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June 13, 2024 47 mins

Imagine grabbing a box of (at best) mid cereal, only to discover the greatest game, free withing the box. Imagine making an entire game based on an oft-maligned Olympic mascot! In the second episode of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the ridiculous past, present and future of video game tie-ins. 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Ridiculous History is a production of iHeartRadio. Welcome back to

(00:27):
the show, Ridiculous Historians. Thank you, as always so much
for tuning in. Let's have a shout out for super
producer mister Max Williams.

Speaker 2 (00:34):
Why why Sorry, a little pure moods for you there.

Speaker 3 (00:41):
Did you guys enjoy this two game boys right there?

Speaker 1 (00:43):
Yes? Yes, especially the Trust game Boys of agreeing to
that despite die hearing it.

Speaker 4 (00:50):
I have big bullet. That's mister Noel Brown, the one
in online dole. How you feeling, were you guys?

Speaker 2 (00:54):
Og game boys as owned original black and white uh
eight bit game boys.

Speaker 3 (01:02):
I was a little too young to get those weren't
actually being sold by the time. But my first game
Boy was given to me by a friend of my mother's,
which was black and white.

Speaker 1 (01:10):
Yes, yeah, I created and won several game Boy Tetris
competitions I was.

Speaker 4 (01:17):
Creating with it. Yes, how many.

Speaker 3 (01:21):
I don't know the formal title that they have, but
like people who've bet in Tetris because it's like one
of the highest.

Speaker 4 (01:26):
Yeah, I've never actually beat it. Very few people have.

Speaker 3 (01:29):
I think the titles kind of dropped screen. There is
a beating of the yeah you have to beat the
last level. The last real level is incredibly hard. Were
you so fast? Well, no, you can't see what what
titles are down. You can't see what title is coming down.
You can only see the next tile.

Speaker 1 (01:48):
Thirteen year old recently made World News by hidiot Oh. Also, folks,
this part two of the Golden Ages. We love this
video game tie in. We're so excited. We've had such
a great time with part one. We hope you enjoy
it too. With the game boy question, I remember one
game I got super into was a Bugs Bunny video

(02:11):
game of puzzle solving and getting carrots. Yes, I assume
Tetris never ended, but I had no idea how deep
the Bugs Bunny game went.

Speaker 4 (02:21):
It just went on.

Speaker 2 (02:23):
I do remember that one. I had an original game Boy.
It was probably late in that game. It was so
such a popular device that they sold it and without
making a new next gen version for many years. I
was born in nineteen eighty three, really quickly, though. There
are a couple of documentaries about Tetris. One covering the
stuff that you guys are probably talking about is Ecstasy

(02:44):
of Order The Tetris Masters, which you can watch in
its entirety on YouTube. And then there actually recently was
a Tetris movie on Apple TV that's just called Tetris
that is a like dramatized version of the Tetras story.
We're not really talking about Tetris today, guys, but that
is such a perfect example of elegant design meets.

Speaker 4 (03:05):
Escalatingly difficult gameplay.

Speaker 2 (03:07):
It can get crazy if you stay the course, but
for a casual player, fun as hell's a while away the.

Speaker 1 (03:15):
Time, and the music is quite sophisticated. I love the music.
I still play it when I'm writing stuff.

Speaker 2 (03:20):
It gets stuck in my head out of the clear
blue sky sometimes, guys.

Speaker 1 (03:23):
Yeah, the name of that game I mentioned earlier, by
the way, is Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle. The Bugs Bunny
Crazy Castle. I definitely played that one. It was so cool.

Speaker 2 (03:34):
It's like a detective almost right, isn't He has like
a magnifying It's all coming back.

Speaker 1 (03:39):
It's a little flashes side scroller. But weirdly enough, the
thing that bugged me about this and a lot of
other players as well, maybe ridiculous historians amongst us, Bugs
Bunny in that game weirdly does not have the ability
to jump despite being a bunny, so you can just
walk around and you have to find boxing club. Anyway,

(04:00):
as matter, we're talking about video game tie ins. Technically
that is a tie in because bugs Bunny was a
pre existing character right from the world of animation.

Speaker 4 (04:08):
That's right.

Speaker 1 (04:09):
But we are going to we mentioned a very sad
story from Georgia. We are also going to maybe begin
today's episode with another strange story from Georgia. Nineteen ninety six. Atlanta,
Georgia plays host to the Olympics. The as our power,
Lauren would say, the actual facts Olympics and every town

(04:32):
that has the Olympics come through, they spend billions of
dollars on all sorts of things. And Atlanta tried to
make a mascot, I'll say, tried.

Speaker 4 (04:48):
Do you remember the mascot.

Speaker 2 (04:50):
I've never been a mascot. I've never tried to create
a mascot. You know, people give designers sometimes like oh,
it's so easy, said.

Speaker 4 (05:01):
Enough boy, howdy is it not?

Speaker 2 (05:04):
It requires once again, a level of precision, elegance and
simplicity that requires a lot of thinking, a lot of
very careful planning. And uh boy, did they bork this one.
And you know whoever designed that monstrosity is he got
paid a mint.

Speaker 1 (05:22):
Yeah, and it may have even been a thing. That
creator is John Ryan, and it may have been a
thing where it may have been a thing where uh,
the producers or the other I guess we call them
stakeholders just kept making requests.

Speaker 4 (05:36):
So it may not.

Speaker 2 (05:37):
Have been his visual vision by committee. Another ship of
thesis kind of situation. Right, but how how should we?

Speaker 4 (05:45):
Uh?

Speaker 2 (05:45):
And this is this is going to get to a
video game because this you know, the Olympics are huge,
it's a big deal.

