T H E B E L L I C O S I T Y O F K O N A M I
I'm from the cultural bastion of egalitarianism and autonomous thought - the southern Midwest. Home of corn, bad food, and not much else. It's where reformationist politics and inbreeding amalgamate, and the most progressive person beside myself is Mayor Jonathan Fairweather, of Decatur, Illinois, who believes that, "maybe Social Security ain't such a bad thing at all. Maybe." In case you haven't heard, apparantly our country's fine young
cannibals youth are stationed in a country known as Iraq (forgive me if this is all old hat to you, news doesn't travel quick throughout Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois).
It all seems a bit suspect to me, if I do say so myself. An exercise in futility, to be sure, and a blatant disregard for life on both sides of the Atlantic. A few year back, I was having a chat with prominent Kingdom City, Missouri radio personality "Mucky" Huckson, however, I was told that I'd, and I'm paraphrasing here, never know the joys of what it's like to serve my country in its time of desperation. I'm not sure exactly what desperation Mucky was talking about, or even if he was just making stuff up, or perhaps he's just clouded in a veil of Straussian-like ignorance, but he did get one thing right - as a conscientious objector (which, around here, usually adopts the more casual synonym of "pussy"), I'll never know what it's like to serve my country - but I'll be damned if I can't simulate a close aproximation of it using the most technologically advanced equipment available in the Midwest today - MAME. I wasn't going to let some cornfed, muckracking demagogue back me into a corner. I told Huckson to go back to reading the Farmer's Almanac, because I enrolled in Konami's Combat School, baby.
The training one receives at Konami's Combat School is not unlike the work one does at the U.S. army bootcamp, however the nine weeks of grueling physical labor and mental enervation are replaced with controller-tapping repetition such that a flaneur, not unlike myself, can accessibly participate in. Okay, so in other words, Konami's Combat School isn't like basic training. At all. This doesn't stop Combat School from not being Combat School, after all, this isn't your run-of-the-mill pansy-weight division prep school or, God forbid, a university - this is Konami's Combat School, and they do not take shit from anyone. With alumni bearing credentials like the destruction of an entire alien race (uh, hello? Lance and Bill from Contra, people.), and a faculty consisting of not one, but two Belmonts, you're obviously not being trained to stand around with your dick in your hand.
While I'm afraid that scenes depicting any sort of humilation one would have in the shower room at the hands of homophobic platoon members (addendum: oddly enough, your platoon consists of two members - Nick, the soft-spoken yet secretly rambunctious firecracker from Tennessee, and Joe, the loud-mouthed, northern aristocrat with a troubled past) are absent from Combat School, the game isn't devoid of insults, courtesy of your drill sergeant (who, as far as I'm concerned, appears to be an appropriation of Louis Gossett Jr.'s many roles). These insults basically revolve around two horrible vocally digitalized quotes, "Too slow - (awkward pause) - Nick!" and "Go home to your mother (even longer awkward pause) - Nick!", these are tempered even further with bold red text proclaiming, YOU BLEW IT! Also, much like real basic training, you can't fuck up. I mean it. There aren't any continues in this game. That means if you're caught finger banging a member of the Military Police behind the barracks, there's no screen proclaiming, "TRY AGAIN! THIS TIME WITH A FRIEND!" I'm not really sure what Konami's logic was by excising the player's ability to continue, considering the game is pretty awful, and anyone with a modicum of rationality would dare not pump more than one quarter into this digital monument to shit.
What makes Combat School that much more - and I'm using this term very liberally here - interesting, is the fact that a plethora of different versions of this game exist. The least notable of which are just versions of the game with a trackball instead of the usual joystick configuration, and an absolutely unplayable PC version of the game, but there exists two versions of the game which are worth mentioning. Well, quite honestly, they're not worth mentioning at all, but the Andore JR. staff insists that I endure these sort of masochistic phenomena and play the role of an utilitarian martyr of the videogame world. Konami's innovatively titled Boot Camp is, essentially, Combat School with a new title -- however! The pantheon of Konamic gods has graciously granted us the ability to not be able to play past the third stage, as the controls go completely apeshit, and your character will refuse to move in a direction that is not either left or right. Even more interesting is DATSU's Combat School. Being a bootleg version of the Konami, ahem, classic, DATSU's combat school is chock-full of tamer graphics, more prone to fuck ups, and much like Boot Camp, is unbeatable. Not due to an inability to run more than two directions, but rather the fact that the fourth stage doesn't end. DATSU's Combat School is more or less a testament to the fact that Taiwanese companies should not be allowed to touch electronics, much less bootleg a game (an exception to the rule would be the classic Monkey Donkey, which improves far more upon the original Donkey Kong design than I can elaborate in an article about stupid war games).
