Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Archive for the ‘Friday at the Movies’ Category

Friday at the Movies: Cloak & Dagger

leave a comment »

cloak_dagger_poster

The 1980s was a weird time for movies.  It seems like during this time period that younger kids between the ages of 8-14 were a demographic that was heavily marketed to.  While I concede that films of today like anything animated by Pixar or even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are marketed to kids, it doesn’t seem like the movies are specifically created to speak to them.  Cloak & Dagger is a film I can’t imagine was marketed for anyone other than young boys that were into G.I. Joe, played video games, and struggled with their parents.  So, yeah, every young boy.  It tells the tale of an 11-year-old Texas boy named Davey (played by Henry Thomas just after his big debut in E.T.) that is obsessed with a spy role playing game Cloak & Dagger starring a James Bond type named Jack Flack.  One day Davey witnesses real terrorists trying to deliver confidential government materials in an Atari 5200 video game cart and of course the world doesn’t believe him because he’s already annoyed them profusely with his imaginary spy nonsense.  What I love about this movie is that it speaks to kids at their level and, believe it or not, sneaks in plenty of after school lessons that will hopefully better equip them for handling the real world.  If you are into brand marketing the way we all were in the 80s, you won’t be able to ignore the glut of Atari references.  This film released in the summer of 1984, which is quite an ironic time to have a film engulfed in Atari marketing since the crash of 1983 was in full effect.  I’m sure when it was filming and when the deals were signed, this was at least a year earlier when Atari ruled supreme.  Nowadays you will want to watch this film not because of its entertainment merit per se, it is still a movie made for and talking to pre-teens, but more because of the hybrid of going back to your youth and nostalgia for the time period.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

May 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Friday at the Movies: Captain America Civil War

leave a comment »

captain-america-civil-war-iron-man

Video games are an interactive experience and whether it’s that fact or something completely unrelated the stories in them, well, mostly suck.  Comic books (as well as other media) somehow get lumped into the same world, which is completely without merit.  Perhaps it’s that both started off as a target for kids, but whatever the reason this is a myth that is often regarded as fact.  Comic books have incredible story lines, character development, and even rival contemporary films in terms of quality content.  Captain America Civil War has to be one of the best translations from comic book to screen I have ever seen.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

May 6, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Friday At The Movies: Critters

leave a comment »

Video games and movies, you would think the two would go hand-in-hand, but unfortunately given that the film medium is a passive experience and the gaming medium is an active experience, the hybrid of the two usually goes horribly (and laughably) wrong.  This segment will be our weekly realm to appreciate the more “classic” medium of film.

critters_poster

The horror movie has been around almost as long as movies themselves.  Looking back in history initial footage of a railroad coming at a camera shocked and scared audiences to death and probably one of the most famous silent films of all times is horror film Nosferatu.  As film grew up the genre of horror began to move in a different direction where many times to appease the audience there would be instances of comedy or teenagers would spend the whole movie making fun of it as a defense mechanism.  What I love so much about the 80s is that everything is made fun and carefree, including horror movies, and you get these hybrid horror comedy films.  It is into this environment that we get one of my personal favorites: Critters.  Directed by the great Stephen Herek (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitters Dead) Critters tells the tale of a small rural town plagued by a race of fuzzball creatures that like to roll around everywhere and eat everything in their path.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

October 16, 2015 at 11:00 am

Friday At the Movies: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

with one comment

Video games and movies, you would think the two would go hand-in-hand, but unfortunately given that the film medium is a passive experience and the gaming medium is an active experience, the hybrid of the two usually goes horribly (and laughably) wrong.  This segment will be our weekly realm to appreciate the more “classic” medium of film.

mad_max_beyond_thunderdome_poster

Two men enter, one man leaves.  That phrase has been ingrained in my memory since I first heard it at the tender of age of seven.  The third, and technically final, installment in George Miller’s Mad Max trilogy may initially come off as the oddest but ultimately is par for the course in this interesting series.  Beyond Thunderdome had a massive budget of $12 million, more than six times the size of The Road Warrior‘s (the second film) seemingly large budget and included superstar singer Tina Turner.  In addition it was marketed as a return to the brutal and bloody world of the Australian post-apocalyptic wasteland, but in truth it’s more akin to Peter Pan.  I think that’s why the feedback on this film isn’t as strong as the others, because most fans of Mad Max liken the films to Fury Road.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

October 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

Movie Review: Pixels

leave a comment »

pixels_poster

Authors Note: The circumstances surrounding my having seen this movie early and my review having been written months ago are explained at the end of this review.

