As you may have heard, there is a group calling themselves Retake Mass Effect who are lobbying for BioWare to create a new ending for Mass Effect 3, and they're doing a great job of drawing attention to themselves. First they got angry at BioWare, then they did some nice work for charity, then they told everyone that they did some nice work for charity, and now I'm writing about the fact that they told everyone that they did some nice work for charity. In short, they know what they're doing.
My only issue is that they aren't taking it far enough. Mass Effect has been ruined for me, too, and as a fan in theory of the series, I think BioWare owes me a Mass Effect ending (and middle, and beginning) that I can enjoy in practice.
[dot art by Wolfentir]
It's all about choice
One of the things fans say they hate about the ending of Mass Effect 3 is that it showed them that all the choices that they had made throughout the series were just an illusion of empowerment and free will. They thought their decisions mattered, but in the end, Shepard and company are fated to end up in pretty much the same situation no matter what.
The message there is that it doesn't really matter what you choose in life; sometimes, the cards are just stacked against you. There is actually some truth to that. No matter how many colonic irrigation treatments you take, something is still going to kill you eventually. It may not be constipation or a busted anal blood vessel like you think it's going to be, but it will be something.
So it may be true that we're all doomed and powerless, but that's an unpleasant truth, and therefore, it should be ignored. That brings us to the Super Mario Bros. games. You are never doomed to follow a hopeless dialogue tree in Mario. The choices you make in that series aren't based on a bunch of pre-scripted scenarios. The choices you make in Mario are totally yours. Are you going to jump over a hole? Are you going to jump in a hole? Are you going to walk up to a hole, stand in front of it, duck, and then jump over it? Every last detail of that decision-making process is left entirely in your hands.
It's ironic that the Mass Effect series pits you against the Reapers, inorganic antagonists who are slaves to their own programming. From start to finish, the experiences of Commander Shepard and his crew (and therefore, of the Mass Effect player) were no different. Every step of the way, they are limited to experiencing only the paths that were pre-programmed for them by the developers at BioWare.
Remaking the entire Mass Effect series to play like Super Mario Bros. would totally fix that.
[dot art by Pixel Block]
It's what the fans want
The Mass Effect games sell really well, but not as well as 2D Mario games. New Super Mario Bros. Wii has sold over 25.47 million copies as of this writing. That's proof that the fans want Mass Effect to be exactly like New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Sales don't lie.
Some people will tell you that they like Mass Effect exactly the way that it is. They may even tell you that they like Mass Effect 3's ending. How many people really feel that way, though? A million? Two? Bah, that's nothing, a vocal minority attempting to speak for all of us. The majority rules, and in this case, the minority of people who like Mass Effect 3 just the way it is (including the weirdos who made the game) owe it to the majority to bend to our will.
BioWare may not want to make that game, but they are just going to have to suck it up and get to work because fans.
[Art by Piece of Toast]
It's the way to keep Mass Effect 3 from ruining the rest of the series, and everything else
I've been playing videogames for a long time -- more than 30 years, at last count. I've got a lot invested in this art form, and I'd hate to see all that investment be for nothing because the "story" of videogames got ruined at the end by a series like Mass Effect.
I love Mass Effect, but I also hate it, just as the Retake Mass Effect group loves the series, but hates the ending because it makes everything that the series was building up to "invalid." Mass Effect offers a great concept (a human learns to work with aliens to prove that humans are worth a damn, and to save the human race from extinction), but it's not exactly what I want it to be.
It starts off really good, but once you actually start playing it, it's not fun. If this is what all of videogames has been building up to -- a medium that simultaneously imitates two inferior art forms (Choose Your Own Adventure books and live-action movies) while ignoring so many of the traits that make it the greatest art form of all time -- then that's basically ruining the whole journey that videogames (and videogame fans) have been on until now. "And after all the struggle to show that they are the future, videogames just turned into a cross between movies and books. None of the choices made by game developers who attempted to elevate the medium to the next evolution of artistic expression really mattered."
What an unsatisfying ending that would be!
[Mass Effect Chronicle Sprites by Derekty05]
That's easy enough to fix, though, and it won't even cost BioWare very much money. No need to hire any actors, write any dialog, apply any high-res textures, or put any dollars into those types of "amenities." That kind of stuff doesn't matter to true videogame fans, anyway. Just a simple 2D platformer that gets down to the fundamentals of what makes videogames different from (and better than) other art forms will do just fine. You can do that on a shoe-string budget. In fact, the money that the Retake Mass Effect group has already raised for charity might just be enough to make that happen.
If the Retake Mass Effect people want to really do something nice for Mass Effect fans, charity, and everybody, then they should use all that money to remake the Mass Effect series in the style of Super Mario Bros., call it something else to avoid lawsuits (Dead Sky, Dark War: Operation Chronicle Revelations would probably be pretty marketable), and then sell the game on their own with all the profits going to charity. That would fix Mass Effect, fix videogames, and help out the kids, all in one fell swoop. As a fan of grassroots projects, I think the Retake Mass Effect group owes it to me to end their campaign in the right way. This is the right way, because I said so.
The alternative choice is to keep bugging a videogame developer to remake the last five minutes of a game that they've already finished, despite the fact that the developer has publicly stated that they are done with the game, proud of their work, and ready to move on.
Which way of "fixing" Mass Effect makes the most sense to you? What's the difference between some fans telling BioWare how to make their games, and me suggesting that Mass Effect fans make a new game for me to play? Which is the choice of the Renegade, and which the choice of a Paragon? More so, does it even make a difference if either choice will result in the same bleak results? What defines us as people: the choices we make, or the outcomes that result from them?
I'll let you guys sort that out in the comments. All I know for sure is, I choose... to demand that Mass Effect play exactly like Super Mario Bros. Expect to see a Kickstarter video supporting this cause in the near future. Little kids will probably be involved. If you want people to care about your movement, make sure to get some little kids to back you up. That's the first thing they teach you in videogames activism class.
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