Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Chapter XVI: Satan

I remember my wife saying once: “I’m glad I was born a girl. Being a guy must be awful, with all the fighting and the need to show off all the time”. Even though I’m not going to agree with her, because I’m also pretty satisfied with my gender, I do understand those words. Every morning after waking up, we knew that there was a high chance that we were going to trade fists with some other kid at some point during that day. There was some sort of unspoken and unwritten hierarchy that every kid at school understood.

This hierarchy meant that at the top stayed the kids that feared no other. These were the coolest ones that everybody wanted to hang out with. Usually they weren’t bullies or anything like that. No, this hierarchy worked a bit like the ladders in games like Hearthstone or League of Legends, where everyone fights only opponents on the same level. I remember knowing at every time which kids were exactly at the same level as I am, which meant that sooner or later I knew with which one I was going to be trading punches with.

"Snatcho". 'nuff said.
Obviously this didn’t mean that we scheduled duels at sunset in the presence of a witness or anything like that. Regularly some sort of spark was needed to kindle all the aggression, and usually this meant football, other kid’s incitements, or in most cases, both.

There was a kid that lived near me, which we’ll call him “Manny Lancelot” that was usually at the other end of these provoking schemes. Even though we were pretty much neighbours and Boy Scout mates, we never really got along. Not that we were rivals or anything, we were just not meant to be friends.

 The football field of our neighbourhood had dirt terrain and was usually filled with dog poo and other garbage, so every once in a while instead of playing in that minefield, me and all the other kids went to a nearby plateau already in the countryside which was the closest to a turf in our hometown. Playing there usually meant lots of aggressive sliding tackles, which was something we couldn’t do on the dirt field. I honestly don’t remember who started, if it was me or Manny Lancelot, but I do remember rolling around the field trading punches while a cacophony of screams and angry excited faces surrounded us.

Eventually we stopped. There were no feelings of triumph or humiliation. We were just tired and probably wondered why we were fighting in the first place. I know this sounds cheesy as hell, but that was exactly what happened. The other kids eventually dispersed and went back to the game, while I asked Manny Lancelot if he wanted to come to my place and play some games.

On our way back, both of us with mud on our shoes and pants we discussed the whole affair of what happened earlier. “They’re all assholes” said Manny. I told him to forget about. I had this new game at home that someone borrowed to me that I hadn’t tried yet. It was a legitimate copy with a colourful box which was something very rare for me, and I was curious about it. It made sense to share that moment with Manny, as from that moment I felt that there was no reason for us to not be friends.

That game was Satan. No, not metaphorically. “Satan” was really the name of the game. I don’t remember much about it, except that it wasn’t very good and had a lot of jumping. It didn’t matter because we both had fun, and it was a fitting finale for that day. I supposed this would fit perfectly as a script for some of those moralist 80s cartoons like “Fables of the Green Forest” where every episode ended with all the animals becoming friends at the forest clearing.

But this wasn’t an episode of that particular cartoon, so I and Manny Lancelot didn’t become friends after all. But even so we gained a respect for each other and there wasn’t going to be any kind of bad mouthing from some other mean spirited kid that was going to make us fight again.

Even now, when I return to my hometown to visit my family, sometimes I see Manny Lancelot  passing on the street, and he still shares a polite nod followed by a warm smile every time. He’s a good man.

So far, this is one of the games played for this blog that I remember less about. The first menu was a surprise right out of the bat. Even before the title screen the game makes us choose a class, and little I knew what a big difference it would make. But first I went with the warrior, and right after starting the game, most of my not so fond memories came right up. I do recall this graphics and this gigantic HUD that was so prevalent in platformers of the time.

First impressions aren’t exactly bad. The game plays like a mix between Rastan and Gods, and although the graphics are ok, some details seriously hurt what could be an enjoyable simple game. As I said earlier, the game relies too much on jumping and that is its main problem. In many parts we are presented with leap of faith situations that makes our character fall to its doom most of the time. Besides, like Gods, it’s impossible to change direction while jumping, which means that any jump must be well aligned to the wall rocks that our warrior must grab on in order to succeed. I lost every life due to misjudged jumps and not while on combat, which in itself it’s a sign of a game that just isn’t any fun.

At least he falls to his doom with style, in a firemen pose.
The combat is kind of weird since there isn’t any animation for the knife throwing that is our character’s attack. Since knifes are throwing in mid height, this gives the impression that we’re throwing knifes through our penis, which kind of gives a new meaning to the expression “penis-pointer”. So, most of the enemies weren’t exactly a challenge to our hero mighty penis. Most of the problems they provide come from respawning out of thin air and hurt a little of the energy bar in the process, but even then that wasn’t enough to kill the character.

There are some power ups to enhance the “knife” of the warrior, be it through powering up speed of them or giving a spread shot. Unfortunately power ups are lost when losing a life, which is a feature that is usually prevalent in shoot-em-ups that I usually hate. Also, it’s important to mention the rocks that fall every once in awhile that function as traps and like many other aspects of the game, just ruin the little fun that could be found on it.

So after this forgettable experience I had to reset the game to see if the Magician was any better. The biggest surprise of the day came right there when I realized that it was a whole different game! And a much worse one! No wonder I didn’t remember anything about this part of it. Or maybe my floppy was corrupted.

I know this doesn't look that bad
In this “Satan: The Magician Videogame”, the graphics are more vibrant and colourful. It’s weird that this so called magician is using a gigantic axe and a shield. Maybe he failed his final exam and is disallowed to use magic, or he used to be a rich hippie kid that preferred to use an axe to live like the simple poor folk.

Right after starting there is a shop to equip our character which is another good sign. I like these shops that were quite common in games of this kind as they offer a little bit of strategic depth when it comes to power ups. Unfortunately everything crumbled afterward. The first foe was a boss on itself, and not a particularly fun one. He looks Satan-ish enough, which is ok and serves the game purpose. But by looking at the HUD I realized immediately what was coming up. This is kind of a boss run where I have to defeat seven satans (good name for a 70’s occult rock band right there), while rescuing the wizards that are scattered through the level.

I always wanted to have an Advanced Satan Scanner. Maybe next Christmas
I had to defeat Satan nº1 (I have to sign a patent for this name...but I still don’t know for what kind of product) to see if what came after was any better. Well, Mr. Satan nº1 splits into two winged demons like if this was a game of Asteroids, and I died right after. While it would have been amusing to see the offspring of Satans nº 2 and 3, I gave up right there, since this Magician game is terrible.

Another mention must go the grating sound effects that make me almost wish that my neighbour’s house was on works. The sound of a wizard hostage being killed is particularly dreadful, and enough for me to get bad vibes for the rest of the day. There’s also no in-game music, but given the context maybe it’s for the best.

Satan indeed.

Sandwiched between two gargoyles. I'm sure he would rather eat Brussel sprouts

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