All right, first off, this game is a lot more violent and crude than a lot of the other games I cover. In fact, if you are under the age of seventeen, I would suggest you don’t read on. I would also suggest you make sure no one else is around if you decide to continue reading because we’re going to be talking about some strange, demented stuff today. Stuff that could have only come from the mind of one of the most demented game designers of all time: Jack Thompson.
Yes, see back in the days of 2005, Mr. Thompson wrote a little letter entitled “A Modest Video Game Proposal” which detailed a script for a game he wanted made which included the murder of ersatz versions of several individuals who Thompson had gone up against in court and the general slaughter of Arcade managers, gamers, retail employees, and all members of the gaming industry. The game would tell the story of Osaki Kim, a bereaved father who lost his son in a violent school killing. After the killer was sentenced to “only a life-sentence,” Mr. Kim goes out on a rampage of destruction to bring an end to the gaming industry. Jack then offered to pay $10,000 to a charity of Paul Eiber’s (the CEO of Take-Two Interactive between 2005-2007) choice if the game was made in 2006.
Now, of course, the money was never paid, which led to one of Thompson’s most infamous moments, in which he tried to bring legal action against Penny Arcade after they stepped up and paid the prize after Thompson backed out and claimed the whole thing was satire. However, there were a few mods and games produced which somewhat resembled Thompson’s plan. Today’s game, I’m O.K., is the one which was the closest to the original script, BUT carefully manipulated the plot to poke fun at the entire idea and make an all-around crude, disturbing, but hilarious gaming experience. This task could only have been done by the most clever of people: four drunk college friends, including Derek Yu.
I’m O.K. is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up where you control the aforementioned Osaki Kim, as he rampages through four levels, ending in a slaughter at E3, and three sniping minigames where he murders customers and employees at parodies of video game retailers. The game allows you to use several weapons, including the default baseball bat and handgun, to mete out your vengeance. Before each level, after the first, you can go to a store run by a suspiciously familiar looking clerk. The game is very short (only about 30 minutes if you’re good) but exceedingly difficult due to the fact that you only get three lives and each time you die you have to restart the entire level.
The difficulty is definitely a weakness of the game since it will probably keep you from reaching the final areas of the game, where some of the best jokes are. The main thing that makes the game hard is that enemies are extremely relentless and they can almost always get the drop on you. For instance, in the second level, you are riding in an elevator and enemies can attack you before you even get a chance to hit them and in some areas it is hard to tell when you can leave an area since enemies will not stop spawning after you kill the amount you need to move on. There are also a couple of cheap shots like forcing you to smash open arcade cabinets that immediately burst into flame and damage you if you don’t jump away in a split-second (you also will have infinitely spawning enemies attacking you while you try to destroy the cabinet).
Finally, though it isn’t as bad as in Eternal Daughter, where too many functions were tied to these buttons, the game uses the SHIFT + CTRL scheme (with the spacebar being used for Molotov cocktails and the ‘up’ key makes Mr. Kim pee… more on that later). What makes this worse is the fact that there is no alternate option; not even the option of using a controller. Though the reason for this is because the game requires two sets of controls: the keyboard for the side-scrolling section, and the mouse for the sniping section (similar to Bayou Billy, though this is far more jarring).
However, there is some fun to be had with the game, despite these flaws. A good reason for this is the sense of humor the game has and the way it turns Thompson’s idea on its head to show the absurdity of it. For example, while it still starts with the courtroom scene where the kid who killed Osaki Kim’s son is being sentenced, it shows the prosecution and defense being run by the same lawyer who is biased against video games, only to have the judge and jury call him on his lies and not buy the story of video games controlling the kid. The game takes it a step further by having Jack Thompson be the one who makes Osaki Kim start his rampage and having several of the bosses point out how crazy Kim’s quest is. The scene at the end of the E3 level is a perfect example of this, as well as being a great bit of absurdist humor.
Another great thing about the game is Derek Yu’s art style and the music. As-per-usual, Derek Yu’s character designs are great, with the cartoony graphics keeping some of the more disturbing parts of the game (like killing children, peeing on brains, sniping people at a retailer) from being too horrific. The enemies also have a surprising amount of animation (including the disturbing death animations) and some of the basic ones even have several attacks. That’s to say nothing of the bosses who are all hilarious and cleverly crafted. The music is also amazingly catchy and pretty dang memorable.
However, if you’re just into carnage-filled games, I’m O.K., also brings that. There’s plenty of guns to raise hell with and even a few weapons like machetes and rocket launchers. If you don’t mind that you’re killing tons of teens and kids (which is something that honestly bothered me, even though I did get the jokes and found parts of it funny), you can have a blast building up a high body count.
Overall, I’m O.K. is one of those games I’ll have to leave to you to decide if you want to play. The game gets really disturbing, but at the same time, there is a lot of great work involved in it and the tone is always humorous. However, I think this game is important, not just as an entry in Derek Yu’s work but also as a part of gaming history. This game is an amazing satire and deserves to be remembered. Next week, we’ll look at some of Derek Yu’s earliest work.