This week I finished Saints Row 4. And as the game came to a close, I started to think about the franchise’s place in gaming history. A franchise that started as a simple ‘GTA Clone’ and transitioned from the open-world genre to an entirely new arena. The more I played Saints Row 4 the more I realized that Volition created the gaming equivalent of Scary Movie.
Scary Movie is a spoof of Scream, a slasher flick that was a popular franchise in the late 90s. The movie transformed scenes filled with suspense or terror into straight comedy. There are even scenes in Scary Movie where characters would acknowledge popular horror stereotypes, almost breaking the fourth wall. But Scary Movie isn’t the first film to make fun of a popular genre or franchise. The spoof has always been a popular style of comedic film. Robin Hood: Men In Tights is another popular spoof from director Mel Brooks. Even television shows like The Boondocks have dabbled in this area of comedy.
Saints Row 4 is proof that there is room for comedy within the industry. It takes similar situations and makes them funny. Your character’s hub is reminiscent of the Normandy, and those “ever important” romance activities in Mass Effect? Saints Row 4 stripped it down to the bare minimum and sex is only a button press away. Saving one of crew mates takes a page straight from Streets of Rage, turning the game into a 16-bit brawler. Even Transformers: The Movie finds a way into the game. To place Saints Row 4 solely in the open-world action category would be doing a great disservice to the developer and the industry as a whole. This game is a comedy, and I hope more developers create games like this. I’d love to see a game spoof military shooters, ‘middle earth’ adventure games like Skyrim, and traditional action games. As we look to what the next big thing is going to be, I’m willing to put my money on the comedy…because Lord knows this community needs a good laugh-or two.