Monday, August 18, 2014

8-Bit Apocalypse

8-Bit Apocalypse8-Bit Apocalypse by Amanda Billings

When Jimmy was seven, he was one of the best video gamers in the world until he choked during a Donkey Kong tournament and his dreams died. Now 35 and working at Chuck E. Cheese, Jimmy's life is going nowhere until a giant irradiated Atari cartridge invades Denver. Will this be Jimmy's last chance at redemption?

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, the New Bizarro Author series is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. Sometimes, it's chocolate, sometimes a crunch frog, and sometimes it's a story about a giant video game cartridge trashing Denver.

Back in the 1980's, Atari buried some cartridges in the New Mexico desert, mostly ET but some others and Amanda Billings builds her tale around this event. Jimmy, the Chuck E. Cheese loser, is the only one around who realizes what is happening and how to stop it. Imagine playing Centipede but shooting at a train instead of a pixelated insect. Or dodging real cars to play Frogger.

The story reminds me of The Last Starfighter a bit but what it really reminds me of is the episode of Futurama where Fry has to fight the aliens from the planet Nintendoo 64. It's a fun story with equal measures of video game nostalgia and wholesale carnage.

If I had to complain about something, I'd say I wish the book was at least twice as long. At 90 pages in the print version, there's not a lot of meat to it. Still, it was a lot of fun while it lasted. Four out of five stars.

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