Viz: The Soft Floppy One

Released: 1991
Formats: Amiga, Atari ST, Spectrum, Amstrad, Commodore 64, PC

When Viz was in its prime it sold a million copies per issue – the only publication that outsold it was the Radio Times. It’s a fact that often amazes, but more amazing is the comic’s incredibly humble beginning – long before the likes of The Fat Slags and Johnny Fartpants became household names, creator Chris Donald and his brother Simon walked from pub to pub in Newcastle selling the magazine by hand.

In his book Rude Kids, Chris Donald explains how whenever a licensing deal arose the input from himself and fellow writers nearly always fell on deaf ears.

The little known Fat Slags film from 2005 – which featured appearances from Geri Halliwell and Naomi Campbell – abused the characters so much that they chose not to even bother mentioning the film’s existence in their hallowed pages.

Then there’s the Viz fruit machine. Liberties weren’t taken here but the writers thought of loads of fun ideas – like The Fat Slags saying “nudge, nudge” – which weren’t used. We can’t forget the Viz Top Tips video either, presented by Vic and Bob. After being given some perfectly good Top Tips to use the program editors decided to alter them – “Put Tipex in your beard to fool people into thinking you’re an artic explorer” was bafflingly changed to “Tie ice cubes to your beard…”.

The Viz computer game – which was confusingly known as Viz: The Game on the box and Viz: The Soft Floppy One on the title screen – was yet another product produced without the input of Chris Donald and his band of writers. It’s far from being a classic game, but not the worst use of the license imaginable.

It’s not a predictable platformer either. What we have here is a side-scrolling racing game. Biffa Bacon, Buster Gonad and Johnny Fartpants compete while Roger Mellie narrates on the bottom of the screen. Each of the five levels – forest, town, building site, beach and night club – have hazards to avoid such as open manholes and also appearances from other Viz characters. “I can smell the bullshit from here,” Roger Mellie says as Aldridge Prior the Hopeless Liar passes by on a moped. The nightclub level meanwhile sees Sid the Sexist strutting his stuff on a rather ’80s-style dance floor and The Fat Slags living up to their name.

Before racing there’s a chance to earn a few tokens that can be used to activate a power-up. Buster places his balls in a wheel barrow to whiz forward a dozen or so yards while Johnny can pump his way over gaps. These mini games are of the button bashing/joystick waggling variety, including bouncing on Buster’s balls like a space hopper until you reach a certain height and flattening dough on a production line using the weight of Buster’s boy bits. I’m mildly confident this is how Tesco Value pizza bases are made.

Visually it looked nice enough – the characters are easily recognisable, although often the speech bubbles vanished off the screen before you’d had the chance to read them. The music is suitably jolly; the building site level is a highlight with some sampled sounds.

If you managed to come first in each race you’d be treated to a rather odd ending sequence. After being presented with a medal by the mayor of Fulchester, the townhall in the background exploded revealing a host of Viz characters standing in a line completely unscathed.

Would have input from the comic writers made for a better game? Probably – The Top Tips on the loading screens are beyond poor. “Avoid being arrested by not breaking the law when the police are around,” reads one, and that’s not even the worst example.

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