Happy April Fools Day everybody! I hope you've been enjoying Waluigi Day as much as I have! One of my favorite things about modern April Fools Day celebrations is just how many of these jokes turned out to be. It really subverted my expectations when Thnkgeek did this the first time, but then they did it again every year until Gamestop subverted everybody's expectations by destroying that brand. Let me make April's theme crystal clear before I drive my favorite phrase into the ground any more;
Subverting your expectations is this month's theme for Band of Bloggers.
There are tons of examples of this in video games. It can be something as simple as The Last of Us 2 throwing a combat encounter at you while you're engaged with a craft table, all the way up to Metal Gear Solid 2, if you catch my meaning. There are games like Ultimate Alliance 3 and Super Mairo RPG which will let you play with antagonistic characters like Venom and Bowser. There are a ton of ways games can go against your expectations one way or another. Let me throw a few more examples your way;
Sonic Mania is a fantastic throwback to classic, 2D Sonic gameplay. As a whole, the fact that a fangame was given Sega's blessing and sold on multiple platforms is a subversion, but what I'm thinking of specifically is a particular boss fight. Throughout Sonic Mania, there are a lot of references and nods to obscure Sonic characters, but the boss of Chemical Plant Zone 2 (the second half of the second level), the references go into overdrive when you're asked to take on Eggman himself in a round of Mean Bean Ma-Puyo Puyo. It's the kind of thing that's too silly to even joke about, and yet there it is. All that's missing from Sonic Mania is Danica Patrick and a Racing All-Stars level.
The Batman Arkham games are good licensed games, which in itself can be seen as a subversion. The combat has a something of a rhythmic feeling to it, and the plots could easily be called some of the best to involve the caped crusader. In Arkham Asylum, the subversion is pretty easy to call out: The Joker doses on a mutant variation of Bane's Venom and even after hulking out himself he gets restored with seemingly no lasting repurcussions. Arkham City subverts expectations by featuring the deaths of a couple of high profile Batman characters, and Arkham Knight subverts expectations by bringing a couple of those very dead people back...and also killing off another character or three. A very bitter part of me might also point out that every boss fight against Deathstroke was kind bad, but every time I look back at it, I can't help but feel more satisfaction and enjoyment for Arkham Origins (which can also be seen as a subversion, since Arkham Origins is the one that's usually the lowest rated).
(You were so busy being high and mighty about Red X, you never even stopped to consider Ra'z Al Ghul)
Nier Automata, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and the contextualization of respawning.
The Metal Gear Solid franchise is one I've had trouble getting into, but something I love about it is just how closely it watches you as you play it. In the third Solid game, it lets you know in a very visceral sort of way when you encounter The Sorrow. If you've played MGS3 in a passive way up until that point, without killing anybody, you'll just run through a very tonaly dark, atmospheric section of gameplay. It'll almost be like you've been transported to the outskirts of Silent Hill: you just know something is nearby but you're not being attacked...yet. If you've played MGS3 aggressively up until that point, than you'll find ghosts representing every enemy you've killed. What's really surprising about this segment is the ghost who knows that you ate him, if you chose to do that. You can't eat people straight-up in MGS3, that would be a little too subversive, but if you kill a guard in a certain area, wait for a vulture to start pecking at the body, shoot that vulture, than eat it, than congratulations on your multi-step cannibalism and easter egg dialog!
(What a thrill...)
Even if you're playing a game from a series or genre you're familiar with, there are still a lot of ways that developers can take your expectations and play around with them. Then there's the enginuity of gamsters as a whole to take a well established game or genre and play those games just differently enough to make the familiar into something new and different. During this, the month of the fool, keep Band of Bloggers in mind as you game and if you become the victim of subverted expectations why not write about it? Any blog or Qtoid-post marked with #bob or #bandofbloggers is perfectly fine by us! No matter how you play this month, we won't call you an April Fool.