At what point do games which satirise the stereotypes and foibles of other games stop being funny and clever and become a stereotype themselves? We’ve had quite a few this past year – You Have To Burn The Rope, Achievement Unlocked, Upgrade Complete… I suspect free webgame Ginormo Sword could be one of the last to get away with this kind of snipe for a while, before everyone gets a bit ticked off with being told they’re an idiot for playing videogames. That it does get away with it is mostly because it has a ginormo sword.
The target this time is Diablolikes and MMOs. You kill stuff to get a bigger sword to help kill stuff to get a bigger sword to help kill stuff to get a bigger sword to help kill stuff… Well, you get the picture. It’s pretty much the same gag as Progress Quest, but rather than reducing the genre to self-inflating statistics this one rubs your face in the banality of your own actions by making you perform them at their most basic level. Monsters here! Nastier monsters there! Back and forth, back and forth, until you can afford a bigger sword. Then back and forth and back and forth again, and so on. That sword just keeps on getting bigger.
There’s nothing more to it than that. And that, once the frills of graphics and cutscenes are brushed away, is often all you’re really doing when you play Diablo et al. Probably Borderlands too.
Sickeningly, it becomes rather compulsive. Despite the horrible combat controls (mouse only), the beyond lo-fi graphics and the grating music, I kept playing. Because I wanted a bigger sword. That’s probably the most damning statement Ginormo Sword makes – that even the most mindless hack’n’slash RPGs are only really taking advantage of some hard-wired weakness in our covetous brains. Maybe, though, there’s nothing wrong with that.