Ask the Kliq #18: Rewriting History!

Ask the Kliq #18

Every once in a while, you will think about video games and then ask yourself a question that has no rhyme or reason, but that just happened to pop in your head at that exact moment. In some rare instances, not even Google or Wikipedia can provide the answer you need. Sometimes you wouldn’t even need an answer to that question.

This is where we come in.

Our panel of experts is here to take on all of your video games-related questions, no matter how serious or silly they may be. With each new edition, we will submit a question to this elite committee, which will in turn try to provide you, our beloved readers, with the most accurate answer they can come up with.

Do you have a question for us? Just click on “email the author” at the top of this article and add the subject line “Ask the Kliq”, or leave a comment below. The best questions will be featured in an upcoming column.

This Week’s Question

This week’s question could have different meaning, depending on how it is approached by our panellists. If the answer could actually be made real, it could alter history for a franchise, a company, a system or even an entire genre. It could undo what some could see as things that are wrong about the industry. What we are asking our writers today is to tell us what game they would totally remove from history if they had the power to do so. We ask them to think of all the consequences such a removal could generate.

In other words, and in italic font, here’s this week’s question:

“What game do you wish had never existed?”

Here are your answers!

Michael O’Reilly: Pokemon, so I could invent it and get rich bitch! Oh wait, this is my question, so I suppose I should answer it properly.

This is actually a fairly difficult question for me, which is why I posed it. Many games, wretched though they might be, went on to inspire other developers to do things which they might not have were they not exposed to the wretchedness in the first place. Would Rock Band exist without someone creating DDR, thus inspiring Guitar Hero and then its progeny Rock Band? Would Spiderman 2 exist as it was created were it not for the mistakes made in Superman 64? Almost every game can be looked at as having some redeeming virtue. Almost, but not all.

Truly there can be only one correct answer to this question. The game I wish had never been created is Everquest. It proved that there was a market of saps willing to fork over money for a game they had already purchased, and do it monthly. Everquest itself wasn’t a colossal hit, but for it’s time it was a money maker, and that inspired Blizzard to stray from the true path and cast its lot with the dark side. World of Warcraft would not have been made had Everquest not proved the market existed, and now look where we are, Activision-Blizzard are now so bent on making massive profits that nothing will stand in their way. They squeezed Guitar Hero until it coughed dust, Call of Duty teeters on the brink of the abyss, and even the Tony Hawk franchise has been used and discarded like a cheap tissue in the quest to satisfy the all mighty Activision-Blizzard shareholder. And all because Everquest proved the concept of the MMORPG.

A.J. Hess: I find myself looking at the long and varied history of videogames, and I’m struggling to answer this one. As much as I hate the Grand Theft Auto series, millions of people enjoy it. I’m not such a jerk that I wouldn’t want others to have fun. Likewise, the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games. I’m not a fan, but I know people who are. I don’t think it’s fair to go all the way back to those millions of copies of E.T. clogging up a landfill. I respect people who can balance the real world with the World of Warcraft, and still enjoy the world that Blizzard made.

So I’m going to go back a little while to a game that cost me more than any game before or sense. A game that should have been free. The shareware demo of Wolfenstein 3D. This was back in the days of 14.4 modems and long distance charges that killed you if you dialled outside your home exchange. You might see where I’m going with this. My parents used Prodigy, a casualty of the dial up ISP wars. The free demo took something like fourteen hours to download, at something like 45 cents a minute. I don’t think we used the internet in my house for six months. And that’s why I wish Wolfenstein 3D was never made.

Mohamed Al-Saadoon: I agree with everyone else. This is a pretty hard question but I’m not choosing a game I personally don’t like but is enjoyed by others because I don’t want to come off sounding like a big jerk.

I was going to pick Modern Warfare 2 for screwing PC gamers but I didn’t want to be that obvious so I’ll pick another recent game Silent Hunter V.

I was hyped beyond belief for this game. Silent Hunter III is one my favorite games of all times and part V looked like it was taking that game and turning everything up to 11 with improved graphics, the ability to walk around your submarine, larger interaction with your submarine crew and an even more realistic campaign.

Ubisoft kept information to a minimum approaching the game’s March release date but then they dropped the bombshells: There would be only 1 submarine to choose from, your companions of a crappy ancient level-up system that uses MP like a bad JRPG and worst of all: Ubisoft’s horrible new DRM method shared with Assassin’s Creed II.

Thanks for killing off one of my favorite franchises Ubisoft.

Aaron Sirois: If there is one game I wish would be wiped off of the face of the earth, it would have to be Custer’s Revenge.

