Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dear Mark Cerny

No one knows who you are.  Do you know why?  That was the loophole Old Scratch himself put into the blood contract you made with him.  You'd be able to develop a successful video game, but no one would know who you were.  Fame would allude you, but your game would be forever shrouded in infamy.  I am, of course, speaking of the game "Navigating Nightmarish Hellscapes with a Sphere that is Impossible to Control while the Spawn of Evil Hunt You".  I think the original title was "Marble Madness".

The object of the game, ostensibly, was to use the compass controller part of your Nintendo system to guide the titular marble through a sloping, careening landscape of lunacy.  That, coupled with the pounding, pleading, mocking MIDI soundtrack would have been bad enough, but you weren't ha[[y with that alone.  You included enemy marbles that could knock you into a shadowy oblivion, enemies that could move like the night and had long ago severed their tether to the laws of physics, gravity, and decency.  There were other games for my Nintendo that I never beat.  Castlevania II and The Legend of Zelda are two the spring instantly to mind, but that was more for the sheer length and sprawl of the games.  I am also certain the developers intentionally left out a step that led you towards the final boss, and laughed themselves into an early grave. 

The only thing that would give me more anxiety as a child than playing your game would be those few moments after the lights in my room were turned out when I waited to here if anything would skitter across the floor, then leap onto my bed with a mighty "SCREEE!!!! SCREEEEE!!!" and rip off my eyelids.  Every moment of the experience was made to produce ulcers in children aged seven to thirteen. Young Greg might not have had an overeating issue if it wasn't for the tense, nerve wracking soundtrack and impossible gameplay you threw onto his NES system.  He might not have sought comfort in brown sugar Poptarts and endless supplies of Laffy Taffy had you only made the game even remotely winnable. 

I have created several more pleasurable alternatives to your game.  One involves swallowing marbles, another involves shoving them in a sock and breaking my own knee.  All of them are preferable to the pixelated hatred that you foisted upon the world.   


  1. I see your Marble Madness and I raise you one Snake, Rattle n' Roll.

  2. NO. That is a bastard game for bastard people.


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