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Zelda CGI movie photo
Zelda CGI movie

The Legend of Zelda was almost a CGI movie


Check this film pitch from Imagi Studios
Aug 02
// Tony Ponce
The Legend of Zelda is a series that's ripe for a movie adaptation, but aside from the odd fan film here and there, we'll likely never see an official project materialize. That doesn't mean attempts haven't been made, howeve...
Video Game High School photo
Video Game High School

Class in session! Video Game High School 2 Ep. 1 is live


Oh, hi there, CliffyB and Stan Lee!
Jul 26
// Tony Ponce
The first episode of Rocket Jump's Video Game High School Season 2 was supposed to go up yesterday, but some last-minute tweaking pushed the launch back to earlier this morning. It's now ready for your scrutinizing eyes, and...

Cat stunts! The secret sauce in Video Game High School 2

Jul 25 // Tony Ponce
Freddie Wong directs "The originally series was essentially a two-hour movie that was snipped up for online," Freddie explained, addressing the first season's filming process. "At the time, that's what a lot of people were pushing for... because people only want to watch things in 10-minute segments. As we were putting it out, we were realizing that the user comments were suggesting that people wanted to see much longer things, that people used to Netflix and Hulu sit in front of the computer for 20 minutes, 30 minutes at a time. So with this season, we're doing basically a TV show, so six TV-length episodes. Our shortest episode is something around 24 minutes, our longest episode is around 34 minutes long." Whereas Season 1 was shot in 19 days, Season 2 lasted 29. Whereas Season 1 had a budget of just over $600K, Season 2 more than doubled that. As a result, the overall run time of Season 2 promises to be much longer. It's structured less like a movie and more like a TV show, giving plenty of opportunity to flesh out side characters and give them meatier supplementary story arcs. Josh Blaylock as Brian D One of the big complaints about Season 1 was that it spent too much time on FPS gaming. This time, there will be plenty of focus on a range of genres, such as Skyrim-like sword battles, and go kart racing. As Freddie described, "Essentially, if you took a sports analogy, the first season's kind of about football. It was like Friday Night Lights. Everyone was like, 'The only sport you show is football!' Well, it's kind of like the big sport in this universe, but we wanted to expand that out for the second season." The Big Bad from Season 1 was The Law, played by 5-Second Films' Brian Firenzi. The Law was the best FPS player in the world who suffered a humiliating defeat by Brian D early on. He then spends the rest of the show making life at VGHS hell for Brian, culminating in one final, no-holds-barred showdown. Chase Williams as Shane Pizza Things aren't looking hot for The Law at the start of Season 2, when he's caught in the middle of a cheating scandal and spirals towards rock bottom. Replacing him as antagonist is Shane Pizza, the smartly dressed captain of the real-time strategy team. He's played by newcomer Chase Williamson, who says of his character: "I dress like a businessman but I talk kind of like a bro." There will be other fresh faces, but the bulk of the original cast has come back. Missing, however, is FPS class instructor Ace, played by Chuck star Zachary Levi. His absence can be chalked up to his extremely busy schedule -- if you were asked to hold Chris Hemsworth's cape in Thor: The Dark World, you'd probably go out of your way to make some time, too! STUNT CAT! But who needs Zach Levi when you've got cats running all over the set! Apparently, stunt cats were a big thing for Season 2. Stunt cats typically only learn one or two tricks, and the VGHS crew used them to their full capabilities -- riding on cars, getting tossed onto faces, and generally stealing other actors' thunder. Jimmy Wong, whose character Ted is supposed to be a drift car game racer, jokingly expressed his feline frustration: "The cat probably drove more than I did!" Jimmy Wong as Ted Wong From stories about cats and the amicable vibe between cast mates, I could tell that this was a project everyone involved enjoyed doing. VGHS as a whole was built to be fun and not be taken too seriously. Perhaps the tone doesn't tickle some people the right way, which is fine. Others may find it disingenuous, which couldn't be farther from the truth. Both Freddie and Matt Arnold, the other co-creator of VGHS, are acutely aware of their own shortcomings, but they don't let that stop them. As Freddie said, "We always look to tell a good story, have good characters, have an arc for those characters, and follow that through. That's our primary concern, first and foremost. Especially nowadays, it's very easy to put something out and get feedback back from it. We put something out, and we are not unrealistic. We know that there are going to be people who love it, there are going to be people who [say] it's not for them. There's no reason why I should ever expect anything that I ever do to appeal to everybody ever. For us, this is what we really enjoy doing." Brian Firenzi as The Law There is a segment in the first episode of Season 1 in which Brian gets harassed by a pair of bullies. After the confrontation, the bullies fly away on a hover bike, which exists in this universe for no explicable reason. That scene right there is the litmus test: if you can accept the hover bike, you'll enjoy the show just fine. "As soon as you as accept the reality of that world, it just sort of comes out," Chase said regarding trying to find the right balance of cheese for Shane. No matter the characterization or visual gag, "it always just fits in the universe," according to Jimmy. If you enjoyed the first season of Video Game High School, you should have loads of fun with the second. If you were turned off before, maybe give it another chance. And if you've never seen it before, give it a shot on Rocket Jump or YouTube.
Video Game High School photo
Chatting with Freddie Wong and the VGHS crew
In May 2011, independent film studio Rocket Jump launched Video Game High School, a web series about a talented FPS player and his struggle to fit in the videogame equivalent to Harry Potter's Hogwarts. Now with over 55 milli...

