Okay, so that's the overblown histrionics out of the way - it's nice to occasionally go over the top in letting you, the reader, know just how abysmal a game is, but I can't keep it up for long. Anger is so terribly draining.
This is a licensed cash-in job based ever-so-loosely on the first Wayne's World movie, which presents several stumbling blocks. The first is that I bloody love the Wayne's World movies, both of them, they're in my personal top-ten "best films ever" list, and to have those precious memories dragged across the stinking carcass of this game means that writing this article ended up being an almost perverse bout of self-flagellation.
Another problem is trying to figure out how the hell you could turn Wayne's World into a videogame. If you've never seen Wayne's World, go and watch it. Done that? Okay, now explain to me how you would adapt of the story of two rock-loving dorks who broadcast their own television show from their basement, especially given that ninety percent of the "plot" involves Wayne trying to impress Tia Carrere / counter the truly incredible power of Rob Lowe's smarm. personally, I'd have gone with a simulation-type game that focuses on the successful creation and broadcast of an episode of Wayne's World, maybe earning cash for better equipment through minigames like street hockey. Hey, that actually sounds pretty good! It's probably because I put an iota of thought into it, unlike Grey Matter. They just squeezed out an incredibly generic platformer. Before we get to that, though, let's have a cutscene to set the mood.
The intro starts with Wayne and Garth discussing the worst videogames they've played this week. I'm not making this up. They sit there saying "these games sure were shitty" knowing full well that the player will be hurled into one of the most awful 16-bit platformers ever created the moment this cutscene is over. I can only assume the developers realised they'd created a real stinker and included this scene with an knowing wink. The alternative is that they didn't spot the irony, and surely no-one is that oblivious.
The story is this - Wayne and Garth were somehow sucked into an arcade game, whereupon Garth was kidnapped by Zantar the Gelatinous Cube. A moment's hope flickered through me as I realised there was at least some connection to the movie - Zantar the Gelatinous Cube is mentioned in the film by arcade owner Noah Vanderhoff as a game that fleeces kids by being impossible to beat. Then that hope was snuffed as I realised hey, Garth's been kidnapped, which means I won't get to play as Garth. This is a damn shame, because Garth is the best. I feel a close affinity with him. We have similar dating techniques, for one thing.
Here we are then, presumably still trapped inside a videogame because Mike Myers' head is at least 70% larger than usual and there are murderous bagpipes swarming around my feet. Stage one is set in the music store from the movie, a fact I wasn't certain of until I noticed a "NO STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN" sign in the background. True fact - I've never seen a version of Wayne's World where Wayne actually plays Stairway to Heaven, it having always been replaced by a generic riff due to licensing issues, so it always made that shop assistant come across as a prick who didn't want Wayne playing anything at all. Screw you, guitar shop assistant.
Oh, so you've seen through my cunning plan to avoid talking about this game, have you? Okay, fine. Wayne's World is a platformer of the most basic kind, with one button to jump and another to strum your guitar. Playing the guitar makes it fire out sonic shockwaves, and that's your projectile weapon, so use it to kill the rowdy musical instruments that make up the first stage's foes. The developers managed to get these basic gameplay elements in place. They should have stopped there. Unfortunately for games-playing public, they did not.
Wayne's World gets a lot of things wrong, pretty much everything you could get wrong with a platformer in fact, but what makes it so famously crappy is that such an overwhelming amount of these flaws are dumped upon you within moments of starting the game, any faint glimmer of charm this game may have possessed instantly washed away in a tsunami of shite.
Firstly, the controls. They're floaty, they're loose, they seem purposely designed to make you run just that step too far and collide with an enemy every time you approach one. The controls work in concert with the vaguer-than-a-cut-price-psychic collision detection to give the impression that Wayne is so disgusted by his own videogame that he refuses to have any part of it, forever sliding through platforms he clearly should have landed on or dropping off edges that promised more solidity.
So getting around is a pain, but then so is figuring out where you're supposed to be getting to because every level in Wayne's World is set out as a labyrinth with no hints or markers as to where the hell you're supposed to be going. Also, blind jumps. So many blind jumps, with the screen set so close to Wayne's hydrocephalic noggin that you can barely see what's going on around you, particularly in the vertical plane. You'll drop down to a lower level, there will be an enemy down there and it will hurt you because you couldn't see the bloody thing.
