Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.
Bring Out Your Dead
This week’s Gameological Q&A was all about the canceled games we would have loved to see completed. Our answers were all over the place, from the recently departed Silent Hills, which inspired the question, to a Pirates Of The Caribbean RPG. Commenters had a ton more suggestions. ItsTheShadsy pointed to a proposed entry in the Oddworld universe:
At one point, Oddworld Inhabitants planned to make Squeek’s Oddysee, in which you play as a slug—more specifically, a Slurg, the lowest creature on the Oddworld totem pole and one you can kill in the previous games by accidentally stepping on it.
God knows if this game would have been compelling, but I love the audacity of creating a protagonist that can do basically nothing. Would you go on anything resembling an adventure? Previous Oddworld games had you destroying mega-corporations and liberating hundreds of slaves, but I can’t imagine Squeek’s mission beyond “Don’t get stepped on.”
And thesmokeylife mentioned a failed cult classic revival. (Note: As of October 2014, Shadow Of The Eternals is allegedly back in development at Quantum Entanglement Entertainment, a media company co-founded by Denis Dyack. It has yet to release any details beyond what was shown of the game during its multiple failed crowdfunding campaigns.)
Shadow Of The Eternals—the spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem—could have been a great game that incorporated its predecessor’s surprisingly deep multi-character play, Lovecraft influences, and a narrative scope and depth that many horror games don’t possess.
People mostly remember Eternal Darkness for its sanity effects (Nintendo even patented them), but the game still resonates with me because the player inhabits the bodies of full-fledged characters throughout history—something Shadow Of The Eternals also would have done. For better or worse, most games in Eternal Darkness’ genre these days confine themselves to one time period. I wish more horror games had Eternal Darkness’ ambition.
Unfortunately, the project appeared doomed from the start, with one key figure getting arrested on charges of child pornography, the general lack of goodwill toward the original game’s director, and a surprising lack of enthusiasm from the community.
VitaminShoe reminded us about a little seen game that Capcom had announced for the GameCube:
Dead Phoenix was the only cancelled game in the famed Capcom 5, a set of five GameCube games Capcom announced all at once. Of those five, three were legit classics (Viewtiful Joe, Resident Evil 4, and Killer 7), and the fourth one that saw release, PNO3, was serviceable enough and could have benefitted from a sequel to streamline some of its good ideas. I always wanted to know what that other game, Dead Phoenix, would have been like. I bet it was a mess, but it’s always going to be a big question mark in my mind.
I’m going to mention Wizards Of The Coast’s failed promises of complete digital integration for Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. The 4E “adventure tools,” a downloadable compendium and integrated character builder, were the best aspects of the system. They made it less necessary to sift through dozens of books’ worth of feats and class features. It would have been awesome to see the other features they promised, like an online tabletop and customizable virtual miniatures.
Like Blizzard taking the core of a collectible card game and optimizing the experience with electronic features in Hearthstone, sooner or later someone will capitalize on the giant void that exists for online D&D-style role-playing. Too bad Wizards missed the boat on further innovation and instead backtracked into more comfortable territory.
And Cheese mentioned a game that sounds like it only ever existed in the crazed Benadryl dreams of someone who fell asleep listening to Master Of Reality:
I vaguely remember reading a magazine article (so you know how long ago this was) about a dragon-riding flight game starring Ozzy Osbourne. Flying a dragon around spitting fire at fools while Ozzy Osbourne mumbles nonsense at me would have been pretty rad.
Crazy as it sounds, this was a real game at one point. It was called Ozzy’s Black Skies, and according to a preview at IGN, it was split into three separate campaigns, each of which starred a different incarnation of Ozzy based on a phase in his musical career. Eventually, all the Ozzy stuff was dropped, and after some retooling, the game was released as Savage Skies.