Speaker 4 (05:50):
What country hosts them?

Speaker 2 (05:52):
I believe we're looking at Paris this year, right, isn't
that what's happening? I think we're in Paris. They have
some very unique mascots them. Well, we're gonna get to
that because this is a difficult job. It's sort of
a fool's errand in many ways because you're you're opening
yourself up to criticism no matter what the end result.

Speaker 1 (06:11):
Is and no matter what you come up with. It's
kind of a it's a kobyashi maru. Right, it's an
unwinnable situation. You're welcome, thank.

Speaker 3 (06:22):
You, God jump and God jump in.

Speaker 5 (06:24):
Uh.

Speaker 3 (06:24):
I was they had I guess HBO East too, which
is a channel I get now they play commercial free
Star Trek movie.

Speaker 4 (06:32):
You get like cable type TV Max. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (06:35):
I for sports, you still have to do well, objected.

Speaker 4 (06:39):
Stream Okay, I always forget about the need for sports.

Speaker 3 (06:42):
They were playing all last Friday the original series Star
Trek movies. So I watched Wrath of Khan in the Morning,
which starts off with Kobyashi Maru. Ki's the alley in
the Kobyashi Maru. I've got how amazing she is in
that movie, and how which is shame that they screw
that one up. And I've got how dark that movie is.

(07:02):
It is very incredibly dark. But you said, Kobe Asha Maru,
you can't say a Star Trek with me around, and Knox.

Speaker 2 (07:09):
You're like Beetlejuice bro we gotta really stop staying Star Trek.

Speaker 1 (07:13):
Starrim Or Jonathan Strickland. That's our one of three mentions
before he shows up, just to reeling back.

Speaker 2 (07:18):
In really quickly, to double back a wepins that originally
Kobe Ashamru referring to an unwinnable situation, right.

Speaker 1 (07:24):
Like, and we see this in the culmination of a
lot of big things. You could argue that the very
last Star Wars film was kind of doomed from the
start because how could you conclude a story in a
way that would satisfy everybody.

Speaker 4 (07:38):
That's kind of, you know.

Speaker 1 (07:39):
That's similar to what people were running into with these
Olympic mascots Atlanta magazines. Max Blow has a great explanation
of this and a great name, Max Blough. Give me
a break.

Speaker 2 (07:52):
What sorry, Max Williams, But Max Blow, it's got you beat.
By the way, Ben, there were four bugs Bunny Crazy
Castle games.

Speaker 3 (08:00):
Right.

Speaker 1 (08:00):
Didn't they have different cartoon characters as well?

Speaker 2 (08:03):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I love that. But Max Blow does
indeed have this to say. It would be hard to
overstate how shocking it was when Atlanta was awarded the
nineteen ninety six Summer Olympic Games Atlanta over Toronto, Athens Melbourne.
The news, which came on a Tuesday in September nineteen ninety,
sent the city into a frenzy dare we say, a

(08:25):
tizzy of celebration. But for Billy Payne, who'd run the
three year campaign that led to the announcement, it was
just the beginning. Now came the hard part, finding corporate sponsors,
building an eighty five thousand seeds stadium, delegating the one
thousand and one tasks to ready the city for the
world stage. Far down on his list, designing a mascot

(08:47):
in time for the closing ceremonies of the Barcelona Games
in nineteen ninety two, when the Olympic torch would be
passed to Atlanta, Paying quickly appointed Hey Mascot Committee, which
created design guidelines and canvassed for submissions. Ten companies proposed
to mascot. One was chosen. The winner would live an

(09:09):
Olympic infamy.

Speaker 1 (09:11):
And objectively we can say we're kind of generous with
the title winner there, at least that's what the public thought.
Similar to Grimace is he is somewhat a character that
defies explanation. He's got running shoes, he's got Olympic rings
that incorporate into his appearance, and he has a torch

(09:32):
that emanates stars.

Speaker 4 (09:37):
I'm looking at him now.

Speaker 2 (09:38):
He looks like the kind of mascot that you'd see
for like a public utility or something you know, like
like the water department. He's like an anthropomorphic water droplet
perhaps or a unit of natural gas. He does have
these big, oversized shoes he's got it's a very of

(09:58):
its era nineties cartoon style. You know, it's something I
can imagine seeing on Fox Kids, you know.

Speaker 4 (10:05):
On Saturday morning.

Speaker 2 (10:07):
I don't know, I can't help but also think that
he kind of looks like an anthropomorphized sperm, that is
something that always.

Speaker 4 (10:15):
Shaped kind of blob character, you know. And we know
that his original name is what is it with a Z?
And no one knows, sir, No one knows. No one knows.

Speaker 1 (10:28):
They if you see the original design, it's even stranger
for a couple of different aesthetic reasons. But in defense
of the creators, they had to make something that conformed
to the request of the Atlanta committee for the Olympic Games.
So what we see here is the result of someone

(10:49):
trying to satisfy a committee's, perhaps the times contradictory request.
For a long long time, up until twenty twenty four,
is he was considered the worst mascot of his type
or of its type. And now to your earlier point
about the Paris Olympics, they have had the ignomonious torch

(11:12):
of worst mascot passed to them. Let's get a look
at the Paris twenty twenty four mascots. Lest we be
seen as just dunking on our own hometown guy.

Speaker 5 (11:23):
Is He?

Speaker 2 (11:23):
Yeah, I want to see it too, because I'm looking
at an article on Nbcolympics dot com that's just a
look through his Olympic mascots over the years, and a
lot of them aren't great.

Speaker 4 (11:34):
I'm not gonna lie. It's committee. Yeah, it is. It
is committee.

Speaker 2 (11:38):
But I'm also like kind of like, what's the big deal,
Like sort of like who cares?

