It’s still a relatively new year and that means that in the entertainment realm, there is still a lot of new movies and games headed our way. Movies and games have always had a strained relationship – when looking at the many movie-to-game attempts that have headed to the home they are nothing short of cringe-worthy.
My personal theory on why such translations are usually gigantic, boring failures is that the nature of the home market is for games that are becoming more interactive movies themselves but they need to be such while going on for many hours, not just 90 or 120 minutes. Movies are there to tell a well-crafted story (at least that’s the general idea) but that tight storytelling is diluded when you have to control what is going on in participating in the more mundane tasks in a video game, like find object X for person Y. A movie can generally make that seem more exciting.
But the exception to the movie-to-game rule comes in the arcade. Because arcades are focused solely on action and not trying to out-storytell the movie itself, they can actually stand out and be worth playing. With an arcade game you can take memorable action sequences that people are drawn to and make a video game hand crafted around that experience. Star Wars had plenty of that to offer, with various scenes from that movie inspiring plenty of games; Aliens did the same, inspiring not just games based upon the movie itself but offshoots like Contra. Robocop spawned bionic-man style game concepts, etc.
Of course in days past it was more common to see such releases making it’s way to the arcade and I’m sure an argument could be made that we saw more inspiration coming from films because the films themselves were clever as opposed to derivative. There are plenty of good film concepts out there if you know where to find them although it has become difficult thanks to film saturation brought on by the internet.
So the idea here is to look at some films that are coming along this year and imagining what a movie-to-arcade port would be like. Perhaps one of these films will get an arcade spin-off as it still happens on occasion – Terminator Salvation Arcade being a recent example that did the concept to great success. Naturally all we will know about these films comes from trailers so I will have to base the potential arcade concept off of that and there are a few which won’t be able to have any concept offered as not every movie is set for game translation (particularly serious dramas).
It’s worth noting that since all we have to go on are the trailers, there is always a possibility that the movies could have a couple of clever scenes that one could invent an entire game out of. For now my musings will have to be based on what can be found online.
Also, I am not suggesting that all of these be turned into arcade games, or even video games in the first place. This is just a short exercise in thinking about what they could be if it so happened that they were licensed for such use.
The Hunger Games – Boys and girls are picked to fight to the death in an arena of the dystopian future, based upon the best-selling novel.
Potential Arcade Concept – Screams Power Stone to me – give players a different arenas with whatever the weapons are and you fight to the death. Too bad we don’t have holographic technology yet as you could then do it as a cocktail cabinet with small characters that each player looks down on. That or I’m sure that a pinball game could be made about it all.
The Avengers – Various popular comic-book superheroes are brought together to fight off evil villains that threaten the otherwise helpless Earth once again and there are a lot of explosions that occur in the process.
Potential Arcade Concept – The logical way to go on this is the same as we have seen in the past with arcade games like X-Men – the arcade brawler. It would be done in 3D of course and how it could work in that manner would either be Konami style (where it’s more of an isometric sidescroller) or Sega-style (think Die Hard, Dynamite Cop or Spikers Battle). Die Hard style is probably more approriate.
Judging from a quick part in this trailer though, it looks like you could possibly make a spin off game involving IronMan in a type of Space Harrier/Planet Harrier setting. That would be interesting.
The Dark Knight Rises – The third installment of Christopher Nolan ‘s interpretation of the Batman character that has done really well so far, and will likely continue to do so.
Potential Arcade Concept – Batman has been done in arcades before as a sidescroller beat ’em up and the entire idea that would work in arcades still fits into that category. Recent Batman games have been a mixture of fighting, exploration and puzzles but when he’s in the arcade, all that needs to be focused on is the fighting. In fact I’ve imagined a modern Batman game to take the combat as done in Arkum Asylum and Arkhum City and blend that into something like Sega’s Spiker’s Battle. It could work beautifully as there is name recognition and if you used a modified version of one of the PC versions of those aforementioned modern Batman games it would look good enough to draw people in. The controls would likely have to be the traditional joystick/button combo although I don’t see why you couldn’t add a dashboard lever to activate something important like the bat-a-rang.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – I am not making this up, this is actually coming out this summer, it’s an alternate reality flick where Abraham Lincoln was an axe-wielding vampire hunter.
