Editorial: Beyond the Sword…or not.

Hello again, glorious bags of mon—I mean Lusipurr.com readers! Today, I am here to talk about weapons. More specifically, I am going to discuss the sword. The sword is a weapon that has existed in one form or another for thousands of years. Though not as old as the spear and not as easy to wield as a gun or bomb, the sword is still a deadly weapon that holds a prominent place in human history. The sword is as much a part of human culture as language and societal tendencies. It is little wonder that swords appear often in our art, including video games. Swords appear in fighting games, adventure games, roleplaying games, strategy games, and even first person shooting games.

Is it a sword, or a representation of my wit?
Also, swords look cool.

In many adventure, strategy, roleplaying and fighting games, swords are not out of place. These games are often set in a time and place where it makes perfect sense for characters to be wielding swords. Settings such as feudal Japan or Europe, make-believe lands with medieval technology, and post-apocalyptic worlds without advanced projectile weapons are ripe with simple one and two handed bladed weaponry. However, in first person shooters, swords really seem rather odd. Guns are far more deadly than blades. Bullets can pierce armor, guns can be fired across long distances, and in some games provide automatic fire or spray fire that makes it nearly impossible for the player to miss anything in front of them. What possible use could a sword be in these games? Some might say that swords have an advantage over guns because they do not ever run out of ammunition. They would argue that they could easily kill an unlimited number of enemies without having to stop to reload their weapons. This is patently absurd. When you charge with a sword at a gun-toting maniac, you will not succeed. You will be a smoldering heap of swiss cheese, crumpled on the ground as your soul is dragged to the depths of Hell, if for no other reason than to rid the world of your stupidity.

I can see how it would be effective against guns. Gun-wielding enemies will simply die of laughter upon seeing you wield it.
Wait, this is supposed to be a sword?

Swords even exist in futuristic games. The Halo series has a melee weapon called the energy sword. It is a ridiculous-looking ‘blade’ in the loosest sense of the word possible. Instead of a metallic weapon it is made of a projector, which projects a magnetic field to contain superheated plasma. Ignoring the blatant redundancy of the phrase ‘superheated plasma’, the fact that this melee weapon can pierce shields is almost irrelevant compared to the other weaponry available in the series. The series contains grenades that can be tossed or rockets that can be fired to devastate infantry and vehicles alike. The series even includes a variety of plasma, laser, and traditional projectile weaponry. Why would someone risk their neck to try to cut someone else’s when they could simply fire off a few explosives or laser blasts and remain comfortably among the living? Unfortunately, the Halo series is not the only series to include swords where they do not belong, nor is it the worst.

The next and more obvious offender on the list is the Star Wars series. Originally a movie series, it has branched into almost all types of media, including video games. I say that the series is an obvious offender because of its most prominent weapon: the lightsaber. The lightsaber, like the Halo series’ energy sword, is a weapon that projects a magnetic field to contain plasma, an unbelievably hot and deadly form of matter that, in the series, can cut through almost anything. Lightsabers are often used in the series to block laser blasts, which is certainly less than believable. However, fans of the series and Lucas himself will attempt to explain this away by saying that the laser blasts are actually plasma bolts, and the magnetic field that contains the lightsaber’s plasma also repels the bolts. The lightsaber, though, is not the real problem in the Star Wars series when it comes to swords. No, the real problem is the vibroblade. A vibroblade in the Star Wars universe is a normal bladed weapon, such as a sword or dagger, that has a device concealed in the hilt that causes the blade to vibrate at an ultrasonic frequency. One might wonder how one could even hold a weapon that was vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency, let alone wield it. But even a vibrating sword is not the most absurd thing that Lucas and his associates could come up with. You see, readers, the vibroblade is often made of a substance that exists only within the Star Wars universe called ‘cortosis’. This substance has the extraordinary property of being completely invulnerable to plasma. This effectively allows the average Star Wars writer to produce a normal being who can easily fight a Jedi and win. The person need only block the lightsaber with a cortosis vibroblade when he needs to. Effectively, even the vaguely all-powerful monks that wield an insane weapon hyped to be the greatest in the galaxy can be defeated by somebody with a hunk of metal in their hands. But brace yourselves, readers, for I have saved the worst offender for last.

I have even seen a deer hit a parked car. This is still dumber.
This weapon is stupid.

The Final Fantasy series is known for odd characters and even odder weapons. The reason that I mention it in this post about swords and why they do not belong is the existence of the Gunblade. Squall Leonhart, the protagonist of Final Fantasy VIII and the antagonist of all who played that game, wields a sword that contains a revolver. I cannot stress how ridiculous this is. Yes, swords have existed in real life that have contained pistols. However, the idea of using a melee weapon which has a projectile weapon as a secondary function in a world where projectile weapons are considered the norm and people are able to fling spells around is preposterous and impractical. Squall should not last five minutes in a battle in that world as he is cut down by someone smart enough not to bring a sword to a gunfight.

