5 Video Game Franchises We Need Reviving

So during this lockdown, I’ve been watching some youtube playthroughs of video games (without commentary, of course) for, I dunno, I can’t even say “reasons” because there isn’t any, but I’ve been doing it anyway. There’s been the good, the bad, and the just kind of terrifying,

But there’s also been quite a bit of disappointment. Disappointment mainly at all these franchises that don’t really exist anymore, at least not to the same popularity. It confuses me as to why Bomberman isn’t still a big deal as you’d think online multiplayer would be perfect for that. Maybe the issue for that is the games are too long to be just quick “ok onto the next one” but too short to feel too much accomplishment, I dunno (I don’t play multiplayer online due to sucking at games and dying repeatedly isn’t a fun experience for me). So with that in mind, here’s five franchises I wish still had games.

F-Zero

Last Game: F-Zero Climax (2004)

That’s insane to think about. There are people who can vote who won’t remember one of these games coming out. To the point that I might have to explain it to people: racing games in really fast spaceships. It’s weird as these games have usually been used to showcase incredibly innovative ideas. From using Mode-7 Scrolling to simulate 3D environments on the SNES, to the X Cup which I still consider one of the greatest features in racing games. What it did was randomly created a track every time you played, I don’t mean “it picked a track for you”, I mean it created a new one. This was on the N64 so the fact it’s not still being used by other games now is weird.

How To Bring It Back

First off, keep the X-Cup, but allow us to save courses we like. As great a feature as it was, it could be frustrating to play an exhilarating course and then know it will never happen again (I once had a course with such a bad opening turn that almost every other racer fell off it). Similar to that, be able to create courses. This was able to be done on the N64 one, albeit only on the 64DD version. They could probably get away with doing a slightly lower-priced game with minimal tracks but the ability to share tracks online.

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Pilotwings

Last Game: Pilotwings Resort (2011)

I feel there should be an asterisk next to that as that wasn’t really a Pilotwings game, it was a flight simulation. Despite the aim of the game kind of being “get a pilots license” the game itself is so much more than that, taking in sky-diving, jet packs etc. Not really missions per se, more series of minigames based around flight.

How To Bring It Back

More minigames. Instead of just “fly through these rings and shoot this” add different flight styles. So you have old planes where the idea is just straight flight through rings with take-off and landing. But you also have planes like the Red Arrows where you have to fly in formation, and also some in which you have to do tricks. Add this attitude to the skydiving ones too; some are based on you landing in a certain place, some will be on flips before opening the parachute, and some will be staying in a formation with people. You could also potentially add more sports. This is where the main money could be made; DLC sports. So you add more sports post-release to keep the game in peoples minds. I’m not opposed to DLC on principle, I feel if it truly adds to the game and if it’s not stuff that should have been added originally then it’s fine. I feel if you put enough attention into this then the DLC for this could work.

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Paperboy

Last Game: Paperboy Re-Release (Xbox 360, 2007)

Well, I say 2007, that was a re-release with pretty much the same graphics etc as the original, so not sure that counts. I have fond memories of this game but it did not transition to 3D well. I think that’s because it’s a game where you have to aim sideways. In an isometric environment, this is fine because the high angles give you a good view of either side of the main character. But in a 3D environment, you either can’t see to the side of you that well, (so you can’t aim) or you can’t see in front of you, so you can’t drive.

How To Bring It Back

One way is to keep it 3D so it still fits into the modern age, but have it co-op multiplayer (either online or split-screen if on the same console). So one person does the bike controls and one person does the aiming. This is the kind of thing that would require intense teamwork to get through, and it will be either fun or a nightmare, but it will be interesting none-the-less. Another way is to forget the “aiming and shooting papers” part and make it more like Crazy Taxi where you just have to get to a certain spot as quickly as possible. Although then that wouldn’t so much be “Paperboy” as “Uber-eats Delivery” (actually that could genuinely work). Alternatively, keep it isometric and make the game so good that people don’t bitch about the graphics. If Mario can still do 2D platformers you can still do a game like this.

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Yeah it really didn’t translate well to 3D, this is uglier than my face

Rampage

Last Game: Rampage Total Destruction (2006)

Okay, there was a game released after this, but it was only in arcades so that doesn’t count. It’s weird as they had a film based on this out a few years ago (hence the arcade game) so you’d figure a console release would be a good idea. In this game, you essentially just destroy buildings as a giant monster.

