Retro Super Columbine Massacre RPG a Mostly Thoughtful Take on the Tragedy

So the other day I was browsing around Kotaku and stumbled upon an entry describing a fan-game someone made based on the infamous Columbine Massacre using a hacked version of the popular PC Japanese program RPG Maker. At first I rolled my eyes at the concept, but after reading the excellent follow-up interview on the site with a survivor of the massacre who actually played the game, it made me want to try it out.

Using a mix of SNES-style super deformed anime graphics and photos, as well as a MIDI score using several alternative rock songs from the mid 90’s, the game feels like an actual SNES RPG. The frequent grammatical mistakes make it clear that English isn’t the first language of the designer, but one can still understand what is being said. Gameplay starts off with a few somewhat buggy puzzles, with the biggest game design flaw being a lack of clear goals leaving the player wondering where the hell do they need to go next to advance in the game.

***** SPOILER WARNING ****************

At the climax of the game, the two Trenchcoat Mafia members commit suicide and the game shows a powerful montage of real photos from the event. If the game would have ended here, it would have made a powerful statement. To be honest, I haven’t quite beaten the game yet, but things continue to the final level where the player controls the deadly duo in hell fighting demons from the PC game Doom. I understand the irony, but it takes away from the emotional impact of the montage before it. The final area of the game is very hard and, frankly, I don’t have the time right now to finish it.

Still, this Columbine Massacre RPG is very interesting. As a whole, the game is very cut-scene heavy and makes one think about the events– ultimately, the killers were people too with their own problems, but the game doesn’t glorify them. This belongs in the recent genre of “political commentary games” that comment on an event in popular culture via the form of a video game.

If you want to try it out, check the link below. You need a PC in order to run it.

Super Columbine Massacre RPG

Post comments on what you think of the game below… I’m curious to see responses from other people.

Two interesting posts

There are also two interesting posts on the subject: one at King Lud IC and the other at Water Cooler Games.

Thanks, Chico!

I've read part of the King Lud IC post on some other website, but both links raise interesting points...

In particular, I like this quote from King Lud IC:

"If we can't have the guts as artists to stand up and make a controversial statement with our medium, we don't deserve to have it. Either everything is okay to make art about, or nothing is. Maintaining a safe zone of taboo subject matter will not appease opportunistic politicians, but rather will relegate our medium to a niche hobby-hole where it can be cornered, nuetered, and sold in clean, heartless parcels."

Back in college, I produced an RPG based on the cult Japanese live-action film "Battle Royale" as part of a group project using that same engine: RPG Maker 2000. It's a shame it hasn't legally been released in the US for the PC, as it's much easier to use than the PSX/PS2 entries in the series that have been released here...

I'll have to upload it when I get back from my upcoming 1 month vacation to Japan.

--Check out my podcasts--
Video Game Music: The Super Koopa Troopa Show
Video Game Reviews: Played to Death

--Check out my podcasts-- Video Game Music: The Super Koopa Troopa Show Video Game Reviews: Played to Death

Game Maker Speaks Up

There's some various bits and bytes about this game at Kotaku: The story includes more comments from Costaldo, some of the background and an interview with the game's creator Columbin. It's also interesting to note that the Rocky is trying to prevent the use of their Pulitzer winning photos in the game.


Here. (Through Rocky Mountain and Inside Denver).

His responses are fairly

His responses are fairly intelligent-- it's a shame he didn't revise the game to be less buggy and ridden with grammar mistakes.

Those who want another interesting perspective to Columbine should watch Uwe Boll's uneven film, "Homeroom: Heart of America."

Yes, it's from the same Uwe Boll that directed such video game flicks as "House of the Dead," "Bloodrayne," and "Alone in the Dark." "Homeroom" is by far his best film and about a third of it is actually quite good...

--Check out my podcasts--
Video Game Music: The Super Koopa Troopa Show
Video Game Reviews: Played to Death

--Check out my podcasts-- Video Game Music: The Super Koopa Troopa Show Video Game Reviews: Played to Death

Retro Super Columbine Massacre RPG

I'm not able to get to the game, maybe the site was taken down due to bandwidth problems. If the use of the photos is a violation of copyright, technically, the english version of RPG Maker 2000 isn't legal either, because it wasn't released in the US. Which is too bad, like Mat Tschirgi already said.

There will always be people who complain when something like this is made about an uncomfortable subject, but I think it's good if video games join other mediums in entering discussion on uncomfortable subjects. And it sounds from the author's comments like adding to a dialog was his purpose, and not just having fun at the expense of a terrible crime.

Responses , fallout

Ian at WCG just posted an <ahref="">excellent analysis of the widespread and reactionary criticism this game is receiving. Here's a quote that I think sums up the problem:

... But the notion that an artifact in a medium about a subject is a priori hurtful, damaging, immoral, corrupt, or otherwise objectionable should send up a huge red flag for those of us interested in videogame expression. Despite the widespread press coverage, the news stories are not about the game's representation of Columbine. They are about the fact that a game that represents Columbine in some way exists.

It's longish, but well worth the read.