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Avatar image for sombre
#1 Edited by Sombre (356 posts) -

Alright gang,

I've been playing a lot of modern JRPG games lately, and I've been wondering how different it is playing a game is now compared to when I was young.

Back in the day, you only had 1/2 games, so you proper played them to death. But I was thinking lately:

"How the fuck did we EVER discover X?"

Take in point: I've recently been playing FF12: Zodiac Age on PS4. But after just finishing it (Finished main story and the Gilgamesh hunt which was an awesome throwback), I wondered how the fuck were you meant to discover some of the shit in this game without using a guide.

Some of the hunts are SO OBTUSE to discover. Even after a few hours searching, I had to look up where X hunt was, and it was TOTALLY off where I was looking, in a hidden area I didn't even know existed.

So I guess my question is this lads:

How did we ever manage JRPG optional content/side bosses before the internet became widespread? Was it official guides? Playground rumours? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

To add a little context: I'm 28 and grew up playing SNES and PS1.

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#2 Posted by HellBrendy (1303 posts) -

Oh how I remeber having a guy in my class capable of getting Yuffie in FF VII. I didn't even knew she existed until he told me abut it. And then sometime later, I managed to even get Vincent Valentine With help from the then available internett.

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#3 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (3643 posts) -

Oh how I remeber having a guy in my class capable of getting Yuffie in FF VII. I didn't even knew she existed until he told me abut it. And then sometime later, I managed to even get Vincent Valentine With help from the then available internett.

For the longest time, I didn't know they were even missable.

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#4 Edited by fisk0 (6841 posts) -

I'd kinda lean towards saying that the Internet, Usenet and BBSes have been around for most of the existence of games as we know them today, and there were enough people with access to that to make sharing that stuff possible and then handing the knowledge down to their friends at school, the workplace or in the neighborhood.

BBSes have been a thing since the late 70s, and there were tens of thousands of users only in Sweden by the mid to late 80s. By the time of the PS1 everybody knew somebody who had Internet access or could at least go to the library to get online. Sure, official guides were a thing too, but there are fairly complete archives of Usenet discussions dating back to 1987 (with partial archives going back to around 1979), showing that people were discussing these exact things.

So, yeah, I guess the people who could access that knowledge were considered more "special" back in the 80s and early 90s, but I don't think all that much has changed as a whole, especially not since the late 90s.

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#5 Posted by reasonableman (203 posts) -

I am gonna guess that it was not beyond possibilities that games were, to some extent, deliberately obtuse in order to sell guides; for example, see Simon's Quest and that fact that it was virtually impossible to beat... unless you had the proper Nintendo Power issues.

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#6 Edited by OurSin_360 (6117 posts) -

Well final fantasy 12 wasnt pre-internet in the slightest lol.

But to answer they had game guides and some dedicated ass gamers who found stuff out. Like people discovered all the mortal kombat fatalities and some game mags would write about them or they would spread word of mouth(or by the few people with Internet). But anyway game guides were pretty big back in the day and as kids we played the shit out of the few games we had(they were expensive). Like i remember finding or being told about the warp zones in super mario, and I was like 6 or 7 at the time lol. Probably why i dont care for mario because I always cheated. I knew the konami code to get 30 lives probably from someone who got a game guide etc.

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#7 Posted by redwing42 (498 posts) -

Join the Nintendo Fun Club today!

Primarily guides and, if you got really desperate, tip lines.

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#8 Posted by csl316 (14946 posts) -

Tips & Tricks

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#9 Posted by Justin258 (15583 posts) -

Friends. Guides. Magazines. Tiplines. BBS's, for those lucky enough to connect to them.

Online
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#10 Edited by Sombre (356 posts) -

If you held up and tapped B in Pokemon Red as the ball hit the pokemon you had a higher chance of catching the pokemon

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#11 Posted by Rigas (790 posts) -

Magazines, and tv shows for me. I think it was also less games coming out when we were younger and with friends groups banging their heads against the same thing for longer. That said I seem to remember a new side quest was discovered in a Final Fantasy Game a few years ago it was either 7,8, or 9 can't remember which.

So maybe stuff wasn't as hidden back then, but then I think about Castlevania kneeling down nonsense and realise that's not the case.

