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Three Stooges.019

Title: The Three Stooges
Platform: NES
Date: 1989
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beam Software

 

I recently discovered the Johnny games, a series of old Game Maker games made by Kimberly Kubus (Sparlatacus), through a labyrinth of dead links starting at cly5m’s (of Seiklus fame) website. While I couldn’t find any of the games online or even any footage of them, I played through one of cly5m’s fangames, Johnny’s Odyssey, which revolves around a great “game mechanic” and has a wonderful, MSPaint aesthetic. While having nothing to do with Johnny, the games and their aesthetic and the hushed internet murmurs surrounding them reminded me of another game, a Cactus game, which pushes the MSPaint aesthetic into a new level of internet gaudiness and punk flamboyance: Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf is essentially a series of progressively difficult minigames set to the tunes of band Fucking Werewolf ASSO.

It’s a really tough game that I’ve never been able to beat, but its spastics are legendary and have been on my mind all week.

So what does this have to do with The Three Stooges, some Activsion licensed game for the NES? The Three Stooges, an NES port of a Cinemaware Commodore Amiga game, is also essentially a series of progressively difficult minigames, only instead of surreal, glittery punk, it has a Columbia-era, 1930s Three Stooges aesthetic. And yet, the game is every bit as untamed and non-sequitured as Keyboard Drumset Fucking Werewolf. It’s surprising, really, because on paper, The Three Stooges seems more like an archaic ancestor to Mario Party or something, but it’s more Fucking Werewolf than anything, but because of its grounds in reality, it’s even more grotesque.

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Seiklus1

Title: Seiklus
Platform: PC
Date: 2003
Publisher: Independent
Developer: cly5m

I had first learned of Seiklus a few years ago when I was over at the Hardcore Gaming 101 boards, inquiring about what everyone thought the lineage of Fez (2012) was. The topic quickly devolved into a message board boxing match (which is rare for those boards, so I must’ve really asked a bad question…), but before I made it out, someone told me to look up an old PC game from 2003 called Seiklus.

One of the main things that was brought up in that topic (aside from bloodshed) was the idea that there was an “original indie game.” While our excitable gaming media usually insists that Braid (2008) is the game that put indie games on the map, I usually cited Cave Story (2004) as the game that brought pixels and small development teams into vogue. The whole topic seems to cause an endless and bitter debate between hobbyist game historians, so I was glad to find a game that I think quells the issue.

Seiklus, which is Estonian for “adventure,” a tip I got from Wikipedia, was developed by a sole author, the somewhat elusive cly5m, in 2003, using Game Maker. From what I can gauge, this is the first time anything significant had been made in Game Maker, or any game making software targeted at novice computer programmers for that matter. In retrospect, in the history of video games, Seiklus is inevitably a big deal.

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