Speaker 4 (11:43):
You know. It's not like something that people are gonna remember.
And honestly, the ones they remember are the bad ones.

Speaker 3 (11:49):
Is he.

Speaker 2 (11:49):
Merch is kind of sought after. They're sort of hard
to find. So I'm looking at do you tell about
the Paris one? Though I'm looking at them, I'm looking
at it cold.

Speaker 4 (11:58):
I'm looking at the twenty twenty four or Olympic.

Speaker 1 (12:01):
Mascots for the Olympic Paralympic Games. They're two anthropomorphic hats,
the Napoleon hats the Phrygian hats, like the triangular thing
that Napoleon would wear. That's how most Americans will remember it.
And they've got the the the horizontal points of the

(12:25):
hats are these little fingerless arms, and then they have
really skinny legs. That go up into the aperture of
the hat.

Speaker 2 (12:34):
Interestingly, though, I'm looking at this one image of them,
and maybe this is a special version or something, but
I think it's not, you know how, you know, and
there are prosthetics that can be attached to people who
are missing legs to allow them to run in high
impact situations. It's like they've got they've got some give
to them. They almost look like a ski in a way,

(12:56):
like a bent kind of like the sum of spring
loaded or bring me kind of the version of his
mascot that I'm seeing as as that for on one leg.
So that's kind of cool in a way, sort of
an effort towards inclusivity. I think this French mascot is dope.
I'm not gonna lie. I think it's cool.

Speaker 1 (13:13):
That's the Paralympic win. Oh and let me correct correct
this real quick. Here the Phrygian cap where the Liberty
cap is not as fancy as Napoleon's. It looks it's
definitely a cap. It looks almost like a rap with
some extra earflaps hanging down.

Speaker 2 (13:29):
I see, Ben, there is the Paralympics, and there are
different versions of this mascot.

Speaker 4 (13:35):
So all this.

Speaker 2 (13:36):
I think this is a very valid discussion and of itself.
But all this to get to is he was kind
of mocked a little bit and panned at the time,
but he did somehow, you know, because he was part
of the conversation get the kind of slapped together video
game treatment.

Speaker 4 (13:52):
I did not know this.

Speaker 1 (13:54):
Yeah, they also, Oh nice, we get to reference a guy,
you know, Thomas Wheatley, local reporter who was writing for
Axios Atlanta, and he says, the the Olympic Committee left
no stone unturned in licensing this mascot Izzy in all
kinds of merch, refrigerator, magnets, t shirts, hats, caps, you

(14:16):
name it, and of course video games. This is where
we introduce our first game for this episode, Isy's Quest
for the Olympic Rings. That sounds like it makes sense.
You know, it's an Olympic mascot. You gotta collect coins
and try to get the Olympic Rings.

Speaker 2 (14:32):
I bet you. This is too obscurity even no comes
right up. Holy crap. It was on Sega Genesis. It
was this is a next gen game. This is like,
I mean, you know, relatively speaking next gen to a
lot of the ones that were talking about in episode one,
which were all kind of early home console type games,
which honestly they were a next gen of their own
in their own right, because Atari was kind of the first.

(14:52):
So even regular nes had more bit depth I believe
than an Atari system, Isn't that right, Max?

Speaker 3 (15:00):
Yeah, so the Atari twenty six hundred would have been
the one on the same tier as.

Speaker 4 (15:07):
The regular nes.

Speaker 3 (15:09):
Yeah, as regular nis actually correct, regular nsa because the first,
the most famous Atari was like pre Nintendo.

Speaker 1 (15:16):
Right right, and that was you that that was the
thing that walked, so other gaming could run well.

Speaker 2 (15:24):
And that just goes to show too how the difference
between Atari and Nintendo they were basically dealing with very
similar hardware in terms of power. It really showed how
important the game design was. And Nintendo really has always
made their bank on the fact that they're the really
good to designing games. Because even today, the the you know,

(15:45):
the most powerful Nintendo system you get pales in comparison
to you know what other companies like PlayStation and Xbox.

Speaker 4 (15:52):
Do, and that's literally by design.

Speaker 3 (15:56):
And the backtrack, I mean, I met the Atari fifty
six twentyix hundreds are very famous one the nes and
the twenty are on the same.

Speaker 2 (16:05):
Right, So the twenty six hundred is the one people
think of with like the ET game, that's like the
early really craphole, the looking one. So even the regular
NES was a next gen from that. Sorry getting caught
up in this. So Izzy's a Quest for the Olympic
Rings would have been a next gen to that because
SNS was sixteen bit if I'm not mistaken, So that
was a big old jump. And then you had your
Sega Genesis as well. I have zero recollection of this.

Speaker 5 (16:29):
Game, you guys, Well, it was sort of a it
was sort of ticking a box for some people.

Speaker 4 (16:42):
We do know.

Speaker 1 (16:43):
It was not super in depth like Bug but Bugs
Buddy's Crazy Castle. You can complete it in about an hour,
not even a crazy difficult speed run. And then the
lead animator of the game, William Anderson, said, yet, the
Olympic officials had just a couple of demands, can't change
the character design, makes sense. Have the Olympics as a theme,

(17:05):
of course, and they said we'd prefer no violence. And
when these developers got to work, they said it was
one of their best experiences to date. One William Anderson,
who is now the owner of Awaken Games, was speaking
to Thomas Wheatley, and he said, look, we're a small
group of developers. We're really dedicated to not only making

(17:27):
the best games, but having fun while doing it. So
you can get a copy of this game for Super
Nintendo for fifty to one hundred and fifty dollars, or
if for some reason you need a price break, you
can get a box of six of them, six copies
of the game for six hundred bucks like today. At
the time of the conversation with Axios, Yeah.

