by: Dr. Boogie
In my long years of playing Nintendo, I have traveled all around the globe and
fought a plethora of enemies, from horrific aliens in Contra to deadly
centipedes in Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu. Very few of these enemies
have been particularly troublesome, all possessing simple attacks and mediocre
weapons like balls of slime and big red "bullets."
Camping out on a colorful mountain peak is dangerous enough as it is. Having a
giant red condor swoop in and steal your unnaturally large fruits certainly
doesnít help the situation. The only acceptable recourse in this situation is to
scale the peak and grab the condor by its accursed feet as it soars overhead
gloating. Despite the aggression that condors demonstrate in this game, a few
nature freaks have decided that condors should be on the endangered species list
because apparently, they are close to extinction. Boo hoo. Those avian bastards
should have thought about that before they pilfered my prize-winning eggplant!
Even the famed Belmont family has had to first overcome crows and owls and such
before they could really get serious about the vampire-killing gig. More cunning
than a mere Axe Knight, and twice as loathsome as a Fleaman, birds menaced the
entire Transylvanian countryside, far beyond the reach of any throwing cross or
vial of holy water. Indeed, the safest way to deal with the birds is to throw
axes at them, a method that I, myself, use whenever the crows gather to pick at
the roadkill in front of my house. I suppose that the blame falls mainly on the
squirrels and their desire to have their entrails impressed upon the pavement,
When he arrived in America, Ryu had no idea that he would count among his many foes a cadre of vicious birds. Thatís not something they teach you in ninja school. Let me tell you, there are few things as unnerving as a huge red bird flying at you well beyond the speed of sound. Come to think of it, this particular boid looks a little bit like the condor from Ice Climber, only without the stolen fruit in his talons. It figures that the condors would become greedy from years of stealing from mountaineers, and would send their finest condor warriors to fight with the ninjas. I wonder if things are this bad over in Japan, the ninja motherland.
Fighting alongside the speedy condor is the longtime friend of birds everywhere:
Though most birds are physically weak, and incapable of single-handedly bringing down strong prey such as ninjas and whip-wielding Europeans, they have an uncanny knack for waiting near a pit and knocking their opponents into said pit, thus creating anger and frustration the world over. Many a game have ended with me being suddenly knocked into a pit and then turning off my Nintendo, disgusted by the thought of a mighty hero suddenly having his livelihood stripped away by a bird-induced misstep.
The birds even tried to send humming birds to stand idly by and trick you into
thinking that not all birds are evil. Ah, but Ryu is no fool; he knows that this
is just a ploy perpetrated by the wicked bird emperor. A quick sword stroke, and
thatís one less winged demon crapping on my windshield.
Kid Niki faced an assortment of different birds during his princess-saving quest. Hell, a bird was even responsible for sending him off on this wild goose chase, no pun intended. Of all the birds that he did fight and defeat with his strange spinning sword, the one above really pissed me off above the rest. If I ever wanted to believe that a bird could smoke pot, this is all the evidence I would need. It would have to be a team effort, though, with one bird preparing the dope, another figuring out some way to produce fire (bird magic, no doubt, as they donít have thumbs for lighting matches), and maybe a few woodpeckers crafting a nice bong out of a cedar tree.
Hereís another example of the base, hedonistic lifestyle of the birds. This bird has gorged on birdseed and worms for so long that in longer has the ability to fly, and instead must jump feebly into the air while dumping its payload of eggs at you. Frankly, I donít know whatís more disturbing: a grotesquely fat bird, or one that can rapidly lay eggs that are strong enough to bounce when they hit cement. Good mohawk, though.
A cornucopia of bird nemeses could be found in the beleaguered mind of mushroom-chomping, dino-mounting, princess-chasing, and overall rogue plumber, Mario. As soon as he falls asleep, his mindís eye produces such bizarre variations on the bird such as squat, a black bird that rides a carpet, a bomb-tossing albatross, and even an ostrich for transportation purposes. How does this guy ever get to sleep at night, knowing what kind of nightmarish world awaits him? Well, however he does it, at least he has his unappreciated brother, his tease of a girlfriend, and her midget servant around to help him conquer the landscape of his psyche and the birds that dwell within.
Attempts have been made to domesticate birds and make allies of them. This proved disastrous for Orin, the falconer "hero" of 8 Eyes. Oh sure, he managed to train a falcon, but trained to do what, I donít know. Cutrus, the falcon in question, lazily flies about while Orin gets slapped around by fat guys with pitchforks and card-throwing Italians. And what kind of hero is a falconer anyway? His bird certainly isnít pulling its weight, and his fighting skills are negligible, andÖ Oh, but Iím going off on a tangent.
The sheer fanaticism of the bird can be seen in the Megaman series. This robot bird has found some way to lay an egg. The mechanical bird then chooses to involve her yet unborn children in her fight against the blue robot that canít shoot up or down. The egg in question shatters and reveals a swarm of bloodthirsty robot bird children that fall upon poor Megaman like a pack of winged piranha-bots. Can you imagine a race whose young are ready and willing to fight to the death the very minute they are born, regardless of the enemy?
What could be more sinister than an eagle spread-eagle? An eagle spread-eagle
that spits fire, thatís what. Far from the majestic Bald Eagle that stands as a
symbol of America, as well as itís inept postal system, the Spread Eagle put up
its best defenses, mainly squatting on a tree and spitting fireballs, to stop
Kuros from rescuing a plethora of damsels in distress and scoring a pantload of
booty (thatís pirate-talk for treasure, by the way). A few bored Spread Eagles
would even abandon their treetop posts and fly spastic circles around our hero,
until they inevitably wound up with a sword point in the brain. Such was life
back in medieval times.
Here, we were finally shown the extent of the birdsí baneful ways, allying themselves with the villainous, but sexy, Dark Queen. Iím not entirely sure what they sought to gain by helping her fight the Ďtoads, but nevertheless, they once again stand opposed to all things good and amphibious. Even worse, theyíve begun to experiment with genetic engineering, creating a breed of crow with an extra long, extra sharp beak. Fortunately, Professor T. Bird, a victim of the birdsí horrific attempts at making a human-bird hybrid, is there to give you a helping hand, as well as a tongue-lashing whenever you foul up a mission. Thatís why, even though he is technically on your side, youíll want to turn your foot into a giant green boot and kick his scrawny arse.
And hereís another inherently evil man-bird: the avaricious Scrooge McDuck. The producers of Duck Tales would have you believe that he is the hero of the story, but that couldnít be farther from the truth. He has an entire building filled with gold, which he routinely swims in, but he still feels the need to steal priceless artifacts from all over the world, as well as the moon! In effect, heís teaching our children that greed is good, and worse than that, that solid gold can be traversed as water, so long as it is in a pile. No, McDuck, I see through your ruse; I know youíre a just a petty mutant with an eye for treasure. For shame!!!
The legacy of the man-duck doesnít end there, either:
In the distant future, when the earthís supply of fossil fuels runs out and
humanity is force to travel by strapping balloons to their backs and flailing
their arms, a cult is formed by those that worship the man-bird aberrations. The
members of this cult don masks and false wings to liken themselves to their
mutant overlords, and then attack passing travelers, using their pointed masks
to pop the balloons of their victim. What a bleak future we have in store for
us. Hopefully, nuclear war will claim all our lives before then.
Are there more birds on the NES or other video game systems that you'd like to see Dr. Boogie write about? Great. Email your suggestions to him!
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