That is going to be a rather specific blog entry, but today I want to go into detail about three manga-series that would make great video games. Before going any further I´d like to explain that manga and anime come hand in hand with video games, that is what I believe. That is, if you´r fond of Japanese video games. Sure, typical western games don´t feature any resemblance of Japanese comics and cartoons. Maybe, though, that is also why I prefer Japanese video games, as they generally feature more stylized visuals, maybe thanks to the country´s heavy art industry. Not to stray further away, I´ll be talking about Gantz, Blame! and Berserk.
If you watched the Gantz-anime that unfortunately didn´t get a third season and afterwards decided to read the manga for more, you know: This series went from the weird to the epic. The series´ concept would be rather easy to make into a video game (tbh there even might already be a game, but it definitely wasn´t released in Europe). Simply throw the player into a new mission each time and have him face all kinds of new, bizarre aliens. There´s not that much about specific gameplay details, as it´d be a simple third-person-shooter, maybe with some climb-mechanics and Crysis-like super powers. It´s the multiplayer part that counts. I´d imagine there to be two kinds of multiplayer: First one would let other players join your game on-the-fly, taking on missions together. The other mode would be even more reminiscent of the series: You gather a group of friends that you start the game with. Then the game puts you into super-weird and hard missions. Whoever survives the longest wins, it´s that simple. There´s really no other franchise I could see work that well as a online-heavy video game. The mixture of cool art style, super powers, weird aliens, team-play and mission-based gameplay could make for hundreds of hours. Maybe think of the Monster Hunter-franchise, but with a lot more fun, involving combat-system, a mixture of Zelda, Crysis and Devil May Cry. Yeah, that´d be fun.
Just as fun as the next manga-franchise could be when turned into a video game. Whoever doesn´t already know Blame!, let me explain: The main character is called Killy and he´s traveling around within this thing called Mega Structure. It´s some scifi-series where the whole world is covered by, well, buildings, if you want to call that structures that. Killy´s mission is to find network genes from before the mutation. I forgot why he searched those but it doesn´t matter for the moment. This manga doesn´t feature a lot of words, and even that´s quite an understatement. The Blame!-manga´s strength is its incredible atmosphere. You´re there in such a strange, bizarre environment, not knowing what´ll happen next. There are those dangerous silicon creatures, the “bad guys” of the series. Weird, artificial looking…robots? that will kill you or any human being. Speaking of human beings, time has gone by that long that there are different kinds of human beings. So it happens that Killy, who´s just a normal human (well, not totally normal), meets other human-like beings that look just like him…but are double his size. Mentioned Mega Structure consists of almost uncountable layers, each of which is like its own whole world. So, what would a video game about this look like? See, there´s this gun Killy is using, the Graviton Beam Emitter. Let me just say that this is the coolest weapon I´ve ever seen in any manga, anime or video game. That gun doesn´t need ammunition, it draws its energy from its user. More importantly, though, it´s capable of destroying almost anything. It shoots a rather slim, unspectacular energy beam, but that beam breaks through anything that comes across its way. It can deflect enemy weapon´s beams and it can destroy walls and layers that nothing else in the world of Blame! could even scratch. It needs to be that powerful, though, because it´s the only effective weapon against these silicon creatures. So how I´d imagine a Blame!-video game is that you wander around in quiet, weird, bizarre environments for most of the time, a lot like ICO. Whenever an enemy appears, it´d be a boss battle. No meaningless minions that serve no purpose but to lengthen the game. Gameplay-wise it´d be about evading the enemy´s attack to concentrate your characters focus, and then, at a crucial point, fire the gun to one-hit whatever enemy. What gameplay would be like? That is easy: Like Devil May Cry, but not as flashy, more down-to-earth movements and a lot more dirty.
The last of the three, Berserk, would be my personal favorite game ever. This is a franchise that needs WiiMotionPlus. Just give me direct control over Gut´s gigantic sword, throw me into the depths of hell and let me slay the most bizarre, creepiest monsters there´ve ever been. One problem of MotionPlus is that it cannot simulate the weight of a sword, so whenever you swing the wiimote in WiiSports Resort it is breaking the immersion of swinging a real sword. A Berserk-game wouldn´t have that problem because Guts…is awesome. Thing is, he can swing is giant sword super fast and with the highest durability of any manga-character ever. That´s why it totally fits into the game´s context to be able to swing a sword that effortlessly. There have been Berserk-games in the past, but I´d really love to see one featuring MotionPlus, and also one that goes more after the experience of the moment instead of just retelling the known story. Throw me into the world of the Eclipse and let´s see how long I can survive. That´s the Berserk-game I´d love to play. Gameplay-wise? If there´ll be a Zelda Wii-game released I think that will be a great example of how a Berserk-game should play like (with a sword 3 or 4 times as long as Link´s, haha).
Now, what all three of these manga-series and my “turning-them-into-video games“-wishes share is that they offer the greatest, deepest atmosphere possible. Throw away crappy stories, throw away cut-scenes, throw away annoying gameplay-limiting stuff. Just…get me into this game, let me explore on my own and let me do it how I want to do it. And that´s really what it´s all about. All those games that are hyped right now, Modern Warfare 2, Uncharted 2 or New Super Mario Bros. Wii are, in the end, nothing but brainless time killers. Do some tasks for 6-7 hours, then the game´s over and you haven´t seen anything you didn´t see before. Not even talking about “having experienced anything new”. Video gamers always try to paint their hobby as a form of art, expressing how it´s matured, but the whole medium is still very young, still very unexplored. Nearly all modern video games follow a pattern that games from ten, fifteen or twenty years ago created. As long as there´s not try to break free from that pattern there cannot be any kind of “maturing”, and the whole art-argument will stay a difficult topic. There are exceptions, like ICO, Endless Ocean or “The Path-game” (google that one, it´s great), but those are infinitely outnumbered by hyped blockbuster-games that keep doing the same and the same again. And from the look at even the most hardcore-internet boards, gamers don´t want that to change. Which I find saddening. Maybe it just needs more time to get games into this direction of a more direct experience. But at the moment we´re rather heading towards video games that I have a hard time calling them “games” at all. “Cinematic” is the big hyped thing of the time and it´s been only going stronger with the years. I remember when I bought the first Tomb Raider on DVD (yeah, shame on me) there was this interactive game where you could move Lara with the buttons of your DVD-player´s remote and she would go and say stuff and whatever. Maybe that´s the future all those self-proclaiming hardcore-gamers want. All I know is: I do not want such a gaming future. I wanna play and interact as directly with the ingame-world as possible. And damn, would those three manga-series be great as video games.