; picking up an item only places it in the player's hand, and they need to push Triangle while holding the item to put it in their pouch, while Circle drops the item.
Once the player leaves their cell, they are treated to environmental textures that morph and deform, just to name one of the many graphical shortcomings in this game.
Combat is not much better, being mind-numbingly simple yet infuriating at the same time. There is little strategy outside of mashing buttons and hoping the ape you're fighting dies before you do as the punch command seems to not work at random. The apes can also defend themselves while you can't, allowing them to tank most of your blows. By the time you manage to defeat an ape, you'll likely only have a sliver of health left. You can use medkits to recover your health, but they only recover a relatively modest amount. Getting one of the apes' clubs does little to improve matters; you're left vulnerable every three swings, and the apes can block it just as well as your fists, making them hardly worthwhile. There are also knives, but they work even worse than your bare hands.
Making things all the more frustrating is the fact that you have to start over at the beginning of a level if you die; no lives, no continues, no checkpoints. You can save the game, but only inbetween levels. In the case of the first level, this means watching all of the cutscenes from the start of the game all over again.
The camera also proves to be a major hindrance, swinging around wildly at the slightest of movements and moving such that it can block your view if there is something between the camera and your character, which is practically a death sentence when in combat.
At key points throughout the game, you have to interact with environmental objects. To do this, you must put away any weapon you may be holding first, making these sections tedious.
Not helping matters is the fact that the game gives no indication on how to proceed, forcing players to figure out how to make their way through each level on their own. So cryptic is this game that the Nerd had to look up an online walkthrough to figure out what to do and where to go. One segment calls for the player to jump through a ceiling, surprising the Nerd with the fact that one can actually jump. Since the walkthrough he looked up (there's Wifi on this planet) was for the PC version, the Nerd looks up the controls for jumping in the game's manual: R2. This, however, is not enough: the player needs to press R2 and X simultaneously to jump, which the manual never indicated.
The rest of the controls fair little better, with such simple activities like walking across narrow platforms or climbing ladders being a chore unto themselves.
At one point, the Nerd has to turn a heat valve up, then move away. Unfortunately, he cannot move away quickly enough before a nearby generator explodes and kills him instantly. Later, the Nerd finds and a bottle of pills and tries to put it in his inventory, but eats them by accident, killing him instantly once more. There are various pills with various effects indicated in a lab report, with the text being obscured by the report's model rotating in the middle of the screen. This particular puzzle requires players to take a red pill that causes an apparent cardiac arrest, then sound an alarm before the pill's effect take hold to call an ape in to carry them to the morgue, which progresses the game. Unfortunately, setting off the alarm does not summon an ape, regardless of whether the player takes the pill before or after.
The Nerd finally loses all patience with the game, declaring it "a madhouse" and damning the game designers all to hell before getting back in his spaceship and making a hasty exit. After he leaves, however, the indigenous apes living on the planet discover some of the games he left behind...
When the Nerd returns to Earth, he finds the planet to be radically transformed from the planet he came from; billboards adorning the cover art from Big Rigs adorn the urban landscapes, Hollywood has been transformed into "LJN Wood", ET's face now adorns the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Virtual Boy sits atop the Eiffel Tower, Superman now sits in the middle of Ferris Wheels, and the Statue of Liberty's torch has been replaced with a Power Glove. The full gravity of what wicked fate has befallen the Nerd's world sinks in as he crash-lands in the Washington Mall and walks up to the Lincoln Monument, only to see, to his unending horror, that it is no longer the Lincoln Monument, but the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Monument...
As with any popular console, it came with a whole slew of accessories. One of the most well known was the Super Game Boy, a SNES accessory that allowed players to play Game Boy games on their TV via the SNES, with certain games designed to work with the Super Game Boy with expanded color pallets.
The first dedicated accessory the Nerd introduces is the Link Cable, which allowed players to link two Game Boys together for multiplayer. A four-player adapter also existed, but it was highly impractical since it required all four players to have Link Cables and the same game.
There also existed a Game Genie cheat cartridge, surprisingly. The Nerd thinks it fairly ridiculous; it was bulky and a very noticeable indicator that the user was a filthy cheater. On the plus side, the cart has a compartment for a tiny Game Genie code book.
A common concern with handheld consoles during the Game Boy's lifespan was batteries, which Nintendo addressed with an official rechargable battery pack. Third parties also released their own solutions, including a "solar charger", which required the user to set it out in the sun for several hours. Surprisingly, it worked, to the Nerd's delight.
Third parties also attempted to address the fact that it was impossible to play a Game Boy in the dark, due to the lack of a back light. One such accessory is the "Nuby Light", a top-mounted battery-powered light that gets the job done. The main downside is that it needs four batteries of its own, on top of the Game Boy's four. Another such accessory is the "Light Boy", which is harder to mount on, but only needs two batteries and has a magnifying glass to increase the screen size. The Light Boy the Nerd owns doesn't work, unfortunately, but another company released a very similar product called the "Light Magic" which does work and is easier to mount. Through it all, the Nerd wonders why Nintendo didn't just release a Game Boy model with a lighted screen.
Some of these accessories got ridiculous, like the Handy Boy by the unfortunately-named company STD, which had speakers and larger button and D-pad actuators. When the Nerd unpacks it fresh out of the box, however, it practically falls apart in his hands, being ridiculously fragile and forcing the Nerd to order a new one. On the plus side, it doesn't require any batteries of its own. Unfortunately, this means the light has to draw power from the Game Boy itself, which it fails to do while also crashing whatever game is loaded into it. An alternate means of powering the device was also offered; a strange device that plugs into the Handy Boy while also directly contacting the batteries. This time, it works, but poorly. As for the add-on control actuators, they also work poorly, being stiff and awkward. The speakers are also, strangely, quieter.
