Gaming journalists have a reputation for being the screaming guy in the ‘quit having fun!’ meme. I don’t mind being accused of it when I’m making a point about representation or suggesting Spider-Man shouldn’t be such a neoliberal police fanboy, but I try to save my attempts to tear down other people having fun for the most important issues that games sometimes overlook. But today I’m just fully leaning into the meme. I want you to quit having fun. Breaking Bad in MultiVersus would be terrible.
I’ve done a full 360 on MultiVersus. That’s two 180s. When the game was first revealed, I hated the idea of it. I’ve always accepted Smash, as we’re used to Nintendo crossovers. My favourite Mario games are the sports or party games, so I’ve been conditioned to be okay with non-canon fun. The other characters don’t mean all that much to me either – I don’t love Pokemon for its narrative, so there’s no conflict with Pikachu being involved, and I’ve never been a major Zelda fan to begin with. In short, I know Smash is silly IP soup but the fact the characters originate in games and frequently don’t take themselves seriously meant I gave it a pass.
But I wasn’t prepared to extend the benefit of the doubt to MultiVersus. Perhaps once bitten, twice shy after Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, Warner Bros. Does Smash held no appeal for me. Plus I found it harder to get on board with some of the cast. Harley Quinn fighting Shaggy? Cool. Iron Giant fighting Superman? Sacrilege. The line-up of MultiVersus could be easily divided into those best suited to a silly platform brawler (like Bugs Bunny or Batman) and those whose stories were undercut by their very presence (like Iron Giant or Arya Stark).
Then I played it, including testing out Iron Giant and Arya, and just for a little while I fell in love. Switching between Velma and Harley, I was hypnotised by its funky fighting, its pick up and play combos, and its love for its characters. I’m still deeply conflicted over its very existence – Neo would be cool but do I want The Matrix cheapened by its presence here? – and then LeBron James pushed me over the edge.
LeBron James is the stupidest character you could add to this game. I get that he was in Space Jam: A New Legacy, but a) that movie was out over a year ago, and b) it was also terrible IP soup. He’s not even voiced by LeBron himself, which makes the whole thing seem pointless. I still play MultiVersus, but LeBron has made me realise it will never be a game I can love.
MultiVersus clearly has affection for its characters, but having LeBron in the game proves its not a showcase of Warner Brothers’ best characters, but its most marketable. That has made me more protective of Neo, and in turn, more protective of all the other characters who wouldn’t fit in with the game’s jovial tone – which includes the cast of Breaking Bad.
It’s odd that Breaking Bad has become such a meme. It’s still revered as one of the greatest shows on television and Better Call Saul is still in the very current zeitgeist. I’m not sure how that translated into memeability, but it has. Trust me, that will become way less fun when Warner Bros. gets in on the joke and lets you punch Taz the Tasmanian Devil as Jesse Pinkman.
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