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Up from (Super) Obscurity

This week we're looking at Barkley: Shut Up and Jam!™ It's a 2-on-2 basketball video game with a gritty, "urban" setting from the late '90s (though I could have given you all that information by saying "basketball video game from the late '90s")
We also go into this game with a strike against it: it's a sports game named after a sports star; in this case, Charles Barkley (or "Sir Charles," as the game calls him...evidently he was knighted at some point). As experience has taught us, unless the game is Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, these sports-star-titled-games are NEVER any good!
The game begins with a picture of what is either Charles Barkley dunking a basketball...
...or I guess it could equally be "Slingblade" in a poorly lit room. Either way, I imagine the individual pictured likes them french-fried peee-taters, mmmm-hmmmm.
But enough of this talk! Sir Charles has come to do but two things:
  1. SHUT UP
  2. AND JAM!™
AND HE'S ALL OUT OF "SHUT UP"!
Wait, can you really trademark "AND JAM!"?
Nevertheless, this game is a veritable corny-copia of tough-as-nails basketball competitors who have also come to first, SHUT UP, and then to, AND JAM!™
In the spirit of the former activity (SHUTTING UP) I'll briefly run down the cast-of-1.33333-dozens of "game-faces" available:
Phoenix's pair of strident b-ball defenders feature the big tamale, "Sir" Charles "Barkley"!™ His sidekick, Dane, seems like an amiable guy -- the "good cop" to His Knightedness's "pissed off cop," if you will. Also I have it on good authority that his favorite kind of breakfast pastry is danishes!
Watts is represented by a tag-team I like to call "Chilly D-Train." Their game-faces are as fierce as my inability to think of anything to say about them, except that I'm not quite sure what's happening with the upper left corner of Chilly's do-rag/kerchief. What is that? Badly-cropped digital photo? Smurf-style floppy hat edge? Internal heating device to keep him from getting chilly? The world may never know!
Evidently, everything IS bigger in Texas! Just look at the puffy faces of "Sarge" and "Fly By"! I'm not sure what Sarge is so smug about...his haircut is hardly military regulation, and everyone knows it! Perhaps to over-compensate for his hirsute team mate, Fly By, sports a goofy "long on top, buzzed on the sides" 'do last seen growing out of the scalp of one of those background kids from "King of the Hill." Yyyyup.
Chicago: The Windy City. Evidently this propensity for rapid atmospheric disturbance has caused its 'ballers to use ungodly gobs of product and fixative to form their hair into stiff plateaus and mesas. Seriously, I'm pretty sure Gunner could headbutt mountain goats into unconsciousness with that high-top! Also "Xaos" (presumably pronounced "Zay-ohs", like in Planet of the Apes) appears to be Robby Rotten from Lazytown -- I mean, look at that cartoony chin! It's nice to know that Mr. Rotten has finally learned the joy of exercise, and (judging by his choice in jewelry) he's also accepted Jesus as his own personal Sporticus!
Oakland's finest include Funky D, who appears to be a blaxploitation version of Rambo (down to the 1970s haircut), and the equally racially-sensitive caricature of "Smoothy." Though it's odd that the ginormous-looking Smoothy who has "Speed" maxed out, while Commando Funky D is good at hitting 3-pointers. Sadly there's no stat for "eating things that would make a billygoat puke", because I bet (like John Rambo) Funky D would TOTALLY have all 8 "basketball points" in THAT skill!
Miami's gruesome twosome include the up-beat T Bone, apparently a well-rounded b-baller with a lot of good points. They balance out his team by sticking him with "Wildman", who appears to be Miles O'Keefe with Robert Z'Dar's chin glued on to the bottom of his face. Tough break, Mr. Bone!
The...uh....coffee city of Seattle is well-represented by Stonewall and Spike...who really kind of sound like one of those "attitude"-y game character duos from this era. Toejam and Earl...Two Crude Dudes...Bubsy (who has enough attitude to be a tag-team ALL BY HIMSELF!)? Meet "Stonewall and Spike." In continuing the odd trend of making the badass-lookin' fellows NOT have super ball-stealin' skills, the be-mohawked Spike is also a speedster, while Stonewall is good under the basket...AND is sporting a warm-looking knit cap! Perhaps, in a show of good sportsmanship, he could loan it to Chilly, that guy's freezing!
Brooklyn, NYC boasts a curious duo: Sweet Pea and Newts. If I understand correctly, Sweet Pea is Popeye's adopted son, all grown up! He's definitely got his adopted father's sense of swell hat fashion! For some reason he's teamed up with Jesse "the Body" Ventura, who is going under the unlikely b-ball name of "Newts." Perhaps he buys a lot of witchcraft supplies? Eye of newt...leg of frog...tongue of SHUT UP AND JAM!™? But most importantly, if you'll indulge me for a minute: No...Sleep...Til Brooklyn! Thanks!
Ummm, you'll also notice that no one is very good or very bad at anything...there's not a lot of min-maxing going on with their stats! I'm guessing this helps hide the fact that the statistics have very impact on gameplay!
And what a gameplay it is!
This is basically a new coat of paint on the Arch Rivals game: run up court, elbow your opponent to get the ball, run back down court.
The additional gameplay feature is that you can hold the "L" or "R" wing-buttons on the controller to engage a limited-stamina but quickly-replenishing "RUN" feature. On the downside, I'm pretty sure they took away the feature to command your team-mate to shoot. Dammit.
There's really not a lot more to say...so let's look at some Arch Rivals pictures!
Yeah, winning is everything! But, hmmm...some parts of that look a little off. Are those guys on the left drooling or foaming at the mouth? And what's wrong with the coach's chin?
Yeah, that seems, uhh.....
AHHHHH WHAT'S WRONG WITH HIS FACE AND EYES!?
OHHHHH GOD, MAKE IT STOP, MAKE IT STOOOOOP!!!!
In conclusion: there's something wrong with my NES emulation screen-capturing for Arch Rivals! C'mon, NES emulator -- SHUT UP AND JAM!™
— carlmarksguy, 2012-04-27
1
Reminds me of when we used to use Sharpies to black out all the eyes and mouths of people's photographs in the newspaper, in second grade. Ah, remomies.
2
When I think of 2nd grade hijinx, I'm reminded of when a few other kids and I were looking through a book about WWI or something, and someone commented "that's what happens when people fart" upon seeing a bunch of dead bodies (though as an adult, I know this was not strictly true).
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