Hack and slash across Westeros
It’s a good time to be a Warriors/Musou fan. For us in the west, we just got our hands on Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, which according to Chris is pretty darn good. Later this month, our friends over in Japan get their first crack at Musou Stars, a game I personally can’t wait to play. Not long after that is Dragon Quest Heroes II, Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, and eventually Fire Emblem Warriors and the potentially game-changing Dynasty Warriors 9.
There are so many coming our way, and yet somehow I want more. After Hyrule Warriors and Dragon Quest Heroes proved to be global successes, I thought about other series that would work perfectly with the Musou formula. The first thing that popped into my mind and never left? Game of Thrones.
It seems obvious given the show’s popularity around the world, but that doesn’t make it any less of a perfect candidate for the Warriors treatment. When I think of these games, I think of large casts, massive battlefields, exotic locations, crap-load of lore to work with and grand battles. Game of Thrones checks off all of those. I can’t be the only one who watched the Battle of the Bastards and thought, “Oh shit, this would be so cool as a Warriors game.”
I know, there isn’t a lot of variation when it comes to weaponry. Most people use swords and shields that can get a bit boring. But there are so many more options. Embrace Melisandre’s connection to the Lord of Light and have her use fire-based Magic Attacks. Have Bran control Hodor and other creatures to attack for him, knocking them into the air allowing him to finish the combo as the raven. Make all of Tyrion’s attacks speeches he gives to get himself out of trouble. Jaime can use his gold hand and sword as a unique combo. That fucking nun with the bell can shame people to death like Marin from Hyrule Warriors. Use your imagination people!
There are so many options with the dozens of available characters, so many grand and memorable locations to utilize, and so many epic battles to recreate. I would kill for the chance to lay waste to the Sons of the Harpy in the arena as Daenerys and her dragons or to stomp all over Ramsey’s men with Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun. Come on Omega Force, make this happen! Game of Thrones is such a perfect series to spin into the Warriors formula that I bet none of the other writers at Destructoid can come up with an idea half as good.
Chris Carter [Image source]
Now that it’s been established that Omega Force will adapt pretty much any anime they can get their hands on (and localize them), my head started spinning at all the choices. A Trigun Musou? It could work with just about every character other than Vash (who they’d have to divine some sort of non-lethal means of dispatching enemies), and the property is enough of a character factory to give us some great boss fights — I’d love to see how they’d give is Legato. Gurren Lagann would be perfect with its mech fights and Kill la Kill is a no-brainer.
But in the end, I settled on Fullmetal Alchemist. Not enough people have seen the Brotherhood series from start to finish, and the franchise already has a long line of video games ahead of it — most of which have not made it out of Japan. It has so many storylines to draw from, and myriad characters to make playable, and it has the “unlockable stable of bad guys after you beat the game” covered with the Homunculi.
Really though, even if it just started with the brothers of Edward and Alphonse (who can both cast magic), it would make for a mean co-op game from beginning to end. So many cards are stacked in its favor, and I’d take any excuse to watch this show and read the manga again.
These other guys can talk about anime and HBO shows all they want, but me? Well, I’m a 90’s kid. And as a 90’s kid, I’m going to have to go with a show that defined my childhood, because lord knows the 90’s had plenty of those. For me, it could be Power Rangers, X-Men, Biker Mice from Mars, or Samurai Pizza Cats. But above all, Beast Wars.
Beast Warriors certainly wouldn’t be the easiest game in the world to make; no Transformers series has ever been known for melee combat. Nevertheless, Beast Wars has plenty to work with. Optimus Primal has been depicted wielding a sword and dual clubs, Transmetal Cheetor has his whip tail, Blackarachnia is skilled in unarmed combat, Megatron can easily overpower opponents with the T-Rex head he has for an arm, and Dinobot is famous for his rotating spine-sword. Besides that, a lack of melee weapons doesn’t have to be a problem. For example, Rattrap is mostly known as a saboteur and demolitions expert; he could easily use his arsenal of sticky bombs to get up close and personal.
Even if you do go for gun-based gameplay, every character already has a melee move set ready to go: Beast Mode. This would be the major innovation of Beast Warriors over any other Musou game. Every character would be able to run-and-gun their way through the enemies, but with the press of a button start tearing shit up in their beast forms. Look me in the eye and tell me that you wouldn’t want to charge through a horde of enemies with a cranky robot rhino. You can’t.
