SNES ON PRESCRIPTION February 27 2003

I know, I haven't updated in ages. Lately, I've been swamped in schoolwork and I've done a lot of work for the local film club. I've been able to force Careful into the schedule, so I'm looking forward to seeing people's reactions next Monday. Also, my class has been to the Göteborg film festival, where we got to meet Paul Thomas Anderson and see his latest film, Punch Drunk Love. Highly recommended.

But the thing that's demanded the most of my time is the cable access student channel. My buddies and myself have done a number of skits and gags, which has been time-consuming to say the least, but it's also been a lot of fun. Nothing quite like acting like a cross-dressing eighties alien and running around in a grocery store screaming your head off. It would probably spoil the fun if that old guy we ran into really had had a heart attack, but he recovered like a champ. Just for the heck of it, I'm putting one of the pieces we did up for download. Due to size restrictions, language barrieres and music royalty issues, it'll have to be the one about the cookie-pilfering gnome (or nisse, to all the folklorists out there). An innocent little thingie with music from The Nutcracker and trick photography straight out of The Lord of the Rings. Click here to download codec.

Nisse.avi

Long story short: The rumors about the site's death are strongly exaggerated, and I'm looking forward to being able to put more time into it. And now, the article.

Can learning be fun? Sure, if the process is entertaining and creatively or intellectually stimulating. Is learning about your disabilities through a crap platform game fun? No. It isn't. It really isn't. If I had diabetes and had to stay away from sweets and check my insulin level all the time, the last thing I'd want was a Nintendo game where I had to do the exact same thing. That very string of logic has possibly toppled a few such projects, but of course a few idiot developers have done the exact opposite of what they should have done. They have created Captain Novolin. But more about him later, first let's take a look at Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus.

BRONKIE

Bronkie and Trakie are two asthmatic dinosaurs. They also look like a couple of potheads on the image I picked out, but that's just to give myself a cheap laugh. They live in the city San Sauran, where a cluster of meteors struck some years ago, filling the air with thick and filthy dust. To clear the air, the dinosaurs built a wind machine blow the dust away. But their days of clean air and small cozy taverns were short, soon Mr. Rexo arrived with his fast food chain and stole the machine. Why, I cannot say. Maybe he wasn't content with his food monopoly and wanted to control the medical industry as well. Or not. I made that food chain bit up.

To get the pieces to the machine back, you have to walk through the city of San Sauran and its surroundings and answer questions about asthma whenever you meet red dinosaurs with white caps. How they got hold of the pieces and why they make you answer asthma riddles I do not know. Neither can I tell you why everyone is out to kill you. The logical explanation would be that they wanted to eat you to stay alive and be able to multiply like dinosaurs did. But I'm pretty sure Bronkie is carnivorous himself. Also, there are cafeterias and grocers everywhere.

You don't really have to worry about the people trying to kill you though, they never do any real damage. In fact, when I played through the game I didn't come close to losing a single life. Even the bosses are ridiculously simple. While some of them stand still and actually attack the air in front of them in steady patterns, most just move slowly forward. They may have some sort of attack, but I always killed them before they came close. Except that charging mammoth. He could ram me wherever I stood, and not necessarily in the direction he was heading.

What you have to look out for though, is asthma triggers. Whenever you touch a furry animal, inhale pollen, get sneezed at or get in contact with tar (which, I have to admit, I never knew was an asthma trigger), you get more and more trouble breathing. While the coughing fits can be annoying, they don't really make things more difficult. Which why the screen grows darker as your breath grows shorter until you can't see what's going on. And that's when you whip out your inhalator.

If you expected me to make a point or even just a cheap joke here, I'll have to disappoint you. I had hoped that I'd have something to say by the time I was done editing the image above, but no dice. The reason is that I've pretty much said everything there is to say about Bronkie. It's simply a pretty uninteresting platformer with bad controls and no original elements besides the asthma theme. Which, if you swap 'asthma' and 'diabetes', pretty much also sums up the next game we'll explore today.

PACKY AND MARLON

Packy and Marlon are two elephants with diabetes. On the way to camp Wa-Kee (Native American for 'stupid white man pun'), a bunch of rats steal the happy campers' insulin rations. No explanation why, so I have to assume they're activists against genetic manipulation of pigs.

At least I think insulin is from pigs. See how much this game has taught me?

If you recognize the extreme lack of contrast in the image, it's because Packy and Marlon is created by the great minds that gave you the fireworks that is Bronkie: WaveQuest. What these guys have against saturation I do not know, and I don't feel the urge to speculate. I will however address their choice of weapons. Most of them are logical within the context. I mean, they're cartoon elephants. Squirting water and blowing peanuts are the logical choice. But why this power-up?

Savour this moment, for this is the only time you'll ever see a diabetic elephant blow noseblood at an Inuit while standing on a tombstone in the middle of Alaska. Things like this are the very fabric this site is made from.

CAPTAIN NOVOLIN

First of all, an apology is necessary. It appears that Captain Novolin is founded by Novolin Nordisk A/S, which means we Norwegians probably are to blame for this. On behalf of my people, I sincerely apologize and promise it will never ever happen again. The same goes for The Daze Before Christmas. We may be world champions when it comes to stealing fishing zones from the Icelanders and devising cheese slicing tools, but we should never ever have put our foot into the gaming industry. Some things should be left to the Japanese. I'm looking at you, US Gold.

Captain Novolin is a super hero. I only say that because he's got a hi-tech secret lair and a mask. Other than that, he hasn't really got any special powers.

When I say he hasn't got any super powers, I'm not exaggerating. He hasn't even got any normal powers. When the aliens disguised as candy attack, he has to evade them, rather than attack. And he can't even do that properly. Even with an emulator, this game is insanely hard, as the enemies' movements are unpredictable to the extreme. When you try to calculate a murder donut's pattern and walk under it at the right moment, you can be sure it'll stray from its path immediately and fall on you like a ton of sugar. Other enemies charge at you in ludicrous speed and hit before you have time to react. If you do manage to jump over them, you can be sure the programmers have placed a bowl of cornflakes in the air above you, resulting in the good captain eating it and screwing up his diet. Captain Novolin is an idiot.

Above are a couple of text boxes from Captain Novolin and Packy & Marlon (grey, of course). They confuse me. When the dock attendant from CN gave me shoes, I though I would at last be able to jump over or outrun the damn murderous junk food. Of course, they had no effect. Then I thought they had something to with diabetes. Heck, if rats stealing insulin is a common problem, I have no trouble believing foot care is important to diabetics. Then, out of the blue, Packy & Marlon disproved this. Why they at all brought up the foot care business when it has no relevance whatsoever I will never understand, and I don't care.

As the graphic on top of this page explains, the major of Pineville has been kidnapped by the evil Blubberman, aka Lando Calrissian's bald friend with the flashing thing on his head. He tries to kill Captain Novolin by sending electricity along the floor, but luckily for us he forgot not to put a big handle in the middle of the floor that sends the electricity back up through his metal chair and into his metal underwear. Hindsight hindsight hindsight.

Did I learn anything from these games? Yes, but nothing I wouldn't learn from sitting down for five minutes and browse through a pamphlet. Hence, my advise to all parents out there is: Don't buy your kids games about diabetes. Give them a damn booklet and tell them they can pick any game they want if they read it. I can guarantee they'll learn much faster, and they won't be ridiculed by their friends for having the shittiest game in the neighborhood.

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