Hello everyone, let's take our seats, class is about to begin. Just sit down so we can get started… thank you.
So today, we're going to start the section on how not to make a video game. Everybody get your paper and pencils or pens and start taking notes. We're going to start with Thundercats for the DS. See? There was a reason I assigned it to you last week. It wasn't just for punishment or anything, like I usually do with classic books and the works of foreign poets. I still enjoy them—and you should—but it's fine.
Let's start with the graphics. What did you guys think? Yes, Tommy? Yes, it does look like a miserable example from 2001. We don't actually know when the game started development, but if it looks a little too much like it began on a system from ten years ago, it's a good sign that more time should have been spent on its development. But what about it gives that impression? Is it the tiny sprites, or the bland backdrops? That's right, even the still shots from the show seem to have some pixilation around the edges.
How about actually controlling Lion-o? Yes, I know you can only play as Lion-o and none of the other Thundercats, but how does he feel to command around? Kimberly, you had a thought? Yes, he's stiff, isn't he? Slow to respond, even slower to attack? That's fair, but what about his special attacks, like his charged strike or the character assist unlocks that come along through the game… wait, you didn't know about those? Ah, that's because the game itself didn't introduce any of those, you should've read the instruction booklet! It mentions them but without much explanation, and just believes that you will figure out the mechanics and timing of everything.
Now, a broad question: Did anybody actually care about the story going in? *a smattering of hands reach up* You are already ThunderCats fans, aren't you? OK, now did anyone notice how the story was told in the game? Little Billy, I heard you mention before we started class that the story took place entirely removed from the game itself, right? You were correct! The game's story is told through writing and still shots from the TV show, and in a very jumpy fashion that has zero impact on what happened in any of the six short levels. Good storytelling should incorporate characters, events, and most everything into the game itself—that's how we can be immersed in the environment and care about reaching the next plateau.
So, class, who took the longest to actually get through every stage? Jason, you got through in two hours? Can anybody beat two hours? You can, Trini? An hour and a half? And how many times did you die on the sixth area, the only actual platforming space in the whole game? You spent an hour on that stage alone? Wow, well done! Only two hours and six stages, no extra stages, no secret pathways, and the only thing that requires any skill is beating certain areas in certain time frames to unlock still shots of the show. If the game can be utterly destroyed in an afternoon, and you can take the rest of the afternoon for a TV marathon of the show it's based on, that's not long enough for $30, is it?
One more question for you all: What should this game's final review score be? Zach, I haven't called on you yet… please stop dancing near the door, class is almost over… that's right, this is a terrible game. It's not even really much of a game. Would you give this game a star? Two? No, two is simply too many. One star should do, and you'll all get one star for coming to class today. Remember to post it on the board as you head out, and please turn in your copy of ThunderCats before you leave so the next class can use them as an example. I have a feeling none of you are itching to keep it.