Sunday, 26 October 2008

Barcode Battler

There are some things in life that make you want to snap your fingers and go "wow - I wish I'd thought of that!" There are other things in life that make you say "Haha - I'd rather have shoved my eyeballs through a cheese grater rather than thought of that." Of course, this site is not about the "wow" items. It's cheese graters all the way...

Remember in the early 90's, there were two products vying for our attention, two must have items - both claimed to be the latest gaming device, both were hand-held. Well, you know what they say...

"One shall stand and one shall fall"

These two items were not giant robots, but in fact The Game Boy and The Barcode Battler. Now, it's pretty damn obvious who won - the Game Boy near enough twatted its competitor... but at that strange time of year, there were people who actually wanted the black box!

Well, who could resist it - look, there's a CGI-type giant robot dude looking out of a barcode. Gee - barcodes must be cool then! In fact, this was the man selling point of the Barcode Battler - you could create your own computer characters using barcodes and then fight them! For only £30! It sounds too good to be true, right?


As in all things, snazzy packaging was tops. But the important, nay vital thing was that nowhere on the packaging or the adverts did it show you what the game itself looked like. Aha - but it looks like the Sega Gamegear, I hear you cry. Well then, it must be some complex platform-based game. Or like Zelda, where you can literally create the characters and their appearances yourselves. It must be fab!

...or it could literally be THIS. Yep, there it is, blatant as you like on the packaging. This is it! Just a couple of random numbers. Oooooh. And when they fight - you get a few squares! Amazing! How on God's Earth could this be sold for £30 quid? And how were we tricked? I demand vengeance for all the little kids on Christmas morning who woke up to be greeted by their Barcode Battler, expecting something with which they can use to mock their friends with who only got Gameboys... yeah so I had both... big deal. I'm still cross.

1 - The Packaging.
Boy, this mutha is twice the size of the Gameboy box - it dwarfs it! And it's in these really neat colours and all! Silver also plays a large role in this, as we shall soon find out...

2 - The Back-Story
All games need a back-story - but this one is so complex that it must be an amazing game - look at it!

Oh yeah, Commerce Conflict:

Barcode Battler People: Give us your money for this!
Public: What is it
Barcode Battler People: A barcode reader... I mean a games console
Public: No!
[Member of the public is hit over the head with a blunt object and their money nicked]

That's that mockery over with... let's pick faults in the story...

a) The bad guy is called 'Emperor Boss.' Haha - these people have no imagination! "Hello, my name is Emperor Boss." Well, with a name like that, he had to succeed - it would be pretty hard to have a minion who called himself Emperor Boss now, wouldn't it. What cruel parents. Do you think it said 'Emperor Boss' on his credit card too? Oh yeah, and he's the 'Wickedest Warmonger!' Yeah!

b) He discovered Time Travel. Just like that. It's really so easy to discover time travel. Imagine Emperor Boss' diary:

Tuesday 13th
-Washed socks
-Returned book to library - overdue. Grr, I would have crushed them, but I didn't want them to take away my library card.
-Went to try to get my name changed by deed poll again. They laughed at me and told me to piss off. I hate my name.
-Invented Time Travel

c) Past, Present and Future = 3, not 4 you mindless dopes! Crikey, who writes these things? Very succinct, eh?

So that's the basic premise - you must battle all these evil monsters. In fact, all you end up battling is evil numbers.

3 - Lying

"Barcode Battler transforms barcodes you find into great warriors and warring wizards! Every barcode is different so you never know what it might be - a Warrior, a Wizard, an incredible weapon...Or nothing at all!"

Or nothing at all - remember that. And remember how it can magically transform barcodes into superheroes? Well, it can't - it can transform a barcode into a few numbers, not some amazingly rendered warrior, not a bloke who can shoot fire, and not a power sword.


It is said that the three numbers found in every barcode are 666 - the number of Satan himself. This is a clue as to the nature of this product - only Satan himself could have made this.

More often than not, after you've stuck your AMAZING barcode to your piece of cardboard and run it through the barcode reader, oh, sorry, Barcode Battler, it would most likely be nothing. Or, if you're lucky, a power-up that drains all your energy and kills you. Or a warrior with 1 point of life force.

Come on people - this is a game that has as a major component a freaking barcode. Barcodes, whatever silver CGI robots will tell you, are not cool. Their sole purpose is to inform the shops that the fish came from Scunthorpe and retails at £3.99 a pound, not to turn into some fantastic wizard. Children swapping barcodes in the playground is not healthy - it is sick.

4 - The Characters
A lot of the mystery and intrigue surrounding the Barcode Battler was with the way a barcode could transform, from this... this...

See - it's not a few numbers, it's a real monster! Wow! I mean, it's even got it's own personality and everything (and odd misspelling)! Why lie about something like that...

Beware. Three-eyed Barbarian saps your will to fight - making the strongest of warriors and wizards doubt themselves and their quest. Those serpent's eyes will mesmerise, so try not to look directly at him.

Yes, I must make sure not to look DIRECTLY AT A FEW NUMBERS. Bloody hell - as a kid you were looking at this, then looking at the screen and thinking "am I doing something wrong - where's my little man? Why is the screen just full of numbers? How do I not look into the eyes of this baddy?"

So why does a barcode reader cost £30?

5 - The Instruction Manual
Sadly my scanner doesn't scan silver... because that's what this is made from! The freaking instruction manual is silver! Aaaaaaah! Even better than that, it has little illustrations showing the game in action! However, to make its lameness seem more exciting, little blast symbols have been put around the numbers! The illustrator tells us what he thinks of this...

"Poo." Yup, that's what I was thinking too. In fact, the illustrators and writers must have been mad. They've come up with pictures and bios for around 100 characters! All they needed to do was say "Oh, and they'll be some numbers flashing up at you. They are supposed to be the characters." Let's look at a few...

Yeah, see any link yet? Two of them used to be good guys, until some stupid accident forced them onto the path of evil. And I'm not even going to talk about "The Shrimp." Ooooh, he's so hard.

Such exertions took a toll on the creative teams however, so they got lazy and simply copied:

Erm, okay...

The instruction manual also tells you how to scan in your stupendous barcodes.

Sounds easy, right? WRONG. It was impossible to scan those blighters in - it just never worked! You had to get a set-square in to get the degree of straightness it wanted!

Again, so why does a barcode reader cost £30? Well - because it has five flashing lights! Tsk - didn't you learn anything in school?


  1. Actually, I beleive that that concept has been used several times, in much better ways than this abombination. There are the very successful arcade games Dinosaur King and Love and Berry, as well as Scannerz, something like the Barcode battler, BUT WITH ACTUAL PICTURES ON THE SCREEN!

  2. --
    a) The bad guy is called ‘Emperor Boss.’ Haha – these people have no imagination! “Hello, my name is Emperor Boss.” Well, with a name like that, he had to succeed

    bit like Master Chief eh ?

  3. The largest of the remaining resources is coal, which comprises 23% of the total. ,

  4. Did anyone actually manage to find a barcode that provided a warrior? I had this when I was a kid and didn't get jack from any barcode.

  5. I was clearing out my mum's loft and found mine still all boxed up.Thought i'd have a look and c if its worth anything.Average price is £15.However someone has 1 on ebay for £55.All i can say to them is GOOD LUCK