By the time 2032 rolls around, everything we know and love now will be drastically different: cars will fly, food will come in pill form, robot spouses will be cheap and efficient, and a few life-threatening diseases will probably be cured… but who cares about all that trivial garbage? What we want to know about is the future of all those great pillars of the gaming world. Will they stand stronger than ever? Or will time erode them down into pathetic little stalagmites?
Luckily for all of you, I have the answers!
You see, a time traveling bee visited me the other day. He kept rambling on about having to save the world from an evil alien overlord, but I wasn’t feeling particularly heroic at the time. Masterfully wielding a pair of tweezers, I grabbed the the little bugger out of the air and threatened to drain a can of Raid in his face if he didn’t tell about gaming in 2032.
This is what I learned!
Fox McCloud continues his adventure into the future just as he always has, never quite earning the popularity of Mario or Zelda, but always maintaining a solid fan base. Unfortunately, those fans imperil the Earth when humanity makes contact with a race of highly intelligent, frog-like aliens known as the Steves.
The Steves came in peace, desiring only to exchange knowledge and embrace a sincere friendship between our two species. These relations turned sour, however, when the Steves browsed our internet and discovered a decades-long hatred for a character who gamers have long dismissed as annoying and worthless: Slippy Toad. After seeing a creature so much like themselves receiving such atrocious treatment, the Steves declared war on Earth. However, as luck would have it, the Steves had more in common with Slippy than their frog-like appearance. They, too, were horrible soldiers.
The war was over in the blink of an eye as the Steves’ massive fleet was defeated within minutes of attacking. The world ultimately benefited from this brief encounter, because the heat of the Steves’ ships crashing through the atmosphere was the perfect temperature to cook their delicious frog legs to perfection, thus allowing the world’s poor and hungry to eat heartily for months. To celebrate these events, Nintendo released Star Fox: Frogocalypse, the most successful title in the franchises history. The special edition comes with a frog cookbook and a copy of Cooking Great-Grand-Mama: Deep Frog Fryer.
Call of Duty
This generation’s most popular shooter franchise continues its strong sales years and years into the future, but its momentum starts to wear out. World War II grew old, modern wars grew tiresome, Vietnam lost its luster and the Korean War was quickly forgotten. Future warfare was exciting for awhile, but as military technology improved, it just became another Modern Warfare, and the Civil War, American Revolution, War of 1812, and French Indian War all proved quite boring due to the simple fact that muzzle-loading rifles don’t make for enjoyable gameplay.
Desperately looking for a way to save their quickly fading mojo, Activision called together its 39 Call of Duty teams for a massive brainstorming session. They looked back at what made the past games successful and realized it all came down to crazy plots where the players get to see themselves die via nukes and/or executions. The result was officially titled Call of Duty: Cluster*%#@.
CoD: CF tells the story of time-traveling space marines doing battle with time-traveling Nazi Zombies who also happen to be ultra-nationalist Russians and part-time members of the Vietcong. The good guys chase the bad guys through countless eras and locations separated by seemingly random jumps. Players could be battling evil walrus-mounty hybrids in a Toronto ice arena one moment, only to be swept away to the Crimean War, now with 2 billion percent more giant robots. To top it all off, every level ends with your character dying a dramatic death… you know, to make it more dramatic!
The multiplayer continues this trail blazing by including everything and the kitchen sink, the latter of which is one of the game’s less effective kill streak rewards.
Never one to let changing trends dissuade them, Activision carries the Guitar Hero spirit forward by ceaselessly pushing new songs and peripherals. The series experiences a bit of resurgence in the mid 2010s with major band-exclusive games like Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden, but things start to turn south again when it starts to run out of good bands. 2032 marks the franchise’s lowest point, with the release of Guitar Hero: Björk and Guitar Hero Van Halen: The Sammy Hagar Years.
Luckily, Activision decided to diversify its music game offerings, and while DJ Hero was a solid foundation, what the future holds is much more exciting. Keyboard Hero was expected and unsurprisingly cool, and while Fiddle Hero was a little more creative, it still seemed like a safe a choice. Yet the series was truly reignited with Polka Hero, a super innovative game that came packed with life-sized tuba and accordion peripherals, as well as lederhosen for the whole band. While 2032 might be a terrible year for Guitar Hero, any doubt in the genre’s future was put to rest with the release of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music game in decades– Autotune Hero. This new title’s accessible game play (or should I say impossible-to-fail gameplay) was an instant hit among casual gamers and the easy achievements all but guaranteed its appeal to the growing membership of the Church of Gamerscore.
Let’s face it. The platforming genre revolves around Mario, so it pretty much is at a stand-still until the mustached plumber says it’s time to move forward. Mario has been in 2D, 3D, and even space. What else is left for the guy? I’ll tell you where… your mind!