|Konami's Combat School lowers the bar for track & field games...||...Boot Camp makes sure that the bar hits rock bottom...||...and then under that bottom is another magical bottom that can only be unlocked by invoking the magic voodoo power of Datsu's Combat School.|
So I failed Konami's Combat School. So what? I've got better things to do than take orders from a box-store, white-bred, cookie-cutter version of Col. Charles "Chappy" Sinclair. However, I must admit that putting so much stock into one area in my life and simply -- simply failing -- was devastating. I was staring into the void of existential nothingness -- and that goddamn void was staring right back. The next few months, I suffered from a gripping depression that eventually manifested itself as the most fruitful experience of my life. The next few italicized paragraphs are various entries from journal, taken from November, 1999 to March of 2000. I'll warn you in advance, the material contained herein is some of the most soul-destroyingly awful, gut-wrenching moments every committed to text; it's a descriptive testament to some of the most obscure and anagogic depths that the human mind can reach.
27 November, 1999
Well today Sgt. Dickhead (note from future self: this is not an obvious jab at the sergeant's skill as either an officer or a person, his name really was Dickhead), failed me a day before graduation! Can you believe it? Man, what a bummer! I was really looking forward to a life as a low ranking officer -- cleaning out the bathroom stalls, shining Dickhead's shoes. NOT! They put in some sort of pretty nice looking faux marble veneer in the bathroom, though -- better than that ugly 70's style grain pattern they had in there before! Talk about "BLECH!" with a capital B! Oh, Journal, you'll never guess what Tommy did today when Dickhead was walking by. Well, actually, before Dickhead came in, Tommy was like, "Guess what I'm gonna do?" and I'm like, "What!?" and Tommy is like, "After Dickhead walks by I'm going to stick my tongue out at him," and I was like, "you are going to get in trouble and I'm not going to laugh," and Tommy called me gay under his breath, and I was like "I heard that," and then he was like "heard what?" and I was just livid! Anyway! Sgt. Dickhead walked in and and after he was done inspecting Tommy's bed, Tommy stuck his tongue out at him, and at just that moment the Sergeant turned around!!! Tommy had to do like 60 pushups and then I was about to crack up and then the asshole was about to leave and he (I mean Dickhead not Tommy!) was like, "Oh yeah, Sak, you've failed!" What's the deal with that -- I mean c'mon! Dickhead? More like PICKLEHEAD. Right, Journal? Anyway, peace out, journal!
p.s. That new Whitney song, "My Love Is Your Love" is absolutely smokin'! Gotta buy the CD when it comes out! Or is it already out?
3 January, 2000
Today I walked around town drinking a six back of LaBatt Wildcat that Brandon sent me in the mail. Those Canadians sure are a funny lot, but I'll be damned if they don't know their beer! Basically, it's like 6.4% alcohol or something like that, so I got kind of drunk and was trying to read Camus' The Plague when this old hobo came up to me, knocked my book out of my hand, and started talking about how the end of the world is nigh! I picked up my book and started to walk away, and was thinking about what a crock of shit that is, and then something dawned on me! At first I was kind of thinking about how I'm just reading about the frailty of life, but this fellow is in the dead-center of experiencing it; that I've done nothing to exorcize the demons of my past, while this gentleman is undoubtedly atoning for the sins of an erstwhile life! Then I just realized I was out of beer, so I went to Chub's to buy more.
Huges and kisses,
p.s. The new Savage Garden single, "I Knew I Loved You" is wicked boss! I'm going to keep on the look out for these guys, Journal, because I have a feeling that they're going to be around for a darn long while!
29 January, 2000
It's been over two months since I failed out of Combat School. Man! I thought it was going to be cool to live at home again, but my mother is always on my case! The other day, when I came home, she told me to take my shoes off before I stepped on the carpet, but I told her, "You're not my mom!" and started to walk off, and then after a few seconds I realized that, yeah, she really is my mom and I should probably go apologize to her. She actually seemed pretty hysterical and she thought that I thought that I was adopted or something, but I just told her that I was a turning a phrase, but she still really didn't understand why I would even say that, and I had to go on for like 10 or 12 minutes explaining that I really didn't understand why I said it, either. Man, when is this rut ever going to end? I mean, I accomplished exactly jack and shit today! Ever have one of those days, Journal, where the epoch was microwaving a Hot Pocket, masturbating a couple of times, and playing through Bubble Bobble three or four times? Man, I wish the gambler's fallacy was true -- I'm due for a break!
p.s. I am so fucking sick of that new Savage Garden single.
