For years on end, Nintendo held its spot high atop a mountain of unquestionable dominance with the NES. Genres were created, permanent fanbases grew into bickering and bitter manchildren, and cult icons were born. But for what feels like an even longer run than the NES ever had, industry pundits and internet comedians the world over have maintained that one aspect of the 8-bit juggernaut for endless "games that suck" material: the licensed game. Only through playing the skyscraper-sized stack of licensed games based on movies, comics or TV shows could a player really get a clear picture on whether or not these "qualitatively diverse" titles were among the very best in industry history or a shame to our entire subculture and emotional ammunition in assisted suicide. Oftentimes these games played nothing like their televised or cinematic counterpart. For example, did you see that part in Remote Control where God strikes down the losers with lightning? Go check YouTube for it, I'm pretty sure it's there somewhere. Other licensed games featured quirks like John Rambo stabbing flamingos or Wolverine disappointing his X-Men brethren by forgetting about his fast healing and getting crushed to death by a giant tire while Cyclops calls him a fag and points out that he could melt any one of the rest of them throat-first with his laser beam eyes. But for the overwhelming number of those that came into being and probably shouldn't have ever been, there are so many more that could have been...
In this, the beginning of what will hopefully be a continuous series, Psycho Gorilla Games takes a look at an alternate, Biff Tannen kind of NES game run through the magic of hasty work in Photoshop for cart impressions, with occasional matching 8-bit theme music submitted by Peachy. Each new installment will feature three games that could have been, whether they should have ever come into creation or not. Each will be discussed briefly on original concept, potential content, strength of gameplay, and possible ROM hack ideas that could very well lead to a forbidden Dr. Frank N. Stein ambition that, with a little repro work to support them, might just bring these into existence after all. Don't say I didn't warn you.
THIS WEEK'S INDUCTIONS
Original Concept: (from IMDB) - Hayden Fox is the head coach of a university football team, and eats, sleeps and lives football. His partner, however, does not share his passion for the sport, which frequently causes friction in their relationship. While Hayden often fits the stereotype of dumb jock (as do his co-workers Luther and Dauber), he sincerely cares about his friends and family, and tries his best to make things work out.
Potential Content: Shit, this one doesn't need much for it to work. All Sega ever did in the '90s was slap a recognizable sports figure onto the cover of a generic sports game, and it was ready for sale. Maybe if this came out today, they'd worry about CGI models of Craig T. Nelson and company interacting in pregame cutscenes, but here it's pretty easy to just hand it over to Tecmo and make it a Super Bowl clone.
Strength of Gameplay: High. Feel the tradition of American college football as your team is invited to the Pineapple Bowl and your star tailback comes off of his 6-week leg injury, his elation illustrated as a grinning man in blackface in your depth chart.
Possible ROM hack ideas: Tecmo Super Bowl, 10 Yard Fight.
Original Concept: Tom Selleck's bitchin' 'stache and Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum hang out doing something vaguely resembling work as a private investigator in Hawaii to fill time between having a bitchin' 'stache and being witty and manly.
Potential Content: Are you fucking kidding me? What couldn't you do with this? Car chases, gunfights, fistfights, cockfights, and generally anything having to do with fightin' and fuckin'. In a sports car.
Strength of Gameplay: High. Even if this one would somehow fall on the dreaded dark side of development where they decide Magnum('s 'stache) should fight midgets and jump over waterfalls where piranha jump out at you, there's no reason that couldn't have happened in the show. In fact, very little your feeble imagination can comprehend would limit our hero('s 'stache).
Possible ROM hack ideas: Golgo-13, Mafat Conspiracy, Code Name: Viper.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Original Concept: The Immortal Bob Barker arrogantly belittles the lesser contestants, large or small, young or old, proves how easily he could win their car for them in Hole In One... Or Two, and ecstatically recommends you get your pets spayed or neutered.
Potential Content: Every aspect of the original game show. Lots of variety in gameplay elements could be worked with, and the Bob-isms could be endless, and even if the NES game happened to pull a Remote Control and give you the same Bob-ism twice, there's nothing wrong with that. Most of us remember how easy it was to annoy Bob. He didn't give a shit if you were a smokin' hot college girl or a 105-year-old female mummy, he was an equal opportunity belittling machine if you dragged the game on for too long. "Agnes... Now Agnes, you've got to... AGNES! Please! PICK A GODDAMN NUMBER, AGNES. No, no. NO. YOU ALREADY PICKED TWO! FUCK!" You don't live to be 5,000 years old like Bob by being patient.
Strength of Gameplay: Medium. Variety would be a plus, and it could be an enjoyable party game for 4 players, but game show-based games are a niche market.
Possible ROM hack ideas: Tough to call. Something with a similar variety idea, like a totally revamped American Gladiators with a touch of Jeopardy!.