While Sports Interactive made it very clear that Football Manager 1888 was an April Fools’ joke, the general concept was easy to get behind. In fact Teflon’s idea of being able to play all the way up to the modern day, with the relevant status of clubs and changes in the game reflected, would be simply brilliant. It reminds me of games like Age of Empires or SimCity 2000, with new technologies and abilities opening up as you progress through time.
This idea, taking a game and changing its time period, is one that seems like it’s got legs. There are so many games that I feel could be hugely entertaining if you moved them into the distant past or the far flung future.
Assassin’s Creed is the obvious topic here, but it’s been done to death. Yes, a game in feudal Japan or Victorian London would be great, although I’d be really interested in something set around the World Wars. However, moving away from the normal suggestions for Assassin’s Creed titles, the scope the series has for a sci-fi setting is intriguing.
With the world they’ve set up there’s the potential to go so far back into pre-history that science fiction elements would emerge, ones that we’ve already seen at points in the series, although it’s certainly possible to envisage an Assassin’s Creed title set in the near or distant future. Ubisoft have really built themselves some flexibility with their universe, and I wish they’d explore it a bit more thoroughly.
However, what I’d rather focus on is the less obvious candidates. The Call of Duty series already has games covering an 80 year time span, why not consider setting one in the pre-World War I era? Despite the general cries that the gameplay would be terrible whenever anyone suggests anything like this, with guns that are too slow to reload and far more regimented tactics, I think the idea has potential.
Much like TaleWorlds’ Mount & Blade series has shown that cavalry based warfare can make for enjoyable gameplay, all it needs is a developer to step up to the plate and prove that you can make a game starring someone like an American Civil War soldier. We have games from almost every period of military history, all the way from ancient Greece to the far flung future, but there does seem to be a bit of a gap during the transition from swords and horses to guns and tanks.
Football Manager 1888 aside, there are other sports that could easily be a lot of fun if you set a game in their formative era. I don’t think, for example, there’s a game set around the early days of motor racing, although I’m not sure that it would be that fun if you started at the very beginning.
Take the world’s first recorded motor race, 1894’s Paris–Rouen race arranged by Le Petit Journal. The first person across the line was Count Jules-Albert de Dion, although he was ultimately deemed ineligible to be declared the winner (his car was steam powered and required a stoker, something you think they would have noticed before the race). His average speed? A thrilling 12 mph/19 km/h.
I feel you may need to go a little later into the car’s development if you don’t want to play a game where you’re crawling along; heading into the 20th century might be a good start. Even if you limited yourself to the 20th century that’s still a hundred years of racing to pick from. Why do all racers seem to focus on the cutting edge; surely there’s something worth visiting in all that history?
While these are some of the more serious ideas that have popped into my head, the sillier ones are the ones that seem like they could have more potential. For example, a Zelda game where he’s transported to the modern world, much like the Disney film Enchanted, has a strange appeal to me.
It wouldn’t even need to be particularly gritty or dark, and something like the Limbo concept from DmC: Devil May Cry could work to create a nice explanation of his presence. Mostly though it’s just the general idea of Link fighting with his sword and shield in a modern city that seems hilarious, although I think that might just be me.
There’s so much scope to play with this concept, so many ideas to explore. Whole genres could be reinvigorated or even reinvented by simply tweaking their setting, by moving the historical context to something unfamiliar. Rockstar could let us explore what being a gangster in Imperial Rome was like, or NeatherRealm could show us what champions Earth sent to the Mortal Kombat tournament in the 12th century. Doesn’t that just sound like an awful lot of fun?