Potential Arcade Concept – As over-the-top absurd as this sounds at first, I find myself kind of intrigued by it. It also could be done in a couple of ways for the arcade – one as a 3D brawler that we’ve already spoken off (I suppose this is why most movies haven’t received arcade translations over the past decade as we’ve changed focus to light-gun and racing games which don’t fit well for everything, whereas the arcade brawler covers quite a bit) or something in a little different direction – the Dynasty Warriors style slasher. I’ve been waiting for something like that to come along in arcades for sometime but the only attempt at it was cancelled a few years back with Capcom’s War of the Grail. The control concept I envision for this would be to update the old Midway setup used in TRON, Discs of TRON, and Zwackery. You have a distinctive joystick for movement (upgraded with internal LED lighting and a forcefeedback mechanism) and a spinner/knob. These games don’t always need Z-axis targeting so the knob would work fine. Of course this is assuming that there are hordes of vampires to fight – otherwise if you don’t have hundreds to fight then a standard brawler would suffice in the Batman style spoken of above.
John Carter – What would have been the first animated feature film ever has finally made it’s way out and is Pixar’s first live action film instead. Guy gets transplated from Earth to an old-style concept of what Mars might have been like and has to fight off lots of bad aliens.
Potential Arcade Concept – Judging by the trailer here (and ignoring some of that dialogue, ugh) it looks like it’s a take-your-pick gallery concepts – could be a brawler in the vein of what I just spoke about above with the Dynasty Warriors concept, or something in the vein of Power Stone, with the arena brawler that you get with the gladiator arena. But there are also shooting elements for a light-gun game, flight elements for a surreal flight combat game, which in itself could be interpreted a couple of ways from vertical/horizontal shmups to something that could fit into Afterburner Climax style gaming. Even if the movie sucks, there is plenty you could bleed out of it into arcade games that could turn out to be fun games given the proper concept.
Prometheus – Space explorers find something terrible while looking for the origin of Earth life, which probably kills them all. Possibly based in both the Aliens and Blade Runner universes.
Potential Arcade Concept – The trailer hasn’t given much away on this (fortunately) so it’s hard to say. If there are space marines blasting aliens then naturally you can fill in light-gun, brawler and run n’ gun concepts with that, just like was done with the Aliens movie in the first place. This looks like it will have that and who knows what else so we’ll have to wait and see.
BattleShip – With terabytes worth of unused 3D models ending up in the recycle bin from the Transformers movies, the rejects have been given a second chance in an over-the-top action flick that is related to the original board game’s name and that there are warships involved.
Potential Arcade Concept – It might work as a light-gun shooter but with all of that military hardware laying around, you could do something else. But I also think that by using a touch screen concept like TouchFX, you could bring this back into the realm of the original game, but you would have to (sigh) change the opposing force to robots/aliens.
Wrath of the Titans – Sequel to the Clash of the Titans where Gods and Man-Gods duke it out with hellish creatures.
Potential Arcade Concept – Gut reaction is to say another Dynasty Warriors type game but I don’t know – in watching the trailer I wonder if there is enough there to do something along the lines of what we saw with Star Wars Trilogy Arcade by Sega – the player goes through various scenarios with one particular control for the action. But I would have to see the movie to know if that would be really doable – Staw Wars was easy because the joystick worked for both a blaster and a light-saber although the light-saber part wasn’t terribly fluid and took some practice – this movie obviously has a much stronger focus on melee fighting than ranged.
The Expendables 2 – All sorts of famous action heroes from the 80s on up come together in a mutual understanding that bad guys aren’t going to shoot themselves dead.
Potential Arcade Concept – For this I would totally go for Konami’s twist on the Cabal genre (see GI Joe Arcade). Select your character and then the view is from behind them as they run relentlessly into danger, shooting everything and anything that moves. Only problem is that it would probably be a nightmare to license everyone involved in the film for the game, making it very expensive to do so. But it would be worth it.
Alternate concept – Smash TV style shooter.
GI Joe 2: Retaliation – A sequel to the GI Joe movie from a couple of years ago now served with half the fat and 42% more explosions.
Potential Arcade Concept – Same as Expendables 2 – remake GI Joe Arcade with modern graphics. I suppose if you wanted to be creative there would be a way to do a tower defense game out of it all too. But it’s hard to compete with running around and shooting things. That said, most likely chance is that this would be made into the next big light gun game.
