Sunday, January 25, 2015

G.I. Joe. The Atlantis Factor for NES (1992)

G.I. Joe. The Atlantis Factor advertisement
Original ad published in the March 1992 edition of GamePro

Historical Background and Graphical Analysis

G.I. Joe. The Atlantis Factor for the Nintendo Entertainment System is another one of those games made exclusively to cash-in on a well-known 80’s franchise.

If you lived through the 80’s, G.I. Joe was very popular animated series that served as a propaganda tool for the United States Armed Forces (USAF) in their Cold War efforts to disseminate the American Way of Life. For those of you who are not American, G.I. stands for General Infantry in military jargon. 

This was normal at the time. After all, the USSR was a very real and present danger to the United Stated and it’s allies. Other games of the era, like Desert Storm. Return to the Gulf (1992), were guilty of equally blatant propaganda. 

The G.I. Joe franchise is much older than the 80s, but that decade saw the massification of this pro-US message in many and varied forms of media. One of the most incisive efforts was made in popular culture, such as the animated series that gave us characters as Duke, General Hawk, Snake Eyes, Blizzard, Captain Grid-Iron, Wet Suit and Rock ’n Roll. The most famous antagonist was of course the reptiled-voice Cobra Commander, followed, possibly, by the cool Storm Shadow. Ebay has rekindled the interest for some of the action-figures of these characters, and there's a thriving on-line scene with truck-loads of information of the subject.

As 2-D platformers go, G.I. Joe. The Atlantis Factor (1992) is as generic as you can get. Capcom already had made the acclaimed Bionic Commando (1988) before this game, as well as three Mega Man hits. Maybe that’s why this product seems so “half-done”. The gameplay is average; the graphics, bleh. The difficulty is up there with the 10 most frustrating games for the NES. Curiously enough, this was actually the second G.I. Joe game Nintendo’s machine (the first one was released by Taxan).

Today, the US military has advanced enormously in their propaganda efforts. There’s a well know First Person Shooter called “America’s Army” that’s entirely playable and, better yet, totally free. Their printed ads in video game magazines are very professional and clear (I’ll post some of them some other time). Their “presence” in practically every historical FPS, like Call of Duty, is polished and rarely threads the unjustified violence territory. 

But in the 80’s things had to be done a different way. Games like these—and the printed ads that accompanied them—were done as a means to connect with the minds of kids that needed some kind of ideological moulding. You could hardly resist such vehicles of mass popular culture.

At least they tried a little harder than modern Hollywood crap like 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra ("loud and dumb", as one reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes correctly described it)

G.I. Joe. The Atlantis Factor print ad copy:

G.I. Joe vs Cobra in the Atlantis Factor

(This time winner takes all.)

That power-crazed maniac Cobra Commander is back. This time, the snake’s raised the ancient island of Atlantis out of the ocean and turned it into a base for taking over the world. He’s got an invincible army. Space weapons too. But hey, you’re a member of the G.I. Joe team and you’re up for the fight. You’ve got to make it through lethal territories and destroy Cobra’s awesome weapons complex and gunships. Blow it and it might as well be the end of the world. Get psyched and enlist today.

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