Thursday, August 30, 2007

100 New Game Features IX

IX is neat because if you turn your head, it kind of looks like a cylon. Or Leia in that bounty hunter disguise. Hey, you knew this was a nerd blog when you started reading it.

081. Theme Park RPG
Not a version of the Sim game, or even a full game idea, but rather the use of a theme park in a dungeon-delving RPG type scenario. The park is either haunted or with some other weird circumstance going on (it could be a virtual/futuristic park gone wrong, a la Westworld, for instance). The game would be more like Zombies Ate My Neighbors rather than the usual swords and magic fare, with people equipping shotguns from the disused Shooting Range game and so on, and the bestiary being comprised of classic B-Movie cliches. I was thinking that the rides themselves would be self-contained dungeons of variable lengths and difficulty (which would be altered to match the player, allowing them to pick any of the dungeons in any order they wished) and the rest of the park being the traditional RPG hub of goods and services like the village in Diablo.

082. God of War: Odyssey
Just a neat idea for a new God of War game. It could part of Kratos's journey to kick the asses of every mythological figure of Ancient Greece in the inevitable third game, or a separate chapter that uses the same engine and gameplay but focuses on Odysseus/Ulysses as he makes his way back to Ithaca. In fact, hell, throw in the Iliad too. Kratos at the siege of Troy would be just as awesome. Even more awesome would be a video game version of Ulysses 31, but now I'm just rambling. Crazy rambling, that's all. Move onto the next one.

083. Adventures of the Gummi Bears: The Game
This is less of a "what a great idea this would be to do now" and more of a "what a great idea that someone should've done during the NES-era years when this show was still on TV". I mean, Gummi Bears was one of Disney's earliest and most significant high-quality animated TV shows, which ended up being overshadowed by DuckTales. Which got its own game. This one did not, to the best of my knowledge. Let's review the show to find out why it wasn't video game material: A) It was set in a psuedo-medieval fantasy world. Yeah, those don't often appear in video games. B) The protagonists (the bears) were naturally bouncy. But what possible genre of games, ubiquitous in that era of gaming, could use a group of heroes who's talent was to jump high? Onto platforms and such? Drawing a big ol' blank on that one. C) Let's not forget that the cartoon was intended for children, and those guys never play video games nor have video games based on licenses marketed directly to them that I'm aware of. I'm incensed at the injustice of all of it. Well, mildly perturbed.

084. What A Twist!
I love plot twists. Not the "Aha, this guy is really the murderer, and not some mild-mannered reporter" kind of twist. Wait, that's Superman. Superman doesn't kill people. But you get my point, those kinds of twists are predictable in the sense that you know there is a twist because it's a murder mystery or thriller and it comes with the territory. I'm talking about the twists where the movie/game seems to completely change track midway through with something completely random and off-genre. Take From Dusk Till Dawn for instance. It's a pretty violent crime drama following these bandits and a family of hostages to this joint in Mexico. And then it suddenly turns into a vampire movie halfway through, which is more than a slight surprise if you didn't realise they'd be there. The Orion Conspiracy is another example, which was an infamous point and click which followed a guy looking into the apparent murder of his son on an experimental space station. Violent shapeshifting aliens appear halfway through an otherwise inconspicuous murder mystery story and start killing and replacing most of the human cast you've been interrogating for the best part of a day or two. I've written too much about awesome plot twists to even write a game idea for them. Ah well. Here it is in 10 words: You direct the game's story by selecting the plot twists. Informative. A bonus word for you there.

085. Slasher Movie
A cheesy slasher movie, set in a summer campground as is tradition, where you play the most interesting character: The cheerleader that gets killed with her boyfriend just after or before they do it. Okay, I actually mean the slasher. The slasher has powers, being some kind of mythical zombie figure akin to Jason or Michael Myers or Ghostface, but he needs to first establish his terrifying mythos. In order to do this, he needs to generate the most horror possible in his victims before killing them, leading them on merry chases with the most appropriate weapon available - axes and machetes do more damage, but are kind of passe (your psychotic demon cares about this sort of thing you see). Killing people with a stapler instead is somehow more horrifying, though considerably harder to pull off because it's... a stapler. Better yet would be some kind of ironic death, customized for each victim. You must also leave one teenager alive for the status-boosting ghost stories when he gets back home. Your horrible murdering monstrosity can even be customized appearance-wise, allowing the player to choose their own face-obscuring headgear which will become part of their identity. Use a hockey mask, drama mask, Shatner mask, ghost mask, Phanto mask (Drop the Key or Die!), spaceman helmet or perhaps a beekeeper hat. You know, in case you wanted to murder people with bees.

086. Modern Deity
How would a newly appointed deity go about his business in this day and age? Gathering followers and demonstrating divine powers to the unbelievers? It was easy enough in other God games like Populous and Black & White, what with the humans of those games living in the Stupid Ages and being impressed by fire and round objects, but in modern times leaving such an impression would be a little more difficult to pull off. The game follows the player/god in a sort of management fashion, starting with the community of homeless around them in the big city in which the game takes place, and slowly working your way to converting the hardest skeptics and intelligentsia of said city to your message. Make decisions that will win you the most support, or the kind of support you're looking for. Becoming an attractive figure to criminals could grant you all sorts of slightly darker powers, or you could win over the just and noble by performing good deeds. There'd be rival churches of course - not existing ones, since this is a fictional world and we don't want to get into trouble, but rather other trainee deities with slightly differing starting areas trying to make their way into this new pantheon of gods and goddesses.

