Bromance is traditionally thought of as pure love between two butch muscular homies, this isn’t always the case however. Even I fell into the trap in my last article on the subject. Every so often gaming throws a spanner in the works and proves that there’s an exception to every rule.
In my last piece I made a point out of the fact I’d played the games I mentioned with my “bromantic life partner” Adam, these are no different but have spanned a longer time period.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men was a game that flew past many gamers due to its “not a 10 so I won’t play it” reviews. This hidden gem has a story and script that deserves more recognition than many people were willing to give it back when it was released back in 2007.
Kane and Lynch’s plot is complicated if told correctly, however I’ll stick with the need to know side; Kane’s wife and daughter are kidnapped by a cabal society called “The7” because they believe Kane half inched some of their ill gotten gains. With 3 weeks to raise the funds Kane believes he knows where he can find it. To explain Lynch’s part in all this is complicated and full of spoilers, Lynch isn’t well, is the main point.
To say he isn’t well is a slight understatement. During an early mission Kane puts the wheels in motion on a bank job, during the heist Lynch is left to look after the hostages, this is when you discover Lynch’s “Issues”, he’s a paranoid schizophrenic and believes during a mild breakdown that every hostage is actually a police officer.
This game should only be played in splitscreen co-op in my opinion as when Lynch’s “episode” happens, the screen goes a bit blurry and red and all the “hostages” actually start attacking him, however if Kane is stood nearby and watching all he can see on his screen is the psychotic Lynch helping the hostages get the red stuff out of their bodies.
I started this piece talking about how not all bromance is beefcakes and bumping of fists, this game is the epitome of this. Kane and Lynch are haggard men in their 40′s, each with their own selection of cuts, scars and mental issues. They’re nothing to look at and don’t have a traditional friendship, but somehow when you watch those cut-scenes and hear they’re conversations whilst shooting down police, you can see there is a hesitant bromance that exudes from the characters. The writing in this game nails the “reluctant hero” angle but also the “reluctant partners” story without it ending in anything that comes close to a Chris Tucker buddy movie.
The characters bicker, argue and flat out fight during the course of the game, much like a married couple, this real life comparison shows how close two male characters can be whilst the relationship remaining platonic.
Another game, Double Dragon flips the bromance concept on its head. The game itself I’m sure is known by most if not all “core gamers” at this stage. Two real, and bromantic, brothers, Billy Lee and Jimmy must fight their way through many similar looking grunts to save a damsel in distress called Marian from the evil secret society known as The Black Warriors.
The game is your typical side scrolling punch everyone that isn’t player 2 affair. Whips, barrels and boxes can all be wielded to deal damage to the enemies, though most of the time they’ll just make your co-op partner bleed. I played this game a lot as a child, and even recently on my arcade machine I gave it a whirl, and to be blunt, this game is harder than Peter Andre’s taught oily abs. To play it on Amiga back in the day was a struggle to get past level 2, bad controls and reaction times on the game side were all a hindrance to the player. The arcade version made mild improvements but still produced a real challenge.
I find it hard to praise this game the way many other people do, the sequels made improvements and back in the early 90′s when side scrolling games were still a novelty this did bring the genre to many people’s attention, but replaying it, it certainly doesn’t hold up.
The reason I bring this game up is because of Marian, the lady you and your twin brother are trying to save. Lots of people will call out Princess Peach/Daisy as a cock tease, presumably never putting out and always seeming slightly ungrateful to Mario when he saves her from the wrinkled giant Bowser. To use that phrase against Peach/Daisy is a travesty when you’ve seen the balls on Marian. After fighting your way through many enemies, no doubt dying umpteen times and probably getting very stressed, you finally reach her, and then you realise something, both Jimmy and Billy Lee must fight each other and the winner will get her…..heart.
All the way through this game you’re stood side by side with your real life bromantic partner, in my case Adam, and then right at the end you’re asked, nay forced, to break bromantic law number one; “Bros before Hoes”. If this game truly featured bromance then it wouldn’t have ended with a duel to the death, it would have ended with Jimmy Lee and Billy considering it for 10 seconds, looking Marian up and down, then fist bumped whilst walking into the sunset to go find some brewskies and some strippers.
Over the past couple of articles on this topic I wanted to get across two main points. The first is that Bromance in gaming isn’t always about two fat armed and fat necked dude gruffly telling each other that they’re together to end, bromance can be in many guises. The second point is that just because there are two or more male characters this does not produce bromance, see left4dead. It’s about the script writing and the emotion, the setting and the story, the sense of desperation mixed with reliance on your partner, be it the one on the screen or the one sat by your side on the sofa.