SOBER UP OR DIE! September 24 2002

I've done a lot of posts on games lately, mainly because I don't have access to any kind of video grabbing tools just now. I guess this isn't much of a problem, the game entries are the most popular ones anyway. But I can inform those of you who prefer movie reviews that I've tracked down someone to assist me, and that the next post will probably feature a true gem: one of David Hasselhoff's pre-Baywatch movies.

In the near future, I'm also planning to do a couple of articles on games with educational or propagandising content. Diabetes-themed platformers will soon be unleashed upon these brownish-yellow pages, but today we'll be looking at how game developers envision the war on drugs.

NARC

In Narc, you control Max Force, a cop who conducts drug busts according to standard procedure: by driving a red Ferrari around in full combat gear and shooting everyone up with a machine gun. And this ain't no pussy-ass 'go for the tops' deal. Here, the guys at the bottom at the drug chain gets it. Let's see what those Colombian drug lords are gonna do when there aren't any customers left alive. That'll show'em!

Since you start your raid in the slum, all the enemies on the first levels are hobos. They're old, and they all wear the hallmark hobo uniform: old brown coat with matching pants and no shoes. They all wield semi-automatic weapons, and they all use drugs. You won't see any of them use drugs, but God'll sort'em out in case of erroneous execution. Plus, it's all in self-defense.

If you want to, you can arrest people instead of killing them. But who would want to arrest a block full of crazed dossers when the alternative is a rocket to the face? You will score more points if you do it the clean way, but then you won't get the drugs, bullets or wads of cash the hobos drop when you completely disintegrate them. And we all know that nobody cares about points. Have you ever asked someone how many points they scored in Mega Man? Didn't think so.

The other kind of enemy you'll meet can't be arrested, though: stray dogs. This is Nintendo we're talking about, so you can of course not kill them either. The solution? Shoot them to turn them into little puppies. This is the Nintendo version I'm talking about, in the other versions you can blow the dogs to doggie hell. The instruction manual actaully gives you a tip for creative dog use: "LAND MINES: Avoid 'em. Or coax a pit bull to run over 'em."

Speaking of alternate versions, here's a screenshot I found. I haven't been able to identify which console we're talking about here, but included it anyway to help illustrate the issue I'll address next.

Narc was part of Just Say No International, a major anti-drug campaign in the late eighties with Barbara Bush on top. I don't know what the comittee had in mind when they asked Apogee and Ocean to create a game to go with the campaign, but I'm pretty sure they weren't expecting vigilante cops who kill absolutely everybody including dogs. What's the message here? 'Smoking pot may cause rocket in the head and downtown mayhem'?

Another kind of enemy you meet is the black guy to the right. If you look closely on Max's ass, you'll notice a white object. That's a syringe. The black guy threw it at me, and he hit me straight in the ass. I don't know if he's trying to OD me or make me an addict, but I'll tell you this much: it would never ever happen in reality. What kind of a junkie runs out to police officers and throws his heroin at them? Heroin costs a lot of money, and throwing it at the police means your ass in jail. And your ass in jail means people taping pictures of Heather Graham to the back of your head, so don't throw your dope at the police. If you're going to be a junkie, do it properly.

RAID 2020

This game is created by Color Dreams, one of the first companies that produced unlicensed titles for the NES. They arrived relatively late (1989), and had a hard time selling anything. Not only because Nintendo were squeezing the testicles of toy store owners worldwide pretty tightly to keep renegade companies at bay, but also because they couldn't create a playable game to save their lives.

In 1991, they changed their name and focus and became Wisdom Tree - the world's first (and as far as I know the only) Christian video game company. They also changed a lot of their staff. All the atheists left, and they managed to squeeze out the Catholics, so only the hardcore Protestants were left to create such titles as Bible Adventures, King of Kings and Spiritual Warfare, not to mention the very last NES game ever released: Sunday Funday from 1995.

Raid 2020 is not a religious game. It's a game about a guy who kills Colombian drugdealers and confiscates their coke. What baffles me, is that this game in fact is less questionable than Sunday Funday by far, but that's not the point. The point is that it's one of the ten worst games I've played. The rest of that list is pretty heavy on Wisdom Tree titles, but this one kicks them all out of the chair, and they all hit their heads on the corner of the table on the way down. If this game somehow escapes from this planet, no alien race will ever want to have any contact with us whatsoever, and they'll never teach us how to keep the planet alive and we'll all die. That's how bad this game is, and it's no laughing matter.

I'll start with the controls. See those flies? They're Colombian mob flies, so be careful. See that shotgun? I know it looks like a machinegun, but it isn't. To get that, you'll have to jump on top of the fly and hope it'll fly somewhere close to the gun before you jump off. You'll be doing that a lot in this game, the problem is that you take damage when you jump off of the flies (or Colombians), and since you don't have a shadow to indicate where you'll land, you'll probably miss the ground completely or land on a mine and die.

That's not the worst part. The worst part is the perspective. If you press 'left' or 'right' on the controller, you move left or right. If you press 'up' however, you follow those cracks between the floor boards in a sixty-degree angle. This means 'walking upwards' translates as 'walking backwards with a hint of up.' But it's when you put a jetpack on that things are getting really tricky. Remember that you have no shadow or any other indicator to tell you where you are, and you can forget trying to estimate the distance to other objects and enemies. And when you land, you land on a mine and you die.

Yes, those are seagulls, and they shit on you. The crow is also dangerous. Everything is dangerous in this game. It's the drugs, you see. Drugs kill you, and they also encourage vampire bats, banana flies and diarrhoea-ridden birds to kill you.

Doors. The doors in this game have free will. Either that, or your character has been a little eager to check the purity of the confiscated goods and is feeling a little astray. The first door you find leads you to the room in the first in-game picture. Here, you find the coke. The next two doors aren't all that confusing. If you walk through one, you come out the other. If you walk back in, you'll come back through the same door, but wearing a jetpack. A little strange, but acceptable. If you walk through the door after that, you'll be transported to a whole other place where you jump from cliff to cliff to get a lousy power-up before you're tossed all the way back to the beginning again. The last door ends the level. Guess what the next level is? It's exactly the same as the first only with more bats and stormtroopers. And the next? The same. And the next? The same. And the next?

Some sort of boat-level that's unplayable on any emulator because Color Dreams didn't know how to make a game. The end.

I don't know what to say. Shooting heroin is obviously not a smart thing to do. But I don't think it's up to video game developers to inform kids about this. What I get from Narc is 'drugs = action & hobo slaughter.' What I get from Raid 2020 is a desire to make it go away by taking drugs. Seriously, you'll have to try that one. Guess I'll make an exception and include a ROM today. Right now, I'm so tired I'm experiencing difficulties not falling asleep and drooling into my keyboard, so I think I'll leave it there.

Raid 2020 (56 KB)

SPONSORED SPRITES
When Biker Mice From Mars came to Europe, they brought more chocolate than Willy Wonka ever dreamed about producing. Also: Japanese mayonnaise.

SNES ON PRESCRIPTION
Novo Nordisk give all diabetic kids their very own quasi-super hero. Also: diabetic elephants and asthmatic dinosaurs, not necessarily in that order.

THE HORROR!
Nintendo can censor all they want; Some 'inappropriate' elements will always pass through unnoticed. Some are deliberate, some a product of idiots.