Video Game High School photo
Video Game High School

Video Game High School season 2 kicks off July 25


You can't escape The Law
Jul 16
// Tony Ponce
The first season of web series / movie Video Game High School was the campy tale of a skilled FPS player who gets accepted into a prestigious institution that values gamer cred over academic cred. It wasn't without numerous ...
SMB2: The Movie Sequel photo
SMB2: The Movie Sequel

Mario movie has a pseudo-official comic sequel


Like Luigi said, "Nothing's impossible"
May 27
// Tony Ponce
The Super Mario Bros. movie 20th anniversary celebration continues! After holding a special midnight screening of the pleasantly schlock film, during which John Leguizamo delivered a special pre-recorded message to attendees,...
Words from Luigi Mario photo
Words from Luigi Mario

Mario film 20th anniversary message from John Leguizamo


"May the fungus be among us!"
May 26
// Tony Ponce
May 28 marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous Super Mario Bros. movie. Whether you love it or love to hate it, it's nonetheless a landmark film that holds a special place in gaming history. To celebrate the grand occasio...
Horror photo
Horror

John Carpenter wants to direct a Dead Space film


Could this be a Ghosts of Mars sequel???
May 08
// Allistair Pinsof
Sci-fi/horror mastermind John Carpenter (The Thing, Escape from New York ... uh, Ghosts of Mars?) told Game Informer that Dead Space would make for a great film and he'd make for a great person to direct it. "I maintain that ...
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Here's a 'bootleg' trailer for Beyond: Two Souls


"Bootleg"
Apr 24
// Dale North
As you may have heard, Beyond: Two Souls is an official selection for the Tribeca Film Festival. Sony has sent along a fake bootleg to go along with that massive fake script.  After watching a bit of some fake (but well...
Roger Ebert photo
Roger Ebert

Film critic Roger Ebert teases videogame film adaptation


"Once completed, you can engage me in debate on whether you think it is art"
Apr 03
// Allistair Pinsof
Roger Ebert, influential film critic and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within defender, has quietly announced intentions to make a film adaptation of a videogame or "mobile app." "And gamers beware, I am even thinking about a mo...
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Videogamer: The Film Seeks Funding


Bringing you closer to the games you love
Mar 22
// Caitlin Cooke
"Through our numbers we can get the world talking about innovation. The gaming industry revolution is now." Videogamer: The Film is a neat little project with a huge undertaking -- a full-length film which pulls back the...
Beyond: Two Souls photo
Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls to appear at Tribeca Film Festival


Games not films? Ha!
Mar 21
// Dale North
Think David Cage's films are just movies with button prompts? I don't, but upcoming PS3 game Beyond: Two Souls is at least film-y enough to appear at the Tribeca Film Festival. The game will be an Official Selection -- a firs...
BioShock film photo
BioShock film

