Game Criticism Time Machine: Duncan Fyfe on Jade Empire’s Outtakes

I’m quoting a long chunk of this post from 2007 by Duncan Fyfe, but I had totally forgotten about this part of Jade Empire.

I don’t know what game ever got this right: the “funny outtakes”. It’s hard to get right, of course, because it’s an awful idea. Over Jade Empire’s ending credits, the characters Dawn Star (voiced by Kim Mai Guest) and Sky (voiced by Cam Clarke) talk about their “experiences” making the game Jade Empire. So you have the fictional character Dawn Star blathering on about working with “the writers” at the real-life company BioWare. Now, it’s not that I can only read this game strictly literally. I don’t understand, however, what comedic potential is being realised by “Dawn Star” acting like she’s on a real-world press junket. Reminds me of those interviews with fictional characters — who on earth is interested in these things?

Nor do I understand why BioWare is so eager to violate the verisimilitude of their story. Thank you, I guess, for not doing it in the game proper, but when you don’t commit to your somber mythology, guess what, neither do I. You don’t even have the decency to make it an easter egg, unless you were thinking players might not sit through your nine minute (!) credit sequence.

And I don’t understand why BioWare suddenly decided to cut loose at the very end of their dour, meaningless epic, and where, after Knights of the Old Republic, their sense of humour went. Jade Empire’s outtakes follow a certain comedic style in which you emulate a form (in this case, press interviews and promotion) but forget to say anything funny, so that’s just the joke, that it’s a secret thing you found and it’s kind of like they’re on Entertainment Tonight. Yeah, there’s a couple of jokes in there, but it’s like open-mic night and BioWare’s the last one to excitedly jump on stage and launch into their horrific comedy bit and then completely die. It’s embarrassing.

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One Response to Game Criticism Time Machine: Duncan Fyfe on Jade Empire’s Outtakes

  1. I haven’t played Jade Empire, but it reminds me of the joke ending for Chrono Trigger, the one where Marle and Lucca turn a critical eye to the men in the game. Although I suppose that one is more of an easter egg, given the narrow window for reaching that ending.

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