When I was 11 I came across this advertisement in a video game magazine:
It was a very important thing to have done, and also interesting to note that it was a time when a page in a magazine was quite possibly the only thing to convince me that I had to get $50 together for a video game (let alone ANYTHING- where does an 11-year-old get 50 bucks?)
I wasn’t so easily swayed by mere magazine ads- that is to say, they weren’t always my guidance for choosing which games were right for me. The box art had to be really good too. 1996 was a tough time to get folks to buy computer games, and a bunch of stuff clicked for me with The Neverhood– it was claymation, which I was obsessed with, and it was a point and click adventure. I was familiar with the genre through King’s Quest, which was given to us by our cousins. My brother and I played it over the course of a summer when our dad was off at work. Essentially, King’s Quest was our babysitter. It did a really good job.
One Sunday afternoon out with my grandmother (henceforth to be referred to as Teddy) I came across The Neverhood at Wal-Mart. I had put the game in the back of my mind since seeing the ad, as well as my resolve to get the cash together. I appealed to Teddy to lend me the money (which, both of us knew, was really just a request for her to buy it for me) but Teddy said “well, you’ve already picked out the Legos, so you can only have one”. Completely reasonable, but I just decided to cry about it until she caved in. Even to this day I stand up for my 11-year old self and his behavior. What am I, gonna pass up on a big box of Legos? It was the big tub of loose, uncoordinated Legos. You can’t buy those tubs anymore.
So I got the game home and can still remember just how perfect it was. If you haven’t played this game, there’s nothing I can say that will convince you that you should find a way to play it, but you very much should. The game’s art direction alone is like nothing you’ve ever seen, the world is rich and full of rewarding secrets, the puzzles are so clever, the music and characters jibe with the world to bring it all to life and make me obsessed with it for years and years. I was a big contributor to The Neverhood message boards for a long time (posting under my ‘Hood alias, Foonio) and I’ve done some fanart in the past:
This game has been the impetus for my desire to stick with sculpting. They released some games after The Neverhood for the Playstation- one platformer called Skullmonkeys and a fighting game called Boombots. Both were just as creative and had high replay value, but what we’ve always wanted was a return to the Neverhood, or at least the style of it. SO- here we are, almost 20 years later and Mike Dietz has gotten the crew back together to make a new Claymation point-and-click, the spiritual successor to The Neverhood:
I’ve done all I can to support the project monetarily, by calling Teddy and crying until she caved in. Now, if you could do the same, and call your grandmothers, we’ll have this game backed and off the ground. Take a look around the Kickstarter campaign, watch the movies, check out the fantastic pledge incentives, and toss ’em a few bones. Indie games abound these days, but I can assure you, NOBODY makes games like these guys do. It’s GOTTA get done. I never ask you for anything, it’s totally the least you could do. Call your grandma.