Dennis: Hey boss, I'm done with that game you wanted me to design.
Nintendo Boss: Dennis, you're the janitor we found at the circus. You're not supposed to be designing games.
Dennis:Yeah, but I just had all your programmers finish up that game where you read tarot cards.
Nintendo Boss: You're not just fired, Dennis. Your kids are expelled from school, we're taking your wife's hair, and you're putting your genitals in this paper shredder.
Dennis (?): Dennis? Ha ha... I'm not Dennis. Dennis doesn't have... he doesn't have... a moustache!
Nintendo Boss: Dennis. You're holding a finger under your nose. (Or is that just what he wants me to think?)
The cartridge wasn't intended for people under 14, which is sad because those are the only people who might have believed this voodoo Nintendo shit. The manual made it very clear that you were dealing with supernatural forces that might try to eat you, and most of it was taken up with disclaimers. When your TV summons a demon or turns your legs into goat-legs, the makers of TABOO were not legally responsible. Here's a sample: "No responsibility is accepted in any form whatsoever relating to TABOO and any such effects influences or miracles incurred divulged resulting or directly connected with TABOO whatsoever." So not only do you have to be older than 14 to buy it, you have to worship the devil to like it, and you have to be a lawyer to fucking understand the instruction manual.
During a rare moment of non-lawyer non-satanic babbling, the TABOO instruction manual says very clearly, "USE TABOO AT YOUR OWN RISK." You're not scaring me, TABOO. I stopped believing in magic Nintendos when I discovered the fishing line my brother was using to make it fly around like that. A few pages later the TABOO manual taught me, "There is no such thing as luck, there is only chance, and what chance do you stand!" But you know what's even less likely to exist than luck? A Nintendo that can tell the future. I don't think a game claiming to be a time machine has any right to say there's "no such thing" as anything else.
So I'm the emperor, and the cartridge is the high priest? Fuck that. I'm the emperor, and the cartridge is my harem girl. And after I'm done with that, I'm the emperor and the cartridge is my royal toilet paper. In fact, as the emperor, I'm sending a warning out to the kingdom that the next person that brings me a Nintendo game and calls it a high priest gets this sceptre so far up their ass... that... they're better off... keeping it up there! Because it would really hurt to pull it out again with that knobby part so far up there.... I... I'm not a very good emperor. But since my court is made up of Nintendo cartridges, my only real emperor duties are dusting every now and then and storing them in cool, dry places.
Let's assume TABOO was a faithful recreation of tarot card reading. Would you take metaphysical advice from someone who got their guidance from a video game? Imagine it; you wander into a sideshow tent to get your fortune read and you find a gypsy playing Nintendo. And instead of turning it off and getting out her crystal ball, bat wings, and deck of cards, she presses RESTART. There's a line where eccentricity turns into "fucked up." It sort of takes the mysteriousness out of tarot cards. Telling your fortune on a Nintendo is like conducting a business meeting from a big wheel. I guess it still works if you don't mind looking like an idiot.
You: Hi, can you tell me my future?
Gypsy Lady: Oh, sure. Let me take out Baseball Stars.
Gypsy Lady: Oh, I was using my Ninte-- my Tarot Card Database to play... baseball.
You: Is that a Nintendo?
Gypsy Lady: Yeah, kind of. I like to call it TIME MACHINE.
You: I like to call you Gypsy Lady, but it looks like you're a stupid bitch.
I don't need my Nintendo channeling Satan. And kids shouldn't either. I don't want grandma saying, "Merry Christmas, Billy. This isn't like your other Nintendo games. This summons the mysterious power of our dark lord to predict the future. Now, share with your sister, especially the goat's blood that comes with it."
Who would want this thing anyway? Gypsies are the only people who use tarot cards, and they don't have electricity. You can't plug a Nintendo into the back of a donkey. You can, but the only thing that's going to get turned on is the donkey. Besides, what gypsy can afford a Nintendo and a fifty dollar cartridge? When you're living in a tent paying for crystal ball repair with money you got from selling stolen children, a Nintendo is a beautiful distant luxury. Gypsies are hoping to someday own a toothbrush. Not to someday transfer their tarot card collection to the same mystical device they play Rad Racer on.
It was nice the pagan mystics finally got together and made a game about their proud religion, but they screwed it up. To see how, you need to look at fellow superstitious crazies, the Christians. The Bible games were all just Mario with a bike and necktie rather than a plumber's outfit, and instead of saving a princess, he was trying to find a crystal that would stop people from seeing boobs. If you pick up a Christian game for just a minute, the only hint that it's a God game is that it's not as good as a regular game. Between the levels there's some God crap, but the Christians really tried their pathetic best to make the non-God parts fun. They didn't make the entire game about passing out pamphlets or turning pages in the Bible.
The pagan mystics weren't as clever. TABOO is just the tarot cards. They didn't stretch it out to be about a commando in space collecting the tarot cards. They made it about flipping over cards and looking at those cards. Maybe we would have bought it if there was a bonus game about rolling dice. Or maybe a tarot card game where you're a tiny pterodactyl in a go-kart fighting your way through the belly of a monster with a flame-thrower. You give us a game like that, and between levels your gypsy fortune-telling ass can go on and on about all the damn tarot cards it wants. That's how you make a game about metaphysical beliefs, you damn witches.
"If Taboo: The Sixth Sense is not working properly, pierce a baby with an icepick and draw a perfect circle with its blood around your Nintendo Entertainment System(tm). Chant verse 7:32 from the included Funtime Satani-Chants chantbook, being careful not to slur any words. Beginners may need to cut their tongue in half bilaterally for proper pronunciation. After you're done, store the remaining baby in a cool, dry place."
One of the nice things about tarot cards is the detail in the illustrations. The perfectly rendered moan of agony from the Hanged Man, the painstaking care in the Devil's scrotum. In Taboo, all the cards are reduced to bad pictograms. For example, the four of swords is a crappy little sword stuck in a card with the number four flying above it. And I have a feeling that even that hurt the head of the satanic gypsy game designer who had to think it up.
The game is less fun than regular tarot cards, unless you're using the edges of the cards to slice open the skin between your fingers. Then they're about even.
Spiritual Effectiveness: 2
For Entertainment Purposes Only: The Taboo Instruction Manual
Caution! Evil forces surround Taboo: The Sixth Sense ROM