Ken Levine killed BioShock film due to Watchmen's failure


Universal decreased budgeting altered project
Mar 12
// Allistair Pinsof
Ken Levine has come out about the BioShock film, first announced in 2008 with Pirates of Caribbean director Gore Verbinski attached, admitting to personally cancelling the film. After the poor box office reception to The Watc...
Wreck-It Ralph scene photo
Wreck-It Ralph scene

Here's a deleted scene from Wreck-It Ralph


A new scene in sketch form
Feb 12
// Chris Carter
A deleted scene found on the Wreck-It Ralph Blu-Ray has been made available for your viewing pleasure -- and don't worry, it is video game related! Despite the relevancy, I can see why the scene was cut. The "bro" jokes in t...
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Half-life & Portal films are happening, J.J. Abrams says


"As real as anything in Hollywood ever gets"
Feb 06
// Allistair Pinsof
Director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) and Valve are cooperating on film adaptations of Half-Life and Portal, with early ideas already being tossed around Hollywood. Abrams also dropped hints that a game collaboration might be in d...
Virtually Heroes photo
Virtually Heroes

Virtually Heroes is the worst videogame film yet


Awful-awful
Jan 20
// Allistair Pinsof
Being that I'm covering Sundance Film Festival for Flixist (Dtoid's hot younger sister site that is totally legal and wants your number) this week, I had the great displeasure of watching Virtually Heroes. For those unfamilia...
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Take a look at Defiance the game and the TV show


Transmedia something something
Jan 09
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Trion Worlds has released a little look at the massively mutiplayer co-op action of Defiance. Expect large scale battles, vehicles, and lots of guns in this MMO that also doubles as a TV show. Yes, SyFy is making a TV show t...
Resident Evil photo
Resident Evil

Resident Evil: Retribution has a free browser game


Browse the f*ck out of those zombies!
Dec 29
// Jonathan Holmes
The fifth Resident Evil film is out on DVD and Blu-ray and Sony is celebrating the event with a free browser game. It's a simple, twin stick-style shooter where you control character movement with the keyboard and aim/fire wi...

