sábado, 28 de fevereiro de 2015

Video Games based in Oscar Winning Movies for Best Picture - It's a Pixel THING - Ep.#40

Directed in 1972 by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather won three Oscars: best picture, best actor in a leading role and best screenplay. 

Several years later, in 1991, came from US Gold the first game based in this marvelous movie franchise. The Godfather, available for DOS, Amiga and Atari ST, has 5 levels to offer in which were depicted some scenes and locations taken from all three films. In this side scrolling action game, with some occasional first person shooter sequences, we’re invited to roam through the streets of New York City, Miami and the Italian village of Corleone. The objective is quite simple: shoot all gangsters and reach the end of each level. Be careful, though, not to hit the innocent people that can also be found on those perilous streets.
I don’t quite remember to play this game when it was released. But I can say that, when I first tried it for the purposes of this video, I was entertained for quite a bit!

Also more recently, in 2006, Electronic Arts released a new game based exclusively on the first  movie of the franchise. Available for Windows, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox, Xbox360 and Wii, this new and fresher vision of The Godfather includes the amazing voice performances from a few members of the original cast: James Caan, Robert Duvall, Abe Vigoda and Marlon Brando himself, but, because of his health state, the audio quality needed wasn’t achieved. Al Pacino was also absent from the game, ‘cause his image was already being used in “Scarface: The World is Yours”, released in this same year. The gameplay style is something already seen in Grand Theft Auto, Mafia, the True Crime franchise.. you know, that kind of free roaming / sand box / mission based type of thing, but in a Godfather environment. Great sound, great music, great graphics, but gameplay and controls could be a lot better.
This game had average reviews, probably because all the fuzz about the disapproval from director Francis Ford Coppola that publicly stated that Electronic Arts’ main goal was to profiteer from his 1972 masterpiece.


The 1975 Academy Award Ceremony contemplated The Godfather Part II with 6 Oscars: best picture, best actor in a supporting role, best director, best screenplay, best art direction and best original musical score.
Only thirty five years later, in 2009, we’ve had a video game based on it. Electronic Arts was, once again, the developer responsible for this mediocre conversion of one of the best movies ever made. Shame on you, Electronic Arts! This masterpiece should have been treated with more respect!
Released for Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, this open world action-adventure game is, obviously, the sequel to the 2006 Electronic Arts’ Godfather title, that tries to expand and improve its own gameplay, but fails drastically! The “fatality” mode, a la Mortal Kombat, is completely unnecessary in this type of game. Also the squad type of gameplay, where we can command a group of four thugs, was introduced in this sequel and, in my honest opinion, it was so easy to engage and eliminate the enemies that I get easily bored very quickly.
Although, critics gave it average reviews praising the squad thing that introduced in the series a cool kind of strategy type of approach.

ROCKY (1976) 

The 1976 boxing movie with Sylvester Stallone won 3 Oscars: best picture, best director and best film editing. Three years later, in 1979, was released a sequel: Rocky II. In 1982, another: Rocky III, followed by Rocky IV, in 1985. So, inevitably, the Rocky franchise spawned various video game titles and, only in 1987, was released, exclusively for the Sega Master System, Rocky: The Video Game. Prior to it came, in 1983, for the Colecovision, Rocky Super Action Boxing, based in the third movie.
So, back to the Master System title, we confront opponents in a specific order but, before each fight, and to improve our skills, we need to practice with a sandbag, a punching ball, etc. Rocky Balboa’s opponents are the ones from all first four movies: Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago. The game also includes a two-player mode and it was extremely well received upon its release.

Later, in 2002, from the hands of Rage Software, another title based in this movie franchise was made available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Besides plenty of references to the first four movies, this one introduces, as well, the fifth Rocky title, from 1990, and, in Europe, the game was even bundled with the very first Rocky film on DVD. Due to the average reviews from critics and the good reception from the public, a sequel was soon planned and released two years later, in 2004, obviously from the hands of the same team, now re-branded Venom Games and published by Ubi Soft. This new game, entitled Rocky Legends, brought a new approach to the series, placing the action and events before and between the films.

PLATOON (1986) 
One of my favorite films of all time is Platoon, from 1986, which won 4 of the 8 Oscars for which it was nominated: best picture, best director, best sound and best film editing.
Ocean Software, eighties specialist in movie conversions, grabbed the license and released, a year later, Platoon the Video Game for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, DOS, Amstrad CPC and, in 1988, for the NES.
The versions that I’ve played back then were the C64 and ZX Spectrum ones and I’ve found those extremely well made and with some outstanding music and graphics. For some reason, the ones for the Amiga and DOS passed unnoticed and, just recently, had the opportunity to try those for the purposes of this video.

In 2002 Platoon was again remembered through a Real Time Strategy type of game that could have been much better than it ended up being. Developed by Digital Reality exclusively for the PC, it has a sentence on its cover stating that it’s “the first strategy game about the Vietnam War”. Well, that’s completely wrong! The first Vietnam strategy war game was ‘Nam 1965-1975, published by Domark in 1991.

Finally, until today, only one more game was based on a film awarded with the Oscar for best picture: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It’s imperative to mention that Peter Jackson’s zenith won all the 11 Oscars for which it was nominated: best picture, best director, best screenplay, best film editing, best art direction, best costume design, best makeup, best original musical score, best original song, best sound mixing and best visual effects! Such an amazing accomplishment! And, just before the premiere of the movie, Electronic Arts released the game based on it.
Available for Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance and Mac OS, Return of the King was extremely well received by critics and public in general praising the game’s combat system. Graphics, THX audio, animations, music, cutscenes and voice-overs, all of this was superbly mastered by the programmers.
During the development of the game, an Electronic Arts representative would travel to New Zealand once a month to present the last build of the game for the filmmakers to play and give back their feedback. Even the same guys that made the stunts in the movie were hired by Electronic Arts giving their contribution to a more realistic approach towards the game.
The result is astonishing. We’re practically playing the movie and no cut scene on the game would spoil the movie itself for those who had not seen it. Remember, the game was launched more than 20 days before the premiere of the movie.

If I’ve missed something, please let me know! Leave your comments below with your thoughts about movie and video game industries. Which Era was, for you, the richest in movie conversions in general? Was it the eighties? The nineties? 2000snds? We’ve reached a point where we’ll be seeing the other way around. Movie studios are more and more exploiting the video game panorama. They’ve already noticed the amazing plots and stories that will certainly make awesome big screen blockbusters.

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