Using the new, helmet-like Nintendome peripheral, Super Mario Mind World actually scans your brain and, using complex psychological theories and the latest in neuroscience breakthroughs, builds a world based entirely on the player’s psyche. Surprisingly, the game received rather mixed reviews simply because its quality is entirely based on the player’s mind. Much like today, your average game reviewer in 2032 has a rather flat, boring or terribly disturbed mind. Some folks experienced brilliant platforming adventures, while others experienced unimaginative, garbled messes, and a few even got to play a Mario game more reminiscent of Silent Hill.
Of course the fine folks at Nintendojo in 2032 experienced platforming bliss– except for Noah. Apparently his review mentioned something about necrophiliac unicorns. Weird…
In the future, Zelda is a bit of a touchy subject. 2025 saw the release of The Legend of Zelda: Talking Protagonist in which Link finally received a voice. The resulting chaos nearly destroyed the world. Over the course of twenty minutes, every single stock market on the planet plummeted, gold became worthless, Australia was swallowed up by the ocean, the moon turned its dark side toward Earth, and peace was declared in the Middle East after coming to a common ground thanks to the mutual opinion that Jimmy Carter was a pretentious snob. The game itself was amazing, but the chaos caused by giving Link a voice was too large a factor to ignore in its sequel; though the UN resolution forbidding Link from ever talking again could have had something to do with it.
What’d you say? Oh, that’s right… nothing. *Sigh*
After seven years of tense anticipation, the next Zelda was released in 2032 and it was… well, Zelda. What? Did you expect some funny, quirky new feature? Sure, its story is more dynamic and the presentation is more dramatic, but that’s about it. The gameplay has been pretty much perfect for more than a decade, and even people in the future are smart enough to realize that.
|Hey! Noooo peeking!|
Over the years, Square Enix’s bread and butter has been moving in a singular direction without pause, and that direction is best described as cinematic. Final Fantasy has grown more and more linear, focusing the gameplay and story to perfectly frame the franchise’s pretty visuals, bombastic cinematics, and melodramatic dialogue. Final Fantasy has become less of a sprawling RPG and more of an overblown, weird-as-hell anime with each release in the main series. In 2032, this evolution will be complete.
In 2030, the Xenosaga series reemerged with Xenosaga Episode IV: Neunundneunzig Luftballons, a massive, 100-hour epic (80 of which are cutscenes) that used the latest and greatest in technology to render cutscenes in 100,800,000p uber-HD visuals at ten thousand frames per second. The resulting images were beyond photo-realistic; seeing them actually made millions of gamers depressed and people actually started to complain about the world looking “too pixelated”. Not to be outdone, Square Enix began work on Final Fantasy XXIV, and in its quest to make the best looking, most melodramatic, and most androgynous game ever, the developer actually forgot to make the game. The only interaction came at the very start, when the player selects to start a new game. When asked about this minor oversight, the development team said, “But it sure does look pretty, doesn’t it?”
Regardless of the literally non-existent gameplay, the game still went on to sell millions of copies and receive relatively positive reviews.
As popular as the Pokémon series is, you might be surprised to learn that 2032 marked the the triumphant return of the creature-collecting game series after a long hiatus. Pokémon Ketchup and Catsup were released in 2020 to the usual fanfare, but the video games would become moot in a few years with the creation of actual Pokémon.
There was this kid named Jimmy Johnson, and when Pokémon came out, he fell in love with the game. You could say he was obsessed. Jimmy also happened to be a scientific genius. Jimmy had graduated with his doctorate in genetic engineering by 18 and he had only one thing on his mind: making real Pocket Monsters! He spent year after year locked in his lab, splicing genes and creating horrible abominations until he finally achieved his goal. On February 6, 2022, Jimmy Johnson revealed Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Charmander to the world. Nintendo quickly hired Jimmy to show it how to mass produce these creatures along with the rest if the Pokédex, so it could sell them to children all over the world. The real Pokémon were a smash hit and Jimmy made millions.
Yet there was one problem with Jimmy. Since he had played the games and watched the cartoon growing up, he had always rooted for Team Rocket. One day, Jimmy showed up at the Pokémon manufacturing lab with a red R splashed across his shirt in red paint and an army of evil Pokémon in tow. Jimmy blazed a trail of destruction around the world over the next 8 years, laying waste to all who got in his path. Ultimately he was found dead in his hidden lair under a pachinko parlor, murdered by his final creation, the world’s first Mewtwo (who later won the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing down the despot and then become an accomplished civil rights attorney and a forerunner for the next slot on the Supreme Court).
Needless to say, Nintendo stopped production of the real Pokémon and went back to developing the games with Pokémon Tory and Whig launching in 2023.
In 2027, the Mother/Earthbound series saw a huge resurgence, with four new titles released by 2023. All were critically acclaimed and hugely successful. None were released in the US.
Tragically, this is all I the information I could get from the Bee before my rage from learning North America will never receive another Earthbound accidentally made me squeeze the tweezers a little too tight.
Oh, well… now if I could only remember what he said about that evil alien dude…