Note: due to YouTube stupidly blocking the video for copyrighted content, there will be no game video this week. YouTube sucks. Seriously.
Developer: Stern Electronics, TMS Entertainment
Publisher: Stern Electronics
Genre: Interactive movie
Played on: MAME, keyboard
During one of my awkward school years, my class somehow thought that it might be fun to round us all up and head out to the local roller skating rink. Being completely uncoordinated and awkward, this was obviously a nightmarish trip for me as I laced up my skates, wobbling and carefully moving everywhere. I seem to remember spending more time on my ass with those skates on than not.
Fortunately, the place had a few arcade games, including one I had never seen before. It was in the genre of Dragon’s Lair-like interactive movie games that were even at that time waning in popularity (and rightfully so), but having to choose between the other games that I’ve played a million times (and, if I remember correctly, weren’t even that great) and this new one, I chose the new one — Cliff Hanger. Like several other barely interactive movie arcade games at the time, I spent way too much time and money on this thing, and never really got that far, but again, the alternatives were pretty poor.
Cliff Hanger follows the adventures of “Cliff” (well, sort of — read on) and his quest to rescue “Clarissa” from the clutches of the evil “Count Draco”. The “game”, if you can call it that, involves hitting either a direction or one of two “action” buttons (hands and feet) at specific times during the video. Failure at any point means you lose a life and must return to a specific point in the action (generally a few moments before your failure) to try again. Losing all your lives isn’t a huge setback, as you can insert more coins to continue where you left off (or just hit the coin button in MAME… heh).
At this point in my life, I wasn’t very familiar with Japanese animation, even though I had seen a bit of it under the guise of Americanized versions of things like Mach GoGoGo (Speed Racer) and a few others. I had no idea that this game, in fact, was a bastardization of the Japanese animated Lupin the Third, specifically the movie The Castle of Cagliostro. Watching Lupin the Third some years later and specifically that specific movie, it was quite a realization that the game was a repurposed version of this movie, and that “Cliff” was really Lupin, “Clarissa” was Lady Clarisse, and “Count Draco” was Count Cagliostro. Shocker, I know. (The game also used a few bits of footage from another Lupin movie, The Mystery of Mamo, but it was primarily taken from Cagliostro.)
So yeah, another pointless nostalgia entry of Retro Game of the Week. I try not to do a lot of these and focus on actual quality games, but sometimes, I just can’t help myself as I think of and rediscover games I haven’t played in years, and point out that not all games back then were great — it’s just that the greatest games of the time were better than the “greatest” games of today. But gaming today doesn’t realize that you really can’t get away with just playing a movie, adding a bit of superficial gameplay, and expecting it to be good. Sadly, today’s gamers have been trained to believe that is true. The lessons we learned back in the day have been forgotten.