I don’t really know how to explain this, so I guess I’ll follow the breadcrumbs from the very beginning.
Barkley Shut Up and Jam! was a basketball game released in 1994 for the Sega Genesis and SNES starring (of course) Charles Barkley. It was pretty much just an unremarkable NBA Jam clone with Barkley’s face on the box. Nothing worth writing home about, although obviously it struck a chord with some people or I wouldn’t be recounting this history to you now.
14 years later, a small group of amateur developers put together Tales of Game’s Presents Chef Boyardee’s Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa – better known as Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden – using the RPG Maker and Game Maker software.[ref]For those of you not in the know, these tools are the game development equivalent of stone knives and bearskins.[/ref] It gained considerable notoriety due to being ridiculous, hilarious, and completely batshit insane.
So that brings us to today, as a Kickstarter campaign has begun to fund a proper Gaiden sequel dubbed The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa. Or, y’know. “Barkley 2.”
If any of this made sense, go throw a few dollars at the project, assuming post-apocalyptic basketball-themed Japanese RPGs not made in Japan are your thing. Maybe it’ll scratch an itch you never knew you had.
Pledge $100 and you’ll even score yourself this amazing body pillow!
Yep. This is happening.[ref]For real! Barkley 2 was officially funded as of December 28th 2012, earning $120,335 in pledges. The goal was a mere $35,000.[/ref]
The Xbox Live Indie Games section is a world of infinite possibilities. Eager, hungry game developers from all walks of life, striving to paint their creative vision for you to notice, interact with and reflect upon. Think of it as the video game equivalent of a local art gallery, a small regional orchestra or a newly opened community theatre. Now imagine all of them manned by bored Hooters waitresses while their bosses breath heavily and drool on all the furniture.
Video games have always tried to incorporate titillation, of course. From the infamous Custer’s Revenge to Lara Croft’s obnoxious breasts and Fear Effect 2’s worst implied lesbianism ever, we’ve had our share of shoddily portrayed “mature” subject matter. This is different, however. These games aren’t so much cynical corporate attempts to turn your biological urges into profit as they are pleas for understanding and help from a world of sexual relations seemingly alien to their developers.
Yes, when very lonely people try to code games one handed, we’re left with a weird and often unsettling mish-mash of half-assed gameplay and juvenile sexual titillation. Yeah, there’s the usual Japanese tosh available but make no mistake, it’s not all anime bouncing in these parts. Take a look at the five main categories these oddities come in.
1. Watching Real, Uncomfortable Women Stumble About
Are You Smarter Than A Cheerleader? Here’s a better question: Who actually wants to play a game about defeating the most awkward and uncomfortable looking girls in cheerleading uniforms in 80s cartoon trivia except the most developmentally-arrested toolbag suffering from some sort of nice-guy syndrome stemming back to high school? I’m sorry she never noticed you pining from the doorway, buddy. Let’s move on, all right?
In this category, we’ve also got Hell’s House. “Hi, this is the house belonging to Hell. Do not trespass or Hell will chase you off the lawn with a rake and perhaps will encourage the Neighbourhood Watch to be more vigilant in order to protect his resale value.” This game is the spiritual successor to the Sega CD’s Night Trap and that means everything that it implies.
Why the fuck can I play what amounts to Night Trap 2 in 2012 on my Xbox 360? The Sega CD didn’t fail because there wasn’t enough Dana Plato “interactive movie” video games for it. Is this what nostalgia has wrought? Watching Whatever-Letter-Comes-After-Z list actresses blunder around in nighties?
2. Someone Tries to Craft Their 3D Porn Models Into a Game
Bureau – Agent Kendall is about a furniture sales agent. No, it’s about a large chested secret agent whose shirts pop open a lot while supporting some of the most lovingly rendered cameltoes in video game history. Island Adventure :The beginnig (sic) is a game in which I don’t need to describe anything because you’re still staring at the horrible mutilation of “beginning”, aren’t you? Suffice to say, you get to gawp at a badly rendered model of a woman in a small bikini while making badly spelled innuendo remarks at her as she holds a spear to your throat.
Almost 50% of all video game players identify as women. The average age of a video game player is approaching 40 years old. This is basic demographic stuff. Making bullshit like Incident of Dreamy Vale Church, a game in which you indulge your British policewomen fetish with 3D models as you mow down waves of skeletons is the equivalent of marketing fighting games to spousal abusers. You’ll likely find some strange individual willing to drop the cash but at the cost of an entire demographic.
3. I Drew Some Pictures, Can I Have a Video Game Now?
Some people can draw. Perhaps not at a professional level but they are capable of illustrating a plausible representation of a human being. Luckily, instead of getting together with someone with an idea for a video game they can instead just make their own half-assed title as a showcase for their sketches.