How To Bring It Back

You destroy buildings as a giant monster, what else needs to be said? This is actually quite tricky though as the gameplay could be quite repetitive after a while. I suppose the best way to do it would be different monsters control differently, which would make it more puzzle-based. So you could have some that can’t jump, some that can range-attack etc. Alternatively, and this is going to be much less likely to happen but here goes:

License it to Warner Brothers so you can get King Kong and Godzilla. Yes it would go against the spirit of the films to have Godzilla as a destructor, but as if video game adaptations ever let a small thing like that bother them.

Potentially you could also have an online mode similar to Friday The 13th, where one person plays as the monster destroying everything, and the others play as humans trying to survive the rampage.

Personally, I wouldn’t need all that though, I would be perfectly happy just walking around destroying towns and cities for a while, but maybe that’s just me.

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Destruction Derby

Last Game: Destruction Derby Arenas (2004)

So, we end with the game that inspired this whole blog. A game where you not only race but also have to destroy the other cars as you do so. It had 4 games back in the day and is one of the only games which made me regret choosing Nintendo over Playstation (not in some “ideological warfare” way, in an “I’m 10 so my opportunities for having enough money to buy all the consoles is limited” way). More than any other game, this just seems fun.

How To Bring It Back

Focus on The Bowl arena, make it larger and use it as an online arena so you have a sort-of vehicle-based Fortnite, with the ability to use your winnings to upgrade your vehicle. Make that part free but have other game modes available for a price. When it comes to the game modes the courses available are important. I feel standard race tracks for this take away from its unique identity. You can either have the courses on streets so it seems like illegal racing (so no laps, just “Get to the endpoint”) or you can have it on dirt courses and give it a kind of rustic feel. If you do that you could have a standard race, and then a demolition derby at the end. Again, your winnings giving you the ability to upgrade your vehicle.

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Just look at that chaos, isn’t it wonderful

So, that’s the list, what ones did I miss out? Off the top of my head: Shinobi, Streets Of Rage come to mind but are there any other really obvious ones that I’m missing?

Crawl (2019)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a fun animal-based disaster movie. By which I mean one that’s realistic, so that counts out Rampage etc. Shame as they’re great to see in cinemas and really allow directors to show off what they can do. This is a film about alligators hunting people who are trapped in a house during a hurricane, that sounds fun. Also, it’s only about 90 minutes long and scores very highly on rotten tomatoes. All good signs.

With that in mind, I have to say, I don’t see it. I don’t get the great reviews for this. I was not a fan of it. For a 90 minute movie, I spent a lot of time looking at my watch. It never really engaged me. I think part of that is because it only had 2 main characters who were present throughout the whole thing. For a lot of the movie, one of those characters was in a safe space and wouldn’t get harmed, the other was the main character. As such there was no real sense of dread as you knew that they were going to survive at least until near the end. It’s impossible for a film like this to get a sense of dread if you know that the characters aren’t in danger as the story won’t let them be. This film does kill some characters, but they’re characters who appear for a few minutes, and then die. Their entire purpose is to get some blood in the movie, but since you don’t really know who they are you don’t care about them. This could have been solved very easily; instead of setting it in a house, set it in an office block or a shopping centre. Just SOMEWHERE where you have more characters. That way you can start with a group of 5-6 people and then whittle them down as we get to know them. If you avoid establishing which ones are the main characters then you give an air of “all bets are off” so you don’t know who’s going to survive. The issue with this is because there are only two people, and they’re in a confined space, there’s not much you can do with that from a narrative standpoint. Most of this film consists of the characters making progress, and then that progress is immediately negated. It also features one instance of really weird editing. There’s a moment where a character is struggling to reach a flare, and it flashes back to her in her youth, reaching her hand out to her dad to help her out of a swimming pool. A bit weird but nothing more than that, but there’s then a scene almost immediately after that where she’s literally reaching out to grab her dads hand to help pull her up onto the roof. I feel that’s a much better thematic link and it’s really strange they wasted it. I almost forgot that though as it’s near the end and the closing shot just looked kind of cheap and weird, almost like it was from a video game.

The two characters we do have are kind of intriguing though. Kaya Scodelario’s character veers from really smart to really dumb, depending on what the plot needs at that moment. For example; when she struggles to move the body of her father, she immediately finds some sheets to put him on to help move him. Very smart. But as she drags him she drops her phone where the gators are. That’s not the dumb part. The dumb part is she sneaks to get the phone, and then when she has it, instead of going back to safety with the phone, she stands still and makes the phone call in an unsafe area. There’s also a scene where she gets the attention of someone by shining a flashlight outside, yet when the police arrive a few scenes later, resorts to shouting instead, which can’t be heard over the sound of the wind and rain. There are also MULTIPLE scenes of someone standing in waist-deep water instead of just moving to stand on the thing right near them that gets them out of the water (in one example, a character literally stands next to some stairs).

