Yesterday, February 11th, rapping human man of no little reputation Kanye West revealed not only his new album, The Life of Pablo, and a "Yeezy Season 3" fashion line at a special live event at New York's Madison Square Garden, but also a video game. A new video game, quite unlike anything we've played before that's been in any way related to Chi-Town's Hero, namely Kanye Quest 3030 and, my favourite, Kanye Zone.
Only One is the game's name, and the trailer, which can be seen at 2:04 in the video below, doesn't reveal a great deal about how it'll play.
But we can work some things out, based on what's been said, and the little we've seen of Only One.
The game's about his mum. When Donda West died in 2007, it hit her son hard. She'd nurtured his nascent talent by paying for recording time when he was in his early teens, and ultimately backed his dropping out of college to concentrate on a music career: "Some career goals don't require college." At MSG, Kanye revealed Only One by saying, "I worked on a video game and I wanted to show y'all... [It's based on] the idea of my mom travelling through the gates of heaven."
So it's more specifically about his mum being dead. And ascending to heaven, which either does or doesn't exist depending on that feeling inside your chest. You know the one. It's there, or it's not. Kanye feels it, and he's super proud of Only One, announcing to the MSG crowd once the trailer had ended: "That's not easy to do, man. Y'all be acting like that shit is regular." Kanye is right: making video games is not easy.
Not that we know just how much of his own time Kanye committed to Only One. Obviously.
But we do know that Kanye had a hard time convincing games-making people to take his idea seriously. He continued, as reported by Kotaku: "I go out and meet with everybody in San Fran, and they'll diss the fuck out of me. And I'll be like, 'I wanna make a game,' and they'll be like, 'FUCK YOU.' That was hard to do, bro!"
Imagine being that someone at a games studio, or maybe several people at several studios, responsible for telling Kanye West to take his game idea and stick it up his arse. Except, he stays away from that area all together, of course. He's really not into buttholes.
We've known he's been making a game for a while, so colour us completely unsurprised by this whole thing. VICE was on top of Kanye's plans in the interactive entertainment field a year ago, when we wrote that his video game "might just be amazing". We also said, back in February 2015, that his heavenly game could well share some qualities with Ignition Tokyo's 2011 action release, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. And you have to say that the visuals of the trailer aren't so far away from that older game's awesome looks. Then again, Only One also looks a little like Robot Unicorn Attack 2. Doesn't it?
Only One shares its title with a song Kanye recorded with Paul McCartney in 2014. Said track is both a tribute to his late mother, sung from her perspective, and to his daughter, North. You can see its Spike Jonze-directed video here, if you like. The song only peaked at 28 in the UK, but went top ten in Indonesia, Belgium and New Zealand.
It's absolutely not going to be anything like his wife's game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Not that any of us are going to rule out microtransactions – only the foolish would ever dare – but whereas Kim's millions-making freemium app is all about rising up the social strata of a select group of haves in the Hollywood Hills, ultimately becoming a celebrity themselves (and ruining lives in the process), Only One appears a lot more personal. When Kanye said, at MGS, "Man, this shit was hard to do," there's no theatre in his voice, no showmanship. He absolutely believes in what he's had a hand in creating, here.
We have no idea what the game's coming out for. Smartphones and tablets? PC and PlayStation? Perhaps it's a Nintendo NX exclusive? There's no point in guessing what you'll be able to play Only One on. We also have no idea when it's out – that trailer might be all that exists of the game, right now. Kanye has been making an album, after all. Fingers, pies, several, in them.
But it's going to be another endless runner, isn't it. You know what we're talking about. Flappy Bird. Temple Run. Canabalt. Alto's Adventure. Jetpack Joyride. All visually unique, all the same basic experience: keep on going until you can't. And if it proves that we can't ever get Donda to heaven, well, that's going to be a disappointment. It won't upset us as much as seeing Kanye tweet some dumb shit like, oh I don't know, "BILL COSBY INNOCENT" (and all the exclamation marks). But it'll be a bummer. Unless it's not an endless runner, and actually something totally awesome, in which case: no, Yeezy, that's still a fucking stupid thing to write on the internet.