Arcade Bootleg Hour

Bootleg culture is a wonderful thing. Something admirable about the cottage industry of cheaply made shit born from a Venn diagram of “things I saw on TV once” and “jokes your drunk, shirtless neighbor would laugh at.” There will come a day where I will finally give up, put on a denim jacket, a bootleg Simpsons shirt, and step into my shitty car with an “I Brake For Monster Booty” bumper sticker. That day will be funny as hell, in a cosmic sort of way.

I will take that shitty car, and drive it to some shithole arcade. At that shithole arcade that smells of cigarettes, sweat, and parental disappointment, I will play all of the classics. Sorry, I meant “classics.” Because it’s not just shirts and hats that get popular licenses haphazardly thrown onto them. To the surprise of nobody reading this, video games have been bootlegged out the ass since their inception, when people were straight up reselling Pong without giving money to either Ralph Baer or Nolan Bushnell (depending on who the courts tell you). I want to take a look at a selection of these cynically produced monsters that tried and (mostly) failed to fight the good fight against copyright law.

You’ve heard of Frogger before, right? Classic game about a frog crossing the street without getting violently murdered by cars. It was in an episode of Seinfeld.

Well, how about Frog?

Figured that I would start with the least inspired bootleg of all time. I mean, it’s called Frog. I’m sure this suckered a few greasy pizza joint owners into buying it. It’s not like now, where TV Games are a multi-billion dollar industry, even bigger than movies, according to literally every mainstream article written by an idiot. Back then, nobody had a fucking clue what these things were. They weren’t going to double check and make sure that they had an official Konami © 1981 product. Who cares? Put your quarters in the damn machine, and then either buy some pizza or get the fuck out!

Otherwise, this is literally just Frogger. Frogger is fine enough. There will eventually be some more bootlegs that get real weird with it. But hey, Frog!

This next bootleg is pretty special. It’s also a strange one, as it is not plagiarized from an already existing game. Rather, this is an original game, complete with its own mechanics. What makes this a bootleg is the prominently featured, unlicensed likeness of Doraemon.

This is “Dora-chan.”

Aside from a cursed title screen that makes me feel as if I will be killed in a week by a vengeful ghost, Dora-chan doesn’t follow any sort of average game conventions. You drive around in a tiny car, picking up dots and avoiding large animal heads that will either go about their business or tear ass at you full speed. This is not, however, a “dot game” like Pac-Man. The dots are only there for points, and endlessly spawn on the field. Your actual objective is to drive through a hole in the wall at the top of the screen, and ram right into a hapless Doraemon. The hole is, of course, constantly moving and shifting, so you have to avoid crashing like an idiot. There’s also a bonus level after each standard level where Doreamon shoots a single heart at a moving line of animals at the top of the screen. You can shoot any animal you want, but it looks like you get the most points from hitting another Doraemon.

Now, to say that Dora-chan feels like an unfinished, disorganized mess would be absolutely, 100% true. Like a lone programmer was testing out an idea for a game, and then his rough draft was put on a PCB board and sent out to all sorts of unscrupulous arcade owners who didn’t give a fuck. Dora-chan is a game in the loosest sense of the term, but it doesn’t matter, because that’s what makes it awesome. This fever dream disaster that looks like a game that someone on the internet made up, but is very real. The developers, Craul Denshi, would later change their name to Alpha Denshi, and make games like Magician Lord and World Heroes for the Neo-Geo. Insert a tired, unfunny joke about upgrading from bootlegging to merely ripping off here.

Dora-chan was not only popular enough to see legal action brought against it, but to be referenced in other games, as well. In Namco’s hilariously titled Tinkle Pit, if you type “Alpha” into the high score table, the game will change the name to “DORACHAN.”

The whole concept of a bootleg Doraemon was popular enough to make an appearance in Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Clearly, Dora-chan had an effect on more than a few people.

Now, are you familiar with Irem’s mega smash hit, Moon Patrol? Of course you are! We all know that the history of Irem’s shooting games begins and ends with Moon Patrol and nothing else!

Now what do you know about…

…Moon Rangor?

This is it, right here. The thing about bootlegs that’s so interesting and lovable: that distinct lack of effort. Some dude hacked together this logo in the hopes that it would hoodwink an unsuspecting arcade/laundromat owner, then realized that “shit, this is hard” after ten minutes, leaving us with what you see here. Go ahead, say Moon Rangor out loud to yourself; I like to stress the second half of Rangor, like Moon Rain-Joor. I can only hope that some kids sat around the playground in the early-mid 80s, talking about their new favorite game, Moon Rangor.

