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Editorial: What's in a Title?

Posted on Wed, Jul 14, 2004

Video games these days have so many different traits – gameplay, graphics, sound, replay value, play mechanics… the list goes on. But when you get right down to it, none of these things really matter. Gameplay? Eh. Sound? Nah. Replay? Who needs it!? When we dig deeper, we only get shallower; only one thing is a factor in determining the worth of a video game: its title. Really, it’s simple – games with catchy titles sell well. Halo sold millions, as did Grand Theft Auto 3 and Amped 2. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the GBA’s Ninja Five-Oh failed miserably, along with Acclaim’s ill-fated Super Bust-a-Move. It’s a rule that’s rarely falsified. I fear, though, that many gamers aren’t taking notice of it.

The following is a wake-up call of sorts. It’ll show not necessarily what was, but instead what could have been with a little less attention on the parts of developers. It’ll illustrate the importance of a game’s title and how it can determine an entire game’s contents. Hopefully you’ll appreciate the importance of a title before this is all said and done.

Example one: “The Chronic Migraines of Riddick: Escape from the Noisy School Bus.” Playing as the oft-nauseas and always antisocial Riddick, players will have to venture from the back of a treacherous school bus all the way to the front end, in an attempt to sway the driver to pull over onto the shoulder so Riddick can vomit. The journey will be hard, though; players will need to avoid loud, screaming schoolchildren and the country western-belching speakers alike. Encounters with these things can lead Riddick to vomit prematurely and subsequently be forced to clean the mess up himself.

Located in various areas around the ‘bus are bottles of Tylenol, which help beat back your head’s pounding. These can be gained by completing side-quests for fellow bus riders. Some might request that you “get Katherine to make out with me!” or even “participate in our game of Truth or Dare.” As you progress through the ‘bus, the tasks that earn you pain relievers will become gradually more difficult. Later in the game, you may have to “find the five specially marked pillows so I can go to sleep,” or some braver players may attempt to “stick a popsicle down Emily’s shirt.” Careful, though; a tongue-lashing from her could spell sudden death for your pounding head.

Example two: “Donkey Bong Country.” Don’t get paranoid – Donkey’s not out for violence this time around. In fact, he’s calmer than ever. A few weeks ago, our ape-ish hero spent several consecutive days in his treehouse, emerging only to reclaim his lava lamp and “Dark Side of the Moon” album from his nympho’ cousin Diddy. Finally, he stepped from his higher-than-life house, into the sunlight of the oncoming day, with one thought on his mind: “Damn, I am HUNGRY.”

So, playing as Donkey, you set out to find as much banana-flavored snack food as possible before the Klap Trap- and Krusha-comprised police force tries to take your stash and put you away for good. Also, you’ll be seeking out cloud-traveling, psychedelic balloons, which are obtainable once Donkey takes a few ‘grassy’ breaths and leaps into the air. You can trade these in to Candie (who almost always resides in her parents’ garage) for some extra grass. If all else fails, you can travel out of the country on your head cousin, Funky’s, private airline. Just don’t trust the pilots – they prefer barrel travel to airplanes.

Example three: “Jet Set Radio Future.” Oh, wait. That really is the title of a game. My apologies.

Example four: “Max Stayn.” Ex-conman and hard-ass cop Max Stayn has always been rather aloof. He makes his busts, reads his rights, and dispenses his fair share of law enforcement, but there’s something different about him: he’s a bedwetter. While keeping a façade of rock-hard coolness and uncaring, players will need to convince the rest of Max Payne’s co-workers that he’s as normal as the rest of them. Players will need to hide any of Stayn’s rubber bed sheets before fellow officers catch a glance of them, and will also be required to take haste in blaming any of those wet clothes on the waterpark.

While overcoming childhood jeering and substantial psychological damage, Stayn will travel through environments like ‘Max Stayn P.D.,’ ‘Bathroom with Locked Stalls and No Urinals,’ and a number of generic, underground medicinal laboratories in search of the solution to his bedwetting. Battling back your weakened bladder won’t be an easy battle – such enemies as Gatorade Man and the Coca Cola brothers will be hot on your trail throughout the game, and encounters with these fellows will only further prove one thing: that you’re all wet.

Example five: “PokePr0n.” Yeah, Psyduck! Gimme all ya’ got! That’s the stuff! Yeah – spread ‘em wide for me. Crawl like a baby now. Who’s the baby? You’re the baby! I could just eat you up! Now strut – yeah, strut your stuff. That’s how I like it. Okay, we’re done. Here’s your two grand; don’t spend it all at one Pokemart.

In ‘PokePr0n,’ you’re the director, and a damn fine one, too – you’re at the top of the business, and all the ambitious little Pokemon are crawling over each other to get to you. Look through all of their Pokefolios and personally decide which ones to shoot. You can determine how far each model will go be their tolerance level and basic attitudes about life (learned from conversing with them personally and bribing them with candy and such); some Pokemon will show everything the first time out, others will take a bit more persuasion. One of the hardest-fought conflicts against modesty will occur with Pikachu, who doesn’t want Mom and Dad to find out what she’s been up to. “Come on Pikachu, don’t you wanna be a star? I need to see it ALL.”

I hope by now you’ve learned the importance of a video game’s title; with even slightly different wording and a few extra letters, some of your favorite games could become something completely dissimilar, and completely horrid. I recommend you don’t ignore this fact any longer, for you have been warned.

Posted By: Stealth52 - 1040 Reads


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