Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Terrifying Terrible Terrors: Ren & Stimpy: Buckaroo$ (NES)

It was a Halloween night, much like this one.
A horrible night for a curse.
But that's exactly what it had in store for me.

I was around 13 years old. I'll be the first to admit - I was starting to get "a little old" for trick-or-treating. However, my little brother really wanted to get his sugar fix and my folks wanted me to take him around a couple of blocks in our neighborhood. Most of my friends ditched me to go to Jeff Davis' Halloween party anyway. His folks were loaded and they always threw these ridiculous Halloween parties with a make-shift haunted house in the backyard, bobbing for apples, games, pizza and more. He also happened to be the knob who made out with my ex-girlfriend after second period P.E. I hate Jeff Davis.

So instead, I'm hauling my little brother (dressed as Felix the Cat) around my neighborhood.

Oh well, I guess I could steal a few of his Reese's peanut butter cups while he's sleeping anyway.

Sadly, it was beginning to look like a bust. We got out a little late and the first two attack squadrons of kids picked the flesh off of the rotting carcass of candy and we were stuck with the tootsie rolls, smarties and dum dums. Oh, and those ridiculous Mexican honey wafer candies that get stuck in your cavities. I could read the disappointment on my brother's greasepaint smeared face and figured it was time to cut our 5 block neighborhood tour down to 3. That meant a couple more houses and we were going to head back from the battle, tail between our legs and head down in defeat. Cryin' to mama through cloudy, black and white cat tears.

Suddenly, there we were. Right smack dab in front of Jeff Davis' house.

Aside from the aforementioned treasure trove of Halloween goodness within and behind his house, his front yard was decked out like a Party City on steroids. Animatronic zombies spring to life from shallow graves, Bats hanging from strings that would make "Squeeeeeeeek Squeeeeeeek" noises when you stepped close enough, his dad; dressed like Leatherface, would run around the yard with a chainless chainsaw, revving it up and scaring the sweet baby Jesus out of any unlucky kids who happened to get to close to the front porch and reach into the plastic pumpkin labeled "Take One and Leave!"

My brother was a petrified stone that I had to roll up the driveway, knowing damn good and well that the Davis' had King Size Snickers and Reese's 4 packs in that plastic pumpkin. I was NOT going to go home empty handed from this otherwise depressing jaunt around our neighborhood. Even if it WAS candy that had been in the grubby, filthy, evil hands of the Davis family. Screw it. I'm gonna take FIVE and bolt.

However, no sooner did I get past the bats, the cobwebs, the cackling witch in the rocking chair and daddy beef jerky face with his functionless yard utensil than did Jeff himself show up at the front door, dressed in a vampire cape and a Bill Clinton mask.

"Hey - 'Sup?"
"err - my little brother is going around trick or treating and..."
"So do you wanna come in?" He asked.
"Nah - he's getting tired and..."
"Hey, wait a minute..."

Jeff stepped away and left me to my odd, awkward, teenage shame.
There I was, at the house of my nemesis and my friends were clearly having more fun than I was. To top it off, I'm waiting at his stoop begging for candy for my brother. God, I hate Jeff Davis.

"Here ya go!"
He plops a handful of candy into my brother's bag and something square and made of hard plastic into mine.
"Happy Halloween, Chris!"
"Yeah...Happy....Happy." I muttered.
We headed home and the entire time I was completely and absolutely confused. "What the hell did Jeff stick in my bag anyway?" I wondered. My brother was certainly in a much better mood as he thumbed through the bottom of his bag, doing a rough count on his spoils of war.

"Wow, Chris! THREE Snicka's Baas!"
"Yeah, that's great Joe..."
I couldn't help but be eaten up by curiosity...what was it? What could it be?

When we got home I ran upstairs to my room without so much as giving my parents a cursory "hey...sup."
I dumped my bag on my bed and out plopped a small mountain of various crap candy and the mystery item that Jeff handed me.

It was a Nintendo game!

"Wahhhh! Man, that's!"

Not just any game, mind you - a game based on one of my favorite cartoons of all time: Ren and Stimpy! It was Ren and Stimpy: Buckaroos! Maybe that Jeff Davis wasn't such a jerk after all. I mean, sure he kissed my girlfriend but girls come and go - Nintendo games are forever!

