Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Video Game Tribute #7: DuckTales

What do Pogo Sticks, Ice Cream Cones, Diamonds, Vampires and Ducks all have in common? Absolutely nothing unless you love Disney and you love Nintendo. DuckTales was probably one of the best games ever put out on the NES... why that is is still a mystery to me. I wasn't exactly a huge Uncle Scrooge fan, and I was actually annoyed that Disney's second most famous duck shared a name with Ebeneezer Scrooge... it just struck me as a rip-off. Not to mention, watching him swim in his money made me nervous, all that bacteria...

So why is it that a video game based off of Scrooge McDuck was so amazing? Let me ask you something, is there anything un-amazing about a greedy duck who smashes animals in the head with a pogo stick? I rest my case. Okay, I know, it was his cane and he used it as a pogo stick... but with NES graphics, is there really a difference? It's just a brown line. Do those sort of minute details really matter when we're discussing a talking Scottish duck looking to expand his already abundant fortune? Whatever, it's a pogo stick.

Everything about the game just screamed "amazing". The music was brilliant, for starters. It's one of the many memorable 8-bit midi sound tracks that made the Nintendo era so wonderful. And let's be real, Scrooge was BAD. Yeah, there's been a lot of hardcore video game characters over the years, Solid Snake, King Koopa, Samus, etc... but Scrooge was a glutton for wealth, he killed animals, ate ice cream on the moon, fought vampires... there was even a point in the game where he left his nephews in a cart as it plummeted over a cliff... and why? To be the richest duck on the planet. You may not be thinking it, but I'm almost positive that this game was the inspiration for anti-hero games like Grand Theft Auto... Oh yeah.

I think what made Scrooge all the more messed up was the fact he was creating all this carnage to happy midi music with a happy-go-lucky smile on his face... If ever there was a "Bad Boy" in the Disney lineup, it was Uncle Scrooge McDuck.


He's so bad!
~ Mark

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Video Game Tribute #6: Oregon Trail

I like to think back on a time when one could drown in 4 feet of water or die of a broken leg... I'm, of course, talking about 1848... or more specifically, 1971... but seeing as I wasn't born until the 80's, I'm thinking about 1992 and the infamous Oregon Trail.

I think just about all of us who were in grade school during the early 90's have some form of recollection about this game. It was the one game during "computer" class that all the kids fought over playing... the rest of us were stuck with Number Munchers... ugh. It was probably the last great (if not the ONLY great) educational video game to ever be produced... it was also the last time that Apple Inc. would be a noteworthy presence until 2001. Ah, the Apple IIe... so glorious. One of the reasons Oregon Trail was a playable educational game was probably because it was so inaccurate to the real life Oregon Trail that it was hardly an educational game... hence, fun. Somehow Bankers were better travelers than Farmers and Carpenters... because there were so many places to buy equipment while making this epic trek across the country. So clearly you had to be rich to survive in the wilderness. As I mentioned earlier, broken legs could kill and grown men and women could drown in 4 foot water... was everybody a midget back then? Did people fall face first into water and not know all they have to do is stand up to live? In water that shallow, all they'd have to do is like... roll on their back.

The other important fact about the Oregon Trail which seems to be completely ignored in this game is the cannibalism... um, hello... Donnor Party, anybody? There's some classic history for ya'... but no, we'll just ignore that part, you go ahead and make your fun kids game about the most messed up pilgrimage in American history... If they really wanted to make it educational, every time somebody in your party died, you'd have the option to eat them... but they'd have to be under 100 pounds, because according to the hunting segment of the game, that's as much as you could carry... now that'd be an educational game that would have the kids flocking to their history books... because let's face it, kids love violence.

Despite the fact that Oregon Trail chooses to omit various parts of history, it was still likely to be every kid's first video game experience on something other than a Nintendo or Atari (depending on your generation), and the pinnacle of the Apple IIe era. Not to mention it was fun naming your party members after your friends and watching them all die of Dysentery... I obviously didn't like my friends.

Now loading the wagon,
~ Mark