A History of Home Cookin’

by Adam Robinson on

God damnit

Reading through Joe Rybicki’s Ziff-trospectives, I was reminded of the many times I wished I had a “cone of violence” around. I mean, those felonies are kind of hard to get rid of. But it got me thinking about games I’ve played that enjoyed taking a shit on me just because I was doing good. So, I thought, “I (don’t) get paid to write for Nintedorks, so what Nintendo games have made me want to kill a baby in anger?”

Obviously, no list about frustrating Nintendo games is complete without the obligatory mention of Mario Kart. The whole premise is kind of crazy in this game: a middle-aged plumber, his retarded brother, and a kidnap-prone princess welcome their mortal enemies into their lands to race around and play grab-ass for an afternoon. Okay, I can kind of buy this, as you’d probably get bored of jumping on mushroom men and eating mushrooms and shit, and some downtime is acceptable. But if you’re going to take the time to put together a race circuit and everything, is it too much to expect that everyone is racing to win? On 150cc, the computer-controlled racers aren’t racing to win–unless you count “Who Can Shove the Most Red and Blue Shells Up Luigi’s Ass?” a race. It’s not about who wins so much as making sure that you do not place first. In terms of the Mario Universe, this doesn’t make sense: is Bowser really going to take time out of his day, call up Toad, Donkey Kong, Princess Peach, Boo and all of those other assholes, and devise an ingenius scheme to make Luigi lose on DK Jungle? Why not just ransack the Mushroom Kingdom while everyone else is playing go-kart? As diabolical plans go, this one is kind of ridiculous.

What drives me crazy about this is that back in the day, we were okay with this! Getting beat at the finish line every single time was just part of the experience. Well, there’s more of this kind of shit that we put up with over the years. Hit the jump for more.

Fighting games are pretty notorious for home-cookin’ (or “computer assists” or “bullshit” or whatever your favorite term is), partly due to their roots in the arcades. You’d insert a quarter, beat the shit out of some AI moron, and then get your spine ripped out by some virtual rapist. “Huh,” you’d say, “Must have been a fluke. Let me try again.” Five bucks in quarters later and you’re being help by the Minneapolis police under suspicion of felony property destruction and indecent exposure. Whereas most fighting games made you face off against increasingly smart AI versions of characters that were based off of real peoples’ strategies, the Mortal Kombat series was different. The computer wasn’t any better one easy than it was on “Killer” or whatever stupid word they used for hard, it was just able to access more cheats than it was previously. Anyone who played MK3 knows Sub-Zero’s dial-a-kombo (HP, LP, LK, HK, Roundhouse) was pure butter: freeze, dial it in, rip that jerk’s spine out. But if you played against a Sub-Zero, you’d notice they’d throw in a few more moves in-between–we’re talking jump kicks, teleports, uppercuts; you name it, the computer could do it–all while during the dial-a-kombo. And if you tried to do that shit? The computer would block and punish you mercilessly. I don’t mind losing to AI when it’s designed to beat other human opponents; I do care when I lose to computer who can literally do the impossible. You can’t replicate those kombos! All you could do was watch while Sub-Zero beat the shit out of you and then turned into a cougar or something. In retrospect, MK3 really wasn’t very good, but it certainly was unduly hard.

Goldeneye, and to a lesser extent, Perfect Dark, weren’t really that hard in single-player mode. A bullet would propel an enemy into an animation that was unbreakable–“The Jump to the Left Heard ‘Round the World”–you could shoot them all day, and they wouldn’t retaliate/die until the animation was finished. Clip after clip could loaded into someone as long as that first bullet landed, and you walked away unscathed. Until, of course, you tried to play against some serious bots in Perfect Dark’s multiplayer mode. One of the best features of PD’s multiplayer was the sedative dart gun–one shot put the opposing playing into in a blurry, lost mess. No real use during the campaign, but during multiplayer, multiple darts made the effect worsen until you literally couldn’t see anything at all. Best of all, the effect persisted after death! It was a griefer’s dream game, as one life’s worth of being a douchebag could persist for the whole round. Unfortunately, the smarter bots knew this shit and more; if you played on a map with any kind of weapon like this, you might as well quit. This blur effect, coupled with the frame rate reduction that came with playing with multiple bots, made multiplayer unplayable in many circumstances. The home cookin’ in this game was so awesome that it made the game unplayable. My hat’s off to Rare for implementing a kind of bullshit rarely seen in everyday life.

If you meet someone who says that the Donkey Kong Country games are bad, you’re allowed to beat the ever-living shit out of them. These games are amazing. But the DKC games were different from other 2D platformers. When you jumped in Mario Bros., you knew if you were going to connect with a goomba or not. The hitboxes were so precise in that ancient time. DKC was like the Wild West–you could hit a Croc on his head and still die. On your next guy, you could hit the same enemy on the same spot and he’d die. Things just didn’t make sense in this game. Visually, objects like coconuts would bounce harmlessly over your head, yet the game would pause, DK would jump down, and Diddy would take a crack at things. This wasn’t so much frustrating as it was funny; a grown gorilla with SIDS was cut-up back in the day. Rare would later rectify this in subsequent DKC games, which became so hard as to require no ending implemented–you’d never see it anyway, asshole!

That’s all I can remember for now. If you remember anymore, make sure to drop a line on the forums or email us.