Today I’ll be writing about Radical Entertainment’s 1993 Game Boy version of Wayne’s World. I could cover it accurately and appropriately by simply having the text of this article be “it’s an excellent game. NOT!!” However, I suppose I should probably cover the whole thing for… some reason? Look, I’m as confused as you are about why I keep doing this to myself.
We all know about Wayne’s World the movie, right? It tells the story of two rock-loving doofi (doofi is the plural of doofus, right?) named Wayne and Garth who run a public access TV show out of their basement. Their show gets picked up by a TV network, Wayne falls in love and almost manages to bollocks both of these things up through jealousy and paranoia. Alice Cooper is in it, so you know it’s good. It’s one of my all-time favourite movies, so it’s a shame that all the games based on it are both bogus and sad.
Long-time VGJunk readers may remember that a few years ago I wrote about the SNES version of Wayne’s World. That game was, and remains, one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had with a 16-bit platformer – a joyless, punishing slog through a series of ghastly mazes that reached a stunning nadir with a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody so bad I’m surprised Freddie Mercury’s ghost didn’t fly down from his opulent heavenly pleasure palace and batter whoever created it into a coma. Well, the good news is that the Game Boy Wayne’s World is not the same game as the SNES version. The bad news is that it’s still a low-effort side-scrolling platformer cobbled together by a lesser developer from source material that really isn’t suitable for a videogame conversion.
Before we get to the gameplay, though, there’s an intro of sorts where we’re introduced to Wayne (on the left, with the RoboCop visor where his eyes should be) and Garth (on the right). Unlike the SNES game, where the plot involved Garth being kidnapped by an arcade game, in the Game Boy version (and the almost identical NES version) the plot loosely follows the plot of the movie. Very loosely, I should add. Anyway, we begin with Wayne’s dream – that one day he’ll make his living getting paid for doing Wayne’s World. In the movie he ends this reverie by saying “yeah right, and monkeys might fly out of my butt,” but as this is appearing on the family-friendly Nintendo platforms of the 1990s, the text simply cuts off before it reaches the word “butt.” With the morals of the world’s children thus protected, we can get into the action.
The first stage takes place in a music store that caters specifically to a clientèle of giants, if the size of those drums are anything to go by. There are two surprises here: one is that you start out playing as Garth rather than Wayne, and this other is that Garth has a gun. I can only assume this is inspired by the scene in the movie where Garth electrocutes a large man at a rock concert, but it still seems weird to be playing as the usually mild-mannered Garth while he goes on a gun-toting rampage.
One look at these screenshots should let you know exactly what kind of game Wayne’s World is – generic platforming action with the occasional enemy to shoot, with sprites that are too big to comfortably manoeuvre around the Game Boy’s dinky little screen. To be fair, you probably would have figured that out without seeing the screenshots once I told you there was a Wayne’s World Game Boy game.
Early impressions are not good. Garth moves with the grace of a hungover elephant, his movements feeling heavy and laboured even when he’s doing nothing more strenuous that crouching to fire his gun at a low-flying attack cymbal. A lot of this stage takes place on top of drums that work as trampolines, and they were what made me really worry for the rest of the game. The thing is, you can bounce on them but you can’t bounce in place and you always move forward a little. This feels straight up wrong, because that’s not how trampolines work in almost every other videogame ever made. It’s a bit like returning to your home and grabbing the door handle only to realise that your front door is already unlocked: it’s an omen of terrible things to come.
The first stage is a short one, and soon you reach the second area. It’s also the music shop, but now you’re playing as Wayne. Did Wayne and Garth split up to cover more ground or something? Anyway, Wayne controls the same as Garth – that is, like a sack of depressed rocks – and he’s also fighting hordes of killer musical instruments, but unlike Garth, Wayne does not have a gun. Instead he kicks things, and it’s bloody awful. Obviously the range is much shorter and that’s a bad start, and the collision detection is poor too. In top of that, whenever you kick (and especially if you’re crouching) Wayne poses in such a way that suggests he’s presenting his backside for inspection. Maybe he’s hoping monkeys really will fly out of it. I’m only about three minutes into the game and anything to enliven proceedings would already be more than welcome, so let’s hope that happens at some point.
The usual range of power-ups make an appearance, including extra lives, heath refills, icons that give you more time and ones that power up your attacks. In Garth’s case this makes his gun fire more bullets. For Wayne, it forces him to spin around while he’s kicking, making it more difficult to hit things. Maybe the next power up will cause his legs to drop off. At least then I wouldn’t have to do any of the platforming.
There’s a boss! I kinda wasn’t expecting one, to be honest. It’s a snake made from… I was going to say “made from vinyl records,” but that’s clearly not the case. Vinyl records tend not to be split into two semicircular halves. It would make it very difficult for them to stay on the turntable, for one thing. Whatever this thing’s made of, it fires one segment at a time towards Wayne. If he kicks it, it’s destroyed. If he misses, the “record” floats back over and rejoins the snake. This pattern is repeated until you’ve destroyed all the segments, which is easier said than done when Wayne’s kicks have such a short range and the records move in unpredictable patterns. The real fight here is against the timer – if you neglected to collect any of the time increase icons there’s a real chance you’ll lose this fight simply because you ran out of time. The timer actually meaning something is another surprising thing about Wayne’s World, because I’d say that in ninety-nine percent of the videogames I’ve ever played that have a timer it’s basically there as decoration and not a genuine threat. And yet, the inclusion of the timer is pointless. Trust me, I was going to get through this game as fast as I could even without the clock nagging me.
