The power of journalism can bring governments to its knees and turn a pop sensation into a child-murdering bitch driving with a baby on her lap. And this was never more evident than when the villains behind the video game version of the movie version of Cat in the Hat refused to send EGM a reviewable copy because they "didn't want Seanbaby making fun of it." I'm the first to admit that that's not a huge accomplishment. However, it's the first step in helping mankind consider the possibility of simply not making a video game version of the Cat in the Hat. Picture it: an age of enlightenment where the Cat in the Hat remains safely away from your Nintendo not because game developers hate me, but because they hate the idea of ruining Christmas for our children. Bring that up the next time someone argues that this torture I go through every month isn't leading our people to a utopian electronic entertainment future.
Power Rangers: Ninja Storm
My Gameboy and I were finally able to come to an agreement that both allowed me to review the game and get it the hell out of itself. It let me play Power Rangers for thirty seconds, where I bonked a steady stream of identical ninjas, then liquified the cartridge and told me if I, doomed fleshbag of a human, wanted to play more of this monotonous shit, my primitive meatbrain could simulate it by remembering those thirty seconds as many times as I wanted. My Gameboy might be a robofuck, but I sort of have to admit it had a point.
This is a great game for people who like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, but hate themselves. The controls are so clumsy and unresponsive that you might as well throw your Gameboy into a dryer and shout suggestions at it through the glass. Here are my theories on why:
Theory 1: Like all Nickelodean games, the main stars are a group of horribly defected children, so it's possible they're not listening to the control pad because the ugly little monsters are trying to hammer their disfigured heads into human shapes against the nearby structures.
Theory 2: They wanted to be faithful to the television show, where your control pad also has no effect.
Theory 3: Who cares? With all the suffering and pain in the world, it seems petty to mock a video game just because it's inferior. That being said, Nickelodean Rocket Power - Zero Gravity Zone is personally responsible for a lot of that suffering and pain I just mentioned.
When you're coming up with a challenging enemy for the Justice League, you need to think big. They have Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and I don't know if you've seen this cartoon, but Green Lantern isn't defeated by the color yellow anymore. That's why I was a little surprised that the entire first level was populated with grumpy, but otherwise ordinary eskimos. They weren't riding battle walruses... they weren't even draped in doe-eyed living seals which would have rendered them unpunchable.
To even the odds, the game is very loose with its interpretation of in-game collisions. For example, just because the Flash's fist is elbow deep into an eskimo's throat doesn't necessarily mean the eskimo or the game notice. I'm suspicious this was a matermind plot by Lex Luthor, though; and not a serious programming failure. So although it is terrible, I gave Justice League Chronicles a score of Zero Aquaman Sightings-- the best possible rating a superhero game can achieve.
Despite the fact that we're the number one video game magazine in the world, we had to go out and actually buy a reviewable copy of this game. And do you know why? Because whoever made this game knows what they've done. The Cat in the Hat isn't a failure that comes from ineptitude. This is an expertly calculated attack against happiness. The word evil doesn't begin to describe it. Neither does the word plorkenshit, but to plorkenshit's credit, I just made it up and it wouldn't be fair to judge it by the same descriptive standards as real words. My point is this: someone or something deliberately packaged fear and despair into a Gameboy cartridge. I don't care what anyone says, no matter how clumsily they screw things up during the design process, no group of Earth humans could ACCIDENTALLY program the eighth layer of hell into a game. That's the accident equivalent of 300 counts of date rape. I'm not saying it's impossible, it's just going to take one hell of an explanation when you get caught doing it, Cat in the Hat. Or should I say 300 Time Date Raper: The Game?
And am I the only one that noticed that Mike Myers in the Cat in the Hat makeup is a childhood vision of horror? If this god damn nature-taunting cat man was a howling scorpion with my father's face riding the blood-soaked ghost of Joseph Stalin I couldn't be more terrified of it.
Compared to The Cat in the Hat, I give this game seventy Fanastitrophies for Excellence out of a possible none. Do the math on that - it defies the laws of trophy, and yet here we live in the twisted bizarro universe where it happened. The fact that it simply is not The Cat in the Hat makes it a tie with all the other games that are also not The Cat in the Hat for my favorite ever. This scared me. Without my ability to hate games in different amounts, I thought my career as a game hater would be over. But thanks to Time Boat 30XX, I was recently visited by an alternate me spectre from a timeline where Cat in the Hat was destroyed before it could taint video game rating systems as a whole. He let me know that Spy Muppets License to Croak was an uninspired series of mini games that argue with themselves over whether they're confrontationally boring or just regular boring. So if you need something to help you sleep or always wished you liked the Muppets less, try it out.
In the intro I said that the Cat in the Hat thing wasn't that big a deal, but I totally love that shit. Most of the things I write don't have much more effect on the world than giggling, so when I can make a PR company refuse to let the press review their game, I'm like, "I did something!" It's probably the same feeling some idiot somewhere feels whenever the words DO NOT ATTEMPT appear on his television.
Maybe my proudest effect-of-journalism was when I mocked the company Pyramat. They make these fucking nerd chairs filled with speakers and vibrators, but decided to market them exclusively to Vanilla Ice. Their pamphlet read like an instruction manual on using urban lingo to look desperately unfamiliar with urban lingo. It was written by martians who learned to talk from BET children's programming. In GMR magazine, Erik and I used lines from it as a running gag through our entire E3 2003 article. Yo, take a look at it, playa dawg!
Word all the way up, I say, playa. Well, Pyramat read it, so next E3, they had a giant stack of pamphlets that now looked like this:
When they handed me the new version, no one at their booth seemed impressed that I was personally responsible for their new press material, now with 50% less retard. And if anyone at Pyramat is reading this: that shit is still wack, holla yo, dawg.
In the Nickelodean Rocket Power Review, I equated the game's controls to screaming at a Gameboy while it bounced around a dryer. This was relying way too much on the reader conjuring some kind of funny image out of that, so I decided I should retire my hyperboles about how badly a game responds to the player's fingers. Until now: controlling that game is like being Dr. Stephen Hawking's thumb wrestling coach.
In the Justice League Chronicles game, the reason I made fun of it is also the reason I loved it-- eskimos. When I was a kid growing up in eastern Oregon, our standardized tests had a race box with only three choices: you could be White, Black, or Eskimo. I had no idea who decided a third of their options should be devoted to eskimo, but checking the Eskimo box was funny to me for about 10 straight years. And judging by all the maybe-I-shouldn't-have-done-that letters I got for pacific islander scholarships, I had a very bright future as one of their people. Or as they say in eskimo maybe, click fish click! hahaha, are they a race? I don't even know if that's racist!
Originally appeared in issue #176