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.
Nintendoes What Disney Does Too
Earlier this week, Anthony John Agnello provided us with a For Our Consideration essay that illuminated some of the parallels between the histories and evolutions of Nintendo and Disney Animation Studios. Anthony believes Nintendo is making some of the same mistakes as latter day Disney, particularly the artistic rough patch the company went through in the ’80s. Charlotte Grote agreed but thinks Nintendo’s stagnation is more like the Disney of the ’70s:
Unlike ’80s Disney, I feel as if Nintendo’s M.O. isn’t that different from that of the video game industry as a whole. In the ’80s, Disney found a new competitor in Don Bluth and Amblin animations, who came up with new lucrative hits such as An American Tale and The Land Before Time while Disney was still wallowing in its pre-Little Mermaid stage. Disney was tepidly stepping toward the future with movies like Oliver And Company and The Great Mouse Detective, but both of those seemed rooted in that same old Disney mentality, and the studio ultimately wouldn’t recognize the next stage of its development until it looked towards Broadway and realized it should move its movies more toward classic musicals than half-assed pop ballads.
Current Nintendo, on the other hand, seems to be in the same boat as most of the popular video game industry at the moment, relying on their franchises for new hits instead of expanding beyond and looking toward new properties. Between Grand Theft Auto, Call Of Duty, and the like, the video game industry is still for the most part stuck in the past, and their isn’t a Don Bluth type who is making new popular ideas on their own. I would say Nintendo is currently more like ’70s Disney, in which they were also shamelessly preserving their legacy while refusing to move forward (just look at the animation recycling in Robin Hood and The Aristocats alone) but were also in a position where they had no competition. The stagnancy is real and here, but I don’t think the need for innovation has arrived yet.
Elsewhere, caspiancomic brought up the way Nintendo has even sequelized and standardized the more experimental entries in its main series:
What’s especially interesting, or sad depending on your outlook, is how even the wacky, experimental titles eventually get turned into repetitive series. A cursory glance at Mario’s various adventures might turn up titles as aesthetically diverse as Mario Galaxy, the Paper Mario series, and the handheld Mario RPGs, but even these deviations eventually get standardized. The Paper Mario series, rather than being an anarchic splinter series off of the main Mario branch, has become another franchise in its own right with a corporatized uniform appearance. The once revolutionary Wind Waker aesthetic became “Toon Link,” an exploitable sub-Link who could be inserted into handheld titles that didn’t have the budget or time to develop their own unique conception of the character.
I don’t mean to necessarily frame this as a purely negative thing—it’s refreshing to see any amount of deviation from a canonical model from a company as monolithic as Nintendo—but it is a little tragic seeing a company exhibiting a slightly broader than usual comfort zone with its characters, only to very rarely explore new territory.
A Novel Idea
This week, we received word, from one John Teti, that someone was looking for volunteers to help revive the old series of NES game novelizations, Worlds Of Power. That someone, Philip J. Reed of Noiseless Chatter, stopped by the comments of our story to talk about the project and let us know how someone could possibly write a book based on Bases Loaded:
Evidently they invented a whole slew of characters and turned it into a novel more about baseball than about the video game. I haven’t read that one (though I intend to…because I hate myself), but I’ve heard that it’s one of the better books. That would make sense, because they’re writing about actual characters and not beholden to just turning pew-pew-pew into a narrative.
And Carniverous Ruminant gave us a taste of that narrative absurdity via a scene from the novelization of Metal Gear:
I owned a copy of Metal Gear that I probably read 30 times as a kid. I remember that Solid Snake’s strategy for getting past the superheated floor trap was to eat enough rations that it would raise his body temperature to a point where the radiant heat wouldn’t kill him. Even 10-year-old me thought the science behind this was dubious.
Gameological commenters were quick to throw out suggestions for NES games they’d like to see turned into novels. Cloks’ book-to awful game-to book adaptation of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde is particularly inspired:
Chapter 1: The Jekyll-ous World Of Mr. Hyde:
Mr. Hyde was an innocent sort of man, the sort of man that has a certain air of innocence. He wasn’t known for rapidashidly (note to editor: Pokémon reference, possible future tie-ins?) performing surgery on any unsuspecting victims, especially not as a villain named Dr. Jekyll. That all changed when—insert 25 cents to continue
But Xyvir’s campaign for a novelization of The Cheetahmen, the best (but still not good) game in the horrid compilation Action 52, really got me thinking. An adaptation of Action 52 itself is the ultimate Worlds Of Power challenge. It would have to be a collection of 52 short stories, most of which would be practically identical and star spaceships. Then, in the very last story, it busts out an unexpectedly well-conceived and detailed Ninja Turtles ripoff starring anthropomorphized cheetahs. Get to it, creative writers!
Well, folks, that does it for another week in Gameolological. Thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all next week.