To fit into a good Warriors game, a property needs two things: waves of faceless enemies Omega Force can copy and paste ad nauseam, and different characters who are really only distinguishable in look and weapon. Power Rangers is perfect for this. I don’t mean Super Sentai (they’ve already had their terrible shot), but Saban’s Power Rangers. There are 24 seasons of the show ripe for good Musou action. Even if you pulled from just the popular stuff (the first one, the “new” team based on the movie, the two recent seasons Dino Charge and Ninja Steel), there’s still plenty to work with. Each season comes pre-equipped with its own baddie army and crossover storylines, so Omega Force wouldn’t even have to work that hard on its campaign.
Think about this. If Omega Force decided just to use every version of Tommy (because he’s the most popular Ranger), that’s six characters already (Evil Green, Good Green, White, Red Zeo, Red Turbo, Brachio Black) with their own potential Musou. Evil Green Ranger Tommy could play his flute dagger and call down a quick drill tail swipe from the Dragonzord, White Ranger Tommy would use Saba’s eye beams from the movie (heh), and etc. The series already has Musou-like finishers built in, so half the work’s already done.
Not to mention plenty of monster designs to use for tougher lieutenants and boss fights. Maybe even a Megazord battle section? Heck, you could do Megazords as playable characters and it would still work. The Rangers fought off waves of embiggened monsters before, and I imagine occasionally fighting a literally giant army while darting around buildings would be a welcome change of pace.
Occams Electric Toothbrush
There are combinations in this world that feel like they were always meant to be. Chocolate and peanut butter. Smoking and drinking. Skinny dipping and family reunions. Such is the case for Warhammer 40K and the Musou genre.
It’s no secret that Games Workshop gives away the license to 40K if you ask nicely enough. How many cheap mobile games are there? It is rare that we get a game that does justice to the 40K universe. This is a perfect opportunity to make an amazing Musou game and also elevate the Games Workshop brand in gaming beyond, “Remember Space Marine?” Imagine playing as a Space Wolf Captain, power fist and bolter gun cutting down swathes of enemies. You could unlock Terminator Armour, jump packs, artifact weapons and even play as Dreadnoughts. And that’s just for Space Marines. There is enough content in the 40K universe for multiple games.
The Eldar have their aspect warriors and Harlequins, the Orks have their various types of savant savagery, and the Tau have their cute little toaster guns. And Chaos! Good lordy, can you even imagine what playing as a Slaanesh Noise Marine or a Khorne Berserker would be like? Fucking awesome is the correct answer. All of the groundwork is laid out. All Omega Force has to do is work its science magic and breathe life into it.
Game of Thrones sounds like it’d be fun for about two characters. The Hound would be cool since, y’know, he’s awful. And Ramsay Bolton for all the ding dongs you can lop off. But what after that? Sansa’s combos would revolve around crying and pouting, and Ned wouldn’t even make it past the first level. Sorry, CJ, but you’re wrong.
The only Musou game you’ll catch this taco playing is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Warriors, the exciting new endless beat-em-up featuring everyone’s favorite sewer-dwelling mutants (well, second favorite, behind Mike Martin). The game practically writes itself – you control one of the four eponymous amphibians, Master Splinter, Casey Jones, and hell, maybe even April O’Neill, and go to town on endless waves of the Foot Clan, mousers, Rock Soldiers, and countless other antagonists I can’t remember, led by main antagonists perched as generals in different zones. Leonardo would have devastating sword attacks and techniques, Donatello a long reach with his bow enhanced by gadgetry, Michelangelo acrobatic moves with flips and shit, and Raphael punishing close-range melee attacks. Replace the rice balls or whatever with pizza, and give each level a sewer system to help traverse the huge maps? I can’t believe it hasn’t been made yet.
You’d start with the original red-bandana’d comic designs, but unlock skins based off the 80s cartoon, 90s movies, 00s cartoon and movie, and 10s CGI show (no, Venus DeMilo and TransTurtles don’t count). If the devs were feeling frisky and really wanted to get weird, they could even throw in 4-player online or local co-op to allow all four heroes in the half-shell on screen at once. It’s simple, it’s genius, and it needs to happen now.
I’m ashamed of the rest of you.
Wes, you’re not wrong. I mean, about this, you’re not. In general, ehhh, that’s debatable.
Your TMNT entry made me think, though. Musou games are really nothing more than an evolution of the belt scrolling beat-em-ups we played in arcades. There were tons of `em : Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, Final Fight… but my favorite was always The Simpsons Arcade Game.
People didn’t seem to like my last Simpsons article, but that’s OK, it’s still one of my favorite properties. What would make it perfect for a Musou game is the huge cast. Even though you fought mostly tubby guys in pink shirts and generic suit dudes in the arcade game, a current day version could theoretically make it so every mook you cut down is a different citizen of Springfield.
