At long last, it seems Hollywood has pushed the reset button on its approach to video game adaptations.
From the reviled 1993 live-action rendition of “Super Mario Bros.” to last year’s loathed arcade-inspired “Pixels,” big-screen interpretations of games have almost always failed to score with critics and audiences. With four films based on popular interactive series set for release in 2016, could this finally be the year video game movies win over filmgoers?
After decades of commercial and critical pitfalls when attempting to turn games into movies, Hollywood is trying out a few bold new strategies in an effort to tap the interactive medium for the latest hit movie franchise, including hiring A-list talent and collaborating more closely with game makers to rework their immersive creations for movie theaters
“Ratchet & Clank”
The first to launch is an animated film now in theaters that’s based on Insomniac Games’ zany platforming series for Sony’s PlayStation systems, starring wise-cracking alien tinkerer Ratchet and his witty robot sidekick Clank. The game creators didn’t simply foist their 14-year-old franchise onto filmmakers. They insisted on joining forces.
“Ratchet & Clank” features several of the interactive series’ original voice actors with a story by former Insomniac Games senior writer T.J. Fixman. The game studio also outsourced a few of their own artists to work with the film’s animators to guarantee their intergalactic romp looked and stayed true to what made the game franchise a victory.
“It’s crucial for anyone who works with the worlds and characters that we created to fully understand them,” said Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games. “We had lots of open conversations with everyone working on the project. As game creators, we always want to tell more stories. This was just another way to do that for an audience that’s hungry for it.”
Over the past 20 years, game publishers have typically handed over movie rights to Hollywood with little to no creative control. While the results have sometimes hit the mark (“Tomb Raider,” ”Resident Evil”), they’re usually unsuccessful undertakings that veer way off course from the originals (“Doom,” ”Double Dragon.”)
Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, said he’s been working with Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment to faithfully adapt “Ratchet & Clank” and silly stealth series “Sly Cooper” into animated films, as well with his colleagues at Sony Pictures to craft live-action versions of treasure-hunting adventure “Uncharted” and post-apocalyptic saga “The Last of Us.”
“I’m old enough to remember a time when people thought it was crazy to make movies out of comic books,” said Layden. “That’s certainly changed over the last decade. The really great games now have narratives featuring all sorts of age-old storytelling tropes. It’s become another great fountain of content that can be applied across other media.
First Pokemon GO Gameplay Footage Leaks Online
If there’s anything that Nintendo has been capitalizing on lately, it’s keeping details to a minimum and leaving fans hungry for more information. But while hopeful new game releases and the release of an upcoming system (theNintendo NX in May) remain somewhat under wraps, Nintendo’s mobile gaming initiative has skyrocketed into the minds of the mainstream thanks to the success of Miitomo, a mobile app that brings Nintendo Mii characters to the mobile platform for mini games, social events, and achievements.
Buried under all of this hype (or, for some fans, frustration) is Pokemon GO, the interactive mobile app developed by Niantic that brings the excitement of Pokemon to the real-world stage. While the game is still in its beta testing stages, one player decided to show the world his adventures as a Pokemon trainer by cutting together a nearly 10-minute preview of Pokemon GO‘s gameplay.
Whether players are out in the city or in their back yard, Pokemon GO (and its developers, Niantic) promises instant immersion via augmented reality and new Pokemon to catch around every corner. In the footage, YouTuberDarkathion creates his trainer, wanders his area, and catches a few Pokemon – along with acquiring eggs and gym gameplay along the way. The battle system sticks to its roots; a major perk for players who simply want the Pokemon experience on a somewhat “real-world” platform. While the description states that the footage is only intended for viewing by people already in the beta, the video’s accessibility says otherwise. The game includes all of the basic staples that harken back through the generations of Pokemon RPG games: along with the similar battle system, trainers are expected to compete in gym battles to raise their levels, with an upgraded Pokedex to show you just how many of the little critters you’ve managed to catch.
While Pokemon GO is currently undergoing a “field test” in Australia and New Zealand, little more has been released about the game, and any sign of a release date remains in limbo. While Pokemon GO was originally planned to debut at GDC, the developers at Niantic withdrew the demo just before the show with the claim that they were focusing on getting the product ready for its beta launch. Fans are eager and hopeful for this summer’s E3, where Nintendo is expected to focus on upcoming games like the next installment to their Legend of Zelda franchise, and its new mobile vertical.
With the massive success of Nintendo’s Miitomo experience and high hopes for a future in mobile gaming, is not only a property that makes sense, but one that can make or break Nintendo’s further endeavors on the mobile platform. Luckily, this isn’t Niantic’s first rodeo in augmented reality – the studio scored this particular gig after their first mobile game, Ingress, became a smash-hit thanks to its unique game play style. What the future holds for Pokemon GO is still a mystery, but at least eager players have a unique chance to familiarize themselves with the game ahead of time.