Hey Sega-addicts, sorry about having to take a week off; the trip to pneumonia-land wasn’t exactly the vacation I was hoping for. Whatever, I’m back and I’m picking up where I left off – advergames! I plan on covering quite a few games because most of them tend to be terrible, so expect this feature to try to sell you stuff for a few weeks. I’m also hoping to break away from the Genesis for a bit and talk about games on other systems for a change if possible. Another rule that I’m going to follow is that the game actually has to be bad. That means I won’t be doing this game. I’ll tell you what I am doing though – Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool on the Sega Genesis. So grab yourself a bag of Cheetos and get ready to play a terrible game.
Let me start by saying this is probably the weirdest game I have ever played. I think there is a good chance that the people in charge of this game had never played a video game before making this. I also think there is a good chance these people have never studied marketing or watched an advertisement before. Either that or this is experimentalism manifest as an advertising video game that showcases qualities of neither advertising nor video games. Maybe I’m too square to understand the aim here, but to me it just doesn’t make any sense. And it’s not like the game is obviously bad because the people working on it were bad at their jobs – this game is just fucking weird.
So the first thing you’ll notice is there is very little product placement, aside from Chester Cheetah himself. By his inclusion in the game it’s pretty obvious that they are trying to market Cheetos to the hip, teenage demographic, but they do this by not actually doing this. Do you remember in Zool where there were billboards for Chupa Chups? Well that game had nothing to do with Chupa Chups. This game is all about selling Cheetos, but, unless I’m missing something huge, Cheetos aren’t actually in this game. How the hell are you going to make new customers for your product if you go out of your way to not make them aware that your product exists? From a business standpoint this doesn’t make any sense. I guess this game is more of a cash-in on the mascot craze of the early 90’s. Someone at Frito-Lay probably figured “oh, what the hell, we have a mascot already, let’s pop his ass in a video game and rake in the cash!” But wouldn’t you think there would be someone on that panel that might say “hey, let’s put some advertisements in the game too that way more people might be inclined to buy our product.” Seriously, if you don’t know who Chester Cheetah is you won’t have any idea this game wants you to buy Cheetos and then you’ll go off and eat Humpty-Dumpty chips, or something like that. Thanks, Chester Cheetah, this is what your crappy game has reduced my life to: complaining about the absence of something I could complain about.
So yeah, now that my Marketing 101 rant is out of the way, I’ll talk about the other weird things this game features. And where better to start than the god damn opening cinematic. It begins focused on Chester chillin’ out, maxing, relaxing all cool up against a brick wall, when a giant blue guy who was up to no good kidnap’s Chester’s ass straight out the neighbourhood (I think I’ll stop with the Fresh Prince reference before I get sued). The next scene appears to be the blue guy running, but it turns out he has actually run off a cliff but hasn’t fallen because he doesn’t realize it yet. Naturally and predictably Chester and the blue guy fall on to a hippie monkey playing a drum for his cool fish. Finally the blue guy pulls a string and they’re all friends, I guess, because that brings up the title screen! Seriously this all happens. I’m just gunna leave this video here and you can take this intro how you will. Personally, I don’t think there is anything more I can say about it.
The weird shit isn’t even over yet. Normally, one would expect a cheetah to be fairly quick. This seems reasonable given they are one of the fastest mammals in existence. This cheetah defies that logic and moves more slowly than the enemy that is apparently a turtle on roller skates. That is, until you get Chester’s shoes. For some reason this absent-minded cheetah loses his shoes every single god-damn level, thus requiring that you find them in order to run. That’s a huge pain in the ass that doesn’t make a lick of sense. He does the same thing with his glasses in every level, but they are much less important – all they do is change the colour scheme to greyscale and make more paw-coins appear. For some reason though, Chester’s sprite always depicts him wearing both his glasses and his shoes, so if either of these things were hidden well, one might assume that their controller was malfunctioning, especially since the game provides no indication whatsoever that you should aim to collect these items.
Speaking of giving no indication what to do, how about completing a level? This game is so bad at giving you hints, or being intuitive at all if I want to get pedantic, that I was prepared to write this article based entirely on my first impressions. As it turns out my first impression that this game was weirder than that old guy who sometimes showed up to your high school classes was correct. So how do you actually beat a level in this game? Surely it’s as simple as walking to the sign that says EXIT. Well, no actually. The game doesn’t tell you this information though, some nice person who created a video-walkthrough on YouTube was the person who informed me that this game defies everything you would expect a platformer to be. In actuality you have to find some piece of your motorcycle, that the game never tells you is broken by the way, and then go to the exit. Naturally it’s hidden in the middle of nowhere so you’re unlikely to even do this by accident. Consistent with the game’s lazy graphics, the piece you need to find always looks like wheels.
Finally, I will support my hypothesis that the developers have never played a video game before, as if the complete lack of direction and unintuitive requirements necessary to beat a level aren’t enough. First of all, when you jump on an enemy they don’t die, but rather they are stunned for a few seconds. That’s not too terrible it’s just really strange (and a pain in the ass), especially in a game where the toughness and integrity of the main character seem to be the focus. It’s like if Rambo walked around with a tranquilizer gun, it’s just weird. Another strange thing is that the floors are not level – they are bumpy. This doesn’t make the game any less easy to play or anything it’s just a weird design choice that isn’t seen in many games, likely for good reason. Another weird design choice is having the game make a beeping sound effect every time you jump. That’s annoying, and you jump a lot since this is a platformer. The last bit, which basically proves that this game was either never tested or it was tested by people who don’t play games, is that when you fall into water and you’re being dropped back into the level from above it is entirely possible and all too common to fall directly back into the water. How’s that for an infinite loop? I’d estimate that somewhere between one third and one half of the times I was being brought back to life I ended up dying again. There’s a part in level 3 where you have to jump onto some gorilla dude to get across a wide section of water and thanks to this terrible lack of foresight if you miss the jump you might as well restart the game, because you will continue to be dropped into the water.
On the whole this game fucks up everything it has set out to do. It isn’t fun to play, it doesn’t make any sense and it doesn’t even advertise the product it’s supposed to advertise properly. From what I can tell it’s also very short (only 5 levels), but I’ll never know because I can’t get past that water bit in level 3. It does edge very close to the so-bad-it’s-good line, so I guess I can recommend a quick play-through just to capture how bad this game is. The developers and marketing agents seem to disagree with me though, and this game got a damn sequel. A SEQUEL! And you can be sure it sucks too. Don’t worry, we’ll find out more about that next week.