Sometimes, while playing a game, you can almost hear every poor decision that went into bringing it to life. With every press of a button, you hear the faint echoes of a voice calling, “More guns, see?” Maybe you’ve heard someone whispering, “Hmm… not vengeful enough.” Or perhaps you’ve heard the words, “EDGIER.”
Almost everyone would like to play as a cool character, and video game companies know this. Often times, though, they take this sentiment to the extreme. These are the moments where we get a game that become a caricature of itself. These are the moments we get the games trying so hard to be cool, but probably based off of some producer’s preconceived notion of what the gaming demographic would like.
Almost everyone likes cool games, but when a game tries so hard to be cool, it comes across as entirely ingenuine. So here’s some games that did just that; let’s begin:
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
The folks over at Team Ninja sought to bring the intensity of Ninja Gaiden once again, but with a new “edge.” Riding on the coattails of the wacky and gory style of the last generation of games, Team Ninja gave Ninja Gaiden a complete makeover, opting for a more “hip” type of game.
That’s not to say it didn’t look cool, because some of the animations in some cutscenes were outright stellar, but the actual contents of the game were nauseatingly rife with zombies, awkward jokes, and curse words. Many games can make this work, like House of the Dead: Overkill, but games like Yaiba are so blatantly trying way too hard to achieve that level of edginess by cramming dialogue with dick jokes.
Seriously, one of its trailers is probably the most cringe-worthy video game trailers ever spawned, complete with titular character Yaiba saying, “Take a suck…” in an attempt to sound badass and mean. Yeah, we don’t know what that means either.
Bomberman: Act Zero
Bomberman is a cute little fellow; he always has been. That, however, is not always enough for publisher Konami. In an attempt to reach way too far for a new audience, the dumpster fire known as Bomberman Act: Zero was spawned.
The cute little bomber was no more, instead replaced by a hyper-gritty cyborg monstrosity. Naturally, in order to up the edginess, they gave him a robot claw for whatever reason, and a big scar along the eye socket in his mask. He’s see some things, I guess?
It didn’t help that the game itself was just a horrifically slow and bleak version of your standard Bomberman game. This is truly the darkest timeline that Bomberman likely wishes to forget.
I like to think this game came about when one executive asked another, “Say, how do we make a game about extreme bike riding cooler?”
To which the other executive replied, “I don’t know, boobs?”
Executive number one just looked longingly out the window whispering, “Yeah… bewbs…”
Thus, BMX XXX was born. At its core, it was just a BMX game, except tricks were named with lewd phrases and curse words. Missions involved delivering hookers to their pimps, giving gassy construction workers rides, and having a constantly pooping poodle hanging off your bike. Exciting.
Players were then rewarded with FMV sequences consisting of strippers doing stripper things like stripping on a pole or stripping while straddling a bike. Sports.
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Once upon a time, there was the Prince of Persia. He generally had a nice time on his adventure, using the Sands of Time to turn back time at will, embarking on one of best 3-D platforming adventures to date.
For the sequel, however, the Prince was determined to be infinitely grittier, taking the vibrant visuals and turning down the saturation to a terrifying degree, to the point where the world was just cold, dark, and damp. This is fine on its own, but it was such a stark contrast from its predecessor that it was just off-putting.
To top it off, everything got bloody, metal music was added, and the Prince got angrier. That’s what the kids like nowadays, right? That’s not to say it was a bad game, because it still had good gameplay, but its aesthetic was so insincere. Plotwise, he had a reason to be sad, but the grit was too strong with this one.
Hatred was a product of Steam Greenlight that actually got taken down for its offensive nature. It was eventually brought back up and officially released on Steam. Many found the premise repulsive: a mass shooting simulator. Overall though, it played as obnoxious as it was tasteless.
On top of the controversial premise, the game itself reeks of trying very hard justify itself through the killer’s weirdly intense monologues, something that sounds more like dialogue from an angsty Sonic the Hedgehog fan fiction.
Shadow the Hedgehog
Speaking of angsty Sonic the Hedgehog fan fiction…
Shadow the Hedgehog was the ungodly creation of SEGA in their attempt to create something much darker from the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. Naturally, it wouldn’t be enough just to have Shadow himself star in the game. No, that’s not edgy enough. He’d better be mean and destroy things. Yeah, and give him a motorcycle. Oh, don’t forget the GUNZ.
Shadow was able to bring firearms to the Sonic universe for the first and last time. The dark tone of the game was ill-fitting for its world and every game preceding it. Like all games that aim a little too high to be cool, players can feel the game try to be something it’s not.
In conjunction with its edginess, the game itself was hardly worthy of praise among the gaming community. This seems to be the case, however, with many of the games on this list. Some are good, yes, but you can also spot a few forgettable or downright abysmal titles.
Games seem to come out the best when studios work in harmony and unity. Sometimes miscommunication can deal a fatal blow to a game’s integrity and overall quality. Like any person, they ought to be true to themselves. Trying to be someone you’re not hardly has the best results.
There’s nothing wrong with experimentation either, but it should never be at the expense of other people, nor should it be confuse players with a steep variation with no transition, like Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. These games are just as important as any other, though. They remain examples of what to learn from.
The video game is still such a new medium, and, like a teenager, sometimes they just have those phases to get over.