Perhaps most ridiculous of these accessories is the "Booster", a gargantuan shell that was powered by four C-batteries (which the Game Boy can draw power from via DC input), an add-on actuator shell like the Handy Boy which the Nerd dispenses with, speakers that were very loud, and a cartridge compartment for carrying extra games. The Booster was interesting, but given the Game Boy's claim to fame is its portability, ultimately counter-intuitive.
Next, the Nerd introduces the Game Boy Camera. The Nerd is doubtful as to whether something like this would actually work, but to his surprise, it does, predating the advent of "selfies" on the internet. Pictures can be stored and viewed, and the Camera even comes with a few built-in minigames, such as a Space Invaders clone (with a suicide button. The Nerd ponders if the Camera could work on a Super Game Boy, and to his delight, not only does it work, but the Camera still functions! Unfortunately, the Nerd has to turn the system around to take a selfie. The Nerd ultimately finds the Game Boy Camera to be more fun than he expected. It also functioned with the Game Boy Printer, if you want to print your pictures.
Other accessories the Nerd mentions but couldn't acquire include an FM radio; the "Workboy", a word processor with keyboard compatibility; the Hudson Soft Kisslink, which granted the Game Boy some internet functionality to download exclusive games; the Barcode Boy, which used barcode cards with certain games; a Pocket Sonar for real-world fishing; a mobile phone adaptor; a sewing machine; and Game Boy platform shoes with spaces to fit a Game Boy.
Finally, the Nerd introduces one last accessory that he heard of: the PediSedate, an accessory designed to help anesthetize children in hospitals via a nose cup for releasing sleeping gas. The Nerd is taken aback by the PediSedate's existence; it may not have been released, but someone came up with the idea and patented it. The Nerd's mind is absolutely blown by the Game Boy, which had been taken into space, bombed in the Gulf War without losing any functionality, had a camera designed for it, and had a patent for a device to sedate its users! He says that this episode was originally going to have him list off a bunch of fake Game Boy accessories as a joke, such as one that picks up dog poop, but he scrapped the idea because the PediSedate is way more bizarre than anything he could ever make up. The episode ends as the Nerd sings and cries "I WANNA BE SEDATED WITH A GAME BOY!"
The Nerd mentioned Treasure Master in the past when discussing bad box art, with its Totally Radical aesthetic. When he starts up the game, the title screen has a disclaimer that the contest is not officially sponsored by Nintendo, leaving the Nerd dreading the prospects of this game being particularly shitty. On the plus side, the music sounds decent, being made by the same musician behind the craptastic Silver Surfer game.
In order to unlock the secret contest stage at the end of the game, the Nerd needs to put a password in. Said password was previously announced on MTV (the Nerd was able to look it up with Google) and obscenely long, to the Nerd's chagrin.
The game's hero, Skooter, looks ridiculous, dressed in orange shorts and a green cap and walking with a very aggressive strut.
Traditional gaming logic dictates that pits are dangerous and should be avoided. In the first level, however, the pits lead to underwater segments that can be navigated. An oxygen meter is provided, but you're more likely to die from the aggressive sharks in the water than you are to drown. Staying above ground can also lead to jumping through the top of the screen and emerging in another part of the level, adding to the confusion.
At first, Skooter has no means to defeat enemies; jumping on them is harmful. In order to defeat enemies, Skooter will need to get a pair of sneakers (actually "radium-plated boots") to kick them.
At its core, Treasure Master is a treasure-hunting game, and progressing requires falling a series of unintuitive steps: get the boots, get the bomb, destroy a bridge, get the magnet control, retrieve a submarine, get another bomb, blow up an underwater wall, get a bow and arrow (which is not a weapon, but is used to cross a large gap), clear a bonus stage, get another bomb, use it to retrieve scissors, cut a wire, get an oxygen tank, retrieve a helmet to protect yourself from ceiling spikes, launch yourself off a see-saw, and board a rocket. All this to clear the first level.
The Nerd is at his limit with Treasure Master already and decides to cheat his way to the end of the game with a Game Genie. Unfortunately, the game crashes when he attempts to cheat. The only way the Nerd can hope to win the contest is to complete the game without cheats, annoying him greatly.
Level 2 takes place on the moon. During the level, the Nerd gets a ray gun that lets him shoot enemies to death, along with a cannon-armed moon buggy. The Nerd finds himself actually having fun on this level, and he must remind himself not to get "honey-dicked" and focus on winning the contest.
Level 3 is a "machine world" filled with deadly traps. It is fairly straightforward and brief, thankfully.
Level 4 is a forest level filled with giant mushrooms. This level is confusing, with mushrooms that look like parts of the scenery that the player has to enter like it was a door to get a construction potion to form a bridge, without any hint as to where to use it. Later, the player needs to use an apple to knock a barrel into a river, and knock a spring off a wall so it would appear in the previous room.
Level 5 takes place inside an NES. The Nerd enjoys being able to redeem coins at mutation stations to become a robot. Unfortunately, the robot sucks.
After clearing the NES level, the game would normally end. With the secret password entered earlier, however, the player can go to one last level as part of the contest. The level takes place in a carnival, and the player must collect coins (or "spondolacks") dropped from clowns to play a carnival game. The carnival game must be cleared twice, once to activate the rides, and once to open the gate that leads to the end of the level and the secret code for the contest.
