Published on April 3rd, 2012 | by Joss Card0
Wally Bear and the No Gang: How I Learned that Drugs Were Bad
I walk down the street with my cool new Ninja Turtles T-shirt, talking about the local sports team with my best buddy Jack. As we pass an open alley, a drug dealer would come out from the shadows. I know he’s a drug dealer because he’s got a leather jacket, sunglasses, and a slicked back hairstyle that makes him really cool.
|He might also have the ability to transform.|
He slinks out of the shadows to me and my friend and with a cool smirk on his face says, “Hey kid. Do you want to try some illegal drugs?” My friend Jack is scared witless. These are the very drugs that could kill someone. The drug dealer knows he’s got us cornered. He’s offered something free, we can’t resist… But, thinking quickly, I react with the only way to defeat a drug dealer.
“NO!” I say firmly, holding my hand out in a firm, ‘no’ kind of posture.
The drug dealer reels, cupping himself. He hisses and turns into a puff of smoke and slime, leaving behind nothing but a leather jacket, sunglasses, and a small ziploc baggy of pills that look a lot like aspirin.
I gain 43 experience points (Jack gains the same) and 21 gil.
While D.A.R.E. taught me how to defend against drug solicitations, I found that in reality, most people offering me drugs were either friends or my uncle. And in any case, they were doing it more of a courtesy. Like eating in front of someone. No one has ever offered me drugs on the street and if they did, I’m sure it wouldn’t be for free. Nor would I, being 8 years old in the example, be a target consumer, since I don’t have a source of income and I’m too small to be able to steal much to feed this addiction.
While D.A.R.E. gave us mixed signals when it came to drugs (i.e. all the cool people were doing them, but you don’t want to be cool like them?) it also gave us more focus in our young lives. It may or may not have been responsible for this:
A bear riding a skateboard is the kind of cool thing you can experience only while sober.
While I know that Angry Video Game Nerd has done a review on this (Check it out here if you haven’t seen it. NSFW: Language) Me and my good friend Jack, just like we stumbled upon Kid Chameleon trying to sell us drugs, stumbled upon this game while sifting through some NES roms I had stored on my laptop.
The game was released in 1992 and wasn’t a licensed game. (You’ll notice the lack of shiny gold Nintendo sticker on the box up there) It was rejected by Nintendo’s licensing department likely for drug references. Back then Nintendo was the No Gang.
|We rejected your game concept because f*** you, that’s why.|
It has a fairly straightforward story. Wally Bear has a party to attend. He needs to get there before dark. His mother is kind enough to remind him to say, “No.” and be smart and not to start. She never actually says what he should be smart not to start, so we’re left to fill in the blanks. It seems like a very odd thing to say to your kid as he’s heading out the door. My mom usually says, “I love you” or “Be safe”. I don’t think she’s once just said, “Okay, say ‘no’. Be smart, don’t start.” But maybe I’ve just got a weird family.
So the game is afoot. Wally sets out on his skate board to… right. Right is apparently the direction that Uncle Grizzly lives, since left is not an option. Maybe Wally’s mom was telling him to say no to going to the left? We may never know… The controls are interesting enough. Wally can jump and he can move, building up momentum on his skateboard. He cannot attack. And landing on a dog on your skateboard will only hurt you, not the dog. So, they get half-credit on realism there.
|Evil Seagull Herby the Hell Hound Ricky the Rat|
There is some debate on whether or not Ricky there is throwing a rock or drugs. Either one would suck getting hit with. It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that later in the game that he throws bombs. Someone should tell these guys that blowing up potential customers is bad for business…
At the end of stage one Wally enters a subway. There he meets with a rabbit who informs him that Toby Turtle (Aren’t turtles always named Toby?) was trying to join Ricky Rat’s gang. In order to join, Toby would have to take some pills! This may be for Toby’s benefit. Maybe Toby is hyperactive (for a turtle) and needs to take his ridilin? Maybe it’s blood-pressure medication? We don’t know. But Wally is now hell-bent on stopping Toby. So he rides his skateboard on the subway (which I’m sure is worth at least a $100 fine in some parts of New York) to stop Ricky Rat… Who is apparently more than one rat… Maybe it’s the name of the gang? Here we see some actual product placement. We get repeated billboards of “Crossbow” and “Shock Wave”. While me and Jack figured that these were plugs for the frisbee weapon and skateboard respectively, deeper research says that they were actually titles of “blockbuster” games coming out soon. But AGCI went belly up before they were finished. Tough luck.
Wally finds Toby and tells him that any friend that won’t take, “No” for an answer isn’t really your friend. Wally then continues on into another neighborhood and another subway. There he meets Priscilla the Mouse (Because guys are rats, girls are mice, if Secret of NIMH taught me anything) who has had her radio stolen by Ricky Rat. Another subway stage and Priscilla has her radio back.
This is where things start getting kind of trippy. Up until now, the game has been fairly straightforward and child-friendly. Steeped in over-generalizing statements and innocent obstacles. Suddenly, it’s getting on towards dusk, you’re in the inner-city. Luckily in the inner city in Wally Bear’s world, you don’t have to worry about drug dealers. You have to worry about terrorists.
|Apparently, bombs will still hurt you no matter how much No you fling at them.|
Now, it’s one thing to be getting into gang trouble in your grade school. But if you’re wandering into gang territory after dark, then you’re just asking for trouble. You learn this lesson the hard way, since these levels are no piece of cake. It was around here that I just said, “Screw it” and hacked the game for infinite lives.
Now for more after-school special drama. Larry the Lizard was spotted walking into a parking garage drinking from “a funny looking bottle”. Wally reminds us that even grownups shouldn’t drink and drive. The implication is that kids shouldn’t drink and drive either. Which is strictly true.
Bet you can’t guess how drunk I am!
Wally is now in a parking garage. He must find an exit out of all the possible exits. Also, Larry the Lizard is apparently more than one person, too. The exit to the parking garage leads into the sewers. Suddenly I’m realizing what Wally’s parents were talking about. Just say No to go to this party. What kind of parents send their kid off into a world of gangs and drug dealers that requires two subways (that are frequented by gangsters and thieves) a trip through the inner-city and then past a parking garage and through the sewers. But it gets worse. Later on we find a castle hidden in the sewers with creepy faces that shoot… something at you. This eventually leads to more sewers, another castle, and then back to the surface of the inner-city (strangely enough with a sign indicating that you were in the subway?) until Wally finally arrives at the party.
The most ironic thing about this game is that it would probably be much better if you were stoned while playing it…
But, the weirdest thing about this entire shindig is that up until October 15, 2007 a hotline for Wally Bear and the No Gang was still active at 1-800-HI-WALLY. You could call up and Wally the Bear would tell you all about being smart and not starting and how you could just say no. For the life of me, I don’t know how or why the hotline would be open for 15 years.
And since I can’t think of a more fitting way to end this entry, I’m going to include this song that would make Wally Bear proud.