The Snake Becomes The Key

Retro Gaming Humour

SBTK in 16-Bits. Issue 1. Prt2…Street Smart: MegaDrive.

Words:Stuart Hunt

And here’s the second part of the column:

Street Smart is what happens to a 2D beat-em-up when those two-animation video game extras, which stand behind normal characters in fighting games, jostle to get a better look at the action and start a fight.

Most of the primary characters in the game look identical to the people copied and pasted into its background. In fact, it’s best to play Street Smart with a friend, not so you can enjoy its odd Mario Bros’ style take-it-in-turn multiplayer option, but so you can ask them to kindly hold a finger against the television to help you see where your fighter is.

The game allows you to play a vast plethora of TWO characters: A wrestler called Crusher and the ridiculously named Karate Man – who looks sceptically like a cross between Street Fighter’s Ryu and Ken. With this in mind, you would hope that he would possess at least one pixel of those iconic brawlers’ fighting prowess but unfortunately, after pressing one button on your control pad, it soon becomes clear that Chun Li’s dad would probably prove a more effective fighting instrument, and he’s dead.

With only two main characters to worry about you would think that a lot of time and effort would have be spent making them look good and blessing them with an intricate fighting system offering some amazing special moves. Unfortunately, rather than a dazzling firing-uppercut or an acrobatic scorpion-kick we’re just given a few basic attacks and a lame sped-up flurry punch to yawn at.

Far more entertaining is Karate Man’s low punch, which looks a lot like he’s is trying to fondle his opponents nut sack. When doing this on the streets for real would surely get you beaten up or, at best, some funny stares, thanks to Street Smart, friends can do it in a virtual environment, in the comfort of their home and without the worry of anybody ever finding out.

With a name like Street Smart, the characters should at least look the part; unfortunately, it seems the costume department set about the streets of America to conduct attire-research and after showing people the conceptual drawings of what they were planning to create could persuade nobody to fill out their fashion suggestion questionnaire. As a result, all the people who come to watch the fights seem to have come dressed as American flags or wearing t-shirts with the words KIM on them. While this could be considered patriotic or affable to any owners of the game called Kim, to the rest of the world it just looks inanely stupid. But then, what do you expect from a crowd of onlookers who seem quite pleased to stand aside and allow young children witness a man get his face pummelled?

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You see that tram in the background? Oddly, it doesn’t travel down the track and run over all the characters. Shame.

Graphically, what can I say? It kind of looks like the night before his tournament, Karate Man slotted a quarter into the mouth of one of those wish granting Zoltar machines and asked to be small. Probably in a bid to re-live the time he could look up girls’ skirts without getting arrested, but unfortunately, failed to be precise with his wish. That idiot Zoltar managed to get the height part down but cruelly, left him with squashed, mushy, pixel-flesh explosion looks. He couldn’t get any swanky sponsorship deals, so consequently no shiny new wardrobe and was forced to make do with his now large, garish, orange outfit.

The game does offer a few interesting ideas, which in true Street Smart fashion are not realised as well as they could be. Your character is not on a fixed level, instead, like a scrolling beat-em-up, he can traipse up and down the screen and stomp around a bland fight area, which, oddly, is always positioned on a tram track, a dirt road, or any other impractical fight environment the programmers could easily draw.

However, in a cruel twist of irony, this causes all sorts of problems when it comes to that minor aspect of trying to actually fight. Because all the fighters seem to be one millimetre wide, unless you find the exact fighting plane your opponent is throwing wild jabs at you from, your attacks will miss their target.

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‘Take back my wish or i’ll break your face!’

One of the more head-scratching options in the game is the ability to bet on the outcome of your fights. Yep, this means that you can bet against yourself….But what would be the point?

In the strange instance that you bottle out of fighting a computer character that can‘t actually hurt you (well maybe your eyes) and bet your fighters booze money on your opponent winning the fight, where lies the merit? So you can stand there, watching him throw his fists into your face while you smugly shout sucker at your Mega Drive??

