It’s time to come out of the closet and stop living this lie. I am fascinated - beyond all reason, beyond all proportion, beyond any meaning whatsoever - by the title screen to the 1993 PC game Bio Menace.
Let me be upfront about this. There is no special reason for this obsession. I hold no nostalgic connection to Apogee Software’s side-scroller as a whole. But its opening statement - its bold énoncé de mission - stands on its own. It compels my attention like little else in this precious world. I have spent many years now wondering why.
Please humour me. Take a look. Can you see it?
To this day, I can’t pinpoint what “it” is. But it is there, is it not?
Is it the singularly uncharismatic hero? The honestly-quite-remarkable creative dissonance between the rugged, manly figure somebody intended Snake Logan to be and the flustered mouth-breather we got?
Is it the way it somehow formalises and glorifies an imperfect, juvenile fantasy? The fact that a grown adult artist spent many hours crafting, pixel by pixel, monster scale by monster scale, a competent and faithful digital EGA realisation of a wicked-rad doodle in a 14-year-old boy’s maths textbook?
Is it the defiant, almost grotesque disregard for the rules of space and balance? Is it the weirdly passive-aggressive insistence that this is NOT, in fact, shareware? The fact that we are, at this moment, so many years on, taking the time together to deconstruct such an obscure and hyperspecific artifact of video game history?
I honestly don’t know. Let’s take another look and celebrate the mystery of it all. This time, really look.
Incidentally, I’m telling you this in absolute confidence. My own family is unaware of my unhealthy fixation, as are many close friends. I have never dared raise the subject with my wife.
Only the 283 followers of my public Twitter are familiar with this obsession. So very aware.
It all began with the Eurovision song contest: a televised event I had no interest in watching, but which had such an active and snarky livetweeting culture here in Australia that I felt compelled to participate anyway with the unrelated media I happened to have on hand.
Since that fateful night, a small but ever-vigilant part of my brain has remained on standby over the years, doggedly scanning the world for every flimsy pretence to tweet out the title screen to Bio Menace.
It can come at any time. Sometimes it’s a major sporting event or a trending topic. Sometimes it’s simply late night boredom. Every time, a few kind souls and kindred spirits validate it with a handful of likes, enabling me to go on.
I must reiterate: you are not missing out on some grand subtext or in-joke here. I am not referencing anything but the fact that a game called Bio Menace (a) exists, and (b) has this title screen. There is nothing clever here. Nor is there anything clever in drawing attention to that profound uncleverness. Not even this self-aware paragraph acknowledging the above should give it any ironic cred.
Sometimes things get Political. I make no apologies.
Sometimes the anxiety and ennui simply need an outlet to vent; sometimes it's a cry for help muffling itself with nonsequitur nonsense that will escape closer scrutiny.
Every time I tweet, I tell myself I’m done; that this has gone as far as it can. But Snake Logan will always find one more reason to come out of retirement.
And so here I remain: committed to a dumb twitter bit that pleases few people and likely annoys many more. A dumb twitter bit that does not represent who I am in any meaningful way, but which I have, in certain corners, allowed to define me.
This is not me. I will not let this be me. This ends here and now.
From this day of January 5, 2017, I will never again share, promote or allude to the title screen to Bio Menace.
To all who put up with this over the years: I thank you for your patience. This was something I needed to do. I still don't know why.
To the few who enjoyed it: thank you for sharing this strange journey.
And that’s all there is to say about that. We’re done.
Update - January 6, 2017:
Oh, what the heck: one more round for old times’ sake. Cheers, everyone. It’s been fun.
Update - January 7, 2017:
I would like to thank my friend Andrew McIlvaney for writing such a warm and thoughtful foreword to my upcoming coffee table book.