Going all in: Defiance is Syfy and Trion's biggest gamble

Oct 17 // Allistair Pinsof
Syfy is throwing an unprecedented amount of money at the TV production, building a 51-building studio lot in Toronto. Trion (Rift, End of Nation) is developing its first multi-platform release, a massively multiplayer third-person shooter that attempts many new ideas within the online space. If coming to grips with a new genre isn’t enough for Trion, having to be congruent with the TV series is sure to provide the developer many restless nights. But, right now, it’s time for the easy part: Showing off and discussing the game. “Both of our CEOs have been meeting for quite a while, and they came to the conclusion that this transmedia thing -- that’s what we call it -- could be big on both sides. So, we, from day one, worked with Syfy on how we were going to do this,” Hill says. “We need to find a way to meet both of our needs, but it wasn’t one before the other.” Bringing two mediums together to occupy the same universe is something that has been lightly attempted before with Shiny’s maligned Enter the Matrix, Syfy’s own Red Faction: Origins TV movie, and other projects best forgotten. An MMO needs tons of different stories for quests, but Syfy wants to focus on telling a few intimate stories. A game needs tons of creatures to fight, but a high enemy count doesn’t make for great television -- or, in the very least, affordable television. Both parties are trying to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued similar projects in the past. Visual effects supervisor Gary Hutzel is tasked with one of the more difficult jobs: He needs to make a game look as good as a TV series while not keeping it from playing like a (good) game. There are many things game designers lean on that are counter-productive to designing a TV series, such as using color to indicate visual information to the player. Vivid colors are applied to immerse the player and limit frustration, but these same vivid colors make for unrealistic TV that breaks immersion for viewers. “For me the key element was that Trion was creating an action-adventure game and my job is to make it real,” Hutzel says. “To bring it into the real world and make those characters something that you don’t just add onto but also something that you can come to the show and see ‘Oh yeah, that’s how they would look in real life!’” As a result, Hutzel is working closely with Trion to make compromises on both ends that make sense. If a six-legged creature is too hard to animate in the game, the developers give the creature insect legs instead. In some cases, enemies and characters won’t appear identical. Colors in the game may be more vivid, while the show goes for a more muted presentation. The goal is to avoid confusion and disassociation, while making Defiance work as a game and show. “Early on, I called what I was doing open architecture design for the show,” Hutzel says. “Even if we don’t have an immediate plan for the game, let’s design everything we do for the show so it flows smoothly across development of the game." Although I got the sense that Syfy is leading the fiction of Defiance, unlike most videogame tie-ins, Trion is not playing second fiddle. The MMO-focused San Diego studio has taken some smart precautions to distance itself from the show, such as moving the game’s location to a different city. This allows events in the show to appear in the game at a later date and vice versa. An otherworldly "razor storm" or alien invasion can arrive in the show with an appearance in the game, in the following month. Considering the distance between St. Louis and San Francisco (where the game takes place), the gap in time makes sense and builds immersion. “We want to have these crossovers be impactful. If they sat on top of each other, we would have to make them constant and we can’t make them constant,” Hill says. “We need that buffer space between.” Razor storms and hell bugs are neat, but Defiance is a show about characters. Though MMOs have broad appeal, storytelling isn’t one of the genre’s strengths. Defiance seeks to change this by weaving a story that is complete on its own but also provides players with deeper insight on the history and motivations of characters in the TV series. For example, the opening mission introduces Nolan, a Han Solo type wandering the badlands, who gives the player a rifle and artifact that can be deadly in the wrong hands. When the Syfy series premieres two weeks after the game’s release, players will see Nolan, the show’s main character, deal with the aftermath of this action in the game. The experience is an additive one, not supplementary. “The game is a MMORPG and therefore a basic world. It continues to exist even when we stop shooting. You need one of these worlds to stop so that we can reseed, reboot, and re-synthesize,” Grant Bowler, who plays Nolan, says. “That becomes seamless on your end but on our end it gives us an opportunity to see how events fold and unfold in the game. We re-engineer so it is a congruent universe in the show.” The experience for the cast has been a unique challenge, as well. Before Nolan ever walked onto the St. Louis set, he walked into virtual San Francisco. Or, more accurately, he walked onto a green screen wearing a motion capture suit to make character stances and deliver lines. “That’s a very odd thing for an actor, because I walked in and the mocap guys and Trion guys were like how, “How would your character do this?” Bowler says, with the energy and enthusiasm you'd want from an action hero. “I dunno! We’ve never done it!” If letting Trion take the first step in directing actor performances is not an indication that Syfy is making a gamble, a tour of Syfy’s studio lot for the show serves as clear evidence that the niche cable network is going all-in for Defiance. If not one of the most refreshing sci-fi premises for the network since Battlestar Galatica, it certainly matches its scale and ambitions. The massive set houses most, if not all, locations for the series, with buildings added to before being featured in new episodes. From the oak tree in the middle of a whore house to cargo crate homes stacked outside, every corner of Defiance’s set is brimming with detail, color, and personality. “I think what’s wonderful about the creation of the town is that you see history repeat itself. It’s almost like a mosaic of different time periods and different wars and different cultures all coming together,” actress Stephanie Leonidas, who represents one of seven alien races on the show, says. “In a sense, this town is timeless. For me, it’s almost feudal. There is something extremely dangerous in that and extremely sad and mysterious.” Stop me if you heard this one before: Defiance takes place in a post-apocalyptic America where cities now reflect the Western frontier, resources are scarce, and cars have roll cages. But, here’s where things get interesting: Earth now houses seven different alien species with different motivations and histories. While Earth is drained of resources, it is also under constant threat of terra-morphing machinery that drastically alters the landscape it touches. St. Louis, where the show takes place, may be a wasteland, but Las Vegas is now an island with rich vegetation and dense jungle. And, of course, there are weird, wild beasts for TV stars to run from and gamers to chase. The show’s art and costume department work within the set. David Peterson (Game of Thrones) created three languages for the series, one of which already has 3,000 words. The fiction is so deep that the writers at Trion and Syfy share a private Wiki system so that they can always be on the same page. It took Halo several sequels and novels to build up a mythology so dense, but Trion gets to play within this world from the start. Despite early rumors that players would be able to directly influence the TV series, Syfy’s producers have made a firm stance during the set visit that this will not be the case. However, Hill is confident that Trion will have more freedom to experiment in season two, by including more drastic player choices and highlighting specific characters in story sequences (though, it was unclear if this would be limited to in-game cutscenes). “The TV show is not choose your own adventure […] We know what we are doing in the TV show. This is about creating great satisfying drama,” executive producer Kevin Murphy says, during one of many panels throughout the day. “These two experiences holistically create a larger experience. If you’re a gamer watching the show, you’ll go: “Oh wow! So that’s where that went?” During a cast Q&A session, Gowler says that the game is complete on its own; it can be played without ever watching the show. Another cast member shouts, “Don’t say that!” It gets the biggest audience laugh during the panel. Underneath the laughter is the reality that Syfy and Trion must face soon enough: What happens if one succeeds while the other fails? Will players flock to Defiance amidst the arrival of a new Grand Theft Auto? Will viewers stick with a show, as Game of Thrones and other geek favorites comes back to air? After Toronto’s relentless winter comes and goes, we’ll have some answers to those questions. Whether there are positive results or not, Defiance will likely be remembered as one of gaming and televisions’ most ambitious moments and it couldn’t have happened without the other. At least, initially.
When TV meets MMO photo
One of the spring's biggest shows is also its biggest MMO
[For a glimpse at Defiance (the game) and its new PvP modes, check out our recent preview and return here for a look at the TV series. Also, MEBTWK] “Four years ago, both we and Syfy knew we were going to do this, ...