Speaker 4 (17:49):
Okay, interesting.

Speaker 2 (17:50):
I did find a page on Internet archive from Game
Pro issues sixty nine April nineteen ninety five. It had
this to sid this is back. You know, reviewers were
a lot less mean back in the day. I'm realizing,
at least for games and stuff, it was much more
felt like a promotional device than it was a purely.

Speaker 4 (18:09):
We're gonna shred your shitty game.

Speaker 2 (18:12):
By the nineteen ninety six summer games seem far off,
but not for Izzy, as this reads like a press release.
As the Olympic mascot, he must search the torch world
to collect five Olympic rings that keep the torch lit.
In this ten level quest, Izzy morphs into eight sporting
characters collecting power ups and loads of bonuses. Nice backgrounds

(18:33):
bring colorful detail to Izzy's world, but it's Izzy himself
who stimulates the game visually. His numerous and determined expressions
make him an easy to like character. The sound effects
are enjoyable too, with great splats, smashes and blasting trumpets,
and then it refers to a smurfy soundtrack.

Speaker 1 (18:54):
And this brings up an interesting point because my question
is would people have been so what they have dunked on?
Is he so hard if he had just started as
a video game character?

Speaker 4 (19:07):
I think not.

Speaker 1 (19:08):
I think saying here's a fun game about the Olympics.

Speaker 4 (19:12):
Well, but Ben I was. I've been meaning to bring
this up.

Speaker 2 (19:14):
It's been kind of nagging at me, this whole idea
of First of all, I completely disagree the French. I
think the French hat guys are cool. The idea that
they're somehow worse than is He, I think is absurd.
But what how does one rank a freaking anthropomorphic cartoon
mascot in terms of better or worse? Is it how

(19:34):
well they represent the country? Is it how like cute
they are? Like?

Speaker 1 (19:39):
What are what are the metrics for this completely subjective.
It's water cooler opinion thing, you know, like it's it's
one of when I say water cooler opinion, it's one
of those things like the BS fashion articles you read
where people just want to kind of participate socially by
either having a hot take or agree with a thing

(20:00):
that other people are talking about. Uh, and we see
we also see again the power of nostalgia. I think
it's quite possible that it will become a cool thing
to play this game in the near future because the
Olympics are back on again and people are older now
and they're having those fond memories. It's, you know, another

(20:23):
thing that reminds us of of course, is our next
creature on the list or next game? I should say
checks quest Quest quest quest.

Speaker 3 (20:31):
Literally the motivation for this entire episode absolutely another one
that I absolutely unfamiliar with.

Speaker 2 (20:39):
So we all know what checks cereal was. Is it's
still a thing. It's check No checks was a serial?
Right or was checks? What am I thinking of?

Speaker 4 (20:47):
It's a serial?

Speaker 3 (20:48):
But then there's uh checks mix well, of course check
trail mixed with check checks mixed.

Speaker 2 (20:53):
Though, was one of these things that was just kind
of created organically by humans in the wild and then
repurposed and and did by Checks you know what I mean,
where it's like people were making it themselves, mixing it
with all kinds of other little little bits and snacky bobs,
and putting some seasoning in there, a little what is
it like Old Bay seasoning or some kind of you know,
kind of umami bit of seasoning.

Speaker 4 (21:15):
And then Checks decide, hey.

Speaker 2 (21:16):
Wait a minute, you guys do we're gonna We're gonna
do this ourselves and call it something and act like
we invented it.

Speaker 4 (21:22):
So chex Mix was huge. Oh yeah, chexs Mix is
still a giant.

Speaker 1 (21:26):
You know. It Also is a giant in the world
of gaming is the Doom franchise, And in twenty twenty
five they're going to have a prequel to the original Doom.
The trailer released this week yea or this week had
ed this game first off is pretty good because it
is kind of like to our earlier point about Skins,

(21:49):
it is a modification of a pre existing game that
was just built to be a game. Doom, one of
the most famous first person shooters of all time. Go
to Daniel Horowitz and his article chexs Quest a twenty
years later, retrospective on a cereal based game. We see
that they took this idea and they ran with it,

(22:12):
and they did something that you see. To me, it's
part of what defines really good comedy. They play it
with a straight face. Chex's quest is the when you
are the player, the stakes are supposed to be on
the level of playing Doom.

Speaker 4 (22:29):
You know what i mean.

Speaker 1 (22:30):
You gotta hunt the Flemoids I'm sorry, or the Chechs
Warrior the guides.

Speaker 4 (22:37):
Yeah, you know.

Speaker 2 (22:38):
Isn't that funny though, because there's nothing that will dry
your mouth out and gets your real flemy, like eating
a big old mouthful of checks mix.

Speaker 4 (22:45):
It's like this gets a breakfast cereal or racist.

Speaker 3 (22:49):
Play the high, high fiber version of them.

Speaker 1 (22:53):
This was aimed at This was nineteen ninety six, so
the same year as the Olympics in Atlanta. It was
aimed at children who were at least six.

Speaker 4 (23:04):
To nine years old.

Speaker 1 (23:05):
And the kind of modification this is is what we
call a total conversion. They took a lot of the
violence out of Doom, or a lot of the the
egregious blood right, and they I gotta tell you, the
gameplay is pretty much the same as do.

Speaker 3 (23:25):
It's exactly the same. The only difference is you're not
killing the Flemoys. The Flemoids are immune from any type
of damage. You're teleporting them back to their dimension, so
when you shoot them, it's sort of like Splatoon.

