You can learn a lot from a dummy! (YouTube script)

Click here for the video version

Inclusiveness in gaming has come a long way since the early days of brash muscled warrior protagonists parading about in a loincloth, wielding a glistening steely blade of death and destruction. Recent government legislation has really turned the tide when it comes to accurately reflecting in video games the reality of modern society. It explains why we can now blast aliens into oblivion playing as an autistic albino lesbian dwarf giraffe with Tourettes.

Is that true? It probably is. I’ll do some research later. Anyway, let’s not get sidetracked by silly things like the truth.

By snapping up the license to produce a game based on The Incredible Crash Test Dummies way back in 1994, Virgin were considered trailblazers in the field of boundary-pushing diversity.

You play as one half of the road safety awareness double-act stooges, Slick and Spin, in a semi-educational-ish quest to rescue your science boffin creator, Dr Zub. In a devious plot to unravel the secret inner workings of his T9000 indestructible, robotic torso invention the dummy’s arch-nemesis, Junkman, kidnaps their mentor with a view to duplicating the technology to forge an unstoppable, pliable drone army. Obviously the ultimate goal is to take over the world… as you do when you’re at a loose end and there’s nowt on’t telly box.

With tag team partner, Spin, hanging back at the crash test centre to guard their homestead, Slick sets off to rescue the prof. All typical fayre for a ’90s platformer, except prosthetic limbs serve as our hit points. With every assault we loose one until we’re nothing but a shuffling quadriplegic, inexplicably bounding about on an abdomen stump like Arnie’s irrepressible T-800 from the first Terminator movie.

Sending a clear message that having no arms or legs needn’t hold us back in life, we’re no worse off without them. We vault about the levels unimpeded as if nothing unusual is afoot. In any case, our predicament is only temporary – collect a spanner and we’re instantly restored to our wholesome self with a full cache of energy.

I won’t say much more because all that will be covered in my upcoming article on the various incarnations of the game for the SNES, Mega Drive and Amiga. They’re generally interchangeable, except for your right to go lawn bowling in the construction zone. You did hear me correctly. Yes, lawn bowling, the sport that involves rolling biased balls across a manicured green in an effort to bring them to a halt as close as possible to a target ball known as a ‘jack’ or ‘kitty’. Although I don’t know what that skittle is doing there – that’s part of ten pin bowling, not lawn bowling.

Either way, this is strictly forbidden in the SNES and Mega Drive edition, yet of course, we free-thinking Amigans are at liberty to bowl to our heart’s content. The developers knew we couldn’t be subdued with feeble prohibition orders so they were erased from the signs, leaving an empty void on which to project our own life-affirming aphorisms. Like, erm… erm…

How about “The finite mind tries to limit the infinite”? as Toba Beta once decreed.

Or “We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are”? Max DePree’s thought-provoking words of wisdom I believe.

You know, I really thought this was going somewhere when I started. I was wrong. Soz. Why are those signs different between versions?

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