Issue 41: Mythologies Unbound

Whether old as the millennium, or just a few years young, mythology is in much of our games.

By M. Noah Ward. Posted 03/14/2011 14:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Issue 41: Mythologies Unbound

Whether imagining yourself within a sleek starship, spinning through space and blasting mammoth asteroids to bits, or pretending how face-tingling those fire and ice spells of RPGs would feel in the real world, or imagining what it would be like to truly walk through a functional Pokémon gym just down the street: the worlds within video games are fueled and grown by your imagination. We immerse ourselves in their worlds, and then when we have to leave them, they can linger on in our imaginations.

Yet for all the fantastic, original gaming worlds we visit, just as many are influenced by or completely based upon myths and legends our civilizations have celebrated for millennia. Whether the very Greek-influenced world of Kid Icarus or the global potpourri of mythologies sprinkled through the Final Fantasy series’ monsters and weaponry, ancient mythology permeates so many of our gaming experiences.

Some of those games get integration of classical mythology really right, such as Okami, which exposed many gamers to classical Japanese legends in a beautiful and compelling fashion. Other game worlds don’t completely commit to the original mythology, such as Faxanadu or Valkyrie Profile, both of which used Norse mythology as a starting point but took the story in a very different route. Then, as alluded to above, there are games that have such detailed worlds of their own that they become mythologies in their own right, even if they were designed within the last 20 years.

This week, as a new chapter of Okami is introduced with DS’s Okamiden, we look at a few favorite integrations of mythology in video games– myths both historical and contemporary. What are your favorite uses of mythology in games? Tell us in the comments.


Issue 41: Mythologies Unbound

Round Table: What Mythology Should Developers Approach next?  by M. Noah Ward
While we’ve seen Japanese, Greek, Egyptian, and even Norse mythologies in games, what is left in the well to draw inspiration from?

Origins of Pokémon by James Stank
Some of these pocket monsters are actually based on mythological figures.

Tidman’s Take: Johnny Appleseed– The Video Game by Matthew Tidman
There are plenty of interesting ideas to take from American folktales and adapt to video games.

The Mythological Monster Farm by Andy Hoover
RPG heroes would have nobody to fight if it weren’t for the world’s many mythos.

Nester64x: The Reverend Nester’s Church of the Triforce by Nester64x
The Bible, the Bhagvad Gita, and Dianetics have nothing on Nester’s one true faith!

Tolkien in Video Game Land by Andrew Hsieh
The man created a whole world worth of mythology. How well have his works been adapted to video games?

Hot Air: Sucked by Aaron Roberts
Looking at Dracula’s convoluted video game history through the Castlevania series.

Myth And Majora’s Mask by Kevin Knezevic
Taking a closer look at the mythological archetypes that serve as the foundation of this Zelda classic.

Additional features in this issue…


  • Nightly News Roundup by Robert Thompson


  • Nightly News Roundup by Nicolas Vestre


  • Dojo-Show-Go! Episode 134 by M. Noah Ward
  • Nightly News Roundup by Andrew Hsieh


  • Nightly News Roundup by Matthew Tidman


  • Nightly News Roundup by Aaron Roberts

Coming Up Next Week…

Issue 42: Nintendo in 3D
A week before 3DS’s launch, we explore what happened the last few times Nintendo tried 3D gaming.

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