The Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation give us some of the greatest games of all time. With systems capable of using full 3D, everyone wanted to take advantage of it. Nintendo managed to very smoothly transition some of their best franchises to 3D, with titles like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Sony came in strong with brand new franchises, like Crash Bandicoot and Oddworld. 3D gaming was revolutionary, and the sixth console generation was in instrumental step in forming the groundwork for later great console games. But lost in the flood of 3D titles was the potential for advanced 2D gaming.
I’ve often thought that the genre of videogames tailor made for expansive storytelling was the point and click adventure. In its heyday, adventure games were some of the most imaginative games around. They could take a player to very imaginative places and involve them in the progression of a story much more intimately than most action games. Games from Sierra and Lucas Arts could tell deep or shallow stories with superb writing in games like King’s Quest and Grim Fandango, Cyan Worlds produced the mind-bending settings of the Myst series, and Tell-Tale Games has used the medium to expand on the stories of popular franchises like The Walking Dead and Batman. These games have shown the versatility and expanded the story telling abilities of the genre through the years.
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.
Growing up I never saw very much of PC gaming. I was mainly exposed to consoles in those years, but whenever I visited a friend or relative I was always excited to see new games, no matter what they were on. One day I recall visiting an Uncle’s home and him showing my brother and I Prince of Persia on his computer. Although I did not remember the name and could barely even begin to figure how to play it, I was struck by the realistic movement of the characters. Years later, I rediscovered the game when its reboot, The Sands of Time, was released. I was totally in love with the game, and when I got a copy of the original on Gameboy, I played it until I memorized the whole thing. A few years later, after gaining access to a Super Nintendo, I found a version produced by Konami and was very impressed with the expansions made on the home console version. But one day, I was browsing a used game shop and came across a copy of Prince of Persia 2 on SNES. I had no idea there was a sequel, and bought it right then and there. However, I was grossly disappointed to find a strange, broken, mess of a game that was so bad I didn’t wonder that it was not remembered by fans. Rather upset, I returned the game and moved on to other things.
When I was young, I had never seen any of the classic Universal monster movies. I had only vague ideas of what creatures like Dracula and Frankenstein were about. They are so much a part of popular culture that by the time I heard of them they were so played out that they were very hard to take seriously, even for a child. When I was a teen I read Stoker’s Dracula and Shelley’s Frankenstein and found them to be very deep and subtle horror stories that have stood up very well over the years. With a newfound respect for these characters I was curious to see how they had been presented in other media, and after being seeped in Universal and Hammer films, I went to see how games had treated them. For Dracula it was simple. He had shown up in numerous games throughout the years, but is most well known as the main antagonist of the Castlevania series. It didn’t take much to find him, but Frankenstein’s monster was another story. Although there are some examples of his presence in games, it is usually as a lackey for Dracula in Castlevania.
Now that Kojima has left Konami, it is a time to fear for his flagship series, Metal Gear. Konami, showing a distinct lack of foresight, have announced a Metal Gear Solid 3 themed pachinko machine and a 4-player co-op zombie game called Metal Gear Survive. These ideas do not make me confident the series is in good hands. This made me think back to any other Metal Gear games that were handled without Kojima’s involvement. There was Metal Gear: Ghost Bable (2000) for the Gameboy color, however that game was still made by people who had worked with Kojima on previous games, and he did give his approval to the project. There were the turn based Metal Gear AC!D (2005) games, but those were produced by Kojima himself.