Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why so serious?

Nah, this is not yet another Dark Knight post. This is about having more comedy games. Everywhere I look, most games take themselves too seriously. And even when they have elements of comedy, they are generally in the form of comic relief or just comical situations.

Gaming started out as a very abstract affair I guess in part due to the limitations of the technology available at the time. But, because of this abstract nature, I think it lead game designers to take themselves less seriously. Even when they were not overtly funny, the bizarreness of the gaming locales and character designs made it obvious that the game designers did not see this gaming malarkey as serious business.

What got me thinking about this was the deathspank teaser (Deathspank is being developed by Ron Gilbert, one of the designers of Secret of Monkey Island - the first laugh out loud funny game I ever remember playing) which you can see for yourself below.

The other two can be found here -

It is fun and made me feel all nostalgic for those days when videogame characters were spunky, and bright and cartoon-like. Nowadays, we have Master Chief and Marcus Fenix, Wander and Ico, Cloud and Sephiroth, Lara Croft and the Prince from Prince of Persia (ooo, and for extra points, the dark Prince from POP 2 onwards). Not that there aren't funny characters anymore, or that there weren't serious characters back then, but it just feels like all of the games I have for the current-gen consoles are just filled with hard men/women/machines/cyborgs/boys/girls. At least on the PS2 I have Katamari Damacy and its cast of crazy characters as well as Disgaea 1 & 2, Godhand, even Devil May Cry1 and 3 are quite tongue in cheek in certain respects. There are also loads of games like that on my Gamecube.

I definitely want more humour in my games. It may seem a little odd considering the types of games I have been talking about playing which are light on the dramatics and heavier on the gameplay, or intense like Immortal Defense and Etrian Odyssey, but the truth is that even those games are quite bizarre in their own way, and me? I am a sucker for absurdity. What really got me interested in Etrian Odyssey were the excellent manga-style comics that the developers made for them, as well as the F.O.E music video on youtube. And Immortal Defense is quite bizarre too in the little quotes that pop up on the screen whenever your points accomplish something, and even their design is a bit odd. Rescue the Beagles which I talked about before is quite old school in its approach to bad guys and plot. Two young activists fighting against an evil cosmetics corporation. Yeah, quite. And of course there's also Mighty Jill Off...

And the horizon is looking quite lean for comedy games on both the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Now, again, it's not like I am advocating that we make only funny/quirky/odd games, but it would be nice to see more of them.

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