The Adventures of Rad Gravity has a funny Wikipedia entry. It says that the game had “a wacky storyline,” and that Activision inserted “humorous antics” into the game. While this is true on the surface, the article fails to recognize a very important element of the game: the fact that it is about a goddamned space psychopath. The game tries to make it out like you’re just a big headed, silly space hero, and at first that seems to be the case, but when you actually play the game, you realize that you aren’t firing your “space phazor” at “alien replicoids from beyond the moon” or some silly camp stuff like that. Look at the title screen:
It looks like a fun, silly space game. Everything is cool, you get your text opening, and you beam down to a planet. Everything seems cool:
Wow! It almost seems cute! Who could think something like this is sick? After you beam down you end up on some planet.
Hmm, this city seems a little dirty, sleazy even, but I’m sure it’s just a weird design. Also, have you noticed every cyberpunk work always has neon lights with Asian characters in them? It’s a fact. I wonder why people in 1993 thought Asian type would be the chief written language in 1997. I guess that’s the kind of odd delusion you get when you set impossible future fiction 4 years in the future, like so many cyberpunk artists did. For something so cool, it had a fuckload of problems. Like cyborg Billy Idol.
Anyway, everything looks totally (wait for it) RAD (FUUUUUUCK YEAAAAAAAH PUNS) until you try to attack an enemy. Look at Rad now:
It’s hard to tell with that screenshot, but that isn’t a laser or something. That is a knife. Not a space knife. Just a fucking fixed-blade knife. Rad Gravity isn’t a fun campy hero. He is a goddammed space psychopath. I can’t even figure out why he went to this planet, except to stab MC Hammer backup dancers. I guess that’s pretty respectable, but still, a knife? He could at least use a gun, make it quick and painless. If you kill someone with a knife, you fucking enjoy it.
Anyway, this game is fairly decent, I suppose. I can’t figure out any point to it other than to brutally gut a bunch of space Vanilla Ice rejects. It’s nice to see where games like Manhunt got their start, though.
(I know I promised an article every day. And I’m sure most of you expected me to break that promise very, very quickly. Technically, I did not have a substantive article up on 4/19. However, I published it before I went to sleep, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s close enough to “on time”. Hopefully the waiting increased the enjoyment. Otherwise, I’ve got no case.)
What follows is a transcript of the remarks and thoughts of the first Americans to play Super Mario Bros., George Brenner and Joseph Redding, in late 1985. Their comments helped justify Nintendo’s decision to bring the NES to America the next year.
Takashi Nozawa, Nintendo VP of Marketing: We are pleased that you have decided to test our product to see if it is correct for the American market. We understand that the market for video game products has crashed in the United States, but we would like to assure you that our Family Computer is perfect for the American consumer.
George Brenner, Investment Manager, Sears: Well, keep in mind we were the ones who chose to sell the Atari 2600 through our department stores. I don’t think anything could top the demonstration they gave us. Between Star Ship and Race, I felt like I was living in a futuristic wonderworld. I couldn’t sleep for 15 whole days after I played it.
Joseph Redding, Investment Manager, Sears: I literally shit my pants when I saw Math. Literally. I was both amazed at the incredible technology in front of me and terrified to think that it could lead to me spending my golden years being hunted down in old age by a squad of impossibly intelligent SuperBabies raised by their Atari 2600 overlords to enslave mankind.
Takashi: Haha, yes, well, hopefully you will not have the same concerns with our products. *puts copy of Donkey Kong Jr. Math in garbage can* Perhaps you would like to try our flagship game, Super Mario Brothers?
George: Sure. What do you play as? Tanks, spaceships, or dots?
Takashi: Actually you play as a little man named Mario.
Joseph: That would be dots, then.
Takashi: Actually, no. He is a plumber with a mustache from Brooklyn.
George: Oh, I know. I saw the instruction manual. I meant what do you play as in the game.
Takashi: As did I.
George: HA! You’re good people, mister. But you and I know I’m not gonna be able to tell a person AND a mustache AND a hat apart on a character in a home video game.
George: Sweet fucking Jesus.
Joseph: Oh my god.
George: Look at all of those colors. There are… there are like 10 colors on the screen right now.
Joseph: That’s… that’s not possible. THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE. HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT?
George: Joseph, CALM THE FUCK DOWN. There’s no way everything can be this impressive. Holy… look at how fluid that movement is. I can’t… how are you doing this?
Takashi: I take it that you are impressed.
Joseph: Takashi, I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to be honest. Are you a witch?
Takashi: Hahaha, of course I am not. The solution is more simple that that. We at Nintendo have worked very hard on the hardware architecture of our Family Computer, or Famicom, as we call it. The efficient design allows the system to have a considerable amount of power while still being easy to program for, which allows us to create a large library of games both through our own research and development teams and through our third party designers.
George: Third party desig- WHOA JUMPING INTO THAT FUCKING BOX JUST MADE IT POP OUT A COIN OR SOMETHING. Third party designers? Atari had problems with them. It’s not fair that someone can just come along and make a piece of software for your hardware. They should make their own hardware if they want to release software.
Takashi: Well, that is where we hope to succeed where Atari failed. We have licensed out the rights to our hardware technology in order to be able to profit from third party software while still enjoying the expanded software library that results from having several developers.
Joseph: That’s retarded. It only takes a week, or two at the most, for a guy to design a game, you should just hire their developers and have them crank a few out every month. Then you get 100% profits.
George: What are these green things?
Takashi: Ah, those are pipes. Mario can travel down them. Try jumping on top of that one, then press down.
George: Ok… I guess I can…
Joseph: NGGHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA *jumps out window*
George: JESUS CHRIST JOSEPH! OH GOD WE’RE ON THE 85TH FLOOR!
Takashi: I’ll call the emergency services! We’ve got to get down there to help him!
George: Ok, sure, but right now my first priority is making sure we finish this deal.
Takashi: But.. your friend! If we hurry we might be able to help him!
George: If I leave this room for even a second someone else could just waltz right the fuck in here and buy this. No way am I going to take that chance.
Takashi: Fine, fine, what can you offer us?
George: If you allow us to sell this game in our stores I will give you the information for the company bank account. You can take out whatever money you want whenever you want.
Takashi: Are.. are you sure? It seems like you would at least need to contact your home office to authorize a deal of that magnitude.
George: To hell with the home office. I WILL NOT MISS OUT ON THIS OPPORTUNITY.
Takashi: Fine, fine, we accept, now we have to go help your friend!
George: You have to promise me, PROMISE ME, that NO ONE ELSE will sell this product.
Takashi: Mr. Brenner, I must insist we help your friend!
George: PROMISE ME!
Takashi: We will attend to it when we get back! We must go now! *runs out door*
The tape ends here. However, the rest of that day is forever known to history. Joseph Redding died after plummeting 85 stories to his death,having been unable to accept the tremendous increase of technology between the Atari 2600 and the NES. Takashi Nozawa got an enormous bonus for the tremendous amount of income the Sears deal resulted in for Nintendo. He bought his own series of islands and retired at 26. The NES went on to become one of the most successful and beloved video game systems of all time. And George Brenner? Although successful for brokering the deal with Nintendo, Brenner unfortunately became more well-known on December 12th, 1985. On that frosty December morn, 87 men, women, and children were killed when Brenner lost his mind in a K-Mart Department store upon seeing that, despite the contract he thought he signed, the NES was available for sale at stores other than Sears.