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Weekly Musings #1 - Do movie-license video games all suck?
Author: Michael Ahlf
Date: June 12th 2004
Page: 4
1995 brought us the Playstation, and 1996 the Nintendo 64. And arguably, there was an upswing of licensed titles - though the N64, hurting from Nintendo's already-poor performance in getting 3rd-party games onto the N64, got far fewer and only a few notables to save it. In fact, the main movie tie-in games that the N64 got were - wait for it: 

Star Wars

Yeah, that's right - for its entire lifetime, the only big movie tie-in games the NES was given were Star Wars games. Fortunately, they're a collection of GOOD Star Wars titles: Shadows of the Empire, Rogue Squadron, and Episode I: Racer are the big three.

How did this happen? Mostly, it was a funny coincidence that the Lucasarts teams in charge of making all three titles were coming off of successes with PC games like X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and Dark Forces, and knew what gamers wanted to see in a Star Wars game. But as a whole, these three ought to just about kill that myth of movie games generally sucking - were it not for the number of other games, especially on the rival Playstation, that did exactly that.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Once again, not a movie game as such - indeed, the Castlevania series had taken a life of its own by this point. Still, it's worth noting the humble beginnings of the Castlevania series, not to mention all the movie monsters that still DO appear in its screens.

Batman

Just as in previous years, Batman got the short end of the stick - in fact, it's very easy to put in a side note here that Batman games do, indeed, generally suck.

I mean, let's face it here - Batman & Robin? Ouch. And Batman Forever was somehow, inscrutably so, even worse. But the real jewel of dog crap in the Playstation's line of Batman games was none other than Batman: Gotham City Racer, a racing game in which the programmers, halfway through, appear to have forgotten that they were making a racing game.

Blade

As happened later on in Xbox iterations, Blade (the Daywalker) was given a decent storyline, decent graphics... and a control system that made gamers want to rip their hair out, trying to get Blade to do what they wanted him to do.

Star Wars

Where the Nintendo64 couldn't seem to do wrong with its Star Wars titles, the Playstation seemed destined for disaster. Its port of Dark Forces, for starters, was like a fish out of water compared to the smooth control the PC could give players. Rebel Assault II came out of the annoying line of rail shooters trying to ape movies, and as such wasn't hot either. Masters of Teras Kasi, the Tekken-ish fighting game, had horrid controls and an entire reliance on just using the same strings over and over.

Thankfully, as time went on, things got better. The sleeper Star Wars: Demolition, a Twisted Metal-ish Star Wars title, was actually decently fun. And then there were Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Episode I: Jedi Power Battles, neither of which was stellar, but each of which managed (though Jedi Power Battles not as much) to not be a disgrace to the Star Wars name.

Street Fighter: The Movie

Here was an interesting one - a game, based on a movie, based on a game. Of course it doesn't help that your movie is the abysmally silly Street Fighter, nor does it help that you're trying to use motion captured animation at a time when the gaming public was slowly coming to realize that Mortal Kombat, for all its great graphics, wasn't all that good to play with after seeing the Street Fighter series just get better and better and better.

Given its strange circumstances, it never proved much - except maybe that the Capcom designers who made it were on crack. After all, who makes a fighting game where you have to fight the controls just to land a punch, but where counter-throws can be executed 4 or 5 moves deep?

Warpath: Jurassic Park

This one's straight out of the "what were they smoking" department as well - Warpath: Jurassic Park. It's not that the idea behind any fighting game is necessarily strange, just that the way they chose to do this one - Tekken style - was silly. If you learned your dinosaur's combos, you could do some wierd stuff, but even when I reviewed it I was more relying on throws to get the job done.

Intriguingly, there was another Jurassic Park game for the Playstation as well, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, in which one could "be the T-Rex." Though, after playing it, the question ought to be WHY one wanted to be the T-Rex, given that his situation was pretty ridiculous in the first place.

And so things went on - and the modern PC came to power, along with the PS2 , Gamecube and Xbox. How good were games to them?

Weekly Musings 1: Do Movie-License Video Games All Suck?


Added:  Sunday, June 13, 2004
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

Page: 4/6

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