Sunday, January 11, 2015

“Toilet Kids” on the TurboGrafx-16!

It’s the most scatological video game ever made … and on top of that, it’s a darn competent little shooter, too.

The TurboGrafx-16, known in Japan as the PC Engine, is one of the most underrated consoles ever. Coming out just a few months before the Genesis, the TG-16 was NEC’s rejoinder to the Nintendo Entertainment System, and despite having an utterly awesome library -- complete with one of the best console launch line-ups of all-time -- the unit was pretty much dead in the dirt by the time the SNES made it stateside.

Although titles like “Bonk’s Adventure” and “The Legendary Axe” may not have had the same consumer appeal as Sonic and Mario, there’s no denying the TG-16 had some damn great software, especially when it came to its selection of shooters.  With downright awesome games like “Super Soldier Blade,” “Blazing Lazers,” “Psychosis” and a version of “Salamander” that kicks the dog shit out of the watered down port we got on the NES, many old school gamers consider the console to be on par with the Genny in terms of quality 2D SHMUPS -- if not even superior.

Alongside much-revered side-and-vertically-scrolling gems like “Parodius” and “R-Type,” the TG-16 was also home to a ton of awesome, under-the-radar genre offerings, too -- many of them proudly boasting  such utterly absurd titles as “Psycho Chaser” and “Violent Soldier.” While the console was no doubt home to many weird-ass shoot ‘em ups, one game stands head and shoulders above them all, not only as the weirdest genre offering on the system, but really, one of the strangest video games ever made.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you … “Toilet Kids.”

Oh,  goodness, where do begin on this one? The mere name alone is enough to make most non-registered adults recoil in horror, and I assure you … the execution is far, far more unnerving than the already-cringe-inducing premise.

You KNOW it's low-brow material when a snot-rocket launching
dragonfly is one of the game's SUBTLER adversaries.
Interestingly enough, the game begins with something of an introductory cutscene,
which is crude in several connotations of the term. A kid heads to the toilet, drops trou, sits on the pot, gets shot up in the air by a gush of septic water and splashes down inside the commode.

Literally one second into the game, you’re bombarded with some of the most low-brow visuals in the medium’s history. Commandeering a hybrid toilet/space ship, you’re immediately assailed by a bunch of ass monsters who propel shit globs at you. And also, there are miscellaneous golden turds dotting the landscape, which you can bomb for extra points. Yeah, this thing makes “Boogerman” look like a subdued minimalist masterpiece by comparison.

As the first level progresses, things get even more juvenile, if you can believe it. After being attacked by a fleet of sandals, you encounter a giant urinal that shoots multidirectional turd balls at you, and then, a gaggle of half-ass, half airplane contraptions that, wouldn’t you know it, spray fart gas on you.

Then there’s the armada of horse flies, and giant mobilized turd piles that, fittingly enough, shoot pieces of themselves at you. The stage itself is really short, probably only about a minute long, before giving way to a ridiculously long boss fight against a trio of spiders (with pronounced bungholes, of course,) who spit doo-doo at you.

Level two is more or less the same stage, with the same green backdrop, albeit with a new enemy … a flying poop drop, that I believe fires pee-pee at you.

Yeah ... all of that is in the game, I am afraid. 
I think now is a good time to remind you that yes, this is indeed a real SHMUP, and a rather challenging one at that. Half the enemies can only be killed by direct aerial fire, while the other half can only be killed by carpet bombs, and a lot of times, it’s pretty hard to tell which type is in front of you and which type is beneath you. I wouldn’t call the game a bullet hell offering, necessarily, but there’s no denying its one of the more difficult games of its type on the console.

The second boss is a giant dragonfly who shoots snot globs and bubbles at you. It’s actually a much easier boss battle than the first, although it does tend to drag on far longer than it probably should.

