Say it’s the 1990s and you’ve been hired to make a video game based on the 1992 smash hit Wayne’s World for the SNES. Well, it’s going to be a platformer, because it’s the 90s. But what’s the structure for the game? Maybe you just have Wayne and Garth traveling through areas inspired by the film, culminating in a battle against the sleazy Benjamin Kane, perhaps with one or more alternate endings — just like the movie.
Or maybe you instead decide to create an elaborate framing story where Wayne and Garth are talking about terrible games they’ve been playing at Noah’s Arcade, the company that sponsors their show in the film. That’s what Gray Matter did back in 1993, opening the game with some pixelated approximations of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey listing some titles with hacky joke names in a bit that somehow sets up the entire bizarre adventure.
It’s kind of a bold move to open a terrible game with a list of fictional terrible games, but what exactly were these titles supposed to be? Here are my best guesses.
10. Regarding Henry: The Video Game
Regarding Henry is a 1991 drama film directed by Mike Nichols and starring Harrison Ford. It’s about a lawyer who is just the worst but then gets shot in the head, resulting in amnesia and paralysis. As he slowly recovers, he realizes what a bad guy he used to be and becomes a better person. The film made a bunch of money, but was criticized for its sentimentality. Roger Ebert described it as “a film of obvious and shallow contrivance, which aims without apology for easy emotional payoffs, and tries to manipulate the audience.” Sounds like an indie game where you learn a lesson about empathy and how people like, aren’t all that different and stuff.
9. Bick’s World of Goop
First of all, the idea that the Wayne’s World SNES game anticipated World of Goo blows my mind. Other than that, this one seems to be named after Gray Matter artist Greg Bick, who went on to work at Rockstar Games on titles like The Warriors and Bully before sadly passing away in 2008 at just 43 years old.
8. Adventures of the Potato People: Where’s Our Stuff?
Trying to look up “Adventures of the Potato People” led me to a children’s book called The Potato People by Pamela Allen. Maybe one of the developers was a big fan as a kid?
7. Toxic Timmy the Nuclear Knob
“Knob” is British English slang for penis, but you could sneak that in back in the 90s, because this was before Doctor Who and Sherlock came along and any Americans paid attention to British culture.
6. Sputnik the Bowl Weevil
There is no such thing as a “bowl weevil,” which means this is either a weird joke on “boll weevil”, which is a real insect, or that someone along the way just made a spelling error. Weirdly, there is now a product called the “Sputnik Bowl,” which is a dog food dish. Possibly also a reference to Sputnik Weazel, a British musician.
5. Gord’s Funtime Checkers
No clue, man. Best guess? Gord Dineen, a Canadian hockey player from Ontario, the same province as Gray Matter, briefly played for a minor league team called the Indianapolis Checkers. In the early 90s, he was playing for the Ottawa Senators, so it’s conceivable that one of the developers could have been a fan.
4. Supersonic the Lyme Tick
Clear Sonic the Hedgehog reference here, which is kind of funny because Wayne’s World (the movie) does show some footage of Sonic the Hedgehog in the Noah’s Arcade commercial. Interestingly, small rodents like mice and hedgehogs are the primary reservoirs of Lyme disease, which is then translated to humans via ticks.
3. Toxic Timmy 2: I’ll Waste You All!
Fun little play on words with “waste” here, though otherwise seems to be a throwaway space-filler.
2. Slob and Goober
I don’t know, just two funny sounding words that could also plausibly be the names of video game protagonists, I guess.
1. Zantar the Gelatinous Cube
Zantar the Gelatinous Cube was actually mentioned in Wayne’s World, in a scene where Noah Vanderhoff (Brian Doyle-Murray) explains that it’s a new title where the cube eats warriors in a medieval village. But, he adds, the game is deliberately programmed to prevent players from ever being able to finish a level. I doubt anyone who worked on that scene ever thought that it’d be the impetus for a platformer based on movie.
What’s strangest about this entry, though is that it sets up the entire Wayne’s World SNES video game. Having finished their list, Wayne and Garth explain that what makes Zantar so terrible is not the level-blocking problem Vanderhoff mentions in the movie, but that the game came to life, kidnapped Garth, and transformed Wayne into a big-headed monster who then had to travel through twisted worlds to rescue his friend. To paraphrase Benjamin Kane, I know nothing about video games, but I find that idea riveting. To quote Wayne Campbell, not.
This piece originally appeared at Fanbyte in March 2022.
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