This is, no joke, a game where the entire goal is to rape a bound Native American woman as much as possible before getting killed by an arrow.

I’m not one of those people who go on and on about all of the terrible things the US has done over the years, but this kind of game represents the most tasteless, vile part of the human mind and glorifies it in a way never before seen. People can bitch and complain about games like Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt all they want. Nothing has ever been as bad as Custer’s Revenge.

And I pray nothing ever will.

Sean Madson: I can’t think of any games that I wish never existed because, as others have put it, you can’t learn from mistakes if the mistakes were never made. I can’t even say it about games that were critically or commercially successful that I personally don’t like, as it’s not fair to say they shouldn’t exist since there are others out there that do enjoy them.

However, I will say that there are things in games that I wish never existed. As much as I like games that come from EA and Ubisoft, some of their business decisions in regards to preventing pirating and used game sales is baffling. Ideas such as charging $10 to access online content, invasive DRM, and the removal of manuals need to go die in a fire.

Ashe Collins: I wish the Mech Assault games had never been made. Not because they’re bad games, but because it was the turning point of Microsoft taking the Mechwarrior franchise and turning it from a great Mech robot sim into an action game and basically giving us long time Mechwarrior fans the bird in the process.

On the other hand, if they hadn’t done that then we probably wouldn’t be getting an all new Mechwarrior game that from the looks of the trailer looks absolutely awesome.

Christopher Bowen: I had to think about this one. At first, I wanted to say EverQuest, for a lot of the reasons O’Reilly said. I decided against that because I felt that the #1 thing I feel EverQuest is responsible for - the MMO and the increased profiting off of our most needy gamers – would have happened regardless. I then wanted to say Final Fantasy VII for the fact that people have been trying to copy a mediocre JRPG with a cracked-out story and idiotic characters for the past thirteen years, but again, the market was heading that direction anyway.

I didn’t think I would come to an answer that I didn’t defeat myself. Then, I found it:


Some backstory: there actually used to be heavy competition in the sports videogame market. No matter what major sport, it was always EA Sports against someone. In hockey, it was always the NHL series vs. either Face-Off or the 2K series, with some sporadic competition from Breakaway and a Fox Sports game. Basketball has been EA Sports vs. 2K Sports for an entire decade. Baseball still has competition, though that’s a system based war, because Sony’s The Show is a first party game.

But football competition has been around since John Madden Football became popular. Many pretenders came, and they all fell. NFL Quarterback Club. NFL GameDay. Other games not good enough to mention. They all fell by the wayside because they weren’t as good as Madden.

Then Sega Sports, under the 2K label and with top flight developer Visual Concepts, blew the market wide open. NFL 2K showed that there was competition. 2K1 was an improvement. Then 2K2 not only made a better overall football game than EA Sports, they introduced online play, the first sports game to do so. Granted, the Dreamcast died soon after that, but they continued to develop for the PS2 and Xbox. 2K3 was a good game, and ESPN NFL Football was not only a good game, it was inspired, bringing us a first person camera that, while a failure, showed that the company was taking EA behind the woodshed when it came to innovation.

Then they came out with ESPN NFL 2K5, which perfected the franchise’s engine, perfected the ESPN presentation, and was an overall better game than Madden ’05, which moved sideways from the outstanding Madden ’04. That in itself made 2K amazing, but then Take Two – who now owned the 2K name – launched a full-scale attack on EA Sports by doing something unheard of at the time:

They dropped the price of ESPN NFL 2K5 – and sister franchises NHL and NBA 2K5 – to a $20 retail price.

As a sports gamer, I have to stress this: not only did Take Two have *three* franchises that were better than their competition, they were THIRTY DOLLARS less as well. And while Madden sales were stronger than 2K sales, the move garnered attention, from both critics and consumers.

Eventually, EA Sports dropped the price of Madden ’05 to $30. However, that was the calm before the storm. With almost no warning, they soon announced that they had acquired the NFL and NFLPA licenses exclusively until 2009. Then, they struck another blow, acquiring the ESPN license for even longer. From Take Two’s perspective, if taking the exclusive NFL and NFLPA licenses – meaning, no NFL teams or players can be used outside an EA Sports game – was like fucking their wife, taking the ESPN license was pissing on the dog on the way out of the house. They gutted their competitor not by making a better game, but by buying all the tools and hoarding them.

