Monday, August 19, 2013

"Caveman Games", NES, 1990.

Ah, 1990, when cavemen were not yet a played-out cliche (would that be 1991's Encino Man?), being used to inject new life into track-and-field sporting simulation compilations (which Epyx had pretty much sucked the last breath out of). The big head-scratcher -- years later, I learned that this game was developed by Dynamix, in a huge side-step from their incremental company path of innovating with cinematic 3D presentations, from Arctic Fox to Stellar 7 to David Wolf to Deathtrack to Red Baron to Starsiege: Tribes virtually uninterrupted for a decade and a half. (The Incredible Machine and the DGDS adventure games -- Rise of the Dragon, Willy Beamish, etc. -- were also tangents, but ones that were pursued with rigor. This blip seems almost accidental.) The skein is somewhat tangled, but I gather they developed the game for publisher EA, who then licensed the NES port to Data East. This ad is sourced from NESWORLD's collection of ad scans.


Dino-Vaulting "Me do Dino Vault to bully Gronk no call me cave-girl no more. Also hope Crudla watch me - she one cave-babe!" - Vincent

Sabertooth Tiger Race "Race not easy. Hungry sabertooth chase me. But me use competitor as shield. Better him cat food than me kitty litter." - Glunk

Clubbing "Me love bashing - have best club. Cavemen head only thing harder than club. But hard to aim with head. So use club." - Gronk

Mate Toss "Me know best way to handle mate - by feet. Grab mate by feet and spin, spin, spin - then let go. Make world record." - Crudla

Dino Race "Me best dino jockey. Before race, tell dino he no win, me make dino steaks for dinner - and he guest of honor. He run good." - Ugha

Firestarting "Firestarting easy. Rub sticks make spark. Me make big fire - stay warm. Too warm - fire burn clothes. Then me learn firestopping." - Thag

Welcome to sports training -- 2 million B.C.! Forget jogging and weightlifting - Caveman Games is for serious athletics. Six radical Neanderthals compete in hilarious and dangerous events. Winners join the Caves of Fame; losers join the fossils! Struggling to survive has never been so much fun! Get bashed, beaten, chased and eaten in the greatest pre-hysterical challenge ever. It's cool cave action for one to six players!

The game's humour, hard to inject into a sports game, is appreciated (well, mostly -- the retrograde "mate toss" event is only funny if you're eleven years old, as I was when this game was released) and reflected in the ad copy, both in the athlete's strategy blurbs and the bottom text, which admittedly tries a bit too hard. "bashed, beaten, chased and eaten" works; "Cave of Fame" and "pre-hysterical" does not. (Then there are obligatory shout-outs to 1990 like "cool cave" and "radical Neanderthals" -- hello, did I mention Encino Man?)

I do like the way the ad is splayed out against a stony glacier-carved cave backdrop -- or at least someone's weathered cement driveway. They really miss out on downplaying the game's 6-player-ness, making it that rarest of titles -- something suitable for the whole family.

No comments:

Post a Comment