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#12 Posted by MightyDuck (2004 posts) -

That's a great question. I honestly have no idea.

I remember countless times checking out "GameSages" for codes a ton as a kid! I believe it has now redirected to IGN for quite a long time.

Those early AOL/Internet days were so much fun.

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#13 Posted by liquiddragon (3281 posts) -

It was fun when there were mysteries around games. Trying out bullshit theories in the quest to trigger or unlock some snippet of special content gave depth to binary worlds. Never got into the Souls series but I'm guessing managing to maintain some of that mystery in today's environment contributed to its appeal.

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#14 Posted by Panther2103 (14 posts) -

It was really nice to see all of the mysterious parts of games back then. I remember trying to figure out so many things as a kid and just going and going until I got further or found secrets. Now games are still fun, but it's so easy to just be like, this puzzle is obscure, lemme look this up really quick so I can get through the game.

To answer the question, prior to me having access to the internet I used magazines primarily as a source of optional content or secrets in games. Also kids in my schools always spread all the rumors true or not, and it was always fun to try to complete the things they would say would unlock content.

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#15 Posted by BlackMoons (5 posts) -

@hellbrendy: No idea how you missed them, didn't we all just talk to everyone back then?!?

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#16 Posted by KingBonesaw (1356 posts) -

My neighbour who was my age used to phone me when he would get stuck in The Legend of Dragoon because I had the strategy guide.

Online
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#17 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7472 posts) -

The BBS and MUT chat existed for a long time, and gamers were part of the conversation. Gaming magazines ran a pretty good racket on feeding codes and easter eggs in the 80s to 2Ks, that was a good 1/4 of the magazine in many cases - tips, tricks, easter eggs, and game shark codes.

The thing about the past is to remember that people were not simpletons. Any modern conveniences you can think of had a pre-digital slightly more clunky predecessor. E-mail is just a telegram without having to tip a 'boy in a cap'. Before eBanking there was Western Union or 'running a tab' at your local store. Before online stores there was the Sears & Roebuck catalog. Before Netflix there were UHF stations running reruns of tvs shows from 6AM until sign off at 2PM...followed by the National Anthem. Human culture has always been good at moving information or trade goods.

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#18 Posted by doombot13 (292 posts) -

strategy guides and magazines

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#19 Posted by Slag (8155 posts) -

Well when i was really small, i was very thorough. E.g in the original legend of zelda i bombed every wall systematically.

I also made a lot of maps and notes of things i tried in games. Also if collaborate with family and neighbors to solve problems.

When i got older, traded info with other kids on the playground. Problem is some kids would lie to look cool. Then written guides and such started to come out, got nintendo power because they often had those. Never called a tip line bur i knew kids who did

Really though people still do this today, many of them you call speedeunners :)

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#20 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15666 posts) -

I definitely knew some older kids who taught me how to do the Missingno glitch in Pokémon Red. I think a lot of it was word-of-mouth passed between people, all sourced back to someone with a magazine subscription or access to the internet.

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#21 Posted by Puchiko (846 posts) -

Before the internet I bought strategy guides for every RPG I ever bought and was subscribed to a dozen gaming mags that usually had hint sections as well.

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#22 Posted by hawkinson76 (470 posts) -

magazine's helped, but I will echo Slag's comment: we tried everything. From text based adventure games to final fantasy: try every verb-noun combination and click on absolutely everything. Of course, that won't teach you the Konami code, but that coveres most things that I find myself looking up.

You have to remember that there were very few games, and we had lots of time. Saturday morning cartoons ended by like 9 am or something.

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#23 Posted by Chains101 (2 posts) -

There used to be a 900 number you could call for tips or if you were stuck in a dungeon for Nintendo. I called a couple of times to find answers to Zelda 2.

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#24 Posted by viking_funeral (2881 posts) -

Gossip, game magazines, trying everything.

There was something magical about a time where so many games had hidden secrets that you could discover. I still don't know if you can jump over the flag pole in the original Super Mario Bros, but I'll be damned if we didn't hear people talk about like they saw a narwhal.

Speaking of, I knew people who thought narwhals were fake like unicorns. It was harder to check facts then.

