3DOFace #1: neurodancer

The 3DO. It existed. It didn’t do well (I mean, obviously). Bad marketing in an oversaturated market, a confusing distribution system, and a price tag of Way Too Much Fucking Money, it was doomed as soon as it left the starting gate.

But to its credit, the 3DO had some good games. It had some games that at least tried to be good (Immercenary, what could have been). Kenji Eno loved the system, and when Kenji Eno speaks, wise men listen.

Another line of praise for the 3DO is that, among its many genres it covered in its software library, it had one that no other system of the time had: Pornography! Hell yeah, motherfucker! Imagine, you’re playing Star Control 2, or Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, when The Mood strikes. The internet isn’t quite what it is today back in 1994. Maybe you don’t feel like fumbling around trying to get your VCR set up, or looking around for your back issues of Penthouse. You need to crank one out right fucking now, but there is too much work involved. Then you remember that, in addition to an arcade-perfect Super Turbo and Samurai Shodown, you bought some Adult Entertainment for your Real Panasonic 3DO Interactive Multiplayer! For $700 (plus an additional $60 per game), you could own a video game system where you can look at a pair of massive himmer-hommers.

Neurodancer is one of these pieces of software. And oh man, is it a piece of something, too.

I’m not a person to discount something simply because it’s pornographic in nature. As an actual sex worker, that would be immensely stupid and hypocritical of me. Even if I wasn’t, I’ve played way too many hours of House Party (how’s it goin’ dude?), and have no place to judge. Being a pervert, I’m totally okay with video games merging with porn. It’s not sad or pathetic to own or play porno games.

Unless it’s Neurodancer.

Neurodancer gives you a first impression of actually having a unique concept and atmosphere. As the title no doubt gave away, this is set in the far, dystopic, cyberpunk future. And as the title also no doubt gave away, it’s supposed to be a take on Neuromancer, but with titties, instead of #StillWithHer Neoliberalism and tranny jokes so tired that even 4chan would roll their collective eyes (suck my ass, William Gibson). You would expect way too many neon lights and mega corporations and xenophobic paranoia about the Japanese becoming the leaders of world industry, but now there is sex too. You would expect these things, yes. You would also be wrong!

The synopsis of Neurodancer is that you, the main character, are some sort of horny hacker. You’re two months behind on rent, facing eviction and/or your knees getting broken. What do you do in this situation? You sit in your dingy, nearly pitch black apartment and send your slow moving unmanned drone out into a series of identical hallways, breaking into terminals for credits (money), so you can watch cam shows on your holographic TV.

Let me take a moment to put that into perspective, before I get into the parts where women take their clothes off. You are in debt. Zero dollars (sorry, credits) to your name. And to reiterate here, your solution is to hunt for loose change so you can look at porn. That’s like an addict combing through the carpet for a loose pill. You clearly have a problem, and the game is not finished with highlighting your sad existence just yet.

Here’s the interactivity: slowly (and I do mean slowly) trudging through a hallway, occasionally turning so you find a terminal. Hacking? Pressing a button, then pressing a button again before the Cyber-Police bust you for being jacked in (lol) for too long. Time your button presses right, and you get more credits.

(Now this is the part where I tell you that I’m posting nudity from here on out. Maybe don’t read this post with your mom in the room.)

Your reward for doing this, and your entire reason for continuing to exist, is to watch a girl dance and eventually get naked.

When I said that they “eventually” get naked, I wasn’t kidding. Those clothes are nearly bonded to their bodies.

hey, at least you can zoom in and out with the shoulder buttons!

Something you may have noticed in these screenshots is that number going down in the lower right. That’s your money, and it goes down by 100 every time you interact with the women. See, they dance, then suddenly stop, you have to pay them to continue. All with no guarantee that an article of clothing will be removed. I have no idea what the Credits-Dollars exchange rate is, but I have to imagine that this is (pardon me for referencing current events) a Bella Thorne level rip-off. Keep in mind, there is no “full” nudity to Neurodancer. Yeah, you’ll see some titties, and about half of a bare ass, but that’s it. Maybe Trip Hawkins drew the line at seeing someone’s spread asshole on his gaming console.