In all, I would say that swords should be kept out of games that they do not belong in. They should be allowed only in games that are set far in the past or in a post-apocalyptic future, and they most certainly should not exist alongside modern projectile weapons in video games, where they should logically be useless. Would you not agree, readers?

20 comments

  1. Swords are cool. That is why they are used commonly, because they are popular. And frankly, most swords are still better than some weapons I have seen. There was Genis’s weird ball-in-a-cup thing in Tales of Symphonia or Vanille’s stupid rakey fork weapon.

  2. Let’s not forget weapons that are not even weapons. In Illusion of Gaia, the main character attacks people with his flute, using it like a club. A FLUTE.

    Of course, Eiko PLAYS the flute to hurt enemies in FFIX. Which means she must be rubbish at playing the flute.

  3. @Lusi I am playing Illusion of Gaia currently, and I completely forgot about Will’s flute!

    Personally, I think games need more spear users. Watching Madoka gave me a new appreciation for how awesome spears are.

  4. I think George Lucas’s original idea behind the lightsaber had to do with (a) incorporating Douglas Fairbanks “swashbuckling adventure” scenes into his movies, and (b) involving the Star Wars universe into a line of mythology like Arthurian, dark age, and ancient epics by using a sword-like weapon (think: Jedi knight!).

    Because swords are so integral to those ancient conceptions of heroic ideals, chivalry, bushido, etc., they will always play a role in our current video game mythology.

  5. @Deimosion: Totally with you on spears. I was delighted with Edgar/Mog in FFVI being able to use polearms, and sad at the lack of options in that direction. That game NEEDED more spears.

    FFXII, however, totally made up for it. And, the best weapon in the game is a spear!

    @Matt: I have heard that before, too. Is it something Lucas said? That he wanted Swashbucklers-in-Space? I know Star Trek was meant to be Horatio Hornblower in space, too.

    I am disappointed at the lack of maces in games. Have any main characters ever used them? It seems they always get relegated to some (usually female) support character. Maybe in Japan, the mace is identified as a woman’s weapon, whereas a sword is for men? I don’t know enough about their culture. Perhaps our WEEABOO MANIACS can provide an answer.

  6. Swords aren’t as stupid as Blitzballs, plushies, origami or megaphones. =(

    [MY NAME IS GINIA AND I AM A BUTT AND I WILL NOT EVER SLIGHT THE WONDERFULNESS OF MEGAPHONES EVER AGAIN.]

    I do lol in Shadow Hearts when Gipetto attacks demons with a friggin’ marionette, and Alice thwacks ’em with a book. Meanwhile Marguerite has some goddamn sense and hurls grenades and shoots ’em dead.

    I dunno, man. Half of the time I think video game weapons are chosen and designed with cosplayers in mind. >.<

  7. @Lusi I designated Balthier as my Spear/Pole guy, and I do not regret that decision at all.

  8. Sure, laugh at the Covenant energy sword. I was laughing… until the baddie wielding it cut me down in two swings. Over and over again.

    I don’t know, I’ve never really fretted over the presence of swords in strange settings. Swords for swords’ sake works for me because the concept of a sword has such a prominent place in my psyche.

  9. Ginia raises a good point. Who uses a megaphone as a weapon? Only some sort of insufferable Scottish cat robot would do such a silly thing.

    [MY NAME IS DEIMOSION AND I HAVE BUTTS FOR TEETH.]

    And yes, I agree with Emmori: I do not have a problem with out-of-place swords because I have been a JRPG fan for so long that swords are just something I expect.

  10. @Deimosion: I am certain that Lusi would not at all mind showing you just how adequate a weapon a megaphone can be. ;D

    – When given the option I usually have my main character specialise in using two-handed broadswords, because they are totally badarse!

  11. I’m pretty sure Lusi hit me with a megaphone once. It was painful.

  12. @SiliconNooB Totally in agreement with the two-handed sword preference. Me and Power Attack have a long history together.

  13. Holy crap, lookit Riddles’ hot new profile picture!
    Also, butts for teeth is amazing.

  14. Who is that doppelganger? I was going to say that exact thing! So I will.
    Holy crap, lookit Riddles’ hot new profile picture!
    Also, butts for teeth is amazing.

  15. I just wanted to mention that on the Destructoid Podcast this week they discuss Gunblades a bit and mention who people liking FF8 should be treated badly.

  16. I don’t remember if I ever heard that part about Lucas- it may be seeping into memory from a very long time ago. I am more sure about the mythological connection, given his inspiration by Joseph Campbell.

    And how ’bout some more respect to one of the most creative weapons in video games, the MEGAPHONE??

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