Speaker 2 (23:38):
If anyone's familiar with the the Nintendo or I guess
it's on Switch game Splatoon, it is a first person
shooter where you don't kill anybody, you just blast them
with ink. It's like paintball. So it's a way of
having the mechanics of a murder game. Sands the murder
is that kind of the idem x exactly. That's one
hundred because, as Ben said, it is. My dad fought

(24:01):
it hilarious the time, and I was too young to
understand what Doom was. He's like, this is literally Doom
for kids.

Speaker 1 (24:07):
Yeah, you've got and the power ups change the weapons
and ammunition shape to all be serial themed and just
like just like any other first person shooter, you win
the game by beating the final boss at the last level.

Speaker 4 (24:21):
And I think it's.

Speaker 1 (24:23):
Also a little bit easier than Doom because you want
people to associate the cereal with fun. Alex Walker has
a great short history. Excuse me, short official history of
Chech's Quest, which talks about how brilliant it was for
the cereal manufacturers to put a video game in your

(24:45):
boxes cereal as a prize. I think that's the really
brilliant thing, because one of the best parts of children's
cereal is, of course the prizes you get. And I
got to say furthermore, in recent decades, they've really started
skimping on the prizes. You guys, notice that I'm an adult,
like I can vote.

Speaker 4 (25:02):
That's scary skipping on the prizes and the cereal.

Speaker 2 (25:05):
And yeah, if I'm not mistaken, I think it's become
a little less popular to put them in the cereal
at all because of like potential choking hazards. And so
you get some kind of coupon that you mail in
to get the prize after the fact, which just ain't
cutting that.

Speaker 1 (25:24):
Right exactly, because that's not the kind of delayed gratification
kids are overall into. Originally, the game was supposed to
be in a cornfield and you had a flashlight. The
idea was you would make an educational tool in the
form of a video game, similar to like Math Blaster
or the Oregon Trail. But the team behind checks Quest

(25:48):
said let's if we're doing a video game, let's do
an actual video game. Let's look around at other video
games and see what's taking off, what's already popular, and
let's try to do that. And it looked around and
the most popular one they found was Doom.

Speaker 4 (26:05):
At least.

Speaker 1 (26:08):
This wasn't on a console rigially either, I think it
was on It was on personal computers. And then they said, okay,
we'll make a first person shooter.

Speaker 4 (26:17):
We'll make Doom.

Speaker 1 (26:18):
But checks and then they said, oh, hang on, it's
kind of tough to make a video game in six months.

Speaker 2 (26:24):
Yeah, it's super hard. And that's the thing with a
lot of these product tie in games is that they're
sort of an afterthought and that they're you know, absolutely rushed,
and that is evident in the final product because sometimes,
to your point, bent, either they're egregiously difficult and look
like crap, or they look good but are really really

(26:45):
really short. Games were expensive back then, just like VHS
tapes were expensive, which is why there was such a
robust rental market. So you certainly wouldn't be quite as
letdown if you rented the game and realized you could
beat it in twenty minutes, but if you shelled out
the that could be cause for a meltdown.

Speaker 1 (27:02):
Absolutely, And this is we have to remember before the
rise of the video game online review industry on YouTube
and stuff, so you couldn't act. It was much more
difficult to just hop on a website and watch someone
play the game and decide whether or not it was
a buy or a rental. And also these guys they
had another problem. They had to get a co sign

(27:25):
from the FDA, one of the most famous bureaucracies in
the country, and the FDA needed to sign off on
checks shipping all these cd ROMs, along with food people
would actually consume. To your earlier point, they had to
adhere to the demands of the FDA, which meant they
had to redesign weapons so they looked as non weapony

(27:48):
as possible, non descript, and then they had to really
dumb down the sound. It was a huge gamble for
General Mills, but it was also a massive success, so
much so that just one year later they released the sequel,
checks Quest. Two Flemoids take Chextropolis.

Speaker 3 (28:08):
Yeah, I gotta jump in the emergency like you're out
of AMMO weapon. You get in the game.

Speaker 4 (28:14):
Is a spoon.

Speaker 3 (28:15):
Yeah, as your melee emergency weapon is bro what better
way is there to defeat Cereal?

Speaker 2 (28:21):
You know, well, you're you're helping them. Sorry, you're helping
the Cereal. I know, I get it, I get it.

Speaker 4 (28:26):
I get it.

Speaker 3 (28:26):
You're you're you're shoveling snot with a spoon.

Speaker 2 (28:30):
Basically, it's weird though, the snot thing, because another thing
that makes you real snotty is milk. You know, milk
gets you real. The whole thing is very strange. A
couple opportunities that they may have squandered. I haven't played
the game, so I can't say. And again, it would
have been cool if they had allowed violence. Then you
could have officially been a serial killer. But instead you're
not killing the Cereal, you're killing the phlem And when

(28:52):
I was in middle school, I had a very brief
attempt at trying to write some sketch comedy with a
few friends, and I came up with a really great
step that had zero follow through. It was a parody
of Beverly Hills nine o two one oh called General
Mills nine oh two one oh, and it would just
be about you know, cereal drama. I don't know whatever

(29:13):
issues that cereal answer for morphive cereal? Would it be
between the different imprints of the different types of cereal
that were on General Mills tbd? But you know you
can't argue with the alliterative connection between Beverly Hills nine
oh two one oh and General Mills nine oh two.

Speaker 1 (29:30):
I yield my time, well done, and people, just like
you're saying, people know when there's a good idea, you remember,
you want to run with it. General Mills is in
this crazy serial video game casino and they keep winning.
So after they released chex Quest two and ninety seven,
they released che Quest three in two thousand and eight,

(29:52):
and get this, they re released it in twenty twenty.
Checks Quest HD.