087. Super GTA
Well, not so much GTA as a free-form crime-based action game with a difference. GTA's non-linearity and genre-mixing has won various awards and has been imitated in various forms. So one more shouldn't hurt. I mentioned a difference, and here it is: You're a supervillain planning robberies and all sorts of misdeeds. Now I know it sounds a little like that City of Heroes add-on thing where you play the bad guys, but this is more of an action game, so it'll be all real-time action gameplay rather than the standard MMORPG of levelling and raiding. You get missions, like GTA, usually involving some new piece of treasure about to be revealed at the museum, or the president's daughter coming for a visit. You need to pull off the crime you've been planning, and then avoid both the police and the association of superheroes that are constantly on your trail. Of these superheroes, you'll be meeting the crappier ones for the minor crimes (which you'll need to do initially) and working your way up to the unstoppable Superman types for the major heists. The gameplay will be basic enough initially, though as you gain in power and infamy, new modes will be unlocked, including but not limited to: Flight, invisibility, walking through walls, beam weapons, shapeshifting and absorbing and channelling vast amounts of energy. Most of these powers can be used for both the heists you pull as well as the inevitable getaway from the authorities. Best of all, your exploration range increases with these powers, as they often allow you to reach previously unattainable destinations.

088. LEGO Back To The Future
So we've played the two Star Wars trilogies and now there's news of an Indiana Jones trilogy on its way in this suddenly playable series of license games from the LEGO people. So what's the next awesome trilogy of the 80s worth Lego-ising? Back to the Future of course. There's plenty of action to follow to make a game out of it, including the Libyan terrorists of the first movie, the Hoverboard sequences of the second movie and the Wild West shoot-outs of the third movie. Your choice of hero is pretty much limited to Marty McFly and the Doc originally, but there's also George McFly, Marty McFly Jr., Jennifer (both of them) and Clara Clayton, Doc's love interest from the third movie. Plus, you got all the Biffs, Griffs and Mad Dogs too, and a whole bunch of other supporting characters. Really, this idea is here for two reasons: A BTTF game to finally make up for the traumatising memories of playing the original license games and also because this is #88 of the list. Yeah, I'm pretty predictable.

089. Anagram Treasures
This is for any RPG, really, and can be used for random chests or better yet as a bonus after defeating a dungeon or boss. The idea is that all the treasures have jumbled up names, and the player must type the correct names of the treasures to win them before the counter counts down to zero. Basic items tend to have smaller names, from "gold" to basic "swords" and "HP potions" and the like. The more ornate the treasures get, the more lengthy and drawn-out the names of those treasures become. A powerful sword, for instance, could be called the "Four-Winds Sword" or has another, unfamiliar synonym such as "falchion" or "scramasax". Other valuable treasures would just have names like "priceless emerald" or "moonlight diamond", the difficulty of the word(s) would be directly proportional to the value of the item. Players are given a list of 10 or so of these jumbled treasures and a short time limit to get as many as possible. They can concentrate on the difficult rare ones or try and sweep up all the simple smaller words as quickly as they can for a bigger payload.

090. Super Mario Dodgeball
Yeah, Mario could just jump over the balls, which would actually be turtle shells, and fight against all sorts of teams comprised of common Mario enemies. The Boos could turn transparent to let the balls pass them, the Hammer Bros could deflect them or send them straight back to you, and the Goombas can just suck like they always do. Okay, there's not much to recommend this one, but then they've pretty much done every sport that isn't some schoolyard reject of an excuse of a sporting activity.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

100 New Game Features VIII

More new game features to throw out into the ether of the internet. Or the inter of the ethernet.

071. How To Do a Proper South Park Game
South Park has not had much a track-record with video game conversions, with one crappy FPS, one crappy quiz show thing and a pretty crappy Mario Kart clone. This is because South Park's early humor was hard to pin down in one genre, since it relied on various non-sequiturs and oddities mixed with swearing and fart jokes. Might've possibly had something to do with the low production values of these games also. Now that they've moved almost exclusively onto spoofs and all-out satire, a South Park video game that makes fun of other video games and conventions seems much more workable. Using a 3rd-person action/adventure engine to tie it all together, each new chapter will introduce the denizens of South Park getting embroiled in some kind of video game cliche and have the boys (or Randy Marsh) rescue them. For instance, you could have the Visitors come back, only make them really squeaky and annoying while you try and fight them in a jeep that keeps flipping over. Another chapter could have rival gangs descend on South Park (invited by honorary "crips", Jimmy and Timmy) and you need to spraypaint tags in their territories. Prevent a Zerg Rush from demolishing the City Wok. Take out the goths before they can use their fog machines and static-emitting radios to turn South Park into an eerie place. Shoot Spanish-speaking homeless people in the head claiming they're "infected". Considering how seriously some of these games take themselves (not to mention the fanboys), it's ripe territory for the South Park fellows to exploit.

