?If you were fortunate enough to have a Commodore 64 in the 1980s, you were given the opportunity to experience home computing that was truly groundbreaking While BASIC programming and BBS communication had — and, to some degree, still have — their diehard fans, gaming was where the computer truly shined. The C-64 offered up a diverse array of titles from all genres that rivaled (and eventually surpassed )what was available in arcades. The amount of titles officially available combined with the ease in which floppy disks could be copied and the rise of software cracking outfits from all over the globe resulted in access to a huge lineup of games that was otherwise unprecedented in the pre-Internet era.
But as anyone who every typed in “Load “$”, 8″ into their Commodore keyboard will be quick to point out, there’s rarely a link between quantity and quality. For every The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Ghostbusters, it seemed like there were a hundred lesser titles that did little more than squander the goodwill that gamers may have had for the movie or TV show from whence they were spawned. It often seemed like the worst releases for the C-64 for were those based on existing properties. Terrible cash-in games are bad enough, but when they are cash-in games that should never have been made in the first place? Well, that’s another matter entirely. The 11 properties showcased in today’s Daily List fit into this category. They aren’t horrible per se; it’s just that they aren’t the best or most likely candidates for being translated into an 8-bit gaming experience. In fact, I’d say they were completely unnecessary. But don’t take my word for it. Read on, and decide for yourself.
11) Challenge of the Gobots
?Everyone knows that Gobots were given to kids whose parents were cheap or just didn’t love them enough to spring for some Transformers. The same line of thinking applies to ancillary products featuring Dr. Braxis and the rest of his second-rate associates. As a mediocre shooter, the Challenge of the Gobots game is just okay. It’s serviceable entertainment that will keep you distracted for a few minutes while you secretly dream of playing Activision’s superior (although frankly still not that great) C-64 game, Transformers: The Battle to Save the Earth.
10) Spitting Image
In America, the Spitting Image puppets are best known for being featured in Genesis’ fantastic music video for “Land of Confusion.” But in the UK, the show that spawned them was a success for much of the Reagan era (proving yet again that Brits can never get enough Thatcher and Rambo jokes). When this was released in 1989, the humor of the game was already staler than a Murphy Brown repeat and as such didn’t quite impact the pop culture zeitgeist the way it would have a few years earlier.
9) Perry Mason: The Case of the Mandarin Murder
?Ever wish that your Commodore 64 could replicate the boredom of spending a Saturday night at your grandparents’ house? Then check out the sublime tedium of Telarium’s Perry Mason: The Case of the Mandarin Murder! By all accounts, this is a solid crime procedural game that more than honors its namesake’s long-running TV series. A series which began in 1957. And ended in 1966. In the Venn diagram of “people who enjoyed the original Perry Mason series” and “people who played computer games in the mid-’80s”, I would think the crossover has to be pretty damned small.
8) Cool World
?I actually paid to see Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World in a theater. All I can remember about the experience is that one of my friends fell asleep during it, an occurrence that was likely repeated by any of the poor souls who sat down in front of the flick’s videogame counterpart. Recommended only to those desperate to see Kim Basinger’s cartoon doppelganger rendered in 8-bit graphics (and I’m pretty sure some of you are out there right now).
7) The Dallas Quest
Unless your name is Bill Haverchuck, you probably don’t have any desire to check out this bizarre cash-in to the Dallas phenomenon that is just as incomprehensible to me as the existence of M*A*S*H action figures are. One positive thing that I can say about this game is that it has the most insanely joyful ways to die this side of The Oregon Trail:
?See? After watching the above video walkthrough of the game and seeing how it features such batshit crazy aspects as dancing girls and a tobacco-chewing monkey, I have a newfound respect for it. By the way, did the series ever feature a statue that looked like Brian Blessed as a plot point? If so, I’m totally getting the DVD sets.
6) Give My Regards to Broad Street
?Years before The Getaway, this self-indulgent game (based on the self-indulgent film of the same name) allowed players to travel around London in order to recover bits of Paul McCartney’s schmaltzy gem “No More Lonely Nights.” Again, I’m not sure exactly how much crossover there was between Commodore 64 owners and Beatlemaniacs who loved the flick so much they would buy this game, but I’m guessing it was fairly low.
Smurfen is a rip-off of the Smurf Colecovision game that replaces the original’s music with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It’s unclear why this action was taken, though I’m guessing that the person responsible for this epic was making a statement on the interchangeable and disposal nature of 1980s pop culture. That or he just really appreciated how rad the tune sounded when recreated in the SID format. Obviously, this game was never officially released. It initially spread through floppy disk copying and trading and BBS bulletin boards. Thanks to the Internet, its copyright-infringing wonder will live on forever.
