If you haven’t seen Adventure Time yet, go do that now. The first two seasons are on Netflix, you have no excuse. Do what you have to do. Shove someone down a flight of stairs if you have to! Except probably not that, because that’s kind of an awful thing to do, and Adventure Time is a show that is generally against doing awful things like shoving people down flights of stairs. Unless they really want you to and they’re cool with it.
Where was I? Right, Adventure Time, which is absolutely wonderful. It’s a fun show. It’s got fun comics. It’s got a few games, and only one of those has produced a non-tepid response. That’s a bit weird, seeing as how the show has been running for long enough that there’s lead time for some development and a lot of creative people really like this show. There’s every reason for it to be successful, and yet the games just don’t stand up. So why is that? What’s keeping us from having a totally sweet Adventure Time video game?
If you know what Serious Sam is, this delivers exactly what it says on the tin. Whether or not this is a good thing is going to depend a lot upon whether or not you like what the tin says it is.
Serious Sam is a series I was never particularly interested in because, as has been stated many times, first-person shooters are not really my bag. That being said, it’s a series that has long been about distilling shooters down to their most basic objectives. Here you are, and in front of you there is a room. You will shoot people in that room. No fancy tricks, just a whole lot of guns and a whole lot of shooting.
There’s nothing wrong with that sort of bare-bones approach. There was nothing wrong with it back in 2001, when the original game was released; there was nothing wrong with it in 2009, when the HD remake was released; there’s nothing wrong with it now. But it’s a bit like rebuilding a Model T – functional, but something that has kind of been made obsolete by time and technology.
The dancing bear joke really isn’t; it’s more of a punchline in search of a setup. It’s simple enough, though. If you see a bear dancing in the circus, you’re not concerned with his form. You’re just impressed that the people training him got him to dance at all. Sure, it’s mostly just shuffling back and forth, but does it really matter as long as it counts as dancing?
A lot of media has the dancing bear problem. Strictly speaking, for instance, it doesn’t matter if the Transformers cartoons are any good, it just matters whether or not they sell toys. Skylanders toys could come to life at night and try to kill your pets, but the important thing is that they tie into the video game. You get the idea. When you’ve got any piece of media tying into something else, you’re starting out with a dancing bear.
Defiance falls into that category quite handily. It’s a show that’s made to tie into an online game running at the same time, with the promise that the two will feed into one another – events in the game are reflected by the show, and vice versa. The problem being, of course, that a show not aimed at supporting a merchandising line can’t survive for long on novelty. It’s not enough to be a dancing bear here; you have to be a bear that turns out to be a pretty good dancer.