Speaker 2 (29:58):
Oh my goodness. They needed they needed more resolution for
that checks You know, they had.

Speaker 3 (30:04):
To pretty several bust universe now. There's multiple playable characters now,
and so a lot of lore. It's a legendary game. Truthfully,
it is a legendary. It is very short. It is
about thirty minutes to play the entire thing.

Speaker 1 (30:15):
I don't have a problem with short games, no, no, no, no,
I don't have a problem with them unless I'm paying
the same price for them that I'm paying for you know,
forty hour RPG, you know.

Speaker 3 (30:25):
And that's the best thing about chex Quest as it
never costs money.

Speaker 2 (30:29):
Well, so it was always a serial tie in. It
was it was the prize. Yeah, you got it in
the box.

Speaker 4 (30:34):
That's sorry you said that. I'm sorry.

Speaker 2 (30:36):
I didn't fully understand the ramifications of that is very
forward thinking, you know, a digital prize, uh in the nineties,
how about that.

Speaker 3 (30:45):
Yeah, I'm just looking to confirm something. Yep, chex Quest
HD on Steam. It is a robust game with multiplayer features,
and everything is also free.

Speaker 4 (30:55):
Ah, it's always free.

Speaker 1 (30:56):
Which makes it the best, the best deal out of
the four because the other ones are free if you
purchase a box of cereal. So there is still technically prizing.
We can't even get to stuff like, Oh, Ronald McDonald

(31:17):
McDonald's treasure Land Adventure. That's a weird tie in. There's
a ton of Ronald McDonald's games. There's Donald Land in
nineteen eighty eight. It's a platformer that just came out
in Japan, where, weirdly enough, they call him Donald McDonald.

Speaker 2 (31:35):
I was about to say Donald Land. I don't understand. Okay,
that makes sense. He's Donald McDonald.

Speaker 1 (31:41):
I kind of like it. I like the internal. I
like how they added an extra d.

Speaker 2 (31:47):
It does add an extra layer of absurdity to it,
doesn't it. You know, it's sort of like having two
first names, right, you know, you're like the first name
and then a last name that's also a first name,
you know.

Speaker 4 (31:58):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (31:59):
Yeah, and Gin published a nineteen ninety two game called
MC Kids, which is sort of an also ran.

Speaker 3 (32:07):
That looks one that one looks like incredibly lying by
the way, that looks like the worst one.

Speaker 1 (32:12):
And then well we've got McDonald lang Global Gladiators another
spin off.

Speaker 2 (32:17):
To backtrack, though, ben, I would assume that would be
pronounced mckids.

Speaker 1 (32:22):
Yeah, but they've got the dots. They've got the initials
M dot C dot kids.

Speaker 3 (32:27):
So there's MC kids, but it's definitely MC kids.

Speaker 2 (32:30):
But what is so what if it's dots, they're supposed
to stand for something? What what do they stand for?

Speaker 4 (32:34):
Massively cool? Yeah?

Speaker 3 (32:35):
I think it actually somewhere I read it stood for
Mick and mac and the thing afterwards said this obviously
makes no sense because the acronym is uh EMC, but
they didn't think it out too far. Basically is what
a lot of people said.

Speaker 1 (32:48):
It seems so, yeah, what are we gonna play Grimace's Birthday?

Speaker 4 (32:52):
Oh boy?

Speaker 2 (32:53):
I love all the freaky, creepy pasta memes that were
spawned from the whole Grimace Shake thing with people like
just consuming the Grimace Shake and then immediately descending into
some sort of murderous David Lynch nightmare hellscape.

Speaker 4 (33:08):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (33:08):
I thought that was just absolutely peak Internet of Today,
really really good stuff.

Speaker 1 (33:13):
And then there is, of course McDonald's treasure Land Adventure.
There's so many that there's so many different McDonald's tie
in games that we could even do another episode on those,
But for now, all you need to know is that
Treasure Land Adventure has its own kind of fantasy lore.

(33:35):
Ronald McDonald is in a magic forest one day, or
the Magical Forest, and he sees a piece of paper
under a tree. He finds it's part of a treasure map,
and he doesn't know where the rest of the pieces
of the treasure map are. But the other pieces of
the map, it turns out, are in the hands of
some dangerous bad guys. So you play as Ronald McDonald
on a treasure hunt to find the pieces of the

(33:57):
map that will lead you to the treasure fun.

Speaker 2 (34:00):
Okay, so sort of an RPG, a very light RPG
kind of yeah, yeah, yeah, Okay. Do you guys remember
Chester Cheetah Too Cool to Fool?

Speaker 3 (34:11):
Yes?

Speaker 4 (34:12):
Yeah, did we reference in episode one? Don't think we.

Speaker 3 (34:15):
Got to let's spot in Chester Cheatah of the same
air Chester Cheetah you got his own video game two
that apparently had a really interesting glitch in the gravity
of it that would cause him to like be propelled
into the air like massively accelerating rates.

Speaker 2 (34:37):
I found a cool Reddit fred with a discussion on
the Chester Cheetah game. Then they described the glitch as such,
by some glitch of the game physics, Chester was propelled
very high into the air. Of course, once you launch
anything into the air, it eventually slows down and then
starts falling, another side effect of gravity. The farther you fall,
the faster you fall. The game is probably doing something
like this. Trouble is, Chester might be falling so fast

(35:00):
always passes right through the area where the game checks
whether he's on the ground. So one frame he's too
far above the ground, I eat out on the ground.
Next frame he's too far below the ground. I eat
out on the ground, so the game just lets him
fall forever.

Speaker 4 (35:15):
So yeah, that's a fun one.