I pushed it into my console and started it up with pride.

"Ehh...ok. That KINDA sounds like the theme to Ren and Stimpy."

It did too. Sort of. Only it was garbled up and half of the notes were in the wrong key. It was kind of like when someone is paid to do a "sound-a-like" for a commercial. Sure it's not ACTUALLY that U2 song you've heard all summer, but pretty close. That sort of thing.

"Hey! A cutscene - cool!"

Yup, this game made you a bunch of money,THQ. But at what cost?!

It was sort of, kind of, not at all like the cartoon. The characters were vague representations of Ren and Stimpy, but almost looked too clean in their lines. It's kind of odd saying that they look "too good" and that's a complaint - but it kind of is. They weren't edgy or wacky at all. Where's the oddball close-ups? I know that Nintendo games are capable of this sort of thing. And why is the dialogue so stilted? You can always tell when a team of programmers are writing a licensed video game instead of the original writing team because it always sounds like an alien's approximation of what a character would say. Just putting in the line "You eediot!" doesn't quite capture the Je ne sais quoi of Ren - it just sounds like your moronic cubical-mate at work doing a poor Billy West impression.

"Oh....Oh no!"

Now the horror commences.  The game has started. My mission is to play as Stimpy and to somehow launch Ren over the warp machine and to the end of the level. The room is very small, so this should be a piece of cake, right? I mean, they give you practically all of the items you need right at the jump.

"Jump...oh that jump!"

That's right. Neither white men nor Stimpys can jump. Stimpy turns into a slimy wet noodle every time you hit the jump button and he spastically falls short of wherever you want him to land. Sometimes you can get him to vault up to the power-ups and items above him, but mostly you'll just watch him flop around the room like a dying fish. Like a fuzzy red, bloated, white bellied, dead-eyed bass. Ren just keeps pacing back and forth, stopping only occasionally to have a Tourettes fit and start pounding his head.

Wait - wait...What's happening here? That's not right.

And then one of two things happens:
A.) You have a pickle of a time figuring out what to do and accidentally wind up in and out of the teleportation machine yourself without getting Ren to move anywhere.
B.) You launch Ren over the teleportation machine, enter it - then eventually come out to accidentally launch his Chihuahua butt back OVER the machine once you reach the other side.

Either way, you're going to have to endure the space minigame more than once. This is about where I shut the game off every single time.

"Sweet mother of Mario - what is going on?! Why does everything control like it was underwater and I had my hands chopped off for stealing an apple in Saudi Arabia?"

It's like playing Gradius blind. And with no thumbs.
The space minigame is nothing short of an atrocity. Do you want to know why that Jerry Lewis movie "The Day the Clown Cried" has never been released? It's just an endless loop of this crappy space shooter. I kid you not, I have played Color Dreams/Bunch games that were better programmed, with sharper controls than this. The stage is pedestrian, the graphics are ugly (but not in that kitchy, Ren and Stimpy way - just gross,) it's repetitive and I've honestly played D-level Atari games with 100% more replay value than this monstrosity. If you ever want to replicate this experience without having to subject yourself to eye-strain, huff a bag of paint and bash your head with a brick - then chase squirrels into oncoming traffic.

On second thought, don't do that.

Just that moment, I ripped the game from the console and flung it against the wall. The plastic cover split into two pieces and it lay defeated on my floor. I made sure to stomp on it a few times and then fling it out of my second story window just to make sure it was dead.

"I hate you Jeff Davis" were the last words I said that whole evening. I went to bed without even stealing a single candy bar from my brother's bag...

...Ok, so none of that actually happened. But I could only imagine that would have been my reaction to receiving Ren and Stimpy if I had not been properly warned before that it's more than a little awful. That being said, if you're a hardcore collector like me, it belongs somewhere in your collection. Preferably stacked behind a bunch of far better games where you can't really reach it unless you had to pull a handful of much better titles out first to get to it. You'll be so tired and frustrated that you'll settle for Castlevania III or Mystery Quest instead of this game. That being said, if you want to add it to your collection: just add it to your wanted list on Lukie Games here!

The SNES game is different, and while I won't call it a masterpiece either - it's at least better than this one!

Happy Halloween!

