Most of us know by now that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon‘s a good-natured parody of ’80s silliness. But… the ’80s were 30 years ago. Think about that, as grody and un-cool as that sounds. There are people going about their totally bogus everyday lives who don’t know what makes the ’80s so ’80s, even though most of today’s culture is just recycled from the ’80s. Hello, Transformers and G.I. Joe!
To help alleviate the cultural disconnect, here are some of the shout-outs and familiar tropes Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon exhumes from the ’80s, the decade that never dies, that you ’90s and ’00s babies may not recognize. Put on your acid jeans and turn up the Wang Chung. Things are about to get radical. Radical to the MAX.
OLD VIDEO GAMES
The ’80s were a big time for games. Atari, SEGA, and especially Nintendo made a splash with home consoles. Personal computers became increasingly common. Arcades were in their prime. And this weird Internet thing started to catch on. Everything from our music to our homework began to digitize. Still, things were primitive when it came to storytelling in games. They were either ignored completely or written out in instruction manuals. Eventually, proto-cutscenes began to pop up. The Ninja Gaiden and the Phantasy Star series used 2D artwork and text against black backdrops to tell their tales. Blood Dragon uses a similar style to those, with a few modern touches like voiceover and awkward animation. Blood Dragon‘s grid-based logo and metallic motifs also recall old SEGA Genesis and Master System game covers. Lastly, Sgt. Rex Colt says at one point during a goofy cutscene that “Winners don’t do drugs”, referencing an FBI message anyone who’s quarter-crunched in arcades in the ’80s (and well into the ’90s) would know from its appearance in many attract screens.
’80s ACTION MOVIES
Blood Dragon borrows every note, cue and testosterone laden page (ew) from any action movie of the ’80s you can think of. The Terminator HUD is there. The Terminator theme was clearly an inspiration for Power Glove’s soundtrack. The song “Long Tall Sally” from Predator shows up in the beginning. There are cyborgs, muscled arms, Robocop’s gun (!!!) and an achievement called “Welcome to the party, pal”, named after John McClane’s Die Hard quip. Every cliche is there too: the villain, who resembles chainmail fashionista Bennett from Commando, used to be Rex Colt’s mentor before he went rogue. Rex also has memory problems. And his best friend’s a jive-talkin’ black dude who, ah, retires early. There’s even anxiety over a second Vietnam War, mirroring the “Do we get to win this time?” angst of ’80s movies like Aliens and Rambo: First Blood Part II. It’s all in there, torching eggs with flamethrowers included.
NEON COLORS AND LOW-FI VIDEO
There’s something about the colors turquoise and pink. One hot, one cold, they complement each other really well. Y’know, basic color wheel stuff. They were also two of the approved colors seminal cop show Miami Vice could use. It’s right there in the logo, which was aped and copied in everything from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (right there in the title) to Double Dragon Neon. The two shades, when used together, scream ’80s. Though Blood Dragon still uses plenty of earth tones, the landscape’s dashed with splotches of neon purple, blue, yellow and red. To further add to the throwback look, Blood Dragon incorporates the scan lines and film grain from old VHS tapes and TV sets into the overall visual scheme.
You can throw 20-sided dice to distract your enemies in Blood Dragon. This may seem like a small thing, but Sgt. Rex Colt throws dice because of the ’80s Dungeons and Dragon craze. Gary Gygax’ extremely influential pen-and-paper RPG emerged in the ’70s, but didn’t catch on in the basements and dorm rooms of Eddie Deezens everywhere until the following decade. After that, the fantasy genre became all the rage, with Schwarzenegger’s Reagan-tastic Conan the Barbarian leading the charge. Video games rolled digital die early on in Atari games too, but didn’t reach major prominence until the late ’80s with the Zelda games, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. The throw of the die in Blood Dragon may be a little thing, but the d20′s influence on games is huge.
Shurikens, the batarangs of ninja everywhere, play a mighty role in Blood Dragon. In one of the game’s more impressive actions, you can take down enemies from afar with throwing stars. How, uh, sugoi. Another craze, the ninja craze, started in the ’80s and lasted long into the ’90s with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, 3 Ninjas, Surf Ninjas… Ugh. Okay, it wasn’t the greatest of trends. In fact, the coolness of ninjas devolved into buffoony campiness over the years, usually involving pirates (yawn) or Speed Racer’s family (amazing). But it was fun for a time and hopefully someone will pick up the pieces (besides Rain). Japanese culture in general began its steady invasion as Japan’s economic bubble threatened to surpass America’s own prowess. Japanese cars, eating sushi, and playing Nintendo video games were all pretty new things back in the ’80s. Movies like Black Rain and Wall Street saw Japan’s influence as seductive and dangerous, whereas Highlander and Karate Kid just thought swords and confusing mysticism were awesome. Terry Gilliam’s Brazil had creepy baby demons in samurai armor. Meanwhile, Blood Dragon‘s use of shurikens, as well as the misplaced Japanese kanji on Spider’s headband could be jokes on the West’s skewed image of the East. Wax off.