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Super Columbine Massacre RPG!

Moby ID: 23773

Description

Super Columbine Massacre RPG! is a recreation of the events at Littleton High School on April 20th, 1999 in the style of a 16-bit RPG. You play as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, usually together in a party. Most of the dialogue is taken from Eric Harris's diaries and recordings of the two and real photographs are used in cutscenes. The music is MIDI versions of period metal and alternative.

The game is broken into two acts. The first concerns the actual shootings. It starts in Harris's bedroom on the morning of the shootings. You must gather all necessary equipment and record a video to leave behind. You can also gather items that give you combat bonuses, such as a Marilyn Manson CD and a Doom CD.

After that, you head to the school for a stealth segment where you must plant bombs without being seen. While combat is turn-based, overworld activities such as this are done in real time. In this act, the game can only be saved in the school parking lot, so most of this must be done in a single pass. After planting the bombs, you get your weapons and wait for the bombs to go off.

When they don't detonate, you storm the school. This is the first actual combat in the game. If you run into an enemy, you go into combat mode. Unlike many games of this type, there is no escaping. You must battle to the death. There are many optional side-quests to perform and story segments to watch in the school, all of which give you extra XP. At the end of this act, Harris and Klebold shoot themselves in the library.

The second act finds Klebold in hell and separated from Harris and his equipment. Doom music plays in the background. He soon finds that the game Doom is quite accurate as hell is swarming with Doom monsters. He must re-unite with Harris, perform quests for dead celebrities and finally battle Satan himself for his respect.

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Critics

Average score: 75% (based on 2 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.8 out of 5 (based on 7 ratings with 1 reviews)

Bold concept that doesn't really work

The Good
The Columbine Massacre and 16-bit RPGs aren't the most obvious combination, but a lot of elements work. Some examples include getting stat bonuses from carrying a Doom install CD or a Marilyn Manson album and the translation of various high school stereotypes into RPG enemies and moves. For instance, you have church kids who can restore health by praying, sheltered girls who can raise defense by crying and jocks who pump up for a stronger attack.

The general conventions about RPG heroes with mysterious pasts are played up a bit, too. There are points around the school you can find that trigger flashbacks about the various people who picked on them and about the few happy points in their lives. These tell you about the characters and give large doses of XP.

The whole game seems to be a commentary on the nature of game reality vs. real reality. The in-game graphics are cute, super-deformed and have only the barest abstractions of violence. The victims' stories are ignored. The focus is solely on Harris and Klebold. At times it cuts away to real photographs, clips from the news, etc to show the reality of the situation. The most jarring of these is the cut from the cartoon bodies on the library floor to actual crime-scene photographs.

The second act is at least good in concept. It shows both Harris and Klebold in hell, which is depicted as a cross between Doom and the hell of "South Park" and gives them a sort of happy ending there. The whole idea of the reality of hell being like its depiction in Doom is great, as are the super-deformed Doom-monsters. The fact he was able to pull this off with a happy ending, especially when treating the killers as the protagonists is quite impressive.

The Bad
Unfortunately, while it's somewhat successful as an artistic achievement, it doesn't really work as a game for reasons that should have been obvious from the outset. The whole first segment is ridiculously easy. You are, after all, gunning down un-armed people who have no way to escape. There's lots of interesting weaponry, but there's no real strategy as the enemies are weak enough anything will kill them sufficiently. It's just walking into a room, killing everyone and repeating, while heading back out to your car to reload and heal occasionally.

Way too much of this is optional as well. You can just head straight for the library without killing much of anyone and end up in act 2 at level five or so. Surviving at that level is basically impossible and there's no way to go back. Some more odd RPG conventions forced on the game to control progression would have helped here.

Even if you kill everyone in the school, putting you at about level 25, act 2 is still incredibly difficult as there are monsters everywhere and you start out with no equipment to speak of. It's most a bunch of tricky dodging until you can find some stuff.

There is also a basic problem with the premise. The game seems to be based on the version of massacre that happened in the popular consciousness than any real events. The evidence doesn't support the idea that Harris and Klebold were striking back at their bullies and tormentors. Eric Harris was a misanthropic sociopath who hated the whole world and Dylan Klebold was an emotional troubled kid who got drug in as a toadie.

The part that most stuck out is the scene where they save a kid from a group of jocks in the boys' bathroom. This doesn't sound like the work of someone who idolized Hitler and spoke of survival of the fittest constantly in his diaries. It strikes me that this is the sort of weakling that he thought most deserved to die. It's like the author is projecting his own experience onto what happened here and it doesn't really fit.

The Bottom Line
A lot of these problems were inherent in the premise. I'm not sure whether to criticize the game for being so obviously ill-conceived, or praise the sheer ballsiness of making it anyway. The end result sort of works as an artistic point, but not really at all as a game. When playing, I was reminded of an art exhibit I saw back in 2000. It had many historical events, including the capture of Elián González and the Littleton Massacre re-created as scenes from The Sims. It made the same point about video games vs. reality, and only took a few minutes to look at, without having me level-grind helpless enemies for a couple hours. Granted, it couldn't deal with speculation and motivations the way SCMRPG did, but that was one of the least effective parts of the game, coming across more as an emo fantasy than anything real. Perhaps the game would have been better to focus on Klebold alone. His motivations are at least sympathetic to most people. It would be a story about loneliness and the allure of a strong personality, not some bully cliché and probably be more interesting.

Windows · by Ace of Sevens (4399) · 2006

Trivia

Development

This game was made with a pirated English fan-translation of the Windows version of RPG Maker.

Film

In 2008, a documentary film named Playing Columbine was released, which chronicles the history of the game.

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Game added by Ace of Sevens.

Additional contributors: Havoc Crow.

Game added September 4th, 2006. Last modified November 21st, 2023.