I’ll admit some of it was good. The aforementioned moments where the characters were smart are great to see. And you can’t fault the acting at all. Also, with the exception of the closing shot (actually most of the exterior scenes) it all looks and feels real. You’re never really too aware of CGI.

So yeah, that’s it. I wouldn’t really recommend this tbh, unless maybe you’re super drunk.

2018 In Film Part 3: The Thoroughly Okay

Okay, this one’s harder to define. A lot of the ones in this are very, very, good films. They just weren’t for me. They’re films which I admire, but don’t really feel anything for. Ones I’m very glad I’ve seen, but I don’t need to see again. As usual these have been decided by a group of people broken down by age and money (i.e. me, because nobody is more broken down by age and money than me)

Early Man

It’s done by the guys who do Wallace And Gromit, so you know it’s going to be enjoyable. The jokes are funny, but the basic plot and mediocre vocal performances let it down slightly. But I imagine kids won’t be sitting there watching it saying “well I’ve seen this story before and personally I think it was a mistake to cast famous actors in vocal performances and then get them to change their voices, very foolish from a marketing perspective”, and if a kid is sitting there saying that, they’re a twat.

Original review here

+A lot of love went into this film, you can tell it.

-Isn’t quite as smart as Aardmans usual.

The Festival

This was funny, it just didn’t mean enough. I watched it, and not too long ago, but I barely remember anything from it. I remember enjoying it whilst I watched it, and some of the jokes, but I don’t remember if it made me feel. I remember being impressed with how the director kept on scenes instead of cutting away, it wrung every inch of effectiveness out of the scenes. It also had great things to say about how you shouldn’t hold your heroes up on a pedestal, and it’s possible to do good and still be a dick.

Original review here

+Claudia O’Doherty was great.

-Really hard to imagine it being a film someone needed to make.

Finding Your Feet

Incredibly charming. But even if it’s the first film you’ve ever seen, you will feel like you’ve seen it before. It’s not a film you need to see, but when you’ve got family round on Christmas day, dinner is finished and you’re sitting around too full of food to move, no more presents to open, THIS is the film you want to put on to keep everyone entertained. People won’t love it, but people won’t hate it either. They’ll sit and watch and be entertained.

Original review here

+Great characterisation, you genuinely believe everybody here is a fully developed person.

-Paper-thin plot.

Goosebumps 2

Thoroughly okay. It’s not as good as the first one, but you wouldn’t expect it to be. But it is still a lot of fun. It continues the universe set up in the first one quite well, and sets up for a sequel.  I hope, if there’s no sequel then the mark for this gets reduced drastically (this won’t be the last time the mark for a film will be dependent on the sequel btw, just to warn you). It’s funny, the characters are likeable, and it’s hard to dislike. Also, it’s short. It never pauses for breath and you don’t feel bored with it *stares at Assassination Nation intently*

Original review here

+A lot of fun.

-Doesn’t live up to its own potential.

The House With A Clock In Its Walls

Not as good as the first Goosebumps, not even as good as the second one if I’m honest. It is kind of magical though. If I saw this as a kid I’d probably have loved it. It just didn’t really do much for me as an adult. A lot of the plot developments were dependent on characters being stupid. Which is a shame as the dialogue is not stupid, even though it is a kids film, you don’t feel insulted when you watch it as an adult, the jokes still work. It also looks great, but considering the director that’s to be expected.

Original review here

+A great film if you’re looking to introduce kids to horror.

-Not great if you’re not a kid and have seen a lot of films before.

The Meg

This is exactly what I expected it to be. It’s not the greatest film in the world, but it’s entertaining enough and gets the job done. It’s like the cinematic equivalent of a burger king. In the realm of dumb entertainment this is one of the best efforts. It’s funny, the romance sub-plot doesn’t feel forced or unbelievable, the child actor wasn’t annoying, Ruby Rose was great, and it was just insane fun. Recommended, but not highly.

Original review here

+Incredibly fun.

-Should have had more carnage. Was really held back by its rating.

The Post

This is the kind of film which awards love, yet I didn’t. It’s just too, I don’t know, bland. There’s a definitive difference between films that win awards, and films that I love. It builds up to the Meryl Streep moment well, and the performances are fine. It just felt a little hollow to me and didn’t resonate with me on a personal level. I genuinely can’t remember a single moment from this film.

