Rated PG-18 - Crystalis
Requested by Sniper Joe
There's no reason to debate it. Everyone knows the human race is doomed. If it's not some zombie virus that gets us, it will probably be robots, AIDS, robots with AIDS, a giant meteor that may or may not set itself on a collision course with Earth as a result of the actions of a long-haired goth fag, or nuclear war started by computers or Russians. With AIDS. After that, it's all up to the apes. But what I didn't know was that the process already started in 1997, when savage war broke out and destroyed civilization. To be fair, I wasn't watching the news all that much back then, and between my constant game playing and constant intoxication, the only contact I had with the outside world was adult films, so it's easy to understand my confusion since Cinemax soft-core adult movies haven't changed at all since 1997, so I still have little reason to believe it ever happened. But the people over at SNK tell us a different story. A story of life and death, prophecy, pyramids, swords and sorcery, zombies, robots, wizards, and wizards who were robots all along. A story in which the Messiah is not the guy who the Jews killed and the last laugh was on them because it was all to forgive our sins by design all along, but is in fact a purple-haired teenage girl in a miniskirt. This fascinating revelation is only the start of the brilliance that is Crystalis.
These man-tigers just mind their own business. But KILL THEM FOR THEIR MONEY.
Developed by SNK in 1990, shortly before the emergence of the almighty Neo-Geo, Crystalis took the typical dark future scenario common in many games and movies of the time and managed to fit it into a medieval adventure format. According to legend, after the tragedies of 1997, mankind, which is now apparently devoid of negroes, rejected all forms of science and built a giant floating tower "to oppress evil forever." Now, for some reason, once you get to the end, you'll find out it's full of killer robots and a laser-powered, self-sustaining killer supercomputer. Now, I'm not saying that's a stupid or hypocritical move or anything, but I'm guessing what was left of humanity after 1997 consisted entirely of idiots who managed to get their hands on jet-propulsion technology.
SURVIVOR A: "Hey, check out these parts. I bet if we could put them all together, we could make a pretty bitchin' army of killer robots or something."
SURVIVOR B: "So uh... why would we build killer robots if you said earlier science was bad?"
SURVIVOR A: "No, dumbass. We'd program them to KILL science. I just put this laser gun on this robot's hand and turn it o-- FUCK!!! AAAAGH! MY FUCKING KNEE!"
SURVIVOR B: "Hey look, these parts FLOAT! What if we made a whole building with this stuff? It would be like... uh... a floating building!"
SURVIVOR A: "OW. FUCK. UHHHH.... Goddamn, that shit hurt. Fucking science! Hey, you know, that's a good idea you had. I bet we could put a bunch of these robots in the building and like, you know, have that shit float around killing science!"
SURVIVOR B: "So uh... wouldn't somebody have to get into the building to get killed by the robots? How would they do that from the ground?"
SURVIVOR A: "You're so fucking stupid, it's stupid. Stupid. Remember there's that one supercomputer we found? The one that learns shit and said if it had any power, it would slaughter all of us like the scum we are? I bet if we put that thing in here, and it saw all that other shit out there, and it saw people doing fucking SCIENCE, it would get fucking PISSED and tell the robots to go right over and fuck all their shit right up."
SURVIVOR B: "Uh... why?"
SURVIVOR A: "'Cuz I hate nerds."
SURVIVOR B: "Yeah, me too. I guess. But I thought Booger was cool for a nerd. Remember Revenge of the Nerds?"
SURVIVOR A: "I hate you so goddamn much."
Now, somewhere in this chaos, there was also somebody who foretold of the Messiah. You read that right. SNK is siding with the Jews on this one, at least to the point where they wrote in that somebody told somebody about Jesus being dead, but that Jesus wasn't the Messiah after all and that SHE would be one of those dime-a-dozen teenage Japanese girls with purple hair and a miniskirt. She would also come with a pink-haired teenage boy with a sword about his own body length. I have no idea where in the Talmud it tells of this happening, but then again, I haven't really read all the way through it, so I have no frame of reference. Somehow, that makes me a lot less angry at the Jews in The Passion of the Christ. Then again, it's more likely that the "somebody" who foretold of this prophecy was a crazy, drugged up homeless guy sitting by the fiery drumcan in the alleyway by this one 7-Eleven I used to go to. That guy was fucking nuts. I remember he used to run around biting people.
