Arcade Memories, Pt. 2: Time Killers

timekillerstitleTime Killers
Arcade, 1992
Developer: Incredible Technologies
Publisher: Strata

Time Killers made such a indelible mark on my pre-teen brain, I felt it warranted a Brief Facts as well:

Time Killers was released in late ’92, meaning I didn’t encounter it at TK’s until the summer of ’93 – a time when fighting games ruled the roost, and arcades were populated with angry, clove-smoking, Nirvana-loving teenagers. It was a wonderful place to be a chubby 11-year-old.

Co-op games like Crime Fighters hadn’t vanished, but their numbers were dwindling. If you wanted to make the most out of your time in an arcade, you HAD to learn how to play fighting games. Street Fighter II had changed arcades forever, for good or for ill.

I positively LOVED fighting games. When the home port of SFII dropped in June of 1992, I played it into the ground. Damn near mastered it. However, those skills never quite made a clean transition to the arcade. Not because I was outclassed by the competition, mind you, but because I was SCARED.


It feels odd to have to explain this, but the arcades of the ’90s were not the family fun centers you see today. In fact, to my 11-year-old brain, they kind of resembled the future from Terminator: constant loud noises, dim lights, frowning faces leaning against every possible surface, and smoke everywhere. They were probably nowhere NEAR that bad, but damn if they didn’t FEEL just a little bit dangerous. I fully acknowledge that I was a little chickenshit, but hey, this is my story, so BACK OFF PAL.


Anyway, rolling up to a fighting game in ’92 meant (1) you were going to pay $.50 for a credit, and (2) you were going to get challenged by an angst-ridden teenager in a matter of moments. The fear of losing my hard-earned allowance to some hormonally imbalanced high schooler in a Megadeth t-shirt caused me to fold under pressure. How could I beat a kid who was a foot taller than me at ANYTHING? Even if I could win, would it get me beat up? Intimidation was in the air.


But Time Killers helped fix all that. No, not because its excessive gore exposed me to the horrors of the world and gave me the steely resolve of a grizzled veteran – but I’m sure that didn’t hurt. Time Killers helped me conquer my arcade fears because I just happened to be the first person at TK’s to figure out its (admittedly simple) control scheme.


As noted in the video, killing somebody in Time Killers is INCREDIBLY easy. All you do is slam all 5 attack buttons. If your opponent isn’t blocking, their head will fly off and you’ll win the match in seconds.

Believe it or not, most folks just just bashed on the top button (for headbutts) in an effort to pull off decapitations. Suckers. Image source:

Through dumb luck, I somehow figured this little trick out about 3 days before everyone else at TK’s did, including many angry and family members. Sorry, cousin Rob! For a few glorious days in the summer of ’93, I was the absolute KING of Time Killers. My competition jitters evaporated as I racked up the cheap wins.


To my surprise, however, the rest of the world took this extremely well. A few folks complained, but most just calmly walked away. Some even shook my hand. Nobody threatened to beat me up (which is remarkable, because credits weren’t cheap, and any threat would have caused my pansy ass to yield control of the machine immediately). It was then I came to realize that maybe I had been taking this whole thing just a little bit too seriously. Video games were just video games, and arcade-goers were just normal people. Foul-mouthed teenage people, but people nonetheless. Some of them were actually pretty cool. As long as you didn’t run your mouth, you had just about nothing to fear.


For that reason, I’ll always remember Time Killers as the game that got me over the hump. It’s how I learned how to perform under arcade pressure, and on a broader level, it taught me a little something about how to relax in uncomfortable social situations.


So there you have it folks. Violent video games build character and teach life lessons. Suck it, organized athletics, and TAKE THAT JOE LIEBERMAN.

…come to think of it, though, had I been on the receiving end of those cheap decapitations, this game could have just as easily made me swear off arcade games forever. Makes ya’ think.

Also the makers of Time Killers went on to design Golden Tee Golf, which may well be the world’s most popular arcade game. Look it up.

