The Gaming Dead. We take a look at the software endorsed by celebrities who are no longer with us *sob*.
Peoww is written by nostalgic types for nostalgic types which is fine and dandy as long as you realise that, in gaming terms, retro means 80s. Personally, I don’t care much for the 70s as, all things considered, they were shit (crap hair, crap clothes, crap music, dead Jimi Hendrix, dead Bruce Lee… oh man they were horrible). Luckily I missed most of what was happening in the 70s on account of being under six years old. As for the 90s… well I’ll dabble with a bit of Mario Kart or Pilot Wings but that’s pushing the retro angle a little. Retro-gaming has its home in the 80s.That means that retro-gaming to me means Jet Set Willy, Kung Fu Master and maybe a little bit of Mr Do’s Castle. It does not mean Tomb Raider. In fact if Tomb Raider was the first thing you ever played then this whole site probably isn’t doing much for you right now and also, more importantly, you missed out on some of the most playable games ever made. You can keep Fifa 200…whatever, we had Sensible Soccer. In fact, forget football, we had HyperSports. Owned!
But for all your silicon-enhanced female game characters and fancy polygons you have got one thing over on us. An extra decade’s worth of time on this planet. Yep, by the time Fifa 2050 comes out we’ll be dead. Sure, you’ll be 70 and as good as dead but you’ll be able to do a little arthritic dance of spiteful joy on our graves. Lucky you and you didn’t have to waste 10 mins of precious lifetime every time you loaded your favourite games… oh man, we’re the ones who are ‘owned’!
So in recognition of time’s slow, unstoppable march onwards we have decided to look into the past at some gaming icons who are no longer with us. Sniff!
5 – State Funeral
5 – Oh god no…. NOOOO!
Frankie Goes To Hollywood (ZX Spectrum)
Okay, I know what you’re thinking… Holly Johnson’s not dead is he? Or is he? Well, oddly enough the five members of the two-fifths gay, five-fifths scouse 80s-synth pop combo don’t actually feature in the titular Frankie Goes To Hollywood game. Nope, the eighties itself is the star here and amongst all the iconic atmosphere of the decade we come across Ronald Reagan.
I’m sure he needs no introduction but to sum it up he was a b-list actor who became president and was generally a bit of a knob. Having rolled his seven after a lengthy battle with Alzheimers, his passing was marked by no-one here in England. Well apart from Margaret Thatcher but only because she was a bit of a knob too.
Getting back to the game, this ambitious title was a kind of arcade-adventure-whodunit with various sub-games and a really bad maze section. Ron featured in two of these sub-games. First up was the ‘Shooting Gallery’ which had you taking potshots at Ron, Maggie and Arthur Skargill (I think…) and it wasn’t actually that bad although it was totally outclassed by Hypersport’s fantastic skeet-shooting event.
Secondly we had the ‘Talking Heads’ game (pictured: left) which had Ron spitting bullets at Gorbachev the then Russian Premiere. To do this you had to dissolve a wall with your spit-bullets (god, I miss the 80s) in order to drench Gorby in gob. This part isn’t actually too bad with Gorby making a suitably tricky opponent, for a while at least.
To this day, no one is actually sure if this game can actually be completed but the mix of vibrant graphics and varied, and fun, sub-games does make it a bit of a classic even if it is the strangest license for a game ever.
Game – 4
Flunky (ZX Spectrum)
When Princess Diana died it sent a nation into a state of horrible trauma. Not because of the death itself, but because of Elton John’s god-awful tribute single that got played on the radio every thirty minutes. The day that man dies the better but lets move on. Flunky’s dead celeb is Diana, the doe-eyed princess of hearts herself.
Flunky puts you in the shoes of a royal butler who is given several bizarre tasks by his employers. Still rather that than speed through the Paris streets I guess. Five royals feature in the game (although any 2-for-1 dead celeb hopes were dashed when the Queen Mum wasn’t included) and are excellently characterised in Don Priestly’s well-loved vivid graphical style.
Diana is, rather unflatteringly, portrayed as bald and asks you to find her wig which frankly is one of the most frustratingly difficult things to get in any game. Still it’s all quite nice and cheerful even if the balance shifted a little in favour of graphics over playability.
As with most of Don Priestly’s games the sheer size of the graphics can make for some slow and clumsy gameplay but this does remain one of his better titles and the royal setting makes for some moments of great humour.
Game – 3
Bruce Lee (Commodore 64)
Okay, let’s break the Speccy death monopoly for a while. As a Bruce Lee fan I’m sure I’ll be able to appreciate this game on any format, even the Commodore 64. Well, as it happens the C64 version is actually pretty good. The sound is nice, the levels are just as I remember them, the Green Yamo is green (always a bonus) and the controls are… well… passable. Not nearly as crisp and precise as the Speccy version but thats the price you pay for colourful graphics I guess.
Bruce Lee was pretty much just a cheap beat ’em up/platformer cross over but it worked. With only three enemies to contend with (the Green Yamo, the stick ninja bloke and the big boss chap) the emphasis really was never on combat but Brucey gets to let rip with some punches and flying kicks (very nicely implemented in a decent floaty kung-fu on wires type way in this version).
The game wasn’t based on any particular film, although Enter The Dragon was clearly an influence, and this game is pretty much just Jet Set Willy on beansprouts but it’s still pretty special. Not as special as the beloved Speccy version but still a fitting way to remember the greatest martial artist ever.
Game – 4
Denis Through The Drinking Glass (ZX Spectrum)
You are reviewing a bunch of retro games featuring dead celebs. You can see a DESK, a COMPUTER and a copy of DENIS THROUGH THE DRINKING GLASS. Exits are SOUTH.
what do you want to do?
> Review Denis Through The Drinking Glass
I cannot do that.
> Play Game
I cannot do that.
> Load game
I cannot do that.
> Load Denis Through The Drinking Glass
The game loads up. It is a text adventure of frankly shoddy quality featuring Margaret Thatcher’s dead alcoholic husband Denis Thatcher. Your aim is to escape from Margaret and consume vast amounts of alcohol. However, the parser is so fiddly that it is almost impossible to guess what it is that you are meant to type. To make matters worse the game allows you ten turns between drinks which is not so good if you waste nine of them trying out variations of verbs.
What do you want to do?
> I want to cry blood.
Yes, this is what the author must have intended as the game is so utterly unplayable that it must have been actually written by a self-aware Commodore C-16. This game actually hates you.
what do you want to do?
> Piss off
Oh grow up!
Game – 0
Resident Evil (Playstation)
This seminal zombie game finally escaped from Capcom’s ‘rehash it til it dies’ blueprint when 2005’s frankly staggeringly good Resident Evil 4 was released. Everyone loves Resi 2, of course, and Code Veronica still has it’s die-hard fans on the Dreamcast but for many gamers the original Resident Evil remains untouchable. Even the onset of old age can never dampen memories of cacking it when those dogs jumped through the windows and everyone remembers the first time they ran out of ammo in a room full of zombie folk.
Of course Resident Evil only barely qualifies for retro status having been released as late as 1996 but deserves a mention for a) being brilliant and b) featuring a dead celebrity. Yep, step forward Gregory Malcolm Adams, the original Barry Burton. Yes, the man who voiced ‘Jill, here’s a lockpick. It might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you’ is dead and it’s a tragedy.
Thankfully, his infamous voice acting with outlive many an actor’s body of work. Gregory, we salute you. Have a Jill sandwich on us.
Game – 5