Mystic Forest, pictured above, is a bizarre psychosexual screed masquerading as a visual novel video game. As a project for therapy, it is meritorious. As an allegedly entertaining interactive form of media, it is less so. It really simulates the mind of a misogynistic lunatic as you get to meet evil women, weak women, evil weak women and weak evil women, all while complaining about how they are all weak and/or evil. It is the electronic incarnation of someone declaring their previously wonderful ex to be a complete bastard once they break up.
But not everyone draws as a form of anger management. Let’s Get Fiscal is just someone’s collection of topless girls bathing with people in gimp suit illustrations used to frame a mediocre side-scrolling fighting game. If that sounds too fancy, you can always try out Trailer Park King where you get to chat up boss eyed trailer trash in Canadian flag bikinis as they try and sell you skunks and raccoons. It’s the Edmonton dream, baby!
4. The “Dating” Game
Who’s Gonna Get The Girl? Not the developers of this title if the gameplay is anything to go by. Although I think we can all agree that comparing bodily features to greasy fast food, as shown above, is the single most attractive thing in the world. Girl, you got buns like a BK Whopper, all soggy and lopsided and filled with Grade F meat. Girl, your box is even better than a Chicken McNugget box when they accidentally put in an extra piece. Girl, I liked the way you put that hot dog in your mouth until you, y’know, bit it in half and chewed it up. And so on.
While WGGTG has you pursue a fast food aficionado, So Many Girls So Little Time on the other hand, is a dating sim where you perfect the art of duplicity to juggle multiple partners without each of them knowing about the other. Serious look at a society hostile to polyamourous lifestyles? Haha, no. You’d almost feel bad if the women weren’t depicted as brainless bimbos, even the CEO who giggles “my job is pretty cool” as she lounges on a bed. I’m sure it is, Fortune 500 company leader. Tell me again about nail polish.
5. The Angry Young Nice Guy Virgin Guide to Sex
Indulging in a little dating fantasy land is all fine and dandy but sometimes we all need a little help figuring out what makes real people tick. Virtual Attraction aims to tell you the secrets of what a woman is attracted to. Spoiler alert: You should wear a big hat, be obnoxious and tell her she’s dumb so she doesn’t get any bright ideas about having self-confidence. I hear Virtual Attraction got a sequel, presumably became the woman hive mind has adapted to the original title. Rotate phaser frequencies, gentlemen, and attack again. Assimilate this!
A combination of dating advice and dating sim, Dont B Nervous Talking 2 Girls simulates a world in which every conversation with a girl has a 50/50 chance of ending with the woman threatening to call the police. As common an occurrence as this may be for the target audience, I think it has less to do with having to navigate the mysterious oceans that is the female mind and more to do with a complete lack of empathy and showers.
But what of after you’ve knocked a female out with your club and dragged her by the hair back to your cave? Well, Get Your Girlfriend Into Games is a set of minigames “designed” to get your girlfriend into video games, as opposed to shoes or earning less than the national average wage, those traditional female hobbies. “Suitable for children too!” the game exclaims. I mean, shit, do I need to write a joke for that? Okay, here’s one: If you use Get Your Girlfriend Into Games as a tool to engage your love interest in your hobbies, you should probably start over and let your little sister’s best friend out of that cage.
BONUS ROUND: Hot Potato HD
Hot Potato HD is a game in which you pass around your Xbox controller until it vibrates. The end. But it does have a woman trying her hardest to look sexy while fellating a dirty potato on the title screen. You couldn’t even run that thing under the tap?
All of these games are strange, some of them are disturbing. In general, they’re the products of unreleased sexual frustrations. How have we come to this? Is this what happens when a society becomes so sexually repressed it cannot handle sex on its own merits and now has to figuratively masturbate under a trenchcoat until it seeps into everything?
I actually think some games should have a lot more sex. I’m not even talking about so-called classy sex. People have stupid, meaningless, objectifying sex all the time and that’s wonderful but this stuff being served up isn’t sexy and barely qualifies as sexual, it’s meaningless fodder. As Shakespeare put it…
It is a cumshot
Made by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
But nevermind the big names; if the rising tide of Kickstarter is indeed lifting all the boats (ugh!), then one of those little boats more people should be jumping into is Max K. Lam’s Americana Dawn, a Japanese-style RPG with strong artistic and mechanical influences from Konami’s criminally neglected Genso Suikoden franchise.
Here’s hoping that this little gem will roll out soon now that its funding goal has been met and exceeded. Not only could that particular era of American history really use a fresh take, via edutainment or otherwise, but it’s been almost six years since the last proper Suikoden game and as far as I’m aware, no other project taking those games as a primary inspiration have ever gotten this far. Or, for that matter: existed.