Ecstatic at the prospect of winning ten thousand dollars, the Nerd calls the 1-900 number provided by the game, intent on winning the contest. Unfortunately, the number has been disconnected. The Nerd fumbles through the manual for the game and discovers, to his horror, that the contest had ended long ago, in 1992.
He recites the memories of 80s and 90s' Pro Wrestling. It was more like the real-action superheroes fighting with each other. Of course, it felt like the choreographed live-action movies on TV for the audience. And even wrestling found its way into the video games; and still, some of them could be shitty as well. And that shit never wipes... ever.
Nerd begins with the Tag Team Wrestling on Nintendo Entertainment System. This is the game which came out in the same time as Pro Wrestling on the same system; the latter game gets spared nonetheless. Nerd notices that you start Tag Team Wrestling with no title screen and you play as the guy with nothing but the "stubbiest punch possible". He finds out that he can't do anything: he just mashes buttons and hopes for the best. Even the tag-team partner is useless. After all, Nerd concludes that Tag Team Wrestling is "strongly bad".
Next comes the WWF Wrestlemania which was made by Acclaim. It features Hulk Hogan himself on the cover who rips his shirt and screams at the top of his lungs. Nerd notices that Hulkster looks ridiculious. Even the slogan "Bigger, Better, Badder" turns out to be true only at the latter part. Nerd chooses Tournament Mode and tries to collect power-ups for the wrestlers. Hulk gets compared to the Simon Belmont because he gets crosses. As with the previous game, Nerd can't decide how to control the character and pin the opponent; but still, he miraciously does the latter with some magic button combination. The game could be classic despite of all of its flaws.
Nerd shows yet another three WWF games for the NES, and he shockingly reveals who published them: LJN returns once again. WWF Wrestlemania Challenge has an isometric view which was poorly translated to the controls. And there, Nerd still runs around to strike his opponent, but with no avail. Wrestlemania Steel Cage Challenge meets him with the obstructive steel cage which doesn't add to the appeal of the game. But, WWF King of the Ring appears to be much easier than the others: Nerd just kicks his opponent relentlessly and pins him down with the slowest count to 3 in history.
Nerd asks himself how long he will be cursed to live on Earth while playing LJN games. And yet, he still has more of these "wastes of plastic and circuitry": another 3 LJN wrestling games for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System - Super Wrestlemania, WWF Royal Rumble and WWF Raw. Even these are unintuitive to play, like their NES predecessors. Sounds and graphics are boring and bad even by Super Nintendo standarts. Nerd comments that even Vince McMahon himself should be ashamed by these products of the inept game designers. These games are insulting to the wrestlers themselves and wrestling fan-base in general.
And here comes the SNES wrestling game that wasn't made by LJN: Wreslemania: The Arcade Game which brought on this system by Midway and Acclaim. Nerd finds it much more funny and cool. It has the digitized graphics that were popular at the times of Mortal Kombat; control is much more fluid and simple; it has the special moves and the system of high/low attacks just like in MK. Despite all this, it's still fairly difficult. In the World Wrestling Federation Championship mode, Nerd comments on the difficulty of the one-on-two fights and recommends the Intercontinent Championship mode because he finds it more simple and straightforward. Overall, the Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game feels like the mixed version of the aforementioned Mortal Kombat and the NBA Jam.The only serious problem that Nerd found in Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game is the weak roster which has only 6 wrestlers, most notable of them are The Undertaker and Bret Hart. Suprisingly, the Sega Genesis version adds two more wrestlers to it: Bam Bam Bigelow and Yokozuna; but its graphics and sound are inferior to the SNES version. Nerd recommends it as the good WWF game on both systems.
It was fun to play something decent for once. But Nerd has another not-so-good wrestling game in his collection: WCW Super Brawl. He hopes that this one will not be so bad because LJN wasn't involved in its production in any way. The beginning was promising, but Nerd finds something weird yet again: picture of the wrestler with shorts that match his skin color that make him appear naked. But it was only tip of the iceberg: weird select screen, characters that are walking like they crapped in their underwear, difficult controls... Nerd rants about this game mixing Hulk Hogan's, Bret Hart's, Ric Flair's and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's catchphrases. Then he throws it away; the cartridge transforms into a wrestler who gets knocked down and pinned on the ring by Nerd. He shockingly sees another cartridge-looking wrestler who jumps out of the ring and stacks itself into the SNES.
The game turns out to be Saturday Night Slam Masters - another good wrestling game with high-flying action and fluent controls made by Capcom. It even has Mayor Mike Haggar from the Final Fight as a playable character. Nerd admires Saturday Night Slam Masters for all of its good points, and he laments about other games that they weren't made by Capcom. To him, wrestlers' toys that were made by LJN also suck. He defines the WWF acronym as Wisecracking Wiener Fuckfarts before getting knocked out from behind by the same cartridge-like wrestler he fought before.
The game is called Polybius, and it has been the subject of much speculation and debate since the turn of the century when it was listed on an arcade machine website with precious little information about it. Everything from connections to government mind control experiments to paranormal phenomena have been attributed to the game's mystique, but whether any of this is true, or if the game even existed, has been unconfirmed.
The Nerd, however, has found a lead on the possible location of a legitimate Polybius cabinet. Over the next few days, he would chronicle his experience with the game, and determine whether any of the rumors surrounding it have any merit.
Day 1: The Nerd arrives at an arcade reseller warehouse, where he comes upon a Polybius arcade cabinet. Its physical appearance matches that of the rumors, being very plain in appearance. For the sake of safety, the Nerd opts not to reveal the location of the cabinet or show any of the gameplay for it until he could confirm any of the rumors for it, instead recording himself playing the game to document any detrimental effects it could have on him. When he plays the game, he describes it as being similar to Tempest and being overall fairly average.
