GCG: 'Dead Rising: A Trope Down Memory Lane'

In this feature for Gamasutra sister site Game Career Guide, Azurelore Korrigan presents the latest in his series analyzing the game design of landmark titles, this time
May 22, 2007

In this feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide, Azurelore Korrigan presents the latest in his series analyzing the game design of landmark titles, this time examining the design and gameplay characteristics of Capcom's zombie-filled Dead Rising, calling the title "the self-appointed answer to everything wrong with video games as they are now."

In this excerpt, Korrigan levies healthy praise at the Xbox 360's action survival horror darling, drawing parallels between it and other all-time classics such as Gauntlet, while describing it as “the modern equivalent of an Atari Games battle of attrition:”

“A fun tidbit is that this is basically the first original thing (Onimusha aside) that Keiji Inafune has done since creating Mega Man, twenty-as-it-happens years ago. After the millionth sequel, Inafune looked around and realized that, above anything, Japan needs some new blood. There are solid, if rough, ideas all over - particularly in the West - that Japan, with its head down, is ignoring almost entirely. If Inafune could just refine those ideas; get at the heart of what they were trying to do, and present it in a clear and appealing way, maybe he could just make a difference.”

She later continues:

“Even more overtly than Gauntlet, Dead Rising is a game of survival. After a quick introduction, the player is given seventy-two in-game hours to do as he pleases. Three days later, if he's still kicking, he's airlifted to safety, bringing along all the accomplishments he's scrounged up along the way. Since a game minute lasts five seconds of real time, that means the game is only six hours long, beginning to end. Like an NES or Genesis game, it's meant to be played or at least playable through in one or two average sittings.

More than that, it's a game that's meant to be replayed - over and over. Like a ghost from the arcade, or at least a time before memory cards, the player is meant to want to try again, to play from the beginning whenever the whim strikes, rather than beat the thing once and place it back on the shelf to gather dust. Make the game digestible enough, and the player can easily get the point.

Make it visceral enough, and the player will want to try again. Make it nuanced enough, and the player will find a new variation on the point every time he plays. In other words, the game will always be uniquely rewarding to play. If video games are to survive, Inafune is saying, the relationship must pay off over time rather than in a short, one-way spurt.”

You can now read the entire feature, with more from Korrigan on Dead Rising, praising the game's nearly nonstop battle of attrition and “profoundly 'old-school' sensibility” that are made possible thanks to the powered afforded by the Xbox 360 (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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