Tuesday, June 24, 2008

[Retro ≠ Good] Bill and Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure

The other day we lost comedy legend, George Carlin, and I can see no better way to honor his memory than to dig up what is probably the lowest point in his entire career. I do not refer to his role as The Conductor in Thomas The Tank Engine, Fillmore the VW Van in Disney's Cars, and I'm not even talking about his role as Rufus in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. I'm talking about his role as Rufus in Bill and Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure.

Although ET for the Atari2600 is the most infamous example of lazy game developers tacking a big name license to a piss poor game hoping people will buy it anyway Bill And Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure is easily the NES equivalent.

The point of the game is to travel through time and rescue various historical figures from rebels who have kidnapped them and sent them to a time period that is not their own. The game begins with you flipping through a phone book and finding a number to dial so that you can launch right into a minigame in which you travel through the circuits of time. The minigame looks like it was pulled straight out of the old Atari days and is a crude game in which you must bounce the time traveling phone booth around until you reach the place you were trying to go to. I've seen more enjoyable cases of Gonorrhea.

After plodding through the minigame you can begin the real game. I wish I could tell you it gets better from here but, really, I probably had more fun with the abysmal minigame. The game begins by plopping you into a medieval world filled with a bunch of knights and other NPCs. For some reason, if they're standing still they'll give you items, if they're walking around and hit you then they'll demand that you give them your money or go to jail and if they're walking around like some dark ages lunatic zombie then they'll throw you in jail for no good reason. Since you have a very limited supply of items to get rid of your enemies and there is no XP system in place the real focus of the game is to avoid them. This, unfortunately, is much easier said than done since the game developers couldn't make up their mind as to whether or not they wanted you to be able to walk on grass or only in paths so they decided to split the difference and only make some grass able to be walked on and other grass not able to be walked on. There is no visual indication as to any difference between these two grasses and the grass that you cannot walk on seems to appear almost randomly, so avoiding some crazed jailers coming at you becomes much harder when your character all of a sudden forgets how to walk on grass without any prior notice. Some NPCs will give you some directions on how to find the historical figure you're tracking down, unfortunately there's not much way to follow this advice as the stage maps aren't particularly complicated and your movement is far from free so there usually isn't more than one way that you are able to go at any given time.

I won't bullshit you, I'm a bad game reviewer. I didn't even get past the first level of this game because, after an hour of watching Ted strut around with the gait of a Polio-sticken Muscular Sclerosis victim, stopping dead in his tracks on bad patches of grass, fruitlessly tossing pudding cups and textbooks around and being thrown in jail repeatedly only to plod through the level from the beginning again for the 678th time I decided that I no longer needed to torture myself and that even Zelda 1 wouldn't be good if it made you go through the hell that is BATEVGA's first level before getting to hyrule. The NES has an impressive collection of terrible games but this broken trash would easily manage to be in the top 10 worst.

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