I don't know why I'm surprised that Andrew Lloyd Webber now has a game coming out for the Wii. I mean, it's only logical that a man so shameless in self-promoting himself in every other form of media would turn to video games eventually. This is probably the next logical step after reality show hosting and cannibalizing his own works for profit.
I guess it just seems weird because you don't see a whole lot intersection between “video games” and “musicals' on the Venn diagram of life. This is probably because, despite increasing amounts of evidence to the contrary, the video game demographic is perceived as almost exclusively male. And men don't like musicals, because they're too close to opera which is “culture” and all red-blooded men must avoid anything with a whiff of culture about it like the plague. (This infallible wisdom has been handed down to us by generations of gender based humor, along with such timeless maxims such as “women are weepy” and “men are infantile morons who are liable to hurt themselves if unsupervised.”) It one of those things that doesn't seem like a natural combination, like the Olympics and intelligent event coverage.
And yet, a handful of video game/musical crossovers do exist. Most of these come from Japan, which is well-known for its love of gaming, theatricality, and seriously weird shit. The earliest of these is probably Arm Joe, a fighting game featuring characters from Les Miserables. (The game's title is a play on Les Mis' Japanese title Ah, Mijou!, which translated means “Jean Valjean's Super Mega-Battle Rangers.”) There's something bizarre and yet extremely cathartic about watching Valjean and Javert punching the stuffing out of each other, or having Cosette and Eponine duke it out for Marius' affections. For those of you looking to play lesser-known characters, the game offers Valjean's robot double, a bunny named Ponpon, and a character known simply as “Police.” I'll bet some of the bit players on the barricade are kicking themselves because they didn't get the cut ahead of Ponpon and Police.
For those of you who are lovers and not fighters, a company called Mirai Soft has created a dating sim loosely based on Phantom of the Opera. Dating sims are a genre of game entirely alien to me, and this one is entirely in Japanese so I'm still a little fuzzy on the whole plot, even after seeing the (NSFW) trailer and reading this Let's Play of it, I still can't quite figure out what the Hell the point of it all is. As far as I can tell, the player takes the role of Christine who gets to interact with several other male characters and maybe fall in love with one or more of them, even though one of them is likely to be her long-lost brother. Oh, and have sex. Lots and lots of sex. So basically it's a video game version of a porno, which makes that four things the Japanese do very well. Gaming, theatricality, seriously weird shit, porno, and androgyny. Five. Five things.
And that rather awkward Monty Python inspired segue brings us to the next subject: a musical based on a video game. The all-female Takarazuka Revue, a company well-known for being on the cutting edge of weird Japanese shit, has developed a series of shows based around the Ace Attorney series. I'm not sure why they chose this particular property as the source for their first video game based show, apart from its popularity and that enough of the characters in it look feminine enough as to make no difference. I suspect somewhere, someone just couldn't resist the idea of making a big dance number around somebody shouting “OBJECTION!”
I'd actually like to see more video-game based musicals. The genre borrows from everywhere else for inspiration, so why not this? We could have Mario tap-dancing on Goomba heads, an epic villain song for Diablo, a dramatic confrontation duet between GlaDOS and Wheatley...the possibilities are endless.
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