Anime Sickos Newsletter February 2022
There's no overarching theme this time lol
Hello Sicko fans. Tomorrow, we release an episode that’s a bit of a swing for us. Not exactly in our comfort zone and unlike what we’ve done before. It is also very much not for everyone. We hope you like it! If you don’t, it’s OK, we’re gonna go back to normal episodes afterward lol.
let me tell you about a funny dream I have.
I keep having this dream where the world is mostly submerged and I am walking alone on a long catwalk over the ocean. Everything starts to shake and a whale emerges from underneath and rapidly ascends.
The whale is so large that the structure I'm on is obliterated instantly. I can see oil rig-type structures atomize in the distance as the whale breaches the surface. I am mashed Looney Tunes style against the huge creature. The whale's eye is so large that I can see it's curvature on the horizon, as if the earth has been replaced with a cornea.
For some reason I can tell what the whale is feeling and what it feels is hate. It hates me and it is very aware of its size - it understands that breaching the surface and the subsequent tsunamis will cause a catastrophic loss of life. It is sad about this fact but it is an acceptable loss to kill me.
We are ascending. The speed is unfathomable and the air gets thin as we enter the edge of the atmosphere. The whale gives me a little final push for some extra verticality and we both freefall with the whale leading.
In the dream I tell myself this will be over when I hit the surface of the water, my bones will be powdered, and the fear will stop. I am wrong. The whale displaces so much water on impact that I keep falling into eventual total darkness, to the bottom of the Mariana Trench where I am impaled on a pointy rock.
When I have this dream I have to shit right when I wake up.
Remember “Talk Dumb Get the Thumb”?
I was looking over old newsletters to go down “memory lane” and I saw this again:
Now this is funny! “Get the thumb.” lol
Tom Played Alien Soldier
Alien Soldier is the other Sega Genesis run n’ gun game by Treasure, the guys who made Gunstar Heroes, one of the best Genesis games ever. Gunstar Heroes is a lighthearted, goofy game that’s easy to pick up and play. Even a beginner will have fun blasting through baddies and maybe clear a stage or two until the challenge ramps up.
Alien Soldier is a freak game for maniacs. If you google Alien Soldier most results are people complaining they can’t get past level one. To be clear it is extremely hard and fucked up on purpose. Treasure had already proven they could please the crowds. Now it is time to laser in on the sicko gamer freaks and give them a hyper concentrated megaslop that kills lesser gamers instantly.
The game’s plot makes no fucking sense. The opening exposition crawl contradicts itself like ten times. In the future there is an evil terrorist sect (bad!) with a vicious leader who is always killing humans (the villain, surely). He is deposed from leadership by another terrorist, who is hated by the group for being too ruthless (wait, what? I thought killing was their main thing, how is the new guy too ruthless? And also how is he the leader if he’s hated? Just quit lol) Now, you must reclaim your throne and restore justice (wait, YOUR GUY is the terrorist??)
It doesn’t matter though. The actual plot of the game is “One day, Treasure made a weird ass action game, and here it is.” Alien Soldier is just 25 big ass bosses standing in a long row. There are technically “levels” in between the bosses but the longest one takes like 45 seconds to get through and mostly they’re just a chance to recoup some resources.
What makes this game so wild is the controls are simultaneously extremely bad but also very good. When I say extremely bad, I mean that any human who sits down to play for the first time will constantly be fucking up and make the alien protagonist jump wrong and get stuck in weapon selection mode and die instantly. Literally zero about this control scheme is intuitive in any way. Thank god that before the game proper begins, you can spend as much time as you want in a testing room with the full moveset listed in front of you. This is a kind gesture but does not help.
Your guy can obviously shoot, but also he can double tap shoot to briefly project an energy shield that turns enemy projectiles into health. He can obviously jump, but he can also press jump in midair and just hover in place indefinitely until you hit jump again. If there is a ceiling over you when you jump he will land on the ceiling (!!!) and walk on it and now “down” is “up.” Also you can switch between two attack modes indicated by the color of his armor. Also to switch weapons you have to stand still and open up the weapon wheel and cycle through to the one you want. The game does NOT pause while you do this and the wheel is VERY awkward. You need to be able to recognize and/or manufacture moments of safety in order to swap weapons or you will die immediately. You will need to swap weapons a lot because your ammo is finite. Luckily ammo auto-regens as long as you do not have that weapon equipped, but this means swapping weapons frequently is not optional. You also have a dash move that zips you across the screen and you are invulnerable the entire time. You wouldn’t guess it, but this is your real main attack.
