A Strange Partnership
Obsidian Entertainment, the team behind Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II and Fallout: New Vegas are to develop an RPG based on the long running TV show, South Park. The creators of the hit series, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, approached Obsidian directly, confident that they would be able to create a game that remains faithful to the source material whilst allowing the pair to remain hands-on throughout.
I can't say this news particularly excites me, as I haven't watched South Park for the best part of a decade and I prefer my games to be without debilitating glitches, but the announcement did catch my attention as Obsidian seem like an odd choice for a South Park game, being that they are best known for sprawling and detailed RPGs. From what I can gather, this is the exact reason why they were chosen for a game that will attempt to make us forget all about earlier cash-ins based on the show, most of which were of questionable worth.
Obsidian's take on the foul mouthed cartoon puts you in the role of the new kid at school - a fully customisable character who levels up within five traditional RPG classes, including wizard and rogue. Combat has been likened to that of Paper Mario - I hope that means more to you than it does me - and there will be summoning and something similar to the materia system from Final Fantasy VII. It sounds like a strange mix, though by offering a fresh take on a license that has been abused in the past, it just may succeed
South Park and Obsidian are one of many strange matches in video game history. Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis is one of the most unexpected titles of the last decade, as the kings of urban mayhem tried their hand at sports simulation. By all accounts, the twisted minds at Rockstar nailed it, giving ping pong its answer to the mighty FIFA and test-driving the new engine that would later be used in Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. It had tabloid newspapers in a panic as they struggled to link Rockstar's latest to any real life crimes, though rumours persist that it may have caused a number of impressionable youths to turn to a life of table tennis. Rockstar, you immoral bastards.
Mischief is not an option in RGPTT. No matter how hard you try to channel Rockstar's violent and more famous efforts, you cannot beat Jung Soo to death with your bat nor pay Carmen for a cheeky blow job under the table. This is professional table tennis, and such exploits are not allowed.
|Machine gun mentalist just out of shot|
Another strange partnership, and one that still deeply troubles me, is that of Sega and Nintendo in their cross-over titles, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games and Winter Games. Developed by Sega, they are a betrayal of my childhood of console monotheism and are a disservice to the skinned knees and chipped teeth of the playground wars that raged between Mega Drive/Genesis and SNES owners. If Sonic had been forced to race with Mario back in the early Nineties, he would have had Tails sever the plumber's achilles tendon with a shiv fashioned from a toothbrush, while Luigi would butcher Knuckles and mail him back to Sonic piece by piece in the days leading up to the big race. Actually, that sounds like a pretty good game.
It’s always interesting to see a developer try their hand at projects outside of their comfort zone, giving us something different to talk about. If I had a time machine, in an effort to spice things up I'd travel back and try to convince Square, circa Final Fantasy VII-VII, to pre-empt Bioware and create Mass Effect before it’s due. Can you imagine the wonders they would've worked with the dialogue wheel, building on their recent experience of scripting two of the least forthcoming and articulate leads in RPG history: Cloud and Squall.
Captain Anderson: Shepard, we must get to Eden Prime post-haste. Are the men ready?
Option A: ...... (.......) ..........
Option B: I ...........
Option C: No.......(do I even exist?) ....... I..... Who am I?
Option D: No one understands me
Back to the present, how about we encourage Nintendo to take the reins for Manhunt 3, or ask David Cage to create the next game in the Rabids series? We could even persuade Kojima Productions to sink their teeth into Tetris. Each level would be followed by a twenty minute cut scene, shedding light on the motivations of your descending blocks, while bearded Russians speak in techno babble about a rectangular conspiracy and cloned squares.
Whilst stealth espionage Tetris is probably not what Hideo Kojima has in store for us at the VGAs this weekend, it is always encouraging to see developers trying something a bit different, keeping us on our toes at a time when the industry is dominated by big franchises and safe sequels.