072. Sim City Cop
Modern versions of Sim City have actually allowed you to see the city you've built as one of the many occupants of the city, staring up at the majestic skyscrapers and landmarks that you yourself were responsible for. This, in turn, partially led to making a game focusing on the person instead of the city in which they live, becoming the acclaimed Sims series. However, there's so much room for development in the city part. Plus, city-sims that also employ other genres aren't unheard of - consider the blog-favorite Dark Cloud 2 for example. So in this idea, you are able to deal with problems in your city directly by assuming control of police officers, fire-fighters and other men and women of action in an equally action-orientated gameplay mode, as well as assuming the regular overseeing role as mayor. The ways in which you can help your city increase several-fold, creating a much more immersive and lasting connection to your city of choice than you would get playing some bureaucrat willing to demolish a few useful buildings for the profit.

073. Hackmaster (MMO)RPG
Hackmaster, a fictional, satirical reimagining of the older AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) system that characters in the D&D comic "Knights of the Dinner Table" use, became an actual system a few years ago. As a satire, it tends to humorously portray some of the stranger rules and character elements from the original systems and adds plenty besides. So far, no attempt has been made to produce a video/computer game using this system, presumably since much of the humor lies within the players and DMs (or GMs in Hackmaster lingo) themselves making up bizarre rules and decisions and generally ignoring any attempt at the sort of plot or game cohesion that one would expect from a logically-programmed video game. A properly customizable RPG with online capabilities, maybe not an MMO but something like the casual online system employed by Neverwinter Nights for instance, would be perfect. As long as the somewhat solid rules system stays intact, players can feel free, or even encouraged, to add their own content.

074. Game Demo Screensavers
Simple enough, really. You have a series of little games that play as a screensaver whenever you're away from the computer. Sort of an extension of that one where you go through a maze, only it plays out all sorts of games that look good on a single full screen like Pacman or Elevator Action. The environments change each time and the protagonist is AI controlled to take a sensible (but not constant) route to complete the level. Pressing a specially-configured key (instead of just any key, which would end the screen saver) would allow you to pick up from where the computer leaves off in case you come back from your lunch break a few minutes early or something.

075. Nanobot Nanomischief
An RTS of sorts, Nanobots are invading our machines and taking over, one electrical appliance at a time. You control their struggle to take over a household by working up from electric toothbrushes to toasters to fridges and finally the home security system. Each new venture is accompanied by an RTS-themed campaign against the machine's indigenous coding before you're able to take it over. Sometimes, taking over one electrical object that doesn't seem vital to your plans (you want to be steadily increasing in size as you move between new electrical gizmos) may end up containing data that can be useful for your future battles, such as new vehicles or buildings (or nanobot variants of the usual RTS fodder). The Nanobots get around inside a microscopic UFO that contains all the data you've discovered so far and transmits it to agent Nanobots in the field, allowing your itty bitty minions to be constantly improving themselves.

076. Pocket Universe
You have somehow found yourself in charge of a pocket universe, an empty void with a breathable atmosphere (installed before your acquirement) that you decide could use.. well.. anything. The first thing that gets introduced to this world is your own house, which floats in the center. It'll do for starters, plus it gives you somewhere to crash while you're not floating around trying to figure out what to do with this generous gift. Eventually, you discover a way of guiding this bubble of reality close to other, much larger bubbles that comprise of all the worlds of the multiverse. Because of the strange laws of reality that control the bubble, you're able to step outside it (providing there's something to step outside to) and then shrink your bubble so you are able to carry it around with you. While this all sounds weird and complicated, I wouldn't worry about it. Just hover to any reality you like the sound of (a Fantasy world with dragons or such, or maybe the Cyberpunk town the next world over) and find as much interesting tat to "decorate" your own pocket universe with as possible. Think of it as something like the Sims' house-building mode, only you can have anything you want as long as you're able to run off with it. Sure, a couple of blaster pistols or a futuristic computer terminal from the Cyberpunk world would be nice, but so would a giant neon billboard that animates 3D images or a patrolling police hovercar. Simply wrap your pocket universe around it and then sort out where it will go later. Finally, like Animal Crossing, you'll be rewarded for how idiosyncratic and varied your pocket universe looks, by bizarre entities that claim to know about this sort of thing. Scoring points with the creators of the pocket universes (and possibly, indeed, the universe itself) may even reward you with larger pocket universes to fill with whatever you desire.

077. Besieged
A siege simulator of sorts (whoo, alliteration!), Besieged is a tongue-in-cheek action strategy game that puts you in the command of either an army breaking into a castle or a defending force trying to hold out against invaders. As well as directly monitoring the sheer force of the armies of either side, you'll also need to set up traps to deter the stealthier or more ingenious ways of sneaking into your castle and, inversely, coming up with said ideas and plans to sneak in and lower the drawbridge. Each castle is vastly different, with different factors to take into account (such as a moat, or the castle being built into a mountain). Send spies, ninjas, forces via air, forces via the sea/moat (maybe inside a submersible), hire monsters, bribe the enemy forces already inside the castle or anything else that will get you and your fighters inside the castle. Likewise, deploy traps, archers, detection systems, moat monsters, watch out for traitors and use ninjas of your own to block any attempt at taking your fortress. Play a two-player game (or more, with the players assuming two teams) for even more deviousness, using the resources available to out-think your opponent.

