I, like hundreds of thousands of others, have been captivated by the recent Summer Games Done Quick event over on Twitch.
One game in particular caught my eye like no other. One of which I’d heard by name, like fleeting whispers in the wind, but which I had never actually seen in action.
I am, of course, talking about Pepsiman: A 1999 release that acts as a glorious bow atop what was a fairly mixed millennium.
What is Pepsiman? Well, my friends, what is life? What is thinking? How do graphics cards even work? All are questions for which philosophers can only proffer educated guesses, but let me try with Pepsiman.This PlayStation endless-running wonder follows the exploits of the titular Pepsi Man: a morph-suited, soda-guzzling philanthropist of indeterminate origin. At the beginning of each level, the Pepsi Man is accosted by a poor soul with a problem which can, through some astonishing contrivances, be solved by spraying Pepsi at the affected area, building, or scene of horrific devastation. It’s a stage progression which masterfully rackets up the tension in a manner that would have Hitchcock himself chewing at his nails. First you’ve got a driver who can’t deliver Pepsi because of a flat tire, leaving a throng of thirsty customers who need Pepsi; then there’s a firefighter whose fire engine has run out of fuel and who claims that people in a burning building need… Pepsi; then an army person tell us that a plane has crashed, although thankfully there have been no fatalities, and the survivors need… Pepsi.
Finally, in a thrilling conclusion to the whole carbonated drama, the ‘computer’ in ‘Pepsi city’ is broken, leading to rioting and urban warfare in the streets due to a lack of Pepsi. Therefore, in a conceit which is made oddly believable by contrast with the previous set ups, the Pepsi Man is formally tasked – by a police officer, no less – with the cessation of violence on the streets and the tempering of public anguish… by using Pepsi. It’s a bold move by the police force: when it comes to running quickly, I would happily espouse Pepsi Man’s ability to all and sundry, but his jurisprudence? Not so much.I unreservedly love the plot of Pepsiman. By repeatedly introducing contained situations, each more bombastic and with more at stake than the last, the player is left wondering what exploits Pepsi Man could possibly get up to after the credits. What great, catastrophic events could be adequately solved by indiscriminate lathering of Pepsi? Perhaps the Cuban Missile Crisis could be averted by replacing Soviet ballistic missiles with massive, shaken-up soda cans! The meteor that took out the dinosaurs could be diverted by some Pepsi-branded satellite! The first fish that wandered out of the ocean could be coerced back by pouring Pepsi over it, thereby ending all of the subsequent bother! The opportunities for a rich Pepsi-driven lore are there, folks.
Also included in the game are full motion video cutscenes containing a man so sedentary that it brings into question the ‘full motion’ part. He drinks a lot of Pepsi, feigns the playing of a lot of Pepsiman, and barks out an array of awe-inspiring slogans, including my personal favourite: “Pepsi for TV-Game!”Oh, and there’s one more thing that I just love. Just a minute, I need to go and look something up. I’m typing this here to give you an insight into the writing process; not at all because I’m setting up a ‘bit’ which will push the article along. You just sit tight, I’ll be back in a minute. A minute for me, not for you. You’ll notice no temporal discrepancy between this and the next paragraph. Um, unless you actually pause here yourself. Well, now that that laborious excursion into the land of the meta is over, I’ll be back in a moment!
Okay, I’ve discovered something very troubling. Using my keen journalistic sense and thorough research, I have found out that there may well be certain corporate interests tied up in Pepsiman. I won’t name the company, aside from the thirty or so times I’ve written it so far through fear of shilling for Big Soda.
Suffice it to say, I’m going to be a little bit more careful about which games I fervently enthuse upon in the future. Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on me but less so.
So, be sure to join me next time on ‘Games That Are Purely Art, Unfettered From The Shackles of Corporate Interest’ for a brief look at the masterpiece that is Tony The Tiger’s Great Adventure In Frostiesville!