Sunday, April 4, 2010

R.A.N.T.: Movie-Based Video Games

I have a bunch of spare time right now, so it seems about time to start another category of post. This column I will hereforth label as the "R.A.N.T." : Random Acronymized Nettled Text. Yes, I did just Google an acronym for 'angry' starting with n. So bite me.

We'll kick off this column with something that has really, really irked me. Like, alot. A great deal. This is the Movie-inspired video game. Looking at such classics as E.T., whose 4 million excess copies helped cause the video game crash of 1983 and the majority of which ended up buried under concrete in a New Mexican landfill; or Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, holding one of the worst video game reviews on multiple gaming sites; or even such recent releases as James Cameron's Avatar: The Game, it is obvious that developers do not take these games seriously. If we follow the post 1983-crash trend of gaming, we note that when developers do not take games seriously, players do not take games seriously, and so now even if a really decent game was released under a movie title, nobody would care.

The reason people actually make these games, in what seemingly has been forever, is because you can sell a few games on the wave of hype that follows a successful movie. You can also produce a game before a movie, and use it as a form of advertising - this is risky, however, because usually nobody will buy the game until after. Gamers don't buy movie-based games, and the hype-skateboarders don't have the hype to poon onto. Therefore most... scratch that, ALL, are just rushed drivel.

Why am I ranting about this? Why should I care that this market is so idiotically dull, when it is so easily avoided? BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL. I saw two different movies this last weekend. The one I just saw, literally a few hours ago, was 'How to Train Your Dragon'. Actually a very good movie. I'd recommend it - it's a high quality film, another reason that animation can now be seen as a 'true' movie, not a specific brand. Anyway, they made a game, it was crap like the rest with poor ripped-off fighting mechanics and weak yet highly-toted customization, and I despised them for it. Here they have an epic world, one with huge potential, yet they scrap it for a dead game. GG Activision. GG.

The second, Clash of the Titans, is just a flat-out awful movie. Do not see it. Seriously. However, it got me wondering what it would be like if someone did a movie based upon Ovid's Metamorphoses (basis for most modern Greek myth), or did a full 3D epic... literally... of the Odyssey. If someone took the visual style of a movie like that, did a God of War style action-adventure game with a fairly linear storyline but great game play, it could be a very fun game... and not only would it be fun, but the game would promote the movie and the movie would promote the game. It could be epic. To bad it will never, ever, happen.

Other things I hate about movie based video games: 99.99% of them are catered towards an audience under 12. Seriously. This is because they are more impressionable and much more capable of surfing the hype wave. That means those of us gamers that want to play on Pandora or Berk or wherever are SOL. Also, they are almost always placed exactly where they should not be. A successful video game will draw you into the world - not tell you the storyline of the movie set in the world the game should be about. Why in the world would you stage a game inside of a village that was just saved? Set it in a nearby village. A cut storyline - something the writers wanted to do, thought up doing, but then never got to implement.

A video game is a second chance for writers to tell a story they didn't get to - and a second chance to explain the world through another story. Not a chance to have you run through some muddied maze of puzzles between narrated bit of exposition that tell you about a story that doesn't matter, or a story that you already know.

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