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#25 Edited by Rorie (5629 posts) -

I'm fairly sure the Ultimate Guides were pretty much required for most of the FF games, and might still be if you really want to find everything in them. I saw a couple when I went to Japan and man are they ever huge.

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#26 Posted by hermes (2589 posts) -

I didn't, exploration and try-and-error were the way back then, which is why 7 was the first Final Fantasy I ever completed... Before that I used to get stuck in some puzzle or nor knowing where to go and I eventually gave up. "Guides" were non existent in my country, and at the time any hint the game would give me was basically Japanese (sometimes literally).

Magazines were useful, but mostly for shortest games (like fighting games or adventure games). For the rest, trying and trying again...

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#28 Posted by TheChris (440 posts) -

Nintendo Power, Strategy Guides were also pretty nifty back in the day.

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#29 Posted by BooDoug187 (494 posts) -

Myself it was a mix of word of mouth from trusted friends (none of that "my uncle works at [place game company here]" bullshit) and the various video game magazines that were out at the time. Later on (mainly the PS1 days) when strategy guides were becoming more of a thing I would pick those up for longer games (rpgs and what not)

There were a couple times I just found them on my own, like the secret pong game in I think MK3 or UMK3 for sega (play like a hundred rounds of 2 player mode and it pops up)

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#30 Posted by nutter (1888 posts) -

This is the rare area where I'll play the good-old-days card.

My kid knows everything there is to know about a game before he plays it for the first time. It kills any sense of wonder or discovery.

As a kid in the 80s, you never really knew if someone was BSing you or not about some wild crap they discovered in a game. Finding something for yourself was immensely rewarding, as was sharing that discovery. If someone knew their stuff playing Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, you watched and saw some cool new stuff.

More personal and social avenues aside, there were magazines and by the early 90s BBS' available.

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#31 Posted by flagranterror (70 posts) -

IcyBrian's RPG page, which is AMAZINGLY still online. Since 1997. The young Internet was, and still is, full of great resources.

http://www.icybrian.com/

Other than that, I would go to Borders (remember Borders?) and go to their game guide section, and if there was a game I wanted secrets on, I would find a guide and write them all down.

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#32 Posted by GERALTITUDE (5988 posts) -

Honestly, you can find most things yourself by just exploring and replaying games.

It wasn’t that crazy, just a factor of time.

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#33 Posted by Max_Cherry (1575 posts) -

Some of it was from magazines and word of mouth, but it was mostly from exploring. I kind of miss that.

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#34 Posted by TanookiSuit (714 posts) -

@sombre said:

If you held up and tapped B in Pokemon Red as the ball hit the pokemon you had a higher chance of catching the pokemon

Nice try, buddy. We all know it is Down + B.

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#35 Posted by Casepb (597 posts) -

Video game magazines. I use to have quite a few subscriptions. I remember GamePro and PC Gamer being my favorites due to getting demo discs.

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#36 Posted by jaycrockett (855 posts) -

In middle school in the 80's I played many, many, many pirated C64 games and finished almost none of them. Half the time I didn't even fully grasp the controls as I didn't have any instructional manual.

I had been playing Ultima II for the better part of a year, when I mentioned it to a kid on the bus. He asked me if I had beat it. "Beat it?" I didn't even know that was possible. He proceeded to tell me about Planet X at coordinates 666, getting the ring, etc. I have no idea how you were supposed to figure that out.

Later in high school we got into BBS's. Other than the dot matrix printed walkthrough that got handed around, information was pretty scarce.

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#37 Posted by WMoyer83 (1014 posts) -

Back in the day, the school yard was divided by EGM and Gamepro loyalists. It was as divisive as Coke and Pepsi. The big selling point for these magazines was new game coverage and “top secret tips and tricks”.

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#38 Edited by Dan_CiTi (5186 posts) -

Magazines/lil bit of Internet/bullshit kids said at school/I didn't know SHIT about games tbh still don't

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#39 Edited by FlashFlood_29 (4393 posts) -

Magazine's and game guides get the word out and from there it's spread by word of mouth.

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#40 Edited by avantegardener (2363 posts) -

Magazine guides, printed walkthroughs, the playground! it’s strange to me that people forget the world before the internet, but it was definitely more work than today.

