The greatest game… ever? (and WOTD bonus!)

March 4, 2007

From VH1’s I love the [insert decade here] programs to the many other shows featuring has-been, b- and c- list celebrities, it is clear that we live in a culture that is eminently conscious of its own recent past, the retro. As a result of pandering to these self-referential sensibilities, retro-remakes are abundant in many media, and computer games are no exception. Recent remakes have included 80’s staples such as Pong, Pitfall, and Dig Dug (but not Wall Street Kid), and typically feature graphics that are often as crappy as those in the original products. Yet, out of all of these unimaginative remakes, comes a game which not only bucks this trend of carbon-copy remakes, but fulfills David G. Roskies’ criteria for “creative betrayal,” when an artist re-imagines the works of a previous generation or movement, and in so doing, creates a new work that often surpasses its predecessors in terms of quality or even perceived authenticity.

Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden (trailer here) is a vibrant pastiche of early 90’s role-playing games such as SquareSoft’s Final Fantasy Series and Enix’s Dragon Warrior; indeed, many of the sprites look as if they have been re-purposed from games like Secret of Mana, and the combat system is nigh identical to that of most of the early Final Fantasy games. The game also steals classic plot elements (freedom fighters, repressive governments, mythic destinies, etc.), but rather than politely rehashing them, it outnumbers them in the transition, makes a fast break-away, and sticks it to the hoop — perhaps the provided plot synopsis explains best:

“The Great B-Ball Purge of 2041, a day so painful to some that it is referred to only as the “B-Ballnacht”. Thousands upon thousands of the world’s greatest ballers were massacred in a swath of violence and sports bigotry as the game was outlawed worldwide. The reason: the Chaos Dunk, a jam so powerful its mere existence threatens the balance of chaos and order. Among the few ballers and fans that survived the basketball genocide was Charles Barkley, the man capable of performing the “Verboten Jam”…

Flash forward 12 years to the post-cyberpocalyptic ruins of Neo New York, 2053. A Chaos Dunk rocks the island of Manhattan, killing 15 million. When the finger is put on the aging Charles Barkley, he must evade the capture of the B-Ball Removal Department, led by former friend and baller Michael Jordan, and disappear into the dangerous underground of the post-cyberpocalypse to clear his name and find out the mysterious truth behind the Chaos Dunk. Joined by allies along the way, including his son Hoopz, Barkley must face the dangers of a life he thought he gave up a long time ago and discover the secrets behind the terrorist organization B.L.O.O.D.M.O.S.E.S.

While I think that should probably speak for itself, I would be remiss not to have some kind of criticism. There are a number of irritating diatribes against American video games that the player must slog through whenever trying to save the game (these would have been relevant had the game itself come out in the early nineties, and if they are meant to be ironic, they do not succeed in conveying the fact).

Bottom line: In order to heal your character, you must drink Ecto Cooler. End of discussion. Download the demo now.

BONUS WOTD (courtesy of Merriam-Webster, as I don’t have a complimentary OED subscription)

pastiche.

1 : a literary, artistic, musical, or architectural work that imitates the style of previous work; also : such stylistic imitation

Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden is a pastiche of early Squaresoft games such as Final Fantasy.

2 a : a musical, literary, or artistic composition made up of selections from different works : POTPOURRI b : HODGEPODGE

Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden is a pastiche of early-nineties role-playing games.

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One Response to “The greatest game… ever? (and WOTD bonus!)”


  1. […] Original post by YesterdayâÂÂs Salad […]


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