At least you have your guitar ready to blast away the enemies, and it's... okay. It's the least frustratingly broken of all Wayne's World's gameplay elements, even if you can't use it while crouching. If you can get on the same plane as an enemy with falling onto it after a blind jump, then you can generally eliminate it with your guitar.
After ten minutes spent wandering through the music shop maze, I dropped into a nondescript room that seemed to be the same as all the others except it had Garth in it. Hi, Garth! I guess the game is over, then, Garth is rescued and we can all go back to starring in hugely successful movie franchises about grumpy-yet-loveable ogres. Well, one of us can. The other gets to star in The Master of Disguise.
Garth is immediately re-kidnapped by a large purple hand. After suffering through the first stage, I am inclined to let the hand keep him.
Alright, fine, I'll see what the second stage is like.
Hang on, isn't this where I started the game? Oh god, it's looping, I'm going to be trapped in here forever with oh wait, no, this bit is new.
And that's stage two. Just like the first stage but with some slightly different background details, Wayne has to struggle through the music shop in search of Garth. You find Garth in another rectangular section of the level that looks the same as every other rectangular section of the level. Garth is grabbed once more by the purple hand. For his part, Garth seems to be bearing all this with good humour, which is more than can be said for me.
Another stage that looks identical to the others, except now there's a cello that's trying to kill me. I'm trying to puzzle out the logic behind this game's concept, and I'm not getting very far. So Wayne is trapped inside an arcade game, but it's either an arcade game that's based on the music shop he often visits in real life, or the the game is assembling challenges plucked directly from Wayne's psyche? And Zantar the Gelatinous Cube really, really wants to kidnap Garth for some reason. That makes some sense, at least - with his long blonde hair and shy, delicate demeanour Garth isn't that far away from being a videogame princess anyway. Zantar has to take what he can get.
Then I found a boss. It's a guitar, I think, or at least it was once upon a time before the Bydo Empire got their hands on it and turned it into a floating death machine / righteous axe. It flies around the screen, taking pot-shots at you, although its main strategy is to simply hover nearby and hope that Wayne's sluggish controls will cause the two of you to collide. It's a decent strategy, but in the end I managed to prevail by climbing to the top of this phallic hi-fi stack and strumming away as hard as possible. Suddenly the idea that this is all coming from Wayne's psyche has taken a disturbing turn.
Between stages, Wayne and Garth will have a bit of banter that reads a lot like Wayne's World fanfiction. In this case they call each other dweebs for a while, until Wayne managed to elicit a genuine laugh from me by suddenly announcing a "shameless plug" for his movie. That smile was quickly erased when I realised what this plug was going to entail.
The most famous scene in Wayne's World is undoubtedly the one where the headbang to Bohemian Rhapsody, so it was a given that it was going to appear in the game somewhere, and here it is in all its two-frame glory. Hardly spectacular, but nothing too awful, you might think... but that's because you can't hear it, and this is something so incredible that you really have to experience it for yourself.
Wow. Just... wow. It's not that I'm lost for words, the words are there, it's just that I can't quite figure out how to combine them in a way to adequately express the true horror of this abomination. I'm left with only fragments, snatches of phrases, things like "sacrilegious" and "mankind's musical nadir" and "the sounds of two dot-matrix printers furiously copulating atop a leaky bouncy castle." Above all, you ask yourself why? Why would you do this?
I figured it out, though. It was a cunning piece of psychological trickery on Grey Matter's part, because in comparison to that, whatever comes next is going to seem like the elysian outpourings of a kind and generous deity.
Wayne's in a twisted version of Mikita's donut shop now, complete with Mr. Donut Men who are tying to kill you. Garth's Mr. Donut Man in the movie looked much more appetising than these ones. These ones have legs that look more like offal - deoxygenated lungs, maybe - than a sweet fried footstuff.
Each "world" follows the same basic pattern - find Garth, Garth gets kidnapped again, do another stage that looks almost identical to the previous stages of this world, repeat until you find the boss / your will to live is completely drained.