7 February, 2000
Hey Journal, what's the haps? Oh, Journal, y'know, sometimes I wish that you were a real live person! I feel like I can tell anything to you! Remember that time when I was in the sixth grade and I told you about that crush I had on Whitney Whitehead? Oh, man! That was like the most intimate thing ever! Actually, if you were real, I'd hope that you'd be a girl -- we could go to the beach and drink Bartles and Jaymes, and then we'd talk about old times, and then I'd lean over to kiss you, and you'd start to make out with me, and then you'd back away and say, "No -- I can't," and I'd be like, "Why not?" and you'd say, "Because of Tom," or whoever and sort of trail off! Then I'd get up and kick some sand around and be like, "It's not fair, Journal! It's not fucking fair!" Man. Good times, Journal. Good times. Anyway, I think my luck is finally starting to look up, I met a guy who was talking about some weird political theory I've never heard of before -- Com - Comun -- Communism? Communism, I think that's it. The dude is awesome. He's from some Latin American country that I've never heard of. But anyway, we played baseball in his backyard. I'll be honest here, most of the time I just kind of blacked out while he was talking -- the dude just kept on going on about his brother and some ship and his grandmother and some bay with pigs in it. He had some Guiness and we sat on his porch and talked about how long it took him to grow his beard, and the conversation turned to Combat School, and he explained how they dicked me over hardcore. Man is he ever right. He said something about how I should check out his home down south and that we should overthrow Capitalism or something. Can you believe that, Journal? I mean, that's crazy! My first job offer in months!
makin' u sweat,
p.s. Big Pun died today!!!!!!! Man, this violence has got to stop! Actually, I'm not even sure what he died of and he was rather large, so maybe I'm just jumping to conclusions way too fast. I mean, he was a rapper, but man, was that dude fat. I mean not just kind of sort-of fat, like, y'know, Natalie from The Facts of Life, he was just a big, rude dude. Maybe he fell off of a cliff or something and it didn't have a darn thing to do with his weight or his profession. Maybe he choked? D-didn't Mama Cass choke? Actually, I know that's just a myth but -- huh. Weird, huh? I know that Mama Cass didn't really choke to death, so why did I write that down? Christ almighy, I might want to start practicing tact. Why didn't I just erase that to begin with? Welp! Gotta go, Journal! I'm supposed to meet Terry down at Booby's for a game of pool and then we're meeting his girlfriend Melinda and we're going to see The Talented Mr. Ripley at The Varsity.
p.p.s. Have I told you about Melinda, Journal? Man, she is way too good for Terry! Last time I met up with them, Terry was all puking on himself (he even puked on that Goddamn hat he's always wearing) and Melinda was just cleaning him all up like he was a little soldier boy! Man, the first time I met her, she even seemed genuinely depressed that I got kicked out of Combat School! Sometimes I wish that Terry was all yelling at her and stuff, and Melinda would call me and be like, "Sak! What should I do?" and I'd be like, "Oh! It's okay! C'mon over and talk to me Melinda," and then she'd come over, and I'd fix Earl Grey tea, and we'd be sipping and talking, and then I'd slowly lean into kiss her, and we'd begin to make out, and she'd say, "No -- I can't," and then -- w-what, Journal? Huh? I said that about you? I know, but I was just - well, I was just. Well, fuck dude I didn't know you'd get upset about it. Christ. Listen, I've got to go out. We'll talk about this later.
3 March, 2000
Uh, hey. What's up. Listen, I'm, uh -- I'm sorry. I'm sorry about last time, Journal. Yeah, I -- I know it's been a while, I just needed some shit to sort out. That's all. Y'know. So, uh, I've been okay, y'know. Gotta job lined up, yeah. Yeah. Workin' for that bearded dude down south. Leaving tommorow. I just thought I'd, y'know. Stop by. Say hello, and uh, good-bye, too. 'Cause I'm leaving tommorow. Yeah, I know I said that already. Sorry, I just. Listen, Journal. We can't do this shit anymore. Yes, I had good times, but that's not the problem. It's not you, it's me. I need time -- time to grow! As a person! I just -- I'm leaving tommorow. Goodbye, Journal. Tommorow I'm leaving to fight in a...
I actually have to wonder if SNK had a more noble motive than simply selling a game -- after all, this is history, man. If SNK had taken a more utilitarian approach to its future endeavors, who knows what games like Samurai Showdown and Athena would've turned out like? Just imagine -- Athena all gettin' birthed from Zeus' head, all bein' the first feminist -- the first eight-bit feminist that is! Just run through all of the exciting mythological scenes you could re-enact in front of your Nintendo Entertainment System and 10 inch television / VCR combo! Be in awe as you actually control in real time Athena's fantastic conversation with Odysseus before he embarks on his legendary journey! Control the tears that stream down Athena's face whilst she grieves over the accidental death of her friend Pallas -- but watch out for the stalactites and goons that the nefarious Roper (who has also stolen your girlfriend) has positioned about the fair goddesses' face! Man, Sophocles would be shitting his pants right now.
