Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Five Games I Feel Dirty for Playing

My 25th birthday was a few days ago. I have been playing MMO’s since I was 15 years old.
I won’t even attempt to try, and count all of the games from the last decade, but suffice to say it was a lot. Some were good, most were bad, and then in recent years there were the ones that made me really uncomfortable. Games I would never admit to any of my friends I actually played. Games clearly targeting an audience much younger and/or more insane than myself. These are the top five MMO’s that just made me feel dirty.

#5 FusionFall

This is actually a pretty fun game, like a kid oriented version of the now defunct shooter MMO Tabula Rasa. The problem being the kid oriented part. Imagine walking in on a grown man trying to play an MMO with a bunch of tweens where the Powerpuff Girls hand you missions, a bunch of kids in a tree house build your weapons, and you summon chibi imaginary friends to give you buffs, and it not being really awkward.

#4 Asda Story

An otherwise fairly generic free MMO Asda Story (aka MicMac Online) uses a very odd feature called the Soul Mate system. Mechanically it is a pretty handy feature where two players can be linked to each other, and increase a special shared soul mate level that gives progressively more useful abilities, like shared XP even while logged out, higher damage, and the ability to teleport to one another’s location.
What weirds me out is this feature was essentially promoted as a in game dating device, so much so that the games official website even has a page exclusively meant for player to use to actually “hook up”. So you have a game predominately played by teenagers, mostly boys, many of which taking the words “soul mate” quite literally; trying to find love vicariously though a bunch of big eyed toons with ridiculously huge weapons. God help you if you roll a female character.


#3 Free Realms

Made as a sort of “My-First-MMORPG” Free Realms was designed specifically for children, and their parents to play together, really simple easy uncomplicated MMO combat system, nonthreatening mobs and environments, lots of alternative non-combat activities like cooking and…kart racing. This was a game that as soon as I got into it I knew, I had about as much business in it as I did riding on one of those brightly colored, coin operated pony things in front of the Walmart.


Speaking of gyrating horses…

#2 Toon Town
Morbid curiosity was what brought me to try Disney’s ToonTown several years ago. A game where you can in fact roll a dancing anthropomorphic horse as your character if you are so inclined. Shockingly there is actually a substantial, even enjoyable tactical game in there, buried underneath all the wacky cartoon ridiculousness. However just being there in a game hosted by Micky Mouse, full of nothing but eight to twelve year old kids, and an occasional parent made me feel like that creepy old guy that just hangs around the children’s playground all day.

#1 Luna Online
Luna is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, encircling a question, and sandwiched in a big fat WTF.
Why do all the player characters look like they are six years old? Why do all the NPCs look like adults?
Why does all the hand drawn female character art in game, and on the website look like it was meant for a hentai dating sim?

What the hell is up with this video?

And most importantly, exactly who, or what was the target demographic for this whole schizophrenic mess in the first place? Where Asda Story merely added a partnering system, Luna goes so far as actually promoting in game dating as an actual feature, which would be creepy enough to even think about participating in on its own, but the creepiness is magnified tenfold by the fact that all the avatars look like small hyper cute children. Every time I logged into this game I swear I half expect Chris Hansen to burst though my door with a camera crew coldly telling me to “ have a seat over there”.

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