Sequels and Standalones
The medium of video games is one with many sequels and franchises, perhaps more than any other medium. Almost every game you see is a sequel, prequel, reboot, remake or spin-off of some kind. Which is fine by me. The core of most games is essentially repetitive so it had better be good. And gamers are a whiny, fickle bunch with our internets, touch typing and lack of personal details; so if you get into our collective conscious you better deliver, or we’ll shake our fists at the screen harder.* That said, even though the reviews were positive there was some backlash when Bioshock 2 came out on account of it being similar to its predecessor. But how do you follow-up a game as brilliant as Bioshock? Well, there are two things you could do as a developer. One, you could leave the game as a single entity and start afresh each time. Or, you could do the financially sensible thing and make a game like the first one, and try to make it as good. And that’s what 2K Boston did. Even though it did not have the impact that the original Bioshock did it added to the formula a big drill, duel wielding plasmids, a big drill you can freeze people with and multiplayer. And a big drill. I liked that drill.
If you want all-new original ideas, you’re better off looking at the smaller studios or the indie guys.** So after beating God of War 3 (which adheres to the same sequel-ing strategy as Bioshock 2 and is completely awesome), I was look for another action-adventure-stress reducer and picked up Bayonetta. Bayonetta is in the same style as Devil May Cry (same directer), but taken to the brain-imploding limit. A witch which fulfills several fetishes and has a suit made of her own hair (which looks surprisingly like tight black leather) slaughters heavenly creatures using a combination of guns, both hand-held and attached to her feet***, and special move which turn her hair suit into big stilettos amongst other things and naturally leaves her naked bar hair covering the gaping holes where people usually store their shame. It is bonkers and brilliant and something that couldn’t come from a big studio following a big hit. Two different approaches, two great games. And while there is a combination of the two, we’ll be entertained just fine.
*For all the negative stereotypes about gamers (lazy, fat, no social skills, no idea how to do that thing with the manbits and ladybits, propensity to commit murder, etc), I’m surprised more isn’t said about the whinyness. Lest we take for granted the big shiny smiles machine in our living room, or something.
**Just look for the guys coding in a free-trade cafe wearing a bow-tie and working on a pc suspiciously white and shiny-looking.
***Don’t think about it too hard, you’ll lose sleep.