Saturday Crapshoot: Tongue of the Fatman
Every week, Richard Cobbett rolls the dice to bring you an obscure slice of gaming history, from lost gems to weapons grade atrocities. This week... uh... prepare to take a licking? I give up.
Sorry, but do I really need to say anything else this week? It's called Tongue of the Fatman! In an infinite universe where every possibility exists, is there even a slight chance that this could be anything but a slice of weapons grade badness the likes of which humanity simply isn't ready for? Well, only under protest then, and only because your Saturday won't fill itself up automatically. Prepare to bow before the multiverse's mightiest man-boobs in a game that, almost certainly, actually exists.
Ah, I think you clicked the wrong thing there. See, you're still reading this. You looked at the picture up there, in all its bloated, purple-lipped glory, and you willingly subjected yourself to more pictures of a man who keeps butter under his armpits so that it's nice and spreadable when he feels like a snack. You made the mistake of thinking it was going to get better, didn't you? Well, guess what? It isn't. The word 'worst' gets thrown around a lot on the internet, but Tongue of the Fatman is a strong contender for the worst beat-em-up I've played on PC - certainly the worst starring an overlord who Jabba the Hutt makes a point of forwarding his Weight-Watchers pamphlets to when he's finished laughing.
A NEW CHALLENGER APPEARS!
In fairness to it though, it was released in 1989, and while a few games like the original Street Fighter were out at this point - including an arcade version where you had to hit pressure sensitive pads as hard as you could to realise that both they, along with your hand, were completely broken - they weren't that great either. On PC, you were looking at International Karate, Karateka, Budokan and a few more, but it would be many, many years before the PC was judged worth developing flashier beat-em-ups for. Even our version of Street Fighter 2, when we got it, was closer to pants than any other item of clothing.
Tongue of the Fatman wasn't a pure PC game though. Versions were also released for the Commodore-64 and the Sega Megadrive, though for some inexplicable reason, the name didn't go with it. The C64 version was renamed 'Mondu's Fight Palace', while Sega owners got 'Slaughter Sport'. There was also a Japanese version simply called 'Fatman', and when Japanese developers decide your game is a little too silly... at around the same time as releasing games with names like Downtown Hot-Blooded Story (River City Ransom, in the West), well... something has clearly gone wrong somewhere.
There's a chance they may be better than the PC version due to having another chance to have things like AI and controls that actually respond to commands most of the time be more than optional extras in the great work that was Tongue of the Fatman... but I wouldn't put much money on it.
Exactly none, in fact.
Awful, awful and thrice awful as the game is though, you've got to give it some points for ambition. Instead of just throwing you against enemies, it's built around a career mode where you get to bet on the results of matches, as well as buy power-ups with your winnings from the insane Doctor Kadaver. A blob of Green Slime for instance can be dropped in the middle of a match and send your enemy falling on his arse, while a pair of Zan Zan Needles under your fingernails drains their strength as you hit them.
Best of all, if you enjoy making life as much fun as chewing glass bottles, there's an invisibility item. Both players can use it. At once. See if you can spot the minor gameplay issue there...
Ignoring the fact that it's called Tongue of the Fatman though, the weirdest thing about the game is how much stuff it actually contains. Fights are regularly interrupted by members of the alien audience popping their heads up, or sign-carrying Orion Slave Girls wandering past the carnage at the end of a battle. Characters have taunts to go with their tiny amounts of animation, and the roster - for this game's era time - is huge. There are ten fighters to play as (lest we forget, Street Fighter 2 only had eight), and all of them are weird aliens. You pick a species rather than a character from Humanoid to a giant hairy testicle with fists, a colony of sentient bacteria, or a shark monster in bright red underpants.
Why? I have no idea. But it does make poor Ryu look like a bit of a dullard, doesn't it?
And that's before you get to how they fight. There's Edwina, the Amazon warrior with a killer mohawk that snaps out like a whip. Or Puff Boy, whose main attack is ejaculating goo all over his enemies. Not enough? How about the hairy Behemoth, who simply clambers up on his arms, points his butt up and farts a fireball into his enemy's face? Some of the other attacks are weird next to that...
Even the basics are confusing. Your character starts on the right, which is just... wrong... and the weird tendency for your hits to land when they damn well feel like it doesn't exactly make for the most satisfying punchy-punching action this side of a Tekken tournament. Enemies of course have much less trouble punching you into the dust and sending you back to the Fatman, Mondu, for judgement. Too many defeats, and it's game over. I'm not sure what the winner of this surreal, frustrating tournament get as a reward for their efforts, but if - as I suspect - it's the honour of being the one who gets to wipe clean his mighty buttocks with a screaming kitten on a stick, death is probably a kindness.
Here are a few bouts of the game, in all their glory. I should point out that this is the computer playing against itself to get as many of the characters doing stuff as possible. It's probably the best way to play this game - run it with the command 'FATMAN /DEMO', gape for a few minutes, and then quit, never to be haunted by it and its... terrible, terrible existence... ever again.
DISCLAIMER: Haunting and mental scarring may last the rest of your natural life. Sorry about that.