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Up from (Super) Obscurity

While I always enjoy a good "Theme Month" of articles (like February's Endangered SNESpecies), it does cut down on my ability to spontaneously combust choose games to talk about.
This can be a drag when I discover an underexposed diamond in the rough, and I have to wait weeks to tell the world!
The narrative device of Foreshadowing: asked for by name implication!
The section above should foreshadow the fact that there's a game that I'm very excited to talk about! And normally when a big-time game journalist uses phrases like "diamond in the rough", "underexposed", "payolla", "excited" or "semprini", they're referring to a game so great you should play it this very instant -- even if doing so means you'd have to risk losing your job, leap from a moving speedboat, or focus your seemingly immortal life-force so you can destroy a giant ceiling fan*
*: this last one only applies to Highlanders trapped in a room with a giant ceiling fan future world they did not create retroactively ignored sequel.
Of course, I have terrible taste in games; so when I refer to a "diamond in the rough", it's a game that's so horrible I find it endlessly endearing. It's times like these when my "I have bad taste" tag just isn't sufficient. I've decided to commission a slightly more exclusive NEW tag, for the best of the worst that I love the best.
And what game sucks so much that I'm going to spend weeks dissecting my irrational fondness for it?
(as licensed by Nintendo and Sony Electronics Publishing Company, all rights reserved)
Yes sir, I have so much to say about this game that this week I only have time to discuss approximately 23 pixels! But what revealing pixels they are, because they relate to...
The protagonist's head: is it Hair, Hat, Helmet or...?
Jonathan Harker is one of the main character's in Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula...well, at least for the first 1/3rd or so (he spends a lot of the rest of it incapacitated). One can only assume* that Harker is also important in the Francis Ford Coppola movie, confusingly titled Bram Stoker's Dracula.
*: though I guess if you watched it, you wouldn't have to assume. I haven't, but it's high on my list of movies to watch...though not high enough to make the Walter Matthau version of Dennis the Menace lose any sleep.
However, to cut to the cheese chase: we're ONLY concerned with the Super Nintendo game based on the movie named Bram Stoker's Dracula. And in that game, Jonathan Harker is the high-jumping, sword-slashing protagonist! Let's join him moments into his adventure:
Pictured above: Jonathan Harker, armed with a bent butter knife, cowers on top of the bar to escape a vicious dog.
I think we can safely say that Dracula's centuries-old reign of terror will soon face its greatest challenge yet!
Or at least since that happened.
But if you've been following along with the foreshadowing, you'll know that the question of the hour is, "What's up with the black and gray region on the upper left half of his skull?"
There's clearly some shininess at the front and back of his head, so at first I thought it might be a medieval leather or metal helmet, with additional metal re-enforcements around the brim, front and back. You know, the sort of thing that wouldn't look out of place on...
Someone who wanted to shoot a Power Pigg,
the guards who prevent you from beginning your favorite action/role-playing game,
But eventually I abandoned that idea: the spot between the gray strips is black, suggesting only hair: if it was truly a helmet, that black region would be brown, or at very least a different gray.
Maybe we can get a better idea by zooming in:
Hmmm; it's still a little hard to tell. Perhaps we should tint the extraneous parts of the picture?
Well, that didn't help, either. Let's take one more look at the original picture:
I've also decided that it can't represent "blackish hair, with some areas reflecting gray in the light," and I find the theory of a small square yarmulke unlikely in the extreme.
And so we're forced to the only conclusion available: Jonathan Harker is wearing a gray band around his head, which connects over the top of his head but exposes the sides of his hair.
And what kind of thing could this weird jock-strap-hat device be?
"Amateur Wrestling Earmuffs"
To illustrate this greco-roman wrestling ear-protecting headgear, I only have to reference Rick "Dogface Gremlin" Steiner -- one half of the professional wrestling tag team known as The Steiner Brothers.
And you'd think I'd have plenty of images of Rick Steiner to work with, given that he was active in the 1980s and 1990s, so there's both NES and the SNES games that feature him:
WCW: World Championship Wrestling for the NES
WCW Super Brawl for the Super Nintendo
But that would be too easy. In fact I've come across an interlinking conspiracy so diabolical, so well-hidden, it makes The Da Vinci Code look like a two-tone paint-by-numbers picture of a cute fuzzy bunny.
My friends, can your heart withstand --
The "Rick Steiner - The Peace Keepers - Think Big" Triangle?
Ironically the best view I've found of Rick Steiner's trademark "amateur wrestling earmuffs" can be found in The Peace Keepers (the Americanization of the third game in the Rushing Beat series):
The wrestler brothers, called "Gor" and "Kuchek" in America, were long ago identified as "Bootleg Steiner Brothers" by ScrollBoss...but the obtuse references don't stop there!
Their names are knockoffs of the characters "Gore and Kutchek" from the movie The Barbarians.
And how do I know this is an intentional reference to The Barbarians? Well, even if there were dozens of brothers with names similar to "Gore" and "Kutchek", Movie-Gore and Movie-Kutchek are played by actors David Paul and Peter Paul, a pair of twin bodybuilders known collectively as "The Barbarian Brothers."
And The Peace Keepers-Gor's introductory speech in the American version of the game ("Rabbit, rabbit, treat me good...") is definitely inspired by the good-luck rhyming song sung by the The Barbarian Brothers's superstitious characters in their movie Think Big!
Truly, the mind boggles.
I guarantee this is the only page on the internet where you'll see Francis Ford Coppola mentioned in the same article as David Paul and Peter Paul!
...and tune in next time for more something anything about my new favorite SNES game, Bram Stoker's Dracula!
— carlmarksguy, 2014-03-07
Hi! I wonder, what this article exactly is about: helmets, Bean Eater's Dracula or unpaired wrestlers? Not that I didn't enjoy it, but found it a bit confusing. What if you write about Dracula game for SNES? I'm curious. Also, my compliments for your site. Cheers.
Sorry, I wrote a comment for this article in a different section. I'll recap it here: I didn't understant what the article was about. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but what if you fully write one about the SNES' Dracula instead? Cheers.
Hey, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to write (I moved your first comment to this page too). Basically I WAS going to point out the bad parts of the game "Bram Stoker's Dracula" this week, then get into actual points of interest in the coming weeks, but I had too much fun with his weird head, so everything else had to wait. (These blogs are only 1000-5000 words, and I usually start them at 8pm Thursday night, so...yeah)
Oh, I get it, thanks! I'd add to your roster Macho Man Randy Savage from Wrestlemania Challenge for NES, but he'd be a weaker comparison to the mighty Rick Steiner's "mise". ;)
I keep almost buying the NES "Wrestlemania Challenge" when I see it; the Isometric angle makes everything look so silly. But anyway, tune in this Friday for more stuff about SNES's "Bram Stoker's Dracula"
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