The best thing Tim Schafer ever did was name that level in Zombies Ate my Neighbors. When people remember Lucas Arts, this game never seems to get brought up as much as it should. Aside from getting ridiculously hard in the later levels, there wasn't much to the game play that made it stand out. It was solid, no doubt, but it was the game's atmosphere that won me over. Every bit of this game oozes a particular style and tongue in cheek sense of humor. Even the names of all the games 45 some odd levels have all been seamlessly woven into the fabric of one big joke about the banality of life in suburban america. With zombies and martians. The way that the game uses the combination of level name and level content to set the stage for the action is brilliant, and all the "story," that the game needs. This piece is me exploring the theme of the level Mars Needs Cheerleaders, and me viewing it as a single story happening in some grander ZAMN fiction, composed of all the themes set forth by all of the game's levels and all their clever names. Do you really think all those cheer leaders were just gonna sit there waiting to get saved?
with out further ado, here's my entry.
I know I'm not the only one who fondly remembers this game. I've been enamored with the title since I was a kid, but to this day I've never beaten it.
here's some blantant ZAMN fanart, that led me to the idea of creating the peice for artists wanted, since it was part of the process, I figured I'd share that too!
School and life has kept me from posting, but not from lurking over the past year or so. I am in the last stretch of my college education, and it's taken an interesting turn. One of my summer classes is a course on post modernism on the screen. it's a five week course and we have three 600-1200 word essays due a week. Kinda brutal, but the world is totally compelling and I thought I'd share my rough draft for one of those assignments today.
PROOF READERS WELCOME! but be nice, this is for school, so I had to tone down the nerd- just a tad though.
Do Androids Dream of Pixelated Sheep?
“Rock, having a strong sense of justice, volunteered to be converted into a fighting robot, thus the super robot MEGAMAN was born.” These few sentences begin Mega Man IV, released in 1991 on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and reflect the origin of the character, and relate the story of his three adventures preceding this one. The game, along with the games before and after it, tell the story of Mega Man, aka, Rock Man across the pacific, and an android created by Dr. Light to combat the machinations of the evil Dr. Wily and his renegade industrial robots.
Megaman's world is one in which humans and robots were living in supposed harmony, with robots working everyday jobs, and preforming specialized industrial tasks. One day, in the year 200X, the a group of robots rises up, and a Mad Scientist rallies with them to cause as much destruction as possible, and the only line of defense is an 11 year old android with a plasma canon for an arm. He's tasked to take on an entire new identity, and while he is still a thinking and feeling thing, he has given up his domestic life as a house cleaning robot to fight his own kind for the sake of humanity. His name is Megaman, but it's clear he's nothing more than a Mega boy.
How do you grow up with your conciseness trapped in a metal body? All his ideas of self are charged particles running across a lattice work of wire and silicon. Is our venerable hero doomed for ever to the status of some sort of post modern Pinocchio? One of the primary functions of the Megaman narrative is the idea that these rogue robots have begun to break the laws that govern human/robot interaction. The very same laws of robotics set forth by Asimov; these robots have started to hurt humans. For some reason they have risen up against the humans that they were in servitude towards. Were the hours too long? Were the oil changes not frequent enough? What bred the discontent in these robots that caused them to rise up and lash out and destroy the cities that their creators had built? Why does Megaman not have this beef with the humans and chosen instead to fight the robot jerks rioting in the streets?
It is not because he is a titanium boyscout. It is because through helping the humans, and making a choice that his highly developed moral compass has led him to believe is right, allows him to achieve an idea of identity. How dull was cleaning scientist's lab? With the advent of the robot uprising, he is allowed to take on a position much higher than what it was that he was originally created. He can transcend his fate as a janitorial contraption and make a difference. Even if that difference means reducing his own kind to puddles of molten lead. Megaman's Identity is tragically through all of this not his own. He is a champion of Humanity, and incorruptible moral paragon that signifies the purely good and defends it from pissed of robots with scissors for heads. He can never go back to cleaning Dr. Light's home and lab, he forever abandoned that life when he underwent the conversion from housekeeper to war machine. It is also worth noting, that for a very long time in the series ongoing story line, that Megaman was the only robot designed specifically for war, after his reprogramming, rather than all those he must fight who are merely worker bees run Amok with no concessions made for battle.
