Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Action Mutant presents...Our favorite Action films turned into Video Games (and the franchises that weren't)!

In writing about these films and looking up stuff about them, you tend to find some things that are pretty "out there". One of these things that I'm very thankful I have stumbled onto are the plethora of video game clips on Youtube. Seeing that VGs are supposedly our #2 purveyors of mindless violence, it would only be right that they are so closely linked to the entity at the top spot...Action Films!

Now, I don't believe that video games turned into films work. I have a theory for that but I would like to save it for another time. Films that are eventually converted into some sort of video game have turned in mixed results, namely because of the same things that happen when a filmmaker decides to do a film about a comic book. "He doesn't use that gun in the comic!" "In one frame, his tights are fuscha but his tights are magenta in the comic!" "I know all of this shit and yet...I NEVER LEARNED HOW TO READ!" Either that or the game has really shitty graphics, shitty gameplay and is...well, just shitty. In this TAM special, I'll bring up a few examples of the video game exploits from the films I reviewed and whether they're worth going on ebay for a cheap copy.

Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu
Produced by HudsonSoft
Released by Nintendo; December 1990.

I knew NOTHING of this gem before two months ago, which I found surprising and disappointing. Despite being unknown in America (aside from two failed vehicles and the two Cannonball Run films), Jackie got a game released by Nintendo though its not as surprising as you would think considering Jackie's popularity in Asia. This looks and plays like a low rent Super Mario Bros. but the graphics aren't horrible for their 8 bit trappings. They even have Jackie saving his sister for the game's plot, which is fairly similar to Mario saving the Princess. The game seems to have Jackie kicking a lot of enemies, ranging from frogs to swordsmen to TIGERS! Now, that's hardcore! Chan only kicks and punches for his offense but it looks like a fun play. Boo to the bonus level though, which just consists of Jackie jumping clouds in an effort to pick up points for the most consecutive number of clouds jumped. (***/*****)
There's even a totally, bitchin' 90s commercial!

Dick Tracy
Produced by Bandai America
Released by Nintendo in 1990.

I was all over this game back in the day, when I was obsessed with pretty much anything from the Tracy movie. Obviously, the big media campaign worked on a lot of us! This was a fair, little game that had some good gameplay and a good premise as well (Tracy has to solve a case for each stage by picking up clues at different buildings). Along the way, he punches and shoots his way through baddies (sometimes using a Super Punch boxing glove to send enemies spinning! Badass I know, right?). The colors are good, though a bit muted (but anything would be compared to the film) and the the music is pretty neat. The only problem is with the navigation through the city, as most of the deaths while playing as Tracy come from trashing the car or ditching it into a pier because the high speed chases are near impossible to pull off at first. (***1/2/*****)

Lethal Weapon
Produced by Ocean
Released by Nintendo in 1992.

Yes, about 5 years after the original LW came out, a game based on the film was put out in conjunction with the release of the third one in the series. The game has three missions and both Riggs and Murtaugh are playable characters, shooting at everyone from guerillas to somersaulting ninjas! There's nothing terribly remarkable about the game from the video I saw, other than Riggs turning completely white when gaining a power up and becoming invincible. This actually reminded me of another one of my fav NES games growing up, P.O.W.: Prisoners of War...except that game kicked ass. (**/*****)

Produced by Data East; Ocean
Released by Nintendo in 1989, Commodore 64 in 1987.

The steel server of the public seemed to be tailor made for a video game run and Nintendo knew this, making games based on all three of the films (as well as Robocop vs. The Terminator!). One big turkey shoot unfolds, as Robo strolls through the city streets and plugs bad guys running at him, jumping out from behind him or shooting from windows. Robo even goes back to the firing range for "recalibration" when his destruction percentage goes down! The one fucked up thing? Robo shoots dogs! Honest to God guard dogs and Robo mows them down like the rest! What's his major malfunction? Unfortunately, all of the villains are generic (except ED-209) and Clarence Boddicker does not show up to inform us that the Tigers are playing (TO-NIGHT!) and that he never misses a game. The better looking game though seems to be the Commodore 64 version put out the same year as the film, though its essentially the same game that the Nintendo game would become. Dig that music, too! (***1/2/*****)

Death Wish 3
Produced by Gremlin Graphics Software
Released by Commodore 64 in 1987.

Nintendo never had the nuts to release a Death Wish game but the underrated C64 put out this little known nugget. And what a violent nugget it is! The game has Paul Kersey run through the streets and (much like the frenetic finale of DW 3) blast criminals into bloody piles of goo. And that holds quite literally here, as the bad guys are actually shot into bloody heaps by Kersey's trusty shotgun and/or pistol. When the bad guys are too close, Kersey just uses the gun to beat his victims into said piles of goo. The baddies are even lured into the ambushes by hookers hiking their pixelated skirts up (how GTA-ish). The only qualm I find is that once Kersey loses his ammo, he is rousted by police. The man was adept with his fists too, you know! (****/*****)

I'm sure I'll uncover more rare and hilarious finds in the future, so this irregular column will show up again for sure!

Joe Burrows

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