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Old 08-02-2010, 02:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Today's Mortality Reminder: Super Joe Publishes His Memoirs

A friend just sent me a link that made me feel profoundly old. August 2, 2010 is a day I've known was coming for a long time, but I've been sort of dreading it and I'd actually let it completely slip my mind... right until that link popped up.

As for the link in question, it wasn't anything spectacular. Just an NES screenshot of solid black with the words "2010.8.2 - Joe" printed on it in white. But I instantly recognized it as the final screen of one of my favorite games ever: The NES version Bionic Commando. Weird how such a simple thing can make a guy feel so mortal.

Here's the deal, though. Bionic Commando was a sort of semi-sequel to the arcade game by the same name in which the coin-op hero, Super Joe, has been captured behind enemy lines. The player controls a new recruit, Rad Spencer, on a mission to rescue the Federation's abducted hero. Eventually Joe is found, and Spencer uses the intel his predecessor gathered to put a stop to a plot for world domination. The day is saved, the enemy base explodes, and everyone goes home.

The ending surrounding the credits roll is presented as a recollection, recounting the mission as if it were something that happened years ago. There's a wistful tone to the text, the heavy musings of an old man looking back at his life. Eventually, you realize that Bionic Commando is meant to have been Super Joe's memoirs, written decades later in his twilight years.



So, yes, this means that the heroes of the NES have officially reached retirement age. And that, in turn, means that I'm really damn old now, too. I remembering seeing this screen back in 1988 and thinking, "Wow, that's so far away." But time makes fools of us all....

Really, though, what this reminder ultimately achieves is making me nostalgic for the concise, powerful endings of the best NES games. Something about the brevity and simplicity of the games and the sparseness of the presentation made these endings feel a lot more profound than the drawn-out cinematic finales you get these days. (BioShock used this technique, too!) I still don't know exactly what's happening in the ending to Mega Man 2, but it makes me nostalgic every time.

On a related note, Bob Mackey noted that yesterday was the day that an old episode of The Simpsons slated to be Lisa's wedding date. That makes me sad, too, but not because it's a symbol of mortality or anything. I'm just bummed because it's such a potent reminder of how The Simpsons is so far beyond its sell-by date.



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Old 08-02-2010, 09:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Historical day - Bionic Commando


Enjoy your retirement, Super Joe!
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Historical day - Bionic Commando

Congrats Joe.
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