Animorphs RPG

Animorphs was one of the best selling series of the blessed 90’s, and a personal favorite of mine. I collected the whole dang series, which is no mean feat. There were a few awful games based on the series back in the days (and an incredibly underwhelming TV show,) but none of these really did it justice. Modern technology could produce a far superior game. (I would also like to see a TV show or a comic book adaptation, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.)

In my mind, the perfect Animorphs game would have to accomplish two main feats:

1) It would have to allow you to access the full experience and versatility of being able to morph animals.

2) The world must be large, open, and freeform. As in, GTA scale. It must also be sufficiently detailed and true to the detailed mythos of the Animorphs universe.

Without these, you will end up with some dumb platformer or brawler, which would utterly frustrate the point of an Animorphs game. Obviously, creating a game of this caliber would require an enormous budget, and while Animorphs was a popular series back in the day, it would likely be a futile attempt to convince any developer to create this game.

But we are here to dream, and so I will cover what I think would be the ideal Animorphs game in some detail.

Morphing

The heart of any Animorphs game has to be morphing into animals. This means that we must allow for freeform morphing. You must be free to morph any animal you’ve acquired, at any point in the game.

Of course, there are some possible exceptions, including being trapped in a small space as an insect, or losing a morph due to an allergy, like in the books, but for the most part, the player must have full control. Nothing would be dumber than say, only allowing you to use bat morph for one mission and then never giving the option again, or only turning into your battle morph in designated zones, or only giving you one “slot” per morph type, or any other such malarkey.

In addition, we should feel the various strengths of the different morphs. We need to be able to fly freely above the city as a bird of prey. We need to be able to charge through fences as a rhino. We need to experience the grossness and the inconspicuousness of the fly. Different forms would have different strengths and weaknesses, possibly even different graphics or control schemes.

Now, there will clearly have to be some concessions made. We cannot possibly model a city that is vast enough to fly across as an eagle and yet detailed enough  for ant-scale adventures. But I am confident that there are solutions and compromises to these problems.

For instance, some possibilities include insect morphs being a zoomed- out third person view, only having certain specific levels be detailed on an insect level, using procedurally-generated details, or by having insect morphs be an abstract view that doesn’t show major details. (Surely having a grainy, black and white view would be suitable for an ant, for instance.)

Players will automatically find animals that suit their play style, and develop a short list of favorites. No reason for the game to restrict their choices. Some animals would be easier to obtain, of course, but by completing special missions one can unlock rarer animal types, just like in the books.

Now, obviously, this will require a great deal of work in modeling various creatures and applying controls and so on, but given the stunning developments in next-generation gaming, this should be totally achievable. Furthermore, things can be simplified by having a few basic templates or archetypes. For instance, every bird can use the same base. You simply need to adjust the model and a series of statistics. If coupled with a dynamic/smart engine, animations could be deduced rather than preprogrammed.

In addition, while there are a vast array of different animals, the majority are not well known and will not be sought out. Players can acquire a sparrow without having to obtain eight different varieties, and so on. Players will generally be drawn to the more famous mammals and beasts, drastically narrowing the necessary work. DLC could even be used to add slightly more obscure creatures.

In conclusion, by utilizing next-generation technology and a few basic parameters, an Animorphs game could provide the most freeform and diverse gameplay experience ever created, utilizing the rich variety of the animal kingdom and the imaginative aliens of the Animorphs universe.

Open World

The majority of the Animorphs world takes place in California, providing us with the primary setting for the game. Attempting to restrict the game world of an Animorphs game would essentially give us one of the early platformers that we’ve already seen. The city described in Animorphs has a wide variety of locations, beaches, mountains, the mall, zoos and amusement parks, skyscrapers, and more. Allowing free access to the whole world would provide a much more interesting game.

Imagine being able to fly freely over the city. Swim in the ocean as a dolphin. Infiltrate buildings as a fly. Run through the forests as a wolf. Go anywhere, essentially. Within this open world, players could discover missions and spontaneous events, some of which are based on the books, some of which could be added. Many of the Animorph’s adventures occurred based on surveillance or information presenting itself that spoke of another Yeerk plot. Discovering these organically in the world would be much more interesting than purely scripted missions.

Some levels would be more scripted, though. Many times in the series, the Animorphs travelled to exotic locations such as the jungle, the arctic, or even alien planets. Accessing these missions in the world would bring up a special, more linear level to emulate that adventure, many of which would end having obtained new, unique morphs or valuable information or statistics.

Taking advantage of upcoming developments, it would also be possible to replicate the paranoid nature of the Animorphs, by having intelligent AI, some of which is randomly determined to be Controllers. Morphing within sight of a Controller could lead to immediate or delayed consequences, so some social and stealth elements would be a part of the game as well.

Another feature that could add a lot of fun and variety to the game is co-operative play. The Animorphs functioned as a team, using their various strengths and morphs to accomplish great tasks. Playing with your actual friends would be much more useful and fun than AI. Barring that, playing in a leadership role to direct your teammate’s morphs and directions would also be useful.

Over time, your characters would gain experience, which could be used to unlock various perks such as faster morphing times or other combat and gameplay bonuses, allowing for further customization of gameplay. Of course, as time goes on, newer and more powerful morphs are also acquired, but so too do your enemies grow more powerful.

That’s about all the ideas I have, at least generally. I’m sure I could give more specifics for different morphs or levels or other aspects of gameplay, but you get the basic idea. What would you like to see in an Animorphs game?

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