Metal Gear Solid Hollywood film adaptation is a thing

Aug 30 // Allistair Pinsof
My opinion: Get Anthony Burch. [embed]234024:44901:0[/embed] [via JohnTV on Twitter]
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via Columbia Pictures and Amazing Spider-Man producer
One of the most cinematic games is finally reaching cinemas through a partnership between Columbia Pictures and Kojima Productions. At the Metal Gear Solid 25th Anniversary event in Japan, series creator Hideo Kojima was join...

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Hawken web series announced: Mechs will explode!


Jul 13
// Allistair Pinsof
Upcoming free-to-play mech game Hawken will have its world and fiction expanded via a web series produced by Warner Premier. Though it's not clear whether this will be an animated or live-action series with CGI (like the prom...
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SDCC: Mass Effect anime prequel gets a trailer, now watch


Jul 13
// Allistair Pinsof
Funimation's anime prequel to Mass Effect, Paragon Lost, received a trailer, in addition to some new details at Comic-Con, yesterday. This feature length film from the studio that made Ghost in the Shell -- back when anime f...
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Writers of Saw working on God of War screenplay


Jul 11
// Allistair Pinsof
Hollywood isn't done abusing videogames yet, it seems. The long dormant God of War film adaptation is getting renewed thanks to Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, writers of the four latest Saw films and a draft for Guillermo...
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Indie Game: The Movie's new credits put end to conflict


Jun 14
// Allistair Pinsof
A bit of controversy between Fez creator Phil Fish's ex-business partner and indie documentary Indie Game: The Movie has been laid to rest today, one 3GB Steam update and subtle word change to an end-credits note later. Two d...
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You are going to want to see arcade documentary 100 Yen


Mar 20
// Dale North
100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience looks like it's going to be a great documentary. After a year in the making, this film on arcade culture and its history in Japan is nearing release. It was filmed on location&nbs...