4) Howard the Duck: Adventure on Volcano Island
While spitballing ideas for the Howard the Duck movie, Willard Hyuck and Gloria Katz kicked around the idea of setting the film in Hawaii. While that idea never came to fruition on the big screen, it almost certainly inspired this weird videogame sequel. Full disclosure: I am actually quite a fan of the Howard the Duck comic and the box office dud it inspired. So the biggest disappointment for me is that this game really could have been something special for the five fans that the movie actually has. The graphics and sound are both great, but that’s where the positive attributes end. The plot involves another Dark Overlord somehow returning to Earth to kidnap Beverly and Phil and take them to a volcanic island. Is he doing this to get revenge on Howard after the events of the movie? As someone who loves the movie so much that “Hunger City” regularly scrobbles on my last.fm page, even I can’t be bothered to care. Level after uninspired level, Howard must avoid annoying obstacles, use his Quack Fu to defeat various opponents and fly an ultralight plane before reaching the final level and fighting the Dark Overlord (who is lamely wearing a lab coat a la Dr. Jennings instead of the creature’s monstrous true form as seen at the end of the movie). After defeating him, a medal is shown on screen and the game ends. No reunion with Beverly or Phil. No fun scene of Howard rocking out with Cherry Bomb. Nothing more than a lame final screen and the kind of ennui that comes from secretly acknowledging that you are wasting your life.
3) The Rocky Horror Show
Unnecessary? Totally. But Richard O’Brien’s cult classic actually made for an entertaining game that was surprisingly good. In adherence with the film’s gender-bending milieu, the game allows you to play as either Brad of Janet. The purpose of is to gather pieces of the De-Medusa machine so that you can rescue your better half from his or her stone prison. What sounds like an easy task is quickly complicated by other characters from the film who either want to spew familiar lines at you or steal your underpants. Irreverent and totally in the spirit of the source material, The Rocky Horror Show is a game that shouldn’t exist… although I’m sure glad it does.
2) Benji’s Space Rescue
?As if Joe Camp’s Benji franchise wasn’t milquetoast enough, the damn dog went starred in an educational game that Moby Games describes thusly:
“As Benji, your mission is to save a number of scientists that are being held by robot drones somewhere in the solar system. Once they are on board, you take them safely back to Earth. This can be done by going into the engine room and selecting the planet of your choice, and you can modify the warp and jump settings to get to the planet faster or slower. When cruising the planet’s surface, your ship’s alarm will sound if it detects enemy movement. This is followed by the drones chasing you and shooting you with their lasers. While fighting the drones, you can use the keyboard’s function keys to either fire torpedoes or phasors.
Also while transporting scientists, you must supply them with rations in order for them to survive. You are constantly running out of fuel, meaning that you need to stock up while orbiting space. Higher ranks have you rescuing more scientists and navigating an asteroid field. You have a specific number of star days to rescue the scientists. If you run out of time or fuel, the game will be over. The higher the rank, the more difficult your rescue mission becomes.”
Okay, so the part with the lasers and the robot drones sounds cool for sure. But then the game gets bogged down in the minutiae of keeping the freeloading scientists alive. That’s when the realization dawns on you that this isn’t a videogame, it’s a fucking homework assignment. Lemonade Stand was tedious too, but at least it taught some real world lessons. And look how small the ship Benji is rescuing scientists in is. I don’t know about you, but death seems preferable to having my nose crammed up some mutt’s asshole.
1) Popeye 3: Wrestle Crazy
?I can think of no better way to wrap up this list than to look back on that wondrous moment in time when the world’s favorite sailor man wrestled aliens. This release blatantly steals from H.R. Giger and the WWF Superstars game. Popeye 3: Wrestle Crazy, consider my respect earned.
Chris Cummins is a pop culture writer and Archie comics historian who has contributed to The Robot's Voice, Den of Geek US, Philebrity, Geekadelphia, Uproxx, and Unicorn Booty. He is the co-producer and co-host of Nerd Nite Philadelphia, and is regularly involved in producing and hosting New York Super Week events. In 2014, Chris began Sci-Fi Explosion, a mix of live performance, trivia and funny clips celebrating the weirdest in science fiction that regularly travels around the United States. He wrote the introductions to the compilations Archie's Favorite Comics From The Vault and (with Paul Castiglia) Archie's Favorite High School Stories. You can find Chris on Twitter at @bionicbigfoot and @scifiexplosion.