Originally posted at slangards.multiply.com on Nov 7, 2009
Of all the sub-cultures that exist for geeks and nerds in the world, gaming is one that I never really got into. It's the result of many factors. First off, I suck at them. I was well into my 20's before I finished Super Mario Bros. The original Nintendo version. 8-bit. Recognize. I didn't get better with age. The only way I can make it through games is if I print out a cheat sheet or walkthrough to refer to when I get stuck, which is about 80% of the time.
Secondly, I believe that the pervasiveness of video games is slowly dropping the collective IQ of the species. No one cares if a game has an internal logic to it. As long as you've got a good physics system to mimic the movement of the female mammary gland, most fan boys will not care if your protagonist is a virtual cardboard cutout. This may seem like a harsh assessment, but you see the evidence in the quality of tangential media like comics and movies everyday. Stories are getting less and less cohesive. Characterization has given way to empty gags and one liners. It's all about the visual bling now, man. Story isn't king any longer. The King is dead.
Of course, that's a generalization. Generalizations are ba-a-a-a-a-d (at least according to the anti-harassment training videos I watch all the time). There are quite a few titles that really distinguish themselves in the gaming arena, it's just that they are buried in the legions of crap product out there. It's a lot like Hollywood, only with socially inept people rather than the photogenic don't-hate-me-because-I'm-beautiful crowd.
During my college days, I was really into Soul Reaver, a series about a vampire apocalypse with a time travelling twist. The story of Kain and Raziel was something else and read like a high fantasy novel. The graphics were top of the line back in the day, with some inventive environments and excellent animation, and the gameplay was very involved, including shifting from the ethereal plane to the material one. Everything FELT thought out and logical, and things were intuitive. I got the same thing from the Thief series, a steampunk fantasy adventure with religious overtones. Again great story, great graphics, excellent gameplay with a variety of things to do.
I like to keep an eye on the gamesphere to see what is coming to find out if anything will really push me enough to buy into another console system. That 8-bit Nintendo really burned be when I bought it right on the cusp of the 16-bit revolution. So far, the only thing to wow me is the God of War series for the Playstation. But today, I found something that might actually swing me back towards Nintendo: Epic Mickey.
When I read about this new game, it totally blew me away. According to advance reports, it centers around forgotten Disney characters, ones from before the days of Steamboat Willie, deciding to take their revenge on the Mouse House's colorful stable of personalities. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (Wikipedia him) unleashes Phantom Blot (again, Wiki is your friend) on toon town and all the happy little animals get a nice black coat of black ink. Anyone else remember the Exxon Valdez? No? God I'm old.
So the original Moustketeer is the only one to stop old Oswald, and to do it he gets a load of brushes, pens, paints, and erasers to re-color his world. But until he succeeds, gamers are going to be treated to a darker, more sinister cartoon world than you've ever seen in the Disney films. It's a steampunk's wet dream, at least if these concept paintings of a brokendown Magic Kingdom by artist Fred Gambino are any indication it is:
In addition, Fred shows us what the familiar cast of characters will look like in Oswald's little personal Dystopia through some nasty character sketches:
After seeing these beautiful images, I seriously can't wait to see if this title will be launched on any other platform aside from the Nintendo Wii. While I appreciate that the unique (at least for now) controls of the Wii lend a certain charm to the gamer's proposed interaction with the game character, the Wii's selection of titles leaves something to be desired.
Let's hope Disney's next theatrical release ties into this little idea somehow. I'd hate to think that crap like "The Princess and the Frog" is what we're gonna be seeing from them from now on.