1 Reason Why Every Activision Employee Deserves to Die
Depending on what decade you were born in the Activision company was one of many things: the “first third-party video game developer in the history of gaming” (the 1980’s), the “hardened team of veterans who knew how to keep their old classics alive” (the 1990’s), the “old school company who liked to cash in on their old titles but also created Guitar Hero so that’s okay I guess” (the 2000’s), or now most recently “that worthless shovelware publisher who very rarely puts out anything marginally worthwhile and just shit all over Spyro the Dragon” (the 2010’s). Activision, like the more infamous Electronic Arts, isn’t so much a developer anymore as they are more or less now portals for third-parties to pipe their awful games directly onto store shelves. Rather than actually having to posses some amount of technical finesse and knowledge to create a game these “developers” can just copy tech demos from back issues of PC Gamer magazine and release them as games so long as they fork over a handsome amount of money so Activision can make a profit and then press copies of such grand titles as Guitar Hero 17: The Best Tracks from the Performances at Woodstock that Weren’t Rained Out or Canceled Due To Rioting, Hippies Having Sex on Stage, or Hell’s Angels Raping Their Guitarist. Where would we be without such memorable titles?
In a less crap-saturated market. That’s where.
Part of me hates hating on Activision and EA because while they’ll go on a binge of releasing nothing but absolute trash they will once in a while put out something good like Blur or DragonAge and suddenly I find myself questioning my hatred but that usually ends around the time the next Madden is released. My loathsome attitude toward Activision is fleeting at best but recently I caught wind that Activision is planning on releasing the eleventh installment to the Spyro the Dragon franchise. Now, I didn’t say that they were creating it, no, they are just responsible for letting this get published and that’s where I draw the line. After Vivendi Universal thoroughly gutted and castrated Spyro into an absolutely worthless franchise I was suddenly thrown into hating a character I once loved but I realized “at least it can’t get any worse”. Oh my, how I was wrong. I don’t quite understand how you can possibly go any worse than The Legend of Spyro, because there isn’t a term or some kind of qualitative value that exists at this time to explain just how terrible of a series that was, but this new title — Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure — is in such a whole new dimension of time and space of awfulness that Stephen Hawking popped a science boner in an alternate universe when the game was announced. And Activision gave it the green light.
How the fuck do you even pronounce that name? What the fuck is “Skylanders”? Is it a person named Skylander? If so, is this plural or possessive? Is it some kind of world named Skyland? If so why is is Skylanders? It makes no fucking sense. I can understand “Spyro’s Adventure” on its own but when you pair it with an ambiguous noun like Skylanders it sounds so phonetically bad that simply trying to say it aloud causes the same reaction with speech therapists and English teachers that blowing dog whistles has on canines. It’s a name you can’t say properly, and when you do actually say it you feel retarded for saying it because immediately afterward you find yourself asking “what the hell did I just say?” [Fact: 78% of the people reading this just said “Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure” out loud. The remaining 22% said it mentally and suffered a stroke.]
“Okay,” you might be saying, “so far all you’ve complained about is the fact that it has a bad name. But names change during development, what is the game itself like?” I’m glad you asked. When I first read about the features this game has I learned about how the game features 32 little collectible figurines based upon characters in the game that you can place on some magic mousepad (called a “Portal”) which are then rendered into the game presumably as playable characters. Yes, it sounds like a composite fail of every single time this gimmick has ever been attempted by a game developer but it’s different this time because it’s Spyro right? Part of me wanted to believe so much in this game because it’s Spyro and despite what his creators have done to him I still have so many fond memories of him on the PlayStation and it would be awesome to have a new Spyro figurine to go with my PS1 era collectibles.
And then I saw what they did to Spyro. Behold, God’s mistake:
I saw this photo in a second press release about the game and for the first time in all of my years as a gamer, as a writer, as a dragon lover, and as a combination of the three I was at a loss for words. I wanted to crack a joke, but I couldn’t think of one. I wanted to shout “NO DO NOT WANT”, but I couldn’t speak. I wanted to facepalm but I couldn’t move. I had an expression on my face somewhere between just having watched a box of puppies be fed into a wood chipper and sitting on the toilet after having eaten Taco Bell for lunch and the only sound that came out of my mouth was a stiff grunt that tapered off into a puberty-broken scream.