Arcade Memories, Pt. 1: Crime Fighters

crime-fighters-screenshot-2016-09-07-20-39-46Crime Fighters
Arcade, 1989
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami

This is NHL almost-legend Tim Kerr:

Image source: He was actually a right winger.

Best-known for his 11 seasons (1980-1991) with the Philadelphia Flyers, Tim Kerr was a force to be reckoned with on the power play. In fact, as of this writing, Tim Kerr still holds the single-season record for power play goals: back in the ’85-’86 season he picked up 34. The only person to come REMOTELY close in recent history is Ilya Kovalchuk, who racked up 27 goals in the ’05-’06 season. To hold ANY record that long in modern professional sports is truly a commendable feat. ALL HAIL KING KERR, LONG MAY HE REIGN!

Despite being a lifelong Flyers fan, though, when I think of Tim Kerr, I don’t  think of hockey. I think of VIDEO GAMES.

TK’s – Avalon Boardwalk – Doris Zogas, 1993. Click the image to see more of Ms. Zogas’ awesome watercolors.

What you are looking at there is a lovely watercolor of TK’s Seafood and Crab House in Avalon, New Jersey. I would have loved to post an actual picture, but the place is gone – has been for over a decade now (though Tim Kerr still maintains a powerful presence in the Jersey Shore area). While TK’s was an excellent place get your crab on, that’s not why I look back on it fondly.

Computer, enhance.


That’s the good stuff right there! You see, Mr. Kerr had the good sense to shove an arcade in the basement of his restaurant. Why waste your money on sea food that your child’s unsophisticated palette won’t even come close to appreciating? Just send them to the basement for 45 minutes while you get sensibly hammered. Now that’s what I call power play parenting!

I’m not sure if that arcade actually had a name, but it might as well have been called “here’s 20 bucks, try to be home by 10.” It’s where I spent many summer vacation nights as a kid, and it’s where some of my first memories of video games were formed. So, please, indulge me a bit as I wax nostalgic. Let’s quarter up and cruise down memory lane.


The first game I remember when I think of TK’s is Konami’s Crime Fighters.  Crime Fighters is really a game of its era – and that era is the latest of the late ’80s. The introduction really tells you everything you need to know:

Side bar: Until I was 12, I assumed most relationships began with some kind of abduction/rescue/vigilante justice scenario. Thanks video games!

Those are some high stakes there. In most games, you just have to rescue one dude’s girlfriend. Crime Fighters isn’t messing around: its corpulent antagonist seems to have kidnapped ALL the ladies. At least 9, if we’re going by the number of Polaroids on the table. If that doesn’t get you motivated to go on a hot-blooded vigilante rampage, you or your parents probably voted for Dukakis.

Any guy crazy enough to kidnap that many ladies undoubtedly has a considerably large private army of faceless goons. But don’t worry: you’ll have backup. As you may have noticed, Crime Fighters is  a FOUR-PLAYER GAME. And the cabinet… it was just glorious:

Image source:

Crime Fighters definitely was not the first four-player arcade game; not by a long shot. But it IS the first four-player cabinet I remember seeing out there in the wild, and damn if it didn’t blow my 7-year-old mind. Just looking it takes me back to a simpler and more honest time; a time when the word “punk” meant “violent maniac with a switchblade,” and not “hipster with a mohawk.”  It’s like the designers based their entire perception of urban crime in America off of Crocodile Dundee 2. And it’s great.

Accurate depiction of late ’80s subways. Only half joking.

The four-player limit meant that I could team-up with my older brothers and cousins without getting in the way, and back then, that was more than enough for me. I was just happy to play with the big kids! And it’s a good thing I’ve held on to those memories… because Crime Fighters is just an absolutely terrible and brutally difficult game.

Please leave a comment if you know what “Hanny” is and whether or not it is worth playing .

Aside from the thrill of teaming up with four buddies to clean up the streets, Crime Fighters has just about nothing else going for it. It has all the visual trappings of a great arcade beat-em up: legions of colorful enemies, a diverse arsenal of special weapons, and enough urban decay to start a Christian panic. Unfortunately, there’s not much under the hood: hit detection is terrible, the AI has no qualms about sticking you in an endless hitstun, and you’re constantly over-matched and outgunned. Playing with a full compliment of four players is, perhaps, the ONLY way to have fun with Crime Fighters.

