Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oh, Storyline. You Make My Hours of Gameplay Worthwhile!

When the movie The Prince of Persia came to theaters, I remember talking with some people about it at work. One of my coworkers commented how the storyline of the film differed from that of the video game it is based off of. Another coworker then said something to the effect of, "Video games don't have storylines."

Bless her heart.

I was thinking about this recently as I finished the aforementioned Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. (Side note: I love this series and you should to. Play it or die! Or don't and live I guess...) I would have to disagree with my coworker's comment. Even many of the simplest video games have some sort of plot. Want some examples and pictures? Good because that's what you're about to get.

Anyoone remember this beauty? I would remember it years later for it's theme that so easily got stuck in my head... Oh great. Now it's going to be there for awhile. Anyway, the gameplay pretty much consisted of you moving your little dinosaur around, blowing bubbles at enemies, and then popping them once the enemies got trapped inside. You only have to make it through 100 levels to make it to the end of the game! But why? Why would you spend quarter after quarter to make it to level 100 besides the obvious addictive quality of the game? What is your little dinosaur's motive for running around blowing bubbles from his mouth? Well, let me tell you in a very simple fashion. Your dinosaur is actually a guy who as been magicked into dinosaur form! And you have to get to level 100 to save your captured girlfriend and hopefully return yourself to normal! Although, given the choice, I might choose to remain a bubble blowing dinosaur, but that's just me.

My sister and I discovered Burger Island  for the Wii a couple years ago. We were hooked. We played that thing night and day. Everyone knows that a fast food environment is much more fun when you're experiencing it from the comforts of your own home! This game isn't that hard to figure out--a customer makes an order and you fulfill it. Simple enough right? Well, it can get pretty tricky, but it's also addictive. At least, it seems to be addictive to the lady folk. Guys don't seem to understand the appeal. That's the case in my experience anyway. There was one part my sister always skipped over when we played: the bit in between levels where we were told (hold your breath) the story! It's something to the effect of you've crashed landed on the island, you take over the local burger joint, and you get help from the tiki gods to get new recipes.

Then there are games that get a little more complicated with their twists and turns and sidequests. And I bet you can guess one of the first ones that popped into my mind. Besides much loved titles like Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Secret of Mana, I thought of none other than Kingdom Hearts!

The following little clip is from Kingdom Hearts II but it's flashbacks from the first game.

The storyline can be a bit complex, but to put simply, the story follows Sora, a teenage boy who wakes up in Traverse Town after his world has been attacked. With the help Donald and Goofy, they travel from world to world in search of Sora's friends, Riku and Kairi, and King Mickey. At the same time, they must defeat the dark creatures known as heartless before they can take over other worlds and steal hearts.

I first became interested in the idea of storyline and plot in video games after playing the first game of the series. I blame it on studying English in college. All those books and poems and articles you read trying to dig out all you can get and then use it yourself in your own papers! It made me see stories differently. I evaluate movies, books, and even video games differently now. And the reason Kingdom Hearts has stuck with me is for some of the same reasons some of my favorite books remain my favorite. I love the characters, the messages I take from their struggles, the fact that I can relate to them. I love their story, their struggles, their triumphs. I love being a part of it.

It made me think of how much we as people love the concept of "story." We gossip. We tell people about our day. We watch movies and read books. We watch the news. We listen to music which has a story all it's own. Our whole lives are filled with story. A part of us thrives off that I think.

So in case you were left with any doubt, video games like books, movies, and even music have a story. This is not me giving you permission to spend your entire life playing World of Warcraft or any other titles I've mentioned. But perhaps a little video game time in your life isn't such a bad thing.

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