I generally try not to leave the safety of my computer chair as the outside world is scary and hostile. Not really my greatest plan, as people are vastly more hostile verbally on the internet than they are in person. This may be due to my primary outreach to people is this bizarre stream of consciousness article about video games. However I have been known to pry myself away from my computer on the occasion that something video games related is happening elsewhere or my eyes are bleeding and I need to look away from my monitor. Today was one of those days since I heard through the grapevine that there was a new movie about video games! Such a red letter day requires the most formal of clothing so I donned my best naruto headband and cleanest Dragon Ball Z t-shirt and I hit the bricks to the local Cinema-theque. When I got there I didn’t see any movies that looked like they were about any games I knew except one, Taken 2. I couldn’t believe that NAMCO finally got their beloved fighting franchise put on the silver screen! Sadly the movie was nothing like Tekken. Liam Neeson made a poor Heihachi and I didn’t see any fireballs or boxing Kangaroos or implausible hairstyles. Typical Hollywood sterilized and bastardized a great game and ruined the chance to tell one of the great story of video games. But this isn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last.
Those of you that lived through the 90’s with your brain mature enough to develop memories probably remember the horrors of early video game movies. Oh sure, we all wanted a Super Mario Brothers movie to give new life to the pixilated games we loved and share those great gaming moments with the world, and the glory of the animated Super Mario Brothers Super Show had won our hearts in no small part thanks to Captain Lou Albano. Actually that didn’t happen and most of you are probably reading this with complete and utter confusion, but really you should be used to that by now with my articles. Short story shorter, Mario was popular and the time to cash in on kids was ripe with the improving economy. So they churned out a bizarre Mad Max movie, threw around some of the terms and concepts from the game and hoped for the best. I remember actually enjoying the movie despite it being nothing like the games and I’m sure some of you who lived through it did too. Maybe police cars with plows attached appeared in those super hard special world levels like Gnarly or Tubular. But you know, Mario’s an abstract concept even for a movie. Velociraptors tongues probably weren’t like chameleons and their bone structure would indicate that they couldn’t support your garden variety Italian plumber. How about a more realistic game?
Kung Fu movies were popular in the 70’s and have stabilized as reliable Hollywood income on the cheap, and Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat are sure popular judging by all the enraged parents and injured elementary school kids on the news. It’s got to be the easiest thing to make anyway since all martial arts movies are pretty much the same all they need to do is throw in some of the big action movie names in there and some silly costumes. Mortal Kombat to me was pretty forgettable. Sure it had some token moments for the more recognizable characters thrown in for fan service but it just wasn’t quite there. It’s sequel is even worse and victim to early movie CGI scenes that age about as well a tub of yogurt behind a furnace. The less said about those the better so let’s focus on the good stuff. And by the good stuff I of course mean the live action Street Fighter movie. I know it gets a lot of crap for its intense suckage but come on, it got just stupid enough to be fun. Jean Claude Van-Damme slams home just how serious this movie should be taken. He does that with every movie he does however but this time it feels more ok to laugh. It also stars legitimately GOOD actor Raul Julia in what would be his last big role before his tragically early death. As sad as that is he honestly looks like he’s just having fun or phoning it in to such a comical degree that I can’t help but smile whenever he’s on screen or speaking. Yeah it sucks we didn’t get a serious and respectable video game movie and now looked bad in the eyes of Hollywood lowlifes but who cares? Video games are supposed to be fun right? Their movies should be the same.
Ok fine I’ll actually talk about Wreck-it Ralph. Yes it was a genuinely enjoyable movie about a guy learning to appreciate who he is. Yes there are numerous video game references to it but they are done in passing. It’s not “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” but for games. I will say it is comically unrealistic for them to think that arcade games still only cost a quarter to play. I don’t think I’ve seen any substantial games at the arcade that were under a dollar but I am probably wrong, there aren’t many arcades left, even fewer that aren’t just a dance machine and one of the Deer Hunter games. But like I said, I don’t leave the house. If you haven’t already seen Wreck-it Ralph go check it out. It’s not really a video game movie so much as it is a movie set in video games, but still worth seeing. It’s funny how the classic Disney plot progression is similar to how video games work anyways. Old Disney like Pinocchio and The Sword in the Stone followed the old fairytale setup of enemy progression: the protagonist would start off meeting a fairly low level enemy in the world and each progressive enemy after that would be another step up but still defer to villain above them. Pinocchio ran into Stromboli, a troublesome but irrelevant enemy in the big picture, who gave way to Honest John and Gideon who were active villains luring children to their boss the Coachman who was even worse, finally leaving the almost supernatural Monstro. Similarly with Sword in the Stone it goes from Wolf, to Giant Pike Fish, Wolf again as a Squirrel, Hawk, and finally the shape changing Madam Mim: the original multi-stage boss. Of course Ninja Gaiden on Xbox threw this setup for a loop by having the hardest boss in the game come right at the start. Itagaki be a harsh mistress.
It’s going to be interesting to see how video games start to influence other forms of media as my generation grows. Wreck-it Ralph is only the beginning of loving callbacks to gaming roots. And lord help us if it does well and there are sequels.
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Kimo is a contemptuous old coot. With experience in video games dating back to 1988 and a schizophrenic range of games he boasts an impressive range of knowledge of gamings best, and worst. Dwelling in the desolate wastes of the American Midwest he brings to Z1Gaming a perspective that looks for positive qualities in even the worst games.