Pop! You're Dead

Tim Latshaw | 19 Oct 2010 12:07
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In the original Kirby's Dream Land, before the pink puffball discovered his powers of transformative digestion, his "air pellet" attack was an integral part of his arsenal. "Air pellet" sounds substantial, but it's just a big gulp of air fired into an enemy's face, causing them to explode. It would be like your grandmother going to the optometrist and getting annihilated by the glaucoma test. Grabbing a mint leaf gives Kirby machine gun-like powers with his breath for when he has to take down an airship. It, also, must lead to some pretty tragic dating scenarios.


Attacks turn crazier the more intangible they become. One of the deadliest magnanimous forces in videogames by far is mankind's own good will and unity channeled into an ethereal weapon of mass destruction.

The Rhombulan invaders of Elite Beat Agents suffer at the hands of such a strange fate after the world bands together by, of all things, dancing to a Rolling Stones cover. The entire planet begins to glow blue with what can only be assumed is pure love and joy, all of which is gathered into one point and blasted into the Rhombulan mothership, decimating the race. Ironic? Absolutely. If only it didn't feel so good.

For some reason, we love ganging up on aliens this way. Giygas, the evil conqueror of EarthBound, is also defeated by the firepower of positive thinking. As Paula reaches out for help with her "Pray" command, the NPCs the group has influenced during its travels steadily join in prayer for their safety, resulting in exponentially ludicrous damage to the final boss. It's a uniquely reflective battle element that spreads the weight of the experience across the journey instead of placing it solely at the end, but you still have to accept the fact that a planet-consuming miasma of evil and chaos gets destroyed by the Ultimate Care Bear Stare.

Thankfully, most players do accept it, as they have accepted Bubble Lead, air pellets and, even today, armies of sentient plants battling the undead. Although the videogame market lies saturated with games focusing on more realistic forms of weaponry, developers and players still find a place, and even a longing appreciation, for bizarre offensives.

It's not as much of a disconnect between "cutesy" and "cool" as one may suspect. While graphics and stylization steadily mature, some concepts can be traced back to sillier core elements. Before Bayonetta was whipping her hair out, Dixie Kong and Shantae were splitting their ends across the faces of baddies. And while the "anything goes" weapons philosophy of Dead Rising plays out in gloriously gory detail, it owes a lot to the SNES and Genesis classic Zombies Ate My Neighbors, where squirt guns and soda cans were among the many improvisational arms.

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