Monday, February 11, 2013

Ultra, 1989.

I always like it when characters from disparate properties are presented side-by-side as though they're all in one big, strange game together. And the TMNT are an easy gateway to that assumption, as they're far from strangers with the sport of skateboarding or time travel.


Ultra, the hottest new game generator in town, is about to unleash 3 of the most thrilling games of all time.

Take sides with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in a nunchuking, karate chopping sewer fight through the villain ravaged streets of New York (coming in October).

Then, slash past black hearted knights and rescue beautiful maidens in "Defender of the Crown," an unbelievable movie-like adventure with tons of strategy, swordfights and nearly 30 animated screens (coming in November).

And finally, cruise down back alleys in "Skate or Die," a knockdown-dragout, multi-event spectacular that pits you against a friend or Bionic Lester in the freewheeling Jam & Joust (coming in October).

So be psyched for Ultra's best. And be prepared to see video games in a whole new light.

For more information on Ultra's great line of games, send your name, age and address to: ULTRAGAMES(tm)
240 Gerry St.,
Wood Dale, IL 60191
(312) 595-2874.

First things first: if you're not up to speed yet, "Ultra Games" was just a sock puppet corporation allowing Konami to publish more games for the NES annually than Nintendo's quality control policy would permit. We can't publish six games in 1989, but if we call ourselves something else, we can publish three and they can publish three... Hence when they refer to themselves as a game "generator" it's a conspicuous smokescreen for their departure from traditional developer/publisher/distributor roles.

The biggest obvious seller here was the TMNT game, though in retrospect it's probably the biggest disappointment of the three games up for the offering here. Of course, in '89 you could put the grimacing turtles on a bag of broken glass and parents would line up around the block to buy it for their kids. I like how they are inaccurately described as "karate chopping" (all martial arts are the same, right?) for benefit of the parents who might not understand "nunchuking" (what, is that pronounced "none chooking?") Overall there is a conspicuous dearth of hyphens in this ad's copy.

Describing Defender of the Crown as "movie-like" is about as close as naming developer Cinemaware as you can get without actually doing so -- they're not even name-checked in the small print. Did they neglect to renew their trademark? (Even in their own mailing address, however, Ultra Games defends its tm!) I've got to say, when I think of something being movie-like, boasting "tons of strategy" isn't the first quality that comes to mind. "30 animated screens" (well, nearly 30) may have actually been impressive in 1989!

The copy for Skate or Die sounds hardcore, but the skater depicted is practically decked out in full plate armour. Can we be extreme and cautious at the same time? Is a computer player really a selling point? (If you don't have a friend... you can't play our game. Adding insult to injury! Quake 3 just re-opened those emotional scars.) Bionic Lester is a fun nickname, though -- every CPU player should hold him up as the ideal of their profession.

That's all for now! Not many posts lately, but fear not, I'm processing source material for future months to come. (Also, enjoying some family time before another run in the workforce.)