G.I. JOE-Real American Heroes:
Are we noticing something of a pattern here? I’m afraid that growing up in the 80s had a rather profound impact on me. Those of us young enough to experience the animated glories of the years between 1980 and 1993 or so, without being old enough to fall victim to horrors of 80’s fashion or pop culture were fortunate enough to be weaned on the greatest selection of cartoons and entertainment that the world has ever seen, or at least nostalgia would have it so. I was a big fan of the JOEs when I was a kid and had a good collection of the toys. The toon itself though, I really loved. I tracked it down in college in a burst of nostalgic madness and found that large swaths of it were nearly unwatchable, although there were certainly high points. However, it was at that point that I discovered the comics.
Right about my freshmen year of college, Marvel put out in TPB form the first fifty or so issues of the G.I. JOE comic written by Larry Hama. As part of the rediscovery of my childhood that I had undertaken, I tracked these down. Much to my astonishment, they were to the JOE cartoon what the book Starship Troopers was to the movie. My unbelieving eyes discovered that, while the show had been light adventure, suffering greatly from the fear of violence on TV that gripped the decade of its ascendancy, the comic was something much finer and more interesting, more compelling, than I had ever expected from a comic book. You see, it was G.I. JOE, more than anything else, that showed me what comics were capable of accomplishing. The author, Hama, had actually served in Vietnam, and the book under his hand was full of vibrant characters, exciting adventures, but also grounded in a sense of military knowledge and a soldier’s perspective on the ambiguities of politics and life. Characters were hurt, characters killed others, and were themselves killed. Needless to say, I was amazed.
So, with my mind filled with the exploits of Snake Eyes, Duke, Roadblock, and the rest, I found myself looking at Freedom Force, and thinking great thoughts. It seemed like the perfect fit, and I set about immediately to bring the JOEs into the world of Freedom Force. I requested some skins and meshes, and I started an abortive attempt at learning modding. It was right about then that my education kicked into overdrive, and I suddenly found myself utterly buried. Shortly thereafter, the mesher who had been creating the JOEs found himself called elsewhere as well. Since then, I’ve picked the concept back up a few times, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Freedom Force simply isn’t the right type of game to capture what makes the JOEs great. It would be hard to portray the stronger military tones and tactics in FF that you would really need for the JOEs. I’ve thought about trying to mod games like Silent Storm (a spiritual successor to the legendary Jagged Alliance 2), but the modding community for those is nothing compared to FF. Art assets are almost impossible to come by.
So, until the right game comes along, with enough popularity to support a community strong enough to make the effort worthwhile, I’m afraid that G.I. JOE will never see the light of day. I hope that one day we’ll see something that fits the bill, but given the waning in popularity of that type of squad-based strategy game, I imagine it isn’t very likely. Hope springs eternal, though. The JOEs are, however, one of only two sets of characters that I’d create my own game for if I ever had enough money to fund a developer. What is the other one? Well, we’ll see in due time, in due time.