Tim Burton’s Batman is one of my favorite superhero movies. True, it is Burton’s least stylized film, but it had a great atmosphere, fantastic score from Danny Elfman, and great acting from Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. It really kicked off modern superhero movies (for better or worse) in the 90s, and is a much-loved movie. The sequel on the other hand was a little more controversial.
Author Michael Crichton often dabbled in other skills besides writing. He directed the sci-fi film Westworld in 1973, and later the period piece The Great Train Robbery in ’79. In the early 80’s, Crichton started to get interested in computer games. He taught himself basic, and after teaming up with a programmer and artist, set about designing an adventure game around his recently released jungle adventure novel Congo. Unfortunately for the project, Crichton did not realize that he had already sold the rights to the novel and could not base their game on it. After some hasty tweaks and alterations, Crichton and his team released Amazon. In essence it is the same story as Congo, but with a change of setting, some characters renamed, and set pieces altered.
Movie licensed games can be handled in many different ways. Sometimes they can be really imaginative experiences that put the player into the midst of the film’s action. SunSoft’s adaptation of Batman (1989) on the NES is a good example of this, a fantastic action platformer set right at the climax of the film to let you feel the thrill of being a superhero. Other times they can be companion pieces to the film that expand on the characters and plot. Atari’s Enter the Matrix (2003) was an ambitious project that resolved key plot points of the second Matrix film to make the game a cannon part of the larger franchise. One of the stranger possibilities is when a developer doesn’t know what to do with a game and makes multiple versions across many platforms that retell the events of the film. Ocean Software developed four different video game adaptations of Sam Raimi’s Darkman (1991) across the NES, Gameboy, and several home computers, all of which offer slightly different retellings of the movie. Today’s game is an example of a company taking a different and rather lazy approach to a movie license.