Call me a nasty old cynic – because I am. But has there ever been a point, video game wise, to movie tie-ins?
I’m not talking about Goldeneye – that came out sometime after the movie. Nor am I talking about the brilliant LEGO takes on big movie franchises (and I, for one, am pathetically excited about the imminent LEGO Harry Potter). I’m talking about the games that are rushed out for cinema releases. The marketing “geniuses” will no doubt call it “synergy” but let’s call it what it really is: milking the average punter for yet more money while cashing in on the film’s advertising budget.
I’ve been struggling to think of a single title that actually stood up to scrutiny, that might have been made if the film didn’t exist. While I’m happy to be corrected – your comments to the usual address, if you please – I can’t think of one and a good run around Google hasn’t thrown anything up to change my mind either.
That perhaps explains why my heart sinks when I flick through the forthcoming games release schedule. Before the end of March, we’ve got five – count ‘em! FIVE! – games-of-the-movie to “look forward” to.
First up, will be Arthur & The Revenge of Maltazard which has the dubious distinction of being both the worst game never of the 21st Century, and being tied-in to a film nobody has even heard of. It is, apparently, the sequel to Arthur & The Invisibles, a kids movie from a few years back. Nope, me neither.
Around the same time, we also have the game of Astro Boy. What do you mean you’ve never heard of Astro Boy? Apparently big in Australia, the US and Japan, it’s a cartoon about a robot boy with special powers who saves the world. Itching to get your hands on that one? That’s what we figured. There is one possible saving grace: according to my research, Astro Boy fires bullets from his bottom. I reckon that’ll give it another five minutes in the average console before being consigned to the “can use as a coaster” pile. Or, as you might prefer to look at it, a total life span of just under seven minutes.
A few weeks later we get Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief. Based on a massive selling book – 125 weeks on the New York Times list and counting – it’s a tale of a young modern kid who discovers he’s actually the son of a Greek god. Mythology has never done a game any harm. But the chances of this “tactical role playing” game being like a sub-standard Pokemon title? I reckon pretty high.
Fools and their money will then be parted just a short time after that, with the release of Alice In Wonderland. This is the game of the movie of the book, which, like with Percy Jackson, probably equates to triple suckage. The problem here won’t be the source material (which has previously inspired a pretty decent PC game, American McGee’s Alice). The problem here is the presence of Tim Burton.
This isn’t Alice In Wonderland you see. This is Tim Burton’s “reimagining” of Alice in Wonderland. Am I the only that fills with dread? Burton is stuck in a tedious rut of visual quirks and can’t see beyond Johnny Depp as his leading man. The first sign that this is going to blow is the poster. It’s called Alice in Wonderland, so what picture advertises the film? That’s right. A shot of, er, Depp as the Mad Hatter, a character who appears in about three pages of the original novel. Lewis Carroll has seen his work read and re-read and filmed and re-filmed for 145 years. Burton hasn’t had an original idea, or made a film worth seeing, for 16 years. The odds then are that a game based on Burton’s recycled “quirky” take on a classic book will suck harder than a hangar full of Dysons.
And then, finally, at the end of March we get the game of Clash of the Titans. I hope against hope that this is an exception to prove the rule. The potential is certainly there: man Vs all manner of mythological nastys? Tied to the spectacular imagery of this cinematic remake? And all from the people who made Tekken and Soulcalibur? This title might just be the exception that proves the rule... but somehow I doubt it.
So, have I missed a decent game somewhere down the line? Or have they all been about as good, long lasting and thought through as a Happy Meal toy?
And, while we’re sort of on the subject, could someone PLEASE reissue Goldeneye for a modern console? I thank you.