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100 Games, 100 Haiku: Part Two (26 - 50)
by Greg Mengel

Did you guys hear that Kanye West is coming out with a complete haiku album, "Seventeen Syllables of My Soul" later this year? Jay-Z actually challenged him to a fierce haiku December rap battle in response. They're calling it "Basho and Butterbeer: Christmas Gladiator Sh**t". All ticket proceeds go to help Japanese tsunami victims learn how to compete in organised rap battles. It's going to change the way we think about music, poetry, and life. You didn't hear about that? No? That's probably because it never happened. Kanye West will never write an all-haiku album, nor will he meet Jay-Z for an epic, Christmas-themed haiku duel.

Haiku gets no respect.

We at GGTL are doing our part to make haiku chic again. Last week we unveiled twenty-five of one-hundred video game haiku, covering a wide array of topics including Fox McCloud's need for psychiatric relationship evaluation, anti-liche racism (lichism), and the unforgivably low number of games in which protagonists make orgasmic noises whilst eating dead crab. Picking up where we left off, here are twenty five more usually irreverent, seldom philosophical, always enjoyable video game haiku for your entertainment.

26: Fallout 3

flying teddy bear
hurling at behemoth's face
cuddly blood explode

A friend of mine (one of these guys) called me over to his house once to see something beautiful. He and a fellow gamer had whittled the health of a Super Mutant Behemoth (the colossal monstrosity seen above) down to a sliver. They then took a deep breath, smirked, and used their Rock-it-launcher to impale the wounded giant with ...a teddy bear.

The explosion of plush fur, button eyes, and entrails that followed will forever live gloriously in my memory.

27: Resident Evil

at seven years old
zombies chased me through the halls
...i was just a boy!

Yes, I was among the silent masses scarred for life by Resident Evil as a child. There should be support groups for that.

Years later I faced my fears with the GameCube remake. Finally... the healing began.

28: Dead Rising

with right hand, a swing
six-string crushing zombie skulls
Jamba Juice in left

Despite its head-scratching mechanics and the infuriating need to DIE FIFTEEN TIMES BEFORE YOU CAN GET PAST THE FIRST TWENTY MINUTES OF THE GAME, the concept of Dead Rising is a tip of the hat to George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, that king of classic horror films - and for that alone it should be applauded.

29: Pokemon Snap

charizards mating
how's the size? wow! enormous!
sixteen-hundred points

Yep, a Charizard mating haiku. For more classy writing, bookmark and visit us again at Gamer's Guide to A serious enquiry: when two Charizards mate, do they birth another Charizard, or a Charmander? Or a Charmeleon? Someone ask Professor Oak.

30: Final Fantasy Legend II

damn you, Apollo
hardest boss in Squaresoft lore
never eat the meat

I'm not sure why more people don't reference these games. Released for the original brick of a Gameboy during the early 90s, they (in many ways) were the first serious handheld RPGs. Imagine Final Fantasy classic, only in black-and-white, with a handful of laudable new features, like the "Eat the Meat!" function, in which monsters would drop their... well, flesh, I guess... after each battle, at which point, for whatever ridiculous reason, your characters would discuss amongst themselves whether to eat that raw, still-warm carcass. Doing so would turn your character into some kind of monster - some hugely powerful and advantageous, others completely useless.

It was a gamble, but added a fun element of variety to an otherwise overly predictable design.

31: Final Fantasy Legend III

soaring overhead
a talon tearing skyward
still don't eat the meat

Final Fantasy III introduced the gaming world to the Talon, quite possibly the most badass airship of all time. Unlike many airships in the Final Fantasy series, the Talon was actually useful to gameplay, in that you could upgrade it, specialise its abilities, and then call on it in battle as a summon. Basically, it's the Millenium Falcon of gaming. Add an amazing 8-bit theme and you have a recipe for one of the most memorable RPG experiences of all time.

32: Kirby's Dream Land

perpetual suck
[insert cliché herpes joke]
it had to be done

Yeah, I know; Kirby's venereal disease jokes have been done to death. Still, I can't think of Kirby without being reminded of the constant and frightening danger of oral STDs in a society that encourages us to put our mouths on everything, so my haiku creation process kept coming back to that. Moving on...

