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