No chance for Les Miserables Wii? Musical games lack genre

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All this talk lately concerning the karaoke game for the Wii and music/action game for the Nintendo DS based on Disney Channel’s High School Musical got me thinking: What about other musicals?


Don’t get me wrong, I love High School Musical, and you can bet I’ll be picking up the game just to sing along with “Breaking Free.” But HSM was a made-for-TV movie musical, whereas there are several other musicals and movie musicals which hold a little more respect with those less familiar with Disney Channel claim to the #1 selling album of 2006.

I started thinking…what if there was a game based on My Fair Lady? Phantom of the Opera? The Secret Garden? What type of games could they be? Therein lies the problem.

HSM is being released as a karaoke game and some type of music/action game on the DS. The karaoke game is of course the obvious genre for potential games based on musicals. However, that’s a given, and fans of the musicals and games can only take so many karaoke games. Is there another genre for musical games? It doesn’t look like it. Most licensed games are able to take the plot or a sub-plot of an action movie or TV show and turn it in to a plot for the game. It allows gamers to create a link between the game and actual movie or TV show, serving as a fun way to promote the movie or show.

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Musicals generally aren’t action-based, making their stories a little less useful for direct adaptations. What are we going to do, teach Eliza Doolittle how to speak English and act properly? Hold a Wii remote like a camera and pretend we’re Mark Cohen filming a year in the life in New York City? Maybe a spell-based game similar to Harry Potter could work for a game based on Wicked, but perhaps the fact that no good deed goes unpunished would make such a game a frustrating experience. I’m sorry, but these plots don’t exactly lend themselves to a great video game.

Of course, maybe I’m just not thinking outside the box. After all, creativity in games has generally been the determining factor in whether or not a game is well received. The Wii and DS foster this creativity more than ever, separating the great games from the mediocre ones like never before. I’m not a game developer, so I couldn’t give you an awesome, innovative game idea for a game based on Oklahoma!, especially not on the spot.

There haven’t been many games based on musicals, but I’d really like to see some – you know, merge the two communities and blur the line between fans of games and musicals. Unfortunately, there’s no existing genre that can really do that in a fun, innovative way. But unless someone does come up with a good idea for a new genre, I don’t think we’ll be seeing many musical franchises on the Wii anytime soon. Bring on HSM.

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About the Author: Christian Ponte

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