Title: The Oddballs of Normalcy
Posted: August 20, 2007 (11:50 PM)
I was driving home tonight, listening to Muse's Knights of Cydonia and thinking of the video, when it hit me. This is genius! Why hasn't anyone made a video game out of this yet? Forget about hulking steroid-offenders with over-compensating firepower. I want to be a kung-fu fighting, robot-punching, cowboy with visions of cyberpunk maidens atop silvery unicorns.
Seriously, when did video game characters get so boring? How many different colored suits of power-armor and levels of angst do we have to go through? It wasn't that long ago when the oddballs were practically considered the norm - Earthworm Jim, the psychotic rabbit Max, two bubble-blowing dragons, or even the beatboxing blobs, Toejam and Earl. No one batted and eye when they hit the scene. Fast-forward ten years, and sending a blocked-headed Prince to Earth is considered groundbreaking.
I tell you, things are getting stale. Where did the creativity go? What happened to throwing random characters into random time periods to save random damsels in distress and calling it a day? Maybe I should blame the powers of today's graphic engines for recreating reality, the powers of popularity that keep the likes of Master Chief in business, or even the drug tests that keep the true revolutionaries out of the business, although I'm pretty sure Miyamoto would fail with an emphasis on flying colors.
I enjoy a good round of action-packed gunplay and dramatic storytelling like any other gamer, but sometimes, just sometimes, I miss the old days of random nonsense.
In case you're wondering about the video that inspired this little rant, here it is:
So tell me what you think. Have video game characters just grown up, or have they become a series of overlapping cliches?
Posted: August 21, 2007 (12:21 AM)
The one recent game that comes to mind when I think of pure oddball randomness is Armed and Dangerous, a not-bad little Xbox shooter with a rather Monty Python-esque sense of humor. It's about a masked British thief, a tea-loving robotic gladiator, a foul-mouthed Scottish miner mole, and a stubby old blind man with glass eyes. They want to steal the Book of Rule and overthrow the evil king, whose son is green and believes his father is a goose. Their weapons include a gun that fires man-eating land sharks into the ground (they pop up from the ground and gobble unsuspecting baddies) and a bomb that makes all of the enemies kill each other.
Along the way, the group finds a trio of gardening robots and reprograms them to become the gun-toting Shrub Patrol, whereby their intolerance for violence against plants is prefaced with, "Death to the salad eaters!"
Here's an example of this:
But yeah, I think games are, in general, lacking the heart and soul that they once did. It's becoming easier and more mainstream to produce videogames than it was, say, ten or twenty years ago, so the certain level of magic and quality that was at one time practically expected is lost. There are a few winners in the crowd, though.
Posted: August 21, 2007 (09:35 AM)
I would have to blame the push towards realism as well, as necessary as this push is. When developers only had a handful of pixels in the past, they had to be a more abstract and creative with character designs. Now that we expect human modeling from the processing power of today's consoles, characters have become more generic and less stylized as a whole.
Of course, there is still room for great artwork like LocoRoco, Katamari Damacy, Odin Sphere, Okami, and the list goes on and on. So I wouldn't say that creative character design doesn't belong in today's market or that it has died down, as much as it now has to share the same space with realistic modeling. And the necessity for stylized character design isn't as much of a priority nowadays, when it's acceptable to have a general character design with extraodinary gameplay - and have that work.
Posted: August 21, 2007 (10:15 AM)
Armed had a pretty cool premise but it got pretty boring about half way through. Giants: Citizen Kabuto is much better.
Thats what me and Boo were saying last night. Games are getting too generic nowdays and developers are afraid to take risks.
Posted: August 22, 2007 (03:53 AM)
exactly. I loved Quake 4, but it had problems with this; fuck Raven for not putting in gibs, and the way Stroggification was handled was awful. you get turned into a humanesque soldier strogg--not exactly pushing boundaries there--your squadmate gets to be some big tank-man. I WANT THAT.