We are currently experiencing an exciting time to play games. Every year, developers are trying things that were previously only imaginable, and the result is the most diverse selection of titles in history. Epic narratives, seamless online play, amazing handheld and phone games; we have more ways to scratch that gaming itch than ever. And yet, even with so much to choose from, some needs are still going unsatisfied.
Here are some of my deepest wishes for the future of gaming.
A Female Grand Theft Auto Protagonist
Grand Theft Auto is one of my all-time favourite game series. Every few years I come back to it and play through every game I have in chronological order of setting (in part, to witness the rise and fall of Lazlow’s radio career). But as much as I enjoy the games, I have to say, I’m getting a bit tired of only playing as men. Out of all the GTAs, only the very first offered female protagonists, and even then, that choice was only expressed through a character portrait. And while GTA Online let you create a female avatar, there’s a difference between piloting a female-shaped body and actually playing a female character.
The reason I want a female protagonist in GTA is because they’ve never done it before, and thus it presents an opportunity to explore a new perspective. What if you got to play as someone like Paige Harris, one of the heist crew members from GTA V? She’s a brilliant hacker, cool under pressure, and knows how to handle a gun. To play as a calculating professional who wants more from life than cash and strippers would be refreshing. That’s only one option, of course. What if Karen lost her government job of torturing people with household objects and had to turn to the very crime she used to investigate?
Maybe Rockstar worry that their demographic won’t buy a GTA with a female lead, but their ability to offer multiple protagonists in a single game is the perfect opportunity to introduce something new amidst the traditional. Just look at GTA V’s Trevor. Such a psychotic killer with an explosive temper and concerning relationship with his mother probably wouldn’t have been very popular if he were the game’s sole protagonist. But by mixing him in with safer bets Michael and Franklin, Rockstar not only allowed us to take a break from Trevor’s insanity, but also highlighted just how different the game could feel playing from such a perspective.
I’m not saying that a female protagonist couldn’t stand alone, merely that if Rockstar is worried that such a move wouldn’t be well received, they already have a way to remedy that. Grand Theft Auto has never been afraid to push boundaries before, and I think it’s long past time that this particular wall was pulled down.
Sonic To Be Cool Again
I grew up playing Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and Master System. I would buy comics about Sonic and his friends, including one particularly trippy story where collecting his billionth ring sends the speedy hedgehog into a mind-bending dimension filled with masked benefactors and existential epiphanies. My best friend even had a comfy Sonic blanket that I would always try to steal at every sleepover. While I also played a lot of Mario games, Sonic just seemed so much more vibrant and exciting.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. While Sonic’s gameplay didn’t make the transition to 3D anywhere near as smoothly as Mario’s did, that was only part of the problem. While efforts to give Sonic a personality in the comics and cartoons had always been a bit cringeworthy, the 3D games such as Sonic Adventure threw this into overdrive. The catchy and imaginative music was replaced with grating teen rock and bland rap. Performing combos would provide “hip” on-screen congratulations like SWEET! or TIGHT! and the dialogue has only seemed to worsen with each game. It got to be so bad that I stopped playing even when the gameplay was enjoyable. Seemingly overnight, Sonic had transitioned from effortlessly cool to trying way too hard to be cool.
I don’t expect that Sonic will ever take the world by storm again, but if we could just get to a point where he isn’t an absolutely laughing stock, where he can just be a very fast hedgehog fighting evil robots, that would be enough for me.
Banjo and Kazooie in Super Smash Bros.
I absolutely loved the Banjo Kazooie games (well, the first two; the third is not mentioned in polite company). The humour, memorable characters and diverse ways to approach situations made exploring each level an absolute joy. The fuzzy bear and cheeky bird made an incredible duo, with a full arsenal of tricks up their metaphorical sleeves. As such, I think they would fit perfectly into a Super Smash Bros. game.
Think about it. Banjo Kazooie was the first game I ever played to feature a double jump, a key feature of the SSB series. As for special moves, upward could be flight, downward could be the beak bomb, sideways could be Banjo’s roll, and the basic one could toggle Kazooie carrying Banjo on her back, affording faster movement at the expense of blocking. The super attack could be the gold feather of invulnerability, or Banjo holding Kazooie like a shotgun and bombarding the battlefield with explosive eggs.
The essence of SSB is bringing together various characters who would otherwise never meet, and getting to make them beat the stuffing out of each other. It seems a terrible shame that Banjo and Kazooie should be denied entry to this club just because they aren’t with Nintendo any more. Which brings me to my next wish…
No More Exclusives
In the old days, it made sense to develop for just one platform; hardware specifications could be wildly different, not just in processing power but also in the design of the controllers or whether the game would be on CD-ROM or cartridge. Nowadays, those reasons don’t really apply any more.
With the possible exception of the Wii U, performance on current-gen consoles looks about even, a far cry from the days when you could tell what system was being played just by the graphics. Controller designs have become fairly standardised, more or less following the same basic PlayStation design created over a decade ago. Again, the Wii U is the exception with its touch screen and other features, but even so, its design is much more similar to the other consoles’ controllers than the previous Wiimote and Nunchuk.
My point is this. With all of the practical barriers being gradually ironed out, why are we still regularly denied access to amazing games simply because we don’t have a certain system? I’ve missed out on The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, the entire inFamous series, and if not for the generosity of a friend, I’d have missed out on Uncharted too. Similarly, another friend of mine who only games on PC is still sore about never getting to play Red Dead Redemption.
As with all the wishes on this list, I don’t really expect it to come true, but I can dream.
Now it’s your turn, dear readers. What are your deepest video game wishes?