Wednesday, 30 January 2008

A reader writes

Regular readers of this blog will know of my pal Dave French. A former body builder, cage fighter, antiques dealer and Hulk wanabee. A lover of women, toy dogs and harmonicas.

I've shared quite a few of his e-mails with you over the past year, but lately he's been very quiet. Thankfully he's prepared a new rant on the subject of superhero computer games. Here t'is...

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I refer of course to my absence from the real world, as well as LLC.

For Christmas, Santa left me a brand spanking, all-singing, all-dancing, terra-mega, 768graphics thing, top o’ the range, game playing oojamaflip….. or desktop computer to you laymen.

Since that day I have slowly sunk into a virtual world, as my game playing experiences have become more and more immersive to the point where I am now a Computer Gollum… ‘My Preciousssss…’ Bent and huddled over my monitor in the dark hours, its stark, iridescent, gamma glow dancing of my pale fevered brow, I have trodden paths I will not tell, roamed alien landscapes, emerged triumphant and victorious from a thousand battles, and had the powers of the Gods themselves bestowed on me….. well virtually.

I must admit in one of my more alcohol induced multiplayer killing sprees, after winning a battle with no less than 94 kills (other real people I might add, sitting in rooms similar to my own) I typed to the captive audience I had:

‘BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP ME LIKE A GOD!’ (reminiscent of General Zod: Superman 2)

Checking myself, but breathless and exhausted I quickly typed: ‘Please?..... No pressure…’

Crapulent with power and alcohol and fatigue, I now put digit to keypad to speak to you from a dimension beyond that of what you understand as real. My virtual bondage.

Okay look, this is LLC right?…. And I am Big D right? So I'm gonna turn this prose in a direction more fitting. Hulk? Comics? D&D?

Well computer gaming has spelt death for the good ‘ol fashioned RPG: pencil, paper and dice. It is also responsible for blasting a fist sized hole in the board games industry; they killed much that I knew and loved. But I was oh so willing to be seduced by this new cyber-mistress that I had already flirted with throughout my youth.

I think it must have been Gauntlet...

...a 4 player co-operative game, that was my first D&Desque experience in an amusement arcade. (Anyone remember: Red Elf is about to die…?) The fact you could play with 4 of your friends simultaneously was a stroke of genius, and added to that warm, communal, roleplay feeling that you only usually got sat round a table with a character sheet in front of you, d20 cocked and ready in your sweaty palm, safe in the company of other nerds.

I soon found myself with a computer in the house. What good parent would not want to keep their young child abreast of the latest innovations in this new technological dawn? And what a fine standard bearer Sir Clive was…

What followed was my puppy-love affair with the Spectrum 48k and its multifarious games…It was here I discovered text adventures. Poor, soulless recreations of the roleplay genre, but still a substitute for a die hard fan who didn’t have any friends with big enough tables. Scott Adams- curse his oily hide, and the oily hides of everyone of his descendants, was responsible for stealing a large part of my young life with titles such as: Questprobe Hulk...

Questprobe Spiderman...

and of course, Questprobe Human Torch & Thing....

I still vividly remember Dom's voice saying: ‘Buy Scott Adams hint books!’ In his best Liberace impersonation. It was all satirical back then you see.

Text adventures were usually crafted by uninspired nerds with no story telling skill whatsoever and a modicum of computer savvy. Most of them had utterly ridiculous puzzles, unsolvable to all but the clinically insane, a frustratingly limited vocabulary, and were totally devoid of logic or wit. Scott Adams Questprobe Adventures were no exception… but they were superhero titles…. And I loved superheroes, so I wasted my life on them. CURSE YOU ADAMSSSSSSSSS! Here is a picture of the nerdy-youth-stealing-bastard...

Adams (left) and a half clit half turd alien

Things got better... Games got better. Loading times got shorter. Graphics got better. Playing a computer game actually started to become enjoyable, rather than hair tearingly infuriating.

X-Men in the arcades…WOW!

It was a pretty fantastic, side-scrolling, beat ‘em up, remembered fondly by all who played it, and choc-full of marvel-tastic characters and locales.

Oh! The pounds I wasted in the amusement arcades as a kid!

One of the best but lesser known superhero titles was Marvel vs. Capcom...

It was Street Fighter format and it did include many Street Fighter Characters but had a veritable plethora of Mighty Marvel creations including relatively obscure characters such as Cable and War Machine. It also had big bad Baddies like Doc Doom, Thanos and even Omega Red. The colourful cartoonesque graphics seemed to capture the movement and energy of the Marvel characters fantastically....

Who would win out of Venom and Iceman? Lets find out! WICKED!

Things could only get better for the Marvel/ Computer Game tie in…. or could they.

For me, what spoilt (and will continue to spoil) every piece of commercial Marvel merchandise, was when Hollywood got their filthy, insidious paws on the Marvel license.

I wanted Green Goblin (and with a face like Willem Dafoe’s it was altogether possible)

They gave me a green Power Ranger.

I wanted Magneto. A veritable god among men. Noble Homo-Superior.

They gave me a geriatric waif of a man in a silly hat.

I wanted the Hulk.

They gave me a 2 hour plus movie about Nick Nolte turning into some sort of Absorbing fucking man and only a lousy 10 fucking minutes of the Hulk smashing tanks. BOLLOCKS! (Her from Labyrinth was nice though!)

I wanted Daredevil….. I wont even go into that!

Most Marvel computer games are now Movie tie-ins and as such feature the same insipid plots and characterisations and reek of the noisome funk of Hollywood. It’s a sad, sad day when you play a game like Crysis and realise what Marvel could (nay SHOULD) be doing hand in hand with the computer game industry."


mr wheatley said...

questprobe was shit... £15 was a fortune back then and i can still feel my blood boil about how rubbish that hulk game was...
hulk thing about nightmare
hulk get angry
ants attack hulks ears!
fucking hulk killed by ants!

Anonymous said...