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Taboo: The Sixth Sense (NES) artwork

Taboo: The Sixth Sense (NES) review

"Despite bearing Nintendo’s protective Seal of Quality, Taboo was clearly hewn from naught but the crimson hand of Satan himself – and believe me, I know a thing or two about Satan."

Over the course of its long and glorious history, the Nintendo Entertainment System has been used for many things besides awesome gaming: learning the piano, working out with leggy aerobics instructors – even to pick up chicks with your rad to the max Power Glove. (It’s so bad.) But it was the introduction of Taboo (The Time Machine on Nintendo!) that really opened up a whole new door in NES history – in fact it cast open the black gates of Tarterus, commanding familiar spirits from the unholy depths to reveal their secrets in exchange for fifty pieces of silver (or 1980s equivalent.)

For the aptly titled Taboo is a tarot card simulator, carelessly employing the forbidden arts of divination and possibly necromancy in order to answer those burning mysteries of the universe like “Will Jack Thompson ever get laid?” or “When will Duke Nukem Forever be finished?” (The answer to both of these questions, at least according to my male roommate Natas, is an emphatic “never.”) Dare to play it even once and you’ll quickly realize that this so-called “game,” despite bearing Nintendo’s protective Seal of Quality, was obviously hewn from naught but the crimson hand of Satan himself – and believe me, I know a thing or two about Satan.

The royal flush of foreboding.

Of course to do that you’ll first have to enter your name and birthdate, presumably so some spindly, quill-pushing imp can keep your records up to date down in the infernal bureaucracy. Then after a seizure-inducing shuffling sequence commences the cards are slowly revealed one by one complete with sinister music and highly illuminating messages like “presently influencing you is reliable, kind, generous, and learned.” This is just what I’ve come to expect from the Prince of Lies; not only are his answers totally vague, they’re only vaguely even English.

But while their explanations might not make much sense, there can be no doubt as to the eldritch nature of the cards themselves when they include such friendly faces as Death (representing change,) the Devil (representing bondage,) and of course the Tower (representing chaos, destruction, and a general sense of impending doom.) You’ll just be sitting there minding your own business, merely wondering if the (Real) Ghostbusters cartoon will ever be out on DVD, when suddenly the limp body of the Hanged Man plummets from the top of the screen to let you know that “recent past events are undertake extreme effort without necessarily achieving one’s goal.”

Gee, thanks for the tip, vile Man-Goat.

Not content to merely poison the minds and souls of good clean American youth with brazen occultism, and this was back when anything even remotely religious in nature was thrown to the cutting room lions by the ever-cautious suits at Nintendo, Taboo has the further audacity to corrupt our precious children with hardcore nudity! The High Priestess card is a bare-breasted brunette clutching a golden ankh to her tawny bosom, while the Lovers appear to have cast off their vestments entirely in order to better expose their bronzed 8-bit buttocks. And speaking of lions, that Strength card is a dead ringer for none other than the Whore of Babylon. By the time you make it through the entire reading and uncover your ultimate fate, it will have been already sealed. Your innocent curiosity will have been sullied by the malevolent, lust-crazed taint of Beelzebub, whose cryptic fortunes bring you one step closer towards eventual recruitment into his hellish ranks. This is followed by today’s lucky numbers.

Scoff all you want, but how many NES carts can you think of that are supposed to be stored in a black velvet pouch to keep negative influences from seeping out and infecting your other games? I shudder to think of all the evil that’s been unleashed over the years by improperly bound cartridges even now moldering away in used game stores across the country. Still not convinced? Well consider this: not only did Taboo somehow slither past the normally draconian approval process, it was developed by Rare. Yes, that Rare – a company that went from releasing Super Glove Ball and Time Lord to become the brightest jewel in Nintendo’s crown, churning out one massive hit after another until eventually betraying them to embrace bitter rival Microsoft. If that isn’t a dead giveaway of demonic pacts, I don’t know what is.

Now if I was going to casually barter away my immortal soul to the forces of darkness I’d expect something pretty major in return: eternal youth, my own personal harem of succubi, or maybe Panzer Dragoon Saga still in the original shrinkwrap. But if you want to meddle with insatiable forces beyond mortal ken just for an incomprehensible glimpse into the future, go right ahead. No really, see if I care. Just don’t blame me when ROB the Robotic Operating Buddy starts leaving the house at night in search of human flesh.

sho's avatar
Staff review by Sho (June 19, 2008)

Sho enjoys classic video games, black comedy, and poking people until they explode -- figuratively or otherwise. He also writes a bit.

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