Just as puddles accompany rain and violence most often follows the appearance of Jason Statham, a spin-off videogame usually comes alongside a major new movie. It’s standard operating procedure in the modern multimedia marketplace – when a film is made, a complementary tie-in game is commissioned.
Around the theatrical release date, the supplementary spin-off game is sent out to the masses and, thus, audiences have the chance to enjoy the feature and, as interactive participants, have a go at cracking the adventure themselves.
Of course, in all likelihood it’s not as satisfying as the original film, because you’re liable to encounter ropey stand-in voice actors instead of the original A-list cast. Furthermore, the plot is complicated by irritating side-missions, and the whole experience can be depressing if you keep failing, dying and seeing the Game Over screen.
I’m still traumatised by memories of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace for PlayStation. I got fed up of being bullied by Queen Amidala (“You’re stepping on my dress!”), realised I made for a crap virtual Jedi and went on a murderous rampage through Mos Espa. Of course, the game was rigged to guarantee that the ubiquitous Jawas eventually killed you, so I couldn’t even succeed at being a psychotic rogue Jedi. That damned game: the Force was not strong with that one.
Anyway, enough of my childhood pixel pains, and back to my main point, which is that videogames are an important aspect in movie marketing and are often pushed out without a second thought (which might explain the mediocre-to-poor quality of many spin-off adaptations). Even if the producers don’t have grand ambitions for cross-platform games playable on personal computers and consoles, these days there’s likely to be a game for smartphone devices or an app with a gaming element to play with.
It’s more unusual when a franchise flick doesn’t have an interactive tagalong, as is the case with recent releases Wrath Of The Titans and Prometheus, which both strike me as suitable material for a game format. (It’s worth noting, though, that Aliens: Colonial Marines will be serving up Xenomorph-blasting action for the Alien multiverse next year.)
With other films, however, you can easily understand why no one greenlit a videogame spin-off. In spite of this, as I contemplate a range of excellent films released this year, I wonder whether doing the less obvious might actually be a good idea. There are certain movies that I think could be fun to replicate in the comfort of your own home with a console controller.
I realise that I’d rather go with these unlikelier videogame propositions than play the authentic tie-ins for say Brave, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man or The Dark Knight Rises. I put it to you then, readers, that the following interactive spin-offs could make for a radical, immersive and highly enjoyable home entertainment experience. Game on: here are a few contenders for your consideration…
Players take control of Michael Fassbender’s character Brandon and move him around the expansive New York City sandbox seeking sexual stimulation. As the clock constantly counts down, it’s up to the player to get the addicted timebomb of an avatar into as much erotic action as possible – shagging, picking up porn mags, and finding opportunities to ogle at smutty websites in order to keep his Fix Bar up. Whereas Steve McQueen’s film is an artistic meditation on modern loneliness, then, the game is more like a dirty virtual version of Crank.
Strictly for ‘mature’ audiences only, this grim Southern Gothic game allows players to revel in unseemly white trash depravity through two game modes. In Serial Killer Story Mode, players become Matthew McConaughey’s freelancing hitman and brutally murder the targeted deadbeats of Texas in order to accumulate cash. In Sleaze Story Mode, players must use their controller to dominate, humiliate or seduce the other characters in the Smith family trailer home. Whichever way you complete the game, you’re guaranteed to feel grubby.
This game is a guaranteed houseparty hit. Taking Steven Soderbergh’s arthouse male stripper movie and pasting it onto the dance game format, players get to go wild and live out their Channing Tatum fantasies. Alongside multiplayer dance-off challenges there’s a career mode option where gamers aim to amass money, performance-enhancing power-ups and pheromone hitpoints by honing their routines in preparation for the big shows. Everyone is having an excellent time once they’re shaking their ass to the bouncing soundtrack and virtually undressing for the pleasure of a hot ‘n’ horny AI audience
Martha Marcy May Marlene
The Elizabeth Olsen-starring psychological drama film is adapted as the world’s first arthouse massive multiplayer online role-playing game (so, MMMM is an MMORPG). Users get to immerse themselves in countryside cult life in the Catskills – eschewing possessions and mainstream social values, having folk song barn singalongs, sharing sexual partners and breaking into houses simply for fun. You can, of course, attempt to escape from the influence of charismatic leader Patrick and his clan but, be aware that the very nature of the game makes this an obscenely complex endeavour. There’s no sense of straightforward linear narrative here, as players go through flashbacks and flashforwards in a psyche-fracturing identity crisis experience of ephemeral delusions and ethereal dread.
The Raid: Redemption
It’s an undeniable fact that deep down inside all of us there’s a person desperately eager to blow up a fridge and break the limbs and necks of everyone in the vicinity. Counter to the common view that videogames make society more violent, I believe they allow people to exorcise their aggression and fulfil their subconscious urges safely and healthily through entertainment. A spin-off of Gareth Evans’ ultraviolent Indonesian tower block martial arts masterpiece would thus be the ultimate form of interactive therapy, and I’d say the world desperately needs it. Everyone gets the opportunity to be a Silat expert when they step into the role of Iko Uwais’ cop Rama, and the game provides maximum action satisfaction in a multi-storey blur of cathartic beatings.
The videogame adaptation of The Raid would be the most visceral orgy of interactive violence ever and it would, indeed, be glorious. I think I need to see this become reality (or, indeed, virtual reality). Please someone, make this happen, because I’m feeling really riled up as I remain stuck on this level escorting Queen Amidala around Coruscant, and I’ve got an urge to snap someone’s neck.
You can read James’ last column here.