Tag Archives: ljn

The Black Tie Events Presents… Why Movie Licensed Games are Doomed to Fail

Is that tie looking a little ragged? How old is it? 2 maybe 3 months? Time to get a new one, my friend. You don’t want to be seen in public looking like that.

There are also quite a few games that have been released to the public that shouldn’t have been. Mainly, video games developed from popular movie franchises. These little gems make their way into our homes with innocent intentions designed to entertain.

Many, if not all, of these movie licensed games fail. Whether they be well deserved games with interesting aspects or not, these games have never seem to work out in a gamer’s eye.

Why, you ask? Lots of reasons. You’ll be surprised to find that some of these games are doomed from the beginning, or in case of our first entry, is actually a good game, but gets roped into being a bad game because of it’s movie tie-in.

Tighten that tie because it’s about to get classy.

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th, released 1980 in America, is about a crazed lunatic that decides to take her vengeance out of a few teenagers who are working to reopen the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake. (For those who may not remember, Mrs. Voorhees, Jason’s mother, was the knife wielding psychopath in the first installment.)

The Nintendo Entertainment System installment was released 1989 some nine years after the first movie. That puts the game released around Friday the 13th VIII: Jason takes Manhattan. Rather than trying to convey a twisting plot around Mrs. Voorhees, Atlus (developer of the game) decided to go back to its roots and emerge the player into the nightmare that is Jason on the familiar ground of Camp Crystal Lake.

Friday the 13th for the NES is considered by many to be one of the worst games ever released. But underneath all of the hype, the game actually performs well in its constraints. Let’s take a look at some of the most common complaints.

Things aren’t all clear to you at first and you are left aimlessly wandering around the camp whacking zombies with your knife.

The game makes you learn how to survive by supplying the player with cryptic messages as you battle your way through the camp grounds looking for Jason. This is before the ever popular (/sarcasm) ”How To Play” tutorials that you find in most modern games. Most players don’t want the game to hold your hand. Instead they opt for “Learn as you play” techniques which include deciphering puzzling notes strewed throughout the game. Sounds like well designed game play to me.

See, everyone has split up so they can “cover more ground,” or something equally brainless, so they’re situated all over the encampment.

Anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie especially those deemed “slasher”, know that the first thing a group does is split up. That way the killer can take them out one by one. You run up the stairs not out the front door when the killer is in the house. If the group stayed together and the victim ran out the front door, the movie would end wouldn’t it? Why would the game, being based off of said movie, be any different? A video game is designed to bring the player into a world that doesn’t exist in their own reality. Making stupid decisions as a group is part of this reality.

The issue here shows that the movie series was already on its last legs before the video game was released. Atlus noticed this and decided to create a spin off of the movie rather than following a movie story line. This was to give the game a chance to burst past the movies. But as society will show time and time again, that if one bit is bad, it’s all bad.

Imagine how this game would have performed if it had a different title?

Street Fighter: the Movie — the Game

Sometimes, a franchise is so popular you really start running out of things to do with it. In the thoughts of the Street Fighter series, creating a movie with a very impressive casting list was a no-brainer. Or so one would think.

Street Fighter: the Movie will always be considered a terrible effort to turn a video game into a movie. An early attempt to cash in on a very popular video game franchise; the opposite of our first entry.

So, first, let’s get the idea confusion out of the way: this is a game, that’s based on a movie, that’s based on a video game. Get it? Hard to wrap one’s head around.

All and all, the idea was sound, take a popular video game turn it into a movie then allow the players to play as the actors themselves that played the characters in the movie who were portraying their video game counterparts. Wait… I think I just confused myself.

The biggest issue here was the movie didn’t fair well among viewers bringing in only a score of 13% on the TomatoMeter from Rotten Tomatoes. So the movie didn’t work. Why would anyone make a game based off a failing movie?

With a bad taste in our mouth, we headed to the arcade to play the first installment of Street Fighter: the Movie – the Game. With expectations all ready low, this game was doomed from the start.

But is the game that bad? Short answer: yes. But it was built upon a structure that, in my opinion, was already a failing attempt at game design. Mortal Kombat was one of the first games that became popular that used real actors for digitized images. Using this kind of technology limits the game to few frames for a proper animation. The moves look jagged or slow; unnatural at times.

Sprites themselves allow a programmer to make the motion fluid without taking up too much space or having an actor stand around for hours on end taking photos moving one inch and then another… and then another… Take a poor idea for a movie, turned video game, with some of the worst ideas for a head to head fighter, the game was pitted against itself and lost.

One thing I can say about this game… Akuma… super cool.

