In the meantime, I'm just a guy who writes about videogame theory and how the medium can achieve better cinematic emulation (while keeping its own indentity). Though, if that's too boring, you can always find something delightfully fluffy in the following:
Hey, do you ever remember that bit in Men in Black where Agent J had to desperately survive the conditions of an Arctic research base?
Or when Agent K beat a guy in an exoskeleton suit to death?
What about the time when Linda “hasn’t done much” Fiorentino travelled to Brazil and fought one of those cockroach aliens in a secret underground cave?
It’s alright. You haven’t forgotten about certain movie scenes. Mercifully, this only happened in Men in Black: The Game.
Movie licensed videogames always take liberties with the source material to fit the narrative into an interactive medium. Rarely, it works. More often than not, it goes horrendously wrong. So wrong that, twelve years after release, you’ll be wondering if you actually dreamt up this nonsense after a night of cheese tasting.
Just like, hey, Men in Black: The Game.
Developers: SouthPeak Interactive (PC) and Gremlin Interactive (PSone Port) Release Info: Made in 1997 and ported to PSone in 1998. Only God knows why. You’ll be lucky to find the Win 95 version on eBay, but there’s a demo still floating around.
MiB: The Movie is full of genius running gags and subversive adult humour with enough CGI fun for ‘the kids’. My favourite gag tends to be the fact they’re just immigration officers and the realisation that, despite the aliens and technology, it’s an underappreciated agency job.
Well, you can forget about all that for the videogame adaptation. Taking liberties is fine, but when the job description changes from intergalactic civil servant to uncaring alien killer, you’re sort of missing the point by parsecs or light-years.
Hey, I once failed an astronomy course, alright?
The developers, Southpeak Games, obviously lack funny bones. When a majority of the narrative has you listening to the luckless final hours of a missing person or wondering what the hell is scuttling around in the nearby jungle, then you have to question if they ever watched the movies or read any of the original comics.
MiB: The Game is somehow a survival horror title.
The story starts off with Detective Will Smith (suspiciously voiced by what might be a white guy) chasing a suspect like in the movie. Once you complete the prologue, faux-Tommy Lee Jones pops up and mind-wipes you into joining the MiB. Then things get fuzzy because the story diverges vaguely into sequel territory without sticking to the established universe.
As either Agent J, K or L, you pick your flashy weapons and get packed off on ‘episodes’ unconnected to the movie or even each other. First is to solve the disappearance of researchers in the Arctic. That’s followed by investigating an Amazon mine for alien abductors. Finally, there’s a mad billionaire nerd who has access to alien technology and your job is to assassinate him.
Apparently, outright murder is in your job description now.
It’s a mystery why the developers went for a survival horror approach. Even at its zeitgeist, the genre was never a unit shifter beyond the known franchises. Sure, it was good for presenting a cinematic feel, but it’s hard to see how MiB’s 60’s kitsch aesthetics fit in with the bleak world of pre-rendered horror.
The interaction is Survival Horror 101; as you explore self-contained locations, solving puzzles and killing the odd alien that gets in the way. Not exactly original and to give you a taste of its unoriginality, the first episode is a mash-up of The X-Files and The Thing.
Still, MiB: The Game is ridiculously unforgiving for your average movie cash-in. Beyond the difficulty, you also have terrible control over a sluggish character. It’s worse than a drunken Rip Torn at his local bank. When you need to jump, the animation looks like a glitch; which is annoying because if you mistimed a leap, it usually means instant death.
Did I mention that once you die, you have to restart the episode because it only saves at the beginning?
No, of course I didn’t.
“Oh, Stevil is so funny with his clichéd exasperated humour.”
It would be an ideal handicap to some if the game wasn’t so plot-driven and each section lasted an hour. Sadly, that’s not the worst part. Despite, the time between episodes and ammo replenishment at HQ, you’re stuck with the same health rations for the entire run. Waste too many health-kits early on and there’s no way you can finish the game.
Who was responsible for these design decisions?!
Well, it shouldn’t be all that surprising it includes such design decisions as no checkpoints or not being able to find extra ammunition. Also, despite the various weapon designs, they all do the same overall damage. So, you have to rely on melee to save your “Noisy Cricket” for the bosses.
You’ll always be kicking in a cute alien’s head like you were re-enacting the infamous Romper Stomper; really going at it for an intense minute. Watching Will Smith curb-stomp an assailant is grim and wantonly forgettable.
Much like Wild Wild West.
It must have been forgettable to many because researching MiB: The Game was an absolute nightmare. Save for a handful of pictures and some critic scores (all rating it ‘terrible’), it’s hard to find any information. In the internet age, you’d think somebody still owns this game and uploaded footage on YouTube. Sure, there’s theMiB videogames based on the cartoon series, but nothing on the movie tie-in.
Maybe we all got mind-wiped and remember this videogame only as some light from Venus shining off some swamp gas.
More likely though, as with Will Smith’s albums after Big Willie Style, we just stopped caring enough to keep this crap in the loop.