Friday, April 16, 2010

#2 son pushes the buttons

Although he doesn't game, #2 son had a bit of a meltdown in the R-Zone this morning. I had already driven all over without purpose to his mind, because I headed south a little early and the two places I wanted to go weren't open yet. Once the Asian grocery store I go to opened up, the way was clear to get some sushi supplies and some Pocky-like confection that Meiji makes. We got Strawberry and Cappuccino Creme. Next order of business, seeing if we could find a DC Friends Superman at Toys 'R' Us. No dice on that, so we sifted through the R-Zone. All the cheap games were buy one, get one half off. I was looking at "The Force Unleashed", "Sonic Unleashed", Capcom's "Spyborgs", and a couple of other things. They had several copies of "Mushroom Men", so perhaps I'll have to encourage more people to pick that up. No "Ghost Squad" or the House of the Dead game for Wii with more swearing in it than anything except that David Mamet film about real estate.

#2 son saw "Namco Museum Remix" and "The Force Unleashed" and brought them to me. I tried to put them down when he was looking at something else but I was denied. He's only three, but he knows what Pac-Man is.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Really? They haven't done this yet?

I was somewhat amused by this assertion when I read it the other day:

If you don't follow the link, it's a tirade about how some industry analyst thinks that the video game industry is missing out on millions of dollars because there isn't a 'Twilight' video game.

This theory is either brilliant, or know to be untrue by the author and just put forth to drive comments to his website. I'm probably making it worse by using his link here.

His logic: It's a movie, it's making a ton of money right now, there needs to be a game of it so those people plus part of the video game industry can make more money.

My logic: If Avatar, the #4 most expensive move of all time (as of this writing) can't even get a game with 70 out of 100 on Metacritic what hope does Twilight have? Wouldn't a mediocre - to - crappy game do what it always does, dilute the brand and create the feeling that it's a quick and dirty cash-in instead of lovingly crafted fan service?

Looking back at the more successful movie-to-game conversions, it would seem that the movie has to have some sort of plot line that works well with an established game genre. Goldeneye (The Nintendo 64 one, Metacritic score of 96) lent itself easily to the first person shooter genre, and Peter Jackson's King Kong (Metacritic score of 77-82 on consoles, worse on handhelds) was easily crafted into an action/adventure game. It would be great to create a new game genre that works with the film's plot, but it's difficult enough to make a game that draws outside the lines of convention without the additional pressure of trying to release it at the same time as the film.

So now it comes down to - what sort of movies are the 'Twilight' films and where does that place a game to go with it? Twilight is essentially a teenage romance with supernatural content. Romance games don't seem to sell here - Japanese developers do make 'dating sims' but for some reason or another they're not in the American market. The "Twilight" audience skews heavily female, but the only games with market-tested sell through to girls and young women in America that I'm aware of are "The Sims" games. Also, many good games have a substantial number of female players. The Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, Nintendo's "Zelda" and "Mario" games, the better role-playing games including "World of Warcraft" and "Everquest", and even some first person shooters have substantial contingents of female players. On the flip side, most games marketed specifically to girls are not much better than the crop of shovelware movie license games - made just because someone feels the have a niche to fill, and not so concerned with just making a good game that people want to play. The pessimistic side of me thinks that what would really end up being made out of "Twilight" would be some sort of plot-driven fetch quest game like the game they made for Spiderwick (Metacritic scores of 59-64).

If someone does make a Twilight game, I hope they have the courage to make something that gives people the same sense of place that the books and the movies do. I hope that they have enough sense to build to a budget, but not to a deadline. What I really hope is that they not do it unless they have an actual, workable idea at the core of it.