The effects are still being felt today. Take Two and Visual Concepts, immediately realizing that they could not compete any longer, stopped making football games until they tried coming back with All Pro Football 2K8 using retired players, but it failed, partly due to an antiquated engine that had been dormant for three years, but mostly because of the lack of any legitimate license. In response, Take Two went and secured exclusive third party rights for Major League Baseball and the MLBPA – meaning, they can make games using those entities, but so can Sony, so long as they stay on their system – which drove a stake into EA’s MVP Baseball series; they gave it the college try – literally, with their (exclusive) NCAA license – until poor sales forced them to abort that experiment. Today, EA’s every bit as much a power in the industry as always, whereas Take Two has had problems ever since, the latest being an invasion by corporate raider Carl Ichann.

The results are notable. The best selling franchise in EA’s portfolio is Madden, and yet, the sports where EA’s had competition – basketball, soccer and hockey – are the sports where EA’s made the biggest strides in this console generation. FIFA‘s the best soccer game only because Winning Eleven pushed it. Live has improved leaps and bounds. NHL has become arguably the best franchise in all of sports. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen a truly great Madden game since Madden ’04.

The reality is that the release and subsequent marketing of ESPN NFL 2K5 ended up being a Pyhrric victory. They won the battle of 2005, but lost the war because they awoke the sleeping giant. If they hadn’t pushed so hard, I believe that there would still be two competing NFL games (maybe three, as there was a new Tecmo Bowl game recently), three competing MLB games, and enough room for others to come into the market as well.

Guy Desmarais: I tried to think hard in order to make sure my choice would not have disastrous consequences on any of the games I like now. That’s why I chose a game that would not really affect the company by which it was made and would just really not matter much in the course of history.

This game is Killer Instinct for the Game Boy.

I don’t think that this particular version of Killer Instinct is what made Nintendo a powerhouse. I also don’t think that they would have missed much money if it wasn’t made. I, however, would have been about $50 richer.

When I was 11 or so, I couldn’t get enough of KI on the Super Nintendo, and was heavily addicted to its gameplay. When the summer came, it was time to go camping, far away from my SNES. I was allowed to bring my Game Boy with me for rainy days, so the only logical conclusion for me was to go to the store and buy the Game Boy version. Do you guys remember how long it was to gather fifty bucks when you are 11 years old?

Anyway, I finally got the game, and finally played it in the car on the way to the camping site. I remember it being the first time I felt the disappointment of wasting hard-earned money on a sub-par product. There were missing characters, the graphics were so ugly that I could barely identify anything on the screen, and the gameplay was dumbed down and slowed down to unrecognizable levels. Buying this game is most probably the worst decision I made as a gamer.

This is why I which Killer Instinct for Game Boy was never made. I would have had a much sweeter bike that summer.

What about, DHGF readers? Is there any game you would like to remove from existence? Can you really justify why you would have this title completely erased from history? If so, tell us in the comments section to discuss with our friendly writers and other readers! If you would prefer to leave us a question to answer in a future edition, you’re more than welcome to do so. You can also click on “email the author” at the top of this article and add the subject line “Ask the Kliq”. We’ll put our team right on it.



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2 responses to “Ask the Kliq #18: Rewriting History!”

  1. Jason Avatar

    What game do I wish had never been made? ET for the Atari 2600. I’ve always been a fan of alternate universe sci-fi. “What if the Nazis won WWII?” “What if the Russians won the Cold War?” “What if JFK was never shot?” “What if the Spanish Inquisition had never happened?” “What if the Cleveland Browns had never been morphed and twisted by evil into the Baltimore Ravens?” And so on.

    SO the big question is, if ET had never been made, would the American Video Game Crash of 1983 have happened at all? And what would the industry be like today if that were the case? How much less of a Japanese influence would have infused our culture as a result? Would anime be as popular? Would Power Rangers have been created at all? Would Final Fantasy have become what it is today, and what would the effect be on the RPG genre as a whole? It’s enough to make your head spin.

  2. Guy Desmarais Avatar
    Guy Desmarais

    Without ET, there might still have been a video game crash. ET was just the worst example, but the companies were still pumping simple, crap game into the market.

    Still, if there wasn’t a crash, there’s no need for Nintendo to disguise their new console as a toy with a robot. Maybe Nintendo wouldn’t even have been as popular as it was back then since Atari would still have a huge market. Maybe Nintendo simply would have continued to license their games to other consoles, as they did with Donkey Kong.

    Maybe Super Mario Bros. never gets made. If it does get made, maybe it simply gets a dumbed down port on the Atari or Intellivision that plays like that Smurfs game. Oh God.

    A world without Super Mario Bros. is not a world I want to live in.

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