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#41 Posted by OpusOfTheMagnum (647 posts) -

Ya figured it out. I managed to find almost every single nook and cranny in games like Skyrim and various dark souls games without more than a couple of google searches specifically to have that feeling of discovery.

We have lost our attention spans and as a result our drive to figure shit o it on our own.

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#42 Edited by Y2Ken (2930 posts) -

Definitely magazines. I bought plenty of guide mags back in the day; I recall crossing off every individual gap on all the THPS3 maps in a mag I owned. And I used to buy the walkthrough mags that came out for the likes of Pokémon G&S, just so I could find any of the hidden stuff. But also the internet has been a thing since pretty much when I first started playing games - we had at least dial-up from the mid-90s, so I remember going to sites like CheatCodeCentral back in the day to get some of that stuff. Full-on FAQs and walkthroughs were a little less common, though, but they certainly still existed - I do remember looking up a walkthrough online for the Team Rocket Base puzzle in Pokémon R&B.

I still do buy official guides now, if they're nice quality. I love the two Bloodborne books, and I always get the Final Fantasy and Pokémon ones. I don't usually pull them out the whole way through, I just like browsing them for the more in-depth information and numbers that the game might not provide you directly.

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#43 Edited by afabs515 (2005 posts) -

@sombre said:

If you held up and tapped B in Pokemon Red as the ball hit the pokemon you had a higher chance of catching the pokemon

You know, Mew is hiding under the truck near the S.S. Anne

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#44 Edited by LeStephan (1214 posts) -
@geraltitude said:

Honestly, you can find most things yourself by just exploring and replaying games.

It wasn’t that crazy, just a factor of time.

I 100% agree. Games where you actually need information from outside the game for (excluding manuals of course) are pretty rare.

Also, pssst you dont NEED do to everything in any game ;)

But as other people said, magazines were definitely my source for any and all videogame information until we finally got our first pc in 2003 or something (man the memories of watching that twilight princess trailers over and over, barely visible/audible through all the artifacting that that postage stamp sized video had xD).

PS: To the people lamenting that the days of exploring and not looking stuff up are gone by......uhm just don't look stuff up?....problem solved? :') am I missing something?

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#45 Posted by MeierTheRed (5879 posts) -

BBS'es have contributed a lot to that, magazines and i bet game developers seeded some of those hints themselves for others to run with.

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#46 Posted by BisonHero (11564 posts) -
@fisk0 said:

I'd kinda lean towards saying that the Internet, Usenet and BBSes have been around for most of the existence of games as we know them today, and there were enough people with access to that to make sharing that stuff possible and then handing the knowledge down to their friends at school, the workplace or in the neighborhood.

BBSes have been a thing since the late 70s, and there were tens of thousands of users only in Sweden by the mid to late 80s. By the time of the PS1 everybody knew somebody who had Internet access or could at least go to the library to get online. Sure, official guides were a thing too, but there are fairly complete archives of Usenet discussions dating back to 1987 (with partial archives going back to around 1979), showing that people were discussing these exact things.

So, yeah, I guess the people who could access that knowledge were considered more "special" back in the 80s and early 90s, but I don't think all that much has changed as a whole, especially not since the late 90s.

I've been thinking about this off and on, and I respectfully disagree, unless you're speaking anecdotally about your own experience in your region. As far as OP's question about how did we, globally, get obscure game information, I can't imagine internet users were the primary source of that information. Internet users in the 80s were still a very small portion of the population, and then you're looking at a further subset of that number who specifically participated in Usenet video game discussions and were a locus of gaming information to their friends and families. I have to imagine in that time period that the circulation of game magazines and the sales of player's guides were dramatically more influential in disseminating video game knowledge, at least in countries where game magazines and player's guides were ever widely sold and distributed.

I ran OP's question by some friends here in Canada, and all of the people I asked attributed their obscure game knowledge (in that era) to player's guides or magazines they owned, or that an immediate acquaintance owned. It's possible some tips gained from a friend of a friend of a friend may have originally come from somebody figuring out the game's secrets on Usenet, but it wasn't a source any of us were aware of. Granted, none of us were close to college/university age in the 80s, and I suspect the school boards and libraries in my area kinda dragged their heels in really implementing widespread internet access, which I don't recall really happening until the early 90s, and I'm not sure how that compares to other parts of the developed world. I'm kinda curious how different countries compare, but it seems like internet adoption data is really sparse before 2000.

