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A Week Full of Four Letter Words
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 10, 2012   |   Episode 32 (Show Archive)  

   

Last week we hid in terror as aliens attacked from all sides. Thankfully that won't be the case when we look at A Week Full of Four Letter Words! These are five of the most diverse games you'll ever see (featuring everything from robots to drug dealer to men in tights), each connected by one simple naming convention: Four letter titles! Who needs lengthy subtitles when four simple letters will do the trick?

CONTEST: Can you guess what games I'm reviewing? Below you will find clues for to all five games I'm reviewing. Tweet me @DefunctGames with your guesses for a chance to win a download codes and other valuable prizes. The person that gets the most right before Friday wins! [UPDATE: The prize has been claimed, but that doesn't mean you have to stop guessing!]
Zoop (Viacom)
[ System: Genesis | Genre: Puzzle | Release: 1995 | Score: C- ]
Zoop (Viacom)
Viacom New Media sure was proud of Zoop. Not only was it released on seven different consoles (including the monochrome Game Boy and "64-bit" Jaguar), but some versions featured the outlandish catchphrase: "America's Largest Killer of Time." With that amount of hubris, it's a shame that Zoop ended up being a mediocre puzzle game on pretty much every console it was ported to.

This is a cynical attempt to cash in on the sudden success of Tetris, Columns and Dr. Mario. Unfortunately, most of those puzzlers had peaked years earlier, leaving Zoop to compete in a world full of fighting games and first-person shooters. Making matters worse, the core gameplay was shallow when compared to the titans of the puzzle genre. Zoop is all show. [READ MORE]

NARC (Acclaim)
[ System: NES | System | Genre: Action | Release: 1990 | Score: F ]
NARC (Acclaim)
The 1980s was the height of the modern day drug hysteria. Nancy Reagan decided to "Just Say No," the D.A.R.E. program was created and arcades machines greeted eager gamers with a warning about illegal intoxicants. While most companies wisely ignored the hyperventilating about drugs, there were a few that took things a little too far. Never one to shy away from making a terribly obvious point, Midway answered the call to arms with NARC.

Forget about maturely tackling this country's complicated drug laws, Midway decided to turn the whole ordeal into an ultra-violent action game full of blood and guts. While this may have been a great way to attract kids to play your mediocre shooter, it didn't help the millions of people who were thrown in prison for non-violent drug offenses, effectively becoming a pawn in a tired political struggle. [READ MORE]

Hook (Sony Imagesoft)
[ System: Sega CD | Genre: Action | Release: 1992 | Score: B- ]
Hook (Sony Imagesoft)
It's hard to believe that Hook was the disaster it was. Between the amazing cast (featuring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins and even Phil Collins), a director that can do no wrong (Steven Spielberg) and a popular children's story everybody knows and loves, Hook was destined to be another sure-fire hit. But it wasn't. It was trashed by critics and made significantly less money than anybody anticipated. Although it would eventually go on to make money, it's clear that everybody involved looks at this 21 year old movie as something of a sour note.

My expectations for Hook the Sega CD game were significantly lower than Hook the movie. Developed by Ukiyotei (makers of both Meta Slug games for the Neo Geo Pocket, among other things) and published by Sony Imagesoft (the company that eventually became Sony Computer Entertainment), Hook is a generally fun movie adaptation with strong platforming gameplay and some truly awful voice acting. [READ MORE]

Klax (Tengen)
[ System: Genesis | Genre: Puzzle | Release: 1990 | Score: B- ]
Klax (Tengen)
Despite having nothing but great memories of Klax as a kid, there's something about the puzzler that has always left me, well, puzzled. It doesn't matter what system it's for, I always have a great time playing this color-matching game. But then, days later, I have a hard time defending it. I can't get over how shallow it is or how the game forces you to play by its own rules. And yet I enjoy it. Sometimes it seems like my opinion of Klax changes faster than the weather.

Klax isn't the type of game you hear much about these days. Despite being released on dozens of systems, Klax was never granted a sequel. These days it's never brought up in conversation, even if the subject is classic puzzle games. So maybe I'm not alone and the rest of the world is as conflicted about Klax as I am. Either way, there's definitely something here that is worth paying attention to. Even if I don't always love Tengen's inventive puzzler, I still feel it's the type of game that should be remembered. [READ MORE]

M.U.L.E. (Mindscape)
[ System: NES | Genre: Board Game | Release: 1990 | Score: A- ]
M.U.L.E. (Mindscape)
Every element of M.U.L.E. feels like it was specifically designed to keep Nintendo Entertainment System owners as far away as possible. While other science fiction-based games involved fighting aliens and blowing stuff up, this four-player board game was more interested in developing land and using your mechanical mule to pack valuable products to and from the local shop. Even the cover evoked the spirit of Christopher Columbus and other great explorers of yesteryear, something that isn't nearly as exciting as fighting space monsters when you're 10 years old.

But despite the lack of explosions and heart-pumping action, I was determined to tame M.U.L.E. Unfortunately, this 8-bit strategy game lacked a proper tutorial mode. Oh sure, the game came with an instruction that tried to explain the nuance, but it didn't take long for my eyes to glaze over. Despite some stumbles, I managed to come to grips with M.U.L.E. and discover a video game experience unlike anything I had ever seen before. It was the moment I realized that video games could be a lot more ambitious than ninjas and pirates. [READ MORE]

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