In some games you'll find items that explode on you, attach to your face and eat you, or dangle on your pants so you can't hop. But these are bad items that are usually clearly labeled with a skull and crossbones to hint that you shouldn't grab them. In some games, though, there are items just as useless or harmful that they seem to think we should bother to get. These are called Useless Power-Ups. We may never know how some of these useless pieces of garbage got included in our games, but I'll do my best in this article to make sure you never waste your time getting them.
Maybe they're there to punish us for buying their game. Maybe they're a test, or some kind of elaborate trick. Maybe they're there to make the other items look better by comparison, like how old women let their chihuahuas pee on their laps to make their perfume smell THAT much better. Because if you think flowers and rubbing alcohol smell nice, wait until you smell them after sticking your nose in a lap of pee. It's like rosy-scented heaven.
Game: Milon's Secret Castle
Useless Power-Up: Feather
Milon lives in Hudson, a land named after the company that made the game. Be happy, though, the designers almost named the country after their parent company, Grandma Margie's Homestyle GravyTM. In Hudson, everyone communicates with music. Unfortunately, the star of the game, poor Milon, can't. You might think it's because he's deaf or untalented, but I have a different theory. Look at him. He's wearing his pajamas and it's three in the afternoon. If he's not my grandpa, or an escaped mental patient, this might be the first Nintendo game where you get to control a retarded character. You know, besides that bimbo, Barbie.
If you do actually have a problem with the stairs for some reason, there is an item you can find that'll let you ride the elevator -- a feather. To get it all you have to do is go to a different level, wander for hours until you find a shop, and buy it for $35. The shopkeeper promises it will help you LOOSE WEIGHT AND RIDE THE ELEVATORS. Honestly, I think they're just taking advantage of how stupid Milon is. Not that I'm better, I used to sell weight-loss feathers door-to-door in neighborhoods near crossing power lines. I've been trying to redeem it by making this entire article more handicapped-compatible. Maybe you didn't notice, but the closed captioning is built right into this crap. Somewhere right now a deaf person hates Milon as much as me.
Guard: "You're too fat to ride, kid."
You: "Are you serious? I only weigh like 80 pounds."
Guard: "Look. If you want to get your sumo ass on THIS elevator, you need to run to the terminal 2 miles away, find a duck underneath an unmarked seat in an undisclosed gate, and pay him $35 for a feather. Now there are going to be a lot of little monsters trying to kill you, so try not to get eaten. You'll know the duck when you see him -- he's wearing a Hawaiian shirt and speaking broken English. After you've got the feather, come back here, and then I'll let you ride."
You: "Couldn't I just take the stairs? I only need to get two floors up."
Guard: "Psh! If you want to tire yourself, Captain Fitness. But if you're in a hurry, you better shut your pie hole and start looking for that duck."
So you can't get on the elevator without a feather, I guess that's not that weird. Some clubs won't let you inside unless you bring a can of food for the homeless. You know, so that while they're sleeping in a box, they can remind themselves someone out there loves them by eating disgusting, raw creamed corn from the back of your closet. Here you go, homeless, nothing says you care like a can of inedible snot.
Thirty five dollars for a feather? I don't care if that thing is taken from the aftermath of a naked pillow fight between Salma Hayek and Wonder Woman, that's too much fucking money. Wait, did you say that with every purchase I get nutritional WEIGHT LOOS tips from a duck in a Hawaiian shirt? I'll take three.
When I checked Milon's wallet, he didn't have enough money in it to buy the three feathers I ordered. And evidently, they come directly off the shopkeeper's back, so there's no cancellations. I gave him an IOU, and promised to get back before his security repo'ed my hat. While I went through this basement looking for loose dollars, I ran into a beautiful princess. She looked pretty happy where she was, but even so, I figured she'd give me the $105 I needed after a daring Bubble Rescue.
I had no idea it was all an elaborate trap. That "helpless princess" turned into some kind of coneheaded bird/starfish thing hell-bent on destroying me. I knew from high school, college, and summer Adventure Camp that you couldn't trust women, but Nintendo had always been a place where they made sense. A place where they don't spray you with mace when you throw them over your shoulder and "rescue" them. Apart from the deaf retarded kid killing monsters with soap bubbles, this game was starting to get a little too realistic.
Here's the elevator. Not very funny, but it took me like 3 god damn weeks of playing to finally find this place, so it's getting included. While I was here, a duck said to me, "THERE IS ONLY ONE MAHARITO." Earlier, he told me "THE VEST ISN'T 100% AGAINST HEAT." I don't know why all the ducks with shops around here talk like insane sidewalk conspiracy theorists, but it doesn't make me want to buy anything. I've been visited by Jehova's Witnesses who were better salesmen than these guys.
Game: Final Fantasy
Useless Power-Up: The spell AMUT
In Final Fantasy, you had to constantly be looking around for new weapons and magic tricks for your little fat guys, and a lot of them weren't very good. You could get spells that made them levitate so monsters could hit them in the luxurious comfort of 10 inches off the ground, and even buy a club that was blue instead of brown. There was one spell, though, that even made the fish scaler on your swiss army knife look useful.
The damn thing was called AMUT, short for Anti-Mute. It keeps mean wizards from casting MUTE on you which is the spiritual equivalent of "SHUT UP." If that happens, your wizard can't talk to cast his spell and he's stuck hitting creatures with his cute little Bonk Branch. For people who haven't played games like this, no magicians are allowed to carry anything that can hurt somebody. It's true. In 1976 we passed a law that said exactly that to protect us from David Copperfield and Doug Henning. Laugh all you want, but imagine one of them pulling from behind your ear not a quarter, but an EAR BURROWING BEETLE. And if it was that easy for them to take it out, think how easy it is for them to put in. Doug Henning once got searched at an airport and got arrested because of this law. They claimed the desperate starving rabbits he'd forgotten about in his pants were legally recognized as deadly weapons.
