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Beetlejuice - Angry Video Game Nerd - Episode 121

The Nerd: Beetlejuice. Y'know, great classic Tim Burton movie from the 80's starring Michael Keaton? At the time, it was probably one of the darkest and quirkiest comedies to get mainstream attention. It was a big deal; it had a cartoon show, and of course a video game, on the good old NES. With a movie that employs such a wide scope of imagination where anything can happen, that gives a lot of possibilities for a game. So I bet this could be great. Unless...

(He reveals on the box that it was published by LJN, the company notorious for publishing horrible movie-based games on NES.)

The Nerd: Awwww, COME ON! WHY, WHY, WHYYYY?! WHYYYYY?! NO-NO-NO-- (screams angrily)

The Nerd: Of course! It was made by LJN. "Made by LJN." Y'know, that's something everyone's always tryin' to correct me about. LJN was not a game developer, they were a publisher that contracted other companies to develop the games. I know that, but that doesn't change the fact, that every time this logo appears on a game it's guaranteed to be ass! If LJN published it, they still made it. It's an LJN game. So technically, this one was developed by Rare. Meaning it's a Rare fuckin' day when LJN makes a game that's not a 12-foot tall mound of dog shit!

The Nerd: Rare was the same company that made Donkey Kong Country, and Killer Instinct! So, maybe we can have high hopes that this'll be okay... but on the other hand, Rare also developed other LJN "classics" such as Roger Rabbit, Nightmare on Elm Street, and made Battletoads, which is one of the worst two-player games of all time.

The Nerd: So, how does Beetlejuice hold up? Let's turn on the juice, and see what shakes loose.

(he inserts the cartridge into the Nintoaster)

The Nerd: Well, I have to say I like that ya play as Betelgeuse, the Goofy Ghoul himself, and not one of the main human characters in the movie. But for a guy who's supposed to be the Ghost with the Most, he really sucks the most! All he can do is jump on enemies. But unlike a famous Italian plumber (Mario), all it does is stun the enemies, and toss you back a hundred miles like ya just bounced off a trampoline.

The Nerd: UUNH! UUUAAAGGH! What's with all the ricochet shit?! You can't do anything in this game without bein' flung all over the place! We need a name for this. We'll call it simply: "Bouncing Bullshit".

(Betelgeuse falls through a wall)

The Nerd: And how come I can fall through a solid wall?! I know Betelgeuse is a ghost, but he walks on the ground just fine. I guess the rule is: the horizontal planes are solid, but the verticals are traps. We'll call this a "Perpendicular Dick Ploy".

The Nerd: Isn't it nice how every time you try to move the screen down, ya die? In most games, falling down pits is common. You fall, ya die. That's fair. But here, if you advance the screen up, and try to jump back down to where you once were, you still die. To get the screen to scroll back down, you have to gradually descend, hopping along lower platforms. Simply put, the edge of the screen is death! It's a good way to box the player in like a rat, forcing them to move about in the most unconventional ways, and insulting their intelligence at the same time! This will be known as the "Bitch Barrier", and the player is the bitch.

The Nerd: Damn! Uuuugh! FUUUUCK! SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT! RRRRRRRGH! Nope, no, not fun. The game sucks. That's all ya need to know. Fuckin' Beetlejuice. Y'know what I'd rather do, is trap a bunch of beetles in a jar, smush 'em with a lemon squeezer, and drain their juice into a shot glass. (Two seconds later) And no, I didn't say anythin' about drinkin' it.

(Betelgeuse gets killed by a torch)

The Nerd: Are you tellin' me the torches kill you too? The torches should just be there for decoration. How does Betelgeuse hit them anyway? I thought they were part of the background! So is he just jumping against the wall? Even if the torch is out of frame, it kills you! And didn't we already establish a rule that whatever's not on screen doesn't exist? The game breaks its own rules, as long as it plays to your disadvantage. Don't touch anything! You have to be so strict about your every move, or else you get assassinated by every little thing in sight! This is what we'll call, "Inanimate Anal Ass Assassinations."