Megaman exists as the idea of an android integrated into society, cooperating and apparently enjoying his existence enough to want to protect it. It is this that separates him. Those renegade robot masters turned their back on the society that create them and gave them purpose. These Highly specialized and one of a kind robots chose to destroy humanity. Their motivations are never fully explained because we are talking about an 8-bit video game, but the fiction surrounding the series hold to the theory that Dr. Wily found a bunch of robots on the edge, and pushed them over it. Being the one that brought enlightenment to them, he was able to shape that enlightenment to his own will. The robots are lashing out at the idea of human control and inequality, but he's they are blinded to the fact that they have been further manipulated into this position, by a human. They have been turned against a society that rejected the misanthropic and unappreciated Wily, for his own purposes of revenge. You cannot help but feel sorry for these androids, trying to find the identity that Megaman was able to find in defending the human race from mavericks of his own kind, but being duped into further serving humans. You cannot feel too sorry though, because they are all dicks. A robot with flame throwers for hands always trumps a human in a fight, and if that robot decides to fight a human, he is a dick.
Said robot killing humans in droves kind of just makes you want to kick it's ass. Conscious or not, as a robot there are very few things that you are expected of you, not abusing your superior strength intelligence and over all capability against humans for the sake of harm is one of them. Megaman displays his nobility and heroism that at the end of every game, after taking down Wily for the umpteenth time, he never kills him. I like to think that isn't because this is a game for little kids, but because Mega man refuses to break the laws that governed his creation. He will not harm a human, even if that human has killed millions. It is not his place to judge the value of a life, especially with the consideration that his own ideas of “humanity,” are probably at this point in his existence pretty nascent.
Megaman is a post-modern hero. He isn't an anti-hero, but he is not a traditional hero. His power, other than that he's a super fighting robot, is that he can think, feel and decide for himself. He is an artificial life form, but he has more life in his arm cannon than most of us do in our whole bodies, and he holds on to his sentience and identity not from some internal stand point or knowledge that he simply “is,” but from the work he does, and the higher standard at which he lives. He holds on to his idea of humanity by protecting it, rather than taking out his angst over his prefabricated existence by leveling cities.
I know it's been a while since I've posted, and I had all kinds of other ideas spinning around in my sick head, because of all this E3 nonsense, then, there was the Nintendo press conference. OK, the Just Dance 2 trailer was a little sickening, and I have a hard time choking down the bile while i listen to Regie speak, but they seriously impressed me this year.
First off, the 3ds is looking slick. No radical design changes to shock or frighten the unfamiliar or the investors, but enough new ground covered in the design area to keep Nintendo relevant in the new age of iphone gaming and handheld multimedia. Seriously though, who's gonna want to watch a full length feature film in 3d on a 3.5 inch screen? What ever, at least I'll be playing Pokemon on the thing in a few years time, and that's all that matters folks.
Of course theres the obligatory nerdgasm over the new look of the Skyward Sword, and just how successful the visual fusion of Twilight Princess and Windwaker has turned out to be. Anyone else think the new Zelda looks a little like Link to the Past, as far as color pallets go and how it's juxtaposition of the cute and the serious? Anyone? No, but really, the jury is still out on this one though, becuase Miyamoto sucks at using Wiimotion plus. Check out that tom foolery! looks more like the fault of the player, than the game, at least.
And then, there's the slew of other updates and new reveals, Metroid, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Golden Sun. Seriously, way to stop looking like all you care about is my grandma, I'm severely impressed. Epic Mickey looks like a game that's being given the budget and consideration for development time that a tittle attempting a feat of that caliber deserves, and hopefully wont disappoint. I might actually play my Wii once all this stuff hits the market. I've got a soft spot in my heart for Golden Sun, and I know alot of you do too, and I'm glad it didn't get forgotten. Color me impressed, Nintendo.
But seriously, what I find myself most excited about, is the 3ds, and that damn Kid Icarus title. The flight sequences with the cursor on screen made me think of a point and click shooting gallery on LSD, how these sequences actually play, I don't fucking know, but the point of interest here is the fact that this sort of game is suited to that situation, and doesn't feel cheap, like it does on a huge fucking TV and taking up a huge chunk of the Wii library's Real Estate. AND the 3ds has an analog stick, so this game, being a hallmark on the new device, will take advantage of that too. Mixing up a decent 3d action game with intuitively controlled flight sequences in real 3d, with out glasses, in my hands? Sign me up.