It’s Gonna Take More Than That
The abandonment of Silent Hills and tension with Hideo Kojima is just the latest move in Konami’s failed attempt to slowly, quietly back away from the video game industry. Koji Igarashi, who helmed Castlevania for more than a decade, got fed up with the company’s creative shackles and left last year. Earlier this week, he launched a Kickstarter for a new game based on Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. Despite having nothing more to show than concept art and a silly pitch video, the Kickstarter has already raised more than $2 million, four times its initial funding goal. But jakeoti was a little skeptical:
I’m not entirely sold on this. Yes, it’s Igarashi making what is essentially a new Symphony Of The Night. But I’ve played Symphony Of The Night, and unlike a lot of other things, I don’t feel the need to play more.
Yooka-Laylee is a Kickstarter that I sponsored, not only because it actually showed game footage right off the bat, but also because it feels like it will be something new. They’re basically saying it’s a third Banjo-Kazooie, but it’s more than that. The original Banjo-Kazooie games don’t exactly hold up nowadays. A new, modern entry in the series promises better controls and camera, not to mention bigger and bolder environments. It also felt like there was so much more to see with the bear and bird. They’d been through all sorts of worlds, but there’s room for more.
This, however, looks like the same thing that we’ve seen before. We’ve been through the gothic castle in all the Castlevania games, and it felt perfected in Symphony. Igarashi and his team have talked about stuff like a stained-glass-based art design, but I’d rather see that in motion before throwing money at it. It’s funded, and I’m happy for that. I certainly don’t want to see this not get made. But at the moment, I need a bit of a better sell.
For her latest Gameological Unplugged column, Samantha Nelson checked in on Fantasy Flight’s solid lineup of Star Wars board games. And down in the comments, Drinking_with_Skeletons offered a few great board game adaptations of other properties:
Board game adaptations are pretty interesting, as you can go from absolute dreck to really thoughtful, fun stuff. Here are some adaptations that are really good:
Lord Of The Rings: The Card Game
Sort of like the bastard child of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, this pits you and your friends’ customized decks against a variety of scenarios. Each deck is built upon heroes, who generate resources and provide powerful effects that can dramatically shape how your deck plays. It provides an almost RPG-like veneer of customization, and the extremely thematic and difficult scenarios—ranging from journeying through Mirkwood to helping injured giant eagles flee the Balrog of Moria—give you new challenges to overcome while evoking a sense of adventure. 1-4 players. Actually a pretty good solo game.
A cooperative deck-building game (a la Dominion) that is an adaptation of the Alien movies up to Resurrection. This is a great game for fans of the series or anyone who wants a relatively easy to learn cooperative game that doesn’t sacrifice the challenge typical of the genre. Each scenario has a different feel, from creeping through Alien while trying to avoid being facehugged to trying to survive the seemingly constant onslaught of Aliens. While it’s co-op, there are variants that allow for traitor characters and one that lets a killed player continue on as an alien (which seems intended to bring the game to a close while still allowing somebody to win, since the alien player gets huge advantages). A really great game. 1-5 players
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
You get to play as Sherlock Holmes. Isn’t that enough? There are 10 cases, intended to be played in order. You read the setup, and then decide where you want to look for clues. Besides the opening story, you also have access to the newspaper for that day (yes, the game comes with fake Victorian newspapers) and a map of London to aid you. When you decide where to go, you look up the address in Holmes’ contact book, and then look in the case book to see the story for that location. You read it, note anything that seems relevant, and then repeat the process, keeping track of where you go and how many leads you investigate. When you think you have the solution, you turn to the back of the case book, take a quiz to earn points, and then read Holmes’ explanation. After comparing the number of leads you needed to how many Holmes needed, you add in the points from the quiz and see how you did, with the objective being to beat Holmes’ score of 100. (Good fucking luck.) 1+ players. You can go solo, you can cooperate, you can compete, whatever, and it is just as good.
That does it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll be back slightly ahead of schedule next week with a special article on Monday. We’ll see you then!