Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future
PC, Commodore 64 (1988)
Developed & Published by: Box Office
Genre: Space shooter, action, bad use of license
Earthâ2147: The legacy of the metal wars, when Earth fought machines and MACHINES WON. Biodreads: monstrous creations that hunt down humans and DIGITIZE them. Volcania: Center of the Biodread universe, stronghold and fortress of LORD DREAD: feared ruler of this new order. Bubba Watson: 2012 Masters Champion. From the fires of the metal wars arose a NEW BREED OF WARRIOR, trained to bring down Lord Dread and clean up to four times the dust as your ORDINARY MOP. They are the SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE: Mankindâs last hope, trained only by a weekend tactical paintball course and a crappy MS-Dos space shooter. Their leader, Captain Jonathan Power, a WHITE MAN, is the master of the incredible power suit, which transforms each warrior into AN ADULT AT LASER TAG, and also a one-man attack force. Major Matthew âHawkâ Masterson, fighter in the sky, Lt. Freddy âBoom, Boomâ Washington, ground assault unit, Sgt. Deion âPrimetimeâ Sanders, espionage and communications, Cpl. Jennifer âIâm a Womanâ Chase, tactical systems expert, and Me, a LOSER WITH NO LIFE, who has decided to play a crappy 80s game Iâve never played about a crappy 80s television show Iâve never watched because everything I do is NOT RELEVANTâTogether they form the most powerful fighting force in Earthâs history. Their creed: To protect all life; Their promise: To end Lord Dreadâs rule; Their theme song: âStraight Upâ by Paula Abdul; Their name: CAPTAIN POWER AND THE SOLDIERS OF THE FUTURE.
So, the 80s. Those were some good timesârunning around without a care in the world, rocking the side ponytail, falling all over myself without the sting of humiliation, free from social mores and oblivious to the bitter injustice of âthe man.â I was a toddler back then, but, if you were coked out of your mind, same goesâthey were good times. It was easier to entertain back then, too. We demand so much today, entertainment-wiseâfull immersion in video games, darker, more complex visions in film, layered character exploration and provocative substance in episodic television. Mostly I blame the internetâits given people a voice and unfortunately I think content creators actually listen to it most of the time.
Maybe you think me the fool because I say its unfortunate fanboys and girls have a voice or you want to throw something like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in my face and tell me they still make crap. Yeah. They do still make crap. But itâs just not fun anymore, you know? The entertainment war machine has slowly figured out that quality sells more so than deceptive marketingâif its good, people will talk, talk will spread fast, more people will go see it, buy it, watch it, whatever. Then theyâll just turn a good movie/game or what have you into a franchise and suck the life out of it, round and round. It still hasnât replaced the age-old best method of making money in the entertainment industryâ exploit the dollar of teenage girlsâ but still.
And so, I hearken back to the 80s, when it was easy to spend your dollar on crap and walk away happy because you didnât have a cascade of internet opinions telling you to feel otherwise. Take Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Futureâa short-lived science-fiction television show of the era built, I guess, for young people, young people at heart, or anyone who still lives with their parents, really. Iâm not sure you could consider it anything special; it merely piggy-backed on sci-fi trends of the time made popular by Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and the like, designed to feed imagination and, more importantly, sell t-shirts and toys. I had never watched it before, but, through the magic of Youtube I was able to get caught up, and man, it was great. It had the combo of light-handed sci-fi fun and tacky effects/acting that you just donât see anymore. Plus it had an opening that lasted a full minute and a half and explained the entire point of the entire show. I think the best part is that the whole thing plays like a video they would show in the lobby of a laser tag arena before you go insideâitâs basically Laser TagâThe Series. Iâd explain the plot but I donât think I need toârag tag group, demographically made up of mostly white males, uses laser guns and power suits to battle robotic creatures under the control of an over-the-top dictator in a big, spinning chair with a big fat bald head; white guys usually win the battles but the war never ends.
Releasing a poor-to-mediocre licensed game based on any and all pieces of sci-fi/fantasy media is practically its own industry today, but back then it was an unrefined moneymaking process. The philosophy was simpleâIf they like the movie/tv show/comic book, theyâll like the game. IT HAS CHANGED SO MUCH SINCE THEN… er… Well, you have to admit there is a tiny bit more effort put into licensed games todayâwhether it can be credited to actual effort put into pleasing fans or just the fact that games today, even the poor ones, are substantially more interactive and fulfilling. My argument, I guess, is weak, they still only want your moneyâthey wanted it then, they want it nowâ you know that. Somehow Iâm just trying to get to the fact that, as per usual of the time, they took a semi-popular license like Captain Power, and slapped it on a generic, useless space shooter in order to make money. Well… I think I really pulled back the curtain on that racket. Youâre welcome.
What about this Captain Power game? Does it thrust you into the smoldering heart of post-Metal Wars Earth? Put you side-by-side with your white spacer laser tag heroes? Send you plowing through to Volcania, dead-set on eliminating all Biodreads and ultimately Lord Dread himself so the world can achieve a kind of peace again, go back to a time when we didnât face the constant threat of digitization, when we had heroes, when he had a god….? No, no, and no, but, to their credit, they did use the word Biodread, so, it was almost like you were there. The game gives you an opening crawl that is almost the story of what the show is about, just to give you a bit of context. Lord Dread, blah, blah, blah, soldiers of the future, okay. Then you have to do a training mission, shoot Biodreads from your sad little fuchsia turret. Once your Star Wars lines get old after like 45-seconds, it just isnât fun anymore.
After your training mission, if you feel confident enough to join up with Captain White Power himself, POWER ON! You can play full speed or standard speed. In life I play slow, so I had to go with standard. Who can play full speed, though? Itâs like trying to survive a Langolier attack. Standard speedâThe rules are complicatedâdonât die four or five times, donât fail to use the catchphrase POWER ON. Mostly you are a little cyan fighter jet and you have to shoot anything thatâs fuchsia or white. When you cruise through a level, eliminating all foes with your little laser-line, you get the opportunity to drop bombs on Volcania, eventually decreasing their shields and blowing it up, even though it just comes back again. It took me forever to blow that stupid thing up, but I donât have the patience for these kind of epic games.
- Witness the adventure!
Always I ask myself, âdid I beat this game?â Uh, no. Not even close. I think I might have made it past âPilot Trainee,â though. I donât think the game gets anymore complex, I believe it just gets faster and faster until you start crying, look at your makeup running in the mirror, scream at yourself that you canât do anything in life, then proceed to cut yourself where no one will see. It was hard. I did spend a few nights doing nothing but playing this stupid game, though, hearing nothing but the sad beeps, dropping my bombs on Volcania to no avail, naming my pilot obscene name after obscene name. Some people spend their nights sleeping, other people spend their nights having fun.
I wonder if you are wondering what I am wondering and that is why I chose to play this game and watch this television programâthey are both dated, useless, and completely irrelevant. Yeah. I donât know. Iâd like to say I had an emotional attachment to either of them, but I had never heard of itâI just thought it would be funny and perhaps offer some perspective on todayâs relationship between licensed games and their namesakes as well as the gaming cultureâs relationship to the entertainment industry as a whole. Also Iâm in an existential crisis and feel the need to torture myself accordinglyâcould I be doing something important with my life? Yes. Could I download this game and show? Yes. One of those was just easier than the other.