Of Ghostly Ghasts, and Video Gaming Specters

Full disclosure, I was very uncertain whether or not I would post this as it doesn’t directly involve video games. This is a true story as I did experience the following events and my parents and friends definitely know I complained about at least one of them while keeping the other one to myself for obvious reasons that involve staying out of the nut house. So in the spirit of it being Halloween I present to you the story of a potential ghost thing I encounter when I was young.

Growing up the game room in my household was always the basement and to this day the game consoles are still placed in the basement at my parents homes. When I was nine my father brought home a PlayStation that had been given to him by my Uncle who never managed to hold onto games or game systems for very long. After bringing it home my dad and I went to the nearest Funcoland and picked up Gex and a few other games. That night we both sat down and played it but from then on it would just be me spending several hours a day in the basement playing the PlayStation or the NES that we had setup.
One day my parents had gone out taking my sister with them and I decided the best possible way of spending this time would be by huddling up near the TV and spending the entire time playing Rayman. One of the few things I remember most vividly from my childhood is this moment, in the middle of playing Rayman I began to hear my name whispered, “Michael… Michael… Michael…” It was a female voice that I didn’t particularly recognize. My first reaction was to look around the room to see if anyone was hiding like if my parents had come home and were trying to trick me (that’s a normal thing for parents to do, right?) I also knew the neighbors at the time and none of them were named Michael or any variation of that. For the record the way my house is setup in order to get from the basement to the first floor you have to pass the laundry room which you can see into from the hallway leading to the staircase. When I became fed up with searching for who may be hiding in the room I got up and began to make my way to the stairs as I looked in the direction of the laundry room for about a split-second I saw what appeared to be a person (but I didn’t get a good enough look to catch any discerning features), just staring at me, then as soon as I saw it it disappeared. I ran back into the basement and refused to go near the stairs until my mom came down to force me to eat dinner and for the first time in my young life I was more then happy to eat my damn vegetables.
When I was eleven a similar instance happened, I was spending time playing video games in the Basement and got so into my gaming session that I decided I’d sleep on the couch in order to maximize my gaming time. Around 11PM I passed out until I was awoken by the light of the TV’s static as somehow it had managed to turn itself on. So I tried shutting it off using the remote to no avail, I presumed the batteries were dead and went and tried repeatedly to use the power button on the television to turn it off this tactic failed just as much as the previous and I chose the most drastic option and unplugged the TV from the wall. It remained on. It was at this point I began to get a bit unnerved, as I backed away from the TV and went to gather my blanket and pillow under the impression that I would just get the hell out of there and hope everything went back to normal at a later date I heard it. I heard “Michael” whispered ever so softly. I just resigned myself at that point and buried myself under my blanket and in the cushions of the couch trying to fortify myself from whatever was doing this. I eventually fell asleep and when I woke up everything was back to the normal, the TV was off and unplugged and I was very much alive. I considered it a victory at the time.
Fast forward to when I’m sixteen, by this point I was forced to move into the basement armed with a with a PlayStation 2, GameCube, and NES and I made the best of a fairly shitty situation. One day during the summer the basement grew suddenly cold or more specifically the area around where my game systems and TV were. Even though every other part of the house was being kept at a nice 70-80 degrees that one spot far away from any vent but right next to a window which should have been oozing in heat into the house. I attempted to rectify the situation by opening the window and the backyard door but the spot remained quite cold while the rest of the room slowly grew warmer. This wouldn’t be an isolated incident and it would occur randomly throughout that summer, which led me to believe that it wasn’t just a place where all the cold air from the house was collecting. One night during early September this occurred and I initially thought nothing of it as I slowly grew accustomed to it over the summer but that night I heard something that sounded familiar. I heard my name whispered ever so softly, “Michael” only this time it was accompanied by a full sentence, “Michael where are you?”. I panicked and wondered if there was some sort of stalker in my house so I grabbed my crowbar that I kept under my bed (seemed like a pretty normal thing at the time to have at the time) then I heard it again only it sounded closer but I could make out that it was a woman's voice, one that I had never heard before. I was sitting on the couch facing the television and I thought I noticed movement behind the couch through the reflection of the television. I leapt up and looked behind the couch brandishing my crowbar ready to attack. There was nothing. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw something white move towards the laundry room, I rushed towards the laundry room and just before I reached it I saw what looked like a womans’ head poke out from the side and stare at me then duck back in. I rushed into the room to face whomever was trying to scare me and was greeted with nothing but an some dirty laundry and cleaning supplies. At that point I abandoned all hope of understanding what had happened and simply moved on while remaining wary of any subtle changes in the basement.
I have never encountered these phenomenon since then. Once I graduated High School I moved out and never looked back until recently when I was forced to return due to financial reasons (read: I’m bad with money). It wasn’t until a week ago while I was sitting in the basement of the house I grew up in and just remembered all of the weirdness that occurred down here. As I’m writing this I feel slightly unnerved having experienced things that I can’t quite explain, I’d like to chalk it all up to psychosis but that doesn’t explain the physical situations like the TV or the cold spots. Maybe this is all in my head or maybe I’m just a pretty unlucky guy who happens to live in a room with an undead roommate who doesn’t understand common courtesy. I could probably market that idea.

