The Top 7… videogame legends we never want to hear again

Enough already! These tall tales may be true, but they've also grown repetitively tedious

The story, one last time…

Back in the early 1990s, the 16-bit war was escalating as hardware companies raced to add CD-ROM technology to their machines. Sega had the Mega-CD, and if Nintendo were to stay in the game, the SNES would need its own way to play grainy interactive movies and music video remix toys.

Nintendo had been working in secret with Sony on producing such a device. On the eve of the machine’s official announcement, however, Nintendo took another look at the contract and realized it was far too generous to the Walkman purveyors. Lengthy legal shenanigans ensued, at the end of which Nintendo had no CD drive and Sony had no friends in the gaming industry. They proceeded to spruce up the tech they’d developed with Nintendo, free it from any reliance on SNES architecture and release it into the world to fend for itself. You may be familiar with the result:

We’re sick of it because…

Look, we love some Nintendo, okay? But its shunning, and subsequent humiliation at the hands of, one-time BFF Ken Kutaragi was the best thing that could have happened to the next decade of video games. From its industry-dominating perch in 1992, Nintendo stumbled over the next few years from botch to imbroglio even as Sony consolidated its potential.

From the Virtual Boy to Mortal Kombat to the company’s painful separation from Squaresoft, the mid ‘90s are a well-documented litany of successive woes for Nintendo, the vast bulk of these being the results of its own dunderheaded decisions. Just think: if the Sony/Nintendo venture had gone ahead, here’s what you’d be doing with your time nowadays:

If someone starts telling this story, say…

“I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t avoid all contact with Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon.”

The story, one last time…

Three things that were pretty big in 1982:

• The Atari 2600.
• Reese’s Pieces-brand peanut butter candy.
• Steven Spielberg’s motion picture, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

While you may see three disparate elements, marketing geniuses see the potential for something called synergy. That’s why they’re geniuses! And so it was that a game for the Atari 2600 was commissioned in which ET (the Extra-Terrestrial) eats Reese’s Pieces to gain energy.

Above: It is not original or funny to proclaim this “the best part of the game”

The game was rushed into production: the designer (singular) had less than six weeks to turn out the game, where contemporary games usually took around six months. Banking on healthy sales based on brand recognition, Atari was sorely disappointed to find that gamers had already learned that sometimes you should buy less of things if they are terrible. Thousands of copies of the game were ultimately buried in a New Mexico landfill, in what became a timeless symbol of developers’ thwarted hubris.

We’re sick of it because…

In what has become a timeless symbol of gamers’ utter inability to let a joke die, people will never, ever shut up about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and that goddamn landfill. Some have suggested that there may be tribes in isolated pockets of the Amazon Rainforest who have not yet been told this story.

This premise has been rejected by others, who maintain that in today’s information-saturated world, human beings are actually born with the capacity for language, an opinion on Radiohead’s OK Computer, an appreciation for Heath Ledger’s tragically implosive performance in The Dark Knight and an awareness of the irony that - in 1983 - Atari was forced to dump in a hole thousands of copies of a game that many found unplayable, largely due to sequences where the main character would become trapped in a hole.

Above: Rain on your wedding day, that is

If someone starts telling this story, say…

“For the love of God, shut up.”

Jun 15, 2009

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