I’ve become aware of a game called Orgarythm which is described as a “music strategy” game. Using rhythmic timing to control battling tribes. Attempting to describe a game with such a different mechanic seemed easiest by saying League of Legends meets Guitar Hero. This lead me to start thinking about other games that have successfully combined mechanics to make something that was fun to play. Puzzle Quest certainly seems like Final Fantasy and Bejeweled got drunk and went home together one night. Then again, Final Fantasy also got knocked up by Sonic one night, and that wasn’t at all a good thing. Well of course my mind started thinking about the potential of video game breeding. Here are a few combinations I’ve thought of, whether or not I think they should ever happen.
Madden meets World of Warcraft
Here we have two successful games. Certainly both bring a quality pedigree to the mash-up. Sports game meets MMO. Both support cooperative and competitive play, and have large followings. WoW has a lot of people playing together at once, activating skills in sequence and working together. How would that cross over into a football sim? You’d could try to have 11 people actively participating on each side of the field, but how will you ever find 5 teammates who want to be an offensive lineman? You could probably find enough people to play most of the defensive positions, but the O-line would be nearly impossible to fill up. Too many quarterbacks, not enough protection. Let’s say you take out the O-line then. You could potentially get a 5v5 or 6v6 matchup pretty easily. You could also add in “powers” that could be activated by these athletes like a speed burst, a knockdown, a leap or time manipulation. At that point, a lot of the appeal of Madden is lost I think. Football is best when you have full squads, and unfortunately those squads need too many supporting roles. Only one or two players get any glory on any given play, even though you could spread that out over a drive. You hear enough griping from professional athletes about not getting the ball enough, now imagine gamers who are used to having ALL the glory in Madden trying to play nice with five others.
Something that might be more viable would be a basketball sim-MMO. Controlling an individual in a team of five is much more reasonable, and you have diversity in the different positions. The centers/forwards could have a different mix of skills that allow for big screens, monster jams or epic blocks. The guards can pump up their accuracy/speed/agility with activated powers, and the game is in constant motion allowing for a better feel of persistent action. At 5v5 match-ups it’s hardly an MMO, but hey, not all of the genes were passed on to junior.
World of Madden? pass. World of Hoops? maybe… just maybe.
Metal Gear meets Pokemon
Here’s an interesting pair. Both are Japanese made, but one is very individualistic, focusing on narrative and action, while the other focuses on a collection/training grind and then strategy/synergy contemplation. Again, both are extremely popular and successful. Would we see Snake trying to collect different metal gears in an attempt to learn how to use each one in fierce one on one battles? Maybe we’d see him sneaking around with an army of mini-metal gears that assist his fights in different ways, something like Overlord. But would we have to spend some grind trying to level up our mini-gears? There are some fundamental differences here that are hard to combine. Metal Gear is mostly a stealth based game, with some meaningful combat thrown in on occasion, while Pokemon is more about finding as many fights as possible, the majority of them an easy win thats just supposed to level you up.
Maybe you could just spice up things for Ash Ketchum by adding a very dark undertone to his story, making the death of his pokemon a very real threat. Deeper character development for the boss fights would certainly help. I think I really just want to see Codec calls between professor Oak and Ash. I think if this love-child were to work, it would certainly need to look more like Pokemon, with some of the pieces of Metal Gear in order to be a big success. I think you could add the stealth to Pokemon, but not the grind to Metal Gear.
Poke-gears is probably a pass for now.
Call of Duty meets Street Fighter
This one is… odd. Ryu with a gun and grenades just seems a little underwhelming, but a large, open 3-D fist-fighting arena seems equally odd. Would this be a boxing game? Skyrim with multiplayer? I really feel like I’m staring down at a box of frog-kittens just trying to imagine this game. There’s nothing wrong with a fighting game thats expanded for more than two contestants. But Guile and M Bison standing still, blasting away with M16‘s is not Street Fighter.
On the other hand. maybe we could just build onto the first person shooter. Lets say certain aspects of Call of Duty required a precise button/joystick combo to initiate? This would add a new element that would reward a different skill set in the game. After all, we’re already customizing our characters to be more effective at long range (Dhalsim) or close range (Blanka). Maybe some different character model choices with some back-story? We could add a dodging mechanic or an opportunity to block the melee attacks. How about something like Halo: Reach’s melee finishers and adding a button combination to pull off a kill instead of the insta-kill with the knives?
Street-Duty? With some heavy genetic filtering I think this could work!
Beautiful Katamari meets God of War
Oh for the love of God, no… just NO!
The Legend of Zelda meets Heavy Rain
This is something I think could be really interesting. Link is a cartoony, faultless hero fighting an absolute evil. Heavy Rain features very in-depth characters who struggle with their confidence, their addictions and their past. Link is almost constantly involved in some action, but Ethan, Scott, and Norman are faced more frequently with drama. Puzzles to Link mean hitting a switch, and mechanically manipulating an environment. For Heavy Rain’s characters the manipulation is emotional, and doesn’t have a definite right answer.
I would love to see a crossover of these two styles. I know in action games we are used to near 100% control of what our hero is doing, but would it hurt to have a greater amount of prebuilt, choreographed combat, like the powerful finishers, that were initiated based on how accurately you could match on screen instructions? What if Link had a more developed past and character flaws? Maybe we wouldn’t want to be him as much, but we could potentially relate to him. I would love it if Ganon was more than a world eating monster. While I was trying to think of all these mash-ups at my day job, this combination stood out above any others I could imagine. Adding some action to the psychological thriller, or some drama and fleshed out characters to the classic adventure game would be a great step forward in my opinion.
Oh, and Katamari+GoW = No More Heroes. Think about that one.