Speaker 1 (35:18):
Yeah, and there's so many others that were like barely
we could maybe just laundry list some of these. Pepsi
Man Japan loves a lot of these tie in games.
Pepsi Man is game where you play a pepsi themed superhero.
You're delivering pepsi to people. And then on the Chester
Cheetah stuff.

Speaker 4 (35:38):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (35:38):
Two, we's got two games. There's Wild Wild Pest, There's
Too Cool to Fool and Too Cool to Fool. I
didn't know this doesn't have any actual Cheetos products appearing
in there.

Speaker 2 (35:51):
Frankly, that's smart because Chester is synonymous with Cheetos.

Speaker 4 (35:55):
You don't even need them. All you gotta do is
remind people of Chester. Cheetos is in his name.

Speaker 2 (36:00):
You know, guys, remember the golden era of cartoon advertisements
for cigarettes. How come they never got a game? How
come Joe Camill never got a game? I guess that
kind of ended before these video game tie in things
really became a thing.

Speaker 1 (36:15):
Yeah, I think because there was a video game crash
in nineteen eighty three for the industry. So if they
were making moves to do something like that, you know,
would work a boozer beer based game, Yeah, defleeing work.
We talked about some of those, we didn't get to
some of the most terrible, Like movie tie ins often
have a bad reputation. We mentioned nineteen eighty two et.

(36:38):
But the New Suicide Squad was apparently awful, as was
a Ghostbusters fight Club.

Speaker 4 (36:45):
There's a fight Club video game? No, see, that's how
bad it was, was there really? Yeah? Yeah?

Speaker 1 (36:51):
It was released five years after the movie. Critics and
fans like didn't dig it whatsoever. It's weirdly fred Durst
shows up in it.

Speaker 2 (37:04):
Oh Man speaking of viby, nostalgia based and also potentially
creepy things, and that Fred Durst shows up in I
made a video of this for our other show stuff
they don't want you to know, but highly recommend a
film that I've already seen three times in theaters called
I Saw the TV Glow.

Speaker 4 (37:22):
That is the.

Speaker 2 (37:23):
Most wonderful, affecting, immersive kind of send up of nostalgia
pop culture stuff. And one thing we mentioned on these
episodes is the way you remember things looking a certain
way that you were important to you as a child,
because you're remembering them through the lens of the way
it affected you emotionally as a child. But then you

(37:45):
look at them again as an adult and you're like, wow,
this looks like trash. And that's true of TV shows,
that's true of movies, that's definitely true of video games,
probably more specifically, because they just looked like crap and
you had to kind of fill in the blanks, you know.
And I remember seeing turbographics sixteen Bonx Adventures for the
first time when I was like, you know, maybe twelve

(38:07):
something like that, and I thought it was the most magical,
wonderful thing I've ever seen.

Speaker 4 (38:11):
Looked like playing a cartoon.

Speaker 2 (38:12):
Go back to it now, glitchy and blocky and not
smooth or cool looking at all. But anyway, sorry, that's
my rants about nostalgia, but check out, I saw the
TV glow. As far as other movie tie ins, Disney
was very infamous for putting them out and having them
be egregiously difficult. There was The Lion King and Aladdin,
both of which I actually owned on Sega Genesis, but

(38:36):
the Lion King notoriously incredibly hard.

Speaker 1 (38:40):
And Aladdin was the thing that answered the question what
if we could make Prince of Persia, but bad, ye
know what I mean. And then we also see a
problem is with a lot of the film tie in. Specifically,
they're working with the hectic production of a film schedule
right where they want it to be, ideally around the debut.

(39:00):
Terrible Catwoman movie has its own video game. The I
would also notice there is a bad street Fighter game.
It is street Fighter the movie the game, and it
is so much worse. Yeah yeah, Max. They have motions
are cracked. It's so much worse than the other iterations

(39:23):
of street Fighter. Because the film itself, you know, had
a really troubled production, and then the actors, after a
lot of them ended up hating each other. They had
to get back and do motion capture for this game
that looks like it wants to be Mortal Kombat dressed
as Street Fighter. It's just I don't know, man, this

(39:44):
You read the game reviews of this kind of stuff,
and I'll tell you, actually, you know what now that
I'm thinking about it, I don't want to get us
on a tangent here. But Aladdin was tough, but I
did like it.

Speaker 4 (39:59):
No, I realized I owned Aladdin. I didn't own Lion King.

Speaker 2 (40:03):
But Aladdin, I remember distinctly the level where you're in
the Cave of Wonders and you're on the flying Carpet
and it's a side scroller platform me one, and you
have to jump over and avoid all of these lava
flows and like geysers of lava, and you have to
jump over it and then jump back onto your magic carpet.
And I remember, again, if I looked at it now,

(40:24):
probably wouldn't hold up esthetically the way I'm picturing it
in my mind. But I very much owned the Aladdin
Sega Genesis game. But there were tons of other ones
as well, in terms of movie animated movies and specifically,
But nowadays it seemed we were talking about this at
the beginning of episode one. It seems like kids are

(40:47):
wise to this stuff now, and kids aren't gonna just
play a game because it's based on their favorite snack
unless there's something absurd or ironic about it. So when
you see these product tians, it's now a lot more
of this, like extra add on content, like with the
different skins that you can get for a Fortnite et cetera.

Speaker 1 (41:07):
Or the different fighting characters you can get as DLC
downloadable content.

Speaker 4 (41:13):
In Mortal Kombat, you know, that's when you can get
Dark Predator.

Speaker 1 (41:17):
And Yoda and Soul Caliber series. Those were great because
they have force powers. I think what we're saying is, yeah,
the trends will evolve and the methods will change. But
even though you know it's easy to dismiss some of
these things as perhaps cynical advertisements or grabs for attention,

(41:37):
this we these strange bedfellows of products and video games
actually resulted in some really cool experiences, and the nostalgia
is so real.