Moon Rangor is another bootleg that doesn’t do anything different. It’s merely a way to cash in on Irem’s games without Irem getting any money from it. The game itself is fine, too.

There are so many more bootlegs to cover. I’ll probably do more of these posts if people are interested. But before I end this and hit “publish,” there is one more bootleg. As far as I am concerned, it is the bootleg. Everyone knows about Donkey Kong, right? Seminal Nintendo game that launched a thousand IP’s. However, for as much as you may have liked Donkey Kong, you have never truly- truly lived a day in your life until you have played Monkey Donkey.

Monkey Donkey is what happens when you, as an individual, well and truly embraces the mediocre. It is Bootleg Simpsons in arcade game format. Liquor stores don’t have arcade machines, but if they did, they would all be carrying Monkey Donkey. You go in for some cheap cigars and those tiny “sampler” bottles of rum, wearing your “Bart Simpson but now he’s Black” shirt, a hat for either the local rock radio station or a restaurant called Big Cock McGraw’s Fuck Shack, and you throw a few quarters into Monkey Donkey before you leave to a good night’s meal of a TV dinner and a M.A.S.H rerun.

This grumpy motherfucker is constantly changing colors and taunting you. See, in the original Donkey Kong, he says, “how high can you get” punctuation as found. Donkey Kong is merely challenging you, while Monkey Donkey is stating the fact that the best you’re going to do is try, bitch. Try me, you stupid motherfucker. That’s what Monkey Donkey thinks.

Unlike the other bootlegs here, this one is totally fucked up. There’s the changing colors, the music is missing several instruments and is now a series of high-pitched beeps, the collision detection is wonky, and Monkey Donkey’s animations don’t match up to his actions, leading to him launching barrels out of his ass at high speeds. Monkey Donkey is bootleg to the core: it looks like a name brand at first glance, but the lack of craftsmanship rears its head if you look a little bit deeper. It’s incredible. Oh, and I almost forgot: Jumpman lets out a “hi-yaah!” every time he jumps. Mario can’t do that.

he also turns a frightening shade of red when he gets killed by pies

As I already said, Monkey Donkey is the bootleg. The bootleg to which I judge all others. A fucked up facsimile that reminds you of its seedy nature at every opportunity. This is my preferred way of playing Donkey Kong, to be honest. Why isn’t Billy Mitchell cheating his way to a high score in this one? Fuck.

monkey donkey breaks his fucking neck and dies when you win!

In any event, bootlegs rule. Fuck The Man.

the end of wizardry

It’s September, which means one thing: the 40th anniversary of Wizardry! I love Wizardry, and you love Wizardry. If you don’t love Wizardry, go fuck yourself.

Now, there is my post on the first game that was sort of popular for a bit. In that time since, I have begun making my way towards other Wizardry games, like its sequels, spin-offs, and legally distinct stand-alone titles. Before I write about more of those, I thought I would finish off the first game.

The party made it all the way to the 10th and final floor of the dungeon. This is where the real shit starts; the most brutal of enemies and the best gear are found here. Even though floor 10 is essentially a straight line, progress grinds to a halt here. Every fight is a coin flip to whether you live or die, and you constantly need to warp back to town to rest up, or to sell the loads of shitty gear you’ve acquired while trying to find the good stuff.

Unfortunately, something happened. Genji, our lovable Hobbit thief who wanted so badly to be a Ninja, was killed. Dahlia, our priest, who at this point was capable of raising the dead, failed to do so, causing his body to turn to ash. The party then brought Genji’s ashes back to the temple, where the many other priests there could hopefully bring him back. They failed as well, his ashes evaporating into the ether. Genji caught the heinous ailment that is “permadeath.” Because I forgot to hit reset before the game could auto-save want to maintain the spirit of this narrative, the party went back to the tavern to recruit another thief who was a Hobbit who also was trying to become a ninja who also happened to have a Japanese name. His name is Sho.

Like I said, this is when the real shit happens. Floors 1 through 9 were merely a test for the final floor. Master Ninjas, Vampires, a whole group of Murphy’s Ghosts (which um…aren’t actually much of a threat at all), Fire Giants, Earth Giants, Ice Giants, and the worst enemy of them all: Poison Giants. Poison Giants fuck off. They will kill your ass deader than dead before you even hit the ground; fuck your speed stat, fuck your defense, fuck all that shit. You see these assholes, you either run or you die from instant Tiltowait spam. Tiltowait of course, being the most powerful magic attack in the whole game, which also attacks everyone on the opposing team.

there is also flack. we all remember him from the an*me adaptation.

