I slammed back into the team chat after an appointment this morning, and Katharine asked me to take a look at the new It Takes Two merch - specifically the plushy elephant. And I was like, "Sure!" and toddled off to have a look. I was delighted! But I think Katharine was anticipating it would arouse a different emotional response in me to what it actually did, because she used the word "horrifying".
It Takes Two is a really fun co-op game, sort of Borrowers-meets-couple's-counselling where a pair of imminently-to-divorce parents are transformed into little toy versions of themselves and split-screen platform around their home and garden. In almost every level, Cody and May (that's them, that's the names of the characters) have something different to do, so it never really gets old. There's grappling, swinging, shooting, giant squirrels, giant wasps, giant spiders - lot of giant versions of regular stuff; you get it. There are boss fights, too, and several of them are horrifying, in a way that's contrasted with the cartoony afternoon early-learning TV show look of everything to make it all funny. Enter Cutie the elephant. Spoilers ahead.
May and Cody decide (for... reasons) that they can be changed back to normal by making their daughter Rose cry. It was through making her cry they got themselves into this mess, after all, so it surely follows it would work again in reverse. Thus, with flawless logic, they resolve to murder her favourite toy. Cutie's death scene, in which a stuffed toy elephant for babies begs for her life as Cody and May drag her to the edge of her toy castle, is extremely funny. It's quite dark, obviously, because you tear off Cutie's leg and ear in the process. But the inevitability and high drama of it probably makes it the most memorable scene of the whole game. Cutie yells pitiful childhood platitudes like, "Friends help each other!" And it's more effective because it's an interactive scene; you, the player, have no choice but to tap X to murder toy. It's great! You can watch a let's play of it here.
So imagine how delighted I was to see that not only is there now a Cutie the elephant on pre-order, but that the Cutie plus has a detachable ear and leg! That's hilarious! (Please agree that it is hilarious). Cutie's death is probably the closest thing to iconic It Takes Two has, and the developers know it. I'd be more horrified if you couldn't pull the legs off.
All the other It Takes Two merch is your usual parade of mugs and t-shirts (and one kind of okay pin badge that you wouldn't actually wear because it would keep getting caught on other bits of your clothes). So much merch is, not to put too fine a point on it, fucking boring. At this point, what brand out there doesn't have at least one vintage distressed look logo tee out there? Most of the nerd toy stuff I actually like is made by indie shops trying to fly under the copyright radar. But an elephant whose limbs you can tear off? Recreating a unique bit of the game players remember? That's great! Let this be a lesson to other game brands to actually use your imaginations. I will buy no more of your button badges or beer coozies, you hacks.
Obviously, this does depend on how you feel about the Cutie scene in general. You might fall into camp horrifying with Katharine (there are two kinds of people). Plus, Cutie costs 35 bucks. In this economy?!