Today's weird video game historical anecdote comes courtesy of Bungie designer Jaime Griesemer, who worked on all three of the main series Halo games. In an interview with Edge Magazine (as reported by CVG), Griesemer was asked what he thought of the original Halo's famous subtitle, "Combat Evolved." Apparently, he--and the rest of Bungie--hated the subtitle.
"Oh, man... the subtitle... At the time, Microsoft marketing thought Halo was not a good name for a video game brand. It wasn't descriptive like all the military games we were competing with."
Weird, right? On the one hand, Halo is such a well-known franchise that any discussion of Halo only conjures up images of Halo. For me, Halo means Master Chief and Cortana and warthogs and ring worlds. It evokes combat and battle on its own. On the other hand...Microsoft has a point. The word "halo" on its own doesn't necessarily sound like the title of a first-person shooter. It doesn't sound like a game that would have guns or aliens or spaceships in it. Would Halo have been such a crazy success if people thought it was a game about angels and cherubs?
And so, Microsoft and Bungie met each other in the middle...at the colon:
"The compromise was they could add a subtitle. Everyone at Bungie hated it. But it turned out to be a very sticky label and has now entered the gaming lexicon to the point where articles that have nothing to do with Halo get titles like 'Skateboarding Evolved'. So I guess in hindsight it was a good compromise."
"Combat Evolved" is a particularly weird subtitle, in retrospect, because it doesn't reveal anything about what the game is about: all it does is suggest what the game is. We all know that Halo is about fighting, so a subtitle like "Combat Evolved" becomes redundant. It would be like if there was a game called, "Metal Gear Solid: Sneaking Rediscovered." Or maybe, "Blur: Red Shell Reborn."
Actually, that last would be a pretty fresh subtitle if it wasn't so litigious.
What do you folks think of the "Combat Evolved" subtitle? Do you think you would have purchased the original Halo without the subtitle in question? And what are some other redundant subtitles you'd like to see for game franchises?