It's extremely faint praise indeed, but I will admit that that coffee shop world is the least frustratingly awful of the bunch. The stages are a little more open, there are fewer (but still plentiful) blind jumps and it's a little more obvious where you're going. Plus, these evil coffee cups kinda look like Beavis so that's a plus.
Mental note - watch the episode of Beavis & Butthead where Beavis drinks all the coffee and becomes a beat poet later.
What you will notice after any amount of time spent playing Wayne's World is just how incredibly slow it is. Not Wayne's movements, because he can get about at a fair clip, but in that if you want to stay alive you have to inch forward slowly, oh-so-slowly, trying to lure the enemies into the range of your guitar because it's very easy to lose all your health when you can't see where the enemies are and the game's mechanics are seemingly insistent on driving you to an early grave through frustration-based self-mutilation. There's no freedom, no pleasure in movement and no satisfaction in learning how to defeat the enemies in front of you, just a tired inch-forward-and-chip-away approach that makes Bubsy seem like Sonic the Hedgehog.
The boss is a syrup-vomiting donut snake, an interesting concept that is genuninely close to being well-implemented but ultimately devolves into the standard "walk around his attacks and shoot" pattern. It might seem like laziness on my part to describe it this way, but that's really all there is to say about any of the bosses in this game - just avoid them. They want to rub up against you, but don't let them and you'll eventually win.
That's the coffee shop completed, so that means it's time for a between-worlds interlude. Say, remember that bit in the movie where Wayne pulls up alongside a wealthy-looking gentlemen, winds down his window and ask if he has any, oh, what was it again?
Ah yes, MUSTARD. Good old brand-free MUSTARD, chosen for it's many fine qualities and certainly not because we couldn't get the license to use the name Grey Poupon and thus keep the goddamn joke intact. Now Wayne just looks like a crazy person, stopping old men at traffic intersections and asking them for condiments.
Pictured: the face of a sane, well-balanced individual.
World three takes place inside the Gasworks nightclub, because why not? We're running out of locations from the movie already. It plays the same as all the other levels only ramped up a notch, your progress hindered by Wayne's oblivious ex-girlfriend Stacy and the fact that every square inch of floor in this bloody place is covered in time-release pyrotechnics.
You know how I was complaining about the game being too slow earlier? Well, you might be shocked to learn that covering every available surface with jets of flame that you have to wait to subside before you can progress has not done much to speed up the gameplay flow. As I waited, for what felt like the nine hundreth time, for a flame to sputter out enough for me to walk past it without taking damage, I started to wonder about the great men and women of history and what they had done with their lives by the time they were my age. Everything went grey for a while, and I woke up several hours later in just my boxers, scratches all over my body, twigs and leaves in my hair and a raging headache. I'm okay now, though. Wayne's World can't hurt me any more.
Not that it'll stop trying, of course. If it's not the laboured Beatles puns, like this beetle with a Beatle cut (you see what they did there?) or the yellow submarine that keeps trying to kill Wayne, it's the relentless grind of the voice clips forcing you to question just how much you really need your ears, I mean really, wouldn't you just be better just ripping them off with your bare hands and cramming the squishy cartilage into your ear canals? Stacy is bad enough, squawking "Hi Wayne!" each time you go near her, but the real pain comes from the fact that each time you collect a power-up Wayne says "excellent!" and each hit makes him say "NOT!" Excellent? Yeah, I can live with that, getting a power-up is pretty excellent (except in this game they mostly just make your guitar fire slightly differently), but "NOT!"? That makes no sense. Who are you saying "not" too? All the evidence is pointing towards Wayne Campbell suffering a nervous breakdown and retreating into a fantasy land of killer coffee cups and floor-mounted flames.
This has mostly been a quick overview, but here's a specific piece of Wayne's World's design that is so bafflingly atrocious that I felt it was important to describe it fully. As you can see, Wayne is standing on the bar. The bar is a platform. That's simple enough. Then there's the stool, which when jumped on acts like a spring and propels Wayne high into the air. Can you see what the problem is? That's right, the gap you need to hop into between the bar and the stool is extremely narrow and you will almost certainly just keep ending up on the bar until the game's fickle hit detection declares "close enough" and the stool fires you upwards. Why? Why would you design it this way? It's so pointless, so bafflingly, needlessly awkward, so utterly shit that it seems to have been done for the sole purpose of making me, me personally, very angry. It's definitely working.
