04 March 2012
I have a problem with Pringles. I'll thumb off the lid, peel back the foil seal, and black out. Half-an-hour later I'll snap back to reality, up to my wrist in the cardboard tube; fingertips just grazing the next salty crisp. If not for this awful moment, this sorrowful moment of self-awareness and regret, there would be nothing stopping me from hitting the bottom of the stack in a single sitting.
It's no accident that my encounters with Pringles inevitably follow this pattern. Look at the marketing slogan: "Once you pop, you can't stop!" (Later, "Once you pop, the fun don't stop!" because that's just how we treated grammar around the turn of the century. Sorry, grammar!)
Pringles are a triumph in manufacturing. A bag of Ruffles or Lays would be half-filled with air, and that still couldn't keep the chips from chipping. In contrast, Pringles were designed from the start to be clean, efficient, and predictable. Less likely to go stale, with fewer crumbs and and a pleasing aesthetic.
It works. Pringles are just right, aren't they? The crunch , the way they fit in your mouth, the way they can so easily be fashioned into an impromptu duck beak. There may not be another snack that matches their form.
As for the taste? Pringles are fine, aren't they? Fine. It's a weak adjective, but I can't muster any more enthusiasm. They don't taste bad. My feelings are more positive than negative. I guess. Maybe. Each bite is encouraging enough to persuade me to take another, but never enough to provide any thrill or satisfaction.
Time passes, and eventually the accumulation of salt and embarrassment on my lips urges me to reapply the lid and move on with my life. Marvelous as the physical design of Pringles may be, eating them is neither tasty nor filling.
Burrito Bison Revenge (Juicy Beast, published by [adult swim] games) is a Pringles game, manufactured to keep you going and going and going, gaining nothing but the passage of time.
If you've played a Flash game in the past five years, then you've played Burrito Bison Revenge. In the first round, you'll fling your character to the right. He'll bounce around, you'll earn some money, and you'll spend it on an upgrade - more forceful launches, faster top speed, more bounciness, etc. - and then do it again. Forever.
I think the last time I played a game with this exact structure, I was dropping an eighteen-wheeler off a ramp and watching it wreak havoc on a stretch of houses and windmills. In the case of Burrito Bison Revenge, we have an anthropomorphic bison being hurled out of a boxing ring to body slam living gummy bears. It's a remarkable premise, but only in the way that it has no bearing whatsoever on how the game plays.
Purpose aside, it looks nice. Yeah, nice. Fine. More good than bad. [adult swim] is an animation network, and they've provided professional, competent visuals; certainly a step above most Flash diversions, but it's 2012, and I don't know who's still getting giggly over knock-off Spümcø character designs.
That's flavour, though, and that's not why we play Pringles games. As long as the taste in inoffensive enough to carry us through the first bite, we'll keep coming back for that addictive crunch. The backgrounds glide by swiftly, the bison flops about with satisfying weight, and it all starts and stops so quickly that you have to reach into the can.
Yes, you need to take another turn, because you can do better. You can earn more money, and you can buy more upgrades, and you can bounce farther, and you can complete more bonus goals, and... look, just hit retry button already, okay?
And you will! You will press that button because every bit of Buffalo Bison Revenge is manufactured to keep you in the loop. Reach in the can, take a bite, rub the grease off your fingers and do it again. Do it until your hand is so
deep in the can that you can't help but notice the time you've wasted.
Play for long enough, and you'll eventual see a door, and of course you have to know what's beyond that door. Play longer and you'll fly straight through the door. Then you'll hit another door, and then you'll burst through it, as well, and you go through door after door until there are no doors left, and hey, there's the buffalo's wallet! Yay, I got the bison's wallet! Wait, why does the bison need a wallet? What's happening? Where am I?
I blinked. Time had passed, but how much. I felt vaguely gross.
Reminders flashed across my screen about the upgrades I still hadn't purchased, the mini-missions still awaiting completion, and... oh no.
I had unlocked "Survival Mode."
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