The Amazing Spiderman – Columbia Pictures reboots the Spiderman franchise because they can and they were probably afraid that after 3 no one with their right mind would give that a chance. At the very least it looks like they are trying to keep in line more with the comic book storyline with Peter Parker developing his own equipment and such.
In my opinion, this trailer reveals way too much about the movie, like previous Spiderman film trailers before it. I have never watched Spiderman 3 in it’s entirety but after I watched the trailer I think I got away just fine. Just a friendly warning.
Potential Arcade Game – They’ve done Spiderman in arcades before and it worked as a brawler. But that was more for an overarching game that involved various villains. For this, you could go in the same direction as I’ve mentioned before with a Spikers Battle type game as that was more open world than some others and as Spiderman having a little open world is a good way to go. I imagine that a Kinect style game where you websling along could work too, but it would take some work to make that exciting.
The Bourne Legacy – They found a way to keep the gravy train going on the Bourne series, this is the first of potentially many sequels. Lucky us. But if they can keep it clever, then perhaps we’ll be fine.
Potential Arcade Concept– I imagine this as an update to the Silent Scope or Golgo 13 concept, involving sniping while running into or away from danger depending upon the situation. It’s either that or back to the Die Hard type game.
Men In Black III – Here’s a sequel I didn’t think would be made. Not sure if it needed to be but that doesn’t matter now.
Potential Arcade Concept – Given the film’s nature of showing off elaborate shiny guns, the light-gun genre seems to be the best fit for this movie. Give it a clever twist with a bonus round where you have to memory zap the civilians you save on each level
Wreck-It Ralph – Apparently inspired by Donkey Kong, this is an animated film that already has arcade roots tied into it somehow.
Trailer – None Yet
Potential Arcade Concept – Why not have it work like a classic game did – various screens with some sort of platform objective to go after that is based upon scenes from the film, just give it shiny updated graphics.
Hunter Killer – Submarine based thriller that not much else is known about for now. No trailer yet.
Potential Arcade Concept – Proper submarine combat game where you have a periscope controller. Well overdue for the modern age, even though Sea Wolf The Next Mission got close.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Prequel to the excellent Lord of The Rings movies that made a gajillion dollars.
Potential Arcade Concept – That depends on the particular action sequences but you could go hack n’ slash brawler or Arcade RPG to some degree here. That or I could also see a Crossbow-type revival, since the movie generally involves the heroes walking from one place to another, you the player could serve as the watchmen that covers them from a distance as they traverse the screen.
World War Z – A zombie movie, based upon a book that featured someone interviewing survivors of the world onslaught and recounting their tales of what went down from the outbreak in China to the sparse population of Earth handling the aftermath.
Trailer – None yet
Potential Arcade Concept – I know, I know, why more zombies. At the very least what I imagine here is instead of another light-gun shooter about zombies (we already have Dark Escape 3D on it’s way this year), is something more along the lines of Sega’s Zombie Revenge, but you could play as different characters in their own situations that would fit into the movie, but all with arcade-style zombie bashing action.
Red Tails – George Lucas’ Hollywood Interpretation of the historical Tuskegee Airmen that has effectively tanked at the box office. If you want to know why, I suggest this review by Red Letter Media.
Potential Arcade Concept – Flight combat is easy enough to do in the arcade and you don’t necessarily have to use the battles shown in the film since you have the actual historical battles to pull from. As such, something like Blazing Angels could be tailored and tied-into this to make for a game that might actually turn out to be more enticing that the movie itself. In fact the Blazing Angels arcade game itself that was release 4 years ago has done pretty well out there, so it’s given something to pattern after. Just get some better voice actors for any cockpit dialogue.
Titanic – This 3D re-release is coming along to pad someone’s bank accounts. I never understood what the big deal was back in ’97 but I doubt this will get anywhere close to the hysteria that the film originally and inexplicably caused. It’s probably just so they can offer something to those poor early adopter souls that have 3D TVs and Blu-Ray players.
Trailer – Nah, it’s just the same crap now in 3D
Potential Arcade Concept – You might be wondering why on earth I am bringing this one up – it’s only because I had a crazy, possibly morbid idea going here. Remember the Atari 2600 game Kaboom! – you do that but you control a lifeboat catching falling passengers. Too morbid? Too soon?
Well that’s it for now, there are many more films out there I could talk about but I think this is more than sufficient for now. Share your thoughts!