078. Enchanted Sword
These things are always such fun in video games. Who could forget Lilarcor from Baldur's Gate 2, for instance? In this game, you assume the role of one of these intelligent blades, trying to make its way in the world. Obviously, you won't get much done lying at a bottom of a treasure pile, so the game starts the moment you're picked up by an unsuspecting peasant. You need to cleverly work your charms and powers as a magical object to see that you're in the hands of someone truly worthy of your abilities. Like the warmongering King who is scoring victories all across the land. He'd be a good place to start. Though you don't directly control whoever happens to be holding you, you can use your considerable will to effectively point them in the right direction. Shape the "Chosen One" who picked you up into a lean fighting machine, or simply find ways of getting him killed and allowing you be recovered by the obviously stronger opponent. Work your way up to the big-name fights and make a name for yourself as a legendary weapon. You might finally beat your overachieving brother Excalibur or all the other talking swords that you'll meet (and often be clanging against) on the way up. This game would be ideal for the Wii, as you control the blade itself with the Wiimote, rather than the hand holding it.

079. Mutant League Basketball
OK, so the "Mutant League [Sport]" is getting kind of old. Well, this list doesn't have one yet, and I seriously think a Mutant League Basketball could be the best basketball game since NBA Jam. Imagine having a hell-demon that's literally "on fire". Or rock golems on defence. Or gargoyles who use their wings to gain airtime on their shots. And Will Smith could even show up, reprising his cameo role from NBA Jam. His special move would be to brutally tackle the Alien player and say "Welcome ta Earf!"

080. Super Robot Wars vs. Robot Wars
Super Robot Wars: an SRPG series where mechas from all sorts of giant robot anime, strongly focused around the various Gundam series though often including Patlabor or Evangelion. Robot Wars: a show in the UK that features home-made vehicular robots made from lawnmower motors and painted scrap sheet metal trying to flip each other over. Put these two groups of metal warriors together and who will come out on top? It could really be anyone's fight. Sure, the bigger mechas have laser cannons that can vaporise an entire city. But does it have a little lever that allows it to right itself if it gets flipped onto its side?

Friday, August 17, 2007

100 New Game Features VII

Part Seven and yes, I am still continuing with this. Against all reason. Against all hope. And his only enemy.. is himself. Rated R.

061. Panzer Dragoon Aorta
Frantic Dragon-riding Sh'mup meets the Fantastic Voyage (or Innerspace, if you happen to be my age). Shoot down all the viruses, pathogens and other foreign bodies in the busy bloodstream of a gigantic body and purge it of evil. With the trademark 360 degree panoramic vision of the Panzer Dragoon games, you'll always need to keep on eye on the branching capillaries and such. This actually sounds pretty neat to me now, and I was just going for the lousy pun.

062. Meta-Game Katamari
Last Katamari Damacy entry on this list, I promise. I just find it easy coming up with new ideas for the format. Inspiration begets inspiration, I suppose. This is just a Katamari level that is set inside a games console or what have you, and has other genres of game packed together and doing their own thing. Like you have a few Atari-esque spaceships milling around shooting invaders, or a scaled dungeon-crawler Gauntlet with no ceiling that you can roll over and collect all the little skeletons and treasure chests. It'd be a neat touch for a Katamari to overpower and roll over all these "lesser" games, though I'm starting to see why they have yet to do it. Hubris can be a terrible thing. Allegedly.

063. Ultimate Spaceship Grudge Match
Like Smash Bros, only in space with famous spaceships. Get the permission of the license-holders of both Star Trek and Star Wars, mix in a bunch of other ships, space stations and what have you from movies, TV shows and other video games and jumble them all together to see who is best. Obviously there would be an equivalent of weight classes: fighter divisions, starship divisions and battle-ready space-station divisions, possibly leading up to sentient planets and nigh-omniscient cosmic energy beings. This sort of thing is doable with the right 3D editing tool and something like Freespace, which allows you to insert your own models and mission scripts, but it would still be awesome (and more legal) to make a whole unique game of it and make it playable online for Trekkies and, um, Warsies to duke it out in their endless "my fandom is better than your fandom" debates.

064. Speed in Video Game Form
This is applicable to any racer or action game with driving in it, especially GTA, who often do movie spoofs in their games. I'd be surprised if they haven't done this one already, in fact. Premise is the same as the movie: Drive around town without dropping below 50mph until the bomb on the bus (though it doesn't necessarily have to be a bus) has been defused. It can work as a solo mission with an NPC defusing the bomb as you drive or as some kind of survival mode multiplayer thing: seeing which of the players driving around the city can last the longest without crashing or otherwise dropping their speed too far.

