Sell Like Hell


Hey kids! Do you like Tombstone® frozen pizza? (It’s morbidly delicious!) How about video games designed by Activision®, such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater® 4 and Street Hoops™? And week-long internships that pay $10,000—are you down with those? If you answered “yes” or “whatever” to two or more of those questions, you’re in luck. After conducting a survey that revealed 47 percent of teen boys believe “tester for new video games” is the “ultimate” summer job (36 percent of girls picked “personal shopper at a major clothing store,” boring!), the aforementioned companies decided to sponsor a contest in which the winner takes home 10 large after five short days of playing unreleased titles. “Instead of putting together a résumé or filling out countless applications,” explains Kraft Pizza’s senior associate brand manager, Lara Warren, “teens can just look under the label of specially marked Tombstone pizzas to see if they’ve nabbed their dream job.” Take it from me—this column came inside of a box of Cracker Jacks®.

RLH: Run Like Hell

For PS2, Xbox (review copy)

Developer Digital Mayhem

Publisher Interplay

Rating 7 (out of 10)

RLH stands for “Run Like Hell,” and what makes you a run faster? Why, a BAWLS® Guarana energy drink, of course. That’s right, as you make your way through the Forseti space station killing nasty aliens, you work up a heckuva thirst, and vending-machine bottles of BAWLS will give your health a slight boost. It’s one thing to watch your favorite stars provide product placement in Hollywood blockbusters, quite another to force the BAWLS into your mouth as a condition of advancing through the game.

Sucking BAWLS isn’t the only thing Nick Conner concerns himself with, of course. A decorated war hero with a distaste for authority, our character lives at some unspecified point in the distant future when the human “Hegemony” have finally defeated an alien race known as the Neh-Lok. (Conner earned his medals and a demotion after going against orders and igniting a gaseous planet where the Neh-Lok fleet hid.) Now assigned to the border-world space station Forseti, Conner lives with his cute scientist fiancée, Dr. Samantha Reilly. So . . . Reilly’s best friend gets her head chopped off by anti-life forms who invade the station, and her man must spring into heroic, authority-defying action.

As Conner, you must face, and occasionally evade, baddies—mostly blade-armed creatures inspired in equal parts by Edward Scissorhands and Alien, and sting-tailed scorpions carrying murderous babies. (They lob fireballs, squirt poison, and sometimes render themselves invisible.) Other chores include repairing elevators, planting explosives, resetting generators, monitoring mysterious bio-growths, defending lizard-like buddies (who become traitors), and rescuing surly teenagers. Remember: When it comes to standing up for your race and “Hegemony” in general, Red Bull just won’t cut it.

WWE Crush Hour

For GameCube (review copy), PS2, Xbox

Developer Pacific Coast Power & Light

Publisher THQ

Rating 5

I have yet to hear a scarier premise for a game: World Wrestling Entertainment mogul Mr. McMahon™ “controls all the networks,” and “you can see his WWE Superstars in all your favorite TV shows and commercials.” Commercial, show, or both, Crush Hour is where Superstars from the Rock to Hulk Hogan “trade in their muscles for muscle cars,” battling each other in 13 different arenas based on WWE shows like SmackDown! and Hell in a Cell. Instead of swinging folding chairs and jumping off ladders, you drive around, firing rockets and dropping mines. Seeing as how the winners aren’t pre-determined, this may be the first game to be more realistic than the sport it’s based on.

All the stars get their own vehicles rated in four categories. The sexy Stacy Keibler’s “import tuner” features nipple, er, “ripple darts,” and makes up for poor defenses with speed, as does the one other car driven by a female. Gold medalist Kurt Angle pilots a “patriotic SUV”—is there any other kind?—with “firework splash and energy rings,” and rich bastard William Regal takes the wheel of an “elegant British roadster.” Trash talk comes standard. (“The flames burn, don’t they?” cleverly taunts Kane.) What sucks balls is the fact that only two people can play at a time. That’s bull.

Suck for yourself:
Codemasters will publish a “rhythm-action” game based on American Idol.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2003

Archive Highlights