Friday, 28 December 2012

Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden - Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa (PC)

Whoa, is this playing the actual Space Jam theme?

With Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 - Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie - Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa uh... Barkley 2 getting kickstarted, I thought it'd be a good time to finally play Barkley 1 and find out what the hell a 'Hoopz Barkley' actually is.

I know I swore a sacred oath to never play an RPG Maker game for the site, but this is an exception; mostly because it was actually made in GameMaker, just like Hotline Miami.

Whoa, DirectX 10! And I was worried this was going to look like ass.

Damn, they've ripped ultra-low colour pixel art from classic video games for their graphics, and then stripped away a few more shades just because they could. Horrific deliberate mistreatment of pixels, it's sickening. The music's pretty solid though.

The game's set in post-cyberapocalyptic Neo New York in the year 2053, 60 years after the original Barkley Shut Up and Jam game. Things haven't gone so well for the world in the meantime: basketball has been banned, many of the former players are now dead, and Barkley has been left to raise his 12 year old son Hoopz on his own. His friend Balthios is actually the great grandson of NBA player LeBron James, who is 22 years younger than Barkley, so our hero must be getting on in years.

Barkley Shut Up and Jam! (Genesis/Mega Drive)
There were actually two Barkley Shut Up and Jam! games back in the 90s, making Gaiden technically the third in the series.

For some reason I keep thinking Shut Up and Jam is a platformer, but I'm probably getting it mixed up with Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City (which I should totally play some day). The Jam! games are actually both just 2v2 basketball games.

As soon as I got control of the character I was sent out into the world on a mission to find some medicine, and ran into this fuel pump outside. And now he's sharing opinions with me.

I respect his belief that video games are the ultimate evolution of high art, but I'm not sure why Pumpy's so keen on the word 'vidcons' to refer to video games. Personally I would have gone with vidgames or virtu-experience... crap, that's too long. Something that couldn't be mistaken for meaning 'videogame consoles' at least.

And the pump's still talking, trying to tempt our tongues with taint now. Wait, tongues plural? I'm the only person here, who does it think it's talking to?

Well that's the first time I've ever seen Baldur's Gate and Madden grouped together before. Okay Pump, I'm curious, why don't you feel the West is as intelligent as Japan?

Wow, Pump's laying down the law here. Discussions about Western developers being dumb must be postponed until another day.

First poster? Wait, has this all been taken from an actual forum post? Someone actually really said all this and meant it? Whoa.

And then the Pump lets me save my game. He was a save point all along.

I couldn't find any medicine, but Barkley seems satisfied with buying a few ecto coolers instead, so now I can head back home for my next assignment.

I've heard a few people talking about this Ultimate Hellbane guy in the game now, and he's apparently a real menace, considered to be almost as dangerous as Charles Barkley in fact.

Barkley isn't well liked these days, as he used a Chaos Dunk move at an NBA game 12 years ago, accidentally killing thousands of people, and triggering a backlash against the sport. The government banned basketball entirely in the aftermath, and many players were massacred in the Great B-Ball Purge of 2041. Barkley survived but... hasn't been taking it very well since.


Well this ain't good. Someone's just unleashed a second Chaos Dunk and completely wiped out Man-Manhattan leading to the deaths of 15 million people, and seeing as Barkley's the only one capable of the move he's the prime (and only) suspect. Now NBA legend Michael Jordan with his stylish yellow hat and his B-ball Removal Department taskforce has burst into his front room to take him in. Oh, and plus his son Hoopz has gone missing.

But I suppose things could always be worse.

OH SHIT, A Q.T.E SEQUENCE? This is a fucking catastrophe!

Barkley Shut Up and Jam Gaiden Game Over screen Kurt Cobain
Well I fucked that up. Fortunately the game restarted me at the beginning of the QTE section, not at the save point, so I didn't have to go through all that talking again. Man there's a lot of talking in this.

A few more QTE sequences later, and Barkley escapes into a dead end, only to be saved by a mysterious masked man who leads him into these... Egyptian tunnels?

But who is our secretive saviour?

Oh shit... it's Balthios! Uh, I mean Ultimate Hellbane.

Hellbane claims he's been a victim of bad publicity, and isn't actually all that bad. He knew that Michael Jordan was coming for Barkley, and told Hoopz to hide in a church, so the kid should be safe for a while. But he wants Barkley to come meet with someone down here before joining his son.

