GAME REVIEWS

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Measure of a Turbo Badass


Typically stereotyped as unwashed misfits and greasy-haired castoffs, video-game players nonetheless fancy themselves the boldest of blokes when putting a blade to a notorious boss or venturing through a famously difficult area. It's no surprise, then, when a victorious adventurer pumps his fists in joy or emits expletives denoting utter, hard-earned triumph. While it's debatable how much real-world applicability lies in the brands of skill, perseverance, and problem-solving ability required to slay a Gleeok or smash a Goomba, there certainly is some element of each of the aforementioned traits on display when a game-based challenge is overcome. There's no need to mythologize the feats of gaming nerds, but there's nothing wrong with these "heroes" giving themselves a small pat on the back for overcoming daunting odds in breaking through pixelated obstacles.

Of course, there's only so much satisfaction to be had in gloating over the crushed corpse of a Ganondorf. Conquerors seeking accolades find that their tidings of accomplishments are received quite warmly on the internet, the figurative kingdom for a noble knight of gaming. And when assemblages of glory-seeking geeks exchange ledgers of their achievements, feelings of competitiveness and compulsions to one-up one another develop covertly beneath the obligatory "Congratulations" messages. Contests are inevitabilities in such environments, with the participants as fired up for score swapping as they would be for any anticipated real-life event.


A stoked nerd prepares to annihilate his competition in a Spriggan high-score contest.

Indeed, emerging from a forum showdown with a blue ribbon to flaunt becomes such a priority for proud game-war battlers that they frequently resort to dishonest means in the name of achieving notoriety. Ignorant or dismissive of the sad element of irony that accompanies their actions, our fire-in-their-eyes heroes don't hesitate to save-state their way to a deceptively high number of clears. They devote more time to studying tactic-revealing videos than they do to sussing out enemy patterns on their own, with top-tier scores to show for their "efforts."

Well, these gaming Mark McGwires can have their asterisk-saddled records. Those looking to take a virtuous path to game-dweeb glory can accept the challenge laid out here by the biggest Turbo nerds of all: The Brothers Duomazov. Make legitimate runs through the games enumerated in this altogether goofy (but valid and substantive) piece and your accomplishments will have trumped what even the most devious save-state abuser and Youtube surfer can boast about. Your bronze bust will have its place in the halls built in tribute to the greatest PC Engine-playing badasses.

I suppose we shouldn't present a list of trials without first explaining how said list was conceived. Let's establish at once that consensus as to what merits a praiseworthy accomplishment means little to us. Any warrior worth his game pad will tell you that Exile: Wicked Phenomenon can be completed by an utter clod provided that said clod is capable of being patient and putting in the slightest bit of thought for the sake of outwitting dopey enemies (regardless of how many hits those plodding enemies can withstand). And this list is not simply some "toughest games" compendium. It's hard to get through 250 rounds of BoxyBoy, but there isn't much virility involved in examining a bunch of grids for the purpose of placing squares atop dots. True warriors know how to prioritize, know that in some endeavors lies greater glory than in others. We must keep in mind that accepting and even overcoming a challenge does not a badass make.


Only one of these gun wielders is truly a badass.

In case the above visual demonstration fails to make our parameters clear, I'll now spell them out in the most overt way. Conquer the games we list and you will have displayed the following qualities that any true badass must be in possession of:


~ DETERMINATION ~
No matter the length of your résumé indicating previous achievements, some tasks will require of you that one thing feared by pseudo warriors everywhere: practice.


~ FORTITUDE ~
Bona fide gaming champions can't simply pick and choose the challenges they accept. Sometimes, enduring unimaginable pain is necessary for them to prove their true mettle.


~ INTELLIGENCE ~
Warriors of legend didn't simply maim and murder. They were sharp enough to discern the correct path to travel, clever enough to perceive the light of a solution in the most opaque conundrum.


~ GUTS ~
Difficult stages and enemies tend to get inside players' heads after dealing them a few heavy thrashings. Those who don't wilt in the face of the seemingly unvanquishable are those who stand a real chance at achieving greatness.


~ TALENT ~
Brains, heart, persistence... yes, those are all wonderful things. But there's nothing that can replace innate skill. And there are few things that can beat refined skill.

And now to present the twelve games that stand between the standard sour-faced, poor-postured nerd and Turbo immortality. Slaughter the dozen and you will have displayed an incredible blend of the virtues cited above, hence proving yourself worthy of PCE avatarhood.


