Top 5 Video Games I’d like to see as Movies
By Bret Dorman
This past week YouTube saw the release of a fan made Mega Man X trailer for his big screen debut. I’ve put many many hours into thinking of how to make a Mega Man X movie (thank you college, for the opportunity to day dream for hours on end). But there’s a lot of problems. 1) Mega Man X is all about the action. It’s nine parts action to one part story. A movie can’t be this. It just can’t. You need a story. 2) There’s always 8 bosses. And you fight them twice. That’s how Mega Man works. Every. Single. Time. There’s got to be a way to sort of incorporate this without being too much of a burden. 3) Mega Man X looks like a badass in pixel-ated form, but can you imagine Jeremy Renner with a blue helmet on his head and blue armor? For 90+ minutes? Olan Rogers did his best (borrowing a bit from Iron Man?) but the trailer is basically only badass for those who played (and loved) Mega Man X on SNES.
We’ve all seen the crappy adaptations. From the “What were they thinking?” Super Mario Bros. to the “Admirable attempts” like Silent Hill. Movies like Doom just didn’t have what it took to be quite awesome enough and Mortal Kombat was cool for kids, but not nearly badass enough for adults who you know, played the M rated game known for its excessive gore and beheadings.
Here I’ll name my five personal choices (heads up, there’s no Zelda, never quite got into the series enough. Sorry) and what problems they have and maybe some solutions for them…
5) SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Yes, the ‘spiritual sequel’ to Ico, Shadow of the Colossus was the first one I played. It is highly regarded as one of the best video games of all time and seen as ‘art,’ not just a silly game you waste time on instead of doing homework or going out and partying and junk. The story? You have to go out and beat up 16 colossi. That’s it. There’s no ‘levels,’ its all a free range sorta style gameplay. There’s no enemies, except for the (mostly) gigantic colossi. There’s no story, except for a couple of cut scenes here and there.
The Problem? Watching people play video games is boring. And watching some actor climb a bunch of tall cgi creations would be equally as boring. Sure, there would be an initial “awe” factor, but that would go away the higher he climbs up the beastly giant. Most of the fun of the game is figuring out the puzzles, which just so happen to be exciting living creatures that are also trying to destroy you. As the music swells when something exciting happens you actually personally feel like you’re accomplishing something. Add in the specific world building elements the game has and how without having bad guys or typical puzzle elements you still get excited the closer you get to the colossus.
The Solution: Resist flashbacks at all costs. Let the environments and structures peak for themselves. In the game, the opening cut scene has you on horseback traversing the largest stone bridge ever built. Who built it? Where did these colossi come from? What happens when you beat all 16? Oh, no, not sixteen. In the movie we have to focus on three. There can be 16 in the back story, but we only see 3. Start with the first one right away, a man on horse going through the woods, maybe leaving the horse and walking on foot, then blam-o! Huge colossi out of no where immerses us right in the action. One more colossi in some huge temple and then the last one. And all three are new. None from the games.
Shadow of the Colossus would not be a big budget thrill ride, but to make the colossi you’d need some serious Transformers quality CGI realism, which costs a lot. To ensure maximum monetary returns, you’d need to spice things up, a lot. But my dream movie would be a nice, quiet, slow adventure.
4) DEVIL MAY CRY
I love Devil May Cry. Take the exciting elements of non stop 2D action platformers and put it in a good 3D gothic space with demons and a smartass cocky hero? I’m sold. What would you say to a giant six headed bird griffin thing that is 100 times your size and shoots red lightning orbs? You’d probably start crying. But not Dante. He says “Flock off feather face!” while mimicking Bruce Lee. The game is hard and the more you play it not only the better you get at it, the cooler you get at it, being specifically rewarded for ‘stylish points.’ Feeling cool and getting bonuses for it? “Awesome!”
The problem? Budget, and the watering down that comes with it. Like with Colossus, sure it’s cool to BE the main hero, but there’s some things action movies can do that video games can’t. And action movies have been around for a long time. Devil May Cry has lots going on. Giant gothic castle with plenty of side spots and rooms. You can’t just green screen this thing, you have to make the castle feel like its part of the film. Then add in the bad guys, which would have to be exclusively CGI, even the marrionettes. The game has quite a bit of puzzle elements but we can keep the movie mostly straight forward.
The solution? If Avatar can make a movie the highest grossing movie of all time based on no pre-existing material then DMC can at least make its money back. Cast a hot star as Dante (Bradley Cooper?), tone down the gore while not sacrificing the violence. Put a bunch of awesome monsters in the trailer and sell it as the Harry Potter for grown ups. Magical elements with swords and guns. Most of the work will need to be in campaigning.
(PS Love the way he says “BAH… another small one.” implying that (as the first boss) he’s done this before…)
3) GARGOYLE’S QUEST
This is an obscure one, but I played it all the time as a kid, it was one of my first games ever for GameBoy. The story elements of the Barone, The Fingernail of the Spectre, The Wings of the Falcon, Talisman of the Cyclone, Rushifell, Majorita, Candle of Darkness, Firebrand, and of course, The Red Blaze all mean something to me. They all bring back waves of nostalgic joy. Basically you are a gargoyle who shoots things out of his mouth and fights different monsters to save the Ghoul Realm.
The Problem? Aesthetics. The main character is a gargoyle. Who shoots things out of his mouth. And fights big goofy monsters like a giant fish/bee thing and a skeleton/car thing and four eyeball wall things. Most of this would need to be CGI but couldn’t Firebrand be real? Like the Turtles in the live action Turtle movies. Sometimes, what works in a video game, like a gargoyle shooting something out of his mouth, just DOESN’T work on film. Maybe in a cartoon, but still, his primary way of dispatching enemies and advancing in the levels is your weapon breath. It’s silly and stupid.
