FEATURE: The Epic Games Competition 3: Wacko

WANDA: See parts one and two for more info about the competition.  Willy and I passed the controller back and forth and took turns trying to high score on games from the Midway Arcade Treasures discs for Gamecube.  The games were chosen based on their obscurity and whether either of us had played them.

We had trouble with the third game.  We tried Timber.  I can’t quite remember why we didn’t wind up playing it, but I think it was because I was too good and could have gone on indefinitely with my turn.  Willy may deny this.  Then we tried Splat!, which we couldn’t play because neither of us could quite figure it out, nor could we read the text for the high scores even on a 20′ screen.  Then we tried Kosmik Krooz’r, which was horrible and also had unreadable text (Kosmik Krooz’r also has port issues since it was meant to be played while looking at a mirror and model, but they do a pretty good job emulating it).  We settled on Kosmik Krooz’r’s prequel, Wacko.

It was a feeble finish.

You ride around a cave full of mismatched aliens, shooting pairs (first one monster, then another) to match the bodies properly. It becomes harder and harder to match the pairs as more mismatched monsters fill the screen, and a misfire makes all sorts of problems and is almost always an automatic fail in later levels. You die if time runs out on your wave or if the monsters touch you.

The gameplay was simple, but boring. I don’t really remember much about it except every wave you beat brought you deeper into the cave. Willy was way more into this than I was.

Actually, all I really have to say was all that about how we chose the game. I didn’t like this at all, I was bored and couldn’t muster the energy to play it. I think I could only get about four waves in. There are far better games on the Midway Arcade Treasures collection. Maybe Willy has some kinder words. Willy?

WILLY: To clarify: Wanda and I didn’t play Timber since games of Timber can last 20 minutes on 1 credit. Arcade owners must’ve hated it.

Wacko is more interesting than Wanda describes. Midway cranked out lots of “arena” shooters: Robotron, SmashTV (and semi-sequel Total Carnage), Splat!, and other less notables. Wacko is a departure from these with a focus on precision. Aiming is required, rather than Robotron-like rapid blasting. It’s a unique gimmick that I appreciate, even if the Wacko is less gripping (actually, quite dull) beside its counterparts. It’s like Balloon Bomber compared to Space Invaders (if that makes sense to anyone but me). Since Wanda trash talked Wacko, I’ll describe its merits:

1) The rules change as you progress. Level 1 involves shoot-matching similar enemies to eliminate them. Later levels involve swapping mismatched enemies’ halves (seeing a video would be more descriptive). Even later, the enemies change to killer eggs, then bats, after being matched. Some mechanics are more fun than others, but the variety is nice.

2) The large cartoonish enemies (including Dracula) provide Wacko a sense of style. Also, the backgrounds change every level to give the appearance that you are moving across the planet. A cave will be in the distance one level, up close the next, and later you’ll be in it. Plus, you have to love that weird tilted cabinet design

3) It’s slower and less twitchy than Robotron, but not less difficult. This is a feat of design.

To summarize: Wacko is cool—not great—but with enough quirks to separate it from the pack. But I also regard Splat! pretty highly, so take that with a grain of salt.

Scores (top three for each contestant, ranked in order):
19400 – Willy
13300 – Willy
11400 – Wanda
11200 – Willy
10650 – Wanda
10000 – Wanda

Willy wins the competition overall. He’s a boy and girls are no good at games.

Images from KLOV, which is the only place that would ever have screenshots of this stuff. Mysteriously, they do not have any screenshots of the mismatched bodies.

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