*True story: One day in college I almost got fined $7,000 by the FCC when during a radio show I interrupted the test of the Emergency Broadcast System to announce that killer bees were invading the city. I'm not a very good actor, so I don't think very many people wrapped themselves in mosquito netting and hid in their pools. Still, radio police didn't think it was very funny. I thought you might.
The raisin shit was such a bad idea for a game it never even made it to stores. Don't think it was because someone noticed how stupid it was halfway through making it, or even better -- halfway through the sentence from the guy suggesting they make it. They finished the entire game. It was only after they were completely done when some video game designer finally took some damn responsibility and hid it where no children of American could get to it. I don't know. Or maybe the retail chains refused to sell it. Wal-Mart may sell Who Farted? hats and have an entire section for cow-sized spandex pants, but they at least have enough standards to refuse to stock a Nintendo game about singing raisins. Maybe.
I'm not here to speculate why California Raisins: the Grape Escape was never released. I'm here to give you the investigative reporting you've come to expect from articles like Panda Bears Fucking and Suck This, UNICEF. I'm here to get to the bottom of this mystery, gang. So I started with the same reference material I've used for every article, book report, best man speech, and eulogy I've ever done -- Nintendo Power magazine.
In Nintendo Power's column, GOSSIP GALORE, it clearly indicates that not only is California Raisins coming out in 1990, but it also "sounds promising!" Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that much. Nintendo Power is made by Nintendo, so you sort of have to ignore all the adjectives in their articles. Them saying a Nintendo game looks promising is like Jerry Bruckheimer saying, "The next film by me, Jerry Bruckheimer, sounds like it will be very exciting and great. I also enjoy the outfit I'm wearing. Oh, you're very kind, self." Note: I've blocked out the text surrounding the California Raisins information to help you contain the distracting excitement you would have experienced if you'd read about Capcom's other upcoming game, Duck Tales. I need your mind clear if we're going to figure out why we were robbed of our promising raisin game.
It wasn't long before I started to find signs of a conspiracy. After making thousands of copies and blocking out words randomly for several days, a startling message surfaced. "it looks like Their game, subtitled 'The Grape Escape,' will be kidnapped. It sounds promising!" It was right there in front of us the entire time. Someone has kidnapped the California Raisins; an ironic turn of events and a sign... that we may be in this too deep. Past the point of no return. But how can we find the kidnapper? We have to enter his world. We have to know him.... no, more than that, we have to become him.
I spent the rest of the afternoon arranging complicated lego playsets and simulating possible raisin kidnapping scenarios with a box of raisins and a Hot Wheels van. Am I strong enough to get through it? After this is over, can I go back to being me? Where do I end and where does he begin? An inner voice in my mind speaks the kidnapper's words, "You're cunning, boy. But are you cunning enough to know how you got so close to me? Are you? It's because we're the same, you and me. We've always been, dear boy. Always."
A smaller voice told the first voice to shut up, but timidly. There was no conviction. Maybe because it knew that the kidnapper's words were true. Could we be the same? I absently looked back at my notes and discovered another hidden message I'd uncovered by crossing out words in the Raisin Gossip. "fantastic Raisins will find the prom." I silenced my voices, I had to get ready for the best prom ever!
I set aside the Nintendo Powers to use another source of information. According to VideoGames & Computer Entertainment's COMPLETE GUIDE TO NINTENDO VIDEO GAMES, ONLY $9.50, California Raisins was released, was officially categorized as "Crime Fighting," and was shitty. Especially the violence rating-- only 1 out of 10? What kind of crime fighting game doesn't involve violence? The only thing I can think of is a game where you paint and hang up signs that say, "Please no crime. Thank you!" The mystery surrounding this Raisin game only gets more mysterious as we follow its trail. Bonus forensics evidence: the full review from V&C's CGTNVGO$9.50.
I apologized to my Nintendo Powers and reassigned them as my star witnesses. There weren't any more articles in them about The Grape Escape, but they were able to give me the contact information for Game Counselor Jeff Hazard. He just might know something.
I called the Nintendo offices.
Receptionist: "Good afternoon; Nintendo. How can I direct your call?"
Seanbaby: "I don't have time for games. I need weight lifting dirtbiker Jeff Hazard. The Haz."
Receptionist: "I'm sorry, it's the year 2000 and a person can no longer make their living by being good at Dragon Power. He and all the other Game Counselors no longer work here. I can connect you with his voicemail if you want."
Seanbaby: "Less talk. Do it."
Receptionist: One moment please."
Seanbaby: "This message is for Jeff 'The Hazard' Hazard. Nice profile. You know, if you wanted to sound tough, you should have listed 'karate' as your hobby like the other Game Counselors. We might believe that. But weight lifting? Come on, Haz. I've eaten sandwiches that are wider than your shoulders. I don't even remember why I called. *CLICK*"
A couple hours later I realized I forgot to ask his answering machine about California Raisins. Not only that, but before I started talking, I think it recorded about thirty seconds of me singing along with hold music. I wasn't about to let my little problems keep you from finding out about a bad Nintendo game based on purple fruit creatures you haven't thought about for a decade, though. I knew I had to call another Game Counselor...
Receptionist: "Good afternoon; Nintendo."
Seanbaby: "Rob 'Patty-Cake Baker-Man' Baker. Now. No fucking around."
Receptionist: "Tell you what. I'll connect you to the same unused voicemail account I did last time, okay?"
Seanbaby: "Don't tell me what you're doing, you bitch. Do it. The world and I don't have time for your little chit chat bullshit."
Receptionist: "One moment please..."
Seanbaby: "... and when the night! Is cold and dark! yeah, We can NEVER SURREN-DER! NEVER SURREN-DA-HER!"
High Pitched Voice: "Hello?"
Seanbaby: "Lady, these games might be fun over at your cushy Pikachu-shaped Pokedesk, but over here in the I-need-to-talk-to-Rob-Baker world, it's pissing me off. Rob. Now."
High Pitched Voice: "Hey, this is Rob Baker. I moved my sleeping bag into this unused office back in 1991. What do you need, buddy?"
Seanbaby: "Robby... ha ha ha... your hobby... p- paper! Paper machι sculpture! Ha ha ha ha ha! oh... shit... ha ha ha!"
Rob Baker: "*CLICK*"
I admit, that call didn't even go close to how I wanted it to. I didn't even know I thought a grown man doing paper machι sculpture was so funny. So I'm sorry, world. That's all the learning you're getting today. This raisin crap is still a mystery to me. I'm just happy they never released it.