Double-A man! With your shaven head, your determined jaw, your weird shoulders, your blandsome looks! How I have missed you! You may not have had Nolan North or a half-tuck (actually, he often did make an appearance somewhere in the cast list), you may not have travelled in Mass Effect's elevators or had a backstory unveiled on an E3 stage, but you generally had something better. You generally had a gimmick.
Often it was a stupid gimmick. What if you had a grenade that could create hills? But stupid gimmicks are often the best kind of gimmick, right? What if you had a grenade. That could create hills. Years from now, when the history books are being written, I reckon double-A man will do alright for himself. Uncharted games? The best they can aspire to is the kind of movie that nobody really goes to see anymore. But double-A man? Those gimmicks kept him fresh, kept him honest. Hill-grenade man! Setting-people-on-fire man! HAMMER MAN.
Oh Hammer Man. I've been playing Red Faction Guerilla on the Switch this week, because of the new Re-Mars-tered edition. Guerilla is double-A at its best. It's up there with the greatest works of Midway and the likes of Freedom Fighters. The gimmick is that you're on Mars and you have a hammer. Your job is to stick it to the man by reducing the man's stuff to rubble. The joy of the game is that the developers have poured all their love into that rubble, into the jagged, rebar-riddled, shrapnel-prone rubbleness of it. Swing the hammer, chuck a mine and watch it all come down.
That's it really, and that being it is wonderful. What more do you need? You travel further, you take on new missions, you earn new gadgets and uncover a touch more plot, but the reality of Guerilla is picking a point on the map, driving to it, and then reducing it to dust. This is such a pure video game delight - and the plot makes you feel so exquisitely righteous most of the time - that there's nothing else needed. Mars, hammer, done.
The weird thing is that the platform really helps. Guerilla's always been a wonderful game, but there is something especially magical about leveling an industrial landscape on a handheld console. I'll be sitting there on the sofa or on the train, the world going on quietly around me, while another world pretty much ends on the tiny screen in front of my eyes.
I welcome this sort of thing, I reckon. I want new games on the Switch, and indie games, and Nintendo games, and unclassifiable things that I couldn't even think of. But I also reckon this would be a lovely home for the golden years of double-A. I want Stranglehold, Red Star, Psi-Ops, all those trashy pocket universes playing on a device you can hold in your hands, and a screen bright and clear enough to lose yourself in.
I'll be waiting, in other words. Inspector Tequila? I am waiting for you. And until you arrive - and until you arrive, Wheelman, on whose cover Vin Diesel looks so much like Ringo Starr - I will be smashing stuff up with this giant hammer. And having a lovely time while I do it.