Square's Tom Sawyer
At a Glance: Yes, this is a completely different game than the other "Tom Sawyer" game in the ROM Pit... and guess what? This one is an even bigger pile of smoldering ass than the last one! Square of Japan teams up with Mark Twain, the Ku Klux Klan, and, apparently, a code-writing gorilla to bring you one of the worst RPGs ever made. The character design in this game makes Superfly Johnson look like George Washington Carver.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 153k (semi-English version uploaded for your pleasure)
Game Plot: You remember how Nintendo took all the blood out of Mortal Kombat and all the swastikas out of Wolf 3D because they ostensibly had a policy that prohibited them from making games with content that would offend anyone anywhere in the world? Well, surprise, they were just kidding! This game packs more racism into the first five minutes than Pat Buchanon has in his entire career. All the text in this game is in Japanese, and fortunately for me I can't read a word of it. I saw "fortunately" because if I *did* understand the text, I'd probably feel obligated to quote it in this review and then Mr. T would hunt me down and throw me around. I'm guessing from the four minute slide-show in the beginning of the game (which you can't skip, no matter what) that the year is 1855 and you're Tom Sawyer. You have to go around and do stuff with some red-haired girl, some black kid, and some brown-haired kid (okay, you got me, I've never read Tom Sawyer, although I've had to read Huck Finn at least three times). I guess the brown-haired kid could be Huck Finn, but it doesn't really matter.
Apparently some Japanese salary men in 1989 took a satirical book from the 1880's and tried to use it to create a living replica of life in the American South of the 1850's. So did they try and fail? No, they tried and died. Well, not yet, anyway, but everybody dies sometime, and when these guys do, you can bet your Ahura Mazda they'll have to answer to somebody for unleashing such horrors on the world. Anyway, you start off alone on a dirt road in the middle of a grassy field with some filthy run-down American hovels nearby. Here's where it gets interesting - wait, not really. There's a black kid running around sweeping the dirt with a straw broom. Yes, he's actually trying to sweep dirt off of the dirt road. If you can catch him (as soon as you get close, he rockets off the side of the screen, so you have to corner him somehow), you get to talk to him and he'll join your party.
Here is where the bulk of the racism comes in. This is the most obscene caricature of a black person I have ever seen (see above screenshot). He has pitch black skin, a bright orange afro, tiny beady white dots for eyes, and GIANT RED AND ORANGE STRIPED LIPS THAT FILL UP 2/3 OF HIS FACE. Apparently there are no black people in all of Japan and they don't get the UPN Network over there, so they have to get their information from old editorial cartoons in one of the newspapers Commodore Perry brought back with him in the 1860's. Anyway, getting back to the plot, it seems that the goal of the game is to wander around the backwoods with no shoes for a few hours before being devoured by snakes and lizards. I didn't get very far in the plot because I can't read any of the text, but I have faith that the rest of it sucks just as much.
Weapons: As far as I can tell, your weapons are your fists. I couldn't seem to get an equipment menu to come up anywhere, so I couldn't check to see if anybody had any other weapons equipped. The combat screen is incredibly wacky, too. There're your three guys at the bottom facing away from you, and at the top there are a few faint red shadows on the horizon. When you get attacked, the shadow guys magically teleport to just in front of you (which is the only time you can tell what they are) and hit one of your guys, and then teleport back. During your attack turn, your guy disappears in a cloud of dust and leaves a huge white contrail towards the enemy positions, where he takes a swing at one of them and runs back. Now, the idea may strike you that having a fistfight at 1000 paces is sort of a stupid way to beat someone up, and you'd be right. But then again, making a game where you wander around a forest barefoot all day is just as stupid. In fact, the only thing more stupid that I can think of is downloading and playing this game.
While randomly mashing buttons during a fight scene, I somehow managed to bring up an items screen, where I selected and used one of the two rocks I seemed to be carrying. The rock, when thrown, sailed a few miles up in an arcing trajectory and landed on the enemy, doing about 2 points of damage. Interestingly enough, the standard melee attack does about 12. The obvious conclusion here is that this game was written by hopheads. I calculate that over the course if the development of this game, the developers themselves consumed 75 cheeseburgers, 644 packs of instant ramen, 852 cans of Mountain Dew, 238 bottles of sake, and six 55-gallon drums of morphine.
Enemies: I saw maybe four or five different monsters during the course of my experiences in this game, but I've mentally blocked out most of them. I do remember seeing a lot of hooded cobras, which is somewhat odd considering that hooded cobras are found mainly in India, not Mississippi. I wondered through the forest killing snakes and bugs and other stupid things until eventually I was ambushed and killed by Jar-Jar Binks. At least, he looked like Jar-Jar Binks, except he was blue and short and didn't wear any clothes. I've never seen any kind of animal that even remotely resembles this thing, so he must be a jive-talking space alien. The 1850's must have been pretty rough, because according to this game, a group of three thuglike rock-wielding kids can't walk 30 feet without being devoured by snakes and bugs and renegade blue Gungans.
Number of Levels: There aren't really any levels, just an endless forest of doom with death lurking behind every tree. There are some towns here and there, but there doesn't appear to be anything in them. This ROM is sort of broken and the menus and cinematics and stuff kind of flicker and disappear at times, but that doesn't detract from the gameplay any more than scuffed tires detract from the beauty of a car that's just been crushed into a small shiny cube.
Number of Bosses: I can say with utmost certainty that there is absolutely nothing "boss" about this game. This game gets -2 boss-marks, which is three less than The California Raisins and about 375 less than Tears for Fears. Coincidentally, 375 is the temperature I set the knob to when I stuck my head inside the oven to gas myself to death after playing this game. It didn't seem to work though... damn electric ovens.
Defining Moment: I think the moment that defined this game for me was when I finally fought my way through the dismal forest of doom and pain and hooded cobras to finally reach the end, and I found a small filthy run-down shack. Upon going inside, I found a tiny little old man whose mouth was horribly misshapen to the point where it looked like he was giving fellatio to the invisible man. He uttered a few words to me in Japanese and then kicked me out. Moments later I was attacked and murdered by a blue thing. FUN AHOY!
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).