E.T. – Extra-Terrestrial

What’s cuter than a lonely boy to befriends an extra-terrestrial named simply E.T. that is stranded on Earth? Answer? Nothing. Pulling in just over $11 million dollars on opening night back in 1982 and stayed number one for six more weeks! Huge. Why wouldn’t the game be just as good? Right? Anyone?

E.T. for the ATARI 2600 is constantly cited as being the contributor to the video game crash of 1983. Developed and programmed by one man, Howard Scott Warshaw, was given only five weeks to have the game ready by the Christmas deadline. Talk about a raw deal.

But what he created was an extremely emotional piece of video game art. Not again will these styles be copied until the release of the popular Metroid for the NES.

Stay with me…

Warshaw decided to go against the grain and create something new with the title of E.T.: rather than bumping around as Elliot trying to help E.T. get back to his home planet, you play as E.T. On the quest to get there yourself.

Within E.T., you are pitted against your own solidarity, feeling helpless, abandoned. Around every corner is a man in a yellow suit and hat trying to capture you. You only have some much strength to keep going. Being on a strange new world, everything blends together making it difficult to plot your points and know if you are heading in the right direction or in circles.

When you cry out for aid, you have to incite the one who found you in the first place with candy before he will give you a piece of your planetary space phone. He holds the very key to getting you home but you have to bribe him with candy before he will comply. Taunting you with only 1 piece at a time until you bring him the necessary amount of payment. What a cruel world you are traveling through with E.T. You have no attacks, no power-ups, nothing. You are just a scared alien trying to get home.

After only struggling against the odds do you come out victorious in your adventure, your home planet’s ship comes to pick you up and are taken back to where it’s safe, where people love you, where you are no longer in danger.

A masterpiece…

Let us know what are some of your favorite movie licensed games that didn’t cut it with the mainstream but still holds a special place in your heart?

As always, stay classy.

The Black Tie Event Presents… Games I Quit Playing After 10 Seconds

Tighten that tie, shine those shoes, and button up that jacket, it’s about to get classy up in here. And by classy I mean, really really bad gaming. So bad in fact, you’ll be the best looking thing here. Well second best next to me.

There are a lot of reasons why people stop playing games. Usually these involve responsibilities around the house, work, or school. Not me. No sir. I refuse responsibilities. I am over that. That, my friend, is child’s play. I stop playing certain games because they are crap. Let me demonstrate with a few select titles that have forced me to hit the power button.

Double Dragon – Sega Game Gear

Level 1… first weapon you pick up is a… gun. A gun? There is a gun in Double Dragon. A gun. Why do you need a gun? You are a bad ass, fighting to get back your kidnapped girlfriend, and you’re going to opt for a gun? Who thought that was a good idea? Not one Double Dragon game has you picking up and using a gun. Not one. Stupid.

Beetlejuice – NES

Everyone knows that LJN = Crap. And if you don’t know, well I invite you to pick up a copy of this jeweled dump entitled Beetlejuice.

There are a lot of things wrong with this game. And when I say a lot… I mean the entire game is just one big wrong. But the thing that gets me the most is the hidden traps. Take a look above.

More than half of the screen is red. Red means danger. Red means death. If your screen is more than half a ticket to a watery grave, who would want to continue? There are pit falls everywhere! I understand that a game should be challenging and teach the player to overcome its obstacles, but come on.

Swamp Thing – NES

You play the role of Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing can duck. Swamp Thing can punch.

Swamp Thing can not duck and punch. Swamp Thing Swamp.

Spelunker – NES

Upon starting this game, I quickly realized that this was a plat former. Apparently a very good one considering the reviews and scores. And I am all about trying new things especially those held in high regards. I was gravely mistaken with this title. Let’s take a look at the first level.

As you can see, you are a spelunker… what ever that is. And you have been descended down into a cavern on a platform. Before you is a ledge. Now what do you do…?

Don’t jump to the ledge. Dear god, don’t do that. Because apparently if fall more than 1 foot, you will die. Yup… one foot death. Super… Don’t spelunkers usually have ropes?

Austin Powers: Oh, Behave – Gameboy Advance

OK, so I know what you’re thinking. It’s an Austin Power’s game, there’s no way this can be good. And I’m going to tell you right now… you are 100 percent correct. This game is terrible. But, luckily, I didn’t even get to the “game” the first time I loaded this bad boy up. Take a look at this.

You see the joke? The programmers actually thought it would be funny to have a loading screen for a cartage game. But the in between lines of Austin Power memes is really what got me. Then this happens.

That’s right. Austin Power 2000 complete with it’s own hourglass so that you may watch the loading process unfold. Isn’t that just great? Isn’t it? Here’s the screen I saw next.

