Hello everyone, and welcome to “Inside the Guide,” the article that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the art of making guides for videogames. It’s June, everybody! That means all you kids are out of school and getting summer jobs at Great America!
What’s that? Great America isn’t hiring right now? They had over SEVEN HUNDRED PEOPLE apply for their minimum-wage summer jobs? Even the job where you dress up like Spongebob Squarepants is taken? Now you’re totally screwed, because any place that hires kids for the summer is being swamped by out-of-work grown-ups?
Wow, I’m sorry, readers. That really stinks. Because getting a summer job when you’re in high school is really important. I mean, look at me. I didn’t get a job during high school; I just stayed inside all summer and wrote guides for videogames. And now I don’t have a job because I don’t have work experience. Whereas the guy who got a job at Great America is now…well, he doesn’t have a job either. It turns out that dressing up like Spongebob Squarepants every day for three months doesn’t look so good on a resume, after all.
In any case, it’s those precious high school days that I want to hearken back to this month, as I discuss two games I wrote guides for in late June of 2002.
Rollergames is apparently a game based off a TV show. According to my guide, it involves skateboarding through a town while beating up enemies. You press B to hit, A to jump, and my high school self accused it of being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III clone.
I’m going to agree with myself here, because the two games look pretty similar. All you have to do is skate to the end of the level, jumping over various hazards and beating up bad guys. Which, of course, made it easy to write a guide for. Simple, generic fighting platformers don’t pose much of a challenge, which means writing guides for them is equally easy.
Now, I don’t quite understand why, but apparently I decided to use “cool lingo” in my guide. There are sentences such as “Continue along the road, beatin’ on any punks in yo’ way” and “Usin’ good timin’, pass by without gettin’ hurt.” I must have thought that’s how rollerskaters talk, or maybe that’s how the people talked in the game’s cutscenes. I’m not sure.
I don’t remember why, but I remember how I wrote such “cool lingo.” I used the find/replace function that comes with Microsoft Word, telling it to search for “ing” and replace it with “in’.” Same thing with replacing “your” with “yo’,” “and” with “an’,” and “of” with “o’.” It was kind of a weird thing to do, but it was certainly effective and added a bit of color to what is otherwise a generic guide for a generic game.
Fun fact: J.K. Rowling used the same process when developing dialogue for Hagrid in the Harry Potter books.
Taipei is a game that was part of The Best of Windows Entertainment Package, along with other cool games like SkiFree and Chip’s Challenge. It’s basically the same thing as Mah-Jongg, but with a name that Americans can pronounce.
This is, without a doubt, the game that I have gotten the most e-mails about. Somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty people wrote to me about Taipei, and all of their e-mails were exactly the same. They were all from people who remembered the game and wanted to know where they could download a free, illegal copy. Apparently, the dollar bin at the local Office Max is a bit too pricey for these folks.
Well, I told those reprehensible scallywags to pull out their old floppy disk drives and commence a-file transferring, because there’s no way I could send such super-large files (160 KB!) via e-mail, by jingo.
The Best of Windows Entertainment Package and Mmmbop were big hits in the 1990s. I don’t know why I would mention them in a column about June 2002.
So there you go—a column about games I wrote guides for exactly seven years ago.
And just for the record, June 2002 is when I played Sudoku, while waiting in line for Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Only it wasn’t called Sudoku; it was called “Numbers Place,” and it was made by the American-based Dell Puzzle Magazines. Three years later, everyone was raving about this “totally brand-new” and “in no way American” puzzle called Sudoku, and I wanted to pull my hair out because I had been doing those puzzles for years. And Wikipedia agrees with me, so there.