Watch: Chinny on Supergran

Obviously, there’s no universe where a game based on Supergran would be anything but a bit naff. A game based on Supergran published by Tynesoft though? That’s going to be a special kind of naff, the best kind of naff and really, it doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

There’s something wonderfully Don’t Buy This about every version of Supergran Chinny looks at in this vid and I’ll be honest, I can’t ever get enough of that sort of thing.

It’s clear from whatever version you pick, the template the game works to is going to present problems regardless of anything else. With sprites as big as they are, it’s going to be difficult to squeeze any sort of arcade game out of that. And sure enough, it’s a struggle! An almost unsalvageable one at that.

Despite that though, a couple of the versions really do push to get something, anything, that works from it.

It’s marred by flickering but the Commodore 16 version looks really good. Well, providing none of the sprites go over the buildings, anyway. The Commodore 64 version makes a noble push to almost Minter-ise the game. It doesn’t work but the effort’s clearly visible. They’re proper good tries and in all seriousness, likely taking more effort than the game deserves.

The thing about games is that even a ropey one takes a lot of effort and I think that’s why a lot of consumer-first journalism rubs me the wrong way. Like, I have an enormous love of tat films and until the internet developed into the siloes it kinda is now, I had no idea anybody saw these films as a problem, as aberrations, wrong.

The same goes for games, music, whatever. This isn’t a New Sincerity thing because urgh at all that! This is a complete so what if they’re not the most earnest 10/10 things? I can still find things to enjoy and appreciate. Well, providing they’re not harmful anyway. There’s only so much problematic I can stomach.

I am totally guilty of falling into the trap where I wholly believed the “if you pay money for it, damn right it better be the best” mantra of consumer journalism, sometimes I have to snap myself out of it. It is that deeply ingrained in our culture, that pervasive, that it’s hard not to fall into it sometimes.

I should stress that I’m talking about consumer led journalism, not criticism here. Very specifically that thing which holds makers prisoners of perfection because money is finite and only the best will do. (Amount of best may vary, terms and conditions apply. Please see a doctor if you suffer side effects)

Mind you, that’s why this site exists. It exists so that I can talk about things I enjoy in games and why I enjoy them, what I get out of them – videos, articles or whatever.

Yes, even if it’s a slightly naff TV tie in game. That’s just how things roll round here, so nerr.

Read: The All Shooter

I swear so much of 2020 is spent with me trying to reconcile existing at the end of history with the odd effects it has on my noggin. Catching the arse end of a million potential futures due to having spent the better part of half a century on the planet makes the cultural what’s now is then and what’s then is now that is any artform or media in 2020 weirdly difficult to process.

Not gonna lie, this ReBind piece on The All Shooter really didn’t help in that regard. It’s totally on the nose to the point of being almost too easy, too obvious. It’s exactly that obviousness that makes it messier for me to deal with because, well, it’s only a tiny amount of changes required here and there for it to fit perfectly into any year in the past decade.

Like I say, living at the end of history is weird. I have to concentrate really hard to remember that this article wasn’t always obvious, wasn’t always so deeply embedded in what videogames simply are. The All Shooter was not always a thing. It doesn’t have to always be a thing and isn’t all things – it’s a looming shadow over all videogames though because it forever dominates conversations.

The latest all shooter is the latest all discourse. Its position bought and assured, regardless of quality, invention and aesthetics.

As games have pushed further and further into fringes, niches rarely explored in the medium prior, towards audiences who’ve been forced to defend their right to Just Be in games, the discourse dominance of the All Shooter is a great disservice to all of games.

But we know this, it’s been said for my entire time in games, year after year after year. It’s right there in the ReBind piece. That’s the thing though, isn’t it?

What’s then is now, what’s now is then. And so it goes until the grave.

No wonder it wrecks my head.

Watching: Chinnyvision on SmashTV

I’m a few weeks behind on my regular Chinny watching but for those new to it, it’s a show (mainly) dedicated to comparing ports of 8 bit games, running on the original hardware wherever possible.

Whilst I absolutely understand the need to get as much parity between versions of modern games, there’s a joy to be had in how games used to be almost like “here’s the first one and here’s five cover versions of it”, or whatever. It led to some often fascinating diversions, not always for the best either but them’s the breaks.

SmashTV isn’t really the greatest example of that really but it’s a game I have a fairly complicated relationship with. It should, by rights, be a game that I adore. Kitsch gameshow, bit of action movie silliness in a Robotron pudding and yet, I find it almost unbearable to play because of how rigidly designed around extracting money from the player the game is. In its arcade form, it’s pretty bloody brutal and not in my preferred way. It’s a game of endurance primarily and that’s very not my bag.

As if to compound things, having ports handled by Probe was never going to ease that any. At the time they were rather notorious for putting an awful lot of effort into enormous showy graphics when that rather literally would have to come at the cost of the game. The huge sprites of Trantor made it as close to unplayable a game as can be without being obtuse, the elegance of Dan Dare 1 & 2 entirely lost in Probe’s own sequel. I can’t say I was a fan.

And as Chinny’s video here shows, SmashTV is very much the archetypal Probe port in a couple of its iterations. The cut to the C64 version is jarring as the game loses the excessive and needless Probe-isms in favour of a starker, more traditional arcade style and it’s so, so much better.

Anyway, Chinny wades into the ports with the usual gusto so that’s enough from me.

Chinny’s Patreon is here. Subscribe to their YouTube here.

Reading: Get equipped with righteous violence…

Reminding myself that I have a copy of Treachery In Beatdown City that I really need to get round to playing this week, Dia is as on the ball as ever over on Paste.

It’s not trying for some vision of a perfect fantasy of leftist politics. Its sense of civility stops at “please stop fucking with me or I’ll beat your ass.”

It’s 2020 and being told to be nice towards people who’d gladly off you got old a long while back. I suspect me and Treachery In Beatdown City will get on just fine.