The Gradual Death of "Cutesy" Games
First off, I don't want to sound like an ungrateful bastard here, so don't start hating me. I've just noticed that in the past few days, the games which have normally been dubbed "cutesy" by the general reviewing populus don't hold the interest for me that they once did. I don't think this is just normal teenage depression and a resulting grudge against anything happy, because I've been in a pretty good mood the past week. Also, don't blame it on aliens messing with my brain, because they only work the pelvic area. I'm pretty sure that in playing Conker's Bad Fur Day, my tastes have matured.
"Matured? How can they have matured? All they do in that game is say 'twatting shite'!"
Whoa... easy there, cowboy. Through the first few levels, this is true. It's mostly gratuitous violence and swearing. However, in the "nighttime" portion of the game, things change. There's a lot more social commentary, and there are scenes that really move you. The greatest example of this is the ending cinema (before the credits), but I don't want to spoil that here, so I'll site some other examples. At the end of the lengthy World War II sequence, Conker and the Squirrel general look back at the exploding battlefield and talk about how awful war really is. Shortly thereafter, Berri is struck and falls to the floor coughing in a pool of blood. Conker cradles her limp body in his arms, completely in disbelief. Would you ever see this kind of scene in a typical "E" Rare platformer? I think not.
I did a little test to see which games I could stand to play.
|Donkey Kong Country series
||I actually didn't have too big of a problem with these. There's a lot of maturity to be found in the DKC games, and they still aren't a bore to play.|
|Diddy Kong Racing
||This game is fun for the action, but the bright colors everywhere really put me off.|
||I have a nostalgic history with this game, so that could be clouding my perception, but I still had fun playing this. The colors aren't blinding even in daylight, and nobody bounces around idiotically when you help them (save Captain Blubber, and that was more of a joke than anything).|
||It wouldn't be fair to keep this thing just DKU. I played Zelda 5 and 6, and didn't get bored at all. Both games are really made for an older crowd despite their E ratings anyway. The entire premise of Majora's Mask, in fact, is quite intense. If you screw up, in three days everybody will die. How's THAT for an E game?|
|Jet Force Gemini
||I've always loved it, and I still do. This is a great game, cutesy or not. That said, though, I looked at a few of the old Juno and Vela design screenshots, and was immediately put off. Rare made a wise decision in aging the characters, making JFG a wonderful action-packed game with a superb mature theme.|
|Donkey Kong 64
||Yeah, I know, I hailed this game as the second coming along with everyone else who works on this site. However, it's just really not very mature. As in Majora's Mask, you have the impending death threat, but it's almost downplayed here. Everything is very happy-go-lucky with unnecessarily day-glo colors. This certainly is not a part of the DKC series.|
||Whoa, okay. This one's sort of borderline. There's a lot of death in the game, but at the same time, there's a lot of happily prancing animals with big cute googly eyes. It should be noted that out of all the games I tested, this is the one I was most quickly bored with.|
Don't get me wrong, I love all the "cutesy" games. Somebody has to, anyway. I just don't have such an undeniable respect for them as I have for Conker. I want a game that really speaks to me, and isn't just a prance-fest of happiness. I hope the next few Rare platformers really set a mood the way Conker did, and make you want to keep playing.
I have 86 Banjo-Tooie jiggies, and I really don't intend on getting four more. Let the hate mail flow.
An observation by Chad McCanna.