Day 2: The Nerd received an email from a viewer claiming to be the son of a member of a government containment team that removed Polybius from arcade halls for the safety of the public. Said containment worker was subjected to the game and witnessed firsthand its destructive nature, becoming obsessed with playing the game and succeeding to steal a copy away from the government warehouse it was stored in, hiding it in an arcade game reseller shop, only to be arrested and die in prison as "a raving lunatic". The viewer beseeches the Nerd to destroy the game, but the Nerd is reluctant to; he only destroys bad games, and Polybius was just average. When he starts playing the game again, however, his opinion on the game becomes increasingly positive. The more he plays it, the more addicted to it he becomes: every time he tries to end his play sessions for the day, he convinces himself to play just one more round. As he continues to play it, he recalls some trivia he learned while doing research on the game, about Polybius being the name of a Greek historian who documented the rise of the Roman empire and invented a cipher called the Polybius square. After saying this, he zones out for a few seconds, then after coming back to his senses he says the exact same thing again, word for word, having forgotten that he already said it...
Day 3: The Nerd begins to think that Polybius may be "the greatest fucking game ever made", but the more he plays it, the more the game takes a hold of his mind. He mentions the game's supposed developer, Sinneslöschen, Inc., which is a bad German translation of "sense deletion". The Nerd says this couldn't be more wrong: his senses have been heightened to superhuman levels. He can smell the paint on a Pac-Man cabinet in the next room, and can hear colors. He's seemingly lucid enough to realize how insane this sounds, and at this point he notices that he physically can't stop playing the game and begins to freak out. Eventually, after finally managing to tear himself away from the game, the Nerd is looking over the recorded footage and discovers that he has been recorded doing things he can't remember doing, including attempting to film gameplay footage of Polybius and locking himself in the warehouse with the word-combination lock from his camera case. He tries all of his usual combinations with no luck, so he decides to throw in the towel and ask for somebody to come and rescue him. Before he can reveal his location, however, he runs into the Polybius machine and decides to give the game another go...
Day 4: The Nerd is unable to stop playing Polybius, in spite of his every effort to pull himself away. He mentions that he had earned a high score at some point during one of his countless playthroughs, and that he feels compelled to reach that exact same score again for some reason. The Nerd pulls the camera to look at the screen, but the scene cuts to the Nerd beseeching players not to look at it, stating that the game wants to be seen and he has to keep editing footage of its gameplay out. Strange visions also begin to appear in the reflections of the screens of other arcade machines. The Nerd, his sanity slipping with every passing moment, tries to reveal his location again, but is suddenly silenced by the game's influence, which compels him to continue playing, whether he wants to or not...
Day 5: The Nerd awakens on the floor. Desperate, he picks up the camera and tries once more to reveal his location, but fails. He is torn between the game's desire to reveal itself and his own need to resist its influence. The Nerd then realizes that the high score he mentioned before is actually a message, which he decrypts using the Polybius square to reveal the message: "PLAY", the combination to the lock keeping him trapped in the warehouse. When he opens the door, however, Polybius is waiting just outside. The Nerd realizes that the only way the game will let him leave is if he shows footage of the gameplay, and finally gives in, begging the viewer not to look. The gameplay footage matches the Nerd's description from Day 1: Green vector graphics with Tempest-style gameplay. Suddenly, the Nerd's reflection in the cabinet is deformed into a demonic appearance, causing the Youtube player to crash and display the "This video is unavailable" screen. After a few seconds, the demonic Nerd face appears on this screen as well.
Afterwards, the owner of the warehouse arrives to find the Nerd's camera lying on the floor near the Polybius cabinet. A demonic-sounding roar is heard as the man is pulled towards the cabinet, screaming...
1. Play shitty games
2. Protect the innocent
3. Beat the shitty games
The subject of the Robonerd's ire is games based on the ultraviolent dystopian sci-fi action film series Robocop. One criticism right off the bat is the fact that, with most of these games being released on the NES, the violence was toned down immensely; these games were not anywhere near as bloody or gory as the films they were based on (something that happened to just about every R-rated movie that was adapted on the NES, from Rambo and Die Hard to Platoon and Dirty Harry).
With that, the Nerd starts playing the first Robocop game. The enemies have a tendency to run straight at Robocop, even as he punches them out of his way. In addition to a grating music loop that plays throughout the entire game, it is extremely difficult to climb up stairs and progress through the first level, a weakness more befitting ED-209. Also, Robocop doesn't jump; the silver lining here is that there would be no frustrating platforming segments. The first boss is no more intelligent than the enemies and can easily be subdued by repeatedly punching him until he falls.
In the second stage, Robocop is tasked with saving the mayor by shooting the criminal holding him hostage. The mayor must be ducking, or Robocop will end up shooting him, thus ending the game; a common occurrence, since the window of time to hit the criminal is very small.
After fighting your way through Clarence Boddicker's warehouse (where Boddicker runs away and lets short mooks fight for him), you must fight your way through the OCP building, where the boss is a giant ED-209. Next is the junkyard, which is infested with enemies of all sorts and where players finally fight Boddicker. Boddicker is annoying to fight, since you need to avoid his Cobra gun and steel girders being dropped from overhead. Once you beat him, Boddicker is arrested; a contradiction with the movie, where Robocop stabs him in the neck with his data spike.
