Monday, March 1, 2010

Dead or Alive.... You're Coming With Me

Robocop was ahead of its time in many ways. In looking at it today, as I did on good old Blue Ray, I found myself thinking of the use of catch phrases.
A good catchphrase can be a timeless identifier and are in common use in many types of media. For example, Marvel comics has at least two power hulks, the Hulk, "Hulk Smash", and the Thing, "It's Clobberin' Time." These battle cries are quick things to identify and reinforce character integrity.

These identifying marks can take a few forms.

1. Mannerisms: Despite Murphy's catch phrase in the movie, the whole Dead or Alive, there is another trick he has, a certain method of twirling his gun in immitation of his son's favorite television character. Bruce Lee occassionally would taste his blood and give his enemies a quick hand gesture to continue the battle. Others crack their knuckles. Give the character a physically identifying signature.

2. Methodology: The Mark of Zorro is called that for a reason. In video games (no, not the dreaded Video Game comparisson!), like Mortal Combat, the characters tend to have unique 'Finish Him' moves which share a similiar purpose. They look cool and identify the character to the audience.

3. Equipment. While perhaps not as personal as some of the other bits, when you see a 'batarang' hit the stage, you're pretty sure a member of the bat family has shown up. When you see Stormbringer sucking the soul of a dying man, you're probably safe betting that Elric is nearby.

4. Speech Patterns: Hard to pull off except with practice or the most dreaded of stereotypes, but love him or hate him, everyone knows Yoda. In the show Samurai Jack, the Scott's Man is another one easily identified. Exagerrating stereotypes and making them larger than life is a quick way of ingraining such a character onto the players. Don't overdo it though with too many characters of similiar nature or too many apperances of such characters.

Remember, when making your characters, as a player or a game master, the easier the catch phrase rolls off the tongue and the easier it is to remember, the quicker you'll be engaged in a familiar character and that's something that a famous commerical would say, "I'd buy that for a dollar."