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Article - 'Conversions' by Angroth

An item about Miscellanious posted on Mar 16, 2004

Blurb

About games to movies and movies to games.

Body

When I talk about conversions I’m not talking about any kind of sport, I mean conversions of games to movies and movies to games. Like when Mortal Kombat came out as a game and then not long later a movie was made from it and likewise when Demolition Man the movie came out and soon to follow was the sega genesis/megadrive game with the same name.

First I’m going to talk about clearly failed conversions and then we’ll see why they were such a failure. I’m going to start with that Star Wars beat ‘em up on the playstation, I forget its name (maybe Master of Teras Kasi or something), so will you and we don’t need to know its name. All we need to know was that is was a game where a handful of characters from the Star Wars universe would enter a badly rendered arena and fight it out in poor animation and gameplay. Now, unless you’re a Star Wars maniac you really wouldn’t enjoy this, I do like Star Wars but I’m far from the depths of being a maniac, so as you would expect, I didn’t like this game. Now what made this game of a movie complete garbage? Well, firstly it didn’t follow the story at all, which is ok, inherently a cool beat ‘em up of Star Wars wouldn’t need the story, but nonetheless… It doesn’t have the story. Secondly it doesn’t really have the atmosphere that you would expect, it doesn’t really feel like Star Wars. Next I found that besides detracting from Star Wars in general it was just poorly made compared to the likes of rival games, Tekken 3, Street Fighter Alpha 3 etc.

Now if we look at another, newer game, maybe we can draw some comparisons. The Thing (remake of The Thing From Outerspace), personally I thought this was a good horror movie, and 20 years later they decide to make a playstation 2 game of it. Now the game wasn’t too bad but I definitely thought it dipped out. I didn’t hold much to the atmosphere of the original movie, which is alright but it certainly puts it to a side. But by losing out on the movie’s atmosphere, it inevitably loses out on anything that was scary. As far as survival horrors go, this one is alright but like most of them, they’re not very scary. This game adopted the idea of The Thing and does things like, have the loading sequence show what it does. Now in theory, if you put everything together, if you know what it does and what it is, it’s going to be hell of a lot less scary! Also, the cool story about an alien turned into the usual government conspiracy crap, which does the movie little justice.

As far as things go the main similarities for getting a bad computer game of a movie are the following:
Original Movie Theme Destroyed: If the theme and atmosphere are gone, what’s the point in basing it on the movie in the first place??
The Budget: If you aren’t willing to spend as much money and time into the game as was put into the movie, it won’t be half as good… Obviously, and therefore other similar games will be better and bought over this product.
Personally I feel those two points could be applied to most of those bad conversions out there.

Now I don’t know if it’s just me, but everyone always says making a movie into a game doesn’t work, but I disagree. Games that did hold their justice to the movies I think should include: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Demolition Man. The Return of the King has the actor’s voices, the locations of the movie and its pure hack ‘n slash fun. It plays similar to a modern Golden Axe game which is why I think it’s so good, Golden Axe was an unbeatable game. It holds all the atmosphere of the movie, and lots of effort and money has gone into it, so therefore I think it deserves the merit of being a good game. As for Demolition Man (sega megadrive/genesis), I thought it was one of the best platform shooters ever, it kept the dark futuristic theme, with similar locations to the movie, although locations and the story did differ, it didn’t lose the atmosphere, and I think it still stands as one of the best shooters to date, good simple fun. Also, worth noting is that Demolition Man too featured the actor’s voices, pictures and sound effects from the original movie. So what makes good movie tie-ins?
Same atmosphere & themes: If it’s truly similar in this sense, those who liked the movie will obviously like the game.
Same effort and money: If no effort or money went into the game, especially compared to the movie, then its going to be a pig to play.
Pictures, Sounds and music from the movie: This should be under the atmosphere bit really but this is how the atmosphere is created, just incase you wondered.

Now let’s look at games to movies, similar situation but nonetheless different. Mortal Kombat could be the first example. Ok… This movie was a good conversion!! Why? Well the game was about brutal fighting and cool moves, guess what?… So was the movie! Personally I thought there was nothing in the Mortal Kombat game that the movie didn’t include, and there was Christopher Lambert, a pretty descent Hollywood actor!

A bad example of a game to a movie? Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. The sequel was bad… It tried to cram so much in and actually have a new cool story… It lost atmosphere of the game, it just seemed pretty lame even for me, a fan of Mortal Kombat. It’s not even particularly good for its fighting scenes, as they are all too short and scattered. Personally as a whole, I would say games that are converted to movies is a bad idea, they are likely to end up pretty crap.

So what factors can bear the difference between good and bad conversions?
Effort & Money
The Theme & Atmosphere
Crap Companies Being The Ones To Attempt It!

If anyone from a movie or game company just read this article, please take note of it!