600 credits gets you some titties
700? part of a butt! oohh baby!

I’m not bringing all this up as a complaint. I knew going in that the 3DO’s adult library would be the most mediocre of mid-90s softcore bullshit. But this all does bring up the overall pathetic nature of Neurodancer’s protagonist. Not paying rent in some shitty apartment, probably not taking care of themselves either, all to spend hundreds of dollars for something that looks like the old Desktop Stripper that was advertised on seemingly every sketchy website twenty years ago. In our current dystopic cyberpunk future, pretty much any fetish you have can be catered to for about $20 on ManyVids. I guess sex workers of the future realize their worth a lot better than we do.

One more thing, mid-90s FMV was definitely not up to the task. The thickest thing on these girls’ bodies are their pixels.

Through all of this, I haven’t gotten to the worst part. The interactive segment! When the girl of your choice finally gets nude, or nude enough I guess, another screen opens up, and you can actually touch them. Probably. I think.

What’s so weird and fucked up about this is that you think you might be able to do something like cop a feel or give a light smack on the ass or something. Fuck that. You’re here to really please a woman. It’s possible that I’ve been doing it wrong over the course of my adulthood, but I’m not entirely sure that success in the bedroom involves stroking a woman’s hair or rubbing her behind the ear like a fucking cat.

think i’m joking here?

That’s Neurodancer. Blow hundreds, if not thousands, of points of cyber-currency to watch a naked woman dance. Then, when you finally get a chance to actually touch her, you instead limply drag the back of your knuckles all over her. It’s like a sadder version of Hoverhands. Here’s your reminder, over a thousand words later, that this was designed for you to masturbate to.

If you think I’m going back and getting screenshots for the other two dancers, you’re out of your fucking mind. This sucked. I’d be so pissed off if I spent actual money on this, rather than grabbing the ROM off Internet Archive. I plan on continuing the 3DO-Face series; hopefully the other sex-based games on here are at least funny or interesting.

Let me finish this off (lol again) by laughing at the terrible intro. This bullshit here is some prime “Cinemax on Saturday night” material.

“yep, that sure is a woman getting naked on my computer screen! time to put my hands behind my head in a ludicrous, exasperated fashion!”

lattice 200ec7

Some time ago, while chilling out in the Snesploration Podcast Discord server, as one does, I was streaming some Playstation games because we were all bored. Then the sometimes-host and also co-host of Hinge Problems, and overall Good Guy Rudie said, “hey Ramona, play Lattice!” My reaction was probably a lot like yours. “What the fuck is Lattice?” He said nothing. He only sent me a link to a lonely Google Drive folder that said RATTICE.ZIP.

The reasons why Rudie wanted me to play Lattice so bad was because he wanted to see if I could decipher what the game was. He couldn’t figure it out. Nobody else he showed the game to could figure it out. Now it was my turn to be confused.

It’s no wonder he wanted to show me this game. It’s fucking weird. Lattice manages to be both a game in an easily described sub-genre, and also a game that defies explanation. You fly down a series of tubes and rails, you shoot things, you pick up power-ups, you avoid obstacles, seems reasonable at first. It doesn’t sound any different from something like Tempest 2000, or even other PSX games like N20 or Internal Section.

Then you start to notice the changes pretty quickly. It’s not a straightforward shooter, you have to find keys by riding different sides of the rails you’re on. Every so often, an enemy will randomly appear and freeze you in place until you remember to use the “free-look” button to aim and shoot at it. The levels look linear, but are actually mazes. Confession: I have not been able to finish level 3 because the maze got way too confusing for me to figure out.

