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NES Obscurity Quicky!

So, this week's lesson is:   if you go in to a video game store and you've lowered your standards to buy one specific game they've had on the shelf for months,
  1. they won't have it that time
  2. also DON'T buy something you know sucks by thinking to yourself, "well, maybe its not so bad."
Here to illustrate that concept...would you believe it's a NES game by LJN?
Ok, the cover art says this game has far to many nicknames.
Let's try to cut through the bluster: The top of the cartridge says, "T&C Surf Designs", the cover art implies it might be called, "T&C Surf Designs: Wood and Water Rage", but given that I don't feel like scanning the cartridge, I'm going to go back to the title screen for guidance.
If we read the title screen, it's clearly called T&C Push Start Button!, so I think that's probably it's "official" name. That's because everything that appears on-screen is definitive*
*: you know, like that great video game hero named Simon Belmondo.
Anyway, if the Menu screen doesn't fill you with unabated dread, you haven't been playing 8-bit video games for long enough. Yes, this could be described as...a cartridge of multi-sports-like mini-games!
"Wood and Water Rage" Tee hee.
However THIS game has something that MOST sports-mini-game cartridges doesn't: different character choices for each event!
But don't get too excited: there's only two events (the 3rd is "alternate between Skateboard and Surfing levels", but given that the only way to get past the skateboard level is to discover the secret of the non-useless jump, and only 1% of all gamers have EVER gotten past even one surfing level, its moot). And the character choices don't play any differently. However, they're all really weird, and I'm pretty much just going to talk about them for the rest of the article*
*: not just pretty much because the gameplay is pretty bad.
So, who are these T&C Push Start Button! competitors? Well, here's what their mini-menu-faces look like:
Now, let's take a closer look:
B.Button Skater: Tiki Man
Wearing the blue trunks and green skateboard below a honkin' big red tiki mask (with built-in tuft of hair, similar to that seen projecting from the heads of kewpie dolls and WWE professional wrestlers named "Tyson Kidd" everywhere), Tiki Man is truly...uh, one of the character choices.
Given the limitations of the skating interface (hammer one of the buttons to skate faster, press "back" to skate slower, jump off your board and fall on your face because your board hits something, OR MOST IMPORTANTLY: press "back" while jumping and actually perform a jump that can avoid obstacles), here's the view you'll most often see of this intrepid stereotype:
But at least we can say with 93% certainty that he's not wearing a goofy little towel around his neck like he thinks he's in the sauna room at a health club or something. Unlike, say...
A.Button Skater: Joe Cool
Joe Cool has an extreme case of pre-XTREME totally bodacious radicalosity: between his dashing grandma glasses and the teensy washcloth he's got draped around his shoulders, it's easy to see why he legally changed his last name to "Cool".
This is because he's over-compensating to counteract the uncoolness factor of his grandma glasses and teensy washcloth he's got draped around his neck. If any 8-bit street toughs were to make fun of those things (or his odd Christmas colors of his board and trunks), Joe Cool could whip out a legal document asserting that he is, in fact, COOL.
Then he skateboards skates 'boards replace this with whatever slang the kids call "skate boarding" leaves, pulling crazy stunts like this:
Which, of course, ends in tears, because again: bad play control.
B.Button Surfer: Kool Kat
Ok, so here we get to our first surfer, and we see this game's odd decision that surfing characters should be bizarre half-man/half-animal abominations. Perhaps this surf competition is taking place on The Island of Dr. Moreau? (If so, I have a suggestion for which NES cartridge would be the only one available in The House of Pain).
However let's leave all that baggage by the wayside. Let's even ignore the fact that this is one of the worst mini-games in all of mini-game-dom, and that no matter what you do, you basically fall off the wave to the left or to the bottom, and it happens within seconds.
I'm even willing to look past the fact that this game suffers the Pre-XTREME letter-swap of "C" for "K", because, as you may have noticed -- Kool Kat is surfing while wearing a FULL TUXEDO. I'm not sure how he could be any cooler kooler.
Oh wait, I've found out how he could be kooler: while taking screen-prints for this game, I somehow managed to hold the "RIGHT" button and either "A" or "B", and scooted far enough to the right I reached the pier before I fell below the screen to my (immaculately tailored) doom.
And what was my reward?
A victory screen where I show off in front of 6 clones of Gilligan!!
A.Button Surfer: Thrilla Gorilla
Ok, Thrilla Gorilla: you've got your work cut out for you. How can you possibly compete with Kool Kat?
Well, I guess you've got sunglasses and a cute florescent green bandana/cap/something (it blows kind of unnaturally in the wind), but...Ye Gods, when you take a tumble, you seem a little too pleased to show off your barely-sufficient swim garment:
"I am an ape: observe my banana hammock."
Chilling stuff. What else do you have to say for yourself?
Oh, I guess we could give you "extra credit" because you're willing to put in overtime by serving as a inner tube-riding obstacle on Kool Kat's course. Because Kool Kat is clearly too good for that kind of thing, he's hired some generic guy with a shiny black pompadour to run interference during Mr. Gorilla's waves:
But I donno, man...& we haven't even touched on the fact that you've forced YOUR bonus items on BOTH players: if you want bonus points, catch a bunch of bananas that are mysteriously bouncing around in the surf. If Kool Kat wants to find bonus points, he's got to catch the bananas, too. What cat kat wants bananas? NO kat, that's what!
...and you're also the star of this game's (presumably) woebegotten sequel? You know what, Thrilla Gorilla? You're gettin' nothing from me but an anti-Mario-style backlash: Kool Kat is the Luigi to your Mario, the Ken to your Ryu, the Kim Hoon to your Han Baedal -- and I want no part of your bland white-bread heroism!
Wow, I'm sorry I lashed out there.
Let's just look at the Wood and Water Rage tag-teams and call it a day:
The "Push.A Posse":   Joe Cool and Thrilla Gorilla
Suggested Team Name: The Joe and Thrilla Experience
I guess these two bonded over their love of odd sunglasses, but really -- what can you say about a team made entirely out of weak links?
"Push.B for 'Bodacious'":   Tiki Man and Kool Kat
Suggested Team Name: The Kat's Tiki Pajamas
I'm not gonna lie, I think these guys would be the toast of the coast. Between Kool Kat's savoir faire and Tiki Man's not being named 'Joe Cool' joie de vivre, I bet they're both the life of the WOOD AND WATER RAGE party.
Now, let's wrap up this article -- and indeed, the Summer of 2013 -- with the same kind of high-quality feedback that the game itself gives you with alarming frequency:
— carlmarksguy, 2013-09-13
1
I don't have much to say about T&C, but the sequel's one claim to fame is the Nintendo Power review that rambled on for almost a whole page about whether or not the objects in the first level were peanuts or logs.
2
Wow, it sounds like Nintendo Power took the same approach I did: "not much to say here, let's talk about funny graphics"
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