Vince at Play 1 – Xenophobe

Today marks the start of a new feature on The Back Row: Vince at Play

It mostly involves me playing old console games that I never got a crack at as a child and giving my impressions of them now. Today’s installment is for the NES port of Xenophobe.

Character selection is limited to:


One of the Handi-Quacks from Family Guy


The bastard child of a Conehead and a potato

Bluebeard the Pirate

Bluebeard the Pirate

I go with the conehead and make my way into the game.

My mission is to try to clear the base before it self destructs. I’m not sure if that means they want me to jump over it or if they want it cleaned out, but at this point I’m ready for anything.

What I end up getting is a half-screen worth of video game depicting my potato-headed protagonist on board of the Starship Enterprise as designed by a five year old with a drinking problem, and frankly I’m not surprised that they want this ship cleared after having explored it for a minute or two.

Fall Down

To make things interesting, jumping into anything (including the doors, which open at sub-instant speeds) makes Mr. Potato fall flat on his ass for several useless seconds.


If I’m not being attacked by a green tiger and shrimp hybrid, I’m being shot at by one of the Tall Man’s silver spheres from the Phantasm movies that has somehow gotten ahold of a laser cannon.


I try shooting them to no avail, and beat a hasty retreat only to run into a hermit crab hellbent on savaging my legs while it clings tenaciously to my buttocks.


I manage to shake the crab and make a mad dash for it, but am stopped dead in my tracks by a perpetually surprised grenade-spitting shark head that is grafted to the ceiling by it’s spine.


After that rogue’s gallery of space horrors, I’m almost relieved to be melted and killed by a drippy puddle of green goo leaking from the ceiling. I watch Captain Conetato blink out of existence without fanfare or incident and briefly ponder whether it was a deliberate statement about the futility of life and how suddenly it could be over, then decide that it probably would’ve been difficult to program a man with a deformed head falling over.

This entire experience has been vaguely unsettling and I shut down for the night with a fair deal of relief. We can only hope that the next time Vince is at play, things make a little more sense.

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