Friday, February 8, 2013

Cyborg Justice: Omastar I have not laughed this hard at a game in a while

at 12:14 PM
Because I'm a hip and hoppening d00d (or just because it snowed and my phone GPS wouldn't work), last Saturday I skipped out on a blogmate's party (hi Andrew!) to stay in, play MAME, and watch The Muppet Movie with a different blogmate (hi Greg!) and my girlfriend (you don't get a shout-out). The Muppet Movie remains one of my all-time favorites. It is extremely good. A filmic revelation - no - a filmic expression (a bad enough joke between even the two people that understand it, I thought that one was ripe for publication).

The twist here is that as much as I delighted in Fozzy's terrible jokes and Gonzo's terrible mental and sexual affliction, earlier that very night I laughed almost equally as hard at a peculiar Genesis game upon which Golem and I stumbled. While I'm doing shout-outs, let me give credit to the YouTuber whose list of "Criminally Overlooked Games" led me to Cyborg Justice. While IMO most of the games he lists are minor curiosities rather than forgotten treasures, Cyborg Justice is without a doubt a true gem. And I mean that in the worst way imaginable. You really need to experience this for yourself - words don't do it justice. No - words don't do it... Cyborg Justice.

Here's a potential definition of good control I'm just gonna scrape off the top of my head: the ability to subconsciously recreate a consciously desired outcome. That is, you should never need to think about which buttons to press - optimally, you desire a maneuver, then your hands and the controller automatically do the work. I don't remember whether it was Golem or I who said it, but the agreed upon description of Cyborg Justice was: "I have no idea how to do the move that I just did". This could perhaps serve as a definition of BAD control. Or just bad interfacing in general. Take, for instance, the Talking Heads classic "Once in a Lifetime". Remember the part where David Byrne says:
"And you may ask yourself: 'How do I work this?'
And you may ask yourself: 'How did I just do that move?'
And you may tell yourself: 'This is not my Streets of Rage 2!'
And you may tell yourself: 'This seems to be Cyborg Justice!'"

Admittedly, Golem and I made no effort to seek out the manual, but why would we? That would take away all the fun. Cyborg Justice is a game where you have no idea what anything means or does, where you can hardly tell yourself apart from the enemies, and where missiles fly all over the place - at ALL times. It also has a preposterous soundtrack and introduction, and one of the worst heads-up displays I've ever seen. Look at those fucking monotone life bars and the system-font numbers beside them - HomeVresion had better than that (high five guy!). The lack of production value there wildly contrasts with the ridiculous number of animations each cyborg possesses - which probably explains why every sprite in the game is built from the same handful of arm/torso/leg pieces.
Some delusional fans INSIST that this robot from Wreck-It Ralph is a CyboJust reference, though I don't see it
My head wouldn't explode or anything to learn that the game was the work of some experimenting digital artists/animators, though it puzzles me why such a thing would be on a console like Genesis. Even more perplexing is that Sega themselves published the game. I know there was less quality control in the early '90s, but Christ Almighty. The hallmark of this game is the feeling that it was designed by people who either A.) thought they were so far ahead of everyone else that they could completely revolutionize control or B.) had never played a game before in their lives. Why didn't Sega come in and say "hey guys, this is neat and all, but check out this game called Streets of Rage. You might learn something from it.". Why am I acting surprised that Sega made a single bad decision? They made thousands in 1993 alone.

So who the hell are Novotrade, esteemed developers of Cyberg Justice? Without putting on my research pants to watch some credits (viewers at home - PLEASE do not try to watch credits without your research pants), I'll just check out their library on Wikipedia. Assuming they ever did another game. Here we go! They're - yikes - Hungarian, changed names to Appaloosa, and are most famed for... wait a minute. Ecco?! These are the guys who developed Ecco the goddamned Dolphin?! Sure that game makes no sense and isn't any fun to play, but it was still popular and actually has some really cool ideas. Was NOT expecting that - though maybe it explains why they thought they could revolutionize beat-em-ups. No wonder Sega was happy to publish this refuse. Aside from that series, looks like they handled mostly licensed properties, particularly hilarious ports like the Amiga version of Castlevania, the Game Gear Adv. Batman & Robin (a great game on SNES and Genesis), and some depressingly received PSX Contras. Not to mention a holy-shit-I-need-to-play-this-now Magic School Bus game. And, wow, who wouldn't be proud to have their name in the credits of this:
"So we destroyed our brains and made this game"
If you do anything this weekend, be it bar-going, train-hopping, fancy-pantsing, or just plain old American breathing, remember: you could be dispensing Cyborg Justice.