The Nerd: There's stores where ya can buy power-ups. These are your only weapons in the game... but they run out within seconds. They're not even worth the effort of gathering enough points to buy them. This is what we'll call, "Fruitless Farts".

The Nerd: By the time you figure out that hitting Down and A will make ya go down a hole, you'll realize that there's these little bonus caverns where you can get extra points by jumping on enemies. Yeah! This is the only place I found where jumping on them actually works. Try that anywhere else and you'll get bounced off a fuckin' cliff! And try hitting Down and A anywhere other than the holes, and you'll fall to your doom!

The Nerd: You also have a stomp attack, but it only works on tiny bugs. Not the bigger bugs. And the holes by the way, the only place where you're allowed to fall down, are only one screen deep. You think you're supposed to keep goin' down? No. Ya die. So ya have to go back out the hole. Yeah. How 'bout out my asshole, ya fucks?!

(Sees a frog in-game)

The Nerd: Oh look, a frog. Can I jump on it? Can I stun it? Can I kill it?! Ya know what? I'm not even gonna mess with it. You can't trust this game. It doesn't have any consistent rules. All this misleading bullshit and trickery, we'll give the term: "Diarrhetic Diversions".

The Nerd: You never know what you're supposed to do! You'll come to an apparent dead end, only to realize later that ya have to get this cloud to move. It'll only move after the beehive is destroyed, and the only way to do that, is to get the skeleton power-up and use it to shoot a fireball at it!

The Nerd: That's the kind of shit that would never make sense in any other context. Say that to someone in a sentence! "To get a cloud to move, I had to get a skeleton to shoot a fireball at a beehive." When did that ever happen in the movie? And we're talkin' about a movie that's batshit insane. But THIS makes the movie look like somethin' out of the ordinary! Y'know, most games stick to certain traditions and ignore the strange and the unusual. But this game itself... IS strange and unusual.

The Nerd: There's a few cutscenes, but they're very brief. So it's like they almost tried to be faithful to the film. I mean come on. Betelgeuse can't say "Nice fuckin' model!" and honk his crotch in an NES game? I think the game has more to do with the STAR than the movie. I mean the star in the sky, the REAL Betelgeuse. (Pronounced beetle-juice.) It's a red super-giant that's going to explode one day. Does that not accurately describe the feeling you get from playin' this piece of shit?

The Nerd: This particular star is always pulsating. It's so inconsistent that it's sometimes called the ninth brightest star in the sky, but usually the tenth. These fluctuations and inconsistencies are exactly what they were going for with the unpredictable nature of this game. When you're flyin' all over the place like a spring-loaded turd in a pinball machine, that's just like the star itself, how it's been speculated to have changed course at one time or another, possibly because of a nearby stellar explosion, or in this case, a fuckin' bug.

The Nerd: I mean here we have a game where what exists outside the edge of the screen could take effect or not! The absence of visibility will result in death, whereas the existence of something harmful, but not visible, will STILL be in effect! Is it any coincidence, that a game with no definable boundaries would have such a distinct relation to a star with optical emissions that vary, making it hard to define the photosphere? Or what about how the star is surrounded by a circumstellar envelope made up of matter that's been ejected from the star? Kinda like a mass of bees comin' out of a beehive, and making an outer field around the hive.

The Nerd: Betelgeuse is part of the constellation of Orion. That's what the ancient Greeks viewed it as, but of course today we all know that it's actually a skeleton shooting a fireball. Why would Betelgeuse be on the shoulder? Well, quite simply, anyone who's played this game as a kid has a chip on their shoulder whenever ya bring up the name!

The Nerd: And at last, the game was released in May. That's the same month when Betelgeuse can be seen over the western horizon after sunset, for only a brief period of time. Likewise, it was Western US gamers who played this, right after sunset when their homework was done, and it was only for a brief period, before they threw it to the ground, beneath the horizon. So yes, I'm convinced the game was based on the star, and not the movie. Or you could just say, they fucked it up, and took too much liberty with the source material. We'll call this, "Freeform Fuckery".

