From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett (opens in new tab) wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random games back into the light. This week, an offer it sounds like nobody should refuse! It’s on! MORE DULL KOMBAT 2! STREET FIGHTER 2: ACTUALLY ON THE STREET EDITION! Round 1! Fight!
I think I’d probably go for ’90s Rick Moranis. The early-ish one, before the millions and millions of dollars that would allow for the hiring of bodyguards and lawyers to sweep any ‘unpleasantness’ under the carpet. Nothing against the guy himself, I just think that if you’re picking an enemy, go for someone you can probably take on, unless he turns out to be Stay Puft Marshmallow Man size, in which case… hmm. Never mind, I wouldn’t want to leave any wiggle room for whatever celestial entity is making this offer.
You know, this is a harder decision than I thought. Oh, but Russian thugs? Not on my list.
Still, it’s a good question. What would you want in an enemy? I suspect most of us would rather not have one at all, that being much less stressful. But if you had to pick, would you prefer someone largely irrelevant, who could be safely ignored and occasionally swatted like a fly, or someone worthy of your own arrogance? A Moriarty to your Holmes, a Joker to your Batman, a Sonny to your Cher? Not merely an enemy, but a nemesis, around whom death and destruction may be constant companions but at least would provide validation and triumph. Is there not some appeal to that, especially if they’re a little bit crap. Just a little, that the game can remain one of cat and mouse instead of, say, Saw 5.
It must be a bit of an administrative nightmare, though. Is there some moment where both sides get to hash out their moral philosophies and at least quietly agree who is the hero and who is the villain? In public of course, both can claim the high ground or equivalence, but at some point someone has to go and get a costume made and it’s better to know whether they’re going for the bright heroic red or the sneaky-sneaky purple.
And themes. A good villain doesn’t merely oppose the hero but counterbalances them. This is presumably easy if you have fire and they have ice. But this is the real world, and it’s more likely that you work in an office or a supermarket. If so, at the very least your enemy can’t be on the same loyalty card program. That would just be ridiculous, and really let the side down.
Choose Your Enemy unfortunately doesn’t dig into this thorny issue quite so deeply. It does technically let you Choose An Enemy, but it only has three to Choose from, and I can’t honestly say any of them really have that je ne stand pas that I’d want in a nemesis. (Ideally, I’d want a nemesis from space, so that at least at some point we could visit their planet.)
They’re all pretty dull, really, united not by a burning hatred of all I deem worthwhile in this world — cats, Coca-Cola, and fish and chips, which admittedly would make for a fairly confusing evil spandex costume—but a love of face-punching and being a bit rapey to a blonde lady. And obviously, I’m against that. I was just hoping that when I made an Enemy worthy of the capital E, it’d be with them trying to blow up the world or something. A bit of it even.
Really, I’m not picky. Even Finland would do at a pinch.
Not Liechtenstein though. I do have some standards.
But anyway, our three nefarious fiends. There are basically two crap ones and one not so crap, with valuable lessons to impart! Pupo La Bamba for instance, “What a guy he could be, if not for marijuana.” With that one line, I think we have to accept that if humanity ever gives up the demon weed, at least part of the credit must go to Choose An Enemy for that stirring moral moment. His sidekick Ivan Kubrovka meanwhile makes the strongest stand against alcohol since the Volstead Act by warning “With 500cl of Gorbatchoff Vodka permanently staying in his stomach, Ivan thinks and moves slower than any other enemy.”
Than any other enemy! Slugman, today is your day! Aquaman, check back tomorrow!
The third foe combines both of their strengths with none of their weaknesses. His name: Fritz Ditz. “He doesn’t drink and thus constantly changes tactics. He never made a puff of marijuana—so his movements are sharper and quicker than La Bamba’s ones.” Wow. Truly, a prince amongst men. Or better! Because: “From the very days of childhood Friz decided to be a King of the Street.”
King Fritz of Straightlacier, the people of the world salute you and your life choices. Except for the ones about abduction, rape and punching strangers in the face. Your kingdom has to have a shit-ton more oil under it to get away with that, and you only seem to have a stockpile in your hair.
Also, you look disturbingly like comedian Hugh Dennis.
But onto the battle of the band of badasses who will probably require Band-Aids! In a cute twist, neither side has a health bar as such, but instead lines of… teeth. The strong opponents knock two teeth out with every punch. The weak ones only give the dentist half that work. Your responses are to sock it back to them with both fists, trying not to worry about how the girl will react when a toothless blood monster suddenly looms up and yells “UH SAHVED YUU!”
Screaming and running would be the best approach, really. Or indeed, leaving out the screaming and just plain running while the two combatants see who’ll be getting the most from the Tooth Fairy that night. It’s nice when even the loser gets something.
The combat system is as detailed as you would expect, by which I of course mean it looks like a child’s painting of the Mona Lisa drawn entirely in crayon and occasional bits of poop where the brown one ran out. The best bit is that if you punch with both hands at once, the Enemy is able to punch up right through the middle as if landing a basketball dunk, only it’s a tooth-shattering punch to the eating-hole.
The basic message seems to be that having an Enemy really isn’t worth it, though looking at the line-up, there is perhaps a more subtle piece of social commentary at work. Specifically, you can’t trust people with no necks. There was supposedly a more advanced version where you could import your own neckless nemesis—Choose An Enemy suggests Bruce Lee, Hitler, Rambo, or “You Boss”. It does however not seem to mind how you do this, saying you should just “take any obtainable scanner”. Well, the ones in stores aren’t usually nailed down, and if you run…
And so does the Enemy become ourselves. For when you stare into the Abyss, thou shouldst not be surprised that it stares back into you. Though if you try dropping a stone in to see how deep it actually is, the sound of eldritch cursing from the dimension of eternal agonies is totally worth a “Gosh, crikey.”
Or, indeed, not.
For ultimately, my decision is that none of these three deserve full-on Enemy status. At most, they can aspire to Person I Just Didn’t Really Like the Look of At All (I Can’t Put My Finger On Why, But You Know What I Mean). One day, perhaps things will be different. One day, my prince of darkness may come. But when they show up, I definitely think our first ground rule is going to be snark first, tooth-punching never.
Unless I get the first blow and I have a sledgehammer at the time. Then, perhaps.