The Nerd: Beetlejuice. You 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: (outraged) OH, COME ON! WHY, WHY, (upset) WHY?! WHY?! NO-NO-NO-- (screams angrily)
The Nerd: Of course, it was made by LJN. "Made by LJN." You know, that's something everyone is always trying 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 will be okay... but on the other hand, Rare also developed other LJN "classics" such as Roger Rabbit, ("Who Framed 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 you 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 100 miles like you just bounced off a trampoline.
The Nerd: (Grunts and yells) What's with all the ricochet shit? You can't do anything in this game without being 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: Now 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, you die? In most games, falling down pits is common; you fall, you 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! (Exclaims) Fuck! (Yells) SHIIIIIT! (growls) Nope, no, not fun, game sucks. That's all you need to know. Fucking Betelgeuse. You 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. (2 seconds later) And no, I didn't say anything about drinking it.
(Betelgeuse gets killed by a torch)
The Nerd: Are you telling 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 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 you 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 you go down a hole, you 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 going down? No: you die. So you 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? You 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 you 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 talking about a movie that's batshit insane, but this makes the movie look like something out of the ordinary. You know, most games stick to certain traditions that 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 playing 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 in inconsistencies are exactly what they were going for with the unpredictable nature of this game. When you're flying 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 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 in 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 coming 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'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 you 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 you 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 you have to tend with the 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 fucking 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 you 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 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 you 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 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 you something original.
(a snippet of the music plays)
The Nerd: What kinda whoreshit 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 jumping around blowing bubbles in magic fairy-tale land, not a dark Tim Burton nightmare world. It'd 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 something like this.
The Nerd: (pretends he's reading a letter) "Welcome to our team of Laughin' Jokin' 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.)
The Nerd: (growls and imitates Betelgeuse) BETELGEUSE, BETELGEUSE, BETELGEUSE! IT'S SHOWTIME!! (Karate grunts) I'VE SEEN THE EXORCIST 167 TIMES, IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY FUCKIN' TIME! (Grunts) HAPPY HALLOWEEN, MOTHERFUCKER! (He grunts three times)