3/2 Sucky Space Action: 1-2 Punch!

FOTON: The Ultimate Game on Planet Earth

     Right off the bat, you know there's something severely wrong in the world when a game like Foton claims in its own title, to be the Ultimate Game on Planet Earth. The stupefyingly immodest title alone drew me in, already feeling tinges of expectant sadism. I'm getting all the cracks I can at the title out of the way in the first paragraph here, as it's pretty obvious that any video game calling itself the Ultimate anything is doomed to fail. Much like anything with the word Perfect in it will probably be a showcase of wasted potential.

     You play the part of a little spaceman who wanders around caves, although the spacesuit seems a bit unnecessary if the caves he is exploring are, as the title suggests, on Planet Earth. Maybe he's an alien who can't breathe in oxygen. Whatever the case, he wanders around. In these caves. And everything is in that psuedo-first person, character-relative perspective pioneered in such great games as Goonies II and Dr. (fracking) Chaos. By definition, however, the action is still in the third person perspective, as you can see the little guy in his dirt biking outfit/battle armor walking around and zapping.

The fucking (space) ROACH OF DOOM     Your indefinite goals include collecting Things while shooting other Things. As you wander around (in the aformentioned caves,) you are not suprisingly attacked by everything animate in the world. Among your cunning adversaries are the Reddish Flying Thing, which deviously flies at you in a straight line over and over, the Blue Jellyfish Thing, that rushes in a straight line at you, then bobs up and down shooting at a ridiculous rate, and The Reddish Flying Thing That Comes At You From The Side And Occasionally Shoots Too. As the name suggests, this particular creature deviates from the time-honored method of rushing straight at you, instead coming in from the side of the screen, makes a wide left turn, and exits again after shooting twice. The sheer VARIETY of these enemies is overwhelming. Especially to people who like to compare and contrast the AI of the ghosts in Pac-Man. Once in a while, the Cockroach of Doom will show up as well, usually on the screens where you're near a wall. Seriously, it killed me twice before I figured out I could actually avoid the thing by moving up against the wall and letting it scuttle past. This is because, despite all his sophisticated equipment and la dee da weaponry, he can't shoot sideways. So, if restricted to straight-ahead fire, you can at least turn and shoot, right? Wrong. You can't move and fire, so the crawling bugs coming from the left side of the screen (take my word for it that it's ALWAYS the left side) are free to trample you as they please.

FUCK THE CAVE OF FUCKING ANNOYANCE ARGH DAMN     Are you sold yet on the premise that this is, in fact, the pinnacle of electronic gaming on this world? Or The Ultimate Game on Planet Earth, if you will? No? Then let me enlighten you to the wonder that is the CAVE OF ANNOYANCE. Of all the caves in the game (of which you aimlessly wander about in), the one you enter by falling through the floor is the most, well... annoying. You fall for maybe three or four screens, the walls flashing in wild colors while terrifying, screechy music noodles. I'm not even sure if it qualifies as background music, come to think of it. It's more like the sound the spinning blades of a food processor would make as you scrape the whole machine up and down a blackboard. The image at right fails to capture the scope of how annoying it is. It would probably take a Flash animation or something to get the animation with sound, but Flash animations are generally of higher quality than the visuals in this game.

     If nothing else, Foton: The Ultimate Game on Planet Earth (!!!1!!!) proved that the best way to fail miserably is to aim too high. Kind of like the legend of Daedalus and Icarus, only more like a video game. And this game is more like Daedalus than Icarus, as Kid Icarus was pretty good. Before I try and come up with another horrible metaphor, I'll close by submitting that, if this game sees a next-gen remake (like Rygar- FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE ME BACK GUARDIAN LEGEND IF YOU HAVE THE TIME TO REMAKE THAT), retitle it something modest. Like FOTON: THE MOSTLY INADEQUATE ADVENTURE GAME ON PLANET EARTH. Or maybe Turok 4.




Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum(NES)

Dash Galaxy, special agent or something, faces his toughest mission yet. A rocket explodes somewhere as his car pulls up to the launchpad, flinging him into an action game that pushes the limitations of crappy 80's programming.

You begin in the 'main room' of Floor Zero, where Dash Galaxy hangs out and practices for his future job at UPS. Much like the titular tuber of Amazing Tater, he must push boxes around so he can reach the real levels of the game. For the record, he has a limited air supply even though I don't remember there being any real indication the guy was in space. All there is at the start of the game is a guy's car pulling up by a rocket, then everything flashes. So, I'll do my best assuming to figure out the plot. Chock full of intrigue and danger! In space!

The spaceship is sort of like the galactic zoo from that Superman episode, except the many different species of alien seem to have been replaced by Flying Things and Little Half-Torso Robots. Your goal is to collect all the space doorknobs to open the space doors that will take you back to the main room of the floor. It would probably be easier to just stay in the elevator and ride all the way to the top, but since I lack Dash Galaxy's special Space training, I can only assume his poking his skinny ass into dangerous alien environments to collect trinkets is all very official. I somehow get the feeling this guy went to college. Er, in space.

The first floor has realistic simulated Earthlike environments, but still no oxygen. Which, since Dash doesn't look like he's wearing any sort of space helmet or respirator, kind of makes everything alright. Seeing as how the batlike Flying Things seem unfazed by the change in environment, I can assume the change was made to accommodate the Dangling Slug Things. There are also bottomless pits for the first time in this level, actually making this game more innovative than most. Again- I'm not sure why the spaceologists and space engineers saw fit to build a massive complex to house known hostile species and then add bottomless chasms for them to fall into. I just assume they know what they're doing and continue my mission.

The lasers on this floor look dangerous, but they actually shut down if you walk into their paths. Push one box in the wrong spot and you'll be stuck and have a chance to commit suicide. Seriously. Hit Select and he releases all his oxygen. I don't know why this kills him, whilst celebrating clearing a level by emptying his air tank doesn't. But I'm not a scientist.

I'm trapped in a box. Really.

By pretending to be trapped in an imaginary box, Dash Galaxy evades danger. Just a sample of the adventure to be had. In space! In the future! Dash Galaxy!