Curate of Curiosities

Society: The Precursor

:the game:

The last game by Nicky Case that I will be covering is something that is both very similar and very different to the games we have covered so far.

It's called :the game:, and was released on Newgrounds in 2008. Back then, Nicky went under the handle nutcasenightmare. They went on to create two sequels in the following years: REPLAYING :the game: and Reimagine :The Game:.

Just by looking at the intro scene above, you can tell that the creator, like a lot of Newgrounds users at the time, wasn't particularly concerned about offending the player's sensibilities.

You see that platform that the player is standing on? Learn to get used to seeing it.

This game mainly consists of a series of levels that mostly take place on that platform, with different goals that tie into the level's theme.

As this is the first entry in a trilogy, I'm not going to waste your time showing off every single level, so here are a few highlights:

The very first stage is themed after anarchy.

There's nothing to do on this screen, except to fall off the platform you're standing on.

And after you do so, you are treated to a snappy one-liner about the current topic. This is how most of the stages in this game play out.

Such as this one, themed after communism.

You are one of several level 1 figures, and, as usual, you fall off the platform.

Not 100% sure what falling off--of your own will, mind you--has to do with communism.

Of course, I never said this game was good with commentary.

Shortly after that, we have monogamy.

It's a stage where the objective isn't to fall off. Not that you could anyway, with the two women on either side of it.

Instead, your objective--contrary to the name of the stage--is to make your way to the woman on the other side.

2000's Newgrounds, am I right?

This next stage has a weirdly specific theme.

Furthermore, the stage has no platforms at all; it's a parody of Duck Hunt, but with flying lawyers.

Guess what your first instinct in such a parody would be.

That's right, shooting the reporter who picks up the lawyers.

Another thing, can you guess why this stage is subtitled "Dick's Hunt?"

Yep, this stage is a dig at non other than former Vice President Dick Cheney.

And the woman beside him is Sarah Palin, but I could tell until reading this screen. (She once infamously claimed she could "see Russia from her house.")

This stage is themed after Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

Here the goal is to avoid falling off the platforms, unlike most of the stages we've seen so far, and make your way to the right while they disintegrate behind you.

And, of course, you have yet another video game reference. I feel these were particularly common in these circles at the time.

In this stage, you choose between one of three music artists. From left to right, we have a death metal artist, MC Hammer, and Britney Spears. I pick the death metal artist, because they seem to be the only one that's relevant in this day and age.

Then you play this little DDR-style minigame with them.

It looks like no matter how well you do in this stage, it automatically ends after a certain amount of time, with a snide remark regarding your complete lack of skill.

Of course, it's hard to be skillfull when you're just alternating the up and down keys against a 20-second loop.

Anyone here remember Tamagotchis? 'Cause that's what this stage is about, using various forms of alternative medicine on one of those.

Let's try homeopathy, that sounds like it would be least likely to have some horrible side effect.

Never mind, apparently to Nicky, homeopathy involves smashing your patient to pieces.

I couldn't capture the rest of this scene, but after this, someone picks up a tiny piece of the wreckage and drops it in the ocean. This somehow causes the planet to blow up.

Oh, this should be fun...

Unlike most of the stages in this game, this one is a full minigame, with a high score and everything.

This whole game really is a time capsule of the 2010 Internet, isn't it?

Eventually, you get a prize for your valiant trolling efforts. Let's see what we got...

A rick roll, and a reference to the barrel roll at the same time. I'm almost impressed with this game's audacity at regurgitating memes.

Well, that's it for the main part of :the game:, but we're not quite done yet. There's still one extra feature to be seen.

The extras menu contains not only two-player versions of two of the game's stages, but also an exclusive stage simply called "The Game: The Game."

From the name alone, I expect something particularly meta.

Of course. I really should have seen this coming. When was the last time the Game has been relevant anyways?

That's it for :the game:, but I believe we should take a look at its sequels.

The first sequel, Replaying :the game:, was uploaded to Newgrounds in 2009. For the most part, it's more of the same, but like the previous entry, there are a few standout moments.

There's Gun Control: The Game. You know it'll be something special when the stage begins with a quote by one of the Virginia Tech shooters.

What sets it apart from most of the other stages is that it takes the form of a very rudimentary FPS, one explicitly referencing Virginia Tech, at that.

I'm familiar enough with anti-gun control rhetoric that this should just make me roll my eyes.

The objective is to kill everyone in the hallway before moving on to another hallway to do the same thing.

After doing this twice, you encounter the boss of the level, a reporter. All he can do is throw bowling balls at you, so he's more an annoyance than a challenge.

But that's not the end of it! For some reason, you go on to shoot up government agents and, inexplicably, the NRA.

After that, we're finally treated to this stage's message, whose delivery feels like it forshadows the nature of Nicky Case's later games:

I don't think that will be necessary, Nicky. He's been disbarred for years now.

To be honest, both of the other games I've covered here suddenly feel a lot more simplistic in their messaging compared to the multi-layered satire in this stage alone.

That's all I have to say about this game, now on to the final entry in this series.

It's a bit surreal to see an ad for a Switch game on a Flash game from more than a decade ago.

Reimagine :the game: was released in 2011, two years after its predecessor.

Of course, being the third iteration of the same formula, it has a much more polished presentation than the previous games.

Like the previous two games, you start off on the same familiar platform, with nothing to do but fall off.

But, instead of dying like usual, you end up in an actual platformer level, with pretty much every Internet meme from the year 2010 in the background.

While the previous games had platforming challenges, but none of them had Super Mario Galaxy-style gravity mechanics.

This shift in gameplay format means that the creator could add more creative level designs, such as the following:

iPad: The Game, which is basically a 2D version of Portal.

If Portal had instant-death spikes, that is.

This stage is about the TSA. Gotta love post-9/11 paranoia.

The goal of this stage is to remove the passenger's clothes, which is weird since they have full-body scanners.

Suffice it to say, Nicky would never even dream of making a joke like this nowadays.

There's just nothing like using then-recent natural disasters as fodder for your comedy game, is there?

In this stage, you try to survive for as long as possible while the platform breaks apart around you. That's all there is to it.

What's this? Another stage parodying a natural disaster? Say it ain't so!

This stage is a platformer, where you, as a BP executive, wipe up oil spills using living pelicans, then throw them into incinerators to get to higher places.

It's a good thing BP has been far more careful since then, and have never been involved in disasters of this nature ever again. OH WAIT

This is, in my opinion, one of the most creative stages in this game.

The goal is to make your way to the top of the screen by using comments as platforms. However, the comments only appear during certain points in the video, so you can use the 1 and 2 keys to move the slider to different parts of the video.

Side note, anyone else miss Rage Comics?

Or when YouTube allowed annotations on videos, for that matter?

Remember double rainbows?

Remember the meat dress?

Remember My Little Pony?

Remember Angry Birds?

That's all that this game is: a snapshot of contemporary meme culture.

If anyone were to ask me what the early 2010s were like, I'd just plop them in front of this game and call it a day.

But enough reminiscing. Here's the final stage.

Unlike the previous two games, this game has an actual final boss: none other than Zalgo, who has somehow taken over the body of the BP exec from earlier.

It consists of a series of platforming challenges based on earlier stages in the game.

At the end of each screen, you find an incinerator, similar to those on the BP level, which you use to damage the boss.

Repeat this enough times, and the boss is defeated.

And that was the :the game: trilogy. Maybe it's just me, but I believe that the third game was Nicky Case's magnum opus.