Monday, November 30, 2015

MOS: Peace forever

Super Vehicle-001 Metal Slug (most people just call it Metal Slug), which I mentioned in yesterday's entry, took Contra's side-scrolling army-of-one premise and injected it with a new level of personality. The result was one of the most gleefully violent and punishing quarter munchers of the 90s, and one of the Neo Geo platform's best-loved titles.

Players tenacious (and wealthy) enough to finish the game are rewarded with one of two endings. In the single-player ending, the camera follows a paper airplane which sails over a now-silent battlefield littered with the bodies of the enemy soldiers you killed on your mission. A grieving female also appears, mourning over a battlefield cross.

I always thought it a stroke of genius that this game, which appears to enshrine wanton violence, would find a way to make players feel terrible about all the killing they had done.

The two-player ending is more upbeat, with the airplane gliding over scenes of enemy soldiers relaxing and enjoying the frivolity of armistice.

Both endings conclude with the above variation on the Game Over screen emblazoned with "PEACE FOREVER!"

This concludes Month of Screenshots. Thank you for reading!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Star Wars Battlefront: Imperial Walken

Christopher Walken impersonations are a dime a dozen, so I try to avoid them. But when there's an Imperial stormtrooper who looks exactly like Christopher Walken, what do you expect me to do?

MOS: Maybe just let the frog go

In one of the most mysterious and seemingly unnecessary displays of localization meddling ever seen in the history of games, Chou Wakusei Senki: Metafight underwent graphical alterations to its introductory sequence, changing from a serious tale of near-future interplanetary warfare to Blaster Master — a story about a boy whose frog got irradiated, grew to a giant size and escaped underground.

Take a moment to think about this. The game's concept was originally "aliens attack; kill aliens." This is a tried-and-true formula. Countless games before this one (including commercial tours de force like Space Invaders and Xevious) had made good use of the alien trope. And clearly the trope wasn't getting tiresome for gamers, or else how do you explain the subsequent success of games like Metal Slug and Contra?

So a game that would have been just as successful in the US as it had been in its native Japan received a new (and decidedly idiotic) opening cutscene depicting Jason and his pet frog, who — OOPS — jumps onto a big box marked "RADIOACTIVE" (that just happens to be in Jason's backyard) and grows to the size of a minivan. Then the frog — OOPS — jumps down a yawning sinkhole which also just happens to be in Jason's backyard. Jason follows the frog down the hole and — OOPS — happens upon a gnarly-looking pink tank which just happened to be underneath Jason's backyard.

He then finds a pilot suit and helmet (which fit him, even though he's a kid) and concludes that the only way to save his frog is to lay waste to the hitherto unknown world of mutants that populate the subterrain.

Is it me, or is the alien attack scenario more plausible?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

MOS: We cannot win the War on Drugs

Winners don't use drugs. Winners sell drugs and use the proceeds to turn themselves into freakish human-head hovertanks.

In their 1988 arcade game Narc, Williams Electronics started a tradition I would eventually begin calling the "final boss is a total joke" phenomenon. Seen also in Smash TV and Total Carnage, this phenomenon was characterized by ridiculously durable (and tragically ugly) boss characters. In Narc, it's Mr. Big, the drug-kingpin-turned-Photoshop-nightmare. He's got a gigantic portrait of himself (pre-transformation) labeled "ME."

Just because the game is anti-drug doesn't mean the developers weren't tripping their faces off when they came up with this wackiness.

Fun fact: 1988 was also the year of the formation of the band Mr. Big, although their big hit "To Be With You" wouldn't appear until 1991, in between the releases of Smash TV and Total Carnage.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Ops III: Frumpy, dumpy pants

More Team Deathmatch as the Battery specialist, AKA "Future Miley Cyrus." Her War Machine weapon is dependable and addictive, but usually results in a lot of mess.