22 March 2010

Burton’s The Anatomy of Melanchol-Wii

Hell, yeah! Dante, Man of Action

“Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
con un Howitzer tremendo.”

The immense success of Visceral Games’ Dante’s Inferno, a new adventure game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable, has prompted this writer, who minored in Renaissance Lit, to wonder how I can grab a piece of the lucrative action. Really, just looking at the body-built, armor-plated Dante Alighieri of the video game (how did Beatrice resist him?), I can think of a great number of masterpieces even better suited to this purpose. I propose a few examples.

Cervantes’ Don Quixote
¡Hasta la vista, baby! Rape, pillage, and plunder your way across La Mancha in this fast-paced game. You control the third-person protagonist, Knight of the Whoa! Countenance, in mortal conflict with wizards, giants, dragons, enchanted windmills with titanium blades, and the Spanish Inquisition. Your primary weapon is Sancho Panzer, an armored vehicle outfitted with laser cannon and short-range missiles. As you accumulate points by annihilating your enemies, you acquire additional powers, including the ability to transform Aldonza into Dulcinea. Which won’t help you win the game, actually, but will make the screen images a lot more attractive.

Machiavelli’s The Prince
A combat game centered on the protagonist’s attempt to take control of a decadent Italian court, using only Backstabbing Daggers (very big swords, see above), Treachery (a sort of futuristic Gatling gun) and Cunning (a thermonuclear device). Your enemies include merchants, artists, women, foreigners, the Pope, and everybody else in this suspenseful game, where danger lurks behind every orderly fluted pilaster. And be careful! You may be susceptible to Poison Packs … unless you can get your hands on the mystical Mandrake Antidote.

Boccaccio’s The Decameron
A network game, The Decameron takes ten players through ten levels, each of which is subdivided into ten sub-levels. Advance by using the power of Copia and the ability of Virtù; earn bonus points by hitting Bawdy Boxes with your Ribald Rockets. Store extra energy in your Codpiece. Low-scoring players may be eliminated by the Plague, if the Pox doesn’t get you first. You’ll never look at hotseating and multitapping the same way!

(Beginners and smaller networks may prefer Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptameron.)

Explosive Belching is one of Gargantua’s most potent weapons.

Rabelais’ Gargantua Versus Pantagruel
Designed for younger players, this PG-rated game takes gigantic, bone-crushing characters on a death- and taste-defying race through five levels of increasing difficulty. In Level 1, eat and drink everything in sight, then vomit and shit it all out, destroying your enemies. In Level 2, your dad gets to do more or less the same thing. In Levels 3 and 4, you’ll embark on the challenging Quest for the Perfect Arse-Wipe, scoring points for every sheep you can toss into the ocean along your way. Finally, in Level 5, you’ll debate the qualities of an ideal marriage, then blow up some books and a couple of abbeys, and get drunk and puke again. Fun for the whole family!

The Collected Poetry of François Villon
Driving a turbo-powered, retrofitted motorcycle through the subterranean vaults of post-nuclear Paris, your protagonist battles pimps, whores, thieves, beggars, spies, assassins, rival poets, cuckolded husbands, and the kings’ soldiers for control of something I’ll figure out later. (Gold, maybe. Yeah, gold sounds right.) Your primary weapon is The Pen, which is a big sword; your secondary weapon is The Sword, which is an even bigger sword. The ultimate weapon is, of course, The Penis Mightier, a colossal screwdriver: earn extra points by screwing anything that moves.


Really, the possibilities are nearly endless. A good illustrated edition of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso is practically a video game already. (Monsters! Magic! Battles! Can you score the bonus points required to emerge unscathed from the Valley of Lost Things?) And let’s not even get started on Shakespeare — Titus Andronicus alone could provide countless hours of gory gaming excitement!

Game designers, I await your calls.

Petrarch’s Laura di Croft, anyone?
(You don’t want to see the picture I found for Chaucer’s Wife of Bloodbath.)


Roberts said...

Let me guess, you earn the Penis Mightier by collecting little blue pills.

Brightshadow said...

I agree: Ariosto has "Game" all over him. And, like Tasso, he includes PC warrior-maidens! The winning level (seldom attained) achieved when you succeed in founding the House of Este. Also charmed by the Knight of Whoa! and the ref to Marguerite de Navarre, tante.

I can see the Mannerist successor game Caravaggio! ambling down the highway. And what graphics! Watch out for the dame with the sword!

latebloomingmom said...

I'm still waiting for a new Francois Villion movie. The Ronald Coleman IF I WERE KING is delightful but almost impossible to find.

William V. Madison said...

I've never seen the Ronald Colman movie, but surely playing Villon would appeal to some of the younger actors in France today. (If you could find one whose legs weren't too skinny to wear tights.)