Original review here

+Incredibly competent and well-made.

-Quite forgettable.

Rampage

I liked this, it was incredibly fun, and funny. But that’s all it was. it had little to no actual substance to it. Also, like a few films lately, it was held back by the rating. It has explosions instead of swear words. Because death and destruction is fine, but heaven help us we hear a “fuck”.

Original review here

+A lot of fun.

-Incredibly flat characters.

Skyscraper

See my review of Rampage? I mean, how can you not, it’s like, right above this one. Yeah, this is similar, and not just because it has the rock in it. It’s also incredibly flat with little substance. It has moments of greatness, but it’s so bombastic that it’s hard to take seriously at times.

Original review here

+Has a great scene set in a mirror room. Truly awesome to watch.

-Incredibly dumb.

Swimming With Men

Funny, but again, that’s kind of all it is. It has emotional moments but not enough. I knew nothing about it going in, didn’t even see a trailer. It’s worth watching, but don’t go out of your way to see it. Luckily you don’t need to as it’s on netflix (in the UK at least). It’s well worth watching it on that when you have nothing else to do. It’s a great way to kill time, but it won’t change your life.

Original review here

+Incredibly heartwarming.

-Misuse of Jane Horrocks.

Tomb Raider

The best of the video game films this year. Definitely has the substance which Rampage lacks. Looks professional, to the point where you wouldn’t know it was a video game, it stands up on its own merits. This is probably the best of the films in this blog, and very nearly made it into the next blog instead. The main thing that stopped it was the fact that it is only ever “good”. It never goes beyond “good”. And it doesn’t seem to try. I mean, it is the best video game movie seen in a long time, but that’s not saying much.

Original review here

+Good action set pieces

-At times a bit hard to suspend your disbelief.

Unsane

The gimmick of this film is that it was shot on an iphone. You really should know this before you see it, otherwise you’d hate it as you’d think it looks incredibly cheap and slipshod. It’s worth a watch, even if only once to reward experimentation in cinema. The performances are good, Juno Temple shines in the small moments she’s allowed to. And the story is compelling, it’s just the visual nature of it is distracting. Cinema is expensive, so when you pay that much you expect a certain level of professionalism. If this was on netflix I’d be more forgiving, but full price cinema release makes me feel a little cheated.

Original review here

+Juno Temple. Her performance is the best horror movie performance not in a horror movie.

-Distracting Matt Damon cameo.

Walk Like A Panther

Very funny. Very British. Both in a good and a bad way. It seems like it should be on ITV. It promoted itself as a love letter to British wrestling, but it didn’t seem to do any research on it and was seemingly written by people who knew nothing about the actual subject. To the point where the actual central premise doesn’t work if you know anything about the subject. British wrestling is actually in the best shape it’s been since it’s heyday, this is not opinion, this is fact. There are multiple independents doing incredibly well, and one of the major companies opened up a regional training facility and show over here. If you know that, it’s weird to take the film seriously. It would be like if you watched a film about World War 2 where the central premise is that Hitler was a Ghanian princess who was trying to get revenge on Britain for colonialism.

Original review here

+A variety of humour types in the film, so if you don’t like one joke, another will come along soon which you might.

-Feels cheap and unambitious.

Skyscraper (2018)

This film knows what it is. It’s a popcorn movie. A film that demands being seen at the cinema as that’s its home. It needs to be seen on a big screen, and you can’t expect great cinema etiquette. Yeah if someone is on their phone then you should still legally be allowed to slap their wrist with a razor blade, but someone laughing loudly? That’s fine during this. Someone sitting there loudly eating popcorn? Also fine. It’s almost like it was made specifically for people to audibly react, it’s like the anti-Quiet Place. It’s an incredibly fun distraction. The kind of film you can imagine watching whilst drinking with your friends late at night. It’s not going to change the world, or be studied in film class by future directors, and if you say this is your favourite film, I will judge you.

So this film should be run of the mill guilty pleasure. There’s one thing that stops it from being that; the main character is an amputee. To say that again; the action hero is an amputee. It’s very rarely mentioned, he’s not defined by it and it only really comes up once every so often. It’s a small thing, but I love that action movie fans in a similar situation finally have representation on screen. Usually, when you see someone like that on screen it’s as the villain, it’s about damn time they were allowed to be the hero. Yeah, it’s a shame the character was played by someone with 2 legs but still, baby steps. Also, The Rock is just killing it lately. Jumanji, Rampage, and now this? He’s quickly becoming the go-to guy for popcorn flicks.