Because every fight is guaranteed to drop items afterwards, Rosa the Bishop proved invaluable here. Bishops are what Final Fantasy based their Red Mages on. They can learn both Sorcery and Miracles, as opposed to Magicians and Priests being restricted to one class of magic. The downside to this is that Bishops level up much slower than everyone else, meaning that it will take much longer to get them the highest level magic than a dedicated class. However, the one thing a Bishop can do that nobody else can do is identify unknown items. Without a Bishop, you have to go all the way back to town and pay an exhoribant fee to the item shop to have them identify it for you. Having a Bishop saves me time and money, which ultimately doesn’t matter by this point, as everyone in my party already has about six figures worth of gold to their names a piece, but it’s the principle of the thing.

Anyways, during this slog on the 10th floor, they found a knife. Upon inspecting the knife, it was discovered that it was not just any weapon, but the much sought after Thieves Knife! When a Thief uses this knife, they instantly become a Ninja! Aside from a natural buff to Armor Class achieved by taking off all of their armor, Ninjas have one very useful skill that will make the rest of this adventure less of a hassle:


A Ninja has a chance to instantly kill an enemy in a single attack. ANY enemy. Nothing is safe from a naked Hobbit with a working knowledge of the anatomy of every race and creature in the world. Specifically, knowing how to remove a head from them.

now i know why the ninja was naked in this picture (source:

After multiple trips back and forth, killing monsters capable of wiping out entire armies if they so chose, and selling off unneeded weapons to a salivating arms dealer, the party found themselves at the entrance of Werdna’s room.

Here it is, the ultimate test. Werdna, the wizard who plans on using the magical amulet to take over the kingdom of Llygamin, is behind this door. The man who has control over all the monsters of this dungeon, who has built the many traps and maddening labrynths that have killed so many adventurers before. This will not be an easy fight. The party steels themselves one final time, and opens the door.

Werdna is not only a powerful magician in his own right, but he is also flanked by the Lord of Vampires, and several Vampire minions. He was ready for this. The door closes behind the party, sealing the fate of one of these two groups. The toughest battle of these adventurers’ lives is underway, and there is no guarantee that a single one of them will make it back home.

And then…



Werdna is dead. Two casts of Tiltowait from Serena the Magician was enough to wipe out both the Vampire Lord, and his minions. All that’s left now is to pick up the amulet, and use it to teleport back home.

That’s it. That is the end of Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord! It was, and is still, an incredible game. Even 40 goddamn years later, it more than holds up as the pinnacle of the RPG genre. There is a damn good reason why every RPG you have ever played was influenced by this.

Hold on a second, Masanobu Endoh produced this? Endoh worked at Namco, where he would create games like Xevious and…

…The Tower of Druaga.

Fuck dude, all of my gaming worlds are colliding. That’s awesome!

But in any case, Wizardry is now over. Happy 40th to a great series, and I hope whoever is currently holding the rights to it quits being a bunch of dickheads, and fucking stops doing whatever they’re doing that’s keeping Wizardry: The Five Ordeals from getting rereleased. That game was supposed to come out back in fucking June! Come on!

The End of Wizardry.

Or is it? There are still two expansion for me to play! Time to export my characters, I guess.

pop and chips

Some months back, I found out about a Japan-only game console that up until that point, I had never even heard of. I tend to pride myself, for lack of a better term, on knowing all about little-known systems. But it’s cool; I love to find out about new stuff.

The way I had found out about the system was how I find out about anything: mindlessly searching the internet for weeb shit. Thanks to the YouTube channel Retro Game BAR Gateau for all the good retro game videos, as well as videos of the guy’s sweet set-up. I have legitimately not had a drink in three years, but I would bend the rules of sobriety a little to kick back with something hard in a place like this:

Anyways. The system in question is the Epoch Super Cassette Vision. It only lasted a few years, and had around 30 games for it in total. In the short time I’ve known about the SCV, I have loved this little thing. Really, it only failed for the same reasons Sega’s SG-1000 did: the Nintendo Famicom was much more powerful on a tech level, and commanded a lot of market space. It wasn’t a failure because it sucked.

With all that said, I want to talk about one game in particular: Pop and Chips. Pop and Chips is the cutest game on the SCV by a mile. You could make the argument that the not as lewd as it sounds Milky Princess is cuter, but it also relies heavily on being fluent in Japanese, and I’m not yet.

