PEPSI-MAN! What a weird way to get addicted to a game. This was a very fun speedrun to execute, if not frustrating at times and quite difficult to get down. But I was even moreso surprised, seeing as how it was a licensed game about a cola mascot. Pepsiman is about as simple as they come; this auto-scrolling runner was developed by KID for a Japanese-only release in 1999, for the Sony PlayStation. You control a mascot for Pepsi that only Japan ever got, and instead of trying to explain it myself, I highly encourage you to watch the Nerd’s episode for more info on the character and the story behind him.
You play through 4 stages of 3 parts, and you must run, jump, and dodge obstacles to help folks get their Pepsi. It’s about as simple as it sounds, though the execution of it was much more complex then I ever thought it could be. Multiple obstacles impede your way, and you can only take so many hits before Pepsiman dies and you must restart at a checkpoint. In speedrun terms, you gotta git gud™. This involves a lot of memorization and practice in order to get the sequence down for each level and its’ holes, enemies, and barriers that you must avoid. It was a lot of work, but it does make for an addictive experience, even if it’s a frustrating one.
The game is quite nice looking and sounding as well, with an addictive and catchy soundtrack and endearing graphics, even if they’re rudimentary for 1999. But my one gripe with this game: it likes to eat your inputs.
Like… a lot.
That’s not so bad in the early stages, where getting hit is simply a 2-3 second time loss. However, in later stages, this means you die. And you lose 30 seconds to a minute AND a life. And THAT is a sin that is unforgivable in my eyes, when it comes to a speedrun. What was a bona-fide hit of a speedrun became an annoying salt-filled mess thanks to those eaten inputs. And it’s a shame, too, because the controls are otherwise great, and this game is very satisfying to execute and play.
Even with these frustrating hindrances, Pepsiman is a fun speedrun and a challenge of memorization and skill. If you’re an arcade fan, an auto-runner fan, or just a fan of memes, you could do much worse than this speedrun.