Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Games of future past


While the economy is slumping, natural disasters are back in vogue and every second of television news is devoted to analyzing what a presidential candidate meant by the word "is," one thing is certain ... we are in a golden epoch of video games. If you don't believe me, go down to BestBuy to try your hands at Wii Mario Kart and see if you can put it down before having the wireless steering wheel forcibly removed from said hands by store personnel. Beyond the carefree fun of Wii, the other two supercharged systems have such vast technological resources that their crosshairs are now firmly aimed at Hollywood. Upcoming games based on Ghostbusters, Aliens and Heat could become more popular than their movie counterparts for today's generation -- they look that good. It still seems like yesterday when a summer blockbuster was promoted with an 8-bit game featuring combative midgets and all the four colors of the rainbow.

I myself have no video game console at this time, but luckily I also don't have the time for one either. Thankfully a certain sibling of mine recently purchased a PS3, opening the possibility for a friendly pounding at his door demanding to help him revel in this acquisition. In the meantime, I can look back on some of my favorite, and most-despised, movie-based video games (excluding NES and Atari games, not only is my memory hazy about those titles, but it's similar to ripping the Lumier Bros ... what's the use?).

Blockbusters:

Terminator 2 (arcade): The game that gave millions of adolescents the confidence that they could defend themselves with a machine gun. Sure, there were shooting games before this one, but the T2 guns actually had kick (like that of a BB gun), and if you played it long enough your hands would start involuntarily shaking like Stallone's in Rocky V. Maybe the first video game to radically alter the plot of the movie to make a storyline even more kick ass -- you start out in the apocalyptic future battling leagues of T-800s, then defeat SkyNet before traveling back in time to blast Robert Patrick. Also known as the only video game to utilize the voice acting talents of Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong.

Jurassic Park (Genesis):
Doesn't play as well nowadays, but during the heyday of velociraptor popularity, this is what you played when you had dreams of biting the heads of scientists. Yes, in this Jurassic Park port you can play the role of Sam Neill or a raptor. The game actually made this a question: do you want to play as Sam Neill or the most ferocious hunter planet Earth has ever known?

Robocop vs. Terminator (Genesis):
Not exactly based on a movie, but a movie should have been based on this game. For reasons never fully explained, Terminators invade Detroit and it's up to former Lt. Murphy to shoot them (and many other people). Like the game, the highlight of the movie would be Robocop attaching ED-209's enormous gun to his arm and mowing down anything that moves. The linked Wikipedia entry says a movie was proposed in 1995, but a director couldn't be found. Hey, here's a suggestion: James Cameron.

Die Hard Trilogy (Playstation): Only one of the best game ideas ever, covering all three Die Hard movies, with each movie acting as its own unique game. Die Hard was a Lara Croft-like adventure game where you rescued hostages, Die Hard 2 was a shoot-em-up similar to the T2 game, and Die Hard with a Vengeance was a driving game where you defused bombs around New York City by ramming them with a car and making them explode. The first one was a little weak, but the latter two were endlessly entertaining with clever movie tie-ins.

The Addams Family Pinball: I'm cheating a little here, but this really is one of the very best uses of a movie license, as it's universally regarded as one of the top three pinball games of all time. Earlier I alluded to spending hundreds of dollars on this machine, and I've never regretted any of the $0.50 expenditures. When it's well-maintained (a rarity these days), this machine is flawless entertainment with tons of dialog from the movie and lots of gags, like when Thing takes a turn at flipping the ball.

Bombs:
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (Arcade): And in case you forgot, Moonwalker was indeed a movie. This was very similar to the other beat-em-up arcade games of the early 90s, with one special twist: instead of beating up or shooting your enemies, you instead dance them to death. Or something. I just remember there were buttons for "dance" and "moonwalk," the latter making every enemy onscreen do a choreographed dance with your Jacko character, resulting in their death. It's also possible to find Bubbles the Monkey, who in turn transforms Michael into a powerful robot.

Tron (arcade):
While not necessarily a terrible game, it's in this list because of the high bar set by Tron the movie. If you had just seen the movie, and heard there was a new video game based on it, you may have had visions of being "in" the game like one Bruce Boxleitner -- but instead you have a game just like all the other crappy 1982 games. And since the movie features an awesome arcade game, it falls into the same trap as The Last Starfighter: why can't we have the game that's in the movie? I'm still asking this question with the above referenced movie games now in development, can we please have a kick-ass Last Starfighter game?

Gremlins 2:
There would seem to be a lot of potential for a Gremlins 2 game, what with all the crazy gremlin characters and their wacky hijinks. Unfortunately, what we get is Gizmo wielding a pencil and throwing tomatoes at gremlins, making it like most of the sidescrolling snoozer games of the time.

Friday the 13th (Nintendo): The only good thing about this game was the title screen, where a knife shoots through a hockey mask. From there you're asked to throw rocks at zombies (remember all those zombies in the movie? And how rocks were so effective at killing them?) There's also the impossible tasks of trekking across Crystal Lake, walking around the camp and killing Jason. Pretty much everything in this game was impossible, including being entertained by it.

The Goonies: I don't remember much about this game except that you used a yo-yo as a weapon against rats. A yo-yo? Rats? What about all of Data's gadgets? Nope, in the 8-bit age that would have been too much to ask, so you got a yo-yo and rats.

4 comments:

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

If I may suggest two that you're missing:

Die Hard Arcade: While not technically based on Die Hard, you climb up a building and beat the piss out of people. It also influenced Resident Evil 4, where you have to save the President's daughter and press buttons when told to so that you don't die.

Star Wars Arcade: Fighting Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel with a joystick. Intense.

Actually, the N64 had it's fair share of good Star Wars games. Rogue Squadron and Podracer, baby!

Moviezzz said...

Whoa there Adam. Hold on a moment.

TRON one of the worst????

I spent too much time in the arcade back in the early 80's and TRON was and still is my favorite arcade game of all time.

Even today, if I see it somewhere, I will play it. At Disney World, they had this place that, you pay $50 to get in and could play any video game you wanted. I was at TRON most of the day.

Love the game.

Adam Ross said...

Paul -- I forgot about Die Hard Arcade, that's a great game and I think once upon a time I even beat it (wasn't there some battle with robots at the end?). Star Wars Arcade is another good one, though I might choose the original if I had a choice.

Moviezzz -- Sorry to trample on your memories, I may have set my expectations a little high after seeing the movie. Could be I gave up on it too early, as I remember being very frustrated by it.

matt said...

I think Jurassic Park for Genesis and SNES were different if I remember correctly.

The SNES version, in my opinion, was far superior. Part first person shooter, part 3/4 degree angle actioner. Plus, the graphics were better.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic_Park_%28SNES_game%29