Though I was born early enough to spend my elementary school years in the midst of classic Nintendo fever, my parents were never the kind to buy their children a console. They assumed that having a computer in the house would foster a more "educational" gaming experience and I was left playing the original "Oregon Trail" and most of the "Carmen San Diego" series, only later filling them with terror as their son discovered "Doom," "Warcraft," and "Wolfenstein." At least I was killing virtual Nazis?
All my "Mario," "Tetris," and "Megaman" needs were met elsewhere, usually with friends who had "cooler" parents and the kind of allowances large enough to amass vast libraries of cartridges. No matter how often I complained, we never got a system. Not even to play that stupid Domino's Pizza game. (It's kinda funny to me now considering my mom bought a Wii a few years ago specifically to do yoga with and my dad promptly bought a ton of first-person shooters. Oh well.)
Twenty years after those console-less days, enter local programming wunderkind Brian Thomas and garage-y-surf-divas Needlecraft. Together they've built a game roughly based on the classic NES platform jumper "Bubble Bobble" and packaged it with every copy of their debut LP (available via Wantage USA). I've been spending the last few days trying to beat the thing. Either it's a lot harder than I expected or I just really, really suck at games like these. Probably a little of both.
If you're familiar with "Bubble Bobble," the gameplay is pretty much the same. You take the form of Needlecraft's Mikki Lunda (or in 2-player mode, drummer Hana MT as well) and you jump around, "shouting" bubbles at a bunch of dog-themed enemies. The bubbles then capture said enemies and it's your job to bounce them off the screen. As you progress the enemies become more numerous and harder to defeat, which is pretty much all that happens in a game like this. The big difference is the fact that this is based around a band. A local band, no less, and the basic story is that the Dogmen from Outer Space have captured all of Needlecraft's hunks, forcing Mikki and Hana to struggle through nearly 100 levels of angry canines to finally free their man-meat. I've only been able to reach level 8.
In case you were wondering, you don't need an old system to play this thing. The game comes as what's usually referred to as a ROM file, useable by a ton of classic Nintendo emulators available (mostly for free) for all sorts of modern video game systems. I've been playing Needlecraft on my computer. And still it's only level 8.
From a little more cynical viewpoint, I think the idea of packaging your LP with a video game is ingenious marketing. I'm honestly surprised more bands haven't tried doing this. While I have no idea how hard making "Needlecraft" the game actually was, I'm sure it wasn't any more difficult than writing a set of songs and recording them properly. But what do I know?
Anyways, if you've ever played "Bubble Bobble," you probably know what to expect in this game. Every level presents different enemies and yet another challenge in the kind of mind-numbing-yet-addictive repetitiveness early Nintendo was known for. I still haven't gotten to the final screen but from what I've heard from the band themselves, it consists of hunks dropping from the ceiling, cheering, and a fair amount of making out. If I'd grown up playing these things I'd probably be killing it right now. Eh. No matter.
This post originally appeared on Weird Missoula.