Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bodies in Motion, Bodies in Spaceships (A Nightmare on Elm Street and Abadox)

It is 1989. Five Nightmare on Elm Street movies have been released. The fifth one of these establishes that Freddy Krueger was born when a nun was trapped in a room with 100 maniacs all of whom raped her. Actually, as she was apparently raped "hundreds" of times, I suppose it's even worse than that. I mention this just because, as I was reading up on the series because I've never actually seen a Nightmare on Elm Street movie, and I was kind of floored by it.

Alongside this is the release of the NES game based on the series - a straightforward and not entirely unpleasant side-scroller that's just a bit stingy with the lives and continues. The player controls a random teenager fighting off the assault of Freddy Krueger. By punching all sorts of things.

It is strange, in 2009, to go back 20 years and play a game with primitive graphics that is nonetheless a licensed property. Licensed video games are a strange duck - video games remain a fairly poor narrative form, and so there's no great reason to adapt movies and the like into games.

I have been debating with a new friend the validity of realism. (I am opposed to it) Closely tied to this is the idea of immersion - the whole rhetoric of video games, for instance, where we BECOME OUR CHARACTERS. I think this rhetoric is bullshit, and have written papers on it. In my more flamboyant moments - moments often fueled by gin or manic social occasions - I decry realism as a whole. The goth club was both.

So licensed games, which are more about the idea of being a part of the movie, are sort of strange to see when 20 years old, when you're running around as a generic-looking teenager fighting a non-desrcript thing that is supposedly Freddy Krueger. And it's tough to get any sense that the game is evoking the source material.

Very strange. But not the sort of horrific grotesqueness of massive gang rape.

One year later, Abadox hits. Abadox is a shooter in which you fly into an alien and destroy him from the inside. It's straightforward. It punishes death by taking away all of your weapons, because if you couldn't get through that spot fully armed, you should do a lot better without all your weapons. It's brutal. It's not particularly interesting, but my half hour wasn't unpleasant.

I would certainly rather play Abadox for half an hour than prep my class for tomorrow.

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