Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
20 April 2007
Sexy is hard
Forget intricate plots. Forget memorable characters. Forget suspense and humor and adrenaline-pumping action sequences. At least a few games have managed those qualities, and done well. However, if game developers have a weakness, a part of life they just can't seem to get right in games, it's making a game that's sexy.

Sure, we all found Tomb Raider's Lara Croft rather fetching in 1996 and Maria was seductively mysterious in Silent Hill 2, but those games didn't focus on titillation. They had strong characters who also happened to be attractive. The games that do try to integrate arousal and gameplay are uniformly dreadful.

It's not like game companies haven't tried. There has been at least one titillation game per year since 2002, that I'm aware of, and they're almost all bad:
  • BMX XXX (2002) - Average score: 54 (PS2) to 60 (Xbox).
  • Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (2003) - Average score: 73 (Xbox).
  • The Guy Game (2004) - Average score: 58 (PS2).
  • Rumble Roses (2004) - Average score: 66 (PS2).
  • The Playboy Mansion (2005) - Average score: 59 (PS2) to 61 (Xbox)
  • Rumble Roses XX (2006) - Average score: 62 (Xbox 360).
  • Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 (2006) - Average score: 53 (Xbox 360).
And now we have the first 2007 title in this illustrious line, Pocket Pool for the PSP.
Give it up, guys. You either need to go classy but demure (think 1960s Playboy) or racy and explicit (like those magazines behind the counter at a truck stop). Pardon the pun, but you can't do this kind of thing half-arsed. Making a sexy game that's neither sexy nor a fun game will simply never fly.
--Matt Matthews at 21:07
Comment [ 5 ]

Comments on this post:

You've got to think about who's actually MAKING the game. Sexual experience trumps sexual fantasies when you're making a game, which is why they consistently get it wrong.

It's just a theory.

By Blogger Bigelow, at 21 April, 2007 14:12  

It isn't that difficult to understand when you look at most of the games.

BMX XXX looked horrible and was almost as bad in design. Bad no-budget PS1-era art for porn?

Wasn't The Guy Game some kind of quiz game based on a show that itself succeeded on basest "guy" humor, and showed weak video rewards? (Anyone that wanted video rewards could buy better videos and skip the game entirely.)

I'm not even sure what the game of The Playboy Mansion was.

Rumble Roses and Rumble Roses XX fall victim to being made by Yukes. Yukes is one of the biggest wrestling game companies, but it has become a self-sustaining position rather than an indication of quality. They work with the licenses that sell. Compounding the problem is that most wrestling game makers just aren't making good products to begin with, so there isn't anyone to dethrone Yukes. Regardless of budget, Rumble Roses was going to be passable at best from the start. (And when it is competing with things like WWE-licensed games also made by Yukes for THQ?)

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball is different from most of the rest for having both production values and a decent core product. It however falls to the second problem of such games, as it was rejected immediately based upon its theme. (DOA itself experiences similar rejection.) Switch the girls to generic volleyballers and take out things like watching the girls dry-hump a tree branch, and the game probably would have reviewed better even if the underlying game was identical.

DOA Xtreme 2 earned a lower score in part because it actually was flawed compared to DOAXBV, though I heard some issues were later patched?

By Anonymous Baines, at 21 April, 2007 14:20  

I couldn't care less about "sexy". I am not 14 anymore, when the titillating "Strip Poker" was pinking (no pun intended... the game was a horrid shade of pink) up my 1702 C= monitor. :)

I mean, there's nothing wrong with "sexy" if it enhances the story, or carries it along... but bikinis, bouncy bosoms, just for the sake of having them (as a 12-year old's selling point) is just pointless.

as an interesting aside...

Once you found out the game disk contained the individual pictures of the women in Strip Poker, you could just rename them with the "nekkid" one as #1, and the game lost its appeal. :)

That really just shows I needed to get outside more. ;) heh.

By Blogger JFTaylor, at 21 April, 2007 17:22  

I'm not sure anyone ever thought Lara Croft was sexy.

The new version is significantly less hideous, but there are far more attractive real women who enter my line of sight every day.

DOAX was an excellent game that was underreviewed. DOAX2 not so much. For those who actually "got" the game of DOAX, DOAX2 was less of what they wanted and more of what the reviewers panned about the first one.

Too bad really. It's rare that the US gets a relationship management sim/sports game/gambling game/collector's wet dream.

It's even more rare that an actual major publisher brings one out, even in Japan. SEGA's doing gangbusters with Love and Berry and Namco's doing extremely well with Idol M@ster, so it looks like it's going to be a trend in Japan, but this market isn't even going to get a chance to reject those games at this rate.

Sadly, expected market failure for that kind of title means that we probably won't get a DOAX3 that's a return to form for the series :(

By Blogger Jeremy, at 21 April, 2007 22:25  

Lara Croft was sexy at the time. At least the in-game model was sexy enough in a low poly way. The CG cutscene model was just disturbingly ugly.

By Anonymous Baines, at 22 April, 2007 14:47  

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