In honor of Video Game Day, Jack Godwin and Diego Crespo have taken it upon ourselves to imagine what it would be like to imagine feature films as video games. The only qualifications are: 1) it cannot have previously been a video game. 2) The stories can be original or straight adaptations.
David Cronenberg brought his specific brand of sci-fi body horror to the (then futuristic) notion of virtual reality, exploring how we interact with these new technologies. In the near-future, virtual reality game pods are attached via bio-ports into players’ spines through technological umbilical cords. Two game companies are competing for dominance of this field, while a group of anti-game realists fight against this “deforming of reality”.
In the world Cronenberg created, a video game has the opportunity to off-script and get as creative as possible. I see it as a first-person action game, one that can use the traditional tropes and structures of video games while subverting them. It won’t have the same amount of twists as the film, but can follow the same psychological arc – you begin as an average person playing the game, exploring a virtual reality world, before things get violent and you realise you can’t exit the game. Trying to escape, you come across realist fighters attempting to sabotage the game from the inside and the controlling forces keeping you in, with both sides morally ambiguous and untrustworthy. You go through different levels of reality, unsure of when you are truly outside the game. There can be breaks in the gameplay – mysterious messages that might be game glitches or messages from the real world. If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is, but a game based on eXistenZ could blur the line between player and avatar, asking what the effect video games have on our understanding of reality.
This one doesn’t need a whole lot changed from the basic plot of the 1973 classic. In the near-future a highly-realistic adult amusement park called Delos features three themed “worlds” – Roman World (ancient Roman city of Pompeii), Medieval World, and West World (the American Old West). The resort is made to look exactly like the time, and is populated by lifelike androids programmed to act as if they are part of the time period, but never to hurt a guest. You can enter the world as a tourist, enjoying the attractions of the Old West – getting into bar fights, drinking, robbing banks etc. Then the malfunctions start to happen, at which point it becomes a survival horror – hiding, fighting and fleeing from the robots gone haywire, eventually leading to an escape through the research facility.
On multiple playthroughs you can choose to start in the Roman or Medieval worlds, or enjoy a free-roaming arcade mode where the robots remain functional. Similar to how the film had different guests sharing the simulation with each other, players could share the game world with others online, choosing to team up or betray one another in order to survive or profit in different game modes.
Source Code can take the premise of the film and run with it. With each level your character is transported into the body of someone during the last eight minutes of their life. You have to re-play those eight minutes over and over again, investigating the scene before a terrorist attack takes place. You talk to people in the area and analyse the scene with the aim to find out what went wrong or who is responsible so the culprits can be caught in the present. This means you are effectively acting as a detective to a crime that you are actually experiencing, without the means to actually change the outcome. That is, until the job starts to take its toll on your character and you start to try and alter the past…
This could take place during any of the annual Battle Royale games, without following the film’s story exactly. You are one of the students thrown into a life-or-death fight against your classmates. Everyone is briefed on the rules, given a bag of food and water, map of the island, and a random weapon ranging from guns to a paper fan. With multiple play styles, you come across various different characters who can be either allies or antagonists depending on your decisions. You can try to make an alliance and rebel, trying to escape the island, or you can betray your classmates and kill everyone you come across to be the sole winner. You have to eat and drink to maintain health levels, and gain new equipment through stealth sections or by attacking other classmates – all while avoiding the danger zones announced across the large, free-roaming map. Different endings can be unlocked depending on your decisions and how violent or pacifist your actions are. Like the film, you will be have conversations with other students that can affect who you trust and who trusts you, and make your own choice where the story goes.
Michael Bay’s overly-energetic and haphazard action remains a clear inspiration for various video games. Modern Warfare 2 even went so far as to have a sequence set in a prison shower (because homage). The rest of the games were obsessed with absurdly disastrous stories – the Eiffel tower is destroyed and never brought up again – so why not bring back mindless action shooters to their roots with the original movie that introduced the world to Bayhem. Even bring back Nicolas Cage for the voice of Dr. Stanley Goodspeed. Hell, bring back Nic Cage for all the voices. Except for Tony Todd. There is only one Tony Todd.
The opening heist can introduce action, stealth, and narrative mechanics while subsequent levels prep the players for an elongated rush of vague government conspiracy nonsense and a random driving level in which Nic Cage royally F’s up a Ferrari. Somebody fund this game.
Ben Trebilcook’s un-produced but oft-mentioned Die Hard 6 script incorporates various elements of pre-established lore, honoring what came before and creating a specific endnote of the Die Hard legacy. I have not had the chance to read it but those who have have mentioned the structure of the story and its increasingly narrow focus during the proceedings. If we can’t get a feature length movie out of it, why not a video game?
Here’s the set up: John McClane is invited to Japan for the 30 year anniversary of the Nakatomi incident where he became a hero. Various supporting characters from each of the films tag along for the ride and a mysterious villain (who may or may not be another Gruber) mucks up a seemingly quaint vacation for the McClane’s. Old habits, am I right?
Fast and Furious
The evolution of “keeping it simple” to “keeping it simple but also super powered car adventures”. There is an almost video game-like progression to the action series, each story progressing the plot and tying the characters close together through globe-trotting adventures. The elements of action in particular propel themselves to thrilling conclusions with each entries big bad villain – a bit that never seems to disappoint with the franchise. Each entry stands apart from the other with a story breakdown that seems tailor made for a video game set up. But what the games need to remember is the heart bringing everything together for the series. Levels should open up with the Fast crew drinking Corona’s (Dominic Torretto’s drink of choice) and barbecuing as a new adventure always seems to wait around the corner. Levels go from a mix of third person shooting mechanics, racing, and mini-games where Roman and The Rock smack talk one another. Let’s make this happen.
They might literally be too old for this shit but the Lethal Weapon franchise is still practically a gold mine. These movies thrived because they cultivated characters and relationships worth caring about. With the exception of Lethal Weapon 2 the villains in each entry were anything but memorable. The entertainment came from watching disparate personalities clash and conjoin in a friendship unlike any other with a colorful supporting cast. The mysteries and action were just the coating on top. I imagine the video game series sharing a mix of action and stealth, but with classic Lethal Weapon traits as Riggs and Murtaugh maneuver and stumble their way through various gangs, criminal enterprises, and more South African’s declaring diplomatic immunity.
Attack the Block
A slower video game, easily adapted into something similar to an 8-bit game focused on platform and text based dialogue missions throughout the block as Moses and his friends rob residents of the local area for the first mission right before the aliens come crashing through the block. Each mission begins separating characters as they traverse the film’s story, with multiple aliens closing in on the block, police searching the premises, and Hi-Hatz wanting to kill Moses for ruining his car. This game writes itself, if only to see Moses’ run in glorious 8-bit fashion. Keep the euphoric soundtrack by Steven Price and Basement Jaxx for maximum block entertainment.
Featured Image: Summit Entertainment