King Of Chicago

Ah, Cinemaware. I never really knew a whole lot about them, and I never really played many of their games until I found out the magic of emulation. It seems like they were at their biggest in the 80’s, and, being a 90’s kid, as you can see by LOOKING AT THE TOP OF THE SCREEN YOU MORON… well, I’m just a tad biased. Still, they did some pretty neat stuff for the time. Mostly, for inventing the concept of an ‘interactive movie’ when the closest thing to that was Dragon’s Lair.

And let’s be honest, here, this is really the only reason people actually played Dragon’s Lair. You know, for the smooth animation.

Their first game, and probably their most popular, was Defender of the Crown, which was more or less a bunch of minigames strung together through a plot about conquering England. The thing about it, though, was that it was frickin’ AMAZING to look at, for the time period. Let’s take a look at an example, here.

I could have been a jerk and picked something like Cherry Cherub, but nah.

This, as you’ve probably guessed, is Metroid. One of Nintendo’s AAA games for the year 1986, and not shabby looking at all for being so early on the console.

This comparison is what you would call bringing a nuke to a knife fight, basically.

This is Defender of the Crown on the Amiga, released the same year. Can you guess which one wins? Protip: It’s not Metroid. They eventually did release an NES port of DotC, although not until a few years down the line.

So that was basically Cinemaware’s whole MO. They made a bunch of minigames, put in some cinematics and such to give them all one overarching plot, and added in a few strategy elements to balance things out. Sometimes it worked, like, say, It Came From The Desert, and sometimes it didn’t, like…

“So, not even James Pond could get you to give up and buy a PS2, huh? NOW YOU PAY.”

But we’re here to discuss neither of those today. We’re here to discuss one of Cinemaware’s OTHER games nobody cares to remember. It’s a shame, really. It’s got an interesting premise, but there’s nothing really exciting about it. What’s it called, you ask?

Planned sequels included The Duke of Detroit, The Noble Of New York, and The Lord Of LA.

King of Chigago, released in 1987 for the Amiga, MS-DOS, Apple IIGS, and Atari ST. There was also a Macintosh version I can’t seem to find a picture of, at the moment, where the characters are made of claymation amd look more like they’re talking potato gangsters, or something. If Mac emulation didn’t suck so much, I’d grab a picture, but it does, so I won’t.

Thanks for the exposition, talking car!

So, the story is, it’s 1931, Al Capone’s in prison, and things are pretty whacked.

Chicago will be soon rolled over by the power of the Can’t Make Up Their Mind Boys.

This is your playable character, Pinky Callahan. His interests include being a snarky asshole to everybody he meets, shooting people, blowing up people, and blankly staring into space while he thinks about things. These sort of screens are where most of the game’s interactivity comes in, because this is where you select how Pinky reacts to certain situations. Here, I decide that Pinky here is going to go straight to the top.

Thank you for the exposition, talking city! Wait…

This screen shows up every time you start a new scene, and the text usually relates to what you’re about to do. I’m not exactly sure who’s supposed to be talking, here. Maybe Pinky has some kind of demented guardian angel telling him to go kill his boss?

So, we decide to have a chat with our buddy Ben about the whole ‘killing our boss’ thing.

He takes it surprisingly well.

Bah, forget him. We don’t need some bald guy telling us what to do. We’ll just go hang out with our gang, they’re our bros.

Yeah, that’s pretty much what everyone says whenever Pinky shows up.

So we come into a conversation where the other gang members are totally cool with killing off the gang boss. Good to know we’ve got some people on our side. Sadly, though, they don’t seem like they’re actually going to get into the ‘killing’ part of the whole ‘kill our boss’ plan, so we have another talk with Ben. You can guess how that goes.

“And by ‘it”, I mean shooting you.”

Pinky and the boss (Typing that made me want to watch Animaniacs again) get into a conversation, in which Pinky is a pedantic jerk about geography. He doesn’t seem to realize our angle, but he says we’re inexperienced. This eventually leads to Pinky basically saying “Get out”, which the boss is… surprisingly agreeable to.

“Wait, you’re not serious, are you? At least let me shoot you a LITTLE!”

So, yeah, we’re now the boss of a major crime family because we told the boss to go away. Little anticlimactic, that.

“This development bothers me, player!”

Everybody in this game tends to have a weird habit of staring directly at you while saying some of their lines. I have no idea why.

So, now it’s time to give everybody the good news. Ben shows up, and, he’s natrually curious about what’s going on. Being as loyal as he was a few minutes ago, what does he intend to do now?

I’m not sure if your lack of loyalty is valuable or terrifying, Ben.

“Pinky Callahan Takes Over North Side, Has Great Hat”

So, as the authentic old-timey newspaper said, we’re now the boss, and we get all the associated benefits. Like being able to constantly quote Lonely Island lyrics at our boys about 80 years before they were ever written.

Nice straight lines you’ve got going on there, Rembrant.

This is the desk screen, unlocked once you become the boss. It’s here where you decide what you want to do. From here, we can click on the picture to talk to our girlfriend, and seriously, after all this talking, I just want to shoot something. The ledger handles our budget, which we’re not touching, because what do you think this is, Sim City? The map lets us go to another part of the city to attempt to take it over. Let’s get on with that, shall we?

It was at this point the computer crashed. Let’s just call it the Second Great Chicago Fire.

Funnily enough, the second time I started a new game, it started with Pinky sitting at the boss’s desk, pondering if he should shoot him. Figuring it’d be a good idea to actually make sure it was him coming through the door, I waited on him. He bitched at me for sitting in his desk. So much for my good luck earlier.

So, this time, I figured I’d try to ask Ben for help taking out the boss. Guess how that went?

Somewhere in an alternative universe… Ben is still a big whiner.

Then he threatened to tell the boss on me. I figured he was bluffing. The game gave me this in reply.

So… am I fired?

Maybe my disk images were just crappy, but after these first two setbacks, I’m taking a break from this for now. And I never did get to shoot anything, either.

Still, I hardly got anywhere in this, so if any of you folk want to see more Pinky, drop me a line. Maybe we’ll even shoot somebody! Wouldn’t that be a hoot.

EDIT: Guess who found a picture of the Mac version!

Mr. Potato Head is in a killin’ mood. You could say he’s… gone bad.

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