COMMA COMMA DORE DOOBY DOO DORE DORE
All right, I gotta keep plowing my way through my C64 memories. It seems important. It’s too hot, though, for anything to be important. Nothing is important and everything is sticky. It has gotten to the point where separating my scrotum from my inner thigh now requires the use of simple machines. I realize I’m not a very smart type of fellow for saying this, but I’m somewhat looking forward to winter. I hate heat. Ice makes driving exciting, and forces me to be alert while driving. When it’s hot and there’s no reason to be on the lookout for ice, I’m all but unconscious while driving to work in the morning. Through blind chance, I make it to work by caroming off buildings while depressing the accelerator and pointing my car in the general direction of my place of business. It’s like a really boring game of bumper pool played with human lives. I attempt to combat morning death by loudly interviewing myself on my way to work. I usually start out by pretending to be the glib host of a hip music or book program asking me where do I get all my hilarious and tuneful ideas, and do I ever tire of hot teenagers with easily exploited self-image problems turning to me for knowledge and solace, but fatigue breeds distraction before long, and soon enough I’m reduced to repeatedly bellowing the opening lyrics of “Piano Man”, retooling the words to fit my current situation, e.g. “Gee I hoooope I don’t hiiiiiiit that pedestrian!/She looks oooold, and she probl’y has kiiiiiiids/I suppoooose I should stop at this traffic liiiiight/A good chaaaaance to rest my eyeliiiiiiids”. It’s a daily struggle not to die.
So anyway, the idea here was to go through the games alphabetically, and I had ’em all written down on some pieces of notebook paper, but somewhere along the line I lost the first page, or it fell down behind something, or I don’t know, so I’m just gonna look at the page I got in front of me here. The alphabet can suck my wang, long and hard into the night.
REPLAY VALUE: HIGH
Yes, it’s the Commodore 64 version of THAT “Labyrinth”, the you-remind-me-of-the-babe one. What babe, you ask? Why, the babe with the power! What power? The power of voodoo, of course! You know, if your questions were a bit more detailed, we wouldn’t be having this awkwardly stilted conversation.
Back when George Lucas was under the impression that people wanted to be entertained by entertainment, he once stamped his valuable moniker on products that were fun and well worth purchasing for home use, and “Labyrinth” for C64, while not a top seller from what I understand, was a great game. It combined text-based Zork-like games with puzzle-solving and tense chase situations, all the while incorporating most every colorful character from the film, even the throwaway characters like the talking door knockers and the dude with the bird on his head. And for the time, the graphics were top notch. The designers of this game clearly put a lot of work into making sure the Muppets in question were accurately transcribed to the limited screen of the Commodore monitor.
I challenge you to make a better Commodore graphic of David Bowie as Jareth than that! Don’t even bother, in fact! Yours is going to be terrible and you know it!
The basic plot of the Labyrinth film is intact here, if I remember correctly, which I probably don’t. Basically, David Bowie is being difficult and has trapped you in a giant shrub maze and you to have to run around talking to worms and dealing with all manner of fucked up shit before you reach his castle where he tries to seduce you with ballroom dancing. As usual, I never finished the game due to my unshakable aversion to repeated losing, so I don’t know how closely the game adheres to the climax of the film, which I believe involved Jennifer Connelly falling into a landfill full of toys managed by a stripper who forces her to publicly share a double-ended dildo with her in exchange for narcotics. I don’t know, it’s been awhile since I saw it.
You’re not forced to be Jennifer Connelly in the game, though. It asks you if you’re a boy or a girl, and then depending on what you pick, you’re just a nondescript computer person who clomps around confusing landscapes and frowns a lot because the game is hard.
As you can see at the bottom of the screen there, to do stuff you basically select from a menu of verbs on the left, and a menu of nouns on the right. In keeping with the atmosphere of whimsical befuddlement maintained in the film, tossed in with the commands that actually result in the successful progression of the game are verbs and nouns that have absolutely nothing to do with anything. Consequently, you have the option, should you choose, to adumbrate an elephant. Needless to say, I adumbrated a whole lot of elephants out of sheer frustration throughout the course of playing this game.
Like I said, the characters look pretty choice by Commodore standards. I’d immediately be able to identify that graphic up there as Hoggle, no problem, but then again Hoggle and I were on the same intramural volleyball team back in the early nineties, so I guess it’s easier for me because I’ve seen him so much. He can’t spike but his sets and bumps were generally reliable. “What’s the point”, indeed. Man, Hoggle never had anything productive to say.
SMELL!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll take this guy over Hoggle any day. God, I simply can’t get enough Ludo. Where was his best supporting actor nomination? To whom do I address my letter of complaint regarding that grievous oversight? I’ll tell ya, Ludo walking over the farting rocks in the Bog of Eternal Stench represented the pinnacle of comic possibilities back then. Looking at this picture, alas, I realize I may have overhyped the graphics. That could look more like Ludo. That could look a LOT more like Ludo. Could’ve been worse, though. As my grandpappy used to say, a poorly rendered Ludo is better than no Ludo at all.
As I said, I in no way made it to the end of this game, or likely even anywhere close to it, but judging by this picture things must have gotten pretty intense. Cinder blocks flying around, the throwing of power, Bowie dishing out the BDSM. I gotta say, neither of the parties involve seem terribly concerned about the situation they find themselves in. Mr. Stardust looks the very picture of squinty sedation, and your character looks mildly put out at best by the idea of eternal subservience to a notoriously kinky figurehead of ’70s rock. We’ll leave these two to work out their differences. Suffice it to say it’s a fun game based on a fun movie, and usually video games based on movies suck no matter what platform they’re designed for, so it remains quite an accomplishment.