The solution? Change the fire breaths to energy blasts a la Dragon Ball Z. Whoa, calm down. Just picture it in your head. A gargoyle, in a real movie, spitting fire balls out his mouth, Can you take that seriously? No. So if we were making a spoof or silly ‘its so bad its good’ comedy maybe we could keep it. But to me all those items/people listed above are a legitimate part of my childhood and forming my sense of style and what I find cool in movies/games. So now picture that gargoyle shooting an energy blast from his hand. Much cooler. Don’t worry, the final blow can be a super cool mega blast from his mouth, but we’ll save it for the end.
Also, we’ll probably need to change the Ghoul Realm to Earth, Add in some humans and some sort of love story. Firebrand is just a stone gargoyle on some church until some scientist opens up a portal and some demon monsters come through and Firebrand awakens and must protect Earth.
2) METAL GEAR SOLID
This is not to be taken lightly. Metal Gear Solid 1-4 as a series is already one of the best stories ever told. Certain characters start as one thing and become something else. Snake gives many monologues and what it means to be a hero and a legend. Each game has different style of gameplay and focus on something unique instead of just being rehashes of what came before it. So why would I want to see a movie of one of these games? I don’t.
The problem? Using the video game as background stories. Metal Gear Solid does have potential as a movie, but not just a simple video game translation. Sneaking/stealth works better when you are the character, spending 30 minutes tracking movements of enemy paths and setting traps, crawling on your belly and peaking around corners. But the movie needs to be something more. Sure it can have some stealth aspects, like Mission: Impossible and some crazy over the top action scenes, but the fact that the games have a great story and characters is what keeps me coming back. Most people won’t have played the games, so its hard to just assume they already know the background elements (Big Boss and Outer Heaven) or where the story is going (Sons of Liberty and the Metal Gear Arsenal ‘twist’). Plus, heaven forbid Snake isn’t actually the main character…
The solution? Snake is the main character of the games. So here, for the movie, I propose he is a side character. I can’t spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t played the games (even if they never will), but let’s just say Revolver Ocelot is the only character in all 4. I say he deserves to be the main character. If you’ve played/beat MGS 4 you know what I’m talking about. He needs a story to his own.
Besides, the further you progress into the world of MGS the more convoluted it gets. Hideo Kojima has stated he always planned for the newest one to be the last, not thinking ahead. And still the twists and turns and build up he manages to get is unbelievable. MGS 4 is one of the most epic things I have ever seen in my life (the end cut scene alone is damn near feature film length). For the games to place such an emphasis on realism during normal game play, while going way over the top during boss battles (and why not? its a video game!) and still having such weight to its characters’ wants, arcs, and stories is a grand achievement. Let’s not just rehash this stuff, let’s expand on it.
1) GUILTY GEAR
Fuck yeah. Guilty Gear is awesome. Fast paced crystal clear 2D fighter with a metal soundtrack and badass character design? Fuck. Yeah. On top of that, it goes WAY beyond the normal ‘fighter’ storyline and some of what happens in Guilty Gear X2’s story mode is straight up mind boggling. You have a ‘masked man’ type character who is in control of everything and seems to know a bunch of secrets about our hero. You have a mysterious new guy (Raven) who may or may not be some sort of time portal (re)incarnation of one of the players from the very first game (who I never liked to much because of his fighting style). You got Sol and Ky and their ongoing good-good guy vs anti-hero good guy encounters. The badguy mini boss from the first is now the protector of the super nice misunderstood boss of the second. Judgment is badass. Johnny is cool. The game is awesome. And yet, 2D fighters, especially this one with its tough learning curve, don’t exaclty have a huge fan base. A loyal one, yes. But huge, no.
The problem? Everything (from the four listed above). Fighters are awesome because you ARE doing the fighting. The budget would have to be through the roof to fully convey its awesomeness. Especially because every character somehow ties into the story really well and it would be a shame to leave anyone one out. So you’d HAVE to do a trilogy. But not just a Guilty Gear, GGX, and GGX rehash. I mean pick right up where XX left off. And then you have the whole… you know… characters using giant anchors, their hair, and floating pool balls as weapons. Not everyone might find that cool… on purpose.
The solution. Fuck ’em. This is my list. I want to see a badass epic Guilty Gear trilogy that ends in an awesome fight featuring 5+ of the major players all fighting for something different. Nothing I have said on this list will ever happen (the way I want it to) except maybe DMC getting its own movie (which was/is rumored). That has the most main stream potential. The problem is that big budget movies need to make their money back so they need to appeal to as many people as possible. For something like Avengers, this comes easier. A bunch of super heroes teaming up to fight some badguy(s). Cool. And then there are movies like Winter’s Bone, that can afford to be not too mainstream because the budget is inherently lower. Just a girl looking for her dad. No giant explosions every 10 minutes. The best solution here is for Arc System Works to just make another game. Which won’t happen. So I’ll just keep picturing where the story would have gone in my head. If you ever want to discuss what this could have been, feel free. (Side note: Guilty Gear vs Capcom. I would like to see that.)
So there you have it. No Zelda. No Gears of War. No God of War. No Half Life (which would probably be #6 though). Sorry. Those games just don’t mean AS much to me. If they ever get big screen incarnations I hope they are everything the fans hope they are and more. I would go see them, but then again I go see pretty much everything. Turning video games into movies isn’t easy and there aren’t a lot of good adaptations out there. So until we figure out a good way to address these specific problems, I say let the games be games and the movies be movies.