Friday, January 18, 2013

They Should Have Been Games

Heavy Rain, Metal Gear Solid, the later entries in the Final Fantasy series...what do these games have in common?  They all feel like the product of a frustrated wannabe filmmaker.  Perhaps these particular stories would have been better off had they used movies as their medium.  Dragon's Lair, especially to me, always felt like it would have made an awesome animated film rather than a clunky QTE driven collection of FMVs.  So, while these phenomenon of the video game industry exist, there's also several examples in the world of cinema that would have probably found a more receptive audience had they chosen to be video games instead of motion pictures.   

Flash Gordon was originally a pulp sci-fi comic which debut in the 1930s as a direct competitor to the similarly themed franchise Buck Rodgers. In 1982 a live action film came out. Then a game was released in 1987, but it pretty much ignored the style of the film. This was most likely due to the fact that the movie bombed at the box office. For better or worse the film has since become a cult classic with its distinctive look as well as quirky tech; such as atomic rockets, lightning fields, and ray guns that go "pew-pew." So, why should this have been a game? Well to start with the blond-haired, square-jawed protagonist is the star quarterback of the New York Jets (Yale Polo player originally). This makes him perfect marketing material. A less snarky reason comes from the world of Flash Gordon (a.k.a. planet Mongo). It's basically a sci-fi version of Hyrule. For starters we have hawk-men, lion-men, and shark-men which correspond well with Deku, Gorons and Zora. Then there is Ming the Merciless in lieu of Gannon, King of Evil. Flash has a love interest in need of rescue, just like Link. Even the respective princesses, Midna and Aura, thematically overlap each other quite a bit. Hammy acting plus black and white morality may seem cliche in cinema, but in video games it's par for the course. Also the soundtrack courtesy of Queen rocks.  

Total Recall (the remake) would have made an excellent FPS had it been picked up by Monolith Productions. Instead though that company has been delegated to making League of Legends with a Lord of the Rings graphics set. A pity since the film felt like a lot of loosely stitched together action set pieces. It would have been great to play, but felt a bit awkward to watch. Also, is it me or do the robot enemies look an awful lot like the ones featured prominently in Binary Domain?

Prometheus was a disjointed disappointment on the big screen, but what if it had been a classic point-and-click adventure game? Lucas Art's The Dig with the horror elements cranked up is what I'm thinking. Or maybe Darkseed set in space...Gemini Rue and Primordia by Wadjet Games are some good recent examples of how to make a fun sci-fi title that's light on the combat. Plus, there is the matter of video games not being required to adhere to a two hour or so format. Imagine having more time for exploration, character development and (god-engineers forbid) answers to some of the questions that the film asks. At the very least the stupid behavior of the science team would make a lot more sense if it were the result of a mischievous player's input. I don't know how anyone else played Space Quest back in the day, but I highly doubt that I'm the only one that wanted to see what happened when Roger Wilco touched stuff.

Well...that's all I got for now.  But before I go let me ask one question.  Why are all these guys looking to the right?  Seriously...all three pictures I posted are from DVD box art and in all three cases the faces displayed prominently in the center foreground are looking toward something off camera to their starboard.  Weird.

Part FPS, part space flight-sim, this could have been an interesting hybrid game rather than a forgettable TV series

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