33: Mario Kart 64

super social game
hours spent by everyone
must choose Yoshi first

When I was in college, I would sometimes run a social experiment wherein I wedged my door open, faced my television towards the hallway, put my three extra N64 controllers on display, and played Mario Kart 64. The results were undeniable - I'd have a nerdy party going in five minutes. Everyone who was a kid during the 1990s knows this game, and loves it, and thinks they will kick every other 1990s kid's ass at it. It's a beautiful thing, really; if ever there was a game to solidify all gamers under one banner of friendship, Mario Kart 64 would be it.

34: Halo: Combat Evolved

war against the flood
Starship Troopers, H. G. Wells
legacies ancient

Halo gets a lot of flack for being a mindless, shallow FPS pool, waded into by a million frat boy douchebags named 'Troy', or 'Hunter', or 'Lance', but that's not a fair assessment. The first title in the franchise that made the Xbox a viable console competitor was a genuinely fantastic game. It had innovative gameplay, a suspenseful storyline, deep characters, and no online multiplayer, which meant that friends could casually get together and play without fear of getting teabagged by a thirteen year old screaming "Do you like me now, bitches?!?!" with cracking pubescent tones into his allowance-budget MadCatz microphone. It was a better time, before...

35: Halo 2

no such thing as pride
frat boy crouching on your face
Mars weeps for us all

Playing Halo 2 online was an almost frightening experience. As far as skill went, it was great; with worldwide challengers to test themselves against, players were getting better, thinking more quickly, and becoming truly talented. They were also, unfortunately, becoming idiotically consumed by and obsessed with the fire of competition. I played Halo 2 online now and then, but I always ran into him. Or him. Or him. There were just too many of 'that guy'.

36: Windows Solitaire

hate hate hate this game
take it off my OS, Bill
leave SkiFree alone

To read a full post on why playing Solitaire helps the Communists win, read this.

37: Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magic Obscura

elf taking the train
hides his head as people stare
longing for the trees

Conceptually, Arcanum is my favourite RPG ever made. Its setting is an island which echoes western history in many ways, with a mystical twist. Imagine a land based off of Dungeons and Dragons, or anything written by R. A. Salvatore, in which many centuries have passed, and technology has advanced to the point of the industrial revolution. Magic still exists, and is still extremely powerful, but it clashes fiercely with technology, creating an aura of distrust between magic users (who typically live in mystical settings such as ancient forests, necromantic crypts, etc.) and those who embrace technology (large, industrialised cities, mines, lumber yards, etc.).

While elves receive huge magical advances, their mere presence will often destroy the machinations of a technological device, causing train engines to overheat, or repeater rifles to jam. Dwarves, inversely, often cause magical potions to sour, or fiery summons to simply dissipate. Mix that with a varied cultural and geographic landscape that covers such varied, interesting topics as half-orc railroad worker unionisation and labour rights, or elven ecoterrorism against corporate lumberjacks just trying to earn an honest living, and you've got one of the coolest, most intriguing settings that gaming has ever seen.

With better graphics, this game would have become legendary. With that in mind, it's one of the few titles that I would love an HD remake of. The world of Arcanum has too much potential to pass into the annals of game history just yet.

38: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Lon Lon Ranch sunset
Death Mountain shielding the sun
sombre tune to play

Nothing more needs to be said about this Miyamoto masterpiece. It is, unarguably, one of the richest, most memorable video games of all time.

39: Mario Galaxy

soaring through the stars
gravity? thou art mine bitch
do not play while high

Those with a history of: vertigo; seizures; epilepsy; nausea; high blood pressure; heart, back, or neck problems; motion sickness; or fear of flying from planet to planet as an Italian man with red overalls and a moustache - you should not ride Mario Galaxy.