While not just an incredible testament to the timelessness of Karl Marx's dialectical materialism, Guerilla War runs close to being the greatest game "kinda sorta" based on actual events, it also officially garners the award of being actually playable and even fun, which is far, far more than I could possibly say for the wreck of circuits and binary code that tries to pass itself off as a game that some have been known to call Combat School. You play as characters that look coincidentally enough like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro liberating an island that looks coincidentally enough like Cuba from social inequities and dudes that cannot be blown up by one mere hand grenade (this is where that "kinda sorta" qualifier comes into play).
If there's one thing that the greatest moral philosophers of the twentieth century -- those being Vin Diesel and Colin Farrell -- have taught us is that it's good to be bad to the fucking bone, and if there's one thing that the greatest minds of contemporary American political thought have taught us -- oddly enough, once again Vin Diesel and Colin Farrell -- it's that every country besides America is bad. Not just bad, but the epitome of evil. Germany? Man, we won't even go there. France? A bunch of Sartre-reading pussies just waiting to jump down our throats. Canada? More like Communada! Am I right, folks? But seriously, yeah, every country besides America should pretty much just bow down before our might, lest we break your figurative knee caps. Sadly, the amount of badness present in Guerilla War leaves something to be desired; it's leitmotive subtly reeks of freedom and civility. No, we need something far more sinister than poorly groomed Central Americans.
Olympia, the brilliant company behind D-Day, amongst other games like --- er, let, just let me check my notes here, hrmm, nothing else --- yeah, well, D-Day, wants to deconstruct the mythology of D-Day. "Listen," Olympia states (matter-of-factly, I might add), "we all think we know what happened on D-Day, quite frankly we don't know shit. I mean, hey, were you there? That would be like if I robbed your house and you didn't actually see me rob your house. Sure, there might be incriminating evidence and eyewitnesses, but I mean can you sit there and tell me you empirically verified this fact? All we're trying to do is say, 'Hey, maybe the Nazis weren't that bad after all'. Why the fuck are you looking at me like that?" Obviously, Olympia's plans worked, since, y'know, everyone these days is wearing those "Einsatzkommandos 'Führer' a Better Future" shirts these days and setting up Himmler bobble-heads on the dashboards of their car.
D-Day shakes off the validity of a possible post-modern, egaltarian, open-society by possibly being the most unintentionally insensitive fucking game ever. It's sort of like the British skinhead punk mainstay Skrewdriver. While not adapting traditional Anglo-American folkway spellings into Fuckingretardlish, Skrewdriver epouses the values of the Anglo-Saxon man in a calm, clear-headed manner, relying on impenetrable logic and an intellectual emotional appeal to their fellow man with lyrics such as, "We were the country, and we could never lose / Once a nation now we're run by Jews". D-Day takes a similar approach by allowing you to take to the beaches of Normandy as a German gunman blasting away American battleships, planes, and tanks. There's nothing quite like shooting political correctness the bird by -- let me reiterate this -- allowing you to play as a Nazi.
But, I mean, why stop there, Olympia? Shit, you could've captured the videogame market with this whole absolute authoritarian thing. Think of the possibilities! "Mein Kampf: Episode I" could've been an enthralling RPG, placing you in the shoes of Adolf Hitler! Uh-oh! Looks like your mother Klara's sending you off on a fetch quest! It's your job to team up with brother Edmond, head to the Cave of Monsters to defeat the first boss: STARDAVD (sadly, there's an eight character limit on enemy names). Or how about this: it's a rootin' tootin' shoot up down at the ol' Stutthof Place! It's up to you to keep the peace in this here town in EINTRAGFADEN OBEN 2: The Search for Hitler's Gold. Using full motion video to its fullest capabilities (i.e.; pressing a button at the correct time), and offering us a glimpse of what the ol' west really could've been like -- ol' West Berlin, that is! "Hey, wait a second! What about the kids?" Glad you asked. The tenets of German National Socialism won't be lost on Generation Doesn't-Give-a-Crap thanks to "Oh-Shit-No!", the electronic collectable playing card game available from Olympia! Can your Eichmann defeat his Himmler? Pick up the game and find out!
What have we learned by delving into the collective consciousness of the political public? Well, number one: videogames can employ an informative message to the huddled masses. A myriad of political world-views are adopted by games: democracy, socialism, and even as we have seen, Nazism. Perhaps the one thing that videogames have sought to teach us is that all we have in common is our right to be different from one another. I'm joking of course! This article is merely satire. Videogames can't possibly offer us any sort of intuitive insight into the nature of the world, particularly the political climate, right?