Pop and Chips follows in line with a lot of other games in the “cute animal rescues smaller cute animals from nebulous bad guys” genre. It’s comparable to stuff like Flicky, Chack n’ Pop, or the also hilariously titled Nuts and Milk. You are what appears to be a sentient gacha capsule kicking boxes open to rescue the smaller gacha capsules that fly out of them. You have to deal with cool looking bean-guys in sunglasses and an even bigger bean with a crown that causes the screen to shake. There’s next to nothing about this game in the English-speaking world, so I have to make wild guesses as to what I’m seeing.

these guys look like minions, here

There’s also the ladders. If a ladder is hanging onto those rods, you can kick those left and right. Normally, you can use that to reach places (you know, like you would using a ladder). You can also violently murder enemies with them. Kick a ladder right into someone’s face, Joey Mercury style. Kick a ladder while an enemy is climbing it, and watch them fall face-first on the ground, because they are fucking dead now. Again, this fits perfectly into its genre of cute yet gruesome if you give it mild scrutiny. Kicking ladders, dropping solid blocks on people’s heads, do all sorts of sick murders in your quest to rescue baby gacha capsules. You can also hit them with a bug net, but that power-up lasts all of like two seconds, meaning that murder is truly the only way. That’s awesome.

Really, that’s all there is to Pop and Chips, but it still rules. Cute, simple, and fun as fuck. I mean, hey, it was 1985, and it was on a system with pretty restrictive hardware. “Basic” does not, or at least should not, mean “bad.” The type of simple game we don’t really get a whole lot of anymore. What a shame.

Besides, even if you get bored of attaining a new high score, there is a level editor included so you can make all the dumb shit you want. It’s kind of like Lode Runner that way. Lode Runner for people too stupid for Lode Runner, aka me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like the newer games that come out today. But fuck me, dude, I really would like to see a return to this style. It’s been too long since the heyday of cartoon animals killing things in a cute way.

God Bless Pop and Chips, and God Bless the Super Cassette Vision.

i’m 35 now

check it out: i’m old

This past Sunday was my birthday! Unfortunately, it was not quite as notable as last years, which was a lot of fun, but it was still a great time overall.

Like last year, I started my day with a coffee and checking the racing news. I’m looking forward to seeing what George Russel can do with Mercedes; I really warmed up to that kid last season. Then I loaded up Animal Crossing. Yes, I still play Animal Crossing. Multiple times a week, even! What cool things did my villagers have to say to me this year?

So, before I get into all the IRL fun I had, I do have to bring up a bitter pill. A former Twitter mutual decided that, of all the fucking days to start some shit, it needed to be my fucking birthday. I say “former” because this is one of those tedious “tenderqueers” you hear so much about; the kind that thinks any trans person who creates a piece of art more hard-hitting than Steven Universe holding hands with Wheeler from Captain Planet is actually a secret rapist pedophile who totally deserves all the harassment and doxxing they may receive. Also calling me an “opportunist” for bringing up the irrefutable fact that even leftists will use places like Kiwi Farms as a source for taking mouthy queers down a peg. Jerk. Anyways, yes, this fucking asshole brought their tired ass “relatively notable trans person is totally doing a rape on me by defending the developers of a TV game being harassed for stupid reasons” gimmick to my metaphorical house on a day where I want to deal with people’s shit even less than I normally do.

I had honestly planned saving this rant for the end of the year, as part of my 2021 wrap-up, but fuck it, I’ll do it now before I get back to the fun shit.

I want to talk some shit about this whole “wholesome” thing that’s been going around these last few years. Now, I do not have any issue with things that are bright, cheery, or lacking in challenge, both in the design and thematic sense. I mean, hell, I literally just posted Animal Crossing screenshots. Besides that, bro, have you ever seen Slimegirl? There’s nothing inherently wrong with the concept of media that you can chill out to. The problem comes from its surrounding culture. You know, that whole thing where a bunch of She-Ra avatars who got their queer theory from a Tumblr fandom blog from nine years ago fill an artists’ inbox with “kill urself fag” because they had the audacity to create something heavier than, again, Steven Universe holding hands with Wheeler from Captain Planet. Anything that isn’t the most non-threatening, saccharine piece of art is considered evil. What happened to Isabel Fall was only a year ago. How about that young woman who drew a short comic about shoplifting? People with ACAB and “Be Gay, Do Crimes” in their bios mass reported her until her Paypal got shut down. This may sound radical, but I have a firm belief that artists, especially queer ones, doubly especially the trans ones, should be able to make something that challenges the established norms of society without also getting harassed into a mental breakdown or financial debt.