Man, Barkley's in amazing shape for a 90 year old, but I wish he could sprint just a little bit longer. Like... indefinitely. It's annoying to get a 5 second jog out of him then have to walk the rest of the way.

This Egyptian looking place is actually the B-Ball Catacombs, an ancient resting place under the city haunted by the restless ghosts of former ballers. So it actually all makes perfect sense. I've spotted my first enemy ghost right now in fact, floating around on the level in plain sight, so at least I know I'll be safe from random encounters. I guess I'll run into him and start some JRPG combat.

Oh no, not icons, I hate icons. At least they all have descriptions.

Alright this has a standard turn-based JRPG battle system, I'm controlling Hellbane this turn, and I can Blitz, Zauber, Counter, use an Item or Escape. Well I definitely understood some of them at least.

Okay let's see what Blitz does.

It brought up three more choices! There's actually decent instructions explaining each move, but I'll still have to remember how to activate them. Zauber Slash requires button mashing, while Stab Dash needs me to hit the button as symbols flash up, for example.

Oh, and then it turns out that Barkley has his own set of moves with different commands, so I'll need to remember all of them as well. And then I suppose figuring out which is best for each situation would be a smart move as well.


Is it just me, or is this game getting better looking as I go on?

Well it turns out that this isn't just a sequel to Barkley Shut Up and Jam, but also to the movie Space Jam! And it takes the movie's mythology pretty seriously it seems, with the characters stopping to discuss things like how Barkley feels about the time he was magically trapped in a basketball. Or something, I dunno, I never saw Space Jam.

Guess I can add fan fiction to the list of things this game is parodying now.

And then I got my entire team wiped out in an easy fight. It's my own dumb fault for being too scared to use healing items before I've found a shop. You know, in case I end up REALLY needing them later.

Hey wait a minute, I recognise that enemy on the top left.

Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City (SNES)
He's one of those basketball zombies from Chaos in the Windy City! Finally I've managed to get something. I'm sure almost every piece of art in the game has been ripped from something else, but I've been struggling to recognise anything so far. I guess I just need to play more games.

So many branching paths in these catacombs, and I manage to choose the one that leads to a bloody sliding tile puzzle. At least now I know that I'm still as bad at these things as ever.


Finally I've found a shop! The hack option is so damn tempting, but I can't take the risk of breaking the thing and cutting myself off from all the sweet sweet...

... steroids, tobacco and insulin?  Apparently the game was made in the 1920s as tobacco is considered to cure 'all status ailments and negative stat mods'. Plus it makes you look cool.

I don't think I'm going to trust this game's opinion on medical matters however, as it also claims that bball juice will restore 99% of your health. I'll just grab some protein paste and keep moving.

Oh shit, it turns out that Ultimate Hellbane was Balthios all along! He was wearing a mask because... of all that stuff he's saying in that message box up there.

There's no voices in this by the way, besides from the narrator at the start, in case you were wondering. Though there is an option to play the entire game in Al Bhed. You know, that made up language from Final Fantasy X. One of the developers must have been really bored that day.

Oh shit, it's a boss battle! I'm totally not ready for this, I've only got half my health left. Though I do have full mana, so I suppose this is a good time to see what skills I've got. Hmm, jam damage sounds cool, I'll go with that.


Hey, I've found a third character! Cyborg Vince Carter, now known as Vinceborg 2050. Whoa, what are the chances I'd stumble across another surviving NBA star down here? Well, mostly surviving, he's halfway there.

I'm sure I recognise this dungeon art from somewhere. Oh right, of course, it's blatantly ripped from Chrono Trigger. Actually I think I recognise that error number from somewhere too, which is weird because I've never remembered an error number in my life.

Aha, it's the name of the main character from Barkley 2! Well that's probably just a coincidence. Probably.

Cyborg Vice is awesome, cutting through characters with an steerable eye laser. It's so powerful that I can often kill one enemy, then target and kill another in the same shot.

That bball spider's awesome too, because it's made from a signed ball. 

The Chrono Trigger sewers led to an underground village of surgically altered furry outcasts so I can finally rest and restock. I've been stuck underground for a while now actually; I'm getting the feeling this game isn't going to have a world map.