You would think a run and gun game where you fight 25 big bosses in a row would focus on the guns! I mean, it kind of does. You do need to use the guns. But the main thing is the Phoenix Dash. If you do your dash move while you have full health, you do so while wreathed in magic flame and take 30 damage. If you hit a boss while doing this dash it will take off 1/4 to 2/3 of their HP. It is absolute nonsense how much this move outclasses any other weapon. Exponentially stronger. Obviously you can’t do it again after the first time, because it only activates when you are at full health and it costs health to do. Except remember how I mentioned you have a counter move that can turn enemy projectiles into health? Well! I think you can see where this goes. I mentioned how the game doesn’t really have “levels”—that’s because no standard enemy could possibly faze your guy. The levels only exist as ways for you to farm health so you can open the next boss fight with a Phoenix Dash.
I said the controls were simultaneously bad and good—the “good” part comes when you finally force your brain and hands to comprehend this bullshit and you realize oh actually this is perfect. Actually every single move is critical and none of them could be removed. Oh fuck this is the best action game ever huh. Ok ok wow.
The bosses (95% of the game) are just Treasure going sicko mode squeezing every ounce of slop out of the Genesis. We got big moths. Turtle Shoguns. We got robo werewolves. We got normal werewolves in cowboy outfits on a robo horse. Folks we got a boss that’s actually seven bosses you have to fight all in a row with no break. The last one is underwater so your Phoenix Dash won’t work and neither will any fire-based guns (2 of the 3 best guns are fire-based lol).
On “Supereasy” mode (one of the most inaccurately named modes there is) you have infinite continues so with enough determination you can bash through the game in like an hour. But you’re going to want to do it again right away. And again. And again. You are like, oh fuck, my third eye!! It’s opening!!! I see how to be better! I know the True Path!
Oh also, I forgot to mention, you never die on the first lethal hit—any hit that would kill you actually brings you to 1HP, and the next hit will be the one that kills you. It may be insanely difficult, but let no one call Alien Soldier cruel. This game whips.
Tom Becomes an Urban Farmer
This Christmas my big gift for my wife (and also myself) was a big ass Aerogarden, a hydroponic system that is designed for morons to use. My wife is a plant sicko, plus we both hate buying salad greens (the packages are too big for two people—you have to pound salads nonstop for like 3 straight days to finish them before the leaves get slimy), so this was a slam dunk.
Anyway this shit rocks. Oh man I love this. You put the little pods in this sucker and schedule the big LED panels to absolutely kablammo them with blazing bright light all day and little lettuces start growing in your damn house.
Pretty soon we had a bunch of cute lil sprouts.
In three weeks both reservoirs were overflowing with nature’s bounty. This shit whips folks.
We made a huge salad with it.
Here’s how they looked after harvesting.
and surprise! Here’s how it looked one week later!
We noticed a few things we had to fix—one was that new leaves in the center of the lettuce were getting soggy, rotten tips because there is no wind to dry off the damp. We bought a cheapo desk fan to blow over the plants and now it’s fine. We also were seeing the tips of some leaves get crispy and brown. Turns out we need to use distilled water because Chicago tap water has too much lead in it and was turning the plants into Boomers.
But uhhh turns out the lettuces grow back enough leaves to fill an entire huge salad every week? So far it’s been three weekends in a row. Last weekend we harvested one reservoir’s worth and it filled up a whole salad on its own, so we harvested the other one the next day and had a second huge salad. Don’t know how long these little guys will produce but man this shit is fun.
Our plan eventually is to dedicate one of the two reservoirs to growing a bunch of tomatoes. This model of Aerogarden is pretty tall so it can handle like, big ass tomato plants. All indications suggest that tomatoes are a lot harder to grow in these things than the relatively idiot-proof lettuce, but the idea of having fresh heirloom tomatoes just show up??? In my house???? It’s too beautiful to imagine.
This sucker is mega expensive, to be clear—this very much represented a big investment for us we expect to get many years of work out of—but holy moly! We love da Aerogarden.