The Forgotten Professional Gamer

The history of “professional gamers” is long and frequently hilarious, stretching from the days of high-scoring arcade champions up through the celebrity of Nintendo’s Howard Philips and the smash sensation of WCG Ultimate Gamer. Other alleged video-game experts had briefer stays in the spotlight, and one of them was Renovation’s Jamie Bunker.

Jamie and his spectacular mullet appeared in no less than three advertisements for Renovation’s shooter Gaiares, and they ensured him a special place in the halls of early 1990s game marketing. In fact, a grown-up, de-mulleted Jamie looks back on his time as a Renovation spokesman with the right sense of humor. Yet he wasn’t the company’s only professional gamer. An ad for Arcus Odyssey extolled the knowledge of one David Izat.

This Arcus Odyssey spot is obscure today, even among those who fondly remember Renovation’s Gaiares campaign. That's not because Arcus Odyssey lacked a T-shirt and pronunciation guide. It’s because David Izat looks just a little…unwholesome.

And there’s the difference. The Gaiares ad presents Jamie Bunker as average '90s guy who just really likes a particular Genesis shooter. The Arcus Odyssey ad transforms a normal Renovation game producer into a shadowy nerd-goblin whose obscene, knowing grin would strike terror into any child paging through a new Gamepro issue. Oh, he’ll teach you a thing or two about fun. So many, many things.

David Izat and Arcus Odyssey had little time to teach anyone anything about fun, as they soon gave way to other Renovation titles and less eerie marketing. This was unfair to both of them. Arcus Odyssey is an enjoyable Gauntlet-style action-RPG and one of the better Renovation offerings. And David Izat probably didn’t deserve to be turned into that game's ghoulish overseer.

Tape Test: Lily C.A.T.

[Tape Test covers notable anime available in North America only through old VHS releases. This installment looks at Lily C.A.T., released by Streamline Pictures in the 1990s.]

A 1980s anime rip-off of Alien isn’t such a bad idea. No, really, it isn’t. The anime industry spent most of that decade wallowing in a mire of detailed robots, massive explosions, slavering aliens, huge-haired women, and ridiculous visual overkill, all of which would work strangely well in the sexualized and grotesque realm of Alien imitators. An anime-washed Alien might not be any better than Deepstar Six, but at least it shouldn’t be boring. And yet Lily C.A.T. is.

Unabashed in aping Alien, Lily C.A.T. finds the crew of a deep-space freighter slumbering away a long journey. Once awakened, they’re greeted by the disturbing news that two of their number are illegally aboard. Their speculation about the stowaways is swiftly thrust aside by a larger problem: some strange virus is killing them. And there's a big lineup of characters to kill. In terms of both Alien rips and space-opera anime, Lily C.A.T. has its stereotypes covered.

There’s a blonde girl with a pet cat.

There’s an unflatteringly drawn black man.

And there’s a macho, gun-toting fellow who looks vaguely like Coach McGuirk from Home Movies.