Exactly one year ago, I took a short break from Come On Let's Go, letting my friends pick up the slack. Drinky provided Sub Rosa, Surfer Trixie. Andrew wrote Peer to Peer. CJ came through with Nothing New.nes.
Nine months later, I indirectly explained the necessity of those guest posts.
Today, I suggest you go re-read them.
I was at a bit of a loss when Griph asked me to write a guest post for him, considering I've spent the past week in low content mode over at my own site. I couldn't turn the kid down, though, because we -- along with fellow guest-posters Drinky and CJ -- been internet pals since the days when we frequented the forums of Drinky's old Zeroes Unlimited page.
After that petered out, we briefly migrated to a Audiogalaxy group where we discussed and shared our favorite tunes while doing our bit to destroy the music industry (and every time I hear mention of Lady Gaga's or Katy Perry's latest crime against pop, I wish to Christ we succeeded in that).
I still have a folder containing the various songs we shared amongst ourselves back at the turn of the millennium, which I've used as the basis of the following playlist of grainy user-uploaded video content:
Lene Lovich - Lucky Number - A stunning reminder of how wonderful and weird early "new wave" was before the meaningless catch-all term became indelibly associated with British prettyboys and canned synth riffs.
45 Grave - Wax - I was a pretty strong advocate for 45 Grave back in the day, despite the fact that a lot of their songs really don't do that much for me. Looking back, I think I was more enamored by the idea of the band -- female-fronted 80's deathrock (Los Angelesian for "goth") -- that the actual results.
UK Decay - Unexpected Guest - Some more seminal spookhouse stuff, this time from the forgotten pioneers of the British scene....well, "forgotten" in as much as much of the band's output was out-of-print and difficult to find. The audio in the clip is extremely rough, but if you think "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is the pinnacle of musicical accomplishment, hunt down a studio version of "Unexpected Guest." You won't regret it.
Wall of Voodoo - Red Light - Dark Continent, the long out-of-print (and recently reissued) debut LP is one of the best albums ever recorded. Period.
Black Box Recorder - England Made Me - Even as I was schooling my juniors in the music of yore, I was being schooled about a lot of great tracks that had somehow slipped past my radar. This one came from Drinky, an ardent fan of The Auteurs and Luke Haines's subsequent efforts to repudiate the Britpop scene he helped lay the foundation for.
This guest-post is by Drinky of "Backup Control Room". Perfect!
If you've more than a passing interest in video games, you've likely heard of Steel Battalion, a 2002 mech combat game for the Xbox; the game was infamous for both its $200 price point (which, to be fair, bought you both the game and what was and is perhaps the most complex game-specific set of controls ever sold at retail) and for the fact that, if a player failed to eject from a critically damaged mech, the fictional player-character's "death" would be mirrored in that the real-world player's save file would be erased. Video games are, almost across the board, understood to be "try, try again" sort of affairs—indeed, someone playing through the recently released indie title VVVVVV may expect to "die" literally hundreds of times before completing the story—and player death generally has little lasting consequence. The real price of death, generally speaking, is repetition, is irritation: having to spend the time and effort running through points X and Y and Z again to return to the state of play immediately preceding that last death, so as to have another crack at whatever beast or chasm laid one low.
Steel Battalion's save-file deletion—a consequence with a potential price tag of dozens of hours, rather than a handful of minutes here or there—is positively coddling of the player, however, compared to 1986's Sub Mission, a game published for the Apple II and IBM PCjr by Mindscape. Here's the basic gist: an otherwise unnamed extraterrestrial Warlord has trapped two human beings, Signourny (sic) and Peter, and is forcing you to play submarine wargames for their lives. The object, of course, is to load them onto these submarines and find an escape route, and the catch is that if either Sigourny or Peter die, they—such as "they" ever were or could be—are erased from the game diskette.
A little history's important here: this was back before installing games to a hard drive was common practice. Games were usually played off the original disks and whatever changes were made—deaths, high scores, etc.—were made directly to the original. This explains, for example, the now-infamous (again, this assumes membership in and/or knowledge of certain subcultural circles, but bear with me) epitaph "Here lies andy / peperony and chease", a child's joking reference to an old frozen pizza commercial saved to an Oregon Trail disk that was eventually imaged and distributed widely online: if you've played an "abandonware" copy of Oregon Trail, you've probably seen "andy"'s grave, which means you're playing a copy of the disk that that kid, now more or less lost to history, played with way back in 198X.
Sub Mission allowed the player to pilot her submarines with robot drones instead of her precious and limited human personnel, which was a thoughtful concession to what appears to be—I've skimmed through the manual and this appears to be, especially for its time, an involved little game—a formidable learning curve. However, the player's not going to be able to find the escape route using robots alone, and eventually she's going to have to bite the bullet and actually send Sigourny and Peter to and through that escape route, once it's been found, so the inevitable high stakes gamble can only be delayed for so long. However...
"If Sigourny or Peter dies during a war game, you can resurrect each of them one time only. The “Emergency Instructions” envelope included with this package contains a special command that allows you to bring each of them back to life once"—Sub Mission manual, pg. 7
The manual goes on to say that if either or both of them die yet again, the player may submit "the special petition at the end of this manual" along with her disk to "the Space Commissioner" for another shot at things. Presumably, "the Space Commissioner" was in the employ of Mindscape, and the petition may well have involved more than a politely-worded request and the appropriate supplication: Wikipedia claims that Sub Mission "required gamers to purchase a replacement disk if they lost the mission three times". Comparatively speaking, "horse armor" looks like the ticket redemption counter at Chuck E. Cheese; a publisher attempting such a gimmick in this day and age would likely be flensed.
It's unknown, of course, if Sub Mission's title is an intentional pun on its unforgiving handling of risk and death. It's worth noting, though, that the game was developed by an outfit called Tom Snyder Productions; they're still around, making educational software for Scholastic these days, but Tom Snyder himself went on to become the executive producer of both Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist and Home Movies. Take from that what you will.
Today is a very special day, dear readers.
My friend Andrew, proprietor of the always-awesome Armagideon Time and COLG's biggest inspiration (both style-wise and getting-up-off-my-ass-and-actually-making-AND-regularly-updating-a-blog-wise) has let me publicly embarrass myself on his home turf.
So click through and read...