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#47 Edited by iam16bit (33 posts) -

Well unless you had a magazine subscription or a strategy guide, most of the time people came upon secrets and side quests by accident and it would go around via word of mouth. Of course some of these side-quests and secrets can take years because most people just assume they're already known. Like I remember during my second play through of FFIX I came across the The Lost Nero Family sidequest, this was around 2007 and not once during the game did it dawn on me that this was some sort of secret quest no one outside of Japan knew about.

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#48 Posted by Sean2D2 (27 posts) -

Sometimes cereal boxes had tips on the back of them. I also had my grandma send off a bunch of Lunchable UPC codes for a Sega VHS that was tips for about 5 or 6 games. I was a little disappointed because I knew the stuff they put in for Sonic 2, but it was still a cool tape. Tips and Tricks was also a purchase almost every month for me when I was about 7. It was just a magazine with nothing but cheat codes, and new ones seemed to come out every month. It was amazing and I every time I think about that magazine it makes me really miss cheat codes.

Also, I think more games started putting in MORE content that was "hidden" once they knew fans would share the info on the internet. The rise of tip magazines, strategy guides, and internet tips all seem to come at once.

Side note: Anyone remember Game Sages? It was just a big cheat code database site. I haven't looked up a ton on the history of it, but at some point, it just turned into IGN (I think IGN bought Game Sages). That's sort of when I transitioned from realizing I could read ABOUT games on the internet (just like in magazines), and not just find cheats for them. I was bummed that GameSages was gone, but kinda opened up a whole new world. I would go on GameSages at my grandparents house before getting a PC myself and print stuff off or write it down. One time I printed off like 30 pages of stuff for Goldeneye because I had planned on selling a bunch of stuff to get a N64. The game stores ended up not offering me at all what I thought they would (a lesson learned young) so I didn't get one until many years later, but my best friend got the system and game shortly after so we used the hell out of those print outs.

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#49 Posted by Naoiko (1674 posts) -

I found out most of what I knew as a kid on my own in relation to games. Me and my sister would sit down and play together and try to figure stuff out. Sometimes we would mash random buttons to see what happened. Very rarely did this work but it did sometimes. Then we would spend hours trying to re create said button mashings patterns.

It wasn't until I was a little bit older (almost 13) that I discovered game magazines. My mom wouldn't let me buy very often but I did get a few of them with their lovely code filled pages. So many tips and cheats of my youth were learned that way.

Then you had the ones that were only half truths. Like that you could get Mew with out trading in pokemon red and blue. I spent HOURS walking around that stupid truck in Vermillion city. It wasn't until years later I learned about the actual glitch way to get it.

Ah..the days without internet...Honestly it wasn't to horrible. Things had more mystery to them. It was like a legit detective case that usually had multiply friends and siblings with ya on the case.

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#50 Edited by Zelyre (1898 posts) -

Gamefaqs was a thing in the 90's. Before Gamefaqs, you had message boards and chats. Before the internet, you had your favorite local BBS and uploading those small TXT files earned you credits towards bigger downloads. Hell, I saw Aerith die in FF7 months before FF7 came out state side by downloading the MOV file on a 56k connection. There were walk throughs for playing through FF7 if you imported it a half year before it came out in the US.

And even before I was using a BBS in the early 90's, things like GamePro, Nintendo Power, had giant chunks of their magazines dedicated to this sort of thing. Pretty sure one of my Nintendo Powers was just a walk through of Dragon Warrior. You'd have a whole rack of magazines dedicated to tips and tricks. Like Tips and Tricks magazine. Off the top of my head, 1997 (17) year old me subscribed to: Game Pro, EGM, Game Informer, PC Gamer, Computer World Gaming (GFW Magazine), and would hang out in the Borders/Barnes and Noble going through other gaming magazines.

Then you had GamePro TV or whatever those weird morning TV shows were that aired tips and tricks between crappy cartoons featuring Big Foot and Solid Snake and a talking tomato.