I don’t usually do news posts (well, maybe the Roguelike Updates posts qualify), but this is important. Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden, everyone’s favorite Japanese-style RPG about the last living b-ball stars and their struggle to survive in the post-cyberpocalypse, is getting a sequel.
Developer Tales of Game’s announced the sequel six days ago (I apologize for my tardiness), and give the full title: The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa. Apparently it will be an action role-playing game, with an open world that can be explored in non-linear fashion, and will star X114JAM9, “an amnesiac baller with no recollection of his past and no concept of his incredible b-ball destiny.” I took the liberty of grabbing the announcement graphic for use at the top of this post; I don’t think Tales of Game’s will mind. They’re planning a Kickstarter campaign to help fund development, and I’ll be sure to announce that once it launches.
Now, if you’ve played Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden, then you probably don’t need any more information than that to get very excited indeed. If you haven’t played Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden, then you should do so immediately.
Why, you ask? Let me tell you.
Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden is probably the greatest parody game ever made. It’s not just that it’s funny, or that it manages to mock an absurdly wide spectrum of things (Space Jam, nearly every video game, the entire internet), it’s the way it somehow transcends all that. Many parody games fall into the trap of being mere tributes, relying too heavily on references for the sake of references, and recreations for the sake of recreations. Simply name-checking as many things as you can doesn’t make for a good game. It’s a common mistake, to think that serving up a slapdash mix of nostalgia and internet memes makes for true entertainment. It doesn’t.
Tales of Game’s understand that. Sure, Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden has plenty of references and jokes embedded in it. But what they’ve done is create a game and a world that’s just bizarre enough that it all works. The post-cyberpocalyptic world of Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden is the kind of place where all of these things could, and indeed must, exist; it’s the strange, surreal landscape where our old games and our internet jokes live when we’re not posting about them. And Barkley, Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden works because it’s not just about these little jokes, it’s about big ones. The whole plot is a huge joke, a expert send up of most Hollywood films. Or most videogame plots, for that matter. Tales of Game’s made a game that’s hilarious and ridiculous, a crazy thing that’s so far over the top as to render that phrase meaningless. But most importantly, they’ve made a game that’s actually good, and you should play it.
Alright, forget this high-level critique stuff. Here’s the premise: in 2041 (or thereabouts) Charles Barkley unwittingly performs the mythical Chaos Dunk, “a jam so powerful its mere existence threatens the balance of chaos and order.” This leads to the great b-ball purge, a dark day of b-ball genocide when the living b-ball stars were hunted down and slaughtered, and b-ball was outlawed. Charles Barkley, along with his son Hoopz, was one of the few ballers to survive. Now it’s 12 years later, and another Chaos Dunk hits Manhattan, with a death toll of 15 million. Barkley stands accused, so he sets out on a quest to clear his name, and maybe, just maybe, find redemption.
And trust me, that’s just the beginning.
If that doesn’t make you want to play it, I don’t know what will. Grab it for free here. You won’t be sorry.