If you are at all familiar with journalism (which you clearly are), you know that an important cornerstone of the art is the crafting of punny, pithy headlines; the kind of headlines that make you laugh quietly to yourself. If you are at all familiar with writing those pithy headlines, you know that the ones you write are all awesome and everyone else’s are all stupid. Lastly, if you know anything about games journalism, you know that preview coverage and release date announcements have their own particular headline template they almost universally adhere to: [Game] [verbs] into stores, wherein the verb is “cleverly” related to an action that commonly takes place in the game, whether or not the action is a feasible way to enter a store.
After studying this particular breed of headline in depth, I have discovered that it can be further subdivided into 5 distinct types: The obvious, the destructive, the broken, the redundant, and the brilliant. Please, allow me to explain.
1. The Obvious
The obvious are, obviously, the most obvious. As such, they are also the most common. These aren’t particular to certain games as much as they are common to certain genres. For example, it is reasonable to assume that:
- Racing games will race or speed into stores. Occasionally they will crash into them.
- Sonic the Hedgehog games also tend to speed into stores.
- Golf and Baseball games are likely to swing into stores, as are Spider-Man games.
- Football games will commonly rush into stores.
As you can see, these titles are fitting of their genre, but are also completely obvious. They are generally very over-used almost to the point of being the norm. Seriously, pay attention and you’ll notice. You can’t unsee it.
2. The Destructive
Some games, not content to be delivered to stores and sit on the shelves, insist upon a show of force on their release date. These games, in getting to the stores, will often take actions that may destroy the stores in question. Apparently, this does not negatively affect their sales. Some examples:
- Burnout Legends crashes into stores.
- H.A.W.X. 2 barrel rolls into stores. Star Fox 3D follows its lead.
- God of War 2 thunders into stores.
- Dragon Warriors 2 is unleashed into stores.
While it is definitely impolite for games to enter their respective stores in this fashion, the destructive still manage to get into stores through activities that are generally associated with movement. Some games don’t, however. We’ll call these games…
3. The Broken
These games somehow manage to get into stores by performing activities that are wildly bizarre. Sometimes they are activities that don’t actually imply any sort of movement, sometimes they are activities that seem to just be plural nouns. Either way, it’s miraculous these games get to the shelves at all.
- Naruto kicks into stores.
- Ultimate Spider-Man webs into stores, somehow.
- It’s not a game, but Lion King manages to roar into stores.
- Bodycount rises into stores, presumably after being placed underneath them.
- Skate 3 ramps into stores.
While these games are getting into stores by completely ridiculous means, at least they are creative and tend to be amusing, unlike…
4. The Redundant
These have much in common with the obvious except for one simple fact; the redundant reuse a word that is in the title of the game verbatim. The pinnacle of unpithiness.
- Audiosurf surfs into stores.
- Street Fighter x Tekken (pronounced Street Fighter cross Tekken) crosses into stores.
- The rare occasion that a Need For Speed game speeds into stores. Credit is due, however, since the name of the franchise is implied and not stated outright.
The above are the four most egregious varieties of preview headlines, but there is one more that attempts to redeem the tradition, and I daresay, it succeeds.
5. The Brilliant
Once in a blue moon, the [game] [verbs] into stores headline can be used with a deftness that borders on divine inspiration. In these cases, the result is so blindingly glorious, so transcendentally beautiful, that it more than makes up for the failings of all its brethren.
- World Card Championship shuffles into stores.
- And two non-game examples
And there you have it folks, the 5 varieties of preview headlines. It is at this point that I must express that we should feel no malice toward these failed headlines. Instead, we should embrace them as a necessary part of the preview coverage ecosystem. Every awkward, pithless headline serves a purpose, for failure is the only path to great victory. Let us salute the momentarily cringe-worthy headlines that, through their great sacrifice, bring about those few, bright stars that stay with us for a lifetime.
But seriously though, I refuse to believe that anything can “web” its way anywhere. That’s just stupid.
(Thanks to the, now defunct but still awesome, Gamespy Debriefings crew for riffing on the subject on multiple occasions)
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