Anyway, long story short, an evil empire rises up, oppresses everybody, and plots to find and kill Mesia, who, it turns out, is just a cleverly-named girl and nothing like Jesus except for the purple hair and miniskirt (according to my sources, anyway), but that won't stop the empire from killing her in the same fashion. Therefore, it's up to you, the teenage swordsman, to find Mesia and defeat the empire. Plot twists ensue (hint: robots).
Once the human race gets really bored, they start building death robots and towers.
Crystalis follows an overhead view adventure format similar to The Legend of Zelda, and gameplay doesn't stray too far, either. There are several RPG elements, such as talking to townspeople, upgrading weapons and armor, and leveling up and getting money by killing monsters. There's probably a social message in there somewhere, since most of the "monsters" early on don't even attack you, implying that it's okay to kill and rob things that look different from you, which I've lived by ever since 1990. There are plenty of secrets, special items, and key points to interact with people, although discovering when and where to go to discover these will prove as frustrating and vague as taking driving directions from an old man with Alzheimer's and a speech impediment.
Crystalis is definitely a full-on adventure game, but almost all of your time will be focused on combat. From start to finish, once you've spent all of the 2 minutes you'll need in the first town, this game takes it to you with swarms of enemies, although the difficulty of these will seem nonexistent at first. Once you think you've built yourself up to a respectable level, however, the curve steepens at a disturbing rate, and if you don't pick up on the little tricks to the very first boss, he'll have his way with you within seconds. Gameplay remains in a fast-paced "panic" style the majority of the time after this. Many enemies fly around ganging up on you like wasps, and even if you've made it seemingly far into a certain stretch, the wrong moves in close quarters will leave you wondering what killed you. It's the kind of game where you're always weaker than the enemy, and heavy buildup is necessary just to survive.
It's not as if you'll be completely defenseless, though, since your pink-haired warrior is lightning-quick and capable of dealing major damage to the opposition through a unique combination ofZelda's "shooting sword" and Mega Man's "charge shot." If you can manage enough time to stay still, each of your character's 4 swords may be charged up to 3 levels, with the third being a devastating attack that typically spans most or the entire screen. The 8-directional movement and attack controls are flawless, and you'll find plenty of scenarios where fancy juke moves and "stick and move" strategies pay off. Adding to your arsenal are the numerous power-ups, magic, healing items and upgrades in weapons and armor (even though any and all armor looks more like a fur-trimmed pink jacket on-screen). Later on, you're able to jump, float, deflect certain shots with a magic barrier, and even fire rapid shots without charging. In the final stretches, your character will become a pink badass, but so will the enemy. It's a great time to go back and show the guys who used to kill you easily (and, if the game had a voice feature, probably would have talked shit the whole time) just how much you've grown. "Whose mother is a fat cock-swallowing cunt NOW, you FAT COCK-SWALLOWING CUNTS?! DIE DIE DIE YEAAAAAGH!"
SNK usually had a tendency to make arcade/Neo-Geo games featuring cutting-edge graphics and top-notch sound, and Crystalis is no exception. Everything in this game is bright, colorful, and richly detailed, and you won't find a bad music track in the entire game. If you can get over the character designer's love for the colors pink and purple or find the irony in a young man who kind of resembles cotton candy holding a sword beating the shit out of huge guys decked out in spiked armor, you can appreciate what the game brings to the table. Hell, most everybody accepted a fat midget stabbing a man-pig to death, didn't they?
Crystalis is an unforgettable experience that never got a sequel, which is a shame, since roughly 95 percent of SNK's Neo-Geo library consists of dime-a-dozen fighting games. If you loved the combat and searching elements of The Legend of Zelda, you don't want to miss this game. Go find it.
You just know this thing will fire lasers at some point. Blow it up for the hell of it.