If you watched through to the end, you may have noticed that the good folks at Konami might have watched more than Crocodile Dundee 2 before coding this bad boy. Crime Fighters is filled with all kinds of legally questionable inspiration!


Behold! Hatless Freddy Krueger!


Not quite Jason Vorhees!


Blonde Schwarzenegger!

And, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t point out Crime Fighters’ most egregious sin – the way it shamelessly pits players against each other in a naked money grab! If at least two players are standing at the end of a stage, the game “rewards” you with the opportunity to beat one another up.

While this can be fun, it leads to nothing but profound sadness and lost quarters. I still remember when my brother Dave figured out the con: “DON’T! That’s what the machine WANTS us to do!”

So Crime Fighters is a terrible game. Despite its faults, though, I can’t help but look back on it with fondness. There was something magical about pulling up to that giant, colorful cabinet with your family and friends and beating up on punks until you ran out of cash. It was a spectacle, an event – it was hot trash, but even a dumpster fire can be fun to stare at with the right people by your side. Crime Fighters had one great thing going for it: it was always more fun with friends.

And also its incredibly creepy ending screen:


Deep Fear

This one was a doozy! Deep Fear is one I’ve been meaning to play for a while, so I figured it would make a great installment for the 10th Brief Facts!

As you’ll be able to tell from the video, I played through the Japanese version of Deep Fear. While all the text is in Japanese, it’s not too difficult to fumble your way through the game; your objectives are fairly straightforward. Notably, all the voice acting in English. Hilariously awful English. It’s like they got their American accounting interns to do all the VO in one take.

I also think this game has the most righteous Engrish tag line ever:


“Hereafter we will have desperate days with nowhere to escape.” Why even bother trying, then, one wonders.

I’ll update this post in the coming days with some more media. In the meantime, enjoy this charming misspelling:

Deep Fear Screenshot 2016-07-07 21-20-14
It’s like storage, but more efficient.

Thanks for watching – and to all  you videophiles out there, sorry about the jailbars!

Eye of the Beholder (Sega CD)

EyeoftheBeholderCoverEye of the Beholder
Sega CD, 1994
Developer: Westwood Studios/FCI
Publisher: Sega

Like Ultima: Quest of the Avatar, Eye of the Beholder was one of those games I just couldn’t wrap my brain around as a young kid. Released in 1991 for DOS PCs and the Commodore Amiga, EOTB was an early first-person dungeon crawler which iterated ever-so-slightly on the the formula established by FTL Games’ Dungeon Master. What, precisely, does that mean, you ask? Well, let me spell it out for you.

In EOTB, you control a squad of up to six heroes on a quest to save the city of Waterdeep from the evil machinations of a beholder named Xanathar. A beholder is kind of like a Madball with a whole bunch of antennae-eyes. As sinister eyeball monsters are wont to do, Xanathar has set up shop in a secret lair deep within the city’s sewers, which, coincidentally, are inhabited by a slew of spider-worshiping purple elves, malevolent bird people and sinister toad men. Kill them all, find your way out, end of story.

Eye of the Beholder Chwat2
Who are you calling a chwat?

While EOTB utilizes a first-person perspective, movement is restricted to a tile-based grid. Don’t expect any fancy modern conveniences like “scrolling” here – Wolfenstein 3D was about a year and a half off. You move and turn your party of heroes by clicking on set of directional icons on the game’s HUD. If you’re used to contemporary first-person camera controls, this can be more than a little jarring, as the sudden perspective changes make it very easy to become disoriented. Back in in 1991, though, getting disoriented was what they called a “feature.” You just sort of assumed you’d have to make a map when you played an RPG, so it was a forgivable offense.

Eye of the Beholder Screenshot 2016-05-15 16-28-03
Wow. Look at Spud Webb here.

