Someone Make This: The Book of Judges
Sadly, one of the more popular books of myth or history (depending on the person reading it) owns the reputation for acting as the source of awful games. From the days of the NES, the Bible has seen nothing but terrible games, produced by Christian companies more focused on proselytizing than entertaining.
Fortunately, the King James translation of the Bible lives in the public domain, and companies with the courage to take some of the more exciting, scary, or violent stories from the Old or New Testament can create an epic game out of material no one else will touch.
As I read the Bible again, I can’t help but wonder why certain books are not made into video games. The only reasonable excuse companies could have for ignoring these source materials is the fear that Christian activist groups will protest the game. But these groups are hardly the target audience for mature, epic games anyway.
The book of Joshua shows the many wars and miracles the Hebrews experience on their way to the Promised Land, ripe with potential for strategy or action games.
However, the book to test the waters of video game enthusiasts may be the most exciting book of the Bible, a book where myths and legends resonate, even with non-Christian audiences: The Book of Judges.
The Book of Judges begins with the Israelites finally entering the Promised Land. After decades of wars and travels, the Hebrews finally have a land of their own. Unfortunately, the natives do not welcome the immigrants and constantly attack the small tribes.
God promises that at any time the plight of the Jews is too great to handle, he will appoint a Judge to lead the children of Israel to victory. What unfolds are several tales of the rise and victory of seemingly minor characters.
Othniel defeats Cushan-Rishathaim of Aram. Ehud overpowers Eglon of Moab. Deborah (a woman who speaks to God?!) and her captain Barak conquer Jabin and Sisera of Hazor, Canaan. All this leads to the greedy and self-serving Samson.
The book ends with a look at a nation ripped to pieces by war and confused about the leadership and organization of the tribes. The story ends with a cliff hanger to the next few hundred years of Israel life.
The best way to present this tapestry of legend in video game form without feeling shallow or repetitive is to mix two games: God of War and Dynasty Warriors.
In God of War, a narrator weaves the story, taking the player to different locations in space and time. Dynasty Warriors presents the tales of several heroes with short campaigns for each of them.
In The Book of Judges, the narrator will tell the tale, and instead of allowing players to complete separate campaigns for each Judge, the game will present itself in chronological order. From Othniel to Samson, each character gets his or her time in the spotlight, and as one tale concludes, the narrator hints to the next war and presents the next Judge.
Like other action games, each character will be designed with over-the-top weapons and combat styles (based loosely on the Bible’s accounts) and major events in the book will be turned into epic battles or stages.
To maximize the fun, the game will also feature arcade modes, where players can pick heroes or villains and compete in online matches with each other.
Who Should Make It
Tecmo-Koei: The makers of Dynasty Warriors certainly would know how to build epic battlefields with emphasis on over-the-top action. Unfortunately, the gameplay would become incredibly square-square-square-triangle and X-X-X-Y with little more to do than run from one fight to the next. On the plus side, every minor character would be playable and far more exciting than the book makes him.
Sony: With God of War: Ascension announced, Sony could get another studio working on this myth-laden game and could finish it a year after Kratos returns. Capitalizing on its own franchise, Sony can release a new IP shortly after getting the market excited about beat-’em-ups. Buyers beware – the Online Pass will withhold half the campaigns and multiplayer.
Konami: With franchises like Castlevania, Konami understands the importance of character design. Looking at the models for NeverDead, players can expect outlandish villains and charming heroes. Still looking at NeverDead, players can also expect incredibly shallow and repetitive gameplay and bad controls.