Look at him. Don’t even say a damn word just look at him. Look at that face.
Spyro wants to die. He wants you to kill him. That expression is him begging you to pick up the nearest object and beat him to death with it no matter how much you start crying in the process. He is standing there begging you to put him out of his misery and if he could speak he would tell you exactly what terrible experiments “They” are probably doing to Crash Bandicoot too, but Spyro can’t tell you who “They” are. He can only show you what they did to him. He is dead on the inside, and he yearns for the day when his soul can finally be liberated from its fleshy prison.
I looked at that picture and a very specific and frightening urge was injected directly into the reptilian part of my brain: I suddenly wanted to find the CEO of Activision and strangle the life out of him with my bare hands. I felt like a Manchurian Candidate and Mutilated Spyro was my activation key. I can understand the idea that nothing but pure profits fuels the vast majority of the gaming industry today but at a certain point there has to be a limit where things aren’t profitable anymore. I stare in amazement as I see the sheer number of shovelware titles clogging the market and I cannot help but wonder as to why the market hasn’t crashed again like it did in the 1980’s, and this time I’m hoping Activision doesn’t survive the crash. Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea? A follow-up question to that: Who the hell is “Toys For Bob” and why are they producing this game? The last title they created was the game adaptation of the latest stupid Madagascar movie, and while I haven’t played it I’m sure it won Game of the Year from every publication and convention when it was released and is a game that will live on in the annals of history right next to Tetris and Metroid.
The game is intended for kids, and by the time Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure is released I will be 23 years old so perhaps it’s wrong of me to stand here and beat a children’s game into the ground, but in that respect what does it matter? Why does it matter that this is a kid’s game? The bigger question is why destroy the integrity of a franchise (moreso than it already has been) and kill the lovable factor its main proponent once had regardless of who its intended audience is? I have yet to discover what was so bad about the original Spyro character design and world probably because there was nothing wrong with it. Characters change and evolve, yes, but they don’t have to turn into Toothless the Dragon’s “after” picture from a Faces of Meth poster. Super Mario has lasted decades with only so much as a change of clothes and he’s still sitting pretty as a mostly unscathed franchise character. Why Spyro? Was How To Train Your Dragon really that great of a movie? (Hint: No.) I don’t think it’s a matter of basing a character design off of another one, I think Spyro’s new design is more or less irrefutable proof that originality in the gaming industry is a rare sight these days.
But how can I scream “unoriginal” when this is the “first game” to feature this Portal technology to change characters? Because the developers basically took the purpose of a Character Select screen and came up with a half-assed way to make a profit on it. Their “creative” twist on the game is not unlike playing Mortal Kombat and then realizing all of the locked characters are unlocked by paying actual IRL Kredits for them instead of in-game ones. It’s fucking stupid, not to mention ridiculous. The character figurines themselves also contain a little memory storage unit to hold your progress effectively undermining the point of your console having a hard drive which appear not quite to save only your progress but also as a means of having some underhanded digital-rights management thrown in for added flair. Perhaps the best part is that the game comes with three random figurines meaning that there’s a pretty decent chance you won’t even get Spyro, the “star” of the fucking game, with your copy.
The cast of characters, if you can even call these third-trimester abortions that, aren’t original either. Each and every one of them look like uninspired and generic characters from every single design convention in video game history. A fire-element character made of magma and rock is such an unoriginal cop-out that I’m quite sure the first time such a character was ever conceived regardless of when it happened that the creation was met with sighs, rolling eyes, and affirmations of “gee, couldn’t think of anything less obvious?”
But best of all Activision’s CEO Eric Hirshberg (whose hobbies include seeing how many testicles he can fit into his mouth all at once) had this to say about the new “game”:
“These are more than action figures. They are inter-action figures … pairing world class character design, world class video game design and world class story telling into one…”
Fuck you, Eric Hirshberg. There’s a “world class buttfucking” waiting for you. In Hell.