Speaker 4 (41:48):
Oh man, just a.

Speaker 2 (41:49):
Couple that I'm just remembering now. I'm like having a
core memory unlocked Home Alone. There was a video game
based on Home Alone on Nintendo that was terrible. And
I just found a Reddit thread that was what happened
to video games based on every single movie, and it
really was a thing like whether they were live action,
animated or whatnot. So if you want to dig into

(42:12):
more of that stuff and find, you know, little bits
of Internet debris leftover of gameplay that stuff, you certainly can.

Speaker 4 (42:20):
It's a very deep rabbit hole hap happy hunting.

Speaker 3 (42:24):
Yeah, And to jump in real quick, I want to
just talk about et for a little bit. We go
much more detail in our femeral episode about this with
somebody who knows way more about Williams than I will
ever know. But I want to state some love and
support for Howard Scott Warshaw, who was actually the programmer
made ET, because he's putting in an impossible situation. Basically,
they paid the studio for the rights of Fortune and

(42:47):
they gave him like a few weeks basically built the
game back then they can only build it stuf. He
also has one of the funniest creative games ever. It's
called Yars Revenge is a direct shot at Ray Kazo,
who was CEO of Atari who had been hired there
to replace Nolan Bushnell. Literally got hired away from Burlington
Coat Factory. That's who they put in charge of thing.

(43:09):
He was this guy's this is Ray Kazzar is the
guy who agree who worked the deal for you know,
the ET game and uh also you know basically killed Atari.

Speaker 4 (43:21):
Uh.

Speaker 3 (43:22):
And this guy, Howard Scott Warshaw's on a lot of
great things, like you know, uh said raiders have lost
ark and stuff, video games and stuff like He's done
a lot, and so it's really crazy to see how
bad et was because there was nothing he could have done.

Speaker 1 (43:36):
With that one, right, And that's something we have to remember,
just like is he the mascot, there are a lot
of hard working people who are laboring under at times
and possible situations. Also shout out to the Atari Jaguar
as one of those.

Speaker 3 (43:51):
And I found a jaguar ad. It it has oh god,
it has been it.

Speaker 2 (43:55):
Ripping through the page kind of is one of those
where it's like claw marks or something. I'm just picturing
magazine ads for that kind of stuff.

Speaker 3 (44:02):
It's a kid who's playing a tough, bad kid and
he goes to the bathroom and plays the jaguar pulls
out of his pocket, which is hilarioucause jaguars are massive
and huge. But it's an actual guy who had an
acting career who was not considered as a bad kid.

Speaker 4 (44:16):
Let's say to that can career. I'm looking it up.

Speaker 2 (44:18):
Yeah, yeah, well yeah. Jack Black did some video game ads.
It was for a game called Pitfall that you can
actually find that ad online with a very young, fresh
faced Jack Black. But while you're looking at that at
Max's when I add my last thing. It's kind of
full circle for this this doesn't happen anymore. You know,
these product high end video games, these movie kind of
tempole tie in video games, unless they're something like a

(44:38):
Spider Man, are something that you know has been in
development for a long time, that they know will sell
because now the expectations for the quality of the game
must reach are just so much higher, and the typical
development cycle for a big game, often referred to as
like a triple A game, can be up to six years.
So now what's replaced the cheap quick dirt, the cash

(45:00):
grab of the the the rushed you know, video game
tie in of yesteryear are phone games as sure?

Speaker 1 (45:10):
So I would argue though that the while it's again
like I was saying earlier, while it's evolved, we still
see those same core trends. Lord of the Rings has
some terrible video games. Shout out to their their Golumn game,
and Suicide Squad, which I mentioned earlier, also had a
really difficult game release. I think the money is just
too good. I think you do make an astute point

(45:32):
about the mobile gaming, which again is the evolution that
we see the cyclical, uh, the cyclical process of nostalgia
bringing people back to the things we loved as kids.
So I do want to say again, if it sounds
like we're dumping on developers and publishers and so on,
we're not dumping on the creatives at all. It's uh,

(45:54):
it's again. I think one of the most important points
sometimes these strange bedfellows eight stuff that remains an awesome
part of people's lives, and I think it's really cool
to acknowledge that. I'm looking at the positive side. You know,
for every et, there is at least two there are
at least two to three other games that people will

(46:16):
always pick up, regardless of how old they are. And
with that, this concludes our two part history on the
Golden Era the halcyon age of video game product tie ins.
Thanks to our super producer mister Max Williams, Thanks our
research associate Max Williams and our composer Alex Williams.

Speaker 2 (46:33):
Christopher Rasiotis and Eaves, Jeff Coates here in spirit, aj
Bahamas Jacobs the Puzzler. Actually we've got a date with
him on the books coming up real soon, so for
another Puzzler tie in episode coming your way.

Speaker 1 (46:48):
And then of course Rachel Big Spinach Lance, our pal
Gabe Luzier all of you ridiculous historians, gamers and non
gamers alike. We can't wait to travel with you to
some new place is In future episodes. We're gonna learn
about Popeye harems, We're gonna learn like real harems.

Speaker 4 (47:07):
We're gonna learn about karaoke. We're gonna learn about the
Swiss Guard.

Speaker 1 (47:11):
So many things ahead light spoilers, but we can't wait
for you to be riding shotgun with us.

Speaker 4 (47:17):
I guess that's kind of what we do, Ben, We're
sort of spoilers of history. We'll see you next time. Books.

Speaker 2 (47:29):
For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,
or wherever you listen to your favorite shows

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