The Nerd: As explained, there's many parts in the game where ya need to get points to buy the Skeleton or other power-ups. The most common way to get these points is to stomp on bugs. You'll never know how many points you have until you go into the store. So what're you supposed to do, keep track of your own points?

The Nerd: To stomp on these bugs, you have to be really precise. It's just a tiny little mark you have to hit. But the worst part of all is that you can't concentrate on hitting the bugs, because ya have to tend with a larger bug at the same time. It's always there and constantly moving back and forth. So the method goes: stomp, jump, stomp, jump. And watch out! If you accidentally fumble on the controls, it's very easy to hop off the platform to your death. This kind of accuracy, we'll call "Pinpoint Piss Taking".

The Nerd: When you get to the first stage boss, there's no way to kill him. Not without the skeleton. That's the only way! But if you get there without the skeleton, you're fucked! You can't even go back out! There's a fuckin' door right there, but you can't use it! You have no other choice but to get killed. And then, it either sends you back several areas that ya have to play through all over again, OR it starts you right at the boss again! I don't know if there's any reason or it's just complete random, but once it starts you at the boss, then it'll keep doing it! You're stuck here perpetually! Even if you get to the continue screen, it keeps starting you at the boss! So you have to reset the game, just so you can get the skeleton.

The Nerd: When you arrive at the boss with the skeleton, you have to make sure you have plenty of them, because it goes away so fast. You can't get hit; if you get hit once, you lose the skeleton. The boss doesn't even have an energy bar or a hit meter of any kind. To beat him, you're supposed to hit him enough times, to push him over to the wall on the right. But he shoots his weapon so frequently, that you only have time for one attack before ya have to jump over the damn thing. And if you jump at all, you end up on the ledge above the door. This wastes so much time and guarantees that he will always be moving closer each time. You'll never be able to get enough shots in to move him to the right, and if he gets too far to the left, you're completely fucked! You can't hit him from the back. The only way to win, that I know of, is through a glitch where you have to do it real fast in the beginning while you're blinking. This is the most flawed, unfair, unpredictable first stage boss fight I have ever seen. We'll call this, a "Rat Trap Crapshoot".

The Nerd: And at last, let's talk about the music. Don't expect to hear the familiar dark, mischievous Danny Elfman theme, no. In the tradition of all LJN games, they give ya somethin' original.

(a snippet of the music plays)

The Nerd: What kinda horseshit is this? This doesn't set the tone at all!

(another sample plays)

The Nerd: It would be fine for other games. This is something you should hear if you're jumpin' around blowin' bubbles in magic fairy-tale land, not a dark Tim Burton nightmare world. It would be like listening to... I don't know, the soundtrack to Mary Poppins while watching Requiem for a Dream? For this kind of inappropriate game soundtrack, we'll call it... "Bad Music".

The Nerd: In conclusion... I could say the game is ass... it's a steaming pile of goat shit, horrible abomination, but the perfect way to sum it up... is it's an LJN game. It doesn't matter who actually developed it, they were hired by LJN. The welcome letter probably said somethin' like this.

The Nerd: (pretends he's reading a letter) "Welcome to our team of Laughing Joking Numbnuts. Here at LJN, we strive in creating the world's leading shitfests and providing to our customers the greatest raping of all their favorite films. We value your addition in helping us continue to grow the black plague of today's generation of gaming. Enclosed, you will find our handbook of policies and procedures in developing games with "Bouncing Bullshit", "Perpendicular Dick Ploys", "Bitch Barriers", "Inanimate Anal Assassinations", "Fruitless Farts", "Diarrhetic Diversions", "Freeform Fuckery", "Pinpoint Piss Taking", "Rat Trap Crap Shoots" and "Bad Music". We are proud to have you on board."

The Nerd: Well... fuck this game, watch it go!

(The Nerd places the cartridge on the floor and smashes it to bits with his foot.)