Imagine slashing your way through Crackton on a quest to reach Chester Lampwick in his solid gold house. When you reach him, you have to knock him out of his rocket car before you can start attacking him directly. Or maybe you’d play a level as Lanley, Lyle Lanley, trying to escape an angry mob who’re pissed you talked them into a useless monorail. For an extra challenge, play as weak, ancient Mr. Burns who can’t attack directly, but makes Smithers do everything for him. Or play in easy mode as Flanders or Groundskeeper Willy and unleash your 8-pack abs on Springfield.
The Simpsons Game already had some cool boss fights against an animated Lard Lad and a two-headed Patty and Selma dragon, but you generally weren’t fighting against more than one or two enemies at a time. I’d love to see an entire screen filled with Simpsons characters, a cel-shaded angry mob worthy of a Warriors title.
Star Wars, duh! The iconic property has the potential to translate really well to video games of all shapes and sizes, from platformers to space sims to shooters to RPGs. In the right hands, it’s gold.
Yet we’ve somehow never gotten a Star Wars Musou. I’m far from the biggest fan, but I am totally willing to be the one to say that yes, we should get a Star Wars Musou. And, if I remember correctly, Omega Force has even gone on record to say they’d be down. It’s not hard to imagine why.
There are a wealth of stories to draw from and recontextualize in the Musou format, and a near-limitless number of weirdly-named characters to put on the roster. Who wouldn’t want to beat down hordes of Gungans as [imagine your favorite Expanded Universe bounty hunter here]? No one, that’s who!
My first instinct was to say Sesame Street. That’s probably because the I’ve watched the show every morning for the last 3 months. Fighting a horde of rampaging muppets as Big Bird inside of a giant pinball machine while this song plays would really be something! The could even do a Lasagna Cat crossover, featuring Drew Barrymore’s brother in battle against a giant pipe.
But I couldn’t quite commit to the idea for some reason. So I racked my brain. Studio Ghibli universe? Adventure Time? Repo Man? How can I pick just one?
So I didn’t. My vote goes for a Studio Ghibli, Sesame Street, Adventure Time. Repo Man, Buckaroo Banzai, Lasagna Cat, Naked Lunch Musou game, with a special appearance by Carol Channing. That’s pretty much what it looks like inside my head these days anyway.
The best thing about the Musou template is that it’s very versatile. ‘Heroes plowing through crowds of bad guys’ is one of the oldest pop-culture concepts ever conceived, and these days, it’s one of the most profitable. Therefore, a Marvel Cinematic Universe Musou game feels like it might be a good fit. Heck, it might even be able to take Musou to the next level, as superheroes are distinguished by their many differences. Spider-Man is as different from Wolverine as from Black Widow as from the Hulk, and so on. A prospective developer would need to work hard to make each hero’s playing style be truly distinct.
In fact, an ideal Superhero Musou game would probably play a little bit like a co-op Overwatch, at least in the sense that picking a character in that game is like committing to a specific style of play (you’d never mistake Lucio for D.Va or Reinhardt for Junkrat, after all). Tweak that to suit the horde-mode sensibilities of Musou, and throw in the true essence of that gameplay style, namely the objective-to-objective “firefighting” structure, and you can have the kind of superhero game that really gets the joy of watching the forces of good just steamroll everything that isn’t good.
Okay guys, sure, I’d play an Avengers or Star Wars Musou game. But let’s get to what we all really want. Remember the Def Jam series, where hip hop artists (and Henry Rollins of Black Flag) beat the shit out of each other? The most recent in the series, Def Jam Icon, has its plot described on Wikipedia thusly: “bruh homie ninjas invade the rapper community and the only way to get rid of them is for the rappers to fight each other and scratch the air to change the music.”
Just let me play as Ludacris running through the streets fighting said ninjas and I’m good. You wanna add leveling up, weapons, customizable soundtracks? Sure, whatever. As long as I still have Funkmaster Flex, Ghostface Killah, and Lil’ Jon to kick ass with, I’m good.
But let’s take it one step further: Def Jam Recordings has different artists now. Give me Iggy Azalea, give me The Roots, give me Justin Bieber, let me re-enact John Wick 2‘s bitchy-ass gunfight as Common. But most importantly, let me play as Kanye West, sing-droning “I am a God” as I dropkick hordes of ninjas.
Okay, I stand corrected. Those are some pretty damn good ideas.