Atari Poop – Missile Command
Tom Cruise hates Missile Command. Yes, the arcade classic from 1980 ported shortly thereafter to the 2600. Come on, you remember the game. Even your mom remembers Missile Command. It was fun, addictive, went pew, pew, pew, brrrrcrash, bleep, and prrrrrgrrrcrrrr, had nukes, and was awesome. What most people, including your mom, don’t remember is its backstory, plot, or why Tom Cruise hates it so much.
Looking at the game’s manual, you’ll see stuff about Zardon, Krytolians, and other such nonsense. It’s not what the game was supposed to be about, but legal threats equalled some last minute changes to the games plot. Still, nothing in the game itself was changed and the rewrite of the plot was done well enough that almost no one noticed. Those things at the bottom of the screen really do look like skyscrapers making up a city’s skyline. When those lines coming down from the top of the screen hit a “city,” it really does look like a small nuclear mushroom cloud sprouts up front the point of impact. Finally, although inexplicably pastel-rainbow coloured when they explode, you do get the feeling that those things you shoot are part of some form of anti-missile defense system. It’s as though this was what the game was supposed to be about from the start.
I mean, those cities couldn’t possibly be mountains, or even volcanoes. If they were volcanoes, what the hell are people from space trying to nuke them for? Originally, the manual wasn’t going to have names like Zardon and Krytol. Rather, it was going to feature words like Theton and Xenu. Starting to make sense yet?
In case you haven’t guessed it yet, Missile Command was supposed to by an anti-Scientology game. For those of you who never bothered to read its Wikipedia page or don’t watch South Park, Scientologists believe that, oh screw it. I’m not going to waste my time or brain power trying to paraphrase this utter nonsense, so here’s a citation from the Wikipedia article, which, by the way, is fully referenced, so I’m not just citing some vandalized section:“75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and detonated hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes. The thetans then clustered together, stuck to the bodies of the living, and continue to do this today.”
By the way, all those problems in your life? Not your fault. You’ve likely got a nasty case of body thetans (the clustered souls of those volcano-nuked people). They stick to your body and ruin everything somehow, I guess.
Anyway, now that I’ve given you this information, the rest of the game basically explains itself. Your goal is essentially to prevent Xenu from nuking all the people he’d dropped off around the volcanoes on Earth (they really do look more like volcanoes). If you succeed, then you not only save these people, but all humans to live on Earth in the future; since without the thetans floating around, attaching their twisted souls to our bodies, then humanity would have no problems. The various psychopathologies that cause people to murder, wage war, take drugs, etc. are all caused by these body thetans, so by eliminating the event that brought them into existence, we rid the world of these problems. It’s pretty great.
So, the Church of Scientology didn’t take too kindly when they found out about the game. They threatened to take Atari to court, so Atari decided that when dealing with mentally handicapped adults who’ve formed their own religion and have lots of money, it’s best to humour them and do what they say.
Now, I know what you’re think : “Wait a minute… did he say war earlier? Damn…without war, then, what kind of video games would be left to play?” I completely agree. As much as I love Katamari Damacy, I still need to play other stuff that isn’t it or Tetris. Even worse, without war, murder, and the rest of the terrible things humans do, what kind of movies would be left? Rom-coms starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew McConaughey? I’d rather get nuked while standing next to a volcano than live in such a world.
And THIS is why Tom Cruise hates the game so much. While it does kinda mock Scientology in general, and that could’ve been reason enough by itself, it’s the fact that if the events depicted in the game were to have happened, Tom Cruise would pretty much never have had a movie career. Every single one of his movies would be rendered plotless if humans were able to live without the hindrances brought on by body thetans, and he knows it. A world where humanity is deprived of all that is Tom Cruise, even if this world is purely fictional, is too much for Tom Cruise to handle. He’s that fucking crazy.
If any of you are upset by what I’ve said about Scientology, I’m going to advise you don’t read an article I’ll be writing in a few weeks on Space Invaders and Mormonism.
I’ve been writing Atari Poop for over a year now. It’s been fun (most of the time), but after a while, you feel the need to do something new (more on that later). Don’t worry though, I’m not done yet. The final article will get published July 22nd. That means I’ve got 5 more games to write about, and I’ve already chosen 2. So, if there was a game any of you were just waiting for me to tackle, speak up in the comments now.
As for the future, I’m on vacation for 4 weeks starting July 22nd, but when I get back, I’ll also be back on 1 More Castle, along with a partner in crime, delivering even stupider content with a new feature. Stay tuned. Don’t touch that dial. Other clichéd phrase that doesn’t make sense now that tuners and dials have all but completely disappeared from TVs and radios.