Hey everyone, this weekend I had a chance to replay one of my favorite childhood games, Blast Corps. It was a game made for the Nintendo 64 by Rare and later ported to the X-Box 360 on Rare Replay. If you want to know more about the game check this article written on Polygon or if you got time and like to see a full walk through check it out on Youtube.
1. What is Blast Corps?
For those who might not have played this diamond in the rough, it’s basically you working for a demolition company called Blast Corps. You have to destroy, yes destroy buildings in order to avoid a red carrier carrying nuclear material from bumping into a building and exploding, causing a nuclear outbreak. Indeed it’s a very strange gameplay trope where your mission is to destroy in order to save the world from being destroyed. Isn’t that quite the paradox? You have to destroy mankind’s creations in order to avoid the destruction of the motherland.
Yes, this was one of the most unorthodox games in history, but it was extremely popular with N64 owners and made it into the X-Box 360. There was only one thing for me that would have made it more interesting and that is to add an arcade element where the player has limited lives to complete the game. If you wish to play the game and you are unable to get Rare Replay or get an N64 along with a copy of the game there’s hope! You can download an emulator called Project64 and grab the rom to play the game on Emuparadise.
You are wondering what does this have to do with Gamelit or LitRPG? I was so in love with this game that I might try to put this game in book form with a much deeper story. Say hello to my idea of LitArcade!
2. What is LitArcade?
Think of this of a rhetorical question since LitArcade is simply an idea of mine and a few people like the idea. However, I haven’t really gone crazy with the idea as I’m continuing to research whether it would even sound right in book form.
Anyway, I would define LitArcade as a GameLit book with an element that has Permadeath (No Logout) but the MC has a limited amount of lives to complete the game(Story). Using Blast Corps as an example, a story in LitArcade would involve less grinding character’s stats and would involve more skill such as quick reflexes. A lot of arcade games don’t really have an expanded story such as PacMan or Asteroids. Blast Corps is officially labeled as an Action/Puzzle game as it involves puzzle solving.
The player/MC has to plan his/her moves carefully knowing their lives are limited and chances for extra lives are rather limited. With the idea of Arcade games in books, stories will probably have a faster pace with more emphasis on action over pure story. There are readers who enjoy a fast-paced book over a slower paced book that could drag on for a while. So let’s see how LitArcade could possibly hop towards the world of GameLit books.
3. LitArcade in Books
Would an arcade style game work in books? As a person who loves to dig into the world of the strange and untouched, I believe that someone should at least try it. I would enjoy a book with an arcade style as it would add excitement knowing the player might be down to his/her final life in the game. To make it better, if the player loses their lives the game resets from the beginning and everything they’ve done will be for not. The author could also make it where they lose their actual lives as well or Permadeath.
A mechanic adds to the stakes of the story and gets the MC to think how they can use their lives wisely before the next bonus game or opportunity to get extra lives. Arcade style games give more attention to problem-solving and a reward system could be developed where the player is rewarded for solving a puzzle within a certain amount of time. The reward could be extra time, ammo, or even extra lives.
Of course, the opposite can be done if the player takes too long to solve a puzzle such as loss of time, ammo, or if the author wants to be cruel, a loss of a valuable life. Of course, not every powerup will have a good result, a twist can be written where certain pickups will actually hurt the player. One example is the poison mushroom in Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels where Mario will actually shrink in size instead of powering up.
A lot more unthinkable functions can occur in an arcade style game as it puts more attention to fast gameplay. However, I can see a couple of pitfalls in LitArcade and why it might not catch on fast or at all.
- The story in Arcade games is usually limited. Game play is usually the dominant figure in the genre and the story might suffer as it might not be fleshed out as it could because the action overshadows the story most of the time. In layman’s terms, it will be hard to maintain a balance of story with gameplay mechanics.
- The book might be “too fast” for some readers who might enjoy laying in bed with a story that they want to cry to or enjoy an “epic” journey. In other words, it won’t appeal to some readers and might end up being too “niche”.
4. Final Thoughts
So I gave you an idea of what LitArcade could be as a future sub-genre in GameLit/LitRPG. Will I put lives in my survival horror, that would be a big NO. However, I might spawn a new series similar to Blast Corps with an arcade style of game play divided into seasons/difficulty levels. Will it be super successful? It probably won’t be, but I’ll have fun exploring the idea anyway. I don’t plan on doing this anytime soon, but I’ll continue to explore during my free time and provide an update article if needed. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section and we can discuss this further.
Disclaimer: This is just an idea I came up with and I’m open to any critique or encouragement.
To all the GameLit/LitRPG fans, be well and continuing reading good books!
If you feel like getting a few scares please check my survivor horror series on Amazon
Author of LitFPS/Horror/GameLit. Representing the genre from the all-star island of Puerto Rico. Loves Video Games and Reading LitRPG!