While this is all happening, keep in mind that you’re flying along at over 100 mph. Enemies and obstacles are oblong geometric shapes. There’s a constant flashing of lights and explosions. Things pop out at you immediately, giving you about half a second to react. Trying to navigate a wireframe map that you can only see a small part of. This fast, surreal game with a pounding EDM soundtrack. This is not your usual “trippy” game. After a point, it stops feeling like a game. After a point, it feels like the game equivalent of dissociating at 3 A.M. The feeling of your brain proceeding to shit itself and lose control of its cognitive reasoning. Everything is faster. Everything is brighter. The Fight Or Flight reflex is kicking in, but your body won’t respond. Nothing makes any fucking sense anymore.

And after all this, it hits me: this not your normal “weird” Japanese game. You know, the kind where if you could actually understand the language, you could decipher things pretty quickly, and the “mystery” becomes a “curiosity.” The slow, dawning horror of remembering that Rudie can speak, hear, read, and write Japanese fluently. He lives and works in Japan. Any mysterious video game that you or I can’t understand is most likely mundane for him. Rudie sent me a copy of this game because he couldn’t figure it out. It had to be sent to me, the resident Weirdo. The person who has lived and died by these one-shot Playstation games made and forgotten about before some of the people reading this post were even born. My brain is burning and patches of white are forming around my peripheral vision and the guy who speaks the language and understands the culture is confused and nothing means anything anymore.

Lattice is the one and only game made by nousite, inc. (capitalization as found). They still exist; you can “like” them on Facebook, even. nousite, inc. made this game, then dropped game development, moving into web design and then into app development for mobile devices. This only creates more questions than it answers.

It’s Lattice.

more f1! holy shit!!!!!

My last post ended with me being real bummed out over F1 games not being super great, and me contemplating picking up the new Codemasters F1 game at a certain point.

Well, days later, Humble Bundle is like, “hey, we’re giving F1 2018 away for free.” And then I’m like, “I’m there, dude!” Maybe several generations of hardware later, F1 will get a really good game.

I’ve been playing this for a few days now, and I knew that I needed to make a blog post about this. Because, holy shit, what a nice coincidence that this would fall right in my lap so close to my last post.

Now, did F1 finally get a good game? It did! 2018 feels so fucking good once you’re out on that track. Cars feel nice and rumbly (this is a word now). It’s extremely satisfying when you nail a corner perfectly, gaining that burst of speed so you can overtake the driver in front of you or set the fastest lap time. Even more satisfying when you’re overtaking Lewis Hamilton, who’s like my favorite driver right now. He goes out, gets in his car, gets a podium finish all the time, winning without a tyre, and then he makes assholes angry by doing stuff like this:

He rules.

Anyways, the game. For the career mode, I joined McLaren, because of course. I mean, there’s a lot of history with that team and Ayrton Senna, and as someone way too nostalgic for that transition period of the late 80s-early 90s, McLaren is extremely appealing to me. McLaren is not “high-tier” team; Mercedes and Ferrari are, but they’re fine. Let me pick McLaren, then sit back while listening to some Casiopea, think about Sega, and indulge myself completely in being a piece of shit nostalgia mutant.

Cool thing is, you can make your own driver. This includes women, something that is, uh, a bit lacking in the real deal. Anyways. This woman (me) took 4th place in the Australian Grand Prix. Would have been 2nd, but I had to go and get a penalty for an accidental illegal overtake. I then moved up to 2nd place in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Would have been 1st, but then Lewis Hamilton suddenly got fast as fuck out of nowhere and overtook me on the final lap. Probably because I still don’t take corners as well as I should. But hey, getting a podium win while wedged between two Mercedes drivers is nothing to sneeze at, let alone be ashamed of.

