Taboo The Sixth Sense is a forgotten treasure trove of crappiness. Taboo is a tarot card simulation and random lottery number generator game that was released for Nintendo in 1989. I decided to play the lottery with Taboo on my side. Inquiring minds, Weekly World News, and all three of you reading want to know … will I win with Taboo’s lucky numbers?
But first, let’s look at the history of Taboo. Over the summer, I had found this strange, occult-looking NES game at the flea market. It’s all here–the foreboding font, creepy sun, dried blood stain. I’m fairly certain it’s a stigmata on the cartridge, corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus.
What the heck is this thing? After paying a dollar for it, I spent the rest of the flea market imagining it was not even real, but instead a mysterious cartridge that would give me the winning lotto numbers and then vanish, or at least turn into a Gremlin.
I had never heard of Taboo–and you probably hadn’t either–because it sold poorly upon its release. No shocker there; the thing isn’t even a game–a non-game which cost $40 in 1989. Back then, you saved up your allowance for half a year in order to afford that kind of money. What a sad day it would have been to have picked out Taboo, only to find out there was no game to play.
Aside from the cost, another reason it sold poorly was that parents avoided this game. On the back of the box was rare parental warning for the generally G-rated Nintendo. NO players under 14 years old, the box read, a ballsy move for Nintendo, considering twelve-year-olds were their demographic. The box was also riddled with hokey warnings like USE TABOO AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The game also contained some violent and religious imagery that might convince you to try drugs or sleep around. At the very least, it could fuck your life worse than any Ouija board ever did.
Reading the manual was a part of the Taboo experience, as it was filled with ominous quotes designed to psych kids out, about “mysteries and untold riddles encoded in the minute electronic circuitry of today’s high tech components,“. Taboo was really the result of the modern miracles of technology & science meeting the ancient miracles of THE OCCULT.
So I think this is how you were supposed to play Taboo–you had to gather over all your little friends, or if you had none, you rounded up the dog, your sister, a pack of Big League Chew. Then you went in the bathroom, summoned Bloody Mary, and made your sister cry. Then you went downstairs, loaded up the NES, held the flashlight to your face, did the FOR-EV-ER gag a few times, and then turned on Taboo.
Lights out. That’s the only way to play Taboo.
Next, let’s look at the gameplay. The startup screen is pretty cool. The music is appropiately eerie, and actually really great. You’ll notice the totally creepy skull in the O up there–
Freaks me the heck out. The eyes even flicker red. Next an ominous, Pink Floyd-esque warning scrolls across the screen:
all that has been
and all that will be
is here for you know
dare you glimspe the future
dare you even ask
Then you get to put your name in. I always felt a little acknowledged when the game let me put my name or initials in.
You’ll be tempted to spend 3 minutes pondering a good question to ask Taboo, just incase all this tarot card hodge podge is actually true. But don’t bother–Taboo won’t ever get around to answering it. Next is an excruciating scene where Taboo shuffles the cards and lays them out, one by one. You can’t skip it and it’s slow as balls.
Finally, we get to some fortune telling and Satanism. One by one, the game lays out a card with a freaky 8-bit picture (<—666th word), and reads it.
The tarot cards are chockful of Engrish Gems like:
“Presently influencing you is bringer of news and detail”
“The distant past foundation is reward of hard work and perseverence”
“Within your present frame of reference is scholarly or respect”
“Your Immediate Influence is no longer interested in anything”
“Others view you as suspicion, doubt or fear”
I love this scary ass wizard. It means death for sure. All the cards mean death, of course. This game is evil. It makes me want to do drugs and sleep around. And drown puppies in the blood of babies.
Most of the fortunes in the game are overwhelmingly negative, with things like you will lose your job, your family, and your faith in humanity. My favorite is “others view you as suffering or loss.” Fantastic.
Taboo has a lot against it, like not being a game, and not making any sense whatsoever, but it makes up for all of this by having violent, evil-looking graphics, which were rare for NES.
A fetal looking skeleton with a pick axe! In a Nintendo game! It was my 2nd wish to the genie and it came true! Compared to what they have in games today, this looks like a Disney Princess, but I’ll tell you what–a lot of nerds will complain that Nintendo is/was too cutesy and cuddly. That’s when you break out this evil shit, and you tell them that Taboo The Sixth Sense is the beating heart of darkness itself.
Here Nintendo went a wee tad cuddly by having the Hanging Man hung from his ankle instead of his neck. But clearly, HE’S STILL DEAD.
Finally, after all that dabbling in the occult, you take the natural next step. You gamble. Taboo lets you customize what you want and then gives you some magic numbers. Which I did. I played through Taboo 5 times. I got a lot of fortunes, all of them promising sickness and death, and then I got 5 sets of lucky numbers. I played a dollar on each set, spending 5 dollars on this entry. I did it for you. But were they really lucky? Did I win any money???
The answer is yes. I did win. SEVEN WHOLE DOLLARS. Whoopie. It would have been funny not to win, and it would have been amazing to win big, but 7 bucks is just kinda crappy. In a desperate attempt, I took my winnings and put it all-or-nothing in the scratch offs machine. I got nothing. And I guess, in that way, it’s a suitable ending for THE SURFING PIZZA’s review of Taboo The Sixth Sense. Thanks for reading. Watch out for that wizard tonight in your dreams.