Ah ha! I may have wasted a life but shrewdly I have walked away with some digitised money which I can spend on…hang on a second…let me flip open the manual…Mmm…absolutely nothing? Idiotically, there’s no section in this game that allows you spend a solitary dime of your fight purse, now were lies the street smarts in that?

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April 12, 2007 Posted by | SBTK in 16-Bits, Stuart Hunt | 7 Comments

SBTK in 16-Bits. Issue 1. Prt1…Revolution X: MegaDrive.

Words:Stuart Hunt

Ok, here’s the first part of our 16-bit column. Aerosmith fans, turn away now…

Set in a dystopian 1996, you must overthrow an evil Aerosmith hating government by ridding the world of one black and yellow solider who has the power to clone himself over and over and over again. It might sound like an election winning mandate to you and me, but back then it seems people actually paid money to save Steve Tyler…it’s amazing how much the world can change in 11 years.

Revolution X is the video game equivalent of a coconut shy, in that you’re given one brainless object to shoot at over and over again. Actually, on reflection, that statement is doing coconuts a great injustice because they actually prove a more enthusiastic to wave a gun at. The soldier you must continually destroy has been blessed with the ability to stand motionless, as he waits to get sapped, and lie on the floor smiling, knowing another forty copies of himself will pop up on the screen before his flashing corpse vanishes.

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An exclusive image of the game’s lost level

Now I don’t know if this is intentional but strangely the game gives you infinite continues from the point you die, yet it will still take you a few months to complete…it’s not because it’s a long game, it’s just that the human brain is incapable of enduring such a long drawn out repetitive experience in one sitting. The furthest point I have ever sucessfuly reached in one day is the games convoluted helicopter boss, which somehow manages to absorb an absurd amount of firepower and patience before it finally decides to play fair and blow up.

To play Revolution X through to its end, it’s best to finish a level, pause the game, and then return to it after a week – by that time I find its groundhog-day gameplay just begining to wear off.

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Possibly the scariest thing ever written

During the game Aerosmith will appear and continually remind you why you’ve put 50p into the arcade machine, or, if you forked out the money for the console version, why you should dry your tears and get on with the mission at hand. The game is ungraciously pleased of its use of ‘music as a weapon‘, a feature which is more perplexing than inspired.

Your primary weapon in this game is blatantly a gun, your secondary option, a compact disc. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble here but I went to the trouble of picking up a dictionary and looking up the definition of music, just to be sure I hadn’t been fed a cruel lie over the years.

Music: The sounds of voices or instruments arranged in a pleasing way.

Strangely, when I put the radio on in my car I never notice my ears being repeatedly ambushed by a flurry of red bullets or CD’s being tossed at my head from my CD player, maybe things were a little different state side in 1996?

In its rawest form, Revolution X is simply an exercise of holding down a button and moving a cursor around a screen. Sending a text message while waving your phone in the air proves to be equally as entertaining – at least you can listen to your own music and not Feed the Rage on loop!

April 12, 2007 Posted by | SBTK in 16-Bits, Stuart Hunt | Leave a comment

WTF! SBTK in 16 bits…

Words:Stuart Hunt

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts recently. I’ve been working away this week and Chris has been sent into space, with a vat of emulsion, to try and re-whiten the moon. It’s a lame excuse for our laxness, I know, but we will make an conscious effort to pull our digits out and get things rolling faster with this blog again.

When Chris and I began SBTK we had plans to expand it with diverse articles running alongside the main CPC content. The SBTKPLAYOFF, introduced in our last post, is one such column that will run occasionally and SBTK in 16 Bits is another.

This 16-bit column won’t feature frequently but it will become a solid section of the blog. So here’s is our first bumper issue of SBTK in 16 Bits (in 2 parts).

April 12, 2007 Posted by | SBTK in 16-Bits | Leave a comment