With the (still planned) upcoming release of Manhunt 2 for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 2, and Sony PlayStation Portable just weeks away, the time has come for the outrage and the bannings over the content found within developer Rockstar's latest game to spring forth. There have been two major issues developing over the last few days regarding Manhunt 2, the first being how the game is being marketed to children despite its inappropriateness and the second regarding the game's banishment from the United Kingdom. I'd like to take a moment to speak my mind on the issue.
I cannot see how Manhunt 2 is supposed to be geared towards children. See that box art over there? That's not Pikachu on the case. Neither is it Spongebob Squarepants or a ninja turtle. It's an extreme close-up of a battered eye. How many games aimed at children feature a battered eye in horrific detail on the box?
Ah, but I think what has raised spines on this one is that the only current generation home console on which to play the game is the Nintendo Wii, a console that is undeniably for children. Oh, what's that you say? The Wii is just another console that features games for players of all ages from kiddie to adult? Nonsense. Everyone knows that Nintendo only makes products for children, such as that Pokemon game and that other Pokemon game. They've never published a first person shooter, a fighting game, a game with boobies, or a game in which the hero uses a sword to impale the main villain in the brain. You say I just haven't been paying attention? Well, who has time to pay attention when those dirty developers at Rockstar are trying to foist games such as Manhunt 2 on our children? After all, in Manhunt 2 players can use the Wii's unique controller setup to murder opponents with virtual piano wire, something that I'm fervently against! What do you mean that The Godfather: Blackhand Edition from Electronic Arts released earlier this year featured this gameplay mechanic already? That can't be true. If it were then I'm sure I'd have been outraged about it.
Flawed reasoning aside, what we have here is Rockstar trying to push the envelope yet again. Pushing the envelope and trying to break through limits can be good. That sort of thinking brought us memorable games such as Super Mario 64, Street Fighter II, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and even Rockstar's own Grand Theft Auto III. On the other hand, pushing the bounds of good taste merely for shock value never holds up well. When was the last time Night Trap was relevant? Or Custer's Revenge? How about the original Manhunt? Manhunt 2 is the latest in a line of games designed to raise hackles, sell well based on controversy and curiosity, and if the gameplay turns out to be fun then all the better. Rockstar has the "better sales through outrage" business model down to an exact science at this point. The company can be faulted for gross and distasteful content, but not knowing how to manipulate both its fans and its detractors is certainly not one of its failings.