It's hard to imagine Brütal Legend as anything but an all-out head-bangin' rock attack but designer Tim Schafer says that in the game's early days, publishing executives wanted him to change the theme to hip-hop - or country.
Brütal Legend tells the story of Eddie Riggs, a roadie who finds himself transported to a heavy metal fantasy world via his cursed belt buckle. Once there, he must put his unique skills and experience to use, leading the enslaved people in a rock revolution against the tyranny of Lord Doviculus and his minions. The game stars Jack Black, who possesses no small amount of his own rock cred, and will feature appearances by heavy metal icons including Ronnie James Dio, Lemmy Kilmister, Rob Halford and Lita Ford.
It sounds firmly rooted in the world of leather, spikes, wailing guitars and combustible drummers but in a recent Eurogamer interviewer, Schafer revealed that executives at unnamed publishers were hesitant about the rock and roll backdrop and asked if he could make an ever-so-tiny change to the setting.
"When we were first pitching Brütal Legend, it was before the first Guitar Hero game was announced and we were like, 'There's this game in a heavy metal world,' [and they said] 'We like the game, but could we change it to be a hip-hop game, or maybe country music?'" Schafer said. "There's nothing against that music, but it doesn't have a lore of heavy metal, in terms of a certain kind of mythology that leads to epic, medieval battles."
But the explosive success of Guitar Hero, which included classic tracks from Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult, Motörhead, Megadeth, Judas Priest and numerous others, changed minds and opened doors. "After Guitar Hero came out and [Black Sabbath's] 'Iron Man' was one of the first songs on it, it seemed to expose a whole new generation to that kind of music," he continued. "So by the time we were pitching the game for a second time there was a lot more interest in it being exactly what it is, which is a brutal heavy metal action-adventure."
Sounds like we really dodged a bullet there. On the other hand, now we can all look forward to the sequel, Brütal Legend: Bröken Hearts and Stölen Picküps Edition.