The next stage is a return to OCP, where Robocop must fight his way up a conveyor belt as he is being attacked from above. Players need to rush their way through the level and beat ED-209 again, but doing so will win the game as Robocop kills Dick Jones.
After finishing the first Robocop game, the Robonerd, abiding by his second directive, destroys the game's cartridge.
Next is Robocop 2, which has Robocop firing with reckless abandon on the title screen. As difficult as the first game was, Robocop 2 is even moreso; its controls are slippery, and players must struggle with them to arrest key criminals, save hostages, and destroy "the nuke", an addictive drug from the movie.
The game pays little heed to the movie and is laden with garish graphics, frustrating platforming, and an overabundance of one-hit kill hazards. The one upside is that you have infinite continues.
On the eighth stage, players fight Kane (who doesn't really look like Kane from the movie), and can defeat him by punching him off the stage after draining his health, but players must take care; their own health drains over time.
Eventually, the Nerd finally makes it to the final boss; Robocop 2, whom the player must defeat three times in a row. The first time is simple enough, since Robocop 2 has a set pattern. The second time, only Robocop 2's legs are vulnerable; hitting anywhere else will cause bullets to bounce back at you. It's not much more difficult, though, since there is a pattern to its attacks as before. The third time is like before, and thankfully, the Nerd beats it.
The Robonerd declares himself done with the Robocop series, but as he says he is finished, sparks begin to fly from his body as his first directive forces him to continue with Robocop 3; the worst movie in the series with an appropriately shitty NES adaptation. The one good thing about the game is the music, and the graphics are decent, but those are where the praises end; Robocop moves painfully slowly, and his bullets are similarly slow while the criminals have fast-shooting guns. Between levels, players are tasked with repairing Robocop via a point-and-click interface.
Platforming is at its worst here; with Robocop's slow walking speed, he can barely make jumps.
The first boss is a ninja that looks just like Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden.
Levels 3 and 4 are exactly the same, except the former stage gives you a jet pack, and the latter stage is played in reverse and has a very easy fight with ED-209.
The final stage is also very easy; all the player has to do is avoid two ninjas while inputting a code into a computer, after which the ninjas destroy each other and the game ends. The Nerd concludes that the NES version of Robocop 3 isn't too terrible: "'I'd buy that for a dollar!'...no more, though."
Having finished the Robocop trilogy, the Robonerd's duty is complete...or so he thinks; the fourth directive declassifies and compels him to "FIND MORE SHIT GAMES". In his pursuit of more shit games, the Robonerd activates his jet pack and takes flight, only for the jet pack to run out of fuel and send him crashing into the ground.
When the Nerd last played, he had made his way up to the boss fight against Silver, for which he finally figured out a winning strategy; wait until Silver levitates some furniture, then hit him with a homing attack. In the ensuing cutscene, the princess he had just recently saved gets kidnapped again, to the Nerd's chagrin.
Next, Sonic must face Eggman at the White Acropolis, but there is no clear indication for how to unlock the stage. Once you make it to the next stage, you must make your way through a frustrating snowboarding segment with wretched controls.
After beating the stage, Eggman sends Sonic and his friends into the future, where civilization had been destroyed because Eggman created Skynet At this point, the Nerd opines for the olden days of Sonic rescuing animals from roboticization, as opposed to all of the crazy shit happening in Sonic '06. This, on top of the fact that between long levels and long load times, the game is essentially stealing the player's time.
As the game progresses, the platforming becomes increasingly frustrating. Eventually, the player fights Iblis; an easy enough boss, aside from the camera being uncooperative. Afterwards, the player returns to the present and has to unlock the next level, Radical Train, after which the princess is rescued and kidnapped yet again, then saved again within minutes. Several cutscenes and loading screens later, the princess is kidnapped YET AGAIN.
Afterwards, control shifts to Tails, who is ridiculously slow and grating due to the sound his tails make as he flies along the ground.
At this point, the player is close to the end of the game, but the last few levels are even more maddening and require the completion of convoluted trials to unlock; a trial of "knowledge" that involves trial and error, a trial of "courage" that pits the player against robots without Rings to protect them, and a trial of "love" which is inconsequential. The stage that is unlocked after completing the trials is long and hard, and a Game Over here forces you to re-do the trials.
At the end of the level, the princess dies when Eggman's airship crashes, frustrating the Nerd since this rendered his efforts, and Sonic's efforts in the story, completely meaningless. Afterwards, however, Sonic and Shadow use Chaos Control to go back in time, confounding the Nerd further.
After more running around town, the final stage is unlocked: Aquatic Base. At this point, the player will have become accustomed enough to the game's shortcoming to make the difficulty manageable, up until the game throws one final curveball: having to move across a giant chasm on a giant ball that disappears and drops you to your doom if you hit a laser fence, which is likely given how slippery the controls for it are.
After completing the stage and sitting through more cutscenes and loading screens, it's time for the final showdown with Dr. Eggman. The final boss battle is frustrating due to an especially finicky camera. However, the Nerd manages to crush Eggman, save the princess for the final time, and is relieved to finally have beaten the game...
...or so he thinks: there are also story campaigns for Shadow the Hedgehog and Silver.
After beating their story modes, a final story unlocks that opens with Sonic dying, and entails everyone hunting for the Chaos Emeralds to revive him, leading to the infamous kiss scene between Sonic and the princess.
With that, the Nerd definitively concludes his review of Sonic '06. After putting up with it for so long, however, he seems almost sad for his time with the game to be over...
...so he switches positions in his "Collection" room and lets Sonic '06 torture him, instead.
