Gaming’s unlikeliest couples

It’s Valentine’s Day, and gamers all over the country will be putting down their controllers in favour of red roses, soft music and candlelit dinners for two. But there’s no reason why video games can’t feature on this day of love for some of the most emotional stories ever known have been told through the digital medium.

Some of the most clichéd and cringeworthy have been too though, and that’s what we’re focusing on today. For every video game couple that are destined to be together, there’s another that seems totally unlikely and we have to ask ourselves ‘Why?’ This may not be the most romantic subject for a post on Valentine’s Day but look at the bright side: the following dysfunctional relationships will remind us just how lucky we are in or on our own.

If you haven’t yet played any of the following games and intend to do so, I’d recommend navigating away from this post now and coming back later. There are some minor spoilers in the following paragraphs.

Broken Sword: George and Nico

There’s something about George and Nico that grinds my gears. Most of the entries in the series start with them temporarily apart but they’re usually back together by the end of each game. This is clearly an unhealthy relationship: Nico ‘innocently’ arranges for George and her ex-boyfriend Andre to work together and wind each other up. And George leaves Paris after the end of The Shadow of the Templars due to the death of his father – without telling Nico. What kind of people do that to one another?

Erica: Duncan and Erica

We enjoyed Erica when we played it during one of our GameBlast20 streams last month, but there was something that caught us totally by surprise: the moment Sergeant Duncan Blake moves in for a kiss. I mean, he’s only investigating the murders going on around Erica, who’s slightly preoccupied with her father’s death and supernatural happenings right now. It turns out that in a timeline different to the one we took, you can get your own back by stabbing him – that’ll serve him right for such poor romantic timing.

The House of the Dead: Overkill: Clement and his mother

The House of the Dead, Overkill, video game, old woman, Mother, Clement DarlingThis game isn’t afraid to shock but this relationship is really pushing the limits. Clement begins searching for a way to extend his beloved mom’s life when he realises the jail he works at was built on top of an abandoned government laboratory. After finding Varla Guns, he decides to transplant Mother’s brain into the sexy stripper’s youthful body – then celebrates this achievement with a make-out session. As if that wasn’t gross enough, the game ends with him returning to her womb. I’ll leave you with that thought.

Until Dawn: Matt and Emily

The only reason Matt and Emily are together is because they don’t want to be single and, in that bratty-teen way, they need a partner who’s of a similar social standing. They have nothing in common and I’m not even sure they actually like each other. Matt may be caring but hardly ever stands up for himself; and Emily is high-maintenance and bossy. If they manage to survive the night, I’m sure these teenage sweethearts will have many unhappy years together before becoming trapped in a loveless marriage.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Guybrush and Elaine

The Secret of Monkey Island, remastered, video game, moon, Elaine, Guybrush, piratesIt’s obvious I’m a huge Monkey Island fan, but what’s not so obvious is that my favourite character isn’t Guybrush (that award goes to Murray). Let’s face it: this wannabe pirate is a bit of an idiot. He’s sarcastic, insults everyone around him and messes up every plan he’s involved in. Someone as independent and courageous as Elaine would have been far better off with LeChuck. They do say opposites attract, but how long will it be before the differences are just too much and one tells the other they fight like a cow?

Don’t you feel better about your own relationship status now? Whatever you’re doing this Valentine’s Day, I hope it involves video games in some way and you’re doing far better than the characters in today’s post!

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Guilty pleasure: The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

Wikipedia defines a guilty pleasure as ‘something, such as a film, a television program or a piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard, or is seen as unusual or weird.’

That statement doesn’t mention video games but all gamers have one: the title you love to bits but are too scared to admit in public. Maybe it’s that annual EA Sports release you’ve denounced as a blatant marketing ploy but then go home to play and win the World Cup. Or perhaps that new release you’ve joined in with the bashing of on an online forum before quietly collecting every hidden item throughout the remainder of the evening.

The House of the Dead: Overkill is a first-person rail-shooter developed by Headstrong Games and originally published by SEGA in 2009. The story takes place in 1991 when Special Agent G is sent to Louisiana to investigate a series of disappearances and hunt down crime lord Papa Cesar. Just when you think it can’t get any more clichéd, along comes partner Detective Isaac Washington who’s out to seek revenge for the murder of his father – and don’t forget about the infestation of mutants.

What if you kept the B-movie plot and zombies, but replaced the guns with a keyboard and bullets with random (and often crude) words? It sounds pretty bizarre but what you’ll end up with is Modern Dream’s 2013 release The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, and my very own gaming guilty pleasure.

Opinions of the game are somewhat mixed and it currently has a user score of 7.7. Some people praise it for its sense of innovation and comical wisecracks, but others criticise it for its juvenile humour, excessive use of the F-word and lack of gameplay. For example, take a look at some of the negative comments on the Metacritic page:

  • “There is no setting to alleviate the constant barrage of F-bombery. There are single sentences with three or four curses. It’s really just a lack of imagination.” – ebinary
  • “Having made it through the first two levels, I’ve already been exposed to tasteless cripple jokes, completely unnecessary levels of swearing, and a vomit-inducing fight against two zombified strippers. I’m no stranger to adult content in games, but I was quickly overwhelmed by the exploitative tone of this game.” – titlebreaker
  • Animations are poor, environments bland and uninspired and its just a whole bunch of horror clichés being thrown together. Meh.” – DFCZE

  • I really shouldn’t like The Typing of the Dead: Overkill as much as I do. It features Varla Guns and Candi Stryper as two of its protagonists, described as ‘the hottest stripper on the Bayou City club scene’ and portrayed as the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype respectively. Bosses such as mutant strippers Coco and Sindy bring the tone down even further – and I haven’t even mentioned the gratuitous boob shots yet.

    Considering all of this, I should be shouting ‘Sexism!’ from the roottops. But I love it because it’s just so damn camp. The B-movie grindhouse style and vintage soundtrack encourage players not to take the title too seriously and I can’t seem to stop myself from laughing at the parade of scantily-clad mutants and F-bombs. I know that’s possibly a little hypocritical of me considering my thoughts on females in gaming – and yes, I can laugh at some pretty immature stuff – but I just can’t help but get sucked into this game.

    The Typing of the Dead, Overkill, video game, boss, cow, Meat Katie, cleaver, food preparation

    I mean, come on. You’re fighting a boss called Meat Katie, a grotesquely-mutated butcher woman with a cow skull and udder attached to her body who uses a giant meat cleaver in battle. You’re confronted with phrases such as ‘udderly delightful’, ‘sirloin surprise’ and ‘food preparation’ until she’s forced backwards into a meat grinder and dies with a moo. How can you not laugh at that?

    Nintendo Power apparently once called The House of the Dead: Overkill ‘one of the Wii’s greatest guilty pleasures’, so The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is worthy of being mine. There may be a stream coming soon…