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Taboo: The Sixth Sense (NES) artwork

Taboo: The Sixth Sense (NES) review

"The thing about Tarot cards is that someone who actually believes that they are a gifted reader will offer their services for free, while the quacks are the ones jumping to charge you large sums of money to reveal your fortune and the meaning of life. Yay to Nintendo for being the quack. "

The thing about Tarot cards is that someone who actually believes that they are a gifted reader will offer their services for free, while the quacks are the ones jumping to charge you large sums of money to reveal your fortune and the meaning of life. Yay to Nintendo for being the quack.

This hugely disappointing offering, made by Rare of all people, is a cheap exploitation of the idea of Tarot cards which attaches all kinds of shallow pseudo-mystical baggage to them. If I wanted a flippant nonsensical answer to a question I would have much more fun consulting the Magic 8-Ball--at least that ordeal is over in a matter of seconds, while Taboo drags on for several minutes.

To call Taboo a card game would be inaccurate. There are cards, true, but the game part is missing. The only player-participation in the game is when it asks you to enter your name, birthdate and gender, and the question that you want to “ask the cards.” Entering information is a painstaking process, done one letter at a time by maneuvering the control pad across a Ouija-board-like alphabet display. My first inkling that the game was rather cheap was when one of my words got cut off at the end of the line and the second half appeared on the next line without so much as a hyphen.

Once you have entered your question, a mind-boggling scenario plays out. The deck of cards is “shuffled” amid seizure-inducing background effects, then they are laid out in a pattern and each one is turned over and “interpreted.”

(Incase you haven’t realized it yet, there is in fact no plot, storyline, action or gameplay of any sort. The “game” is that you have your cards read. Over, and over, and over again.)

The interpretations are actually quite funny, even though they don’t try to be. Think of those Mad Libs story where you are asked to write random nouns, adjectives and verbs into blank spaces of a story. When the story is read in its entirety, wild fun and hilarity ensues because your words unwittingly create funny situations due to their lack of proper context. Taboo is like a bad Mad Lib, and it’s easy to spot the big tear down the middle of the sentence that divides Part 1 from a Part 2 that has been randomly selected from a list and grafted on to the end. Sometimes the seams are horribly jagged and exposed, creating funny illogicalities and atrocious abominations of the English language. Here are just a few of my favorites:

-''Others view you as a change in surroundings or situation''
-''Your secret fears or wants are to meet your fate or destiny''
-''The conclusion of the issue is sympathetic or wisdom, heritage''
-''Currently your situation is capable of deep study, concentration and reflection''
-''Attainable at this time is nostalgic tendencies''
-''The distant past foundation is conquest, triumph or gain''
-''You in a proper perspective have/are a conflict or obstacle''
-''Others view you as a genuine interest in the well being of others''
-''Your inner hopes and fears are strength and triumph over trouble or emotions''

This process drags on for a while, until all the dealt cards have been turned over. Then the magical answer to your original question is presented. (If you can ever remember what it is you asked after having so many brain-cells fried by the stupidity of it all…) Not surprisingly, the “answer” is just another contrived and generic snippet of fortune-cookie wisdom that will most likely not actually answer your question.

The game then asks you to input your State. Because apparently we all live in America. Based on this knowledge, it spits a few numbers onto the screen and informs you that these are your “lucky numbers.” (So you can now go forth with confidence and place that million dollar bet.) With that, you are unceremoniously dumped back to the title screen. Yup, that’s the entire game. Can you believe some poor kid actually paying full price for this thing back in the day? It makes me shiver. I’m just glad I didn’t.

Like the game itself, the graphics are pretty cheap and simple. The cards are ugly and reddish-brown and they “shuffle” in a very elementarily animated way that drags on for far too long. The music isn’t horrible; at least, I didn’t hear any wrong notes or anything, which I was almost expecting from a game like this.

So basically, Taboo sucks. It would have made satisfactory Windows freeware, but as a console cart it utterly fails. Too short, too cheap, no gameplay. What’s more is that there are actually people out there who take Tarot cards seriously. This kind of shoddy and disrespectful exploitation on the part of Nintendo is en par with Miss Cleo or hypocritical tele-Evengelists and is unacceptable. In short: avoid unless you can get it for free.

alecto's avatar
Community review by alecto (January 26, 2003)

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