Tuesday, March 25, 2008


oh my god what
Rom Check Fail is a relentlessly clever little Windows game developed by the fine Video Gentlemen (or gentleman?) of farbs.org, who have proven more than capable in the past of taking an odd idea and developing a really interesting small game out of it. What's the odd idea, in this case? Farbs provides a brief synopsis:
Some games are born great.
Other games have greatness thrust upon them.
ROM CHECK FAIL takes great games and thrusts them upon each other.
When you first start a game of Rom Check Fail, everything looks like the first level of Super Mario Bros. - Mario is on the left, goombas are on the right, there's a cute general midi version of the game's theme music playing in the background, and nothing seems especially remiss about the situation. The goal is simple: hop on top of the goombas and you clear the stage. Simple enough.

After a few seconds, though, the sound effects shriek and distort, the graphics shift
menacingly, and in the next moment, the goombas are now space invaders, Mario is now the car from Spy Hunter, and the whole level looks like a Pac-Man maze. The game continues like this, changing everything up every five seconds or so. It's totally great, and the ramifications of each change are startling. That it also manages to play on my innate love of old arcade games is emotionally irresistible.

Some of the randomly generated combinations can be a little unfair, as you suddenly find yourself transformed into the space invaders ship, unable to move up and down. Even better is when the graphics start to garble and stay that way, instead of transitioning normally. Strangely, the full-bore insanity of the game's premise and presentation makes this work in its favor, somehow!

It's also pretty forgiving - you get an extra life at the end of each stage if you have less than the 3-life maximum, and it's short: finishing a game doesn't take more than about 10 minutes. I won't spoil the ending, outside of saying that it fits the theme of the rest of the game!

Farbs developed the game for a competition hosted over at The Independent Gaming Forums, which required contestants to use "The Video Game Name Generator!" to come up with absurd new game ideas and develop accordingly. "Rom Check Fail" didn't actually come up in the name generator:
(from Rom Check Fail's TIGForum thread)
Originally this game was going to use player and enemy types inspired by the [Video Game Name Generator]. The idea was that the game would spit out games with names that can be generated by VGNG. Unfortunately the artist I wanted to work with couldn't commit the time, but instead he suggested using existing games for all the components. I think it made the game a little less VGNG but a lot more awesome.
Proof that good ideas can arise from imperfect circumstances.

1 comment:

BBH said...

finally got around to trying this... pretty awesome concept, but it REALLY needs joystick support. Or maybe it has it and I couldn't find it.

The ending is indeed pretty awesome though!