Queer artists who are anti-establishment are looked at as sinister. Sex workers are looked down upon, even if someone in the wholesome scene does or makes something sexual themselves. Hate to it break it to you, but showing off half a nipple on your OnlyFans page makes you just as much of a whore as the rest of us. My particular sex work is getting phone calls at weird hours, and having to spend anywhere from five minutes to an hour listening to middle aged men masturbating and telling me how badly they want to be my stepdad. This does not make me better or worse than anyone else in my field; stripper, lewd furry artist, camgirl, dominatrix, porn star, full-on escort, there is no moralistic hierarchy to making money on the concept of being horny. I also strongly resent this whole narrative that we’re all part of some cabal of barely reformed *chan (where the * is any number from 2 through 8) posters that want the freedom to yell out racial slurs and sexualize minors, and that our anti-wholesome stance comes from unchecked bigotry, rather than being tired of yet more blows being rained down upon some of society’s easiest punching bags. That’s bull shit. We should have the right to make dark, potentially problematic work, in addition to cute stuff with lots of primary colors. In this time of all types of queer shit getting the boot from several platforms (see: Tumblr, PayPal, Patreon, even OnlyFans) for being “too sexual,” and small indie creators specifically being put on blast during the Apple vs Epic lawsuit, the last thing we need are a bunch of “pick me” idiots who will accuse us of being nazis simply for being born in 1988 throwing us under the bus to prolong the amount of time they have before the digital censorship train makes it to their platform. Art should not be a war fought on multiple fronts, yet here we are.

So yeah, fuck “Wholesome.” That shit gave us Nick Robinson, the McElroys, Blaseball, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, among other things that trigger a spike in my blood pressure when I see them. The most cowardly shit. The commodification of art into a cynical marketing gimmick sucks. Give me something cute, but not holier-than-thou “I’m not like those people” garbage.


oh right, i also got no more heroes 3 on release day. look forward to that write-up eventually.

Let’s get back to business.

Once again, I went out on a MALL ADVENTURE. Of course, more or less transitioning over to PC gaming and buying obscure indie/retro shit that doesn’t have physical releases that don’t cost like a million bucks, I didn’t buy any games like I did with the Tony Hawk remasters last year. I did however get some shirts on clearance for a grand total of about twenty bucks:

I know, it’s not particularly exciting. I am an old curmudgeon with low standards, shirts will do it for me. Probably doesn’t hurt that I also got myself some pizza, a chocolate cake, and some root beer to go along with all that.

That all doesn’t really matter. The real plan for Sunday night was getting together with some of my closest friends, and watching AEW All Out. Doing pay-per-views on my birthday is a good way of ensuring that I will buy at least one of your shows every year.

Fuck me, this show rules. All Out kicked all of the asses. The return of a guy that I thought was done with wrestling, was just going to live the rest of life never getting back into the ring, coming back after so long. That’s right, Paul Wight taking on QT Marshall!!

…okay, maybe not.

But seriously, despite me writing an entire article two years ago about not giving a fuck about CM Punk anymore, and hoping that he did stay out of the ring, after showing up on some WWE-branded talk show in the cringiest of ways, I bought into the hype of his return. I was so fucking excited to see him take on Darby Allin, and those two did not disappoint. Other than that, the Young Bucks/Lucha Brothers cage match is up there for my personal Match of the Year with the Britt Baker/Thunder Rosa Lights Out match back on St Patrick’s Day. All Out was just banger after banger of great wrestling, to the point that some of my friends, who have never watched a wrestling show in their lives, got hyped up about it. That was fucking awesome to see. Of course, I can’t forget about the debut of HOLY FUCKING SHIT IT’S BRYAN GODDAMN DANIELSON!!!!!!!!!!! Dirk Fucking Dickbutt in AEW! You gotta love it!

That was pretty much my night. Other than some asshole bringing me down for a few minutes, leading into me pasting and slightly updating a few paragraphs that have been sitting in my drafts since like June, I had a great time. Great show, great friends, and because Jungle Boy showed up multiple times, great music.

It was cool. I got to watch a great show with friends, some of whom were meeting each other for the first time. Admittedly, I was a little worried about how everyone would get along; not that I thought they would all try to kill each other, but rather everything being awkward and nobody knowing what to say. I didn’t want anyone to feel left out. Thankfully, nobody was. We all had a fun night. And I think that’s something I need to keep in mind is that, no matter what is going on in the world, or how unbearably shitty the first half of 2021 was for me: overall, my life is pretty fucking great at the moment. I’m not a millionaire, but I am rich where it counts. It feels good to have a little support in your life, and to not feel so dang alone all the time.

I’m glad I got all these people in my life. I’m glad people are reading this site every week, as well. I’ll look forward to seeing you all again here next year.