Thursday, August 25, 2011
OH GOD WHY?! PenPen TriIceLon
Another week, another installment of OH GOD WHY?!, in which I play the worst games I can find, and then share my rage with you. This week, revel in the joy that is PenPen TriIceLon for the Sega Dreamcast.
The Sega Dreamcast is a system that has become romanticized since its heyday in the late 1990s. Launching four years to the day after the original Sony Playstation, the Dreamcast blew away its contemporaries in almost every way conceivable. The graphics were crisp and the sound was CD-quality. When you consider the glaucoma-like graphics of the PSone and the fact that Nintendo hadn’t even discovered what the fuck CDs were at this point, it’s easy to see why people were shitting their pants over the Sega Dreamcast.
The system was barely able to survive for two years though, as the Playstation 2 was about to release in 2000, and Electronic Arts refused to publish games for it. The fact that games such as Madden and other EA Sports titles never appeared on the Dreamcast effectively smothered the Sega system in its crib. Just like Casey Anthony. That kept the library of titles much smaller and weirder than it otherwise would have been. Which brings us to the shit show that is Pen Pen TriIceLon.
Delivered unto this world by Infogrames in 1999, PenPen TriIceLon, apart from being a bitch to type, is bafflingly odd. At its core, the game is a mascot kart racer, but without the karts. That’s right. It’s as if your uncle gave you a dirtbike as a child, only to tell you he didn’t put a motor on it because go fuck yourself. The characters in the game are called PenPens and they live on “Iced Planet”. There’s actually a page in the instruction manual that details the story of the TriIceLon, and I can only imagine that when the author finished typing it up, he promptly walked into the nearest janitors closet and hung himself.
You know you’re in for a well-controlling experience when the Controls screen lists 5 of the 7 Dreamcast buttons as being “Not Used.” The analog stick is used for PenPen controls, and the A button is used to “stroke.” Something something masturbation joke. The B button is labeled as “attack” but you might as well just forget that, since the attack your PenPen performs ends up knocking them down and effectively sabotaging yourself in the race. Which would probably piss you off if this game wasn’t a sack of dicks.
There are 3 main modes of play: TriIceLon, Vs. IceLon, and Time Trial. The courses can be raced in short, medium, or long forms, and there’s a whopping 4 to choose from. It’s worth noting here that the “owner” of the Jungle stage; Unga Pogo is the most racist thing this side of Al Jolson. It’s as if they unfroze Walt Disney’s head, stuck a pen in his mouth, and told him to go all fuckin’ out on this one, Walt.
There are 8 PenPen to chose from, who all appear to be mentally challenged in one way or another. No lie, one even wears a helmet. It’s like they weren’t even trying. I guess they’re supposed to be ice creatures, but a more appropriate description would be “abominations before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” You can pick between Dog PenPens, Hippo PenPens, Shark PenPens and an octopus who is, according to the booklet, a hermaphrodite. There’s nothing else I can tell you about this game that will change your opinion after that bombshell.
Once into a race the PenPens travel across land, water, and ice in a manner that could only be described as cat-kickingly frustrating. The water portions of the races are disorienting due to the fact that the developers chose not to texture the ground, making it look as though you’re swimming in Miracle Whip. There’s no sort of Mario Kart-like power ups or weapons, but for a rainbow vortex that gives you a speed boost for about a second. That means that most races are reduced to the PenPens bouncing off of each other like Helen Keller at a key party. There’s also a two player mode, which is as basic as you could imagine, with both players racing to be the one to shut the game off first.
PenPen TriIceLon is a competent game, but is in no way fun. I imagine the design meeting for this game consisted of “make Mario Kart, but for assholes." Between the racist, mentally challenged characters, the bland racetracks, and the incessant MIDI soundtrack, I challenge anyone to play this game longer than an hour. If you can even find it. I’ll sell you mine for $10. Come and get it.
Christopher Linendoll really regrets agreeing to do this feature sometimes. He can be reached via Twitter, or carrier pigeon.