Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.
When it comes to video games, nostalgia is always cool.
Whether you were an old school Pac Man player, a Mario Bros. junkie, or total Zelda dork, chances are you have a soft spot in your heart for the video games of yesteryear. Beginning this Thursday, Altered Esthetics celebrates nostalgic video games with its "Level_13: Cheat Codes" exhibit, where 14 artists have reinterpreted their favorite games in the form of painting, photography, and jewelry, while also spotlighting the clunky old technology these games used to be played on.
The video game-inspired exhibit runs from April 5 to 26, and includes an opening night reception this Friday as well as an artists' discussion on April 14. While the event is a fine example of how video games can inspire something awesome, there have been many, many more things that have been inspired by video games that are terrible. And creepy. And deadly.
Here are three that stand out above the rest.
Pac Man Land
Back in the early eighties Six Flags Over Texas was purchased by the same company that created Pac Man, who quickly decided that everyone's favorite yellow guy deserved his own theme-park attraction. The result? The scariest and least fun looking theme park experience ever.
Aside from the creepy characters roaming around, slamming into unsuspecting children, the park essentially just sucked. Did it have a dirty ball pit? Of course it did. BUT THE BALLS WERE PAINTED LIKE PAC MAN! Did it have a crappy puppet show with a bunch of non-Pac Man characters? Yup. BUT PAC MAN WAS IN IT SO IT COUNTS! Did it allow you to get inside of an enclosed yellow sphere and travel around the park smashing ghosts, living out year dreams of being the real life Pac Man (or Ms. Pac Man)?
No. But if they would have, maybe the park would still exist today.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!
On the surface, a kids' TV show about the crazy-popular plumbing bros isn't really a bad idea. The mustaches, the adventure, the music, and...former wrestling great Captain Lou Albano? Now you see where the problem lay.
Back in the late '80s, the decision was made to bring Mario and his gang to the small screen (just like a video game, but with less work!), with a combo live-action and cartoon program. And who better bring Mario himself to life? The craziest wrestling manager of all time! Captain Lou donned the red hat and overalls, officially crushing the fun, youthful image of one of the most popular characters ever, and replacing him with a mentally unstable old dude with rubber bands in his beard.
Burger King Pokemon Toys
Remember when Pokemon was the biggest thing in the world? Back in November of 1999, it got so popular, in fact, that Burger King dropped $22 million on a massive cross-promotion, that included giving away Pokemon toys in kids meals.
Or as BK execs likely remember it: The Pokemon Incident.
Things started well enough. After 10 days, BK actually put out a public apology due to shortages and overwhelming demand. Then kids started dying.
That's not even being morbid; it's true. First, a little girl suffocated by placing part of the toy's "Poke Ball" casing over her mouth. A few weeks later, another kid got the ball stuck in her nose and mouth, but her dad stepped in before anything really bad happened. Finally, Burger King pulled the toys and announced one of the largest and most expensive recalls in history.
I guess the good folks at Burger King and Pokemon didn't "have it their way" that time, huh?
Too soon? Too soon.
IF YOU GO:
"Level 13: Cheat Codes Exhibit"
1224 Quincy St NE, Minneapolis
Click here for details