Whenever I get annoyed with the amount of disgusting shovelware found on the current consoles, I take a deep breath and think back to the NES era, where awful games were so plentiful that even credible video game designers were known to churn out some horrid stinkers. Case in point – Taboo: The Sixth Sense. This game, which came out in 1989 (the same year as the Exxon Valdez oil spill), was made by Rare, which you might know as the company that made RC Pro Am, Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct, Goldeneye, Diddy Kong Racing, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and, most recently, Kameo: Elements of Waitthiswasagamethatpeoplebought and Viva Piñata (filled with fun, filled with fun). Taboo: The Sixth Sense was a game with a simple purpose. To divine the future. It was a video game made about the dark art of Tarot Card reading.
I have never put much/any stock in palm readers, psychics, and those who use a pack of creepy playing cards to tell me things I know already but in a vague way while burning incense. I honestly have no idea how they can live with themselves when that is what they do as their main profession. I can’t imagine coming home to my children and feeding them off money I made telling a girl that her boyfriend is cheating on her based solely on the lines her hands made as they grasped when she was a baby. This is insane stuff.
But! Taboo: The Sixth Sense dispenses with the overweight, depressing foreign woman who asks intrusive questions, so score a point for Rare. Instead, the game gives you the option to input your name, birthdate and gender, ask a question, and then it proceeds to give you a tarot card reading that is mostly to one hundred percent form-letter style gibberish, a soup of mashed together phrases, bizarre pictures, and awkward, repeated NES chiptunes. The game doesn’t offer much, but what is there is incredible.
I’ve owned the game for some years, and have used it mostly to entertain guests with the bizarre and nonsensical phrases that are produced as you play. Recently, though, I decided that I needed to pull out the cartridge for a more sinister purpose. I wanted to see if I could divine Nintendo’s plans for this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo before they happened. I wanted rend open the dark maw of the unknown, reach in with an NES controller, and unearth the hideous secrets of the netherworld. Mostly I just wanted to find out stuff like if Nintendo is going to make a Kid Icarus sequel for the Wii.
Because a journey so foul cannot be taken alone, I enlisted fellow Nintendorks staffer Travis to also journey into this warren of dark secrets, and together we decided that we dare ask…the time machine on NINTENDO.
We started by inputting our name, which of course had to be something lewd (in this case, “fucklips), our date of birth (6/6/06, which would make us two years old, but no matter it is the day of the beast), and our gender (female).
For our question, we asked Taboo to tell us it’s E3 predictions. Then we prayed. To what? I prayed to a heathen god to spare us in this hour of indiscretion. I cannot speak for Travis, but if I could I would assume he probably prayed that new Batman film to be awesome. Everyone in America (except for Stan Lee) is praying for this already, Travis.
The cards were shuffled, which was unnecessary and thus bizarre, as it didn’t seem like it was shuffling as much as it was “putting a card from the top to the bottom again and again.” But hey, I am not going to question Taboo: The Sixth Sense. Then the cards were dealt. All right, right here I am going to question Taboo: The Sixth Sense. Why do you need to take so goddamn long to deal the fucking cards? I think it’s because the meat of the game is over with in about five minutes, so they needed to puff it up with extra frilliness. Rare, as we later found out, never learned with their games.
Once the cards were “shuffled” and “dealt,” we were proclaimed to be the King of Swords, which was already awesome and forecasting of a possible Zelda-centric E3. Neither Travis or I would have a problem with that. Or Nintendo is financing a sweet film starring and featuring songs by Phil Collins. Which Travis would have a problem with but I would not.
Our first card was the Significator Card, The Two of Cups. Travis immediately freaked out but I quickly pointed out that this was one two many cups for his fears to be realized. The Two of Cups indicates that “the situation at present is a beginning or renewal of a friendship, relationship, or partnership.” Now, Travis pointed out that maybe our Significator Card was indicating that Nintendo and Factor 5 might be teaming back up for that Kid Icarus sequel. So, promising right off the bat. I’d be happy just with this little tidbit of information.
But, believe me, we PRESSED ON, full of excitement that our foray into this mystical realm was already so fruitful.
Our next card was the Crossing Card, The Knight of Staffs, which told us that “The existing obstacle is a journey into the unknown.” Well, crap. Taboo is telling us that the problem with us wanting to know what Nintendo is doing at E3 is that we don’t know what they are going to do at E3. Thanks, Taboo: The Sixth Sense, you prescient asshole game.
We were surprised next to uncover the Crowning Card: The High Priestess, and damn. Are those what I think they are? “Attainable at this time is inability to successfully form close or emotional relationships, protective.” I don’t really care what the fuck this means, because my NES just showed me some honest-to-goodness, pixelated, sexy breasts. Travis thought he saw three, which I assumed hinted at Total Recall being announced for the Virtual Console, but then he made another discovery. He noticed that it looked like her legs were crossed as if she has to pee under that long skirt of hers. This led him to the obviously correct interpretation of this prophecy: Wetrix.
The next few cards were kind of dodgy. We had our Base of the Matter Card, Justice, which informed us that “The distant past foundation is able to avoid temptation or evil.” See, we don’t care much about the distant past, as we want to know the future. Our Past Influences Card was The World, telling us matter-of-factly that “Previous influences exerting pressure are perfection and admiration of others.” Oh Nintendo, always aiming for perfection while also admiring others. Taboo: The Sixth Sense seems to think you’re an Isaac Asimov style robot.
We finally got to a card predicting the future: Forthcoming Influences. We got excited as we were dealt the Six of Swords, which apparently means that “The near forth-coming influence is safe passage through difficulty.” Taboo: The Sixth sense is like a real fortune teller – vague, obtuse, and a whore gypsy.
We were then dealt our Where One Finds Oneself Card, The Eight of Coins. “You in a proper perspective have/are to serve one’s apprenticeship.” This obviously is something about that newfangled Star Wars game where Darth Vader has teaches a young angry white kid how to hold a light saber backwards.
Our next card was just a fat guy sitting on a throne, so easy cheezy: Wario Land Shake It!
We reached our penultimate reading with the dealing of our Hopes and Fears Card: The Wheel of Fortune. “Your secret fears or wants are approaching the end of a problem, or situation.” I was getting annoyed with how little we had learned about anything at this point. I would have preferred a simple tarot reading: “Your secret fears or wants are a new Mario game on the DS. A sequel to New Super Mario Bros.” No, apparently we’re either fearing procrastination or wanting procrastination. Which is it, Taboo? You can’t have it both ways! …or can you?
The Final Outcome card was dealt, and we gazed upon the Ace of Swords, which said plainly that “The outcome of all previous mentioned problems will be strength and triumph over trouble or emotions.” Travis took this as meaning that Reggie, the voice, body, and soul of Nintendo’s E3 presence, was a complicated man, emotional, but strong of heart. Travis and I shared a quick moment, a look that said everything that we knew Reggie must feel as he steps to the podium each year to talk about Nintendo. If, on Tuesday, The Man cries, well, we told you so, thanks to Taboo: The Sixth Sense.
So, as the game told us our magic numbers (43, 05, and 49, so look for something BIG when the press conference is 5 minutes, 43 minutes, and 49 minutes in) we pondered what we had really learned from our reading. Travis learned that Nintendo is a powerful company, and will remain so despite what we may learn at E3. I learned that if I play Taboo enough I get to see titties.