Next up is Mikita’s donut shop, and it’s a weird one. There are no enemies, no bottomless pits and it’s only a couple of screens long. It’s just Wayne, some shop counters and fifteen seconds to grab as many donuts as you can. What do the donuts do? Give you a little health, and some points. Oh, that’s another odd thing about this game: you don’t start with a full health bar. Nope, you begin the game with about fifty percent of your health missing. That is just bizarre, a design decision so strange it genuinely feels like someone entered the wrong starting value when they were coding the bloody thing.
There might be a special reward for collecting all the donuts in this stage, but I wouldn’t know because I never managed to grab them all. Is this because I’m crap as videogames? Possibly, but it’s more to do with the fact that Wayne seems very reluctant to actually collect the bloody things. Many was the time I managed to rub Wayne’s head or torso across a donut only for it to remain resolutely uncollected, and after some experimentation it seems that the hitbox for picking up donuts only exists between Wayne’s shins and his upper thighs.
Between stages, Wayne and Garth decide to visit the Gasworks nightclub, where they can see such bands as the Jolly Green Giants and The Lousy Beatles. Wait, the Lousy Beatles? Boo. In the movie (and in my article about Rockstar Ate My Hamster) they’re called The Shitty Beatles, and that’s my favourite fake band name of all time. I know they couldn’t use the word “shitty” in a Game Boy release from 1993, but it’s still disappointing.
When I began the Gasworks stage I did not expect it to be Donkey Kong, but here’s Garth climbing up some metal girders while a large ape (of a man) throws barrels at him. However, unlike Nintendo’s ape-bashing classic, it’s not any fun. Making Garth jump in any situation is an exercise in frustration, and when you can’t see where the barrels are coming from things only get worse.
At the entrance to the club itself, Wayne gets punched right in the mouth by a man who presumably paid to see The Love Guru and has some unresolved anger as a result. Yes, we’re into a portion of the game that focusses on combat, and it feels like the monkey’s paw-style result of wishing for less platforming. Wayne’s standing kick has just about the same range as the enemies’ punches and they almost always seem to get their attacks in first, so all you can really do to win is to drop into a buttock-exposing crouch and repeatedly use your crouching kicks. This has the effect of making Wayne look a bit like a dog that’s trying to chew its own hind leg, but it offers the only real way to get through the stage without losing all your health.
Also, large portions of this nightclub are on fire. In a literal burning sense, it’s not the hottest joint in town or anything. Okay, yes, in terms of temperature it’s the hottest joint in town because it’s on fire. Who is the fire marshal in Aurora, Illinois, and why haven’t they been fired yet? Hah, “fired.”
Inside the Gasworks, Wayne first lays his eyes on Cassandra, lead singer of Crucial Taunt and Wayne’s love interest. In the movie, Cassandra is played by Tia Carrere, and here’s today’s bit of VGJunk trivia: I cannot see or hear Tia Carrere without immediately hearing Crow T. Robot saying “Tia Carrere? We may have to pay attention” from the Zombie Nightmare episode of Mystery Science 3000. That’s a good episode, you should watch it.
As for Cassandra, she’s got a strange stage routine where she holds her left leg out horizontally and plays it like a guitar, as you can see above. Go on, admit it, just for a second you thought that was what was happening in that screenshot, didn’t you? I know I did, and it took me an embarrassingly long time to realise she was actually holding a guitar. So long, Cassandra. We won’t be seeing you again in this game.
Then it’s the donut shop again, because sure, why not. It was so much fun last time, after all. Okay, so I did need the extra health after being pummelled by the club’s bouncers, but couldn’t you have at least changed the background or the position of the donuts a little rather than reusing the exact same stage?
Now we’re out on the city streets, and the developers seem to have become as tired of this game as I have, judging by the fact they’ve stopped bothering with anything like level design. The platforming was bad, but at least it was something – this stage is a just a flat plane and the occasional crate, with Garth walking through the streets while being attacked by whatever these weirdos are supposed to be. Are they ninjas? I think they might be ninjas. There was that scene in the movie where Wayne opens a door to a room full of ninja types training, so I’m going to assume that’s where the inspiration came from. That doesn’t explain why they’re trying to kick Garth’s head in, mind you, unless Radical Entertainment were working from an early version of the movie’s script that included a cut scene explaining how Garth is the daimyo of an ancient Japanese clan. Whatever the case, I’m just glad I’m doing this section as Garth. If you need to fight a ninja, a gun is a good thing to have on your side.
After yet another trip to the donut shop, Wayne and Garth decide that it’s time to wrest control of their television show back from the slimy executive that they sold it to. They seem to think that simply getting the contracts (and presumably destroying them) will be enough to accomplish this, but then you wouldn’t expect Wayne and Garth to have an in-depth knowledge of contract law.
