Wednesday 24 February 2010

The Worst Games I Have Ever Played

Oh, my fucking life, I hate you Mickey Mouse. I’ve never liked you. You were never funny. You were downright irritating from the off with your stupid fucking voice and your gay-arse little red shorts. God, I hate you. Bugs could wipe his arse with you, but he wouldn’t, because he doesn’t need you, because he’s too busy watching Daffy rape Donald.

When I was nine years old, my brother and I were given a present of a Sega Game Gear, which also came with a bundle of three games: the awesome Sonic the Hedgehog, the patchy Golden Axe: The Legend of Ax Battler and the oh-my-god-why-do-we-even-own-this Mickey Mouse’s Castle of Illusion.

The game started with the following text appearing on screen:

Once Upon A Mouse...

Instantly, even at the age of nine, my Cunt Radar went off. Did you get it? Clever, right? They took the classic line “Once upon a time” and changed it to “Once upon a mouse”! They changed the word “time” for “mouse” because...because they’re comedic geniuses, that’s why! They were playing on the similarity between the words “time” and “mouse”! At age nine I was a lot less rage filled than I am now, as my poor young soul had yet to experience Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and the veracity with which other people my age took to them, but even then I knew that was some pretty lousy work.

There then followed a brief animation detailing Mickey and Minnie Mouse frolicking in the forest, when, all of a sudden, the evil witch Mizrabel flies down and kidnaps Minnie. This incites Mickey to go Rambo as only a squeaky voiced, half-naked mouse can. Journeying far to the Castle of Illusions, he bumps into a weird gatekeeper who tells him needs to find the crystals or diamonds or topazes of such and such to defeat the yeahwhateverletmekillsomethingnow.

Entering the castle, Mickey is faced with three doors, which each contain a different world, and all of which contain a crystal or diamond or topaz. Mickey has two functions he can perform, in addition to walking and jumping. Firstly, he can launch a bottom attack.

By double-tapping the jump button, Mickey was able to tuck his knees up in mid-flight and crash on top of his enemy’s head with his butt crack. Now, the “jumping on enemies heads” attack is a staple of platform games, firstly, because it requires some degree of dexterity to pull off, and, secondly (and more importantly) because it’s “non-violent” and won’t upset parents.

Mickey’s second function was to pick up and throw rocks, which he could use to solve puzzles, trigger traps and defeat monsters like a participant in a Disney Dungeon Crawl.

Within the Castle of Illusion, Mickey bumbled and butt-bounced his way through more bizarre realms, including one made entirely of chocolate, and one where there was or two villains in the entire level – both unicycle riding, juggling clowns.

I mean they were clowns riding on unicycles whilst juggling. Not that the villains were sat on unicycles, whilst juggling clowns.

There’s was something about this game that has irked me for years, and it was only really whilst watching the YouTube playbacks for research for this article that I managed to figure out what it was. It’s the downright cockiness of the Mickey Mouse sprite.

He jogs along with a big smile on his face – as though actually pleased that his missus has been kidnapped by an evil witch. To stop, he actually makes a skidding animation – as though he’s offended that you – a mere player of the game, would deign to tell him what to do! Don’t you know who he is? He’s Mickey Mouse, the least funny cartoon character this side of Betty Boop!

I couldn’t argue that Castle of Illusion was a technically flawed game, as it wasn’t. As blatant rip-offs of Super Mario Bros go, it was pretty good – if uninspired. What it boiled down to was, even at the age of nine, I was sickened by the sugar coated cutesiness of it. Mickey Mouse goes around non-violently defeating clowns in a chocolate and marshmallow wonderland? Get me Tex Avery right fucking now!

But, for all that...I still played it. This is because when you’re nine years old, it doesn’t matter how bad the games you have are – if you only have three of them, then you’re going to play them. This is also the only explanation I have for Battletoads.

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