Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Valderram: The Philippines in video games

PEOPLE always talk about how there’s always that one Hollywood star who’s half Filipino, or about a Filipino member of a western band, or a famous pop star who happens to have Filipino blood, but no one talks about the Philippines in the video game industry.

The first Filipino game that was ever released was “Anito: Defend a Land Enraged” set in a fantasized version of the early colonial Philippines. Players would face enemies like monsters from Philippine mythology and hostile humans that were described as “armored invaders from across the sea”, an obvious reference to the Spanish conquistadors that arrived in the late 16th century.

The game was released in both Europe and the United States in 2003, but was a dismal failure. Gamers loathed the gameplay design and clunky controls, and remarked that the game was a cheap rip-off of the popular Diablo franchise, only with less replayability and stiffer, robotic animations.

Recently, Anino Entertainment, the developer of Anito, has looked towards the ever-growing casual gaming market (think Candy Crush or Plants vs Zombies) to expand their market. Unfortunately they decided it would be better to clone games rather than make their own unique titles. Examples of games released this year are “Manila Rush,” a clone of Temple Run; and “Sago Express,” a clone of Candy Crush.

Unlike Anito however, both of these games received 4/5 reviews because
of their familiar nature. The hardcore gaming crowd, however, will be hard-pressed to find a Filipino game with any originality.

Fortunately, Turkish game developer Paradox has released a series of historical games where the player can play as any country in the world – including the Philippines. In Europa Universalis, for example, players can attempt to control the Sulu Sultanate and dominate Malaya; or in Victoria, where players controlling the Philippines can revolt against Spain and lead the Philippines to new heights of glory; or in Hearts of Iron, they can take over the American-controlled Philippine Islands and attempt to stave off the Japanese… however, these games were meticulously researched by their developers, which means that in these games, the Philippines, as in real life, is always plagued with numerous problems like corruption, poverty and overwhelming budget deficits, so it would always be an extremely difficult choice to play, but that’s where the challenge lies.
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