40: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

scientists who say
whales cannot soar 'mid clouds
gentlemen? this game

I'm not sure what makes a flying whale so hilarious and generally appealing, but I love 'em. Even stranger is the concept of airships whaling in the sky. The problem would be catching them once they are disabled. Can you imagine a freshly-harpooned flying whale plummeting ten thousand feet, ultimately crashing with a breen, blubber, and meat-filled explosion on top of some guy's new car, just after he's told his wife "Now that we have that new Sedan, I'll be able to drive to work, and we'll finally have the money to send little Billy to college without farming out our valuable organs to Black Market buyers in Thailand"? Me neither.

Flying whales aside, Link's Awakening is a great example of a Zelda spin-off game done right.

41: Oregon Trail

hunting buffalo
shot eight-thousand pounds of meat
only brought home twelve

Spend last twenty dollars to buy medicinal cholera elixer for Hope (Y/N)?


Spend last twenty dollars on rifle and oxcart full of bullets (Y/N)?


Hope has died of cholera. I guess she didn't like buffalo meat.

42: Red Dead Redemption

here, the dying West
father, son, and holy ghost
this is a nice spot

A few short sentences of paragraphs is not enough to sum up the powerful setting and story of this game. Read more of our thoughts on it here.

43: Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

Seth's made some new friends
'pocalypse and rapture nigh
undead to the end

Simply put, the best DLC yet made. Read more here.

44: H.E.D.Z.

schizophrenic kids
really should not play this game
seizures will be had

The plot of H.E.D.Z. is simple: you are an alien fighting in a grand extraterrestrial colosseum, called a 'Head Extreme Destruction Zone', against other aliens who wear powerful masks, known simply as 'heads'. These heads, taken from abducted humans, imbue you with the powers of their former owners in hundreds of ridiculous ways. Your Army Soldier head, for example, will allow you to shoot other aliens with machine guns, while your MIG Pilot head will allow you to fly a Russian MIG, bombing competitors from the sky. It's hard to describe just how random and non sequitur this game is without showing you directly.

File this with the Arcanum in the 'games that I definitely wouldn't mind being remade in HD' folder. Well, not in the same folder, but in a lesser, similar folder.

45: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

mutant time warp love
pirates, cyborgs, wounded knee
let's do it again

Games like this make me miss the arcade. Four friends, more quarters than any parent wants to relinquish, and hours of fun getting to mythical last bosses. Turtles in Time was one of the best from that era.

46: Tetris

man inside the game
taunts me with a squiggly piece
L would win the day

People say this game is actually an intense metaphor for the roller coaster good-to-bad eras of Russian history. I don't know any of them, but they say that.

47: Mega Man X

purple boba fett
animal kingdom robots
'cept for Kuwanger

What parent names his or her robot invention "Boomer Kuwanger" and expects it not to be made fun of by the other cyborgs? And what is Boomer Kuwanger supposed to be? All the other Maverick bosses in Mega Man X correspond to some kind of animal (Chill Penguin, Flame Mammoth, Spark Mandrill, et cetera). The only animal I can see Boomer Kuwanger being reminiscent of is some sort of red, evil, slimmed-down jumping ninja bison. Watch this. Now contrast it with this. It just doesn't make any sense.

48: Fat Princess

the all-cake diet
eat for your country, eat true
feasts protect this house

This game does the impossible, in that it reminds me of Catherine the Great while not referencing a horse.

49: Gears of War

gentleman's co-op
cover fire, opening doors
chivalry's not dead

Gears of War's idiotically testosterone-driven art and dialogue was forgiven by me, for its terrific cooperative gameplay. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. As a huge fan of co-operative play in all its incarnations, I couldn't help but love this game. But...

50: Gears of War 2

oh, the manly urge
to do pushups while playing
mad world, mountain dew

...the testosterone-high really does annoy me. Without co-op, the Gears of War franchise is little more than a steroid commercial with mediocre online play. I know there's a large fanbase that is pretty passionate about the Gears of War story, but I just don't get why. Maybe if I read the books I'd feel differently. I somehow doubt it.

Fifty down, fifty to go. Bookmark Gamer's Guide to and check back next week for twenty-five more. Do you have a request for a specific game to be beaten with the haiku stick? Have your own haiku to share? Leave it in the comments section below.

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- Greg Mengel

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