Racist Games: Operation Secret Storm (NES)

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A few weeks ago I wrote about how the game “Punch-Out” had some questionable racial stereotypes that made it somewhat of a racist games. While most of the stereotypes were more silly than actually harmful, the game was really just a poorly localized game with stereotypes to try and show different cultures around the world. That said, “Punch-Out” was still a good game that certainly hasn’t really hurt anyone.

The game I am about to talk about is not that. This game is so intentionally racist and terrible that there’s absolutely nothing redeeming about it other than to laugh and mock it for being so incredibly racist and terrible. So let’s talk about:

Operation Secret Storm:

Let’s start by setting the scene. The year is 1991, Operation Desert Storm is steadily coming to a close, but the it’s still very much on the nation’s mind.  Good ol’ George H. W Bush is already starting to campaign for reelection against Bill Clinton and most certainly not undertaking dangerous crusades in the middle east by himself. The game developer Color Dreams, maker of such hits “as absolutely nothing”  and ‘All their games were terrible” wants to cash in on all of the buzz surrounding what’s going on. Instead of making their games the conventional route,  color dreams instead released all of their games unlicensed games by bypassing Nintendo’s lock-out chip, thus going around Nintendo’s quality control system. They had already started to switch their name from Color Dreams to “Bunch Games” because of the horrendous reputation for quality that Color Dreams rightfully held, but this is also prior to them forming “Wisdom Games”, another re-brand when they started making Christian themed games like “Bible Buffet” and “Joshua and the Battle of Jericho”. It’s then that some brilliant employee concocts the main idea behind Operation Secret Storm: Rambo 2 meets poor game design.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this game, I would just like to say that in preparation for this article I actually played an emulated version of the game. I proudly say it was emulated, because no man on earth should ever receive payment for the distribution or production of this game. That said, I’ve played and beat some bad games. I mean really bad games, so bad that most gamers today would give up gaming after playing them. This game is terrible. Maybe not atrociously bad as Superman 64 type bad, but relatively poor all around.

Let’s start with the story of the game. Meet Agent B, he is the protagonist of the game. He strikes an oddly familiar resemblance to a top political figure of the time, I wonder who… He loves America, and hates political correctness and fair depictions of reality. He’s the “only agent with a reasonable chance of completing Operation Secret Storm”, which means you’re on your own because the rest of the CIA are a bunch of deadbeats. Now you may be thinking? “Are the shades,  grenades, and copious amount of weapons standard in your normal CIA agent uniform?” The answer is yes, If you’re Agent B that is. You also may be asking “What could B possibly stand for?”. Bad ass? Bigotry? BALLS TO THE WALL? Bush? Brutal? It’s Bush. His name is Agent Bush, we’re not being subtle here.

As the little description of Agent B says, the driving story of the game is the epic tale of Agent B going on “Operation Secret Storm” to stop Saddam Insane from taking over the world. The game is clearly based on the true story of George Bush’s handling of Desert Storm. It features all realism of the war, with ghosts, fireballs, and magic carpet flying that you’ll find were left out real accounts. Damn censorship.

On your quest to offend anyone and everyone, the game takes you through about 10 different levels, each with a vaguely middle eastern themed background. It’s a lot like Aladdin on Genesis, except without the fun and common sense. You’ll face off against various middle eastern stereotypes, like knife wielding naked men, masked naked men, birds, and lots and lots of people in Turbans. I didn’t know there were so many naked men roaming the middle east waiting to murder you until I played this game. Luckily, your defense against these naked dudes are your trusty knife, fist and grenades, despite the fact that he’s clearly wielding multiple guns in the picture.

Some developers like to visit the region they base their games on prior to making the game. I like to think of Color Dreams actually going to Kuwait and having the experience of knife wielding S&M freaks and eagles attacking them constantly, only to eventually wind up in the palace of Saddam Hussein only to find that he is indeed a superhuman monster. That would justify the game, I suppose.

Make your way past enough enemies and you’ll eventually come to a boss battle. As I mentioned before, the game tries to accurately represent what real soldiers faced in Desert Storm. The boss battles include:

  • An eagle – The symbol of freedom is working for the enemy? Perhaps the developers were making some sort of statement on the US place in Iraq, or maybe they were just morons and lazy.
  • A man on a magic carpet – Authenticity.
  • Satan – Satan himself is not the final boss, instead he’s just a minion of Hussein! Who knew!

The later stages just stop having bosses, most likely because the developers didn’t care anymore. Whether they  ever did is questionable.

If you trudge through the game long enough you make it to the man himself: Saddam Insane.

I don’t claim to know much about the guy, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t 10 feet tall and a fire breather, but then again what do I know? Defeat him and you liberate the region from the terror of Saddam Insane, and thus conclude a wasted hour or so of your life.

Do I need to describe why this game is racist? I think it’s pretty clear. Color Dreams was merely trying to cash in on the conflict in the middle east by making the most derogatory and offensive game of the time. I’m pretty sure it didn’t work, as not many people seem to know about this game. So, that’s a positive to come out of this terrible game; the public’s ability to see through or ignore B.S games.  While it’s true that game developers have made equally as racist depictions of the middle east since Operation Secret Storm, I can’t think of a game that was this blatantly culturally insensitive.

Nevermind…I can think of one, but I’m not sure I want to play or even talk about it.

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