Little Things: Totally Rad


If anyone tells you that story doesn’t matter to a video game, you’ll find the perfect counterargument in an NES side-scroller called Totally Rad. Jaleco’s American branch took a bland Famicom title named Magic John and remodeled its plot into a parody of the early ‘90s surfer-dude patois that everyone mocked and imitated at some point in between the first two Bill & Ted movies and Wayne’s World. The revamped dialogue turns a standard-issue game into a gnarly, badical, most righteous zeitgeist fragment, and it’s the only reason anyone really remembers Totally Rad.

Jaleco of America knew what they had with Totally Rad, and they knew it needed to stand out in some way besides gameplay. That’s because Totally Rad just coasts through the concept of a side-scrolling action title of the NES era. It’s a perfect example of Jaleco’s proclivity for merely adequate games and developer Aicom's varying levels of quality. Protagonist Jake has a chargeable shot and magic spells that range from healing to shapeshifting, but the level design is mediocre, the scenery unremarkable, and the gameplay itself just a little too sluggish. It’s perhaps worth a play through if you’re exploring every Mega Man game and imitation thereof, but you could just as easily watch the tubular cutscenes or page through the faithful instructions.

Yet there’s one more thing that I like about Totally Rad. One very minor thing.