Friday, February 19, 2016

Games That Should Be Movies: Part Deux!

It's been a few years since I last approached gaming movies and what titles would work for the big screen. As more studios are looking to turn video games into the next break-out genre to topple comic books, we are constantly reminded of the past. Video game movies haven't really worked, aside from Resident Evil. You could argue it's due to the very liberal license the RE movies have taken by not following anything in the games, with the exception of names. That may be why RE has done as well as it has where other gaming movies have faltered.

While I was wrong about Need for Speed being a potential best hope as a framework for future good gaming movies, because clearly it was Ace Attorney, I wanted to go back and examine my original article, and hopefully add to the list. Because gaming movies are going to happen. I can't stop them. Neither can you. Even when we close our wallets, studios are still looking to invest in them. But maybe, just maybe, they'll listen to us for once and realize that you can't simply copy/paste a game into a movie format. It doesn't work. The vast majority of games are designed to be games, not as stories asking you to be passive. Interaction is the key. When you're not using a Nintendo controller to move a plumber in red overalls as he stomps on goombas, it doesn't feel like Super Mario (even with the creative direction taken on the movie).

In the years that have passed since my 2012 article, are there any new games that could break the barrier into movies and give us the quality we've been looking for?

- I still believe that Infamous would make for a good movie. It has a solid framework that is open to interpretation. The story is straight-forward while allowing the gamer to experience the open world aspect and not feel overwhelmed. How you get from A to B to C is up to the scriptwriters. By comparison to GTA, Infamous is much more manageable in character development and plot lines, that you could cut out chunks of the side quests and still have a solid story to back it up. With GTA, part of the fun are those random things you can do in the game that have no effect on the primary story.

- While this is not a recent game, I don't know why this one didn't pop into my head in my initial post: Dead Rising (DR). Action. Adventure. Comedy. Zombie Apocalypse! It's got it all! The concern here would be that it's trying to ride on the coattails of "Zombieland" where humor meets horror. Even though DR did some first, it would need to set itself apart from "Zombieland" and other dark comedies. Like Infamous, DR has a simple and solid plot line that can easily allow for you to remove the excess side quests and still maintain the meat of the story. Lead character Frank West is not only memorable, but necessary for the plot to work. His brand of humor is made for movies without de-emphasizing his heart of gold. Or platinum. I'm not sure what color his heart is, but it's good enough to want to help people in a mall full of zombies. And it's a story that gives writers the ability to throw in secondary characters without it mucking up the plot. Unless there's another useless romanced involved. One day Hollywood will see that women don't care about that crap. We like zombies just like anyone men. So let us see the gore!

- Five Nights at Freddy's (FNAF). I'm interested to see how Hollywood tackles this project. And with the creator Scott Cawthorn on board, it has a good chance of succeeding. I still feel that it's simple story and jump scares make it very appealing to horror producers because it would be so easy to turn this into a film. And the ambiguous nature of the security officer allows for much more creative freedom for scriptwriters. Again, as long as they don't throw in a lame romance. There's no need for that in FNAF. Keep it to the solitary security guard as he figures out why the hell the pizza parlor is haunted with mechanical fuzzy robots, and we're good.

- Maniac Mansion is another humor-horror game that comes to mind. Do you see a theme here? I see a theme. Anyway, most of you are probably too young to know of this work. Created by Lucasfilm Games for the Atari, NES, and Apple II (to name a few systems), the game is about a teenager trying to rescue his girlfriend from a mad scientist in a scary mansion. And like most computer games in the day, it was a puzzle game. So puzzle, horror, humor, what could go wrong?

I think this could work as a movie, in an odd way. Maybe a made-for-TV movie, but a movie all the same. And that's because this game was developed from the get-go to be a play-through movie. The writers created a story that allowed gamers to explore the Mansion, but told it through the perspective of a movie-goer. It had quite a few cut-scenes, dramatic pauses, and dialogue shifts that are very movie-like. And like a number of Lucasfilm Games in the early days, it's quirky. It'd be a fun project to see spring to life as a kids movie.

That's my updated list so far. I can hear the screams from gamers across the globe. "Why not Journey, or God of War, or Shadow of the Colossus?" Simple - I don't think they would sell well at the box office for being poor adaptations. In the case of God of War, over the past few decades movies that centered around mythology or anything "ancient" have not been smashing hits. The remake of "Clash of the Titans" is the only one of recent memory that held a decent reception, enough to make a sequel. But it wasn't of the pomp and circumstance of the original. Historical movies of ancient days just don't hold up for audiences...right now. Maybe in a decade this will change and War will have it's chance at the spotlight.

With Journey and Shadow, they are way too artistic and wonderful as video games that they would be terrible movies. The beauty of Journey is discovering the game world with strangers and developing your own story. You can't do that in a movie. Ever. You need to have a plot line with a solid beginning, middle, and end. To make those two into films, you'd have to shred them a part and create new stories from scratch. Basically, pull a Resident Evil and only use names but develop new content to have a movie plot. I couldn't bear it if Shadow was destroyed in such a manner.

But that's the list! I'll update it over time as new games release. Maybe some non-horror will be added in the future.


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