RPS Advent Game-o-Calendar: December 2nd

By Kieron Gillen on December 2nd, 2007 at 7:28 pm.

Another day closer to Christmas. And another door opened on our RPS-approved Fairtrade advent calendar . Whatever could like behind the door?

5 GOLD RINGS!!!!

It’s chocolate. Thanks, Fairtrade. Om nom nom nom.

But for you?

SUMO!

It’s Sumotori!

Sumotori has made me laugh harder than any game this year. Including Portal. It entered my life when I returned to my PC, drunk out of my tiny mind, and my man in LA, Charlie Chu, forwarded the link to me. I was reduced to a sobbing wreck at its irresistible, dumb-arsed, brain-damaged majesty. It’s the greatest beat-’em-up of the year, because… oh, for God’s sake, look at it in action!

It’s the simplest of games. One SumoTori Stands on the left. One SumoTori stands on the right. They face each other. You start by pressing down on the cursors. Then your control is limited to pressing up cursor to walk forward, pressing back-space to throw one arm around and enter to push both together. Your aim is to force your enemies to your knees, or at least manage to stay standing for longest.

It doesn’t really work like that.

Imagine if you were a dog. And you’d just, through evil science, had your mind transfered into a human being. Now, when all the nerves are trying to make sense of these strange new appendages, you’re immediately thrown into a ring with another product of dog/human mad science and they have to fight for their horrific existences. That’s Sumotori.

Or imagine if you were a professional wrestler, and a mischievous imp had suddenly removed all the force of friction from the universe, so a simple action would send you sprawling across all existence embarrassingly. That’s sumo Tori.

Or imagine if you were trying to fight blindfolded, whilst so drunk that you thought your legs were your arms and visa versa. That’s Sumotori.

And that’s awesome.

I would defeat you if I only had a functioning nervous system.

While bouts are over in a handful of seconds at best, perhaps what’s most memorable is what happens afterwards. You see, while none of the defeats or victories have any dignity, the SumoTori hold desperately to a code of honour in the face of their malfunctioning nervous systems. When they fall over, they attempt to rise and bow to each other. Which sounds simple, but then you have moderate control of your extremities. In their case, they can get themselves stuck in loops, stumbling off the stage, breaking the barriers around it and falling arm-spinningly off into the distance.

But they persist. They won’t admit defeat. Jim, when he watches Sumotori, has sympathy for the poor creatures. I guess I do too – I can see their intrinsic heroism in their determination to never admit they don’t know how to stand up. Because – pretento-mode activated – what’s life other than our fleeting attempt to stand up for seventy years? And laughter is a response to the absurd. That the literally stony-faced Sumotori never admit their position makes it all the funnier.

I love you. You're my best mate.

I suppose part of my affection is due to it kind of deconstructing the whole idea of the fighting game. Away from the PC, they’ve become increasingly hermetic things, based around increasingly obtuse control systems for aficionados. Sumotori kind of takes the genre to one side, and says “Hey – isn’t it just about two blokes twatting each other?”. And lo, it is, and lo, it’s funny. There’s a small irony that for all its lack of pretense, it’s a more accurate simulation of most fighting in the world – i.e. grossly Post-pub arguing over someone looking at their bird/their kebab/their hetrosexuality – than the hyperfinesse that Virtua Fighter presents.

Clearly, it’s not a game that you’re going to devote your life too. But the idea that games have to be that is just another symptom of the problem. Games can be anything, and this is just a videogame joke, exceedingly well told. It’s as funny as anything else, from any medium, I’ve experienced this year, and if you think otherwise, we can meet up, drink a few bottles of home-brand Vodka and discuss the issue properly.

You see, PC games are simultaneously the smartest and dumbest gaming format in the world. On one side of the equation you have arthouse delights, post-Randian critique, and strategy games you’ll need an outboard brain to play, on the other… on the other, there’s Sumotori.

It makes me so happy, the only way I can possibly end this is a song and dance number.

Play the following links simultaneously.

Sing, Elvis!

Dance, Sumotori.

__________________

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48 Comments »

  1. Andrew says:

    This is very reminiscent of a less violent, more Benny-Hill Toribash.

    The videos had me giggling.

  2. Andrew says:

    Must I?

    Oh, okay. Later, then.

  3. Five says:

    I’m laughing my head off already.

    Downloading.

  4. Flint says:

    This is the greatest fighting game ever.

  5. Nitre says:

    Just downloaded this and ‘played’ it for a few minutes. Could this be the best party game ever?

  6. Dan Pryor says:

    Playing those 2 links at the same time has made this the best Christmas ever. Thank you magical digital present fairy!

  7. Piratepete says:

    Rofl. Just woken the daughter up laughing at this. My wife walked in and immediately burst out laughing when she saw it.

    I must admit to having looked like this more than once after tequila

  8. Five says:

    I am now laughing so hard that my girlfriend thinks i’m crazy

  9. Jae Armstrong says:

    While this is downloading, I thought I’d link to a different beat ‘em up – at the other end of the kung fu/kung foolerly scale- Toribash 3.0. I have no idea how this plays, as quite frankly I’m too terrified to download the bloody thing, but it’s worth a look for the trailer alone.

    I looks like the sort of thing God would make if he stopped pratting around with giraffes’ necks and got down to what’s really important in life; the ability to kick the head clean off another man while the pair of you are tumbling through the air down a flight of stairs.

