Honey Tribe Studios’ McBank has made the jump from iOS to Mac. If you like your games a little more on the savvy side, this one is worth paying heed to.
As the maruading mobile monster continues to swallow new gamers by the mouthful and more companies stake claims in the console market, the number of games vying for our attention is growing exponentially. But there still aren’t too many that attempt to broach the more knotty of subject matters.
McBank is Honey Tribe Studios’ commentary on the state of the economy and it’s just made the leap from iOS to Mac. It’s a riff on the match-three formula that limits your number of turns to erase tiles from increasingly challenging boards and then asks you whether you’d like to be a money-craving despot or a benevolent champ. It’s a simple set up that affords the developer a platform from which to ask the player some thorny questions.
“McBank is my way of saying that maybe we have it all wrong,” Honey Tribe’s Shaz Yousaf told BeefJack. ”The way many of us live in the modern world seems a bit ridiculous to me.”
McBank has been designed to provoke thought, as well be enjoyable, but there’s perhaps a friction between the two goals. So why use games as a platform for social commentary?
“Various reasons,” Yousaf told us. “Video games are a very new medium so I think there is a lot of room for experimenting. Creatively games are a very exciting and satisfying way to explore different themes. Also, it probably won’t be very long before games are played by nearly everyone on the planet via mobile phones. So if you want to present a view or idea then games seem to be a good way to do it.”
One of the game’s most striking qualities is its visual motif – a monochromatic, Orwellian theme that fosters a thick air of melancholy.
“For the art I looked to Deco,” said artist Joshua Condison. “We also added a hint of sci-fi, a little like Cowboy Bebop which mixes western and sci-fi themes.
“The art creates a visual image of the world’s greed but I think because the art has a slight comical look (and because of the McBank adverts) the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. ”
An interesting premise coupled with an arresting visual leitmotif from a developer with a history of creating thought-provoking games (Honey Tribes’ last effort taught players about the importance of bees). I asked Yousaf why more developers weren’t willing to wrestle with subjects of a more involved nature:
“Channel 4 has commissioned some interesting things like Sweatshop and International Racing Squirrels. Then you have small studios like Terrorbull Games making satirical games like War on Terror. But yeah you’re right, there are not many people or studios making games where they are consciously trying to say something about society or real life. But then there are far more action films compared to documentary films. So it’s to be expected. Perhaps we’ll see more people using games as a vehicle for social change over the next few years?”