It's funny how these villagers are pretty much played straight, and their situation is actually used to examine Barkley's own. They may be hiding down here in the sewers, but they're not hiding from themselves; they're being true to their heart. Barkley on the other hand has been living a lie for twelve years, denying the call of the b-ball.

It's all very serious and meaningful. Wait, is that Yogi Bear up there?

Agh, dammit Pump, could you just let me save my game without the rant for once? You know for a game called Shut up and Jam, characters in this sure talk a lot. Oh crap, now he's gotten me curious. I'm going to have to check wikipedia and see if this series actually exists.

"The Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru animated television series is based on the visual novel..." Damn.

"The story follows the main character Mizuho Miyanokouji, a male high school student who transfers into an all-girls school, and how he lives his life interacting with many girls who do not know he is actually a boy." Uh-huh. Actually, I'm not curious anymore.

Funnily enough, it only seems to have the one season though.

At last I meet with the fabled Cyber Dwarf, an alien with basketball skin. He actually wasn't born that way, there was an accident... it's a long story.

Anyway he's happy to see that Balthios has finally brought Barkley to him, until he realises he's brought him the WRONG Barkley. Oops, turns out he was meant to bring Hoopz. To the church my friends, there is no time to waste!

But first I think I'll buy some new gear. Spiked B-ball sounds cool, I'll take one of them, and maybe a referee uniform. I have to be careful with my cash as the enemies don't seem to respawn. I can't just go and grind for some more when I run low.

Anyway, seriously there's no time to waste. It's just a matter of time before our mysterious nemesis performs another Chaos Dunk... or worse!

But first I'm going to help a guy out with some poetry so he can win over a fox girl. I get to pick the last line of this verse from these four choices, the last one provided by emotionless cyborg Vince who doesn't seem to understand the basics of poetry. He does seem to understand that we're trying demonstrate some interest in the recipient though, so I'll go with his answers.

It's always better to list facts rather than attempt to be poetic and entertaining, that's my philosophy. But seriously now, we need to rush to the church and get Hoopz as we've wasted enough time as it is.

Aww, the game won't let me backtrack to the B-Ball Catacombs instead. C'mon Balthios, the Cyberdrawf is right there mate. He's in the party as we speak, you can see him on the screen! Just let me back into the catacombs, I'm sure there's some stuff in there I missed, some paths I didn't take. It's a bit cruel to lock me out of content without warning.

This is the downside of having scripted dialogue events plus a changing party of characters. To make it possible for me to go down there again, the developers would have had to add a second set of dialogue for every event featuring Balthios in the place of Hellbane. Or turned them all off I suppose.

Where am I meant to be going again? Oh right, the church. Time is of the essence etc, I remember now.


Oh shit, Michael Jordan beat me here! And now Vinceborg's turned traitor too, well that's just great. I should have known not to trust the Terminator.

Whoa, so THAT'S why Michael Jordan was wearing that hat. He's gone full Michael Jackson on us! Some beautiful pixelwork on that pistol by the way.

Damn, is this a Judas Priest song playing in the background? No wait, that's the singer from Deep Purple... this is that track from Blue Dragon (youtube link)! Didn't see that coming. This tune is pretty amazingly cheesy, so it's perfect for this game. And I think this the perfect time to turn the game off.

Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden might be a joke game, but there's a definitely a game in there. In fact if you did a find/replace on the script and changed all the b-ball references to 'magic', turning Barkley into one of the last of the magic knights or whatever, this could almost pass as a straightforward SNES JRPG. Which I guess might be the point.

And I actually do kinda sort of want to keep playing it. So I guess I'll have to give it a gold star, and hope the upcoming sequel lives up to the style and wit of the game, and builds up on it. Except with non-shite graphics this time.

Oh, I almost forgot, you can get Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden for free for PC and Mac from the official site.


  1. Fun stuff. I remember playing this in 2008 (has it been that long already), and its still a pretty interesting game despite being a complete joke game.

    I wonder if it might rely on certain fonts to display correctly because I don't remember the font looking like that at all. Dunno if it came with a font to install or if it still used the RPG Maker fonts or what. Hopefully that issue is fixed in the sequel as well!

    1. Yeah, I've had a few people tell me that my screenshots look distorted, something to do with it not scaling right perhaps. I might try it on a different machine, see if it's caused by some weirdness on my PC or a fault in this version of the game.


Semi-Random Game Box