Interview: I Got Next, a fighting game documentary

Nov 13 // Jesse Cortez
What prompted you to start your documentary of the fighting game scene? I was just starting to get further into the competitive scene back in late 2008. At that time, I was coming up on my final semester in college at SUNY Purchase (State University of New York). Each graduate of the arts program is required to complete a "senior project." I was also starting to become heavily enamored with motion design and animation, so I Got Next came from a mixture of two interests very close to my heart. At first, it was going to be a short documentary, more of a five- or ten-minute informative piece used as a platform for me to experiment with motion design. As I started filming more, though, I was encouraged by the community and inspired by the documentary's potential to create something much larger in scope than what I originally envisioned. How long did the whole process last, from inception to completion? What took the most time? Well... It was a pretty long process. Filming started at NEC 9, an annually held tournament in Philadelphia, in December 2008 and finished in late 2009 (with some pick ups in 2010). Post-production was most of 2010, which included the editing, music, mastering, and motion design. Coming out of 2010 and into 2011 was festival submissions then finally talks for distribution, which finally gets us to today, where it's out on Hulu. By far, the longest process was getting it out the door. The most energy and work on my end went towards the shooting and editing (more towards the latter), but I never would have guessed it could take so long just to find a distributor for the film and then get it out there. I have to thank people like Jeremy and Andrew from Mattoid Entertainment for their help, 'cause I'm honestly in the dark when it comes to distribution. Without those guys, it might have been something more like I Got Next Fall 2014! Why did you focus mainly on the Street Fighter world for your documentary? That's an interesting question. At the time, Street Fighter IV was being released and it was the perfect catalyst for the scene. There are definitely other interesting people that I could have profiled from other communities with the fighing game scene, but SF4 was kind of the perfect storm. It brought people from all different games together and revitalized the tournament scene. The players I ended up filming with (Justin, Joe, Mike, and Ryan) all were deeply entrenched in the SF scene as well, so I had almost no choice once I stuck with them to center the film more around SF. Ultimately, I never worried after a certain point about game representation, because the film is less about SF and more about the people that make up the community. And within the film, we have the four of them acting as a great representation of a cross section of that community. At least, that's how I perceive it. What sort of reception of this documentary have you received from those involved in the fighting game community? What sort of reception have you received from those who aren't as knowledgeable about the community? It's been almost all positive, which is fantastic. I think people are excited to see the community profiled like this, and I'm ecstatic that I not only got the chance to do it but was able to make something that people enjoyed. Well... it's been almost all positive except people outside the US who can't currently see the film on Hulu, but we're working on getting it up somewhere else! I tried my best to bridge the gap between the mainstream and the hardcore when creating the movie. I wanted it to be enjoyed by people who are within the scene and can identify themselves in the background, and by people who have never picked up an arcade stick but can identify with some of the struggles Mike, Joe, Ryan, and Justin are dealing with. I'm not quite sure if I hit that mark. I'll have to see when more feedback comes in as it reaches a wider audience. Finally, what would you say was the best part of filming this documentary? The best part by far was forming relationships with people in the scene that I have to this day. I'm really happy that I got the chance to create the documentary, because it opened up a culture to me that I also didn't know much about at the time but that I'm now a part of and really enjoy. Some of my best friends now are within the community, and I never would have made those connections had I not started the project.
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As someone who covered Evo this year, I became enchanted with the fighting game community. There is just something about the competitiveness, drama, and camaraderie of the fighting game scene that is infectious to those share...

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G4 shows us why those birds are so angry


Oct 26
// Brett Zeidler
G4 Films has been putting together a "Epictober Film Festival" event this month, which concluded today with the short, "The Birds of Anger." It's an obvious homage to the 1963 classic The Birds and some little mobile ga...
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Ecstasy of Order is the best videogame film in years


Oct 24
// Allistair Pinsof
While checking out  movies at Austin Film Festival for Flixist.com (Dtoid's film sister-site), I had the oppurtunity to attend the world premiere of Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters. Much like King of Kong and Chasin...
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16 zombies injured on Resident Evil: Retribution film set


Oct 11
// Dale North
A wheeled platform fell on the set of "Resident Evil: Retribution," the fifth film based on the popular Capcom game franchise. On that platform were 16 actors dressed as zombies. While injuries are no joking matter, I'm ...
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In a press release for the French version of the novel Halo: Cryptum, Halo.fr found a mention of a Halo movie currently in development with Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks. Oh, cool. Wait, what?! Joys...