The fact is, I played this game for at least 100 hours when I was a kid, and never once did some monster try to magically shut up my Wizard. I really really tried to find a use for it, since it took almost 3 days of killing snakes and dogs to save up the money to buy the thing. I finally invented a game where FOOD would cast AMUT on the other characters, and shout "No MUTE for you! Now you have to tell a secret!" This was way more fun than the game Nintendo wanted me to play, but I honestly could have played it without spending all my money at the magic store. I might as well have bought the mouthwash spell that helps my Dentist (DNTS) character prevent TOTH DCAY.
FINAL ANALYSIS: So this spell makes it so you can keep talking no matter what you're saying. Shit, we've had this spell for a long time in real life. It's called breasts. Did you ever wonder how some women are allowed to go on and on about their smelly candles and pillow fights? It's because of the AMUT's she has on her chest, making this analogy so nerdy my underwear is starting to yank itself up my ass.
Here's my group of little fat guys. Their names are bad since almost every word in Final Fantasy had to be shortened to four letters. FAG.'s name (the one with the feather) is short for Big Fag, but FOOD's name isn't short for anything. Hi, FOOD! Your robe looks great!
It would have taken like 3 days to go through the game just to get a picture of the asshole clerk that tries to sell you AMUT, so I drew this picture instead. It took about 4 minutes.
Special Iconoclastic Note from Seanbaby:
"I know that no matter where we live or how old we are, people are still doing their best to categorize everyone into John Hughes 80s movie archetypes, and this entire Nintendo thing is a dent in image control that's going to be hard to come back from. I don't want any of you dorks thinking you can call me to come over and hit you with cardboard swords, so for 3 months, all my articles are going to be about sports and bar fights. Then it's a week of moody poetry, and finally a bunch of pictures of me in my prom tiara. I'll keep you guessing until I finally let you know exactly which category's lunch table I sit at. I know you're thinking 'heartbreaking rebel,' but you're wrong. Wise janitor. I'm the wise janitor."
Instead of FIGHTing, FAG. decides to pour himself a DRINK during the creature attack. "Mmm! I make the perfect cosmopolitan, girlfriends!" announces FAG. to no one in particular. Later, while he's telling ORKO about a fabulous play he saw, an IMP punches him and the number under his name goes down. "Yawn," I say.
Useless Power-Up: Cloak of Darkness
Most of the items in Wizards and Warriors are barely worth getting. The Boots of Lava Walk didn't seem to be any better than your Boots of Regular Walk, The Wand of Wonder never once made me wonder, and The Feather of Feather Fall had a really shitty name. This is one of those games, though, where it doesn't matter how good you are or what bonuses you collect since you can start again from the exact spot you die as many times as you want. Most games punish you for dying by sending you back to replay a long, tedious level, but Wizards and Warriors thought that making their entire game one long, tedious experience would be better. Anyone who wants to waste an hour of their life can beat this thing, just don't expect a big sense of accomplishment when you realize you did it by hitting CONTINUE 300 times and not having any worthwhile hobbies.
I know every time you pass the girl's locker room, you imagine invisibility as the pinnacle of sorcery, but even that application doesn't work here. Everybody in this game already takes off their clothes even when they know you're there. Of course, everyone naked in this game is either a skeleton or a bat.
You shouldn't even get bonus items in Wizards and Warriors. Instead, the game should print out a coupon you can take to a special store and redeem for a slap in the forehead. This god damn Cloak of Darkness thing is really close to another Power-Up I call "Brother Walking in Front of the TV." The only difference is that I can punch my brother. I can't do that to the Wizards and Warriors programmers since they have the "Baseball Cap of Address Not in the Phone Book."
The Cloak of Darkness in action. Share this tip with your friends to reach new levels of winning gameplay! Notice how after you put on the cloak, you can't tell where the hell your guy is. Don't worry, though. Just follow the swarm of monsters that seem to be able to see you just fine and will gnaw on your fucking acorn head whether it's invisible to you or not.
Notice how without the Cloak of Darkness you have to see yourself die. Is this Power-Up as stupid and ridiculous as it seems, or is Wizards and Warriors forcing us to ask ourselves the classic philosophical question, "Is it better to lack a higher understanding yet be content, or is the higher understanding itself worth pain and torture?" This question got rephrased several years ago with: "Carrot top fans are genuinely happy, but would you trade brains with one of them?" And now thanks to Wizards and Warriors, philosophy students will get to think about this: "Is it worth the luxury of actually seeing where your Nintendo guy is when it means living through the trauma watching him get eaten alive?"
(right) A gift from Justin Bolden
Game: Mega Man 3
Useless Power Up: Top Spin
Killing Top Man was the key to getting Mega Man's most useless Power-Up. The Top Spin took away all the barriers we'd put up between video games and figure skating. Because once Mega Man got this, he got all the deadly attacks that have helped so many homosexuals to gold medals in the winter olympics.
The most important part of the Top Spin is getting to see the rare side-view of Mega Man's sloppy gut. First Adam West, and now Mega Man -- is there any hero that can keep their damn belly from hanging over their panties?
To get the Top Spin, have Alice select the Peter stage (shown above). You may want to go to the Cindy and Marsha stages first to get the Potato Sack Helmet and the Two Dates to the Prom Laser.
Mega Man hops alone, since the enemies seem to know how incredible his new spinning ability is. Who could attack a boy spinning with joy and sunshine? This probably explains how Bryan Boitano never gets his ass kicked.