From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett (opens in new tab) wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random obscure games back into the light. This week, have you ever wanted to see Santa fight GLaDOS? Of course you have! And that's just one of the unofficial brawls you can arrange with MUGEN.
Twas the night before Christmas, and all round the net
At least a few writers weren't quite this desperate. Yet.
They refused the cliche, the call of something so trite
As giving this old poem its millionth rewrite...
"Ah, sod it," thought Santa, "It does fit the mood.
And ignoring Christmas would seem somewhat rude.
But where are the games celebrating the season?
There've barely been any! There must be a reason..."
"Oh, sure," he added, "There's always a few,
Like Holiday Lemmings, and Elf Bowling 2.
But most of them suck, and few make a splash
And let's just forget the ones cranked out with Flash."
"I know what I'll do," Santa said with a grin,
"I'll assemble my own, in a tool called MUGEN (opens in new tab)
(Which is said with an 'i' in my Lapland accent
Or so I will claim if there's any dissent.)"
"It's a beat-em-up maker with a gigantic community
Full of characters I can download with impunity.
I'm sure I can find any goodies I need.
Oh look! Someone's done a crap version of me..."
So Santa jumped into the world of computers
Accompanied, oddly, by a dwarf Freddy Krueger
And swinging a ball with the uncommon might
Of a lazily edited Chang Koehan (opens in new tab) sprite.
And he picked up his lists, full of actions observed
To give gaming's celebs presents they deserved
Heroes and villains; creators, destroyers
But mostly the ones without bored in-house lawyers.
Duke Nukem came first, for pure irony's sake But Santa soon learned, he'd made a mistake For this was an old Duke, still rendered in 2D Not the 3D one, whose last game was poopie.
"Come get some," said Duke, and Santa obliged
Pounding Duke's balls with the one at his side
"Here's your damn gift," the huge fat man said
And levelled a kick at his smug empty head.
Duke fought back as hard as he could
But the AI in Round 1 is never much good
His gun was some help, his pipe bombs some more
Soon enough though, he was down on the floor
Santa stared down victorious, but stuck for what to do
This Duke had been in good games, he knew that to be true
Did the sins of his future mean he'd only get coal?
Even if he was now and forever a total arsehole?
"Yes," he decided—Forever was that bad and worse
And its DLC had hardly tried breaking the curse
He left him behind with a note on the floor
"Grow the hell up, you dull, sexist bore."
His next hero was someone in a quite different vein
A disgraced, balding cop by the name of Max Payne
He fought with two guns; in each hand a heater
Though his bullet time made him a bit of a cheater
The battle was short, neither man in the mood
Max's thoughts still on Mona, and Santa's on food.
"You fought well," said Santa. "Now what can I give you?"
"My dead wife and child? Some hope for the future?
"Not really my thing," St. Nick sadly explained.
"On matters necromantic, I've been told to refrain."
"But they're all I want," the poor hero cop sighed.
"Then have an Amazon gift card. In case you change your mind."
When Santa fought Lara, he saw he'd found his match
With her guns and her gadgets, she was tough to dispatch
(The spikes were the worst, which she could summon below
And went where no spike had ever wanted to go.)
The battle was long, and twice in a row he lost
Thanks to none of her special moves having any cost.
She swung, she stabbed, sometimes she even flew
And after doing damage, she healed herself too.
(His size had hardly helped him, not even to distract her.
Though as she confessed later, it could have been a factor.
"I didn't mean to stare," she said, "Nor to wince at your spine,
But damn, I rarely see boobs so much bigger than mine...")
Her present this year was obvious, and gratefully received.
A shotgun in a secret cave at the back of Level 3.
Next year of course new reality was going to change the rules.
For now though, none would question it. The silly, silly fools.
Arthas was the Lich King, cursed to command the Scourge
His armies of death he unleashed to—
"Sod that for a lark" thought Santa, running like hell.
And without 24 friends, that was probably as well.
And that was just the start of the fat man's great quest
If you want to see more, why not download the rest?
There's no point in lying, these mods are often crappy
But there's plenty of variety to keep anyone happy.
To install stuff is simple, though hard to make rhyme
You're probably best reading the Readme. This time.
Add characters and stages and get ready to fight
It'll pass the hours waiting. For Santa. Tonight.