By DarkbeatDK 1 Comments
Limbo, Never Alone, Tearaway... All games with simple mechanics that are designed to tug at our heartstrings. There's no denying that the Emotional Platformer is here to stay, but which game was the first? Which game was the one that defined the genre?
A bit of background info; I've recently gotten into collecting bootleg Famicom carts. It's honestly a waste of money and you should really either collect the original carts or just download the roms, if you don't care about the collection aspect. The reason I'm collecting them is for the funny labels and because you sometimes stumble upon Chinese games that only ever appeared on these multicarts.
It was on one of these carts that I stumbled upon a romhack of Adventure Island II called "Dad,where are you g'oing?". Considering that this romhack probably was put together sometime back in the 90s, I think this makes it the game that helped redefine the platformer genre for a more emotional generation that doesn't care about getting killstreaks or K/D ratios, but feelings.
With a few simple sprite changes, it is now no longer Takahashi Meijin riding a dinosaur, but a boy getting carried by his dad. With the title and the sprite change, the game suddenly becomes an emotional rollercoaster, where you try to find your dad in an egg (as you do) and get to the end of each stage.
When dad is carrying you, there's nothing that you can't do. Dad is strong and can break rocks with his kick-attacks... Something that you cannot do on your own. Dad will go anywhere you ask him to, but if you get hit by an enemy attack, you will lose dad again... and it will be your fault.
The concept of rapidly deteriorating health, found in the original Adventure Island II, is still present in "Dad,where are you g'oing?", so even if dad is gone, it's still important be a good boy (at platforming) and eat your vegetables. Maybe, just maybe, that will mean that you get to see dad again.
As you venture deeper into the game, you start to realize that there is more than just one dad, such as fireball-dad and underwater-swimming-dad who will carry you on their shoulders towards your future and protect you from the relentless attacks of tiny animals, who are all symbolic of the scrutiny a child with multiple dads might experience... very progressive for a 90's video game.
Whether it was intentional "Dad,where are you g'oing?" is undoubtedly a timeless classic that I firmly believe is the unknown originator of the modern emotional platformer genre. Whatever the family situation may be like in your life, this game perfectly captivates what it means to have or to lose a father figure: That strong person who will carry you on his shoulders, shoot fireballs and makes you feel safe as you know you can take that extra hit and still get through the level.