Fragments of My Youth

Tue, 07/20/2004 — Sak

As a youth, the box art of Phalanx always caught my eye; it was absurd, but not garish or abstract. I always thought that I shouldn't be looking at it, though, like it was just too pristine for my filthy eyes to lay their gaze upon, or that it was far too mature for me, like how James Joyce's Ulysses was sold in pornography shops in days of yore. Well, if there's one thing that the miracles of emulation have taught me, it's that the old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover," also applies to videogames -- in this case it's, "don't judge a videogame by it's boxart, because if it is really totally fucking awesome it probably is goddamn awful, and if the boxart is pretty shitty then the game will probably, well, might be pretty good." Okay, in my head it sounded a lot more poetic. Another thing that emulation has taught me is that Phalanx does not live up to the expectations set forth by its positively genius boxart.

This is a story of broken dreams and shattered hopes, destroyed by the damned whore that goes by the name of emulation -- walking down Bourbon Street, picking up drunken tourists and charging 80 bucks for a halfhearted handjob and also stealing their wallet! O, emulation! Thou hast stolen my heart! The Phalanx boxart has been much maligned, but I can't help but love it -- it paints a vivid picture of a backwater hick plucking his homemade banjo (no doubtedly constructed out of the best hickory, pine, apathy, and racist tendencies that the deep south has to offer), just kind of starting off into the void of nothingness, realizing that he is completely and totally alone in the world, and no reruns of Hee-Haw! and home-distilled bottles of moonshine are ever going to help this poor tortured, poorly groomed soul overcome this grim fact. My views on this particular piece of art would've remained constant had I continued not playing this game.

The thing is, the game isn't bad, I mean it's not great or anything, but -- Jesus. It's like being lead by the hand by a fellow in a white robe who's telling you that he's taking you to Valhalla, where it's, "really cool," and then when he opens the door to his studio apartment, there's just like a television, and a kind of nice DVD player, maybe an X-Box or something. "Well?" he questions, "How do you like it?" You fumble around for the right words, and manage to kind of timidly say, "Y-yeah. It's pretty cool. I guess." My love for the Phalanx box art was fostered by a sense of wonder and awe of the world, the kind of wonder and awe -- and some may call this ignorance -- that would let me believe that some dude with a spider-leg beard wearing a robe he stole from Sears would be taking me to Valhalla. After utilizing emulation to play Phalanx, I pretty much feel the same as I would in the aforementioned situation.

It's a big sham, that's for sure, but in a sense I suppose it wasn't only cathartic, but predetermined. It was my goddamn destiny to eventually play Phalanx, considering all of the hooplah I made over the box art. I feel a little betrayed, but at the same time a little wiser about the world. Nothing gold can stay, I suppose.


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