So we’ve established this film is fun. It’s entertaining shlock and you’ll enjoy it whilst watching it. There are some issues with it, of course, the CGI isn’t quite as clean as it needs to be in some areas, which occasionally makes it feel like you’re watching a video game cutscene. The majority of characters are underutilized, and, personally, I’m getting incredibly bored of “the bad guys are doing this so they can get hold of this USB stick” plots (seriously, it’s the MacGuffin for sooooo many movie characters lately). Also, it’s hard to feel any genuine tension as you can pretty much pinpoint how every scene will play out. I must commend them on the room of mirrors scene though, that was BEAUTIFULLY orchestrated and laid out, THAT’S the scene you need to see. You don’t need to see the rest, but I advise that you should, and watch it on a big screen. This film will lose so much of its potency if you watch it on a small screen. It’s spectacle cinema, and deserves to be treated as such. The action is some of the most jaw-dropping you’ll see. The bits which aren’t action-heavy? They’re…..look watch the action bits. The rest of it is difficult to recommend. The opening third, in particular, is exposition in a film that really doesn’t need that much exposition. People aren’t going to see this film for the brilliant camera work, they’re going to see it because “ooo things go boom”. It doesn’t need as many characters as it has, as it means most of them go to waste. Neve Campbell, in particular, seems incredibly underdeveloped for a performer of her calibre. I think Hannah Quinlivan is underwritten as well, but it’s hard to tell as her character flits in and out of the script like a drunken desire to commit suicide. She’s good when she’s in it, but she isn’t really in it enough to warrant a strong opinion on her either way, I’d like to see her in more so I can find out.

So yeah, go see it. You may not love it, but you will enjoy it

Rampage (2018)

I mentioned in my Tomb Raider review (available here) that that film is a video game movie with the emphasis on the “movie” part. This is the opposite, this is like watching a playthrough on youtube of a game. It’s just sheer balls to the wall fun. This is not a smart movie, and it’s not a movie you need to watch again and again, analysing every frame. But whilst it’s not something you NEED to see again, it is something you’ll WANT to see again, late at night, when you’ve had a bad day and just need something to distract you from the unrelenting horror of modern life.

The cast all know this as well, none of them seem to be taking it seriously, and it’s a much better film for it. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, in particular, seems to be having the time of his life, giving his character a southern drawl and carrying himself in the most entertaining way possible. Let’s face it though, you’re not here to see him be entertaining as hell, you’re here to see CGI monsters destroy shit. And you’re in luck, as the closing third of this is just chaos upon chaos, the kind which last years Geostorm could have used. Surprisingly, the CGI holds up remarkably well. There are one or two brief moments where it looks a bit cartoon-like but other than that they’ve done a great job with making it all seem real. It’s also, really, really funny, having multiple laugh-out-loud moments throughout. Now I’ll admit the laughs aren’t exactly high-brow, but they’re incredibly effective. Who’d have thought a monkey making crude hand gestures would be so funny?

It’s not all good though. The villains are basically as substantial and necessary as the pop tarts one of them eats (although the actors playing them, again, do remarkably well). It’s a shame as I feel they’re just a few scenes away from being entertaining as hell, but they’re just not given enough to do to justify you remembering who they are. There are also three characters introduced at the beginning who disappear after the first act, which is just weird as they’re all introduced with character traits and personalities that could have justified them being there throughout. They’re built up so well and then just disappear. I’m guessing there’s deleted scenes of them somewhere but at the moment it just seems a bit weird, like the scriptwriter just forgot to delete them in his second draft.

It’s also not helped by its rating. It needed to be slightly more visceral. Now I’m not asking for 90 minutes of decapitations and torture porn, but there are some moments where they cut away slightly too early, or have something in the background out of focus that could have looked great in focus. Although you can have great violence in a PG film, a good example of this was The 5th Wave, which featured someone being knocked over by a giant wave. Now instead of having them just knocked off a balcony, it had them knocked off, and their back hit against a railing on the way down. It made it feel more real and painful. This film also has the “you mother f-explosion” thing which WAY too many films have lately and it’s annoying. Just say “fuck”.

So in summary: don’t go out of your way to see it, but do see it if you can. Incredibly fun and joyous. Kind of like Jumanji. And The Rock is hilarious in it, kind of like Jumanji. Actually, this is a lot like Jumanji, only slightly less so.