Thunderbolt logo

Shoot From the Lip: EA’s Child’s Play

It’s generally pretty hard to distinguish which games have been appropriated for the youthful target demographic. Perhaps that’s all right. But things used to be a little different. Up until the release of the PS1, ultra violence and rape were left to films and books in the ilk of “A Clockwork Orange”. It took a lot of people pushing the boundaries of both cinema and literature before Anthony Burgess could pen the aforementioned classic. Video games are no different. With the growing complexity of each Grand Theft Auto, Saints’ Row, Crackdown, or Gears of War, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that a child could even enjoy anything beyond shredding their character’s chainsaw through an unsuspecting Locust. Yet in its current state, the gaming market has become oversaturated to an extreme. Even for the most hardcore of gamers, learning what titles will fit their preferences now seems impossible.

screenshot

As graphics continue to improve, it’s a given that the majority of developers have their minds set on realism over fantasy. This bodes well for fans of the first person or third person shooter genres, but what about the large sum of movie based titles being released month-to-month? Think of the children! Although the Harry Potter games seem to sell like hot cakes, I refuse to believe there could be any appeal in filling the shoes of a coded Daniel Radcliffe, in spite of his early acting chops. There’s nothing in that for me, but that’s just the view from the cheap seats.

Anyone have an argument in favor of playing as any of these characters? Wouldn’t you rather play as a more fictionalized form of Harry Potter, you know, J.K. Rowling’s character? Surely EA knows their evil. And I get it – it’s a game based on a film, based on a book. The curious part is how much gets lost in translation from the book, to the film, to the game. Why didn’t the books deserve to be source material? Anyone with a mind for fantasy literature can enjoy J.K. Rowling’s work, but why would anyone (of any age) even consider taking on the role of Daniel Radcliffe?

screenshot

Of course, that’s only one secluded example. For every botched Harry Potter game, there’s a like-minded From Russia With Love allowing for us to fill the role of Sean Connery. This title was also brought to us courtesy of EA. They like money.

And then there’s the Wii. Individualistic as all of its “gimmicky” traits may be, the games have been inferior to those released on other consoles. It’s tried the realistic twist – falling a little short with Manhunt 2 and Soul Caliber: Legends, both which have been celebrated within their respective series on other consoles. If the control scheme has failed otherwise great games, then what will work on the Wii? A bunch of games aimed at audiences of all ages which can potentially provide entertaining interaction between children and adults alike. For me, this confirms that there is certainly a middle ground as well as a market for the age-old concepts Nintendo has clung onto in the face of criticism.

screenshot

Without Nintendo, the only other options for young gamers are all over-priced and based on either film or television. Hopefully we’ll have more offerings in the vein of Wii Sports, Animal Crossing, Mario, and Donkey Kong for years to come. No actor, Daniel Radcliffe or otherwise (other than Sean Connery) should justify the purchase of a game based almost exactly on a storyline you’ve already shelled out money to both read in a book and view on the silver screen.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

Gentle persuasion

Think you can do better? Write for us.