Despite its tile-based movement, the action in EOTB plays out in something resembling real time. This means you’ve got to keep your party moving, reacting and attacking at a decent clip, lest they be ripped to shreds; playing the game effectively requires you to nimbly navigate a series of dense (though not unintuitive) menus in the middle of tense situations. Additionally, as its trappings suggest, EOTB is an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons licensed product. This means it reaps the benefits (and occasionally suffers from the quirks of) a well-defined tabletop RPG rule set. Characters can only act a certain number of times in any given “round” of combat, they can only attack with melee weapons if they’re in your front ranks, and spells must be re-memorized after every use.

Eye of the Beholder Game Over Cropped
Looks like someone forgot to pack enough rations.

You can even die of hunger. Seriously – you could quite legitimately argue that “Create Food” is the most powerful spell in the game. In short, EOTB is kind of like playing an actual game of AD&D with a DM who just won’t chill out and wait for you to respond before giving into his thinly veiled god-complex, because GOD DAMMIT DAVE, I JUST NEEDED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO LET THAT TROLL KILL MY CLERIC. CHRIST.

*Ahem.* Sorry about that. Anyway, if that description even comes close to tickling your fancy, I’d give EOTB a shot. And, if you have access to a Mega Mouse (or some questionable gray market alternative), I’d strongly suggest you do what I did, and play the 1994 Sega CD port. The gameplay is all but identical, and graphically, it’s at least on par with its PC and Amiga counterparts. Hell, the addition of cinema sequences may actually give it a leg up.

Eye of the Beholder Necromancer2
Tell me about it. What a bunch of rubes.

But screw the graphics, man. The Sega CD port of EOTB has one thing its source material was sorely lacking: a soundtrack. A glorious, redbook audio soundtrack from legendary game music composer Yuzo Koshiro. While EOTB is not one of Koshiro’s more well-known soundtracks, I’d put it right up there with his work on the Streets of Rage series and ActRaiser. Despite the fact that Koshiro’s EDM-inspired style seems wholly ill-matched to the AD&D license, it somehow manages to be a perfect fit for the haunting isolation of EOTB’s labyrinths. It’s not unlike that time your party’s thief got really into electronic music and demanded that you STOP LISTENING TO POWER METAL FOR FIVE GOD DAMN MINUTES OR ELSE HE WAS TAKING HIS MINIATURES BACK UP THE STREET.

Uh, anyway… here it is in its entirety:

Like Gain Ground SX, EOTB for the Sega CD is noteworthy in that it’s a port that, in many ways, outshines its source material. Regardless, I feel the need to qualify my praise by again noting that you shouldn’t bother playing this game without a Mega Mouse. Simply put, it’s far too much of a chore to navigating the game’s multi-tiered menus with a gamepad is far too cumbersome. you’d be better off playing the PC original.

Eye of the Beholder Screenshot 2016-05-31 22-25-45
You can totally make your party look like a German metal band circa 1988. DO IT.

Should you decide to give EOTB a shot, I hope you’ll accept the following images of the in-game dungeon maps as a parting gift. While EOTB does require you to actually find its maps before you you can access them, they take an annoyingly long time to load on the Sega CD’s single speed disc drive; an external image is an extremely useful convenience. Use them in good health, but try not to deprive yourself of the joy of getting lost – finding your way is half the fun.

For optimal enjoyment, we here at Subspace Briefcase recommend that you play Eye of the Beholder in a dark basement after several dateless weeks. It increases the authenticity of the experience.

Gain Ground SX

It has been FAR too long – I hope you’ll find that this video retrospective on Gain Ground SX for the PC Engine CD was worth the wait!

Gain Ground SX is an obscure port of an obscure game for an obscure system. Nevertheless, I would HIGHLY recommend it to any TurboGrafx, PC Engine or Sega enthusiast. If you’d rather go the Genesis route, you can grab that port on Steam for about $2.99.

As noted in the video, the music is absolutely spectacular – but don’t take my word for it. Have a listen!

I would be remiss at this point if I didn’t give a quick shoutout to to the the team over at Hardcore Gaming 101. I wouldn’t have even known about the existence of this port if it weren’t for their wonderful book, Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1. It’s a superb book, and I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in Sega.

