3/2 Propaganda A-Go-Go

Star Fox 64 (Promo Tape)

     Remember the Ultra 64? Not the N64- such a name doesn't capture the scope of the great things the version of the system that never even existed was capable of. Nintendo Power would print six pages of spreads of microscopic, fuzzy screen captures vomited across some kind of cool photoshop effects background, with a couple boxes of scanty, teasing text.

     And do you remember how big the gap between that and the actual games was? The blocky adventures of Dash Rendar in a flat-textured part of Hoth; majestic pointysaurs wandering the misty temples of Turok; and of course, Robotech: Crystal Dreams, the anime-inspired mech simulator that begun with a crisp capture of a Valkyrie fighter and was supplemented by worse and worse quality visuals until the game vanished from the 'coming soon' list- all were part of Nintendo Power's struggle to promote the next generation in expensive cartridge based retina scarring.

     Eventually, once we were desensitized by their text (I think that happened to me after a few optimistic looks at Rise of the Robots persuaded me to get the game) they resorted to the tactic they employed with Donkey Kong Country: sending free promotional videos out to subscribers. But where the DKC video was mostly a tour of the RARE offices interspersed with cool wireframe gorillas and game clips, the Star Fox 64 tape and its successors leaned towards b-movie style insanity. With a combination like that, how could I NOT watch it?

      We open, as all cinema classics do, with an insidious plot by two bumbling morons to kidnap a Nintendo 'test pilot.' (As established by studies conducted by Seanbaby and the Reilly Insistitute, it hasn't been proven that jumpsuits have any effect whatsoever on your ability to play Nintendo, though it's highly possible that the addition of a loud vibrating motor combined with the phallic middle prong of the N64 controller required additional protection.) These thugs consist of a thin balding guy in a Sony short and a tubby lummox with his gut hanging tantalizingly out of his Sega tee, tooling around in a white van marked 'diaper service.' The test pilot, Peter, himself looks like the offspring of Luke Skywalker and Captain N the Game Master. He enters on a stock-footage parachute and lands rather close to a solid building. Nintendo's quality control is apparently more painstaking than the N64's EA-based lineup would have you play. The goons employ that time honored anaesthetic method of a cloroform-soaked rag, implying that the van ride to Abandoned Warehouse Sound Stage might have involved sodomy.

     He comes to, faced with rigorous questioning by the larcenous chums. Their brutal interrogation methods consist of asking a question, then moving on after a G-rated snappy comeback, or childish mocking. Every line spoken by both parties is über-enunciated and accompanied by mugging that would make the Great Shatner flinch.

SONY GUY: "We... hear you got some new games coming out."
PETER: "Could ya be a bit more specific? We got a lotta new games coming out."
SEGA GUY: "'Wee gutta lutta nyuu games cumingyauut.' Nyeeh."

Holy crap.

After a few dead-end common logic questions, they decide to kick it up a notch by putting Mario's head in a vice. Now, while this isn't actually a human being or anything, the combination of the Mario doll's dead eyes skewing in the vice with the horrifyingly hammy screams from Peter and the Sega/Sony guy's overdone villain laughter does make for a chilling scene. Finally, the pilot spills his guts as much as he feels like, and tells them that in order to find out the specifics of the Rumble Pak, they'd have to ask Bob. And so they do so.

     Once again showing off Nintendo's lax security, the Goons deliver a pizza to Bob at the R&D department. A pizza filled with sleeping gas! Whatever. Once we return to the Mads' lair, we see Peter has gone completely to the dark side and is now lounging comfortably with some of the laced pizza. Bob inadvertantly spills the beans about... THE RUMBLE PAK, proving himself to be even less trustworthy than Peter, and making his prior assertion that "Bob would kill me!" seem downright weak. When Bob refuses to divulge the secrets, Sony and Sega Guy torture Mario with jumper cables. During this second 'horrific' sequence, we watch the Mario doll doing a little seizure dance while Bob screams "OH NO THEY GOT THE MARIO DOLL HOOKED UP TO THE BATTERY CABLES AHRMPLHFGH!" I'm still suprised that he could say it that clearly given his cracking an obvious grin of sheer terror.

Just ignore Sony Guy's tongue hanging out in the upper left.

     From here, the competitor's plot becomes even more suspect than it already was. They cross the room to where they have not only an N64 set up, but with a working copy of the yet-unreleased Star Fox, and four controllers- with Rumble Paks. So, rather than reverse-engineer the captured and probably yet-to-be-liscensed goods, they instead to choose to capture one of Nintendo's skydiving game testers and a man who seems to be more of a walking security risk than a developer. GO SEGA, GO SONY. Sega guy dicks around Level One and manages to die slamming into a rock, going on about how he can FEEL the impacts. They then proceed to be UTTERLY WOWED by the four-player mode. For those who skipped SF64, the four player arenas were tiny squares with four identical structures in the middle. These could be archways, or even floating rectangles!

     Anyway, as should be expected, the Nintendo guys cream their opponents, and evidentally win their freedom via some agreement that must have been cut out from the final print. Bob& Peter then trample upon the downtrodden goons by showing them footage of upcoming awful games, including a very early build of Ocarina of Time simply dubbed Zelda 64 (as was the tradition with all their previous games.) As they walk out, with not only the precious Mario doll but Sony Guy's megaphone, they taunt their captors with:


BOB: "See ya later... fellas!"
PETER(through megaphone): "Yeah, later-- BOYZZ!!!"

     They then look at each other and proceed to crack up completely. They also direct them to their homepage for more information that could have been readily gleaned without resorting to kidnapping. I suppose this sort of waste of money on subterfuge might have lead to Sega's downfall as a console producer, but the Sony guy must have passed the blame onto the guy who didn't speak English seeing as how that company is still alive and well.

      This program brought to you by Nintendo... POWER.



The Cast

Sony Guy and Sega Guy- The elite forces of Nintendo's competitors; they lurk in the shadows waiting to steal any secrets they can from unwitting Nintendo game testers. Sony Guy kinda looks like Rob Cordry and is the brains of the outfit; Sega Guy is the muscle or at least doughy bulk.

Peter- A Nintendo uh, 'test pilot.' He cracks under pressure and with the promise of pizza. First seen parachuting from the sky. What that has to do with playing Star Fox...?

Bob- The top secret researcher/ programmer/ wtf-ever. He gleefully reveals the secrets of the Rumble Pak.