The original Charlie's Angels TV series was a hit that helped to launch the career of actress Farrah Fawcett which received a film reboot in 2000 and a sequel in 2003 that the Gamecube game is based on. While the original film was divisive, the sequel is universally considered unwatchable, leaving the Nerd dreading the possibility of this game being unplayable.
After an opening intro featuring creepy-looking animations and questionable grammatical errors such as "NEW YORK IS ORPHAN", the game begins with Cameron Diaz's character infiltrating a bikini contest, only to be assaulted by not only random mooks, but the Uncanny Valley hitting in full force. Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu's characters are not spared from the uncanny valley either, and all have clothing, models, and scenes which seem to pay an unnecessary amount of attention to their asses.
As to the gameplay itself; it is a beat-em-up in a similar vein to Final Fight and Streets of Rage, but nowhere near as fun. Like in those games, progress is cordoned off by invisible walls, only much more frequently. The camera also changes angles abruptly, not unlike in survival horror games like Resident Evil, which can cause the player to run straight into enemy attacks and projectiles. Power-ups take the form of lighters, muffins, and CDs, with film reels and flash drives unlocking bonus content. In addition, boss battles are mind-numbingly easy.
As the Nerd reaches his boiling point with the game, Charlie taunts him incessantly. Eventually, the Nerd snaps and takes his frustrations out on Charlie's intercomm, destroying it. From the debris, however, he spots something peculiar; a copy of Charlie's Angels for the Playstation 2. Charlie calls the Nerd on the phone, and dares him to play the game once he answers.
Yes, it is the end; the Nerd throws the game on the ground, emphatically refusing to play it.
One such game does exist: Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi for the Playstation. Alas, as the Nerd puts it: "They fucked it up."
The game opens with the traditional Star Wars opening text scroll, which misnames the game as "A Master of Teras Kasi". According to the opening, the Empire enlists the aid of a mercenary named Arden Lyn, master of the eponymous martial art to deal with the rebellion.
The first burning question is: What the hell even is Teras Kasi? The Nerd has an encyclopedia on the Star Wars expanded universe, which identifies Teras Kasi as a martial art, the name of which translates into "steel hands". The Nerd is perplexed that the Empire's replacement for a planet-busting space station is a lone martial artist.
The Nerd finally starts the game, picking Arden Lyn. To his confusion, his first opponent, Han Solo, pulls a gun on him. Every character in the game has a weapon of their own, from blasters to lightsabers and everything in-between, all except for bare-handed Arden Lyn. Realistically speaking, Arden should be cut in half by the lightsabers alone, but in this game, lightsabers do comparatively middling damage.
Not helping matters is the special moves being overly complicated and difficult to execute. The computer, on the other hand, has no trouble pulling off its own specials. The characters are unbalanced with some being stronger than others, and the AI is prone to its own bouts of stupidity by rolling itself out of bounds. The Nerd concludes that Masters of Teras Kasi is the reason there aren't more Star Wars fighters: the first attempt was so godawful, that another Star Wars fighter simply didn't seem worthwhile.
The final boss of the game is Darth Vader, an SNK Boss without peer. The Nerd is determined to beat Vader, and thus decides to go back to the past: he plays Star Wars Episode I Racer into his Nintendo 64, picks Anakin, and crashes his podracer over and over, killing him in the past to erase Vader in the present. The Nerd concedes that it's a cheap way to win, but says that the game was being cheap first, so he considers himself justified.
As the Nerd thinks he's done with the game, however, Disney and Lucasfilms sends a package crashing through his window: a "Special Edition" of Masters of Teras Kasi, which includes characters from more recent movies, changes to the arenas, Han Solo no longer being able to attack until he is shot first, and halos from explosions. The Nerd then admits that this version of the game doesn't exist, he just made it up, but it would still be better than the actual game despite the changes making no sense.
The Nerd decides to dispose of the game by slicing it in two with a lightsaber, only to find that the lightsaber he is using is an "official Masters of Teras Kasi lightsaber", which is as (in)effective as the ones in the game.
The Nerd reluctantly decides to oblige Santa and opens the bag. Inside, he finds a Playstation, a textbook, several discs, more than the entire libraries of many publishers. He starts with "K9.5 Live in Airedale", which tasks players with helping a band of "Disney rejects" find their instruments after losing them to a tornado. In practice, the "game" is more like an animated quiz about nouns and adjectives. The Nerd finds himself perplexed that the answer to one question asking for an adjective is the word "five", which, while technically an adjective, is better known as a noun. The Nerd takes on a higher difficulty level to try and learn better, and is tasked with tougher quiz questions involving verbs. After completing the quiz, the player is finally given the chance to play a real game; an Arkanoid clone, albeit one that is painfully slow. After winning, the player gets a bass guitar that looks like it was made from human remains.
Next, the Nerd puts in "Kazmania", which features hideously ugly CG animations. This game plays out like an ugly and unresponsive first-person shooter, killing dumb enemies and activating kiosks that initiate boring quizzes. Having come out at the same time as other great games as Final Fantasy VII and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, this game leaves much to be desired.
The graphics, as a whole across the Lightspan series, are unappealing. PK, a toucan character, is singled out as being particularly ugly and frightening, standing out in comparison to the mediocre but otherwise inoffensive hand-drawn and animated characters, and the quality of his animations decreasing with each successive game in which he appears.