Here we go again, another video game movie.  That’s all I seem to think about whenever I see anything like Pixels advertised, so needless to say I went into my initial screening with very low hopes.  Couple that with the fact that the starring roles belong to Adam Sandler and Kevin James, two actors of which I despise most of their work, and you basically have a formula for what I assumed would be a disaster.  Thanks to some lighthearted implementation of some of gaming’s first arcade titles (Pac-Man, Centepede, Donkey Kong, etc.) and the assistance of great supporting cast members Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage, this 80s nostalgia flick just became yet another in a sea of big dumb fun summer blockbusters.  If you over think it, this movie falls apart, but if you just go in with zero expectations and want to enjoy two hours, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

July 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

Podcast: What Did You Expect?

leave a comment »

vgm

This week Fred and Jam are joined by guest Fortengard to talk about the world of video game movies.  Now, if we just sat around and ragged on them all day we would be just like every other gaming podcast.  Instead, we delve into concepts of production, adaptation, and what makes these movies good or what makes them completely worthless.

Note: I promised to post the chat for this show as well, you can find it here (.doc version).


Download this episode (right click and save)

Subscribe: RSS iTunes Google Podbean

Friday at the Movies: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Arcade)

leave a comment »

T2TheArcadeGamepromoConsole: Arcade
Released: 1991
Developer: Midway / Probe Software (console)
Publisher: Midway / Acclaim (console)
Ports: Gameboy, Game Gear, Master System, Genesis, SNES, PC/DOS (all as T2: The Arcade Game)
Digital Release? No (probably due to license issues)

In 1991, the sequel to Jim Cameron’s film Terminator hit theaters and literally launched the careers of Edward Furlong and Robert Patrick as well as ushering in a new generation of computer generated image (CGI) effects.  With a monster budget the film was accompanied by a marketing blitz like no other.  At that time making an arcade game for the movie was a great and potentially cost-free endeavor (it would make as much in revenue that it cost to produce), which resulted in one of the heaviest cult following of a licensed game I’ve ever experienced.  Not only was it a licensed arcade game, but it was also a bolt-on light gun game (which I describe in my Operation Wolf article) that made it significantly more approachable than any other format.  For me, it was the “why can’t I beat the damn third level!” game.

Hosted at Universal Videogame List www.uvlist.netIt’s quite an expansive experience that takes you through most of the pivotal moments of the movie, including several levels that take place in the post-apocalyptic future and subsequent present day challenges.   Like other shooters of its type, you have a primary machine gun weapon and bombs that can be fired off for some of the stronger enemies or to take out clusters.  I must admit that at the time it was awesome taking out the original T-800 cyborgs we first saw in the original Terminator and the neo-future setting.  Then you hit level three.  Most people don’t remember and even fewer talk about the fact that unlike arcade quarter-swallowing titles like Revolution X, level three requires skill to complete and no amount of money in the world will get you past it.  This is why most people who have played this game get hung up on or never see beyond the third level.  It’s a protection mission where you literally have to memorize the spawn points of the oncoming enemies that seek to destroy the truck John Connor is fighting in.  This vehicle is very susceptible to damage and if you can’t intercept the airborne enemies right as they appear you have no chance of completing the level.  If John dies, you have to restart with no true penalty.  This resulted in long, repetitive, and frustrating replays of an escort mission you never wanted to play.  It’s really disappointing too, because the remaining seven levels are both fun and provide much more fan service for those that have seen the movie.  These levels are also brutally difficult to the point that I don’t think it’s possible to pass on consoles and requires more than 50 credits on arcades/MAME.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

April 26, 2013 at 11:00 am

Friday at the Movies: Jurassic Park (Sega CD)

leave a comment »

Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: Helpful – Link
Difficulty: Easy
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $1.02 (used), $10.39 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: No
Digital Release? No

When the movie Jurassic Park came out in 1993, it was an absolute phenomenon.  People who had never read the book were picking it up in droves, and from what I could tell through conversation at that time almost no one actually read it.  Dinosaur craze returned in full force as Michael Crichton’s novel about a genetic research company cloning dinosaurs on a Costa Rican island brought out the kid in everyone.  Not only that, Spielberg’s film adaptation utilized cutting edge computer generated image technology along with stop motion and creature expert Stan Winston to create lifelike dinosaurs onscreen that amazed everyone.  Jurassic Park was not only ideal for the medium it was on, the premise was tailor-made for marketing companies to merchandise the hell out of it.  Back then development cycles were short and coordinating a solid game release along with a movie wasn’t so far-fetched, and honestly most home ports of the game were as diverse as it came across platforms and all pretty decent.  My personal favorite has to be the Sega CD port, which merged details from both the movie and the book to create, of all things, a point-and-click adventure set on the island.  The opportunity of exploring the vacant island and interacting with the dinosaurs was a great opportunity, but I didn’t come to appreciate it until I was much older due to the lack of action in the game.