I’m still pretty early on in the career, so I haven’t run into any kind of off-track drama, assuming that it’s there in the first place. No team owners throwing me under the bus. No cringe-inducing press conferences with that (I’m assuming) Danish guy that takes around an hour to ask a question. No ending a friendship with another driver because our (justifiably) large egos can no longer coexist. None of that. You just get that awesome on-track drama: screaming down a straightaway at 300 km/h. Narrowly avoiding collisions with drivers just as eager as you to win. Dealing with sudden technical issues, and having to make that heartbreaking decision to pit when you’re so close to the end. Just a driver and their skills, combined with their car, and the skills of their engineering team. The things that make F1 so appealing to me.

I’m going to keep playing this. I want to get further in and see where the season takes me. This games rules, and F1 is an good-ass sport, and I’m loving everything right now.

i’m getting into f-1

A couple months back, I watched this really good documentary on the career of Ayrton Senna, who is considered to be one of, if not the, best driver in the history of Formula 1 Racing. My appreciation for auto racing has been extremely casual at best, with me playing a bunch of Gran Turismo 6. I don’t know shit about cars, and I’m also a terrible driver in real life, prone to an anxiety attack if I have to do anything more complicated than going to and from the grocery store (and even then). But two months go by, and I wake up yesterday morning and I say to myself, “fuck it, today is the today I get into F1!” Do I have a team or a driver that I want to support yet? No, because I am a stupid person who decides to become interested in things on a whim. Right now, my level of fandom is “watching YouTube videos covering its history, then watching highlight videos of last weekend’s races and enjoying watching the cars go fast.” Car go vroom, baby.

Since I’ve sort of written myself into a corner and extensively talk about video games, I thought I’d put these two interests together, play a bunch of 16-bit F1 games, then do short reviews of them.

First one is Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II. Let me just go ahead and temper your expectations for this piece and tell you that this is probably the best of the bunch, and that’s not exactly a high bar to clear. It’s not terrible or anything; another game in line with Sega’s other Super Scaler stuff, like Outrun, Space Harrier, et al. You hold down a button and you accelerate. You hold another button to brake. You steer and change gear shifts with the D-Pad. It looks nice, had some good music. Very much a Racing Video Game By Sega. I suppose the biggest issue is that there’s nothing really special about it. Well, that and the fact that it’s hard to gauge what you can see (this game uses first-person viewpoint) vs where your car actually is on the track, meaning that it’s very easy to hit other cars if they’re too close to your peripheral vision. This is bad.

Otherwise, Super Monaco GP 2 is pretty solid. If you were a kid with a Genesis and this was the only game you had, you could absolutely have some fun with it.

Something I don’t find myself saying very often, but if nothing else, this game probably has the most stylish menu screen I’ve ever seen. A digitized, pensive Senna off the track, in repose.

 

Next game on the list is Final Lap Twin. Here’s the other good one I played. But I mean, it’s a racing game by Namco; those guys have to go out of their way to fuck that up. I did about ten seconds worth of research, and discovered that this was a sequel to a sequel to Pole Position. So this would be Pole Position 3. Or maybe Pole Position 4, since there was a Pole Position 2? Maybe I should have done eleven seconds of research.

It has another pretty cool menu. And I know you’re eyeing that “QUEST” option at the bottom. I’ll get to that. There’s some F3000 racing, but I don’t give a fuck about that shit, give me those expensive, elitist cars in F1!

Final Lap Twin has this split-screen view at all times, even if you’re playing single-player, which is kind of annoying. Not sure why Namco did this. It wasn’t for performance reasons, because doing two viewpoints at once like this would make the game run worse. It can’t be because the dev team wanted you to also focus on your rival/teammate, because they also show up on the minimap up top. The game plays well, and it’s fun, but I hate this.

So that QUEST mode? It’s a racing RPG.

The big problem? Unlike the rest of the game, it is entirely in Japanese. Unfortunately, my Japanese comprehension is still terrible; I only know that “cheesu” means “cheese.” As a result, I couldn’t get very far.

