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By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 08, 2012   |   Episode 36 (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 looking at this week. 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!
T&C Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage
[ System: NES | Pub: LJN | Release: 1988 | Score: F ]
Zoop (Viacom)
By 1988, T&C Surf Desgins was at the height of their success. This one-time surf wear company was riding high thanks to their animated Thrilla Gorilla character and the sudden pop culture fascination with water-based extreme sports. And that's when LJN released T&C Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage and officially stopped any momentum the Hawaii-based company had.

Don't be confused by the title. The "Wood" is talking about your skateboard, which you ride all over the city streets. The "Water" is where you surf, trying to pull off sick tricks while avoiding sharks and other obstacles. The "Rage" is what you feel when you spend more than a few seconds playing either of these two mini-games. [READ MORE]

Normy's Beach Babe-O-Rama
[ System: Genesis | Pub: Electronic Arts | Release: 1994 | Score: C+ ]
Normy's Beach Babe-O-Rama
I think it's safe to say that Normy's Beach Babe-O-Rama is not the kind of game Electronic Arts would put in their 2012 product catalog. The EA of today is far too safe and calculating; the days of experimenting are over, replaced by an assembly line of me-too shooters, annual sports titles and whatever racing game Criterion has come up with for this season. The EA of today doesn't have room for a "comedy" action/platformer with a strange time travel conceit.

Normy's Beach Babe-O-Rama is a silly game, but you probably already knew that from the title. You play Normy, a wannabe cool dude who gets to the swinging beach party just as aliens decide to steal all of the beach babes (and their beach ball). Bad news, Norm! To make matters worse, the beach has been turned into a toxic waste dump. Thankfully, as luck would have it, Normy finds a magical bottle of sun tan/time travel lotion. Now it's up to Normy to go back in time, collect all of the beach babes and save his beloved beach. [READ MORE]

Toobin'
[ System: NES | Pub: Tengen | Release: 1989 | Score: C- ]
Game #3
As an arcade game, Toobin' was an impossibly complicated experience. It featured a never-ending loop of levels, five buttons to navigate and two-player support that caused more harm than good. It was a mess. Yet, despite being overly complicated and embarrassingly shallow, arcade gamers fell in love with its endearing charm and cooperative play.

To get Toobin' on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Tengen had to make a few cuts. Gone are the impressive graphics and detailed backgrounds. All of the bits of goofy charm (monsters in the water, rednecks fishing, etc.) have been reduced to barely recognizable sprites. Forget rushing down amazing waterfalls, the best you can expect from this NES port are the occasional strong current. On the other hand, they did scrap the needlessly complicated five-button set-up. [READ MORE]

California Games II
[ System: Master System | Pub: Sega | Release: 1993 | Score: D+ ]
California Games II
The beauty of the original California Games was how it turned normal, everyday activities into a fun mini-game collection that perfectly represented the Golden State. I'm talking about BMX biking, hacky sack, Frisbee, roller skating, etc. These are the sorts of outdoor activities that help define California, all in one simple package. It may not have been a very good game, but the original California Games makes a lot of sense to me.

California Games II, on the other hand, completely bewilders me. It's not that the four sports included in this collection -- hang gliding, snowboarding, body surfing and skateboarding -- can't be found in California, but they don't seem as iconic as what was in the first game. This mini-game compilation could have just as easily been titled Hawaiian Games or even Florida Games. [READ MORE]

Menace Beach
[ System: NES | Pub: Color Dreams | Release: 1990 | Score: D ]
Menace Beach
You get a lot of warning signs that Menace Beach is going to be a terrible game. For starters, there's no actual beach. It's also developed by Color Dreams, a company that made unlicensed games for the Nintendo Entertainment System before changing their name in disgrace. The final straw has to be the story, in which a pre-teen kid appears to be having a romantic relationship with a fully-grown woman. Forget Menace Beach, this game should have been called To Catch A Predator Beach.

When his beach-front town gets invaded by ninjas, it's up to our skateboarding hero to roll in and save the day. But don't look now, because these pesky ninjas are just the beginning of our woes. Before long you'll have to contend with killer fire hydrants, apartment dwellers throwing dynamite, flying clowns and dragons in the sewer. And that's just in the first level. [READ MORE]

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