Hypno's Lullaby


Safe and happy you will be
Away from your homes, now let us run
With Hypno, you'll have so much fun

Oh, little children, please don't cry
Hypno wouldn't hurt a fly
Be free, be free be free to play
Come down in my cave with me to stay

Oh, little children, please don't squirm
Those ropes, I know, will hold you firm
Hypno tells you this is true
But sadly, Hypno lied to you

Oh, little children, you mustn't leave
Your families for you will grieve
Their minds will unravel at the seams
Allowing me to haunt their dreams

But surely, all of you must know
That it is time for you to go
Oh, little children, you weren't clever

N̏ͥ̉͝ͅo͙͖̞͇̬͓̖ͪ̾ͦ̈̔̓̎ͪw̲͗̋̈̚͡͡ ̶̡̖͇̦̮̜̻̳̣͉̔̊͑͒̀ȳ̢̱̪̝̪̮͙̪̆͑ͭͩ̚o̮̰ͯ̂͂ͮ̌͊̆͞ŭ̖̻͙̯̯̩̺͍̹̊̈̋̑ͤ͠ ̵̶̤͕̜̅͂͗̓͐͛̋́ͅś̥̙̲̻̘ͫ̿ͮ̋h̪͚̦ͫ̒͌ͥ͑̐ä̤̩̰͓̘́ͯl̸̤͉̖̣͕͔͎͆̅͐̍͗̇̃ͦ́l̡̲̤͉͕̯͚̟̝͗͂ͩ̉̇ͨ͛ͤͮ ̯̞̺͍̱̫̂̊̌̑̇͂ͬ́͞s̺̱̼̳̳̯̠̟̻ͥ̏̅ͨt̔ͨ͗̐̇͆̎̎̿͏̴̘͎a̸̼̅̈̒̈́ͩͬ̿ẙ̹͚͓̭͈͉͕̽̓̀̎͒͂̊ ͎͖̙ͧ̈́̓͑ͤͥw̴̖͚͍̥̥̥̫̄͌̔͟͟i̶̮͓̙̜̓̂ͦͬͬ͑͘ͅt͗̔̎ͨ͏̴̝͚̮̬̹ḩ̢̻̝͕̌̋̆͋̆̓̍̚ ̷̱̖̘͓͈̠͈̥͙̀͊͌ͦͥ̕͘m̖̫̹̮̻̣̯͇͑ͦ͒̎̊̾ͦͪ͗ͅe͒ͥ͐͑͛͗̂̚͏̤̟͓͕͎̳̝͕̯̕ ͕̞͔̥̦̮͖̌͒͊̐̓ͬ̕͞͠f̼̪̞̲͉̼͇̣͚͒ͭ̎͛̉o̎͐̊̅͋ͭͯ̾͛҉̱͈̼͚͚̲͖r̂̀͗ͨ̔̌ͬ̏͢҉͈͟ẽ̸̸̳͙͈̖͖ͭ͆̒̎͊̅v̖̩̳͕͓̩̝͐̿̓̂͋̊ͮ̀͘e̦͔̱̘̤̮͆r̵ͮ̑ͨ̍ͥ͒̚ͅ ̺̻̫̪͋͊̚


picture sources.