What’s in a name? I’m sure Shakespeare wasn’t thinking about video game titles when he first considered the question, but it’s hard to deny the importance of a good game name. After all, a great title can give us some insight into what we can expect from the game itself, and might even be a factor in bringing in new buyers and fans.
And while a great majority of games have suitable or even awesome titles, there are still a handful of them that leave me scratching my head as I consider what exactly went through the minds of game makers when they decided to put the product out. So, what great games have some weird names?
Allow me to start off with one of the most beloved horror series in gaming history. Yes, Resident Evil changed the genre. Yes, it introduced new conventions and showed us exactly how scary a good atmosphere can be in a game. But what does Resident Evil mean? What evil are we talking about, and where does it reside? Sure, maybe something’s been lost in translation between here and Japan, but for a game about zombies, jump scares, and atmosphere, this title doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I love Borderlands. It’s the shooter I’ve always wanted, made up of mindless shooting, great guns, and awesome gear. But what exactly does Borderlands mean? After investing hours on end into both 1 and 2, I can’t for the life of me recall ever going across any borders or reaching the edge of a world. While the title strangely fits the game well, it doesn’t make a whole lot of contextual sense, sounding more like a border patrol sim than a shoot-em-up RPG.
The Legend of Zelda
Since I was a kid, I’ve never understood the name Legend of Zelda. In so many of the games (especially the older ones), she’s more of the objective or main quest of the game whenever you have to rescue her, leaving all the legend-making to the game’s real star, Link. So why name the game after her? Seems like a bit of injustice for our green-clad hero.
Although it’s one of the most fun word puzzle games I’ve ever played on any platform, I still cannot for the life of me figure out what Scribblenauts means. There’s no scribbling when the core gameplay mechanic is word construction, and the only nauts in the game are astronauts or whatever other sort of naut you type in on the keyboard. So, how did this end up being the final title?
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
As we saw with transfarring or Ground Zeroes, Kojima’s proven time and time again that he’s some kind of confusing wordsmith with his game titles. Revengeance? Really? I mean, I suppose if you look at it cross-eyed and hold your breath for a few seconds it makes some kind of sense…after all, the game is about Raiden, and he does seek revenge and vengeance on the people who have wronged him. But to couple the words together seems awkward, leaving a bad taste in my mouth worse than day-old reheated Chinese food.
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. It’s a courageous, normal, flying fairy? A courageously normal flying fairy? A brave flying fairy that fits the norm? A flying fairy typically chosen for fearless tasks? My head hurts…
I loved this game. It’s one of the best open-world crime drama games I’ve ever played, and certainly one of the biggest surprises for me in 2012. But for all the love I have for it, the title makes no sense. Sure, one of the characters used it as a throwaway line of dialogue later on in the campaign, but the title itself does nothing to imply anything about the game’s nature, its personality, its premise, or even its open world. Sure, True Crime: Hong Kong isn’t great, either, but it’s better than something that makes me think of this:
Beyond: Two Souls
Let me clarify something about this title; I like the first part. Beyond is a cool name. It’s the “Two Souls” bit that seems a bit…redundant. Beyond itself is kind of an ambiguous title, but it works well in the game’s context of a girl tethered to another being. The Two Souls thing just feels like overkill after that, kind of needlessly slapping you in the face with the game’s premise. Or, even more likely, I’m just being nitpicky.
For an awesome-looking action game not unlike Inception, Remember Me has a really weak title. The name sounds more like a cheesy romance story than a high-octane game with great combat moves. In fact, when I hear the name Remember Me, I automatically think of that awful Robert Pattinson movie…which makes me think of the awful Robert Pattinson…which makes me feel awfully ill.
Sound Shapes is an awkward name because it seems kind of blunt. Sound Shapes. Mario would be Platforming Plumber. Silent Hill would be Creepy, Foggy Town. Sure, it’s a great game…but the name itself could have been a little more inventive.
Actually, this entry is a pretty cool title…I just like the irony of it. Sure, it’s called Final Fantasy, but we have 14 core titles and more than a handful of spin-offs that have followed. So, when’s the final Final Fantasy going to come out? (And no, I’m not calling for them to end it per se…except for Lightning’s story. That can end.)
Beyond Good and Evil
For an awesome game based around conspiracy and picture-taking, Beyond Good and Evil is a weird title, sounding more like the title of an eighteenth century work of classic literature about feuds in Victorian England than a video game.
Sure, the Kong is fine. But Donkey? Really? With this logic, we should have a game about a dinosaur called Horse Zilla.
The name of Mortal Kombat is fine, actually…it’s just the “K” that irks me, coming off as something kiddie from the 90′s when they tried to spell things all cute in order to market products as being family friendly. It’s kind of like when an “s” is replaced with a “z” at the end of a plural word; it just twists my English nerd heart in a supremely uncomfortable way every time I see it. And the way developers replace any “c” with a “k” in all words dealing with the game…just stop. Please.
I thoroughly enjoyed both 1 and 2, but the name Darksiders makes me automatically think of Star Wars and Darth Vader, not the four horsemen of the apocalypse.