Monday, July 26, 2010

Unlike Mega Man 2, This Could Still Happen in the Future

As I was reading through my last post, I realized that I had unintentionally made it stupidly long. Four full reviews in one post was really a bit too much all at once. I decided that the next time I wanted to write a game review, I should try to do one game at a time, just to keep things nice and short. Digestible. Manageable. Biodegradable.

This past week, I found myself returning to an old favorite for kicks and giggles. "Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden" is an RPG retelling (forecasting?) of the great B-Ball Apocalypse of 2041. Twelve years after B-Ball was outlawed and many of the legends of the sport are massacred, a Chaos Dunk devastates Neo New York, and Charles Barkley is blamed for the wreckage. It's up to Charles, his son, Hoopz, and a cast of other allies to clear his name and restore the glory of B-Ball to the world. The journey ahead is long and rough, so be sure to stock up on steroids and chicken fries...

Even if you haven't really been paying attention to professional basketball since "Space Jam" (like myself, except I don't think I even saw the movie), the plotline of "Barkley, Shut up and Jam: Gaiden" is easy to follow (although you might miss a few jokes). Surprisingly, despite being a fan-made game (the entire credits list appears to be three pseudonyms long), a lot of work went into this game, and the result is a few good hours of a hilarious trip though basketball, science fiction, and pop culture. "Barkley" isn't just a straight RPG either. It pulls elements from many different genres, including old-school point-and-click adventure games, puzzles, horror/survival games, dating simulators, and a few simple quick-time scenes for good measure.

Be warned though that "Barkley" is very much not a game for children. Between frequent strong language and occasional mature themes, this game is probably for adults only. Also, as this is a fan-made game, there is a bit of editorializing in certain places. The most frequent occurrence of this is at the save points throughout the game. A talking gas pump-like object lectures you on how your American tastes in gaming prove your stupidity and how you should switch to the "far superior" world of Japanese gaming. Fanboyish, yes. Annoying, yes. But I suppose the developers have the right to throw in their pearls of wisdom now and then. (Fine, maybe not pearls of wisdom... How about chickpeas of commentary?)

If you're willing to look past a few minor annoyances, "Barkley, Shut Up and Jam" is truly a fun experience that's worth playing a few times. I remember when I first played this game back in 2008, there were several points in the game where I found myself laughing for five minutes straight. Even playing through this game two years later, I still find some little bits of dialogue that I might have missed before that make me chuckle. "Barkley" is well-assembled and intriguing, and I'm truly hoping that the mentioned sequel is not a gag, because I would really like to see this game continue.

Go download it for free.

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