Set shortly after the abandonment of the island in the movie, you’re tasked with returning to Jurassic Park after the tragedy that befell its visitors and recover dinosaur eggs for rebuilding.  Since the eggs are lost and you are unaware of Dennis Nedry’s specimen can, your only option is to sneak into the nest of the 12 given dinosaur species, recover an egg, and return it to the incubator at the visitor’s center.  While locations remain in a controlled environment (you’re forced into fast travel movies that drop you into the screens you explore), there is an awful lot of freedom to roam about.  What I found most iconic is the ability to explore areas like visitor center laboratory and even special access to Dr. Wu’s office, the tyrannosaur paddock and seeing the after effects of the attack on the SUVs that Tim, Lex, and Grant were in, and even a tense trip down the island river (which is never featured in the movie but a crucial part of the book’s plot) as dilophosaurs spit venom at you.  While this sounds gripping and almost too high brow for 1993, you must remember that this game is a true adventure game not unlike the LucasArts and Sierra titles, which means action is few and far between.  Even in the sequences where you do engage dinosaurs, the answer is always some sort of puzzle that usually has you dying quite a few times before figuring out the secret.  I think most people who go into this game are imagining something that is a bit more interactive than it is, but if you approach it with an adventure game mindset it weaves an intriguing story.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

November 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Friday at the Movies: Street Fighter

leave a comment »

Video games and movies, you would think the two would go hand-in-hand, but unfortunately given that the film medium is a passive experience and the gaming medium is an active experience, the hybrid of the two usually goes horribly (and laughably) wrong.  This segment will be our weekly realm to appreciate the more “classic” medium of film.  Of course, whenever possible I will review a “video game” movie.

It’s almost ironic to me that Jean-Claude Van Damme plays lead character Guile in this film because Mortal Kombat, direct competitor for the Street Fighter franchise, was originally supposed to be a Bloodsport video game.  Despite that, and the fact that Mortal Kombat was also made into a film, Street Fighter released to American theaters on Christmas Eve in 1994 up against Dumb & Dumber and The Santa Clause.  Director Steven E. de Souza was best known for penning action blockbusters like Die Hard and The Running Man as well as horribly written flops like Hudson HawkStreet Fighter marked his most known directorial title (he also wrote the screenplay), which probably explains why he isn’t known as a director.  In interviews de Souza explains that he did not want this movie to be a simple tournament full of fight scenes – side note: he stated that decision was due to the flop of Super Mario Bros. a year before and its apparent faithfulness to the game, which proves that Hollywood did not pay attention to video game details – and instead created an interesting international terrorist film.  To its credit, the overarching plot isn’t bad, albeit quite overcomplicated and tries way too hard to integrate as many people fromSuper Street Fighter II as it can, not to mention Guile’s horrible lines.  Despite being a worldwide commercial success (it made just under $100 million in combined worldwide theatrical release against its $35 million budget), the film was destroyed by critics and gamers alike for having slight nuances in both worlds but failing to implement either in a decent way.  In fact, if it weren’t for all the praise to Raul Julia’s performance as M. Bison the film would have nothing positive for critics at the time to talk about.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

June 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

Friday at the Movies: The Wizard

leave a comment »

Video games and movies, you would think the two would go hand-in-hand, but unfortunately given that the film medium is a passive experience and the gaming medium is an active experience, the hybrid of the two usually goes horribly (and laughably) wrong.  This segment will be our weekly realm to appreciate the more “classic” medium of film (thanks to the large number of hits my Prometheus review received).  Of course, whenever possible I will review a “video game” movie.

This movie poster is exactly like the gaming magazines fo the time, busy as hell.

Oh, The Wizard, how I love you so despite what anyone tells me.  Sure, it’s nothing more than a big commercial for Super Mario Bros. 3 and a blatant ripoff of Rain Man, but that doesn’t change the fact that I love this movie to death.  Before the Internet, we gamers would soak up any and all forms of information on video games and due to the lack of content available to us (magazines cost money, you had to be registered for newsletters, and we couldn’t linger in the gaming area of Sears forever).  I had a subscription to Nintendo Power and I knew that SMB3 would eventually grace our shores, but Japan got the game a whopping year and a half before us!  As soon as they revealed that the game was going to be featured in the movie, it was an instant must see for my friends and I.  It’s pretty hilarious too, because in the movie the big reveal is that the finals for the Nintendo World Championship would feature this game and everyone goes crazy given that it’s a never before played game.  As an audience, we all knew the game would be in there and shredded through the first 90 minutes of exposition to get to that point.  When Jimmy played those legendary first few levels of SMB3, though, the entire pathetic journey was well worth it.  For fans of the film, how the hell does Haley know everything about this “unseen” game as Jimmy plays along, including what the flute does?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

June 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 355 other followers