SSPA – Universal Soldier

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.

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SSPA – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

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.

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