BRÜTAL LEGEND, I Have Not Forsaken Thee!

Thanks for asking, really… but nope, I absolutely have not been ignoring my man Tim Schaefer, Double Fine Productions or BRÜTAL LEGEND, their Rocktober “surprise” that’s taken the game world by storm this year (cue:“Lightning Strikes Again,”Thor). I’m just sitting here cracking up on a near-daily basis at how all of a sudden everyone has finally discovered just what a group of fantastically talented creative geen-yusses he and his crew are.

I mean, I and many other editor types around the frickin’ world trumpeted the joys of the eternally awesome, amazingly funny platformer Psychonauts* until we turned blue in the head and beyond (cue: “Among the Living,” Anthrax). Nevertheless, did enough of you so-called “hard-core” guys and gals actually BUY the game and justify all the well deserved ink we spilled? Nope (cue: “Backstabber” by Hytz).

*That, and the man’s tenure over at LucasArts cleeeeeeeeearly shows he’s got more than enough proof of Legendary Status (no certificate required). So There.


“Cult” classic, my left eyeball! Raz’ awesome psychic summer camp experience is and always will be a “classic, period.” Besides, mention the words“cult” and “video games” these days around a concerned parental unit who’s already unnecessarily wary about the medium and you’re asking for trouble of the Fox News variety. However, from the iron jaws of defeat come the Iron Jaws of Victory, especially if you’re Tim Schaefer and Double Fine. I may not have been covering the game on DAF as much as you’d like (or I, for that matter), but guess what, kitties? I know… the (allegdly) REAL story of how BRÜTAL LEGEND came to be (allegedly):

Chapter One

Shortly after Psychonauts failed to reach an under-eager public that didn’t quite grasp the idea of a video game actually being outrageously funny yet psychoanalytically precise, Tim got a bit grumpy that gamers weren’t lined up around the block to snap up this triumph of humor and platforming awesomeness and stomped off to his office without supper. While sitting in a funk with loud metal blasting away in the background (cue: “Anger,” Thor), something weighty got jarred loose, fell off a shelf behind him and *conked!* him square on the noggin.

(quick science lesson: when set to 11, speaker vibrations can be quite “motivational” to certain small solid objects of medium to heavy weight, around the size of a plaque or small statue)

Fade. To. Black… Game Over, man, Game Over!is the the end of our hero?

Chapter Two

Interestingly enough, it was one of the many small, solid, medium to heavy weight awards the company had won for Psychonauts that landed on the back of Tim’s head and put him down for the count (cue: “Cold Metal,” Iggy Pop). Anyway, while he was out cold, visions of METAL filled his very being and upon regaining consciousness a few hours later (with a big throbbing cartoon knot on the back of his head), he jumped to his feet, swung his office door open wide as it could go (even though it opened inward) and at the very, very top of his lungs yelled out: “I GOT IT, YeeeeeeaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!”

Unfortunately… it was about 5:46am and no one else was around… Will our hero’s suddenly intense vocal styling and bold, new game idea go completely unnoticed as he sinks deeper into depression with a big freakin’ knot on his head?

Chapter Three

Fortunately, Tim slapped an ice pack on that throbbing bumpola on the back of his head, brewed a fresh pot of java and took a whole lot of notes while waiting for the staff to roll in later. After recreating the experience (which resulted in another bump on the head and a few more hours out cold, whereupon even *more* ideas for the game filled his head), somebody suggested putting in a call to Jack Black as well a bunch of heavy metal’s greatest hitters. A bit of art team madness, careful coding and a big, nasty publisher switch later and the results are about to become gaming history on a fairly massive scale (at least it looks like it if you’re following all the endless hype, trails of drool and other bodily fluids coming from places where the game has been shown publicly).


So there. Still, I do have somewhat (or is it something?) of a confession to make: As much as it kills me, the only thing I’m actually avoiding is playing any type of demo, as I want to go into the game as cold as a steel brassiere on a Nordic ice vixen astride a giant, saddled, helmet-clad polar bear. Why?

Am I crazy? Wouldn’t it be certifiably true that I’m NOT doing my job as a games journalist by not continually trumpeting the joys of the unique single player experience and the even more unique (and recently revealed) killer multiplayer mode? Shouldn’t I join ALL my fellow editorial comrades in arms on the front lines as we all gush endlessly over the game’s stellar art direction, totally awesome soundtrack and even more ridiculously wicked use of many vocal talents from the wide world of metal history??? AM I CRAZY TO NOT BE UPDATING MY SITE EVERY FEW DAYS WITH MORE BRÜTAL LEGEND IMPRESSIONS, SCREENS AND MOVIES?!! (*breathe, wheeze* cue: “Naked in Front of the Computer, “ Faith No More)

Well, no. I’m not crazy at all, just stupid-ly busy running this blog as a one-man show, which is really rough going with so damn many great games to cover this year, is all. Beeeee-sides, kittycats, I KNOW the game is going to be nothing but stellar stuff (hell, it’s Tim Schaefer and Double. Fine. Productions. Two tastes that taste great together, especially when they make games. Dunno how their baking skills are, however). I kind of really just want to enjoy it as a totally fresh gameplay experience on Day One, as if I’d walked into a game emporium and saw it for the very first time. Just like some of you reading this will probably end up doing because you’d somehow never heard of the game or didn’t pre-order a copy.

On the other hand, this kind of leads to My Secret Confession #2 (signed, near mint, $4.50): For a while, I’ve been picking a handful of “A” games I’m interested in every year out of a hat to do this with and BRÜTAL LEGEND just so happened to be one of them, that’s all (really!). Huh? Well, it goes like this: After writing about games for so long (and playing games much for so much longer), an oddball habit like that keeps my brain on its toes and makes my reviews much better in the end.

Of course, I’m quite pro-Tim Schaefer and DFP, but it’s a case where any positive bias is somewhat justified. If the game has warts I’ll point them out and laugh just like the usual message board goons (but nowhere near as annoying, of course). If I have to gripe at all, I’ll at least come up with some constructive critical mass that just might help Tim and co. out on their next project – that’s how this review stuff is supposed to go, right?

BRÜTAL LEGEND is set to scorch up the retail charts on October (er, Rocktober!!!) 13 , 2009… but you already knew that, right? Sorry for being late – “Now you know… and knowing’s half the battle!” Er… wrong game, but at least it’s the same publisher, right?

Yeah, yeah, the HUGE screenshot gallery is coming, probably this afternoon, most likely tonight into tomorrow. There’s a load of awesome images to pore over and I keep getting distracted by all the little details in each one.

Yeah, go pre-order the game if you haven’t already, folks – it’s really gonna rock…


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