And the Oscar goes to....

by PaulEMoz

With it being the Oscars tonight, I thought I might play a film tie-in game today. And then I remembered that I did that yesterday, and changed my mind. I'll still play something, but I'm not sure what, yet.

But that got me thinking... whatever happened to film tie-ins? Time was that you could never open a games mag without seeing glossy full-page ads from Ocean or U.S. Gold for games based on the latest blockbuster movies.

Of course, we all knew that the majority of them were no good, being mainly uninspired platformers or arcade adventures, with sprites that bore just about a passing resemblance to characters from the movies, often running through levels that bore no resemblance. That didn't matter though... they were bought in huge numbers by youngsters that wanted a bit of escapism for their pocket money, and they were largely fairly happy with the uninspired, whilst the big companies pocketed some decent amounts of cash.

I think, eventually, that all dried up when we grew up. We started to see through the hype and the big names, and realised we weren't really getting much bang for our bucks. Parents must have grown tired of seeing the games they'd splashed out on, games which were now costing significantly more money, sitting gathering dust on shelves after mere days.

There were exceptions, of course... I remember Ocean pulling their fingers out towards the end of the Commodore 64's life and giving us good games based on Batman, Platoon and The Untouchables. The Amiga version of Batman floored me with its incredible racing section, one that I didn't think was bettered for years.

Now, though, the film tie-in is more or less dead, with only animated films and Bond movies getting regular attention. In fact, it's gone the other way, with film to the silver screenthe other way. Most of them have, sadly, turned out poorly, and yet they still bring in reasonable audiences. So I got to thinking... which of this year's Oscar nominees or summer-gone's blockbusters might translate well to games?

An obvious candidate would be The Wrestler, but as there are already successful wrestling franchises on the go, this one would need something to make it stand out from the crowd. So along with the standard wrestling matches, you could have Cooking Mama or Warioware-style mini-games, where you have to make Randy The Ram try and slice meats without cutting his finger off, or fill a pot of potato salad with the exact amount in less than five seconds. Perfect.

It's a bit tougher with other films... I was thinking you could do something for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button along the lines of Jason Rohrer's game, Passage, except in reverse...

Slumdog Millionaire is easily covered... play the quiz game with Buzz or Scene It! controllers, then switch to regular controllers between blocks of questions for fun mini-games. Run across train rooftops! Avoid beatings! Serve tea! Failure in any of these sections mean you will be unable to return to the questions and will lose the chance to win the million.

Of course, you'll need some games based on the big-budget blockbusters, too... how about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? No? Maybe not... just play Space Invaders whilst wearing a hat, and gloss over the rest of that idea...

Or there's The Happening... run! Run like the wind! No, wait... run FROM the wind! Nah... that wouldn't work, would it...?

I think it's for the best that the two industries have decided to keep their creative talents apart, for the most part. There are a lot of great ideas going into video games now that need the best talent of the industry working on them, instead of wasting their ability polishing turds. I'll be keeping a close eye on tonight's Academy Awards, and giving thanks that nobody decided to pick up the licence for a game about Harvey Milk.