Armagideon Time

Any old school Nintendohead ought to be familiar with “Howard & Nester”…

Nintendo Power‘s advertainment take on “Goofus and Gallant, discount ” which starred a mangafied rendition of Nintendo Fun Club President Howard Phillips in the Gallant role.

The success of the strip’s mix of hints, purchase hype, and hot toon-on-toon one-upsmanship was not lost on Nintendo’s adversary on the opposite side of the Console War trenches. As a result, Sega felt obligated to include its own sequential art-i-fied pitchman in the early issues of its own periodical propaganda organ, Sega Visions.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Niles Nemo

Niles wasn’t some buttoned down and bowtied square like that Howard guy. No way, Jose! This hep and happening cat was extreme to the max with a side of bodacious, the geneticially engineered love child of Ferris Bueller, Marty McFly, and no fewer than three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

How radical was this awesomely cool dude? Awesome enough to have his own secret lair, complete with a vibrating waterbed and black belt jammies! Cowabunga, bro!

Beneath the bitchin’ shades, upturned collar, and other artifices of extreme raditude, Niles was actually a reworking of Windsor McKay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland…as envisioned by a team of middle-aged marketing executives with most tentative grasp on contemporary youth culture and slang.

Niles’s journeys into the dream realm were powered not by rarebit, but by an all-consuming addiction to Sega-brand videogames and a love of those crazy kinds of pizza toppings the happening kidz are presumed to be into. (Niles refers to a pineapple cheesecake pizza as the “raunchiest” one he has ever experienced, a turn of phrase which has haunted my unquiet dreams for two decades now.)

This combination of sedentary lifestyle and saturated fats projected His Radjesty into the wild, off-model worlds of games like Alex Kidd in the Unplayable Piece of Crap Enchanted Castle

…and Columns (featuring special guest appearances by Christopher “Kid” Reid and Annie Potts)…

Golden Axe

…and Castle of Illusion (with all overt Disney references scrubbed per request of your One True Mouse and Master)…

…allowing Niles to put his rude ‘tude and ginchy, pre-fab vocab to maximum promotional use, heaven help us all.

Niles Nemo was dropped from Sega Visions shortly after the introduction of Sonic the Hedgehog, a more successful company mascot (in the sense that end-users — apart from certain fanfic communities with rather…esoteric…turn-ons – didn’t feel an overwhelming desire to kick him in the nads). 

Every now and then, I find myself wondering what happened to Niles in the twenty years since the final installment of his comic strip.  I imagine he grew older, stouter, and balder, married, had a couple kids, a painful divorce, and has reached the end of his unemployment benefits after he was laid off during a merger.  His power blue polo shirt can barely cover the upper third of his ever-growing pot belly and his signature jacket is an unrecognizable grease-stained tatter of rags, though he still dons them whenever his chronic depression surges past the Prozac buzz and forces a retreat into his “happy place.”

Either that, or he grew up to be Tucker Max, which is an even worse fate.

Speculations aside, Nemo is right up there with Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare as an example of worst, most obnoxious form demographic pandering ever crafted.  The self-perpetuating, supply-side loop of “righteous raditude” foisted by the like of Niles and his fictional peers had an insidious effect on the young males of my generation who aspired (and still aspire) to ape that knuckledragging nonsense.  (Is it any wonder I rushed headlong into the arms of the punk scene?)

Though the venue (a manufacturer-published game magazine) and the intent (a not-quite-veiled sales pitch) would otherwise put the character outside the rubric of this feature, the media vector chosen and sheer obnoxiousness of Niles Nemo earned this basement-dwelling proto-dudebro the honor of being this week’s Nobody’s Favorite.

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4 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorites: Game over, dude”

  1. sallyp

    My god, it’s Poochy! Or a reasonable simulation thereof. Although Niles probably came first.

    Still…they all suck.

  2. Brimstone

    I like the art

  3. Kris

    In retrospect, I’m kinda glad I was to poor/ignored as a kid to get into the emergent video game culture of the day. As a consequence of lack of funds for such things, I spent a lot of time outside riding my bike or otherwise goofing off.

    …..Niles Nemo makes me feel really good about that.

  4. Paul

    Ha. “His Radjesty.” Nice.

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