August 11, 1991
It’s a date that should be etched in the annals of time. It’s like July 20, 1969 (the date of the first moon landing), but much more important. It’s the day that The Ren & Stimpy Show first debuted on television. There aren’t enough superlatives to describe how I feel about the show. To get a true sense of it, you’d have to sing the Happy Happy, Joy Joy song by your old pal Stinky Wizzleteats.
My friends and I were obsessed with Ren & Stimpy. I had VHS tapes with collections of episodes, stuffed Ren & Stimpy dolls, and “You Eediot!” the debut album by the temperamental chihuahua and brain dead cat. I still have a little stuffed version of Powdered Toast Man, spokesman for Powdered Toast: the breakfast cereal that tastes just like sawdust! I’m relatively certain I could sing every word to the Log song, or Muddy Mudskipper if asked. The show was weird, irreverent, and totally unlike anything else I had ever seen. There was an entire episode where the duo became rubber nipple salesmen. In their Christmas special, Stimpy gives birth to a sentient fart that he calls his son. What wasn’t to love?
Imagine my excitement when, in 1993, the Sega Genesis system released a video based on the show. It was a platformer called The Ren & Stimpy Show Presents: Stimpy’s Invention. It wasn’t the first Ren & Stimpy video game. That distinction goes to Space Cadet Adventures, released for the GameBoy in late 1992. However, it was the first game of theirs that I ever played. Doug TenNapel (Earthworm Jim) designed the game, and BlueSky Software developed it.
The text on the back of the box laid out the premise, “Stimpy’s latest invention, the Mutate-O-Matic, explodes, wreaking havoc in the neighborhood! The town heroes chase down the pieces through dangerous challenges – traveling from Mr. Horse’s over-populated refrigerator to the far reaches of the great outdoors!”
There were one and two player options. In the single player option, the CPU would control the other character, but you could swap who you controlled at any time. There were weird special moves, like Ren tearing off Stimpy’s nose and throwing it at enemies, and characters like Powdered Toastman made appearances. If you fell into a pit, he could rescue you (though it would cost you some health).
The game had six total levels: The Neighborhood, The Zoo, The City, The Pound, The Outdoors, and Inside the Invention. There items you could pick up throughout the levels which would give you points. Examples of items included Gritty Kitty Litter, jars of spit, ice cream, and glazed ham.
Stimpy’s Invention was delightfully weird. It was juvenile, but in the best way. Like the cartoon itself, it was hard to describe, sort of like the lovechild of a whoopie cushion and Jim Jarmusch.