Who knows what else they've got coming, my stream of the press conference dropped out while I was writing this, but as far as first impressions go, I hope they've finally given up on being the center of attention in the retirement home rec room, because that shit's getting older than jokes about the Wii being for old people; I'm impressed.
"The tongues of dying men force attention, like deep harmony. Where words are spent, they are seldom spent in vain. "
...uh yeah thanks Mei Ling.
I promised FROGS, and today, my lovelies, you get FROGS. You guys know what FROGS are right? Haven Troopers. They're members of the elite female death squads under Liquid Ocelot's command, genetically amped and seemingly more machine than woman. They first appear in MGS 4 when Snake meets up with Rat Patrol at advent palace. It's kind of like watching a ballet. They way they tear a swath of carnage through what ever fielld that day's battle is on. Charging ceaselessly into the fray, on clawed feet that look like the hooves of the beast and even more like she'd have little trouble spin kicking your head off your shoulders. Their screams could cleave infinity in two, and as a nice festive touch, their nanomachines have a delightful proclivity towards combusting when their bodies die, leaving no trace to those who killed them. Except for horrific nightmares associated with your new case of post traumatic stress disorder. Oh yeah, they can stick to walls too.
The FROGS are good ass badguys. Up in the ranks with Dry Bones and Protoman from Megaman 3 (when he used to like beating up on his little brother,) as some of my favorite digital adversaries. Beyond the fact that Metal Gear is well designed title in just about every respect, you've gotta give Yoji and company credit for the design work they did on the FROGS specifically. The look of these characters, the way they move and fight, establishes the character completely. They need no more than a sentence of an introduction, because the visuals do all the talking. They represent to me pitch perfect examples of good design adding a level of immersion that no amount of over wrought dramatic dialog can begin to approach. They were seamlessly brought from the sketchbook's page to your TV screen. Whiz bang graphics on these here modern game tapes are being put to exceptional use, not as a crutch, but to bring a more realized version of the character designer's baddie to life, in turn, further drawing the player into the game world. To chase the player screaming through the halls of the museum Kojima productions built with Metal Gear Solid 4.
All the water colors in the post were my long weekend entertainment.
I would like to cordially thank the denizens of this fine repository of gaming knowledge for the absolutely heartwarming welcome I got after my first few, uh, tweets. Sorry about that.
No really though, Hi. I'm Kevin, and I'm way into art in games. I'm not about to use this is a platform to try and push the agenda that we need boxed copies of Metroid on display in the Louvre, my love for the art in games sidesteps that tired old argument, and is more focused on how good design and creativity in art direction can really make or break a game. Take Pokemon for instance...was it not Ken Sigumori's (who was formally trained as an illustrator, before his forray into game design,) ubiquitous critters that launched that shit into the stratosphere? Pokemon was a well crafted peice of software, but beyond that, it was pikachu, squirtle, and bulbasaur. Every single Pokemon started out as a drawing, and then ended up on every 11 year old's thermos 4 years later. Now, it would be remiss to attribute this good design to just a successful marketing blitz, but the creatures felt so alive, the world they lived in was so lushly detailed on that little green and yellow screen that your level 94 charizard's visage was simply the bridge that connected you completely to the game world. So, to retread an idea set forth by Hideo Kojima in a 2006 the games aren't so much art, as they are the museums, and the art hanging on the walls the programmers build serve as a link to the world in which they represent. This is why i love games.
That's an awfully 'round about way to get to an introduction, but that's why I love games, and that, my friends, is why we are all here.
I'm a 21 year old Drawing and Painting student, perusing my BFA at The University of North Texas, located in the DFW metroplex, in a sleep, stoned little town called Denton. I Plan on posting my gaming related art works often, and every once in a while, I may end up rambling about why the armor that Liquid's elite female death-squads wear in Metal Gear Solid 4 changed the way i drew the female form forever.
thanks for the support on my uh, rocky first few days Om Nom, and the few others who didn't assume I was some brain-dead juggalo who didn't realize he wasn't logged into his twitter account.
OH YEAH, and here's the art, I drew this yesterday, It's all watercolor. You guys like Halo? of course you do.