The second level is kind of a desert oasis type arrangement, with many of the same enemies we’ve already encountered. There are some new foes present however, including some hippos that belch at you and caribou who walk up, turn their cheeks towards you and proceed to fire projectile poo. Oh, and just wait until you see the animations on the gorillas who chunk their feces at you … it really is something to behold.

The third boss battle is against a helicopter with a human ass, which fires deadly poots in addition to its standard missiles. This one is actually easier than the first two boss battles, but as before, it goes on far longer than feels necessary … like the programmers were trying to find a way to extend the length of the game without adding anything substantial to the core gameplay. Imagine that; poo-poo and pee-pee jokes alone aren’t enough to carry a full-fledged, commercially -released video game!

And so, the desert level continues. New enemies include, but are not limited to; farting lions, flying pig heads that sneeze shit at you somehow, and farting skunks. Or maybe they are just emitting natural skunk odors? It’s really kind of hard to tell which bodily function is which in a game like this.

Fun fact: in Japan, people don't leave the anal stage until they
turn 45. 
Boss number four is utterly ridiculous, and I mean that in a menagerie of ways. A giant elephant-Hindu god (complete with a shit scepter), is flanked by mounds of projectile spewing shit balls, and if that wasn’t enough, a flying pig head keeps re-appearing, to make the firefight even more frustrating. At this point, most gamers would just give up, but the social scientist I am, I managed to push through, solely for your sake, dear reader. You’re very welcome, ingrates.

Well, stage three is your token underwater level, and you will never guess what sort of enemies are in this one. If you said shitting squids, farting lobsters and guppies with human legs who literally shit out eight foot long turd bars, you sir or madam, would be right … and probably, someone who needs to be locked up in a mental institution.

Boss five is a submarine urinal, and outside of being shaped like a ceramic pisser, it doesn’t employ any truly scatological attacks whatsoever.  Despite some pesky heat-seeking missiles, this battle isn’t too difficult. You know, the sad thing is, the developer of this game probably could have made a great serious SHMUP if they wanted. Sigh … I reckon that cartoony scat demographic is just too sweet a market to give up, no?

There’s not too much to mention about the rest of the level, outside of maybe a couple of turd statues resting upon some giant seashells. Boss number six is a pink whale with turds for eyes; it’s probably the easiest boss in the entire game … and clearly, the least inspired. I do like how its turd pupils splatter when you beat it, though. That was truly a nice touch.

The final level is kind of a Mesopotamian temple, complete with poop-centric hieroglyphics and scorpion warriors who fart on you. The sub-boss are these two snake-like urinals, which are so easy to defeat that I wonder why they were even included in the game at all. After easily dispatching them, you get to the game’s final boss, which is some sort of genie who pees lighting at you. Compared to some of the game’s earlier bosses, he isn’t too difficult.

After besting him, you get a message from some white haired dude, who is flanked by two cherubs. Since I can’t read Japanese, your guess is as good as mine as to what he’s saying, but judging from the rest of the material in the title, I highly doubt he’s pontificating on anything too profound.

So, uh, what do you think they call this religion? Is it SHIT-toism, or
As stupid and juvenile and idiotic as “Toilet Kids” may be, there are some elements of a good game to be found within it. If you strip away all of the pee and poo and farts, it actually is a pretty challenging SHMUP, with audiovisuals slightly above average for the console. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the game was developed by a company that’s had its hands on the oh-so-fabulous “Cho Aniki” series, as well as the abysmal SNES fighting failure “Ballz” -- so yeah, this stuff pretty  much is their forte, I guess.

Aesthetically, the gross appeal of "Toilet Kids" is apparent, but believe it or not, there actually is something resembling mechanical substance underneath the crude visuals. It's not the best shoot em up out there -- or even among the top 40 or so to make it to the TG-16 -- but as a weird-beard diversion, you could probably do a lot worse.

And hey, did I mention it had a two-player mode? Evading shit-flinging monkeys, dodging piss-colored lightning, bombing golden turd shrines ... what better way to bring the family together on a rainy afternoon, no?

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