It Came from Japan! Super Back to the Future II

Sep 22 // Allistair Pinsof
Super Back to the Future II (Super Famicom)Developer: DaftReleased: July 23, 1993Current value: $30-50 Fan translation: NopeFor fans of: Average mid-'90s platformers  One quick glance at the game and it’s apparent that it was made with an audience in mind, and it’s not a Western one. Love it or hate it: Marty McFly, Doc, and Biff have been anime-ized. Marty and Doc are adorable, stocky caricatures of themselves, while Biff is a hulking beast fit to be the boss (again and again). Pair this unlikely character design with a catchy soundtrack, and game design reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog, and you get Super Back to the Future II -- a decent, if not good, movie-licensed game. What's wrong, McFly? Chicken?  There are a lot of memorable scenes in Back to the Future II, but among the most iconic is when Marty escapes Griff’s wrath via a hoverboard. After watching him dodge between cars and float across a fountain, my eight-year-old self couldn’t wait until the year 2015 when I’d be able to ride one. Turns out I was waiting for nothing but at least I can do it virtually, now, within a game from ... 1993. In SBttF2, Marty never gets off the hoverboard as long as you are controlling him. At the end of each stage, he has an animation where he gets off and spins it, but that’s it. Despite all the game’s flaws and odd level design, it’s hard to ever hate it due to the inarguable greatness of the hoverboard. Instead of Marty running around in his red baseball cap and down-filled jacket vest throwing yo-yos at goons like a chump, he pummels them with his hoverboard and bounces on their heads like a trampoline. With a spin attack, the ability to jump, and a button for gaining speed, you must navigate the labyrinthine levels of increasing difficulty and defeat the stupid-easy bosses. Strangely, the game doesn’t always feel like it was designed with the hoverboard in mind. The hoveboard gives you speed  -- maybe not hedgehog-speed, but still -- so it makes no sense that the camera is zoomed in so close. You can’t see what is in front of you and will have to repeatedly stop as the screen scrolls. It feels almost like a Game Boy game dealing with the limitations of its resolution but this is Super Nintendo, dammit! You don’t need to be zoomed-in so close! You are making a game for screens much bigger than a Game Boy! I would feel safe in going max speed on the hoverboard, only after dying so many times on a stage that I began to inadvertently memorize the enemy placement. Otherwise, I felt like I was playing Jetpack Joyride, where any second I can and will run into an instant-death trap. Occasionally, the maps will take advantage of the hoverboard and give you some ramps to jump off but not often enough. There are also bonuses you can reach by aimlessly jumping off an edge at max speed, hoping there is an extra life on the other side instead of a wall of spikes. Pro-tip: it usually is a wall of spikes. 300 bucks? 300 bucks for a couple of dents? Collecting coins/rings/whatever in games usually amounts to nothing more than a higher score and who plays platformers for hi-scores anyway? By storing power-ups, health and 1UPs in vending machines of varying prices, SBttF2 cleverly solves this problem by giving the player an incentive to collect coins. Instead of ignoring alternative paths, you’ll find yourself searching every corner of a map if only to increase the likelihood of survival. There is nothing more gratifying then getting halfway through a stage on one heart and finding a vending machine to give you one more. And, there is nothing worse than not having the money for it. Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here?  Perhaps, I haven’t sold you on Super Back to the Future II. Well, that’s okay because it honestly isn’t a lost gem worth seeking out. It’s an average platformer that is brief and nostalgic enough to check out, if you find it cheap. The main reason I chose to highlight the game for this week’s entry is for the collector and curious import gamer.  The odd nature of the project is worth a discussion alone. Sure we’ve seen Crash Bandicoot and other Western gaming mascots become “Japanimated” but it’s different to see it happen to a popular Western film. It’s kind of unsettling, like imagining a world where all my favorite American films growing up were average Japanese platformers. I don’t want to live in that world. Besides, those Jurassic Park games weren’t so bad, right? -------------------- Do Japanese takes on American properties freak you out? Who would win in a fight Pepsiman or anime-eyes Marty McFly? Would you give up your game collection for a hoverboard? Who am I kidding, of course you would!
It Came from Japan! photo

[It Came from Japan! is a series where I seek out and review the weirdest, most original and enjoyable titles that never left the Land of the Rising Sun.] Games based on films have a perceived stigma that indicates the...


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