Register Tuesday | June 18 | 2019

Doom 3, Futurama and the Transformers

How corporate stinginess ruined my weekend

When I said my half of the “yes” to the biweekly joy that is NerdWorld, I did so with anticipation of limitless swag and plunder. Free preview copies of Half-Life 2 for all! Tax-write-off-able computer hardware with which to review it! Doubloons raining from the sky, but only on me! We were going to live like damn hell ass kings!

Five columns in, and, tragically, we don’t see nobody taking Team NerdWorld to Chick-fil-A. Topping the list of Items We Can’t Review for You Yet are Apple’s AirPort Express, Volume 4 of Futurama and Atari’s new Transformers video game. Apparently, a little-read weisenheimer tech column isn’t winning any hearts in the marketing department.

This whining introduction is brought to you by id, the makers of Doom 3, which, from the screen shots I’ve seen, looks like a beautiful game. I wouldn’t know, as it runs in chunky form (800x600 with all the fancy-schmancy effects turned down, and I’m still getting a crummy framerate) on our respectable desktop. Add “a better video card” to the list of wished-for swag and plunder. Even in chunks, though, it’s apparent that Doom 3 is (a) about a Marine shooting demons on Mars, (b) damn scary and (c) damn lengthy. And also it R0XX0R5!!! The reviews that say it is boring and repetitive are mostly correct, as are the reviews that say it is a stunning revitalization of the declining single-player first-person-shooter genre (and a fantastic excuse to revisit the cheap spook-house scares pioneered by Dooms 1 through 2).

Another game I can’t tell you about is Transformers by Atari. Released a few months ago to mixed reviews, Transformers seems to be the mostly-Generation-1 experience that fanpersons have been crossing their toes for since the fiasco that was the Transformers’ video game debut. No idea what I’m talking about? Okay, listen: The Transformers debuted in 1984 as a line of robot toys and a weekday afternoon cartoon program. The plot revolved around a civil war, between some robots from the planet Cybertron, that spills over onto Earth’s soil. These robots were capable of changing, or TRANSFORMING, from their anthropomorphic robot forms into those of common Earth vehicles—trucks and airplanes and such. The evil robots, the Decepticons, led by gravelly voiced troubadour Megatron, waged their battle against the benevolent Autobots, led by charismatic man-at-war Optimus Prime. This is but a modest slice of the whole story; there’s actually a detailed and sometimes poignant creation myth underlying the war. If you need to know more, Wikipedia is a good resource for that sort of nonsense.

Children of a certain age went apeshit for the toys, then grew up into young adults with pockets full of nerd-gotten income, with which they went apeshit anew. Eventually the powers that be—Hasbro et al.—wised up to the fact that there were legions of childhood fans drooling puddles of nostalgia, ready to blow their disposable income on original Transformers toys. Witness a co-worker of mine, who in one three-month period purchased three different imported Japanese Megatrons. That’s one Megatron for each month!

This is the sort of behaviour that kicked off the North American revival of the Transformers a few years ago, leading to new (old) toys, new shows, a rumoured upcoming live-action film and a new video game that NerdWorld wasn’t able to get from Atari for review. We did, however, accidentally on purpose find a copy of The Transformers: The Movie Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.

The upcoming live-action film, you see, will not be the first feature film to sport the Transformers brand. That honour belongs to The Transformers: The Movie (1986), a film that lives in many a nerd subconscious as “the one to beat” for weird cartoon-to-movie translations. While the original cartoon was infused with an appreciation for adrenalin, diesel fumes and robots kicking each other in the nuts, the movie is a bizarre inversion of adolescent expectations, with a voice-cast composed of such interesting choices as Judd Nelson, Eric Idle, Robert Stack and Leonard Nimoy. All our Autobot heroes are brutally murdered inside of the first ten minutes, and the Decepticons are revealed to be but an amuse-gueule in comparison to Unicron, a planet-eating Transformer aptly voiced by devourer of worlds Orson Welles.

Would a soundtrack any less bizarre have been appropriate? We cannot know, because The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack is insane: a mix of ostensibly orchestral cues by Vince DiCola and—the real stars of the show—five pop-metal anthems featuring libertarian lyrics that give the movie “it’s [sic] inspirational motive.” These hot lixx may have been a good match for the original series’ nut-kicking tone, but in the context of the film, they only stress the eccentricity of the whole enterprise.

Unfortunately, international copyright law prevents me from providing each and every one of you with your own copy of this epic masterwork. I’m pretty sure, however, that it’s okay to cut and paste some lyrics. So here we go, let’s end this week with NerdWorld’s self-absorbed analysis of “Dare,” by Stan Bush, cut #4 on The Transformers: The Movie soundtrack.

Sometimes when your hopes have all been shattered

And there’s nowhere to turn

You wonder how you keep going

How, for example, one might keep going with a review of Doom 3 on an inadequate PC, or plan ahead for one’s column when manufacturers refuse to get back to you about review copies, thus shattering all your hopes?

Think of all the things that really mattered

And the chances you’ve earned

The fire in your heart is growing

That’s right, the fires of anger and rejection keep growing. Anti-Atari screeds are written, then discarded in favour of the things that really matter: fat-free chocolate pudding and Futurama DVDs . . . oh wait, we couldn’t get those either!

Dare—dare to believe you can survive The power is there at your command

Except when it isn’t.

Dare—dare to keep all of your dreams alive

It’s time to take a stand

And you can win, if you dare

Nothing for it but climbing onto our trusty steeds, riding down to corporate headquarters of The Man, knocking on the door and demanding “our due.”

Dare—dare to keep all your love alive

Dare to be all you can be Dare—’cause there is a place where dreams survive

And it’s calling you on to victory

Seriously? There’s a place where dreams survive? Well, then, it is there that we shall ride, heeding the call to victory, swag and plunder.

ATTENTION, NERDS! One half of the trusty NerdWorld team has taken it upon himself to start a “blog” in which to chronicle life as a nerd and other important nerdy occurrences that happen to occur between columns. You can find it here