|Satire is my middle name. Okay, not really. - February 23rd, 2002 - Drew Cosner |
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed
within this column are those of the participants and the
moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the
GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive
I know, I know, a dirty word.
Don't say we didn't warn you.
You know, this is about my 100th column as weekend DA. I feel like Cal Ripken Jr., except not famous. Or consequential. Or rich. Well, I'm adequately bummed out; let's start this column.
|Keeping it PC
If you buy Final Fanyasy XI for the computer when it comes out, would you have to buy anything to play it besides having a cable modem?
I would imagine you'd have to have a decent, 3D-capable video card. Some nice speakers and a decent sound card probbaly wouldn't hurt, either. Then again, as a strict console gamer, I know little about that sort of thing, so I probably shouldn't even waste your time with my ill-conceived "advice." It just makes me feel like the time spent on this column has been beneficial when I answer a question at some point or another.
Honestly, you'd be best off asking that question of a PC games site, like pc.ign.com or something. Then again, being a PC site, it's probable that you'll either get mocked for not knowing every last nitty-gritty detail about PC gaming, or be inundated by a bunch of techno-babble. At least it's nice knowing other sites' columnists are even less useful than I am.
|The problem with parody
The main problem I see with a RPG parody of, say, Final Fantasy, is that not everybody would get it. Yeah, 4 million people may have bought FFX, but how many of those are not casual gamers that would get the jokes of a FF parody? Or of the RPG genre in general?
A really funny game is not out of the question (I found Mint's quest in Threads of Fate to be quite funny, in fact), but I think that there is little market for a honest parody... at least, not if its makers are trying to make some money.
-- Carlos Rodriguez
I think, yes, making a parody of another video game or franchise would be a risky endeavor specifically because the nigh-obsessive knowledge of the source material necessary to facilitate such humor would be had by very few people. (Succinctness has never been my strong suit.)
Considering for a moment the film world, movie parodies can work because the films/series/genres/whatever being parodied are often so ubiquitous as to become a part of the cultural collective. Through commercials, television and newspaper reviews, talk shows, and the like, you have a good idea of a movie's high points and essence without ever needing to see it. In other words, people needn't have seen Titanic to get the "king of the world" cracks.
Such is decidedly not the case with games. Games continue to be a niche form of entertainment, and even the popular, break-through titles probably won't have an audience that's going to be interested in any parody that may come along. Madden is a big, fat deal in this country, but somehow I doubt your average consumers would be lining up for a parody of the game.
No, I don't know what I'm saying, either. Let's just move along.
|Things that are funny
Agent D (or is it C now?)-
While comedy games have been largely absent from consoles, PCs have been a
haven for that sort of thing for a long time. Most notable are LucasArts'
graphic adventures, all of which were hysterical, including the entire Monkey
Island series, The Day of the Tentacle, and the creme de la creme, the
absolutely pants-pissingly funny Full Throttle.
But consoles have gotten pretty much screwed out of a good comedy game. A
few come to mind, mostly smaller, limited interest games like rhythm titles
and mini-game fests a la Incredible Crisis. And besides, it's Japanese humor.
I think that RPGs, in general, are ripe for the satirizing. Just read, oh,
any Frtiz Fraundorf fanfic and you have an idea of what could be done. There
are countless RPG idiosyncracies that, in reality, make no sense: the lack of
armor worn in combat, the sword/gun damage gap, Armaggedon-like in-battle
attacks that hurt like paper cuts and out-of-battle knife stabs that kill,
insta-healing inns... I'm sure you know the rest.
Assuming it was well-written (which is, I'll admit, a huge assumption), a
game parodying all these aspects of the RPG world that we usually take for
granted could be drop-dead hilarious.
You know, your last paragraph actually brings up an interesting point: I have to wonder just how many people with a true talent for satire would be willing to spend their time on something as "frivolous" as a video game. Then again, there are plenty of funny geeks out there, like the Penny Arcade guys, so who knows.
Surprisingly, considering my reputation for crassness, I hadn't even noticed that. Sometimes I don't think video games need people making active efforts to parody them.
|Ripe with satire
The video game industry has always been ripe with satire - although not necessarily direct parodies of games - ever since I can remember.
How quickly gamers have forgotten the masterpiece that was Conker's Bad Fur Day. I couldn't stop laughing while playing that game. It parodies almost every popular movie in existence, from The Matrix, to A Clockwork Orange, to Dracula, while adding it's own (albeit crude) brand of slapstick humour.
Have the gamers not heard of the imminent return of Earthworm Jim, the world's most amazing annelid? Has the industry already forsaken Dear Avenger, and Who Wants To Beat Up A Millionaire? I should hope not!
There's no lack of satire in the Industry, no sir! Especially with all the crappy, "wannabe-game" titles out there, that we could just pretend are parodies of better, more wholesome games. When we reach a generation where we lack an ample supply of satirical games, I'll eat my hat.
- Cary Ferguson
I like self-encompassed letters. They're well-written, thought-out, and, most importantly, in little need of response. Which is great when you're an incompetent moron, like me.
Dude, a funny game is already here! Earthbound! Look, we've got baseball
bats, starmen, old age retro hippies, buzz-buzz, and even the underdog
scientist nobody respects. And then there is the religious cults, the frying
pans, and all that PP!
But seriously, we need the next one to come, and to come soon, dammit! I
want my Earthbound, and not some stuff in Super Smash Bros. Melee, but the
real deal! ...>sigh<
But seriously, I would not have any idea what a "comedy" type game would be
unless you tried to make a game set up to the Naked Gun trilogy.
"Each of us allows our feelings to be a trigger...
Letting them loose changes our world, time, and history."
I'm with you on the need for a new Earthbound. That's always been one of my favorite series. (Note how I say "series," as though I've played them all in completion.) Earthbound's brand of wacky, understated humor perfectly fits the video game format, but the important thing is that the game was actually fun. I'd just about sell my soul for a new EB game.
Dammit, Satan, you slacker. You never appear in a cloud of smoke when I promise to sell my soul for something.
The RPG genre has been parodied in another medium already. Multiple times. So, theoretically, one
could do the same in the format of another game. Your heroes deciding to
follow some shadowy figure simply because it's an obvious plot point, or
dismissing an upcoming invasion to go on a sidequest because "the enemy
will wait for us anyway." And it can still have all the gameplay one would
expect from a quality RPG (but with ridiculous weapons and abilities, and
I think a good place to test the waters might be something along the lines
of the upcoming .hack. Since it's acknowledging that you are, in fact, in a
game (within a game), it can afford to be intentionally ridiculous without
even losing the suspension of disbelief. .hack itself probably isn't going
to go the way of pure comedy, but one could imagine a similar game where
the "game within" was written badly, or used every cliche in the book, or
what have you. (If you've ever seen the movie Galaxy Quest, you'll see
where I'm going here.)
Like any game, movie, etc., the idea could work or it could tank, depending
on how well it's put together. But I think it would be worth giving a try.
- ChocoMog ZERO
I've already addressed what I think about parodies, but those are great links. So I posted this letter. Marvel at how scientific my letter-selection methods are.
You know, it occurs to me that I've easily concocted 250 topics in my day. I guess I have to take pride in what things I can. I'll put it on my resume when I'm trying to get a job someday. Anywho, here you go: do you think the rhythm genre will pan out over the long run, or is it going to be a flash-in-the-pan, doomed by its own limited gameplay? Let me know what you think, okay?
-Cozy Cosner, master of consonance and alliteration