HEY, LET’S TALK ABOUT EVERY COMMODORE 64 GAME I EVER OWNED! PART 1: ALF!
As promised, and like the title says.
I scribbled down all the titles from a few different online lists on a yellow-lined piece of notebook paper, and I’m going to go in the order that the games appear on the list I made. Why I didn’t simply print out the online lists can only be explained by the fact that we haven’t had our printer very long, and honestly I keep forgetting it’s there. It needs to do something to make me notice it, like, I don’t know, occasionally play a John Prine song, or project a hologram of a nude late-60’s era Jane Fonda. Anyone know where they sell that printer? With my luck, it’s probably only available at Circuit City. I just can’t go into that store. I don’t know what it is.
So these will kind of be in alphabetical order, but not really. Also, the first few entries in this series probably won’t be very interesting, not only because they deal with a long defunct computer, but because for some reason I don’t seem to have played the games we owned whose titles began with the letters A – F all that often. After the title, I’ll helpfully indicate whether the game personally inspired a high, medium, or low level of replay value.
I’m excited because this involves my childhood! How about you?!?!? Wiggidy woggidy wowzers!
ALF: THE FIRST ADVENTURE!
Replay Value: Medium
It was inevitable that the creative geniuses behind “ALF” produce an asinine computer game to go with their asinine television program. Even in its heyday, though I imagine I watched “ALF” as much as any middle-schooler, I did so somewhat begrudgingly. Had the show been on earlier in the 80’s, I’m sure I would have loved it, much as I did “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Knight Rider”, two more not-good shows that escape my wrath thanks entirely to the benevolent blindness of nostalgia. 1986 may have been the first year I began to realize that occasionally some things in the world of entertainment are terrible. I guess I should thank Alf for giving me an early basis of comparison. Thanks for fervently sucking vats upon vats of shit, Alf!
The game itself was poor, to be sure, but it was more enjoyable than sitting through an episode of the show, most likely because A) There weren’t really any jokes, which in Alf’s case could only be a positive thing, and B) Alf wasn’t a complete churlish burden to everyone he came in contact with. In my case, Alf’s particular brand of affable incorrigibility generally elicited righteous indignation rather than mildly shocked titters. He really caused his overly gracious hosts a lot of serious problems, and even though I didn’t really like them any more than I did Alf, I rarely failed to side with the Tanner family. Hey Willie! I’m systematically destroying all of your personal belongings and besmirching what little standing you had in your occupation and community, not to mention lusting after your wife and daughter and trying to consume your family pet! Whyever aren’t you laughing at the bottom-of-the-barrel, sub-vaudevillian quips that accompany these considerable missives, any one of which would impel any rational family man to lure me into the garage with a kitten and then cave my face in with a nine-iron, caterwauling with unbridled release as I gurgled terrified pleas and oozed indeterminate fluids from my vulgar, croissant-like nose? I mean, the fuckin’ thing practically commits a sex crime against Willie’s wife in the OPENING CREDITS.
We’re supposed to laugh knowingly as a space creature with unclear intentions corners a defenseless woman in the shower with a video camera, beaming fond smiles as she desperately conceals her naked body with a towel, protesting wildly and calling out for help that never arrives? Oh, that Alf! Always with the gross sexual misconduct! Why, I wonder if Ames has any stuffed replicas of Alf that I could purchase for my child!
So we’ve established that I don’t care for Alf. And the game isn’t that great, either, but I found myself playing it probably every seventh or eighth C64 session, and in the long run that means I played it reasonably often. You could call the Alf game a lot of things, but “visually complex” wasn’t one of them.
So that blob up in the upper left hand corner there next to the house is Alf’s head. That’s your guy. You have to maneuver him around several screens of insultingly cinchy mazes to pick up things like cats, pizzas, and spaceship components. Because pretty much every C64 game is required to feature a key playing element that makes nary a lick of sense, in order for you to be able to pick up a cat, you have to have recently consumed a pizza, “recently” in this case meaning “within the past three microseconds”. So you have to move Alf’s head over a pizza, and then IMMEDIATELY move Alf’s head over a cat. You can’t reach the next level unless you’ve collected a certain number of cats and spaceship parts (thankfully, the game does not require that you briskly enjoy a meal of Italian takeout before picking up spaceship parts), so you have to go through the frenzied pizza-to-cat dash an infinite number of times, a necessary evil, I suppose, considering that otherwise the game would take less than five minutes to complete.
Further cramping your style are the local dog catcher, who will cart you away and I believe take one of your lives, and Willie himself, also just a disembodied head, who will take the far more infuriating action of relieving you of all the items you’ve just squandered the past three hours of your increasingly valueless life amassing. The curses and juvenile invective I directed towards actor Max Wright in my tween years would no doubt terrify and confuse him. It’s best he never find out, although in the unlikely event that I ever make his acquaintance, I plan to give him a piece of my mind. I like the idea of him holding some type of Q & A, and seeing how he’d respond to my raising my hand and emotionally inquiring “Why did you have to take all my cats, Mr. Wright?! I’d almost finished building my spaceship!!!!”
There are also trash cans for you to run into, usually while being pursued by Willie, and if you collide with them you get stunned for what seems like hours, enabling Willie to swiftly and thoroughly mug you. I guess it’s adequate payback for years of torment, but aggravating in the extreme all the same.
I have no idea what happens if you win this game, because it’s impossible as far as I can tell. In all my years of video and computer games, I have beaten almost none of them. I just don’t have the drive. If I lose a level more than twice, especially a level that was really hard and took more effort than I would have ever thought possible, I am going to find something else to do, because I am going to be angry and tired at that point, and my already subpar reflexes will be irreversibly affected by my roiling emotions. Furthermore, money does not shoot out of your machine if you win the game, thus it is simply not worth it. You should really only do things that result in the acquisition of funds.
So that’s “Alf: The First Adventure”. To my knowledge, the first adventure proved to be the last. Much like Remo Williams before him, Alf naively promised a succession of further rousing exploits that sadly never surfaced due to a resounding lack of public interest. At least Alf got a C64 game, though. I would gleefully sauté my genitals and eat them on pumpernickel for the opportunity to play a “Remo Williams” Commodore 64 game, but alas they never made one. By the way, above this paragraph there was originally going to be a picture of the front of the box that the “Alf” game came in, but the website wouldn’t let me link to it, so I figured frig it, I’ll throw on a picture of Debbie Harry and call it good. Consider it my reward for having to think about “Alf” for the past hour and a half.
I hadn’t intended on writing this much about “Alf: The First Adventure”, so you can only imagine the tedium in store for you when I eventually do a blog about a game I actually enjoyed. Glistening indifference awaits!