Replay Value: Medium
Huh. I never had the store-bought version of this game, and my pirated copy just had “Potty Pigeon” written on the label, but I guess according to this box it’s “Percy the Potty Pigeon”. That’s dumb. Anyway, this is a game where you’re a bird and you fly around defecating on everything for points.
If you’d told me at the time that this would actually get boring fairly quickly, I would have pooped in your face. I loaded it up fairly often, as it was a good game to waste time with while you thought about which far superior game you felt like playing. After about five minutes, however, I usually wanted to play something a bit more involving, and with slightly less terrible graphics. Anyway, birds pooping on things isn’t very funny. Their poop doesn’t smell like the usual poop, and it’s not even brown. I guess it’s for the best in the long run that birds don’t shit steaming logs onto us on a daily basis, but all the same, bird droppings are lame.
Replay Value: Reasonably High, I’d Say
Mastertronic was a software company that was very good about providing a fun game for families who had a hard time working things like “fun” into their budgets. What they lacked in graphics and general razzle-dazzle they made up for in playability, and most of the time you could get them at Ames or Zayre’s for ten bucks. If my brother and I were unable to coax the few Commodore-owning friends we had into copying some of their games for us, our options were frequently limited to the bargain titles, and the majority of the time you could count on a Mastertronic title to be as enjoyable as it was inexpensive. I’d compare them to Mattel Electronics for Atari, in that they were cheap, simple in the best way, and readily available in stores that didn’t necessarily cater to computer owners. Also, “Mastertronic” is a badass name.
Mastertronic didn’t mess around. “Ninja” is a prime example of their effective, no-nonsense style. It’s called “Ninja”, and it’s about a ninja, and you walk around kicking people and flicking throwing stars at them, as all ninjas should do.
All right, I guess there was nothing terribly pressing for Ninja to concern himself with on this screen. Just hangin’ out on the dock, being a ninja and feelin’ fine. When he gets around to it, he just might walk over and pick up those throwing stars and that dagger. Those will be good for throwing into people faces later on. I think that green and yellow thing is part of an idol or something, or maybe food. No clue. Wait, it says “idols” at the bottom of the screen. That must be what that is. Idols were big in adventure games and movies back in the ’80s. I would imagine “Raiders of the Lost Ark” had something to do with that.
PRETEND THERE IS A PICTURE HERE OF A VIDEO GAME NINJA WALKING CALMLY FROM THE LEFT SIDE OF THE SCREEN TO THE RIGHT ON HIS WAY TO BEAT UP A BAD GUY.
Things are starting to look pretty serious! Kind of! The guy on the left looks ready to fight, but Ninja’s just calmly strolling over to karate chop the bejeezus out of him. Be right there, just a sec. You can kick dudes and whatnot if close range hand-to-hand combat is to your liking, but chuckin’ throwin’ stars at people is easier and more fun to do, and you don’t have to walk as much. Wow, complaining about video game walking. That’s sad. All in all, he’s one of your lazier ninjas, now that I look back on the game. He’s all about conserving energy. Man, I’d like to play this game right now. I’m sure it’s online somewhere. I wish I enjoyed playing old games on new computers.
NOW PRETEND THERE IS A PICTURE OF A VIDEO GAME NINJA CROUCHING AND A BAD GUY DOING A WEIRD FIGHTING MOVE. I TRIED TO POST PICTURES HERE ORIGINALLY BUT THE WEBSITE I TOOK THEM FROM GOT MAD AND WHISKED THEM AWAY, OR, MORE LIKELY, ENCRYPTED THEM TO BE UNUSABLE IN THE FIRST PLACE AS IT’S DOUBTFUL THE PEOPLE I TOOK THE IMAGES FROM EVEN KNOW I EXIST, AND FRANKLY IT’S PRESUMPTUOUS OF ME TO ASSUME OTHERWISE.
Exciting action of enthralling thrillingness! Here, a villain busts out the popular jumpcrouchpunch move, while Ninja expresses his disinterest by balancing atop a throwing star and nonchalantly breaking wind. I cannot seem to find a picture of it that will actually post to my blog with any success, but when you succeed in killing an enemy, he immediately transforms into a squashed pile of pants and feet. I’m not sure whether that’s less disturbing than simply showing a bloodied corpse or not.
In addition to being a solid side-scroller, “Ninja” could boast a lively and maddeningly catchy musical score, and details that, though sparse, attempted to convey a sufficiently serene quasi-Asian atmosphere, as opposed to the crime-infested cityscapes these types of games usually took place in. A finer ten-dollar ninja game I could not be called upon to imagine.
Well, it’s that time of the night where I lie in my sweltering bed and idly finger my sweat-slickened bellybutton, so I’ll see ya when I see ya. Here’s Debbie.
Note: It has come to my attention that most of the images I linked to are not showing up. I will try to find more Ninja pictures from a less uptight website tonight! As Bill noted, even Debbie Harry seems to be upset about it.
Note 2: All right, as far as I know I fixed it. Let me know if pictures still aren’t showing up. I can see them on my computer but then again I was able to see the old ones too at first. All this work is making me hate ninjas! Doesn’t seem right!
Note 3: Obviously I didn’t fix anything, the remedying of which is outweighed by my desire to do other things…
Note 4: Nearly a year later, I took the time to fix what I could. In lieu of more pictures of the fine game “Ninja”, a YouTube video of the game has since been uploaded, which I will include below, as ultimately it showcases the game better than those stupidly unattainable pictures could have.