X114JAM9, main character of 'Barkley 2'. Photo: AFP
Imagine a world in which Charles Barkley is one of the last basketball stars alive, after his killer Chaos Dunk changed sports -- and New York -- for ever. Now imagine that it's the backstory for a ridiculous, giddy role-playing pastiche called Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. Now imagine that game has a sequel on Kickstarter, and that you are considering backing it for upwards of $100. Why?
Because it's only at the $100 tier that backers of Barkley 2 can unlock what developer Eric Shumaker describes as his "personal favorite" reward, a life-size body pillow case adorned with the unnerving features of series mainstay the Cyberdwarf, a humanoid whose original skin has been replaced by the that of a basketball.
Stump up $150 for access to a telephonic tip line run by members of the development team, $1,000 for an opportunity to impersonate them during an interview with the press, or $10,000 to take them out for dinner. Well, not the team. Just pictures of the team. Alternatively, dig around for a minimum of $10 in exchange for Barkley 2 once it's completed in December 2013.
The first game, though modeled after older titles in the Japanese role-playing genre, was only released in 2008 but quickly gained a cult following thanks to its obvious love of video game tradition, irreverent humor, and the fact that it was not only free but also actually quite good.
Four years on, the team at Tales of Game's Studios is returning to the Barkley SaGa but without the main man himself (spoiler: the b-ball hero sacrificed himself to save the world at the end of Barkley 1). Evidence suggests that amnesiac protagonist Hoopz Barkley may be a direct descendant, but if lawyers get involved then he definitely isn't.
In keeping with Barkley 2's transition towards a more action-oriented approach, its inspirations range from free, frenetic PC shooters Crimsonland and Soldat to commercial hits like Diablo, Borderlands and Dark Souls.
Barkley 2, whose full title is The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 - Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie - Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, met its $35,000 Kickstarter goal within a day of its November 28 launch. The drive runs until December 28.