The 'wackiness' of Japan (in video games)

I’ve never actually been to Japan, but I hope to someday; I love the culture, art, and history. It’s very high on the list of places I plan on travellng to at some point in my life, given the means.

However, I’ve come to dread ‘visiting’ Japan in any video game. If I’m playing a game that involves different courses or arenas, and I see that one of them is in Japan, it’s pretty much a given that that one is going to be my least favorite. For some reason, the designers always make the Japanese courses or arena ‘kooky’ and full of odd and quirky (read: in my opinion, anyway, annoying) obstacles and touches.

In SSX: Tricky, the Tokyo Megaplex level is full of huge, weird monolithic barriers that will pop out of the friggin’ ground at points, other wall-like barriers that open and close, and a gigantic fan-thing that blows you up to another level. It’s full of bright, ostentatious colors, and many other things that get in my way of having a good time. It’s clearly an effort to be wacky, but I just find it annoying. The only level in the game I just hate.

In Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, the Tokyo level was, again, my least favorite by far. Just so overwhelming in it’s obvious attempt to be strange and out-there. And in the Gran Turisimo series, the Japanese levels are full of incredibly sharp, tight turns that seem very unrealistic. Could be my ignorance of real-world auto racing, but it seems to me with that many impossibly tight turns, it would make a pretty boring, slow race. Again, it seems like an attempt on the designer’s part to make the Japanese level different in a ‘strange’ way. Annoying!

Those are just off the top of my head, but I know there have been others. So why do game designers do this? I’m sure many people disagree with me and enjoy these levels, but I still wonder, why did Japan become the bastion for all that is wacky in the video game world?

because videogames are from japan and being kooky is a big thing there, so they can parody themselfs.

part of it is that japan really is a diffrent culture and they make weird stuff from our point of view… but if you talk to someone from japan, you can figure out that 90% of the weird stuff they sell there is stuff they realize is crazy/stupid/useless, but they like it for the sillyness factor of it, even though they know that its really a dumb idea. so they parody themselfs as being kooky because they all admit that they are being intentionally kooky with trends

Chu Chu Rocket!

The silliness is put in there as a catharsis to the mayhem inherent in the games. Thus, pot or EkeEke cures you, you get hit by giant chickens, stuff like that. Otherwise you get a ‘Schindler’s List’ tone in the violence in the video games.

Some might say that the Japanese bring the association with zaniness upon themselves.

For example, I posit Sega’s Space Channel 5. The game’s most recent claim to fame is that the lead singer of Dee-Lite is suing for defamation of character.