Charles Barkley, Shut up and Jam: Gaiden (PC)

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The year is 2053 and the events you are about to witness — and instigate — are totally canon. Twelve years ago one B-Baller performed a Verboten Jam, invoking the Chaos Dunk. It leveled the venue, wrecked the city, and killed millions (For, as we all know, Basketball is the most powerful force in the universe). The fans grew fearful and in their panic began the great B-Ball purge. Many, once trusted and popular athletes  were slain as a grief-stricken population took revenge. Some ballers survived though, greats like Larry Bird, the treacherous Michael Jordan, and the perpetrator of the Chaos Dunk himself, Charles Barkley.

Without the power of B-Ball to sustain it, and with disaster just behind them, civilization began to degrade and usher in the Post-Cyberpocalypse. A terrorist organization known as BLOODMOSES has threaten the world with bloodshed and pain. They make good on their promise by executing a Chaos Dunk on Manhattan. Barkley claims innocence but his words fall on deaf ears. He must now safeguard his son and take down the true perpetrator of the latest disaster.

History

Charles Barkely Shut up and Jam: Gaiden was created by, infant studio, Tales of Games. Composed of members of an amateur game development forum names included such talents as GZ, Chef Boyardee, bort, and quackgyver. Development started over a discussion about someone on Wikipedia asking if the Space Jam was canon. Prompting further questions about whether the commenter was referring to the Loony Toons canon or Jordan’s life itself.

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Barkley is actually referring to the Space Jam B-Ball. Space Jam is canon in this game.

The game was originally created in RPG Maker 2003 but was ported to Game Maker 6.1 due to its greater power and flexibility as a program. The game includes many stolen assets — especially those taken from Michael Jordan: Chaos the Windy City — the music however, was not stolen. With the exception of one track it was all made by Chef Boyardee.

Fun Fact: For all you Final Fantasy X fans out there it’s possible to play through the entire game with the Al Bhed language cypher.

Charles Barkley Shut up and Jam Gaiden was released on January 22nd, 2008. It’s competition was No More Heroes (Wii), Sins of a Solar Empire (PC), and Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (Wii).

Experiences

I cannot recall when I first heard about this game. One of the older Let’s Players whose channel had since become abandoned probably played it. I just know that I saw it someone play it and had to track it down. I was horribly unprepared however for its unrelentingly dark story, grim world, hopeless scenario, and incredibly fun combat. I was expecting a goof, a lark, but I got more than that. I got something legitimately well made considering what the developers had to work with and more-so something imaginative and compelling. Something that transcends the silliness of its source material if you let it.

Gameplay

Charles Barkley Shup up and Jam: Gaiden plays like an average JRPG. There’s turn based combat, combat commands — each character getting unique mechanics to improve their attacks, no less — , skills that exhaust a secondary resource, and if everyone in your party runs out of health then it’s game over. You play as Charles Barkley and any he can call to his cause. That being said, he’s been hardened by the years — at this point he’s 70 years old– he’s cold, callous, and only looks after him and his own.

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Of course it’s still tinged with B-Ball video game jargon.

The major draw of the game, however, is not the combat. The more fun and compelling aspects are the story and the world. A narrative that introduces the incredibly absurd and then takes it deadly serious. In which Michael Jordan abandoning his fellow Ballers and joining their persecutors is a serious character event that shapes the story.

The Gush

This game is so far over the top that it cannot see nor remember what the bottom looks like from its current lofty vantage. It’s a thing of wonder. The currency of the Post-Cyberpocalypse is Neo-shekels and Ecto-cooler is a healing item. I should also point out that this age is called the POST-CYBERPOCALYPSE! And yet it’s all so grounded in common story tropes and elements.

The music in this game is shockingly good. One of the songs was stolen wholesale from a Final Fantasy game but I’m of the understanding that the rest of it was made by Chef Boyardee. Even in the most mundane of circumstances the music accentuates the emotional impact of the scene — or is just incredibly metal.

The characters in this game are all so brilliantly realized. From Barkley’s dry, jaded, style to The Ultimate Hellbane’s art, poise, and seriousness everyone is their own creature, rarely limited to stereotype — I mean, the robot beeps and boops a lot like you’d expect a robot to.

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B-Ball has never been so fantasized… and it’s great.

The Kvetch

This game is actually shockingly long. So long that I think its drags a little bit. Maybe something could have been cut or something could have been tightened. I’m really digging to find something I don’t like here and this is all I’ve got.

The Verdict

This game is incredible on its own merits and what makes it even better is that it’s completely free. Tales of Games has a free download on their website that’s kept up to date and bug-free for every new edition of windows. I implore anyone out there who doesn’t hate turn based RPGs and could go for something dark and absurd to download Charles Barkley Shut up and Jam: Gaiden. And keep an eye out for its sequel 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 (Or TMRoTnnEfN7RoCTOGotMC2otHBS for short).

Next Episode: Bioshock 2: Minerva’s Den

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