Ah, static. It’s it beautiful. I turned the game off if anyone was wondering.

Are there any games that you just had to turn off? Let us know in the comments. And bring your black ties.

How to Fix Shitty Games–Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure

 

I’m a firm believer that there are many games out there that are just bad. Really bad to the point where there is no fun in even playing them because of design, game play, or plot flaws. A lot of these “bad” games can be enjoyed with fairly easy fixes. Below is one of those games that can easily be fixed so that the game is some what enjoyable.

220px-Bill_&_Ted

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction comedy buddy film and the first film in the Bill & Ted franchise in which two metalhead slackers travel through time to assemble a menagerie of historical figures for their high school history presentation.

The film was written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon and directed by Stephen Herek. It stars Keanu Reeves as “Ted” Theodore Logan, Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and George Carlin as Rufus. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure received reviews which were mostly positive upon release and was commercially successful. It is now considered a cult classic. A sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, was released two years later. An untitled third film is in development. — wikipedia.org

titlebillted

A Little History

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure is an action-adventure video game that is part of the Bill & Ted franchise and is based on the film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure that was released in North America by LJN for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. The game’s plot is not an adaptation of the movie, but rather serves as an original continuation to the film’s events. – wikipedia.org

 

First Impressions

Let’s face it. This game is terrible. I mean one of the lowest of the low, a fierce competitor for E.T. on the 2600. OK, it’s not that bad but this game is pretty bad. The controls are loose, the physics don’t make any sense, and you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. How is any child who was a fan of the movie (I know you’re out there) suppose to enjoy such a horrible game? Tell me. You can’t. You just can’t.

The first dead give away is the publisher for the game.

LJN_logo

Now I’m not going to go into rants like AVGN, but he makes a valid point about LJN. Their shit games to passable games ratio is extremely high in the shit department. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get down to what can be fixed to make this game better.

 

1. The Intro

I love intros to games. I mean, how else are you suppose to know what’s going on in the game if you don’t watch the intro? Especially in this day and age where actually manuals for these retro games are hard to come by unless you are willing to spend a little more on a CIB. Intros are great. It gets everyone on the same page.

I have no issue with a game, that’s based off a movie, not follow the story line of the movie itself. This can end up being either a good or bad thing. It’s OK in this case. But the issue lies in the length and the lack of an option to bypass the story at the beginning. It’s nothing but text with the stupid lingo that I’m guessing was popular at the time. Lots of “dudes”, “dudettes” and “bogus” which does get annoying after a while.

So how does this get fixed? Well how about allowing the intro to the game to play while the player is sitting idle. Not a huge fix, but these sort of small things actually do make the game play speed up and allow the gamer to do what the game was intended to do after all which is to play it. And make the intro something that I would want to watch. Don’t hold me up on long and boring intros every time I reset it.

2. Phone book

Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure (2)

Now this one is one of the biggest things that kills the game for me. The phone book has a list of phone numbers (well duh right?) that corresponds to a particular figure in history.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Well, what the hell am I suppose to do? There’s nothing but black around those edges. No “Press Select to enter a phone number”. No, “The one with the flashing number is the one you need to enter”. No nothing. Now, since I do not own the instruction booklet, it may very well be in there that explains what I’m suppose to do. Which is something the game designers weren’t anticipating. I can let that slide. I mean, nowadays with the internet, who needs these books, but back in the day, that was your only source of true information because you sure as hell weren’t going to listen to the fat know-it-all kid down the street tell you what to do in the game. No way no how.

I mean there’s just nothing. The book itself looks great in all it’s pixel glory. The character sprites have a unique look to them and you can tell what it is. I just don’t know what the hell to do.

Since the NES controller has only so many buttons, that after trial and error you’d figure it out. The flashing number is the number to dial. But it’s only after trial and error that you figure this out. And after having to sit through the fucking intro, you’re all ready set to kill this game with fire.

GIVE ME SOME INSTRUCTION ON WHAT TO DO NEXT. THIS ISN’T A SEQUAL. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE BUTTONS DO BASED OFF A PREVIOUS GAME. SOMEONE HELP ME PLEASE!!!1!!11!

So yeah, just add some informational text around the border will clear that up.

3. Pointless game aspects

Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure-2

What the hell is going on? I mean, really? If you are making me play this stupid “mini-game” because you couldn’t think of a better way to add the actual time travel in the game, then stop it. Just stop it right there. This whole part of the game is pointless and I have no idea what anything means. Are you going to take away 5 coins if I land in the 5 coin circle? I know I