Lurking deep within the Disney Vault is one of their more bizarre decisions in the gaming industry. Why did they make a survival horror point-and-click game, and why for 101 Dalmatians of all things? Eh, who cares, it’s really fun.
If you were a kid in the 90s playing CD-ROM games, you probably played at least one Disney Interactive game. For kids learning how to use the computer, Disney games were the best of the best, the cream of the crop. 101 Dalmatians: Escape from Devil Manor, Disney’s Animated Storybook: Mulan, Disney’s The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, you name it. All your favorite Disney franchises, right on your desktop!
Oh, and Nightmare Ned. You remember him, right? That great beloved Disney franchise? … No?
Nightmare Ned was a platformer game released sometime in late 1997 (it’s difficult to get an exact date, due to vague distribution of PC games at the time). It was, as far as I know, the only Disney Interactive game to not be based directly on an established IP – it only had a single season of a cartoon that was made after the game began development, and by the time the game released, the show was no longer airing even in reruns. It was Disney’s one voyage into making ‘original’ video games, and it disappeared as quickly as it came.
There’s something about the 101 Dalmatians franchise that enraptured me as a child against all odds.
Be outraged if you must, but truth be told, I’m not even sure if I had watched the original movie at that age. When I watched it as an adult, I remembered nothing about it, and I’ve never found a VHS of it in my family’s extensive Disney tape collection.
And I mean, what about it actually drew my attention? The main characters are British heterosexuals. Yes, somehow they managed to take the two most annoying groups of people in the world and combine them. And then they had the audacity to make the dogs British and heterosexual, as if dogs are capable of hate. Absolutely dreadful. Why do I like 101 Dalmatians?
Because of the puppies. Duh.
Even Disney knew the puppies were the only reason 101 Dalmatians is even relevant enough to talk about today. And boy, the merch they made. Sequels! Cartoons! Toys! I think I spent more time playing with my Dalmatians-themed snow globe than watching 101 Dalmatians: The Series (which, admittedly, still takes up way too much space in my heart).
There was one piece of Dalmatians-themed memorabilia that held my attention for the longest, though, and it was by far the least appropriate for the puppy-obsessed children they were marketing to. For little me, 101 Dalmatians: Escape from DeVil Manor was fun, emotionally stimulating, and also absolutely unnecessarily terrifying.
Tomba! is a rare case of a ‘cult favorite’ game that I sincerely feel like had no good reason to not be popular.
It was produced and directed by Tokuro Fujiwara, already known for producing and directing games like Mega Man, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and even creating the survival horror genre with his NES game Sweet Home which was later adapted into the goddamn Resident Evil franchise. Tomba! is built wholly from the same good game design concepts, with RPG elements that innovated the platformer genre without taking up too much space. It’s funny and cute, while still having a sizeable spooky side. As far as 2D platformers go, it’s the total package.
Despite all this, Tomba! never sold enough to qualify for a Greatest Hits reprint, and copies now regularly go for over $100 on eBay. I just really don’t know why, even trying my best to approach this from an objective perspective. Games with less production value have successfully been spun off into entire TV franchises, while Tomba! languished with a single sequel and some very obscure merchandise.
Even with my history in the video game industry, the whims of the market are completely opaque to me. I don’t really feel like it’s my place to speculate on if the game was marketed well enough or what-have-you. Still, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what the official promotional material was like.
Today we’re using the Wayback Machine to look at a whole 4 sites: Tomba! on the US PlayStation website, the independently hosted Tombi! site, the official Whoopee Camp site, and the very first official Tomba! site. I can’t give precise timestamps, but most of these are around the year 2000.
They promised me so much. Whenever I felt sad, or lonely, or worried, all I would do is listen to the colors, and they would promise me that all things would be okay. They did things no other colors could do. Have you ever smelled a color? Tasted a color? No, not in the way somebody with synesthesia would, either. Really tasted a color, tasted it in the same way that you could taste a piece of chocolate, savoring its flavor and swallowing it and feeling it inside you, warm and pleasant. I hadn’t either, until the colors of Wishbone were revealed to me.
Nobody else can understand. The Wishbone colors speak, and they sing, and they dance, and they do so, so much for me. I cannot live without them. I will not live without them. They are everything to me. No family, no friends, nobody can compare. How could they? They cannot show me delights the way Wishbone can. They call me mad when I try to even gently describe, to convince them to look at the colors.