065. Escape From New York Game
Basically, I could really see this working if the dudes that made RE4 got behind it. It basically has the same plot even: Rescue the President's daughter (well, the President in the first movie, daughter in the second) from a bunch of hostiles in a dilapidated environment, within a time limit before something placed inside you kills you. Explore, hide and survive for as long as possible in the crumbling remains of NYC. It would have GTA-esque driving sections too most likely, and a far less linear progression than the "we've arbitrarily closed off 80% of the village for this chapter, so I guess you're going this way" system that RE4 either suffered or benefited from, depending on your view.

066. Puppets
Just a game, any game, that makes the artistic decision to have their character models resemble marionettes, such as the ones in Thunderbirds or Captain Scarlet (or Team America, if we're going with a modern example). You'll literally be controlling the strings. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. It's a neat idea for pretty much any game genre to use, as long as you don't need them to be too dexterous or life-like. So, American Football?

067. Weapon-based Level-Up Mini-Games
Lots of hyphens means lots of innovation. Maybe. What that jargon refers to is a system of levelling up RPG characters in mini-games that are based on the weapon that the chosen character has specialized in. Not only do the mini-games feature the chosen weapon of the character levelling up, but the mini-game itself tests the player's ability in a skillset that would be relevant to wielding the weapon. For instance, let's say you have a character that uses a gun, his/her minigame would involve shooting targets. Shoot a lot of targets and you'll get more bonuses at level-up, more than you would if you had left the process up to chance. A character using a sword would have a "draw a line to chop the wood in half" kind of game, to demonstrate the character's increase in accuracy and power. It does seem sort of gimmicky, but this system would really let you feel like you've earned those arbitrary few extra points in weapon training. PCs are only as good as the player controlling them after all. In theory.

068. Color-coded Treasure
For RPGs again, this time for the more dungeon-delve-y ones that feature more than one character. Your characters can get knowledge/appraise skills based on specific types of items that you may come across, such as being able to identify a good quality gem or the fine craftmanship of shields. These appraise skills can be only be learned by one character, who in turn can only have a certain number of appraise skills each (so no loading all of them onto your chosen "merchant" character). These items, when found in the dungeons, give off a slight sheen in the color of the character that is an expert with them. If your main female character has a pink color-code, all the items she can identify (let's say gems) will have a slight pink sheen that you can set from the options menu to let you know that she's the go-to gal for those things. Treasure hauls become all that more personalized as you divvy up the goods between the characters who are able to sell them on for a higher price.

069. Pokebombermon
In this combo of Pokemon and Bomberman, you control the Bomberdude himself as he clears his lands of all these oddly-shaped interlopers. Because Pokemon "faint" whenever they receive too much damage, Bomber can safely extract fallen Pokemon without killing them (besides being inside massive explosions). However, they sort of like the strange grid world they have found themselves in and will fight back with real-time attacks based on their Pokemon abilities. Several of the more dangerous Pokemon will be bosses (like a giant Onix that chases you around a grid snake-like) and evolved forms of Pokemon will be unlockable under special conditions. Obviously, there won't be the full 400+ or so of the current Pokedex, but a considerable number should be manageable with the various worlds you can visit (like a volcano land and a forest land and so on and so forth).

070. Poker Hand
One more RPG feature for the road, a character-specific skill for a normal console RPGs to adopt. There's been a few gamblin' type PCs who believe a playing card is an adequately damaging weapon, notably Setzer from Final Fantasy 6. For a special move, why not have them draw five cards and hit the enemies with the equivalent power of that hand in Poker? A Full House could be a devastating attack that would also heal your allies. A three of a kind does more damage than a pair, though two pairs is almost as powerful. If the suits of the cards are based on elements too, you could end up with a nifty little system that will probably fail as often as it succeeds. But then that's the whole point of the "makin' out with Lady Luck" character profile, isn't it?

Friday, August 10, 2007

100 New Game Features VI

Part 6 of this juggernaut of creativity and this time there's no slightly discouraging self-deprecating remarks to introduce them. This is because I was too stupid to think of any.

051. Toy Space
A space sim game with a slight difference: Everything is made out of toy-related elements and materials. For instance, your ship and crew are stuffed and you'll come across all manner of popular
(public domain! public domain!) toys of yesteryear in the vast cosmos of this toy universe. Despite the setting, the game will be sufficiently complex and action-packed to appeal to any older age group; though a toned-down and simplified version would be available for the young-uns since I always thought it was cruel for purposely-kiddy-looking adult-themed cartoons and the like to have an aesthetic that appeals to children only to exclude them because of the mature content. Bit of a rant there. Yes. So really, the point of having this kind of look is to include all kinds of weird random things that you'd expect to find in space if you watched as much Star Trek as I did, only in toy-form so it's not as difficult to handle. Like a giant space amoeba lifeform thing made out of that green toy slime that was dropped on people on "You Can't Do That On Television" whenever they said "I don't know". Don't expect the computer sensors to know either, humans! er.. Humanoid toys! Whatever!