Then things start to get weird. A racing RPG? Yeah, sure, that makes perfect sense, actually. Driving is an acquired skill, and like all sports, you constantly strive to get better. An RPG is a fine, uh, vehicle for that. But in this mode, you aren’t driving F1 cars? Or even F3000 cars? No, you control a Mini-4WD. Notice I said “control” there. That is because, if you weren’t aware, Mini-4WD’s are toys. Remote-controlled cars placed on a small track. Think along the lines of the Pocket Circuit mini-game from the Yakuza series and you’re on the right track (need to stop with these inadvertent car puns). So instead of being the best Formula 1 driver in the world, you are now a kid who goes around beating other kids in a battle of who has the better toys. Don’t get me wrong, that could be a perfectly compelling concept for a game (again, Yakuza’s side-plot did it really well), but I wanted a role-playing game about F1 Racing, and I didn’t get it here. Might be worth looking into again someday if there’s ever a fan translation, or if I ever learn more than 10% of the Japanese language.

 

F-1 Dream is up next. Hell of a title. And hey, Capcom is involved. Surely, this should be good, right?

No. It really isn’t.

See, the thing is, for whatever fucked up reason, the PC-Engine was home to this strange and perverse sub-genre of racing games (F1 or otherwise) that were all 1) overhead, which is great when you’re controlling a fast moving object and can’t see what’s in front of you and 2) had weird control schemes where instead of moving left on the d-pad to move left and right to move right (you know, like if you were driving a car), you had to press the direction based on the course; if you were moving down, instead of turning left or right on the steering wheel to get into position, you press down on the d-pad. It’s stupid, and you will never get used to it.

The thing about this game is that you don’t start as an F1 racer. That is a right that must be earned. I must admit that I was not up to the F1 Dream challenge, because the shitty perspective and bad controls kept me from winning the very first race.

 

F-1 Pilot- You’re King of Kings is next. These shitty games need to stop having awesome titles, so as to keep easily impressed idiots like me from playing them.

Here’s what you need to know: this game sucks. It fucking sucks so fucking bad. This might very well be the worst game of the bunch. It looks like shit. It sounds like shit. It plays like shit. I fucking hate this game.

oh, you wanted music AND sound effects? fuck you, asshole!

What’s the problem? Easy, there is no way of knowing where you are going. Even if you study the pre-race map screen, you are not going to know when or where to make a turn. Turns come at you in the blink of an eye, with no road signage, no mini-map, no pit crew radio in your ear, no nothing. You either drop your speedometer by about 150 km or you are going off that track, asshole. Every single time. It’s bullshit.

 

I hate having to shit on most of these games, because other than Super Monaco GP, these all on the PC-Engine, which we all know is the preferred gaming console of God, if He had a favorite video game system. But these games are really bad, and a stain on a system with an otherwise mostly stellar library.

 

This is F-1 Circus. Probably a mistranslation of F-1 Circuit. This game was almost good. It has some pretty cool aesthetic touches, like the cars being loaded onto the track before a race. And even though it’s another overhead racing game, it stick to a control of left going left and right going right. Problem? Controls are extremely fucking touchy. You either barely move in the direction you press, or you straight up turn 90 degrees on a dime and collide into a wall. Not helping matters is that game goes really fucking fast. Ridiculously fast. As in, I had to double check and make sure my emulator was not in fast-forward fast. I think you can see a problem here. I’m sure that if I really stuck to it, I can manage the controls and the speed and find something here, but I think I’d rather go back to Super Monaco, or for that matter, finally getting around to unlocking the F-1 races in Gran Turismo 6.

I had other games that I was going to write about, but this has gone on long enough, and they’re all bad, and I can only take so much. A real fucking shame that these games were, at best, kind of decent. Like, F-1 racing in Japan was a major deal throughout the late 80s until Ayrton Senna’s untimely death in 1994. And this was the best they were getting. That fucking sucks, dude.

Oh well, fuck it. I hear good things about that F-1 2020 game. Might check that out. Maybe by then, I’ll be a more knowledgeable fan.