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A Name Has Everything to do With Quality

The problem with names is that, if they have any amount of history attached to them, they carry so much baggage along with them. A game's name carries so many expectations along with it. Even a title you've never heard of implicitly either inspires either interest or indifference.

Jim did a good job of making Devil May Cry fans look like assholes in yesterday's Jimquisition video, but I think what rubs me wrong about his argument is that he makes out like it's gamers' fault for having certain expectations attached to series names. He chastises them for being dismissive of these games trying to expand and innovate, like Silent Hill: Book of Memories, which takes the boring old, also-ran gameplay of the original four Silent Hill games and turns it on it's ear by making a handheld Champions of Norrath clone. Don't get me wrong, I think Book of Memories looks cool too, but let's get our perspectives straight here.

If you want to make a horror themed isometric dungeon crawler, Silent Hill probably shouldn't be the first brand name you think of to successfully exploit that idea. Does that make it a brave decision? Brave in its fool-hardiness maybe, but can you really chastise gamers for being skeptical about it? It's a stupid idea. It might work, and if it does then that's great, but if it doesn't then it should come as no surprise.

Expectations are important. It's hard enough to release a game with innovative gameplay ideas and be successful with it these days without trying to trick people into thinking they're buying something that they aren't. Silent Hill fans are as mad as they are because the Konami executives have taken the sucking corps of a franchise they loved, fashioned a suit out of its skin and masqueraded it around as the franchise they've long known to be dead.

They aren't fooling anyone. Silent Hill hasn't actually been Silent Hill since Konami shut down Team Silent. Everyone knows it, and the consequence of that is twofold. It shows Konami to be willfully pissing in the eye of its fans, and it has hardened peoples hearts to some genuinely decent horror games that honestly could have been much better received with different names attached to them.

You know, if they hadn't named it Silent Hill Homecoming, I probably wouldn't have constantly been obsessing over the fact that they ruined the ambiance of the series with the cool female sidekick, and that they totally missed the point of the series with their Jacob's Ladder derivative story, and that the combat completely ignores what made the original games fun and that the inclusion of Pyramid Head and the nurses was hamfisted and lame, and that probably would have been conducive of me hating it less as a result.

They could have taken the hit and gambled on making any one of the more recent Silent Hill games into it's own thing and risked to gain a franchise that doesn't make people sick to look at it. That seems like it would be a good thing for Konami if they weren't too busy with not being a video game publisher anymore. Syndicate might as well have been a new franchise for as much weight as the name carries today. So why did EA go out of their way to spite the few people who still knew and cared about the franchise? It was just so pointlessly shitty of them.

You can argue that gamers need to be more charitable and that it's woefully short-sighted to turn a game down just because of its name, and you would be right, but you can't blame gamers for being skeptical when publishers are constantly lying to them. It's one thing to earnestly reboot a creatively bankrupt franchise by injecting new ideas into it. It's another thing altogether to halfheartedly try and piggy-back a vaguely similar game to a franchise by changing some names around as some cynical ploy to make more money. And sometimes it's hard to distinguish clearly between the two.

-Kristopher Osborn
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About stubblemanone of us since 8:53 PM on 05.04.2012

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