Walthrus: Return of the Crystals
A Commentary by Paul Harrington
It was the 11th of January, in the year 2004, and I'd just woken up in a haze. I wasn't sure exactly what it was, but I knew that something had gone horribly, horribly wrong the night before. Rising up from my filthy bedclothes, I lurked in the direction of my computer, only to be greeted by several bittorrent files linking to unsavory material and countless .jpgs of unmentionable horror. Were these my actions? Had I done this? And what could this text file be, entitled "o noes.txt"? I opened this strange, idiotically named file to find contents that can only be called absurd, nonsensical, and deplorable. The text in the file read as follows;
Random scenes, mini games. walking across room. maze.
gradius. sidescroler using script. one hit battle. monsters and dinosaurs"
What could this mean? I could make no sense of it no matter what I tried. This offensive use of spacing, this ill placement of tabs, what evil had I concocted the previous night in my assuredly delusional state? I decided the answer could probably be found in my "Recently viewed documents" folder. I noticed that my room smelled of bacon and some other meat that for the life of me I could not identify, but for now I had to ignore it. My only choice was to continue digging through an absurd collection of files that fell together with seemingly no connection. Queen MP3s? If I had spent my previous evening listening to one of the greatest bands to ever rock the face of the planet Earth, how could I not remember any of it? And what are these? Several files, named 01.bmp, ascending well past the number 20. I opened the first, and found a light in the darkness; 01.bmp was a screen capture of good old Raul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, with each progressive file also being a screen from their great pilgrimage. But why .bmp?
Then, the answer came. At the bottom of my directory, a file called wthrsDMB.rpg stared at me with its cold, dead eyes. It called to me through the fog, and I entered its warm embrace. What awaited me inside was something the likes of which I had never before seen. Holy Jesus, did I make this? Fear and Loathing the RPG? But why did the title screen say "Walthros," or, more exactly, "Walthrus?" Had I misspelled the title of my own series of games? And what did this beautiful abomination have to do with the Good Doctor? The intro scene, easily the most amazing and heart wrenching in any game ever made by the white man, ended, and I was confronted with a familiar face, though his eyes had shifted and he'd put on some weight. I played ten minutes of this game, and then realized what I had done in my foggy, delirious state; I'd begun to create a parody of my own game. All became right with the world.
Seeing these graphics, part of my brain thought, "Sweet Christ, and people said the ORIGINAL Walthros looked bad?" while another part said, "my dear friend, you have created something truly beautiful." The visual stimulation was intense, as bright colors burned into my eyes and seemingly random battle backgrounds popped up at me as I fought familiar enemies. I knew I had to finish making this game.
My head had come back together by the time I began serious work on this game. I knew that the monstrous graphics had been intentional; this game was a joke, and everything about it existed to make fun of Walthros and RPGs in general, or something to that effect. Therefore it only seemed fitting that the graphics be cubist to the most extreme degree possible. In fact, as far as I can remember, every graphic, aside from those I imported, was made using just the Box tool. The world of Walthros has never looked so inspiring, and the eye candy included was perfect. As far as I could remember, no other RPG ever made contained Azumanga screen caps, images of Dr. Gonzo's glorious gut, and pictures of exciting Asian beauties that do not actually appear in the game.
The story is essentially the same as that of Walthros. The events are the same and the characters are the same, only their characteristics are intensified by several degrees of magnitude. Everyone always hated Scottie, right? Might as well make him more annoying than ever before. That way, the player can truly, honestly feel the heart and emotions of Super Walrus Man as the young prince harasses him. This story doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, but then again, neither did the original plot that it parodies. It does, however, contain what I consider to be my most well written characters since Grimace's heart breaking monologues in Totally... Gihern. Walrus Man had rocked in the original Walthros, but only for the early parts of the game. Somewhere in the development cycle of the original, my brain broke and only stupid flowed from its dark purple stickiness. Granted, that problem hasn't exactly gone away, but at least I've learned to channel the stupid into comedy rather than epic drama and UNSPEAKABLY DANGEROUS PHILOSOPHY.
Also, when you get to the part where Walrus goes kill crazy, pretend that it's symbolic of the rage of the 19th century mid-western American farmer or something equally mind numbing in its stupidity, and the story of Walthros:ROTC will suddenly seem deep and meaningful, and your life will feel a little fuller for the good part of a half hour. I couldn't have possibly been attempting comedy with that scene. That just doesn't happen. And boy, those Rokanians sure are altruistic little bastards, aren't they? And could you FEEL the dualism of the Rokanian who wanted nothing more than to leave this world and return to the world of Star Wars: Galaxies?
If you could, then you're probably a pretentious jackass.
There isn't much to do in this game's battles, but at least you can run away and none of them are very long. The only reason to fight non-bosses is to get money to buy truly amazing items.
The battles are over quickly, and you never have to worry about such things as mindless level building or acquiring new equipment to prevent death, only to find that equipment useless an hour later. Every character's skills are awe-inspiring, especially Ketchup's. I won't spoil it for you, but I'll just say that it's so badass that you'll need to change your pants TWICE after the first time you see it.
The maps are straightforward, because making the player wander endless tunnels of battles and dead ends is sadistic, and the mood of this game is "love." Every now and then you find very, very special items in the dungeons which will grant you a very, very special type of satisfaction. For some people, these items will take up more of their time than the rest of the game.
This game is one part Gihern, two parts Dinosaurs in the City, and 100% kick-ass. Or is this review itself a parody? No. I really did enjoy making this game and playing it through five plus times. You cannot stop the Walrus Man, and all the truly bad characters get what's coming to them in a manner far more satisfying than anything in any recent RPG.
This game is the most important thing I've ever done.