The games are all essentially the same; a cycle of shitty questions and shitty animations that play after their completion. Strangely, though, playing them appears to make the Nerd more intelligent and linguistically gifted. The Nerd decides to continue with "Math on the Move", which features an animation with fake shitty games that are literally unplayable, in the sense that you can not play them. There's no interactivity anyway; selecting a lesson plays a live-action video with a shitty CG dinosaur added. It's not even on the same level as Dino Crisis. The "practice" mode is even more pointless because you're given the answers. "Math on the Move" is so godawful that the Nerd declares the Playstation he played it on to be tainted and throws it in a dumpster, along with several other similarly "unclean" Playstations.
The Nerd concludes his review by putting in "Calamity: The Natural World", which starts with shitty live-action videos of Calamity Jane getting a time machine from Jules Verne and two middle school students being thrust into the past to help Jane, who was, in real history, an "illiterate alcoholic prostitute". The gameplay, itself, is little more than reading articles and answering quizzes.
Aside from the fact that Earthbound was the second game of the MOTHER trilogy and the only game in the series to make it stateside, the Nerd knows nothing about the game going in, a surefire sign that the game was truly horrible. Surprisingly, however, online research into the game turns up nothing but glowing praise: the game and the MOTHER series have a strong and loyal following throughout the world! The Nerd wants to get a copy to see what the hype is about, but online vendors all see copies of this highly coveted game for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Thankfully, the game is more affordably available on Nintendo's Virtual Console and as part of the Super Nintendo Classic miniature console, which the Nerd uses for want of an original cartridge of the game.
The game puts players into the role of a young boy named Ness (although the player can rename him or the other members of the party if they so choose), who is joined by Paula, Jeff, and Poo (yes, that is seriously the character's name) as they collect sacred melodies in order to save the world from Giygas, one of the most bizarre and unfathomable villains in gaming history: according to in-game descriptions, Giygas is more of a force of pure evil and hatred than an actual physical person or being. As opposed to other RPGs of the time, Earthbound has a contemporary setting; Ness travels through modern-day towns and cities with drug stores, fast food joints, and cars, which the Nerd thinks is refreshing when compared to other RPGs set in fantasy lands. Even the enemies are unique, consisting of animals in the beginning.
The Nerd wasn't big on the battle system at first, since they took place in first person view with the party hidden from view, in comparison to other SNES RPGs which showed the party on-screen. Over time, however, the Nerd began to enjoy it. Setting Earthbound apart from its contemporaries is the rolling HP counters: rather than damage inflicted upon the party simply subtracting their HP, the HP counters counts down. If one of your party members takes enough damage that their HP would be reduced to 0, the player can save them by healing them if they act fast enough. This makes battles more engaging. The "auto-battle" option is also a welcome addition, allowing the player to step away from the game if they need to and let it play itself. The Nerd also enjoys the "sneak attack" function: approaching enemies from behind allows you to gain the first turn in battle, while getting snuck up on by an enemy allows them to attack first.
The in-game dialogue is also enjoyable, with many fourth wall-breaking jokes. While other RPGs may have tedious dialogue, the Nerd finds himself talking to random NPCs just to see what they have to say. The music in the game is highly diverse and enjoyable to listen to. One example the Nerd points out as being particularly masterful is one theme that plays while your party travels through the desert, as a song plays over the ambient winds.
The plotline of the game is highly nonsensical and borderline insane, and the later enemy designs are outrageous and bizarre against psychedelic backdrops.
The Nerd concludes that Earthbound is awesome: for as much as he enjoys playing bad games, he is just as much heartbroken to have missed out on so good a game as Earthbound. He is gobsmacked at how such a game could have possibly flopped in America.
As much as the Nerd loves Earthbound, however, he still has some criticisms. The first gripe is how all of the money earned from winning battles must be withdrawn from an ATM before you can even use it, and that you lose half of the money you have on your person when you lose. One NPC requires a diamond to proceed through the game, but you can't just hand it to her: you need to walk around behind the desk she is seated at. There are also lots of impassable areas where there looks to be empty space, which is particularly egregious in one area of the game where your party is shrunken, drawing unfavorable comparisons to Little Red Hood.
Ness walks around very slowly, which makes navigating the world or evading enemies tedious, although this can be remedies by getting a bike, at least until you gain more party members, which makes your one-seater bike useless. There are too many items that are useable only in one particular instance, which becomes a problem with your party's limited inventory space. You can use Escargo Express to hold excess items, but they can only ferry three items at a time. There is no option for choosing the quantity of items you want from stores, forcing you to buy them one at a time.
One area of the game requires you to stand behind a waterfall, not unlike the tornado from Simon's Quest, except you have to wait three minutes in Earthbound. If you lose in battle, Ness's party members remain dead and must be revived at cost (which means another trip to the ATM), all while trying to survive combat encounters with only one able fighter. Not helping matters is that, like shopping, you have to revive your friends one at a time, and even then, their PSI (this game's version of Magic Points) is not replenished, forcing you to either find butterflies or check in at a hotel, which costs money. This makes losing in the game costly of both money and time; resetting would be faster.
To save the game, you need to call your father on the phone. This wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that your father tends to ramble. He can also call you at any time, grinding your adventure to a halt. It's not just your father, either; in one area, you can be halted by earthquakes. You can also get accosted by the Photo Guy, who will stop the game just to take your party's picture.
Backtracking is common, but the combination of the game world's size, your slow movement speed, and enemy encounters makes this even more of a hassle. A teleportation ability can make this easier, but only if nothing is standing in your path as you make the mad dash to activate the ability, and doesn't even work diagonally or even in every area. An upgrade to the ability allows you to move in a circle instead of a straight line while teleporting, but the issue with clearance of obstacles still remains.