    And only after I’ve finished writing that do I notice Andrew has already mentioned it. But the site’s search function hasn’t turfed up anything on the subject, so I guess I’ll just go ahead and post anyway.

  10. Arathain says:

    I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. I love you, beige box.

  11. Feet says:

    Hahaha. Awesome!

  12. John says:

    Is it just me, or does this game like to crash, lock up the computer, and force a reboot?

  13. Harbour Master says:

    Hidden Mode! The Hidden Mode is worth the free price of admission alone.

  14. Pod says:

    Do I continually download a different version to other people? I’ve played it 3 times now, and each time I didn’t think it’s as good as people make out. The rounds are usually over in a second, there’s no epic warbling about like that video makes out… :(

  15. Monkfish says:

    I feel like Stuart Hall on It’s a Knockout watching the SumoToris attempting to get back up. The more they try, the more I laugh.

    This is just what I’m looking to unleash in the office for the traditional Christmas Eve knockaround.

    Thankyou. Thankyou. Thankyou.

  16. Faust says:

    I have never, ever, laughed so hard at a game. It’s pure genius, the result of what would happen should you force feed a bottle of whiskey to a pair of toddlers, then make them fight. Except this isn’t illegal…

  17. Andrew says:

    Regarding Toribash – it’s fantastic in multiplayer. Takes a bit to get used to, but it’s always spectacular. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s just brilliant to see what manner of ultraviolence you can perpetrate. Ripping off your own arm accidentally and then using it as a makeshift club in an attempt to make the best of a really, really bad job just never gets old. Being shit at the game leads to much hilarity.

  18. Dr Snofeld says:

    I nearly busted a gut laughing at that. Downloaded it, busted a few more. Thank you RPS!

  19. roBurky says:

    That’s ace.
    It’s pretty impressive technically, as well.

    Also, everyone needs to keep playing it until they find the hidden part.

  20. Janek says:

    Ahh, Bristol on a Saturday night…

  21. Zell says:

    That’s extraordinarily hilarious I wonder if a Flash version could possibly work.

  22. EMPty=IRL= says:

    Excellent!
    Thanks you Charlie Chu and Kieron.
    I love tiny but amasing fun well-made games like this, N, GL Tron.
    Does anyone remember that “game” where you had to push a guy down a stairs and you get points for it? That too…

  23. Satsuz says:

    Don’t forget Truck dismount, either.

    Sumotori is pretty great. For Anyone not getting funny matches, try moving with more or less force. Seems to have a sweet-spot. Hidden mode is better than the rest of the game, IMO. Everyone should play it.

  24. Junior says:

    Best. Comedy. Game. Ever.

    And the hidden mode is activated by flinging blocks at the second block of the barrier from the right on the menu.

    Oh just break everything at the menu that you can, you’ll get it…

  25. Pod says:

    Pod: As the article mentions, while the fights are over in a second, the Tori will try and stand up and bow to each other afterwards. You can press space to start the next round, but the epic collapsing is seen when you don’t.

    Secret Mode: I haven’t found it. SPILL.

    KG

  26. Kieron says:

    Er… clearly, that was me, not Pod.

    THANX JUNIORZ.

    KG

  27. GibletHead2000 says:

    Alas, this doesn’t work on my Windows Server 2003 x64 box here at work. I guess I’ll have to wait until I get home. :-(

  28. Faust says:

    I can’t help but thinking of Chumbawumba’s ‘I get knocked down’ in reference to the clip. Elvis Costello does well, but he doesn’t capture the drunken antics that seem necessary to achieve the serene state of inebriation that the Sumotori demonstrate.

  29. Faust says:

    Edit that, it’s ‘Tubthumping’ Why don’t I research this stuff?

  30. Pod says:

    The secret mode is more fun than the real one! I wish I had an infinite supply of foam bricks to throw at drunk people…imagine the fun!

  31. drunkymonkey says:

    Haha yes, the secret mode is kind of cool, but I think the normal mode is better for the competitors falling over themselves in an attempt to stand up. It’s brilliant.

  32. JohnCatsack says:

    It’s like two people with parkinson’s disease fighting.

  33. Antonius says:

    Its games like this that make my non-game playing girlfriend think I’m absolutely cracked in the head.
    Oh well. Worms 2 with ridiculously large bullet damage anyone?

  34. Martin says:

    So damn fun it has to be illegal!

    I can’t wait to show my friends this as I almost fell out of my chair laughing at it.

    I’m off to try and find “hidden mode”!

    Many thanks to everyone responsible for me finding out about this game (take credit as needed).

  35. Martin says:

    A small addendum as the hidden part was quite hard to find:

    The “board” you need to break is part of the right section of the barrier around the ring (the graphic looks like a walnut-brown plank standing on edge on the floor).

    You need to break the second one counting from you/the menu. It’s hard to reach and you might need to break the first board before you can reach it.

    I hope that cleared things up and not the other way around. :)

  36. Seneca says:

    I know I’m late to the party but this game reminded me of an obscure finnware gem from the late 90s: Fight of the Sumo-Hoppers. Sumo-Hoppers has a bit more ponderous game tempo and more emphasis on wrestling (actually you and your opponent are locked in a mortal embrace until one of you touches the ground with anything from the waist upwards).

    That being said, Sumotori is a fresh little novelty game. I predict the chaotic gameplay is not going to keep me interested in this one that long, though.

  37. tom says:

    why can’t i dowload it you nobhead?

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