One Image Reviews: Plok

Plok Screenshot 2016-03-22 20-21-15Plok
Super Nintendo, 1993
Developer: Software Creations
Publisher: Tradewest

A friend asked that I review Plok. I agreed, despite having never played Plok. I did not care much for Plok, but I am a man of my word. Thus, I give you our newest feature – ONE IMAGE REVIEWS. BEHOLD! Uh, also, click to enlarge.PlokOneImage2

I enjoyed this exercise. Expect more in the future.

EDIT! Now with charmingly amateurish grammatical fixes!

EDIT 2! Now with MORE grammatical fixes! Sheesh. What good is my literature degree anyway?

Ultima: Quest of the Avatar

Ultima: Quest of the Avatar for the NES is quite possibly one of the most complex RPGs of its era. I tried to beat it when I was in fourth grade and failed miserably. Figuring that I had gotten just a LITTLE bit smarter since then, I thought I’d pop it into my Analogue NT and give it a shot. I found it to be a far more rewarding (and confusing) experience than I thought it could be. For my money, this is the best NES RPG out there – right up there with the Final Fantasy series and Dragon Quest/Dragon Warrior.  While its PC/Apple II roots probably prevented it from finding any appreciable mainstream acceptance, its sheer depth really makes it stand out from its contemporaries.

Its the ideal game for a retrogaming enthusiast – far too challenging for a child, but more than beatable for an adult. Give it a shot!

3/22/2015: Updated! Screens!

Way of the Warrior/Naughty Dog 101

Subspace Brief Facts is back from its brief hiatus! I just picked up a 3DO, and decided to break it in by doing an episode on Way of the WarriorWay of the Warrior is the kind of “bad” that can’t really sustain 10 minutes of content, so I decided to turn the project into brief history of Naughty Dog’s early years. I found this to be an enjoyable exercise – hope you like the end result!

You may note that this is the series’ first foray into 1080p. Probably would have been better to start with something better than 480i over an s-video cable, am I right? Yuk, yuk.

As a bonus, here’s some cast photos and screencaps of Naughty Dog’s old website, which I refer to frequently in the video.

On a totally unrelated note, here’s the introduction to Quarantine, another 3DO game.  I won’t be covering this game, as it is absolutely putrid, but hey, the introduction sure makes me miss the ’90s. No. Wait. It doesn’t.

The 3DO. This thing cost $700.

Divas Revolution – 1998

In recent months, women’s wrestling has undergone a bit of a renaissance, with female performers taking on a more prominent role in WWE storylines. Ever the opportunist, I thought I’d get in the spirit of the so-called “Divas Revolution” by recreating some of the WWE’s newer female wrestlers in an old wrestling game. If nothing else, I figured this would provide a few yuks, and somehow show just how much the portrayal of women in wrestling games has improved over the years. I figured wrong, but dammit, this took up a lot of my free time, so we’re going to see it through to the end.

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 17-39-24

As such, I fired up Acclaim’s WWF Attitude for the PlayStation. Released at the height of the “attitude era,” WWF Attitude is a fantastic snapshot of late ’90s WWF in all its crass, violent, sexist, and strangely compelling glory. While the game boasts a roster of 41 wrestlers, only three of its combatants are women: Sable, Jacqueline, and Chyna. Not even enough for a tag match! Fortunately, the game boasts a relatively robust (for the time, at least) creation suite, which allows the creation of female wrestlers.

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 18-03-26
Behold, the Super Bra, the ultimate in competitive athletic apparel.

Unfortunately, like the rest of the WWF Attitude, this create-a-wrestler feature is very much a reflection of the era in which it was created. All of the model templates have ridiculously large fake hooters (which I suppose was accurate for the era), and the overwhelming majority of women’s attire takes the form of bondage gear, sexy bartender outfits, frilly lingerie, and other getups not really suited for athletic competition.

