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Vol. 2, Issue 14
February 8, 2000
From the Mouth of Madness:

License Me!

by Jason "loonyboi" Bergman

In the history of licensed games, there have been only a few games that were anything but terrible. Games based on licensed properties more often than not tend to be rushed to meet a movie/TV show/comic book’s release date, and the end result is a steaming pile of crap.

There are a number of licensed titles in development, and several of them actually look decent. And recently there have been a few good licensed games as well (Wheel of Time and Aliens vs. Predator spring to mind as two good examples). There’s even a couple of Star Trek titles in development that might not suck (an ongoing curse for the license).

But then there’s the titles out there that haven’t been licensed yet (or announced, anyway). I’ve come up with a list of properties that I think are just screaming for a decent game to come along and license them. For each game listed, I’ve noted the type of game, because as Dune 2 proved, a license can work in one genre (in this case, a real-time strategy game) but fail miserably in another (the original Dune game was a lousy adventure title).

Anywho, let’s get to it, shall we?

Batman: The Animated Series: first person shooter.

I never would have thought this would work, until I played Thief: The Dark Project. Picture this – a game, played from a first-person perspective, that has you sneaking around in the dark, using your arsenal of bat-utilities instead of fighting. If done right, a good mixture of action and role-playing could be included. Unfortunately, this would have to be the animated series Batman, since the current movie incarnation is such a joke (and DC would never let a Batman game be made directly off the comic books – they’re not mainstream enough and would confuse their audience).

Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead: survival horror.

This is sort of a given, really. The Resident Evil games are all closely related to these movies, but they stray from them by adding non-zombie creatures and ridiculous plots. A true adaptation of either of these films would work really well – especially the first one, if it were in black and white. There wouldn’t need to be an excess of puzzles, just a simple “stay alive” mission, where you have to keep yourself and the people with you alive for as long as possible by using what’s at your disposal.

Philip K. Dick’s VALIS: text adventure.

Okay, so maybe it’s 20 years too late for this one, but I’m convinced that VALIS, by Philip K. Dick would make a great text adventure game. Here’s the idea – it’s a game where you play a schizophrenic, but you don’t know that when the game starts. You think everything’s just fine and dandy. But as you go around, things start to fall apart…and you eventually have to figure out what all of it means (I won’t ruin plot points for those of you that haven’t read the book). There are a number of great Infocom games that work in similar ways, like Suspended and A Mind Forever Voyaging (both highly recommended) but neither of them goes as far as a game based on VALIS would.

Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend: third person action.

This book was simply made for the action genre. Here’s the concept: a virus has turned the entire world’s population into vampires – except for one guy. You play that one person, and try and stay alive, while desperately searching for a cure. Memorable sequences include driving down the road shooting at vampires with your shotgun, and of course, looking out the window to see them mercilously taunting you. Then there’s the whole society of mutants…boy, this is some good stuff here, people. There may be a chance that this will get made…a new film adaptation (The Charlton Heston flick The Omega Man was loosely based on it) is currently in development hell, but at one point Schwartzenegger and Ridley Scott were going to team up on it. If the movie ever gets made, they may want a game tie-in to go along with it.

Starship Troopers: first person shooter.

Okay, I know, you can definitely argue that this game was already made, and it’s called Doom. But hey…there’s no reason someone can’t make a great game out of it. There was a game in development, a third-person action game, and GameStorm has a lame online version, but neither of those gave the license what it really needed – kick ass action, and nothing but. From what I’ve seen of KISS: Psycho Circus, Third Law seems to understand how to do this right. After they’ve proved themselves with that license, if you ask me, they should pursue this one.

Akira: third person action game.

This is one of those licenses that baffles me. Why hasn’t anyone undertaken this one? Anime and video games are Japan’s two largest forms of entertainment, and yet one of the best anime movies has never been adapted. Ghost in the Shell, while not too related to the movie, was a pretty good game, I have to admit…and it only made me wish someone would get off their butts and make an Akira game. Can you imagine what a great Playstation 2 game this would make? The motorcycle scenes alone would make for a great game. Once the giant guns get pulled out…well, you’ve got great fodder right there.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: third person action.

Here’s another baffling one. I would have expected a cheesy shovelware game by now, but even that hasn’t happened. Hey Warner Brothers - give someone the Unreal Tournament engine, a decent sized budget, and let them go nuts. If the game were playable from a number of characters (Buffy, Angel, possibly Willow?) it would be tons of fun.

Lord of the Rings: real-time strategy.

I had a tough time thinking of game that would make for a decent real-time strategy game, since that’s a tough nut to crack. Dune 2, I’m convinced, was total luck. Who knew how well that was going to work? Lord of the Rings, on the other hand, just screams for a strategy game. You’ve got a detailed layout of the land, a great (and large) cast of characters, and hey! There’s even a new movie coming out. It’s definitely tough to make a strategy game based on a license (look at Braveheart as an example of how not to do it) but Dune 2 proved it can be done. Let’s see something done right here, people.

Milk & Cheese: third person action.

Okay, so maybe this doesn’t need to be a full-fledged game or anything, but I sure would love to see someone try. If you’ve never read the comic, here’s the concept – there are two characters, a milk carton, and a wedge of cheese, that go around beating the crap out of everything in sight, and generally terrorizing the populace of the tri-state area. Sound like a great idea for a game to you? Well, it’s better than Grand Theft Auto or Postal, and those games got made, didn’t they? Frankly, I don’t think there’s a chance in hell that this will ever happen, but I’d settle for a mod that lets me take on the body of one of them and run through a supermarket with an axe. But hey…that’s just me.

Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: third person adventure.

Back in the Infocom days, Douglas Adams made a couple of : The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (in my opinion the single best game ever made) and Bureaucracy. His return to gaming, Starship Titanic wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t particularly good, either. Work has begun on a new game in the Hitchhiker’s Guide universe, and while I think that could very well be fantastic, I can’t help but think that Adams’ other series could very well be better suited to adaptation. With Dirk, you get a bumbling film-noir hero, plus a wild plot that includes the extermination of the human race. What more could a game ask for?

Well, there you have it. Ten games, that if you ask me, need to be made. I wouldn’t be too surprised if a couple of them are announced at this year’s E3…but some of them (Milk & Cheese, for one) I don’t ever expect to see. But boy, it sure would be fun. :)

- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames. He is fully licensed for this position.


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