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Today's Featured Article - Space Harrier
Space Harrier is a coin-operated (coin-op) arcade game designed and developed by Yu Suzuki and AM2 and released by Sega in 1985. The game is an outlandish and psychedelic trip into a strange and colorful planet inhabited by little furry creatures, all of them trying to kill you. A bit like going to Barbados, sans the beach.
Often cited alongside Suzuki’s other arcade classics Hang On, After Burner, and Out Run, Space Harrier is the first and most technologically important game of AM2's "SKAG succession", and is famed for being the first video game in history to be directly inspired by the events of World War 2.
You play as "Franklin", a human man who has flown to another galaxy in order to exterminate all life on the alien planet known as Hirohito. Wielding a plasma rifle with unlimited ammunition, the aim of the game is to shoot down as many enemies as possible and build the highest score on the leader board. Franklin is able to fly, mainly because he went to Neverland and also because he owns a jetpack. The gameplay alludes to mass genocide and champions a nihilistic and apocalytipc world view, as it forces the player to kill absolutely everything in sight. That includes the cute and friendly one-eyed elephant, which is now extinct because of this game. "What would you do if you ever met a one-eyed elephant?" one game designer asked another. "Shoot it" the other said.
The game begins with the iconic statement: "Welcome to the fantasy zone! Get ready!" and from that moment it's a non-stop massacre against all intelligent life on planet Hirohito. Un-intelligent life as well, as even bushes and random critters gets it. The game is highly surreal in nature, and the game visually looks like a mix between a Salvador Dalí painting and the space tunnel in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The overall game experience is one big acid trip, and the end sequence lets you ride on a big furry worm creature, flying through space, high as a kite.
Controlling Franklin is simplistic. He can be guided in eight different directions by placing the palm of the hand on the nob of the joystick and jerking it about vigorously. In mid-flight you fire his plasma rifle by rapidly pushing the Red Button. Preempting destruction, Sega had the joystick and Red Button cast from luxury-carbonite; a hardy material developed by NASA in the '60s, to ensure that even after one million big presses, and all the sweat that brings, the Red Button would retain its springiness. (more...)
Recently featured: Space Harrier
Yesterday's Featured Article - Billy Joel
William Martin Billy Joel (born May 9, 1949) is an American musician, club owner, and classically-trained "piano man". He had a successful career in cheesy-yet-endearing 1970s–90s pop radio hits, including the biting satire of "Piano Man", the working-class orgasm of "Uptown Skank", and the towering social commentary of "We Didn't Start the Fire".
Joel was born and raised in The Bronx, but it is unfair to hold that against him. At a young age, he studied piano at his mother's insistence. With no other source of distraction, Billy practiced and practiced; the correct keys would light up on the piano, while incorrect playing would be rewarded with electric shocks. Inevitably, he developed an innate sense of pianism and an impressive personality disorder.
Later, Joel turned his attention to boxing, winning 22 bouts on the Golden Girls circuit, but getting his nose broken. He quit the sport, concerned that the injury might affect his embouchure and render him permanently unable to play woodwinds, long before this pastime ever gave him hope of being able to protect his lunch money from the neighborhood bullies. Happily, Joel found that the threat of professionally coached violence was often all it took to assemble an audience and prevent them from running at the first hint of singing.
Joel did not graduate high school with his peers because an English paper was late, owing to soul-searching, playing until closing time at nightclubs, and overdosing on Brylcreem. However, his alma mater, Hicksville High School, saw fit to waive the English prerequisite and grant him an honorary diploma 25 years later, in 1992, beginning a trend now known as Basking In Reflected Glory. Joel demurred, as at that point he had seven Ph.D.s, none of them based on serious scholarship either.
In 1965, Joel joined The Echoes, a band which specialized in playing the hits of the British Invasion. Despite several changes of name, The Echoes failed to trouble the Billboard chart, and Joel was forced to leave due to a growing intolerance to both tea and scones. Without an outlet for his musical talents, property prices in Brooklyn briefly rebounded until Joel joined The Hassles, a blue-eyed soul group known for their half-hearted imitations of The Rascals and for locking concert-goers in the auditorium and badgering them until they agreed to fund that evening's beer-money. (more...)
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