With these limitations firmly in mind, I got to work. Using the attire in this video as a reference, I set about trying to create Sasha Banks, who may very well be the hottest ticket in women’s wrestling today:

It was here that I first encountered what would prove to be a persistent problem throughout this little endeavor: the attire that the female wrestlers of today wear is far more varied and complex than what a late-’90s wrestling game has to offer. I could get the general color and look of Sasha’s relatively simple attire down, but the specifics were a bit out of reach. Specifically, I couldn’t nail the straps, which only go over one of her shoulders. For all the dominatrix gear and swimwear WWF Attitude offers, it doesn’t have any women’s clothing of the single strap variety. The solution?

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 18-23-53
Bullets. They’re not just for shooting.

Put a bandoleer on her and color it baby blue. Lemonade from lemons, I suppose.

Another frequent obstacle was the game’s hairstyles, which were all designed with shirtless dudes in mind. As such, any clothing you place on a wrestler’s torso just goes right over their hair (which appears to be a flat texture applied to the model’s “skin”):

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 18-33-01

I decided just to live with it. It was either that or give everyone a Wilma Flintstone cut.

As for the lower half of the attire, everything the game had to offer was just too short. This is amazing, when you really think about it, because what the women wear these days is pretty damned short.

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 18-41-37

As such, I generally opted to use men’s pants on all my creations, and just shorten the legs.

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 18-43-32

Not perfect, but hey, this isn’t an exact science.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned anything about the face creation process. That’s because all of the facial features in WWF Attitude are gender neutral, and no matter what you do, everybody winds up looking like a psychotic clown.

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 18-45-43

So, in short, the best I could do with my wrestlers was to create rough caricatures, which, to be fair, is about all you can reasonably expect from a game of this vintage.

Sasha was, by far, the easiest of the bunch, though. Here’s the reference shot I used for Sasha’s rival, the current NXT Women’s Champion, Bayley:


You’d think that her relatively uncomplicated attire and appearance would be a layup – but you’d be wrong. Any NXT fan will tell you that the two most integral parts of Bayley’s appearance are her hairband (she gives them out to little kids before a match) and her trademark side-ponytail. The game only features one headband…

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 19-00-28
Droppin’ hugs and plates on yo ass, beeyotch.

…and it was completely out of the question. As for the hair, despite the storied tradition of wrestlers pulling back their flowing locks, the game only has one hairstyle remotely resembling a ponytail…

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 19-06-12

…which I’m pretty sure is just a variant of Triple H’s hair from his fancy lad days. I just colored it black and called it a day.

I could go on for hours, but much like the creation process itself, that would be neither entertaining nor informative. Instead, I’ll give you a few highlights.

Here’s Charlotte, the current WWE champ:


…and here’s how she wound up in WWF Attitude:

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-27 21-17-28

In an effort to approximate the complicated network of shoulder straps she wears, you will note that I had to drop a peace sign medallion on her neck and color it red.

And rounding out the “Four Horsewomen,” I also took a stab at Becky Lynch, the steampunky dark horse of the women’s division:


She didn’t turn out so hot.

WWF Attitude Screenshot 2016-01-30 19-25-01

When watching the videos below, the astute viewer will note that I actually had to stick her in the trunks of attitude era luminary “Mr. Ass.”

And so, in the grand Subspace Briefcase tradition, after wasting hours of my life creating these extremely rough approximations, I decided to throw all of my doppelgangers in a free-for-all fatal four way to determine just who, in fact, was the greatest female wrestler in the world. There was just one problem: the game’s AI was actually too stupid (too good?) to beat itself in a four way match, and I kept winding up with time limit draws. While the game declares a winner based on who did the most damage, that’s not a result befitting this site’s proud legacy of producing high quality fake fights for its 15 consistent readers.

So instead, wrestling fans, I offer you a DOUBLE BILL of DEVASTATING, DEADLY, and DEBAUCHEROUS WOMEN’S WRASSLIN’!


Sasha vs. Bayley:

Charlotte v. Becky:

So what did this experiment prove?

  1. WWF Attitude has aged very poorly.
  2. If the Divas Revolution had occurred in 1998, it would have been much bloodier.

Until next time, wrestling fans! I hope you had more fun watching this than I did making it! That wouldn’t be tough.

Proudly upscaled from 240p since 2014.