Monday 23 November 2009

Frankly Un-Necessary Licensed Products

This week on Emotionally Fourteen, we take a look at licensed products that make you wonder: Do marketing executives have a sense of humour, or is their finger slightly off the pulse of popular culture? Like, say, jammed up their own arse?

Wu-Tang Clan Playstation Controller
Now, there are plenty of licensed game controllers that have come and gone, and some of them have been great (like the Resident Evil 4 Chainsaw Controller), some of them have been pretty disgusting to look at (The Miami Dolphins' Playstation Controller - check out the orange. How lovely, right?) and some have been frankly...un-necessary.

Released to coincide with the licensed game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style (Wu-Tang: Taste the Pain in PAL territories) in 1999 on Playstation, the controller was designed for gamers who wanted the complete Wu-Tang Clan experience. Now, I quite enjoy the Wu-Tang Clan, if only because they're happy to send themselves up and seem to be pretty fun guys. If you're in any doubt, track down a copy of any of their appearances on Chappelle's Show. I guarantee you'll at least chuckle, and if you've got the right sense of humour, you'll piss yourself. Figuratively, anyway. I don't want to have people suing me because they have been finding themselves with completely dry pants. That's almost the last thing I need.

Incidentally, the last thing I need? Laser-guided scissors.

Anyway, this controller was largely a functional failure, if only for one simple reason; due to the horrendous shape of the controller (which makes even the original Xbox controller look efficient), the designers were not able to allow for analogue sticks or vibration effects. So essentially, this limited edition controller was 'limited' in more ways than just scarcity.

Rock Band Drum skins

Everyone by now will know my feelings on music games (without wanting to insert excessive linkage in here, I feel that there are too many and that it's getting ridiculous in terms of the bands they're getting involved in the games), but even I understand that there is a positive side to these games. I do own Rock Band and have owned Guitar Hero games in the past, so I can totally understand that there is a tremendous amount of fun to be had with these games.

However, I can't help but feel that there are limits to the accessories that should be made to accompany the game. I was alright with drum sticks, because obviously they are real drum sticks that can be used by real drummers. I understood (to an extent guitar picks with the game logo on, because although the picks don't really suit the game itself because of the strum bar mechanic, they can be used by real guitarists to play real songs on a real guitar. Really.

However, what the fuck are with these drum pads? You can't use them on a real drum kit, so they fall flat on that point of view. Besides, is anyone REALLY hitting drum pads that hard on a COMPUTER GAME?! Seriously, it worries me immensely when people smash the shit out of the pads on my Rock Band set, it's not like the game goes "Wow, this guy's getting into the game. He deserves a higher score." It's a game, douchebags. I really enjoy Assassin's Creed, but I wouldn't expect a higher score for killing a peasant as I was playing. There's such a thing as TOO into the game.

Halo 3 Helmet

Firstly, a little history, E14ies. I was once an employee of the largest video game retailer in the UK, GAME. Over the course of my tenure, I saw a number of special editions come into stock that were of various degrees of quality. Now, it's my feeling that a good special edition needs to do one of two things:

1) If it has a higher RRP than the standard edition, I expect it to have an amount of extras appropriate to the price difference. Special features are a welcome addition to any media, DVD or game alike, so behind the scenes featurettes, interviews with designers and voice over talent, anything like that is worth an extra £5-10 or so. Beyond that, you'll struggle to find any price I think is acceptable without some sort of extra attachment, like a lunchbox (thank you Fallout 3).

2) Should a special edition not have any extra features, and the only extra is that it comes in a limited edition steelbook or something, it should be the same price. I'm fine with different shops having a limited edition cover or something like that, but I don't expect to pay more for said cover.

Now, when Halo 3 was given a release date, there were three codes in the pre-order catalogue. One was the standard edition, which retailed at £39.99. The second was the limited edition that retailed for £44.99 if memory serves, possibly £49.99, which came with an extra disc of bonus content. As I said, I was fine with the cost of this particular edition, which is why I ended up purchasing and enjoying it. However, one was called the 'Legendary' edition and promised all the above features along with a ceremonial Spartan helmet bust for £69.99, a price which most Halo fans were all too happy to pay.

Now, that helmet you see there is essentially a cover for the inside, which is simply a game storage space. It's literally just that, a glorified book-end. The space inside the helmet is the exact height, width and length of the special edition of the game. NOTHING more. You can't wear it, and more disappointingly, you can't even put it on a pet.

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