5 Dumb Video Game Trends You've Never Noticed Before
The gaming world has always been more tolerant of rehashed ideas than other industries. If a movie studio put out 50 films about a plumber kicking turtles and saving the same princess over and over, filmgoers would revolt, not give them $12 billion. But regardless, some video game "trends" are so bizarre and specific that you have to wonder how they ended up in one game, let alone several unrelated ones. Such as ...
Dream Levels Set In Crumbling Hallways Floating In A Foggy Void
We've all had the "teeth falling out" dream, or the "naked at school" dream, or the "Betty White dominatrix" dream. But have you ever dreamt about being in a long crumbling hallway in the middle of a weird void? If so, bad news: You're the protagonist of a AAA video game released within the past decade. This started with Batman: Arkham Asylum, when Batman is exposed to the Scarecrow's fear toxin and starts tripping balls.
During these sequences, Batman has to run and jump through floating ruins while being haunted by visions of his dead Bat-parents. Something totally different happens in Spider-Man for PS4 when Spidey is injected with the Scorpion's "neurotoxin," and has to run and jump through floating ruins while being haunted by visions of his mentor and father figure ... Otto Octavius. (Uncle Ben just isn't hip enough for these damn millennials, it seems.)
And it's not just those two games. Dishonored has you leaping around a foggy "dream world" full of the same old anti-gravity ruins ...
... as does DmC: Devil May Cry, a reboot specifically made to piss off people organizing their collections.
At least Far Cry 3 switched things up by trading crumbling ruins for a road made out of TV screens ... and adding a pole dancer.
Supernatural Adventure Games Involving Children Who Were DEAD THE WHOLE TIME
If you're playing an exploration game made in the last few years and you run across an adorable child, uh, don't get too attached. Take The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter, in which psychic detective Paul Prospero investigates the disappearance of a 12-year-old who wrote him a fan letter. But then, in a pretty devastating self-diss by the writers, it turns out that the game's entire plot was created by the kid's dying mind as he asphyxiated inside a burning house.
Then we have Blackwood Crossing, which appears to be a heartwarming tale about a girl with superpowers and her little brother traveling via some sort of magic train. Plot twist: The boy was dead all along, and the whole story is a fantasy his sister made up to 1) learn to deal with that fact, and 2) presumably keep herself entertained during her long, non-magical train ride. Oh, and her parents are dead too, by the way.
Then there's What Remains Of Edith Finch, which makes you think you're playing as the titular character as she explores her childhood home, trying to unravel her family's curse. Naturally, Edith was also dead all along, and the whole story was her son reading her journal. Note that Edith's gravestone says she was born in 1999, so there's no way her son didn't have to future-Google the meaning of archaic emojis.
Serious RPGs Featuring Talking Animals With Speech Impediments
In the late '90s, developers of Japanese RPGs found themselves in a conundrum. Both Pokemon and Final Fantasy VII had made shitloads of money, so which one should they rip off? In the end, many went with both, leading to an avalanche of serious, complex RPGs (like FFVII) featuring cutesy animals that speak only in gibberish (like Pokemon).
You've got Chrono Cross, an intricate tale of parallel realities wherein one of your first party members is a small pink fluffy dog-thing that talks like a complete imbecile.
Breath Of Fire III told a decades-spanning fantasy saga ... and included a sentient onion creature that talked like it was constantly gargling mouthwash.
Skies Of Arcadia was all about sky pirates fighting an evil empire, and one of the characters carries around an adorable floating spermatozoid called Cupil. You could even evolve it into different, larger forms, like a Pokemon.
Now, these are still colorful games with lighthearted moments, so the off-brand Pikachus and Jigglypuffs aren't completely out of place. The same can't be said for the Moombas in Final Fantasy VIII. This race of lion-like doofuses was introduced right in the middle of a gritty torture sequence.
Then there are the Mags in Phantasy Star Online, a bunch of small, evolvable companions you can sic on enemies. This time they weren't even trying to hide the fact that they're just Pokemon. Not surprising, since this whole franchise was created to confuse your grandma at the store when you asked for the new Final Fantasy.
But the worst offender has to be Xenogears, a game featuring corrupt religion, full-frontal nudity, cannibalism, and a genocide that culled 90 percent of the population. Oh, and amongst your brooding, angsty heroes you've got Chu-Chu, another pink ball of fluff with a speech impediment.
How dark does this game get? Chu-Chu gets crucified. We'll leave it at that.
Fighting Characters With A Magic Arm Powered By A Family Member
Back in the 2000s, with fighting games flooding stores, developers were looking for a way to make their product stand out ... and they all wound up doing the same thing. That is, superpowered arms. Let's start with God Hand, about a guy who gets his arm chopped off defending some girl, so she repays him with a divine appendage that her family's been guarding for thousands of years. Now, the protagonist must use his God Hand to fight evil ... and also gorillas in luchador masks.
Not to be outdone, Devil May Cry 4 went in the opposite direction, giving its hero a big magic arm that's powered by a demon instead of a god. Hey, as long as it lets you mow through hordes of enemies, it could be powered by Hitler's soul for all players would care.
Determined to corner the "dudes with terrible hair and a big crazy arm" market, DMC's owners at Capcom soon published a super-gritty Bionic Commando remake. The hero of the classic '80s game has been reimagined as a tormented man with a grotesquely large robot arm who is desperately searching for his missing wife.
But the similarities between these games are more than just skin-deep. In God Hand, the magic arm is passed down from generation to generation (even if it ends up ultimately falling to some rando). In DMC4, the protagonist is only able to control his arm when he acquires his dad's sword, which is implied to be possessed by the old man's spirit. And in Bionic Commando, in a twist that singlehandedly proves games are unequivocally art, it turns out that the protagonist's wife is his superpowered arm.
So in all cases, the real power of the giant arm ... is love. Awww.
Of course, we can't talk about video game characters with deformed arms controlled by family members in barely comprehensible plot twists without giving a shout-out to Metal Gear Solid 2's Revolver Ocelot, which would take an entire other article to explain in full.
Letting You Take Selfies At Completely Inappropriate Moments
Selfies may not be ruining the world, but they can ruin your immersion in contemporary games. Look at Spider-Man: brave hero, champion of the underdog ... and a massive douche who takes mocking pics after punching criminals through walls.
Or at his dead uncle's grave:
Surely actual Daily Bugle reporter Mary Jane Watson, caught behind enemy lines in a hostage situation with a deadly biological weapon, will behave in a far more appropriate way?
Sticking with famous photographers taking fun selfies in front of people they've brutally killed, here's Frank West from Dead Rising 4, who is a little too numb to zombies and the horrors of human experimentation by now, it seems.
Horizon Zero Dawn and God Of War have this too, and the less you think about where these characters got / how they can even comprehend cameras, the better. God Of War's Kratos is an angry, depressed, regretful old man, but turn on selfie mode and he instantly becomes a goofball who can turn any situation into a shitty YouTube thumbnail.
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider lets you pause whenever you want in the beautiful Peruvian jungle, allowing for some truly brilliant photos. However, the Tomb Raider games are also (in)famous for having Lara dying gruesomely, so ... you do the math.
Final Fantasy XV went this route too, putting more effort into the photograph mechanic than the entire second half of the game. Characters take photos and reminisce over them, but that turns a little awkward when the heroes have glitched through objects ...
... or when you wind up showing your wife a photo of someone else's breasts, or you and your friend's underage sister in a hotel room, or instant noodles. Actually, that sounds like an improvement over the real ending, never mind.
When not loving all the dumb games he makes fun of, Tiagosvn can be found on Twitter.
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