Monday, July 3, 2017

My Life as a Gamer: Systems Failure - Not a Gem

Not all of Palladium's games are items with hidden brilliance. Systems Failure, made to play on the fears of Y2K over 15 years ago, is that side of Palladium- the one where it's not brilliant-but-bungled. No, this is the sort of thing that would not have gone over during the era of Superfriends (and man, did that cartoon have some clunker episodes), and even Hanna-Barbara would've gone "Oh come on!" and the showrunners during the worst days of Doctor Who would've said "This is just rubbish."

The premise is as simple as its cover makes it seem: giant bugs invade the world and seek to conquer Mankind to use for its nefarious ends, and they use the event of New Year's Day of 2000 to make it happen. Why? Because they can become energy beings, but only travel via solid connection--only via landlines of sufficient bandwidth--so they have a narrow window to conquer target species. (Yes, that's right, go Wireless and the Bugs aren't an issue.)

There's "What If?" and there's "Piss-Poor Excuse". This is the latter, and the result is clear: a game whose premise and presentation does not compel the player or the Game Master to take the game seriously. This is not something that inspires anything but mockery, increasingly so as we get away from the turn of the millennium; it's the sort of vibe one gets from inferior genre fiction (e.g. Fear the Walking Dead), and the play that results inspires satire like Knights of the Dinner Table.

Do give this a read, but if you would not play obvious comedy like Paranoia then this isn't up your alley either. It's worth having (so buy used) only to learn from its failure as a game.

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