The boss has soothed me a little, because it's Robot Elvis and really, how far wrong can you go with that as your guiding concept? Pretty far wrong, it turns out - the developers thought it would be fun to have the Robo-King say "Mmm, jelly donuts, mmm, jelly donuts" on an endless loop throughout the entire fight. You can't see this, but I'm shrugging in a "I have no goddamn idea" kind of way. My brain has given up trying to fathom out the thinking behind the decisions of this game's programmers. It's as though it were created by an alien race who's only knowledge of videogames were what they had learned from intercepting 1990's SNES commercials.
It's time for another between-stage cutscene, joy of joys, and here's one that anybody who has seen the movie will remember. Wayne is pulled over by a cop, who turns out to be Robert Patrick reprising his role as the T-1000 from Terminator 2. He asks Wayne if he's "seen this boy," showing him a photograph of John Connor. Wayne screams, drives away, laughs are had.
Now, if you've been following this article closely, you'll probably be wondering just how the developers managed to bollocks this one up. Oh, don't worry, they found a way.
The more astute amongst you may have noticed that this is not Robert Patrick. It is Garth. Robert Patrick's agent should be commended for keeping him well away from this piece of garbage, but once again you're left wondering why - why, if you knew you couldn't get permission to use Patrick's likeness, did you forge ahead anyway and not use any other scene from the movie where the gag isn't based entirely around the unexpected appearance of Robert Patrick? I'm afraid I can't answer that. I'm as baffled as you are.
Alright then, here's the final world. It appears to be Wayne's neighbourhood, or at least a warped, dreamlike version where Salvador Dali sorted out the planning permission and Barbie decorated all the houses.
I can't promise that, mysterious signpost.
Mercifully, this world is much shorter than the others, and if you've become sufficiently inured to the bizarre logic of the Wayne's World game then you won't have much trouble getting through it. Well, okay, so there are some bits that might throw you, like that tree on the right of the screen. You see that tree? The one that's clearly in the foreground? Yeah, you can't walk past it. I have no idea why not, and I'm way past caring.
It took the entire game to find him, but there is at least one enemy in the game that's based on a character from the film (unless you count Mr. Donut Man) and it's the guy who demonstrates his vacuum-powered hair-cutting machine on Wayne's show. Yes, it was definitely worth the wait.
After what feels like a geological age but was only a couple of hours, Wayne finally catches up with Zantar the Gelatinous Cube. He's not even a cube. Gray Matter couldn't even get that right.
It's a simple battle - Zantar's only move is to jump from one side of the screen to the other, raining down the occasional ball of goop - and all you need to do is to be patient and shoot Zantar when he opens his eye. Do that a few times and Garth will be saved and we can forget this whole thing ever happened.
Jesus, Garth, what exactly did Zantar do to you? You know what, don't answer that. I've had enough mental anguish for one day.
So that's Wayne's World. The ending consists of Wayne and Garth going through a couple of top-ten lists including "things that make you want to hurl" and "top ten babes," the latter of which admittedly got a chuckle from me by including "Garth's mom" as number three.
Thank heavens that's over. There's a reason that Wayne's World regularly features on "worst games ever" lists, and that reason is that it's really bad. Abysmally bad, worse even than most licensed platformers and that's saying something. For top to bottom there isn't a single thing this game gets right - the graphics are cluttered and ugly, the noises it makes - I hesitate to call it "music" in case Trading Standards come round - are somehow simultaneously punishing and forgettable, the controls are gummy, blind jumps make up eighty percent of the gameplay and the rest is getting lost in the needlessly confusing stages. On top of all that it's Wayne's World, something I dearly love, so to see it abused like this is extra-painful. Did it retroactively make me like the movies less? No, of course not - if that could happen, I'd have burned my copy of Silent Hill 2 after seeing the movies. But the hurt is there, just the same.
I think it best to give Wayne himself the final word on this one. What did you think of Wayne's World for the SNES, Wayne?
Well said, my good man, well said.