052. Suikoden Guess Who
I was racking my brain to come up with another game that would benefit from having 108 protagonists and the only one I could think of within five minutes (after which my attention invariably drawn to something more shiny) is that old board game with the clicky portraits, Guess Who. Going with traditional RPG cliches, I'm thinking the questions would go like "is your guy.... a moody loner?" or "ok, does your guy have blue hair?" or perhaps "carries an inexplicably large sword?" or maybe "turns out to be a prince of a distant country?" or even in a random leap of stunning illogic "came from an orphanage but forgot?". You could have literally minutes of fun with this game. I'm thinking the gimmick for the video game version, excepting "getting the pants sued off us" as a gimmick for the moment, would be to have to fight the characters you successfully managed to exclude from your search. This would force the players to make their enquiries far more elaborate and specific to avoid a larger confrontation: for instance, asking if the guy has an eyepatch and getting a "no" would get you into a fight with all the eyepatch guys you eliminated, which would probably be a small number. Alternatively, asking if the character is a girl will cause approximately half the cast list to suddenly attack you.

053. Warioware: Think Fast!
In this edition of Warioware the microgames last milliseconds instead of seconds, forcing you to hit a random button and hope for the best. Display your highscores online to be surreptitiously abducted from your home by men in black suits to be enrolled in a faster-than-light aircraft experimental facility. Turns out that the field of hypothetical superluminal physics always has a use for people who can pluck nosehairs and swat flies faster than they can think.

054. Helo
A chat program for kids that play Halo. Instead of promoting badly-spelled leetspeak diatribes about the ethnic background and dietary habits of your apparently transgendered mother, however, the program actually records and rewards "frags" for witty, well-timed and perfectly spelt putdowns, with bonuses for referencing classical fiction within the burn. Pwning noobs with Shakespeare quotes about "how a fool is a fool whenever a wise man is not being a fool, so sayeth I" (possibly paraphrased) is a future of erudition I want to see from these kids. In actuality, the future I want to see for the average 12 year old who frequents Halo servers is, ideally, an incredibly short one. But that's neither here nor there.

055. Happy Reaper Game
Right, so there's a few Death/Grim Reaper games out there where you control "the bloke in the cloak" directly or play as some kind of minion or salaried employee doing the same job. These games are generally as gloomy as a funeral (gee I wonder why that is), though some (like Grim Fandango) inject a fair amount of humour and joie de vivre in the underworld's goings on. Or joie de mort in this case, I guess. French puns; that's a first for me. In this, you're busy scooping up dead souls as usual, but everything's made more cheery and hopeful. Life, in this game, is horrible and depressing and thankfully short and the Reaper's job to end the harsh existence of the mortals for a happier existence of fluffy white ghosthood couldn't be peachier. With the right style of bubbly, friendly art to display a more positive underworld and Katamari-style uplifting music (or failing that, some reggae) for severing mortal coils to, Death doesn't have to be nearly as depressing.

056. Sole/Halibut
A competitive fighting game that involves hitting each other with giant fishes during that confusing period of history at the end of the 16th century. Will you be the first to find the sacred fish weapon: Holy Mackerel? Will you be able to defeat the dreaded ghost-pirate/pirate-ghost Sardines de Leon? And, more importantly, is this yet another Monty Python reference in this list? You betcha.

057. Myspace: The Game
Nope, this is not one of those "let's market something popular to kids in some vapid licence game because those little guys never seem to run out of money and stupid". Not entirely that, anyway. What this is is a detective game that exclusively uses Myspace and its various tools to allow your protagonist to solve all sorts of crimes. See, your guy was put into intensive care when his luck changed on a particular case. Since you're unable to move from your bed, sort of like the Bone Collector but not at all like that because I'm an original thinker, the only way you can continue to follow clues is via the internet. Obviously, there are things that can only be taken at face value, since the internet is one big web of lies - though certain little things show up on the Myspace pages of people involved with the case. Stuff like the occasional photo with an accidental clue in the background, or a comment about a date and place that turns out later to be the crime scene. Maybe the annoying MP3 has something to do with the case, though the computer the detective is using is left mercifully mute whenever sound isn't important. Type, click or use the stylus (depending on system) to point to clues and record them and then put the whole thing together in time to save the next victim. Or at least in enough time to get the suspect arrested before he can upload another 50 Cent track at full volume. Protip: Anyone who puts "Interests: Killing" is probably a suspect.

058. Optional Collection Subquest for Tomb Raider
Probably see this one coming from a mile away: Collectible deaths! For every interesting way you can get Lara killed, you'll receive a token of your "achievement". Collect them in sets, such as "falling onto stuff", "getting eaten by things", "traps aplenty" and "pot luck". You'll need to get creative to find all of them, so never pass by a suspicious looking switch or wobbly floor panel without checking them out first. Find every single fatality and you'll unlock a special bonus tirade of slurs and insults directed towards you from the heroine herself, for the strange people who like that sort of thing.