Their mission begins, appropriately, in the television studio. Man, that door marked “EXIT” is looking mighty tantalising. Anyway, the gameplay has returned to what it was at the start of the game, with platforms dropped in place seemingly at random and swarms of roaming enemies that give the action all the flow of oatmeal with added concrete. The TV screens come to life and attempt to kill Wayne while he fends them off with his ineffectual kicks, jumping still feels heavy and bloated and the worst thing is it’s an improvement on the last couple of stages.
Okay, so the bit where you have to crouch-kick some slow-moving electric worms isn’t any better than the other stages, but not to worry – it gets worse.
Wayne’s World reaches its absolute lowest point with the next couple of areas. At first it seems like business as usual: bland grey background, generic platforming, that kind of thing, but there are a few twists. There are no enemies about, which sounds like a blessing but somehow managed to make things even more boring. The goal is to get from one door to another door, with the target door being placed directly above the door you start at. Of course you can’t simply jump straight up there, oh no – you have to walk all the way to one end of the stage, climb up at that end and then travel back to the beginning while making sure not to fall though any gaps because if you do you’ll have to start over again.
As if that wasn’t tedious enough – and it really, really was – these stages also have a gimmick where the lights turn off sometimes and you have to walk past a lightbulb to turn them back on. So, you’re making your way through an intensely boring platforming segment where one slip-up means having to do it again, and sometimes you’re doing it in pitch darkness. Oh, and there’s a fairly strict time limit. Now it makes sense that this game was developed by a company called Radical Entertainment, because it was a radical decision not to include any entertainment in this videogame.
This goes on for more than one stage, too, and I’m struggling to convey just how unflinchingly, agonisingly boring it is, so boring that it moves beyond being merely not entertaining and into painful territory. Videogames are bad for all kinds of reasons – lack of time or budget or care, inexperienced programmers, outside demands – but these Wayne’s World stages are one of the relatively rare times when you think to yourself “did nobody play this before release?” It defies explanation that people making a videogame which was presumably intended to be fun would include these stages.
Things are a smidgen more interesting (although not much more fun to actually play) in the final stages, which see Wayne climbing the outside of a building so he can beat up Benjamin, the aforementioned slimy executive who stole his show. When I said this game was loosely based on the movie, I meant loosely. Once again we’re back to the “regular” style of gameplay, but with a twist: it’s supposedly “mega windy” out here, which in gameplay terms means that Wayne jumps much further from left to right (with the wind at his back) than he does from right to left. It might have been nice if the developers had included something to remind the player of this fact, a “blowing wind” sound effect or an animation of some leaves floating by, but of course they did not. As a result, you will lose lives as a result of forgetting about the wind and jumping too far / not far enough.
There are also a lot of cats getting in your way during this stage. The cats themselves are a pain in the arse, but I do like their sprites, at least. They look nicely vicious and vaguely demonic, although their inclusion does mean I will forever think of Wayne’s World for the Game Boy as “that game where Mike Myers kicks cats in the face.”
Eventually I made it to the game’s final boss and yes, it is Benjamin, as played in the movie by Rob Lowe. Benjamin has a little animation where he shrugs off his jacket before the fight starts, which is quite possibly the only moment of quality in the entire game.
As for the battle, it’s a straight-up fight between Wayne and Benjamin. Where the hell is Garth? He kinda disappeared from the game around the midway point, which is a shame because having a gun here would be extremely useful. Benjamin likes to attack with lots of difficult-to-avoid flying kicks. Running away certainly doesn’t help you to avoid them, as you can see above. However, I did manage to get close enough to duck under one of them once. Benjamin sailed over Wayne’s head, landed behind him and was then seemingly unable to turn around, allowing me to repeatedly kick him in the back until I won.
Except I didn’t win – Benjamin ran away, so I had to chase him down and then fight him again. Then he ran away for a second time, making this boss fight the same boss fight three times. Benjamin takes off his jacket before every round of the fight, by the way, so maybe he kept running away because he was getting chilly and he needed a coat.
I didn’t manage to get him to jump over me in the last two bouts, but I did figure out that with some expert timing you can walk forward, kick him in the chest and repeat to essentially stunlock him. I was more than happy to do that, and once I had the game was over. Would you like to see the ending? No, you wouldn’t, but I’m going to show it to you anyway.
That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Just so we’re clear, I did not add the movement to this GIF. When you finish the game, all you get is a heavily-digitised monochrome portrait of Mike Myers that vibrates as though he’s just had his genitals wired up to a car battery. There’s no ending that could have made up for the dismal experience of playing through this game, but the ending it does offer feels like one last slap in the face.
Wayne’s World for the Game Boy is a joyless shambles, an ugly mess of incredibly boring platforming and awkward, jerky combat. But is it better than the SNES version? I would say yes, but only because there’s less of it. Getting kicked in the balls is preferable to being kicked in the balls twenty times by an ornery mule, you know what I mean? But seriously folks, this game is terrible and you should avoid it at all costs. As a final insult, it even features a terrible rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody at the end - but fortunately it sounds so little like the original song at least it can't ruin the Queen classic for you.
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