The Nerd finds these issues incredibly frustrating, but he is willing to forgive them since the game is otherwise good and still oh so charming, and he finds himself wanting to continue just to see what happens next. Every moment of the game is interesting, from boss battles with police officers and blue-hued Ku Klux Klansmen to the bizarre neon-lit city of Moonside which can only be navigated with the help of townsfolk who warp you around, in addition to the meanings of "yes" and "no" being inverted. One maze requires you to give items to monkeys, putting your inventory management skills to the test.
One particular part of the game has players go as Poo to meditate. After waiting for a while, the game enters into a battle where Poo is confronted by an astral projection of his master, who breaks Poo's legs, then his arms, then his ears (which causes the game's audio to stop), then his eyes (blacking out the screen except for a dialogue box with psychic communication), and finally, his mind.
After that and a fight against a Diamond Dog (a literally hard boss), Ness travels to the bizarre realm of Magicant which is formed from his memories and populated by old friends and enemies, but which ceases to exist when Ness awakens. The Nerd finds this area to truly stand out. There is a grave for one character named Buzz Buzz, whom the Nerd thinks represents the collective Earthbound fandom: he met Ness ten years ago (the game started to become popular ten years after its American release) and could be for players who gave up at this particular point in the game. Afterwards, Ness must confront his inner darkness, which is represented as a golden statue, after which Ness absorbs the "power of the land" and sees his memories flash before him.
This causes the Nerd to travel to his own personal Magicant, populated by Shitpickel, the Guitar Guy, the Ninja Master from the Ninja Gaiden episode, the Glitch Gremlin, characters from the various games he played, his destroyed copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, the trucker from his fake commercial for Big Rigs, the shit he shat upon the Atari Jaguar CD, and his younger self.
In order to defeat the shit his life had become, the Nerd must go back to the source of his anger, which he must accomplish by beating Earthbound.
The climax of Earthbound is one of the most bizarre and memorable in the history of games. Once you're ready to confront Giygas, you learn that it is actually attacking from the past, so you must travel back in time upon the Phase Distorter to fight it. However, because the time travel process is deadly to living things, you and your friends must place your souls into robot bodies first. Now you must travel through the past, fighting your way through Starmen, the most difficult non-boss enemies in the game. They are occasionally accompanied by enemies that self-destruct and cause mortal damage when defeated, so they must be killed last so that any damage you take won't cause your HP to reach 0. Better hope you stocked up on restoratives, first; you won't have a chance to do so once you've traveled back in time.
Up to this point, the game was cutesy and adorable. Once you're within reach of the final boss, however, the game gets very dark and foreboding. After making your way up a path that looks to be made from entrails, you discover the Devil Machine which houses Giygas, accompanied by Ness's neighbor-turned-villain Pokey. Giygas appears to take the form of Ness's face when the battle begins, making this battle even more surreal.
If you manage to beat Pokey, he turns off the Devil Machine and unleashes Giygas. This leads to one of the absolute most frightening final bosses in all of gaming: Giygas's true form is vague and barely perceptible, undulating and contorting unsettlingly. Even its attacks are vague and eldritch: the game's dialogue even states "You cannot grasp the true form of Giygas' attack!" Giygas is less a being and more an idea, an intangible mental projection that cannot be physically harmed. The only way to fight Giygas is to have Paula pray for help. As the characters you met throughout the game pray for your safety, Giygas begins to take damage, drawing parallels to the Devil with how the power of prayer is the only way to vanquish this pure evil.
Making this battle all the more unsettling is that Giygas's form, intentionally or otherwise, resembles a picture of a fetus as seen from an ultrasound. The Nerd describes the final boss as very fourth wall breaking: you're not fighting a boss, but the game itself, which had become possessed by evil itself. One popular theory about Giygas is that you fight him before he is even born: the final boss fight is essentially you trying to perform an abortion to save the world from Giygas. This theory is aided by the entrance into Giygas's lair looking like a vagina, and the Devil Machine resembling a uterus. The game's lead developer, Shigesato Itoi denied the theory, but the Nerd thinks a game artist intentionally made these visual analogies. One thing that is confirmed is that Itoi accidentally walked in on a movie with a brutal murder scene as a child, which left quite the impression on him and may have helped inspire Giygas, which is essentially a representation of childhood trauma (which the Nerd imagines as the LJN logo and ET). The intentionally ambiguous nature of Giygas makes it easy to interpret it however the player wishes, which the Nerd states is one of the game's biggest strengths: you can share your unique experience with others who played the game.
The Nerd even has his own theory: Giygas is an eternal being who reincarnated as Ness, his original body from the first MOTHER being just his current body at the time. As such, Ness had been born with powers he never fully understood and that influenced animals, people, and inanimate objects to attack him, making the battles actually against Ness's dark side. The sacred melodies are reminders of his youth, and Magicant is formed after collecting them all so that Ness can examine his life up to the present and coming to terms with his past. Only then can Ness travel back in time to destroy Giygas before it can be born as Ness, in essence "exorcising" Giygas from Ness's soul. Because Giygas was born in a different dimension, Ness and his friends had to leave their mortal bodies behind and become non-copoeral beings in order to confront Giygas. Even then, they are powerless against Giygas without support from their friends and family back home.
The same is true of the Nerd, who calls upon the aid of everyone to help him beat Earthbound. As Ness and their friends get power from prayers to help them beat Giygas, the Nerd receives support from his fans the world over.
In the end, Giygas is vanquished, and Earthbound is cleared.
The Nerd awakens in his room and commends Earthbound as a must-play SNES game.
- Poor Communication Kills: The Nerd had no idea as a kid that the game was actually good, as he took the tagline in Nintendo Power about the game stinking at face value.