059. Megaman Wars
You know, the odd thing about Megaman, especially the online cyberspace one from the Network games, is that despite being a robot he's never cloned or anything. It wouldn't even be cloning, they could just get a whole bunch of them off a production line. Wily can produce thousands of those little Met helmet bots, so how difficult would it be, really? This game is an RTS that uses a whole squad of Megamen, some of which can be modified with extra powers by defeating specific robot masters in a campaign, as they invade the lands of one robot master after another. You'll need to send the right group of Megamen to fight the hordes of varied opposing robots (using Needle Man's powers to pop balloon-shaped enemies, for example) in gruelling wide-scale RTS combat zones. I'm still confused with the duplicate Megaman issue though. Didn't they have duplicates in that soccer game they made? And what was all that about, on an entirely unrelated tangent? Probably should wrap this up now.

060. Soylent Hill
Health Drinks are made out of people! And everything bad that happened is caused by Moses euthanizing his own wife and feeling guilty about it! And Pyramid Head was the name of his beloved childhood sled!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

100 New Game Features V

Halfway point, yay. Those of you who only wanted 50 new game features can stop after this one.

041. France France Revolution
A rhythm game based around the French Revolution. Execute your corrupt and arrogant aristocrats to catchy music numbers, following the beat by pressing arrows to get the guillotines all warmed up. Do a good enough job and you may even reach the meritorious rank of "U Executin' COOL!".

042. Kartamari Damacy
Adapting the roll-em-up chaos of the Katamari games with the fun, non-serious racing of something like Carmageddon or Mario Kart (hence the name), Kartamari allows the Prince to race against his cousins in various tracks based in different Katamari levels, including locales such as a busy living room, a pond, a village or even a continent. The main focus is to simply out-drive your opponent, collecting all the small items littered on the track for a small size boost that will allow you to muscle out opponents in your way. However, you are also able to go off-road and start collecting the larger objects that lie off the track. Doing this constantly will no doubt jeopardize a decent lap time but you'll become even larger and therefore more of a presence on the track. If you're able to grow large enough, all but sacrificing any hope of finishing the race normally, you can still "roll-up" the other players by being considerably larger than them. If a kartamari is rolled up by another one, it is effectively taken out of the race. If a big enough kartmari can roll-up all of its opponents, it will win by default, creating a very promising alternative to simply racing as hard as they can. Just to note, I'm aware that there is a driving level of sorts in the second Katamari game, but this idea kind of focuses on being allowed to race for real with multiple opponents as opposed to just being a neat stage gimmick that doesn't really affect the core gameplay.

043. The Sims Boosterpack #142: Killin' Time Wit' [sic] The Sims!
In this Sims add-on, you're granted numerous new ways of killing off your Sims somehow, including elaborate traps and weaponry they can use to off themselves or others. With exciting new careers like Serial Killer to follow, players are sure to do what they've been wanting to do with those soulless automatons since the very first game. Invite others to your booby-trapped home for violent fun or simply put your own Sim in jeopardy by turning their home into a labyrinthine deathtrap with bombs on the toilets while they're at work. Don't pretend like this isn't what Sims fans have been clamoring for for years.

044. Zelda: Water Temple Edition
All the Water Temples from throughout the Zelda series, packed together consecutively in this fun package. Who wouldn't want that? Added bonus: Link doesn't have the item that allows him to breathe underwater indefinitely. Plus his movement is reversed. And the screen is too dark to see anything. Oh, and you have that fairy who keeps telling you to listen. This should finally stop people from putting Zelda as the best series ever on a bajillion top 100 lists, though persuading Nintendo that this is a good idea for a Zelda game might take some doing.

045. Torch-Bearer
Torch-Bearers tend to be low level hirelings that adventurer parties hire to light the way forward who invariably walk into every trap and attract every monster out there in their thankless jobs. You play the part of one of these utterly vulnerable saps as he embarks on a dungeon-spelunking trip with a new party of indifferent adventurers. Your main task is to simply run around in a mad panic as deftly as possible, staying out of reach of fast-acting traps and faster-moving monsters. You can indirectly kill monsters by luring them into traps, which you eventually start to intuitively feel the presence of after years of experience of running straight into them - not so much from a skillful and knowledgeable assessment of danger that thief-like characters can one day attain but rather from a generally pessimistic and cynical outlook on life which all too often proves to be true. You must also ensure that the adventurers that have hired you stay alive, primarily because your paycheck depends on it but also for the limited protection against monsters they bring. Outwitting and outrunning monsters, setting off the deadly traps before the "important" characters stumble into them and guaranteeing the success of the party's mission are your responsibilities; though there's a strong chance that your employers remain blissfully ignorant of your heroic accomplishments, unfortunately for you. Eh, It's a living.

046. Magic Camera Thief
You see these games where you can take photos of stuff and take them with you inside the photos. They tend to be ghosts or other magical creatures that can somehow exist as pictures, possibly based on the old superstition that a piece of your soul is captured on film whenever someone takes your photo. In this game, you're able to physically take objects and place them in an alternate dimension of sorts if you take a picture of them in ideal conditions. Though you could, in theory, start taking pictures of everything and everyone, you're only really interested in anything unique or valuable. You must also ensure that no-one sees you "stealing" the objects from under their noses or the gig is up since they're more than likely to believe that you stole an item by taking a picture of it somehow. As an added incentive to get the best shot possible, the value of the stolen item is based on how well you frame it inside the picture: Taking a bad picture of something will decrease its value after removing it from the dimensional space it's stored in, as it'll come back as blurry and off-center as it was in the photo. Also, expect to find jokes about "capturing things on film". See? that's at least one. Pretty much the only joke one could feasibly make, in retrospect.

