In case you didn’t know, it’s Earth Month. This means you should be focusing on chucking your cardboard into separate bins, turning off your Xbox before you leave the house instead of worrying about sporadic auto saves, and temporarily suspending your cynicism about the carbon tax. Just for this month, mind. Then it’s back to spraying your deodorant all over the joint with merry abandon.
Yes. I’m joking. Obviously. Who wears deodorant these days. Anti-perspirant is where it’s really at. The roll on stuff.
Annnyway down to business.
When I was a youngster, I seem to remember plenty of games that tried to shoehorn good environmental habits down my throat when all I cared about was eating chocolate and sniffing the scent of my own farts. I was a hard sell, I totally get that, but the way in which some of these games tried to push the ‘save the earth’ angle was more than a little ham-fisted. But regardless even then it somehow managed to go over my stupid head.
And today, with going green being back in vogue we’re starting to see the same thing all over again. I think it’s time to call these hippies out and congratulate/mock them mercilessly on their valiant efforts to educate.
So here, without further adieu, are the top five clumsily Eco-Friendly Video Games.
5. SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE I find it hard to rag on Super Mario Sunshine for a couple of reasons – the first being the fact that it’s, in my opinion, a criminally underrated game, the second being that I completely empathise with the overall themes of the game.
Super Mario Sunshine is an eco-friendly game – that’s the overwhelming message. But the subtext is clear – Sunshine is a game about poor guy who has gone for what he is hoping will be a lovely relaxing holiday in the sun, only to have it spoiled by a group of littering yobbos.
This is something I have to deal with every weekend. I wake up in the morning – ‘what a lovely morning,’ I think. ‘Maybe I’ll go for a quick swim in our communal pool’. Then I have a look only to realise some idiot has left 200 cigarette butts and a used condom in there. Not cool man, not cool at all.
At its heart – this is Mario’s plight. Someone has bogarted his special alone time, and that shit simply won’t fly.
In that regard Super Mario Sunshine is an eco game on a smaller scale – it’s about the eradication of the perennial litter bug. That is a message I can get behind.
4. ECCO THE DOLPHIN The nostalgia leaking through your creaky bones may tell you that Ecco the Dolphin is a classic, but let’s face facts – it was as hokey as hell. A time travelling dolphin saves the world from some royal tech geek. Come on man!
Clearly this was a game created in the 90s when technology was seen as the enemy of the environment, as opposed to now where it’s becoming clear that brand new technology may be our only saving grace.
Also – dolphins suck. If you are a girl, please do not get a tattoo of one. Sometimes they kill their own children. They also rape each other (according to Wikipedia).
3. ECO FIGHTERS Sometimes you just need an excuse to shoot at stuff and in Eco Warriors said excuse is to stop the dreaded Goyolk K.K. from turning Planet Earth into a ‘Dread Sphere’. What is a Dread Sphere? Well it’s never really explained, but we’re assuming that having Earth transformed into a Dread Sphere is bad because a) it has the word ‘dread’ in it and b) because the President of Goyolk K.K. has some really suspicious looking facial hair – namely his really rubbish moustache.
Becoming a Dread Spere is really a metaphor for trashing the utter crap out of the planet – cutting down all the trees, piling up used vehicles haphazardly, and trashing the environment with giant Tonka trucks.
Yep, Eco Warriors is about as subtle as Avatar.
2. GLOBAL GLADIATORS Before my ‘research’ for this piece I remembered roughly two things about Global Gladiators – the aw-aw-aw-awesome song on the title screen and the crazy multiplayer secret level that I played over and over again.
What I don’t remember, however, is what an insidious piece of cynical marketing the whole game was – being that I was 10 years old when the game was released. Bizarrely the game sat right in the ‘not-so-sweet spot’ of marketing – the McDonalds ad wasn’t subtle enough to hit me on a subconscious level, but neither was it clunky enough for it to make me think, ‘Oh this game is about selling burgers, great’. Most of the time I just ran around shooting sludge at monsters, wondering why the hell I was collecting Golden Arches as opposed to gold coins or fruit!
And as for the environmental themes… ugh – a blatant attempt to make this game appealing to parents buying games for children who (like me) were too young, self-centred and dumb to care about the environment for a single solitary second.
In fact now that I think about it – Global Gladiators was an absolutely bizarre matrix of marketing fails. You have McDonalds – a fast food restaurant marketed at children in the hopes they’ll nag their parents enough to make the whole family come along. The you have Global Gladiators – a game marketed at parents so their children will play the game and then be sub consciously to then convince the parents to go to McDonalds.
That’s either the most convoluted marketing strategy ever devised or a work of inspired genius.
1. CAPTAIN PLANET AND THE PLANETEERS My overwhelming memories of this game are of playing it for precisely three minutes, being completely and utterly bemused, and then turning it off and playing Lemmings instead.
Even as a youngster of 10, I was old enough to recognise that Captain Planet was a piece of well meaning, yet completely rubbish hippie propaganda. What I didn’t know was that it was actually the brainchild of Ted Turner, the media mogul who founded CNN.
Fun Fact: one of the bad guys in Captain Planet’s Eco-Villains group is actually called Duke Nukem.
We’ll just leave it there shall we.