Thursday, June 24, 2010

Video Games I’d Like to See, Part 2: Computerized Cartoons




As last week’s E3 demonstrated, the video game industry’s aim for photorealism in its products continues with no end in sight. But for a long-time animation buff like me, I can’t help but to be somewhat disappointed by this single-minded, overriding goal. If anything, games like de Blob, Boom Blox, World of Goo, and the recent reboot of A Boy and His Blob show that, now more than ever, video games are the perfect medium where gamers can use the latest computer technology to unleash a hyperkinetic visual slapstick and violence that was once the sole domain of madcap animation for their own twisted amusement. Along those lines, here are a few games I’d love to see based on cartoons that never got their proper day in the digital sun. Read on . . .


Big O: How this anime mecha series never became a big hit is beyond me (its less-than-impressive second season notwithstanding), so it would be criminal for it to never be made into a video game completely devoted to its characters and ideas. Players would assume the role of Roger Smith, a Bruce Wayne-esque “Negotiator” who lives in Paradigm City, a metropolis-sized enigma filled with lost memories and unanswered questions. Levels would split between Smith investigating the dark and seedy corners of Paradigm City, and Smith piloting his “megadeus” mecha against various human, mutant and robotic foes who hold the keys to unlocking Paradigm City’s convoluted past. Bonus levels would feature missions completed by Smith’s android sidekick, Dorothy.


Duckman: In truth, this talking cartoon waterfowl already has a video game in his name, but it has two things going against it: It was just a point-and-click game and it lacked the involvement of Jason Alexander, the irreplaceable vocal talent behind Eric T. Duckman. The ultimate Duckman game would be a one to two player side-scroller, based on various episodes and villains from the series. Players could play as Duckman and his detective partner Cornfed Pig. The major highlight of the game would be the involvement of Duckman and Cornfed’s androgynous, squeaky-voiced, ultra-cheery, regenerating teddy bear secretaries, Fluffy and Uranus. In keeping with the spirit of the original show, players could use the bears as decoys to set off traps, living shields for protection from knives and firearms, and weapons that can be stuffed with explosives and shot out of cannons. It's good, wholesome sadistic fun!


Invader Zim: In truth, this cartoon was also already made into a game, sort of: Alien Hominid, which in its own right was a fun blast of animated, gory alien mayhem. Nevertheless, an official Invader Zim game could take this kind of game play to whole new levels of demented fun. Up to two players could play as Zim and his dysfunctional robot sidekick GIR, and missions would range from organ stealing from school students and faculty to gerbil mutating to transporting enemies to alternate dimensions of complete dookie. Alternating missions would have players completing levels as Zim’s human adversary Dib and his sister Gaz.


Animated Marvel Superheroes, Circa 1966: If there is any group of hand-drawn characters that doesn’t need another video game in its name, it’s the Marvel Universe superheroes. However, this title would be entirely based on the animated series that were based on Marvel Comic’s early years in the 1960s, series which featured Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Namor the Sub-Mariner, as well as their early rogues galleries. (You can watch the openings of each of these shows here.) This game would place this roster of heroes in a simpler time and setting, before mega-events like Secret Wars, House of M, and Civil War (and way before the Marvel Super Hero Squad), back to a time when comic giants like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko roamed the halls of Marvel. The game would use the visual styles of the animated series, complete with their original soundtracks and clips from the original voice talent (which included the late John Vernon, who provided the voice of many Marvel characters during the course of his acting career). It would be Ultimate Marvel Alliance: Retro—nothing too new or bold, but a welcome blast from the frequently overlooked past.


Robotech: Southern Cross: Of the three anime series that were edited together to form the Robotech saga, the Super Dimension Calvary Southern Cross was always the underappreciated middle child who had the difficult task of joining all the plot threads together from the different series into a complete epic story. The other two series, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and Genesis Climber Mospeada, already have video games based on their stories, so it’s about time Southern Cross got its due. In this game, players would get to pilot one of three different veritech mecha types based on the mission: Sparta hovertanks for land missions, AGAC helicopters for air missions, and Logan fighters for orbital missions. Mission settings would include Monument City, Southern Cross military bases, Space Station Liberty, and the Robotech Masters’ flagship. The game would also take some liberties with the original plot of the show, much like Nintendo’s Super Star Wars game series, in order to add some extra punch to the game play. For example, players would play one level as a Southern Cross soldier, in full body armor, investigating the remains of the SDF-1, SDF-2, and Macross City and having to fight off carnivorous Invid flowers of life and irradiated protoculture zombies of the human, mecha, and full-sized Zentraedi varieties.

MadWorld: Dark Knight, Black and White Edition: Here’s a five-step plan for making a new blockbuster video game hit based on a previously released title, MadWorld:

* Replace Varrigan City with Gotham City.

* Replace Jack Cayman with the burly, bitter Batman from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns (but keep the wrist chainsaw).

* Replace each of the enemies in the game with Batman’s rogues gallery and their henchmen.

* Replace the running commentary provided by Greg Proops and John DiMaggio with commentary provided by Mark Hamill, John Glover and Ron Perlman as their respective characters from Batman: The Animated Series--Joker, Riddler, and Clayface.

* Keep every ounce of blood and gore from the original game.

Everybody wins!




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