047. Pokemon Picross
Really simple idea this one. Since there are hundreds of these little buggers now, a Picross game where you create pictures of individual Pokemon (with all new art, so you don't recognise them from a specific pose of theirs partway through a puzzle) in a Picross grid wouldn't go awry. There'll also be a few differences to regular Picross: First, the pictures are presented in a random(ish) order instead of selecting them from a chart of incomplete pictures, so you never know what Pokemon is coming up next - just like the real game, sort of. Second, you need to "catch" (i.e. solve the Picross of) a Pokemon before its evolved form will start showing up randomly - considering the evolved forms tend to be much larger, and would therefore require bigger Picross grids, this makes for a fairly decent difficulty curve progression too. Third, the Picross pictures have time limits that need to be met to properly catch it, which vary based on the Pokemon's rarity: If you fail, you'll have to wait until that Pokemon comes up again to catch it (though the silhouette is added to your Pokedex as a simple "seen it" Pokemon). Finally, you'll be able to use tools to help you solve the puzzle faster: A pokeball could reveal a 3x3 square on the grid while another powerup could reveal all the tiles of a certain less-used color if it happens to be a multi-colored Picross. Considering the amount of Picross games churned out on the DS plus the Pokemon franchise's eagerness to explore genres other than the regular RPG system pretty much guarantees that this game will come out sooner or later, though probably not exactly as it's described here. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there already was one that wasn't released outside of Japan. Shows what I know.

048. Capcom Vs. Konami
OK, so Capcom do a lot of these grudge match link-ups with apparent "rival" companies like SNK (understandable, since both companies dominate the Arcade Fighter genre) and Marvel (which is somewhat less explicable) so why not with their real rivals: Konami? Both are zany Japanese companies that came to Western attention through the arcades and the 8-bit/16-bit console era; Both have a range of franchises and one-off hits to choose fighters from and both of them are probably united in their scorn for Square-Enix. Maybe. I see Square-Enix as the nerd that either of the two jocks will make a truce with temporarily so that he can successfully finagle the other one and get him all wet and/or blackmailed before the big dance, so that the first jock Japanese video game company can make a move on the highschool sweetheart, who I guess can be Sega for the purposes of this increasingly incoherent analogy. Anyway. Konami vs Capcom. Using some kind of genre/setting familiar to both parties as the battlefield. A creepy castle full of robot masters and cardboard boxes to hide in?

049. Spaceballs: The Game
LucasArts needs to stop making the same boring old Star Wars clones (see, the new ones are all set during the Clone Wars, so the joke is-ah gah blah blah blah) and move back to comedy. What better way, short of something more/actually (depending on how critical you are) humorous, than Mel Brooks' Spaceballs? Send up your own damn boring-ass space and Jedi games by pastiching aspects that constantly and invariably show up in each new Star Wars game. Force powers that vary on whether you've been good or bad? Install a new Santa system that replaces your Schwartz powers with coal if you're on the down-side of the Schwartz. A dumb Hoth-like level where you need to use the Speeder's finicky tow cable to bring down an AT-AT? Install a pair of pointy fingers on the front of the Speeders and zok the AT-ATs in the eyes Stooges-style to take them out. Jam Spaceball One's radars in five fruity flavors based on preference. Avoid Pizza The Hutt's Noidian battle cruisers. Cross the galaxy in a painstakingly-rendered 3D Winnebago, raking in the spacebux whenever possible. With all those promises of easy merchandising (I GET SATIRE) in the movie (or "moichandising", as Brooks would say), they'd be crazy to do this. Not to do this. That's.. that's probably what I meant to type.

050. Gremlins Redux
I'm well aware Gremlins had some fair-to-middling platformer affairs on the Commodore 64 or Spectrum ZX or SuperCaptain 32k or whatever barely functioning cassette-driven crap they had back then. Oh, don't give me that look, retro gaming fans. Stop. Seriously, stop, your long beards are freaking me out. The new Gremlins games should properly reflect the monster-plague "egad, they're everywhere and eating everything, save yourselves!" atmosphere from the movies. What better way, then, than something like Dead Rising and how it handles zombies? Scare off the Gremlins with any bright light-emitting items you can find, prohibit them from reaching any source of water and eliminate those slapstick-y troublemakers as best you can. Rescue as many folk as possible from numerous locations. If you can hold out until morning, you might be able to wipe them all out in one go. If you feel that it still needs a guy to interrupt you every five seconds to be as enthralling as Dead Rising, you can always have Gizmo fill that role. He might have Mogwai powers to know when someone in your sleepy town/NYC skyscraper is in trouble and needs rescuing from his reptilian brethren. The game becomes even neater once you start taking on all those unique Gremlins, like Stripe and Brain and the Bat-Gremlin and that wacky one that could travel through the electricity sockets.