~ SINISTRON / VIOLENT SOLDIER ~
You'll make it past the halfway point and believe that victory is at hand. Then a savage storm of asteroids will obliterate you. VS's merciless take on the final level allows for not a single instance of lost focus.


~ RAYXANBER II ~
Quips voiced by legions of incompetent players account for Ray 2's reputation for being unbeatable--and those brutes haven't even made it to the game's greatest stretches of horror: the web world of the fourth round and the narrow corridors of the sixth.


~ THE LEGEND OF XANADU ~
Simply overcoming the language barrier can prove too daunting a task for adventurers unable to read Japanese. Fiddle your way through overworld fetch quests to access surprisingly difficult sidescrolling strips. It'll be your wits, not your blade-wielding skill, that you'll need to rely on in the fiendish (and famously enormous) final tower.


~ ASTRALIUS ~
As horribly painful an experience as you are ever likely to endure. A flutist-led covey of inept weaklings and mollycoddles contends with bands of brutal adversaries while you yourself cope with unforgivable design flaws.


~ LAST ARMAGEDDON ~
There are ways to break the game and render the initially formidable enemy forces hapless and helpless. But chicanery won't get you through the billion-hall dungeons or enable you to locate obscured event points.


~ MIGHT AND MAGIC III ~
The sheer size of M&M3's world and the depth of its play system will annihilate the aspirations of faux warriors before they even have the chance to engage the unfathomably powerful beasts who reside in the trap-laden labyrinths.


~ ALTERED BEAST ~
Those raised on the leniency of the Genesis rendition are in for a horrifying surprise with the unforgiving, thought-demanding HuCard version. A trip through the CD take--that of the castrated bosses--does not suffice for the attainment of badassery.


~ SHAPE SHIFTER ~
The crybaby killer. Great rewards and an incredibly tough final boss (who crushed even the designers who created him) await those willing to wipe away the tears and put in a little practice.


~ NEXZR ~
Approach this no-nonsense shooter impetuously and you'll be stomped on at once. Figure out when to depend on your reflexes and when to utilize stratagems, and then hope that the schemes you've come up with suffice.


~ SUPER RAIDEN ~
The final strip of this ten-level marathon is patrolled by villains who harbor no pity for those who make a single misstep. One lapse is all it takes for a player to find himself with no other option but to begin the long journey anew.


~ TATSUJIN ~
Mini-boss bands fire projectiles that surge through space at ridiculous speeds. There's practically no time for you to react to the attacks, let alone counter them effectively.

There you go: the twelve games that constitute the most intense test imaginable of a Turbo player's staunchness. (And no, our count is not off: Sinistron and Violent Soldier are considered separate trials due to certain differences between the two.)

Now to coronate the true badasses and do away with the pretenders. Count up the number of cited games you've cleared, and proceed to find out your standing within Turbo-badass hierarchy.


~ SISSY ~
0 games completed
The Mousse rating means you'd best stick with the "charm," flutes, and lollipops of harmless SNES titles. You can't cut it in the realm of the PC Engine.


~ POTENTIAL BADASS ~
1-3 games completed
The Ranma rating means you may have crashed your way through a shooter or followed a walkthrough to the end of an adventure, but you've still got some work to do before earning respect from the elite.


~ DEVELOPING BADASS ~
4-6 games completed
The Janne rating means you've made progress worthy of commendation. Your ability seems obvious, but it's not yet clear if you possess but a specialized brand of talent or if you can overcome a variety of the Turbo's greatest challenges.


~ POWERFUL BADASS ~
7-9 games completed
The Higgins rating means you've established yourself as a force to be reckoned with. You're on the cusp of keeping company with the most mythical of Turbo warriors.


~ MEGA BADASS ~
10-11 games completed
The Guy Kazama rating means you are a true legend in TurboGrafx circles and one of the mightiest heroes ever to have torn through a video adventure.


~ ULTIMATE DUOMAZOV-LEVEL BADASS ~
All 12 games completed
The Lee Pappas rating means that you are worthy of Turbo deification. Even the most famous of all Turbo champions, the Brothers Duomazov, would accept you as their comrade in game-nerd battle.

The only players known to have achieved Duomazov-level badassness are, well, the Duomazovs themselves. For those who aspire to reach an unreachable level of excellence, your quest now lies before you. It's time to discover exactly what you're made of... but, you know, don't forget to have fun and not drive yourself crazy while trying to conquer games that are nearly unconquerable. Otherwise, you might end up like this guy:


And that wouldn't be a good thing.

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