(Wally Bear And The NO! Gang, 1992, American Game Cartridges)
It’s time for the review that will give you 5 for $20 all day long: Wally Bear and the NO! Gang
(Great, they’re fucking up the English language right in the title, and I’m a pothead who made a weed joke right in the opening line about an anti-drug game. Yeah, this is going to go REAL well…)
They had no logo so I thought I'd make one that fit their business model.
OK, before we get started, a little history lesson… American Game Cartridges was founded as a subsidiary of a company called ShareData in 1990, and was put into the hands of former Atari/Tengen employee Richard C. Frick. They started out with ports of the Exidy arcade games Chiller (easily the most violent and gory game on the NES, a light-gun game so awesome that Mike might review it himself) and Death Race, best known for sharing a title with the only movie Jason Statham starred in that sucked. They also made an odd puzzle game, Shockwave, before Frick left (*cough* Chapter 11 *cough*) to start another company well-known to fans of unlicensed NES garbage, American Video Entertainment. At the time, programmer Keith Rupp was working on AGC's fourth game, Wally Bear and the Just Say No! Gang. Frick bought the rights to it, and to the other AGC games.
How can she say no to drugs when kissing Mr. T's head has to be like licking a Sonorian Desert Toad?
This was originally going to be called Wally Bear and the Just Say NO! Gang, but the term “Just Say No!” was already copyrighted. For those of you not around in the 80’s, president Ronald Reagan (considered either one of the best or one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, I’m definitely of the latter opinion) started the War on Drugs. I’m not going on a big rant about it, other than to say it’s NOT WORKING, it will never work, and it’s money down the fucking drain that would be better spent on education or heath care or maybe fixing the goddamned unemployment problem. Right around this time his hosebeast of a wife, Nancy (best known for consulting with astrologists about major policy decisions), appeared on Diff'rent Strokes (I think she was on Punky Brewster too) to introduce the Just Say No campaign to the world. Basic idea was that if someone offers you drugs, well, just say no. The problem with this (and the D.A.R.E. campaign) was lumping marijuana in with all the hard drugs. Some people got a little older, tried some weed, and realized that it’s perfectly safe (and pretty fun!). Said people then assume that the anti-drug people were lying their asses off about hard drugs like cocaine and heroin (and nowadays, meth) too, and get hooked. You’d think that people in the government would learn, but the Obama administration’s crackdown on medical marijuana in California (legal by state law, mind you) says otherwise.
No offense A.C., but ever try to duck the birds? They won't damage you for shit even if they land right on your head!
Anyway, Wally Bear is basically D.A.R.E.: the game. Funny thing is that the game didn’t meet Nintendo’s content guidelines, due to being about drugs, despite being an anti-drug game. There’s some irony for you. You’re a bear on a skateboard, and the game starts with you having to gather your friends (all of whom are being harassed by various dealers) for a party your uncle is throwing, with your mom telling you “Remember, stay smart, don’t start!” (That was the other anti-drug catchphrase at the time). It’s a basic side-scrolling platformer/adventure game, and the first noticeable thing is the shockingly good controls. Very responsive, really nothing to complain about here at all. Graphics are decent, I’ve certainly seen worse. What gets annoying right off is the birds that fly around in random patterns and kill you in 1 hit. Why a bunch of doves want to kill you (or what at all this has to do with drugs, unless “white birds” is some kind of coke slang I’ve never heard) is beyond me. There’s also some bulldogs that are pretty harmless unless you skate right into them. Power-ups include Frisbees to use as weapons (and they give health, though no health bar is ever present) and a skateboard power-up that makes you go faster. The gameplay is pretty much crap despite the tight controls, you’re pretty much forced to go really fast, and just hope you get lucky and one of the fucking birds doesn’t plow into you. You can’t memorize their patterns, they don’t have any.
That's just as weird as seeing a Bio Force Ape poster.
Level 2 takes you on a subway to rescue your friend Toby the Turtle from pill-dealing/tossing rats. Simple stuff here, just run and jump over the rats to the end. Most notable here is the ads for AGC’s 5th (and unreleased) game Crossbow.
Let's go to a gas station where NO drug deals EVER take place!
Level 3 has you back outside with the fucking birds again. For a game designed for little kids, this game is pretty hard, and it’s the cheap bad kind of hard. Level 4 is exactly the same as level 2, level 5 has you back outside… yeah, I think I’m done here.
Just Say No is so open to interpretation.
Overall Score: 3/10: While I appreciate the good controls, it would have nice to build a decent game around them. This is nothing more than repetitive crap, and I can’t imagine even the most easily amused little kid playing this for more than 10 minutes without getting bored. Seriously, I can’t really think of anything else to say about this.
Got any unlicensed crap you want me to take a shot at? Let me know in the comments.
(NESquester: No chance I'm doing Chiller so that one gets my vote. Prove to me it is a gorier, scarier game than Sweet Home! That game is a mindfuck and a half. Great shit yet again!)