Maybe I am mad. But if madness is the price for happiness, I do not care. The colors are worth any price. The colors are everything.
Want to impress someone who was born in the 90s? Tell them you have an unopened can of Surge at home. Surge was a somewhat popular citrus soda released from 1997 to 2003 in the United States. Intended to be a competitor to Mountain Dew, it never managed to find a solid market and was eventually discontinued. Dedicated Surge fans didn’t take this sitting down and immediately launched a dedicated campaign to have the drink returned to store shelves.
The campaign has paid off with small victories in the past (namely the introduction of Vault, which was also quickly removed from stores) but their ultimate goal was accomplished in 2015. Surge was released as an internet exclusive on Amazon, and eventually returned to store shelves. It’s since been available pretty consistently since then as a total 90s nostalgia cash-grab. We don’t know if you can still get it in cans or bottles right now, but it’s openly available at any Burger King with a Coke Freestyle machine.
Should they have bothered to bring it back? Let’s find out.
Possibly the biggest news in video game archiving history so far has been broken: A complete copy of the Pokemon Gold and Silver demo from Spaceworld 1997 has been leaked! This development version is almost totally different from the release, with dozens of previously unseen concept Pokemon that have been either radically changed or completely cut.
The full contents of the leak are being compiled by @TeamSpaceWorld into a table that you can view on Google Docs. To see the new Pokemon, just click on the ‘Pokemon’ tab at the top of the page. If you’re a Pokemon fan, this is a treasure trove of new Pokemon designs that have never before seen the light of day!
We’ve compiled a list of what we think the ten best “lost” designs are!
Tomba! is a 1997 side-scrolling platformer released for the Sony Playstation by Whoopee Camp. Designed by Tokuro Fujiwara, creator of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series, Tomba is an interesting platformer-RPG blend involving solving quests in an open 2D world.
In Tomba!, the world has been magically corrupted by seven magic Evil Pigs and turned into a surreal land. The events of the game are sparked into motion when one of the Evil Pig’s minions steals a bracelet that belonged to Tomba’s grandfather, prompting him to go on an adventure to recover it. Along the way he meets the inhabitants of his world and helps them solve the problems that the Evil Pigs have caused with their dark magic.
The game itself is eccentrically humorous, and doesn’t let go of its grip on that, to the point where it might be hard to see what’s scary about a game with sidequests like helping a monkey find his pants. But this is October, and you know what that means: being designed by the same person who made Ghosts ‘n Goblins, this game is filled with unexpected creepy frights.
Join us after the jump and we’ll see ourselves just what kind of madness these Evil Pigs have caused.
Welcome to Halloween! Or as most people like to call it, October! This Halloween, we want to talk about some of the stuff that scared us the worst when we were kids. It’s time to take a retrospective look back into the past with Retrospectacles’ Spooky Edition, Retrospooktacles, where we will be not just looking through our old memories, but the things that made them terrifying!
Croc: Legend of the Gobbos is a Playstation game that was released on September 29, 1997 by the now-defunct Argonaut Games. It was originally intended to be produced for Nintendo as a video game starring Yoshi, but Nintendo declined and decided to produce their own 3D platformer with Mario himself. If it wasn’t for Nintendo declining this offer, Croc could’ve been the first true console 3D platformer ever released.
Croc, to most people, might be a minor footnote in the history of 3D platformers. But to those who have played it as kids, we may just remember something very distinctive about it: it was creepy as heck.
After the jump, we’ll explore why this Yoshi expy had reason to fear for his life.
Hey, kids! Do you like Chex Cereal? Do you like DOOM? Of course you do! Well, what if I told you there was a way you could enjoy Chex and DOOM at the same time? No, no I’m serious – wait – no, don’t leave – hold on –
Chex Quest was an unusual entity in the world of video games, namely because it was one of the few games ever used to promote a brand of breakfast cereal. Released in 1996, it was packaged in with boxes of Chex for free and given nationwide distribution. It’s doubly unusual because the game in question is a commercially sold DOOM mod – a total conversion of the first DOOM game, completely done over with new graphics, sounds, and gameplay.
A second Chex Quest game was made hot on the heels of the first one, but promises of a third never realized. Although fans made plenty of mods to fill in the gap, it wasn’t until 2008 when Charles Jacobi, one of the lead artists on the original Chex Quest, made his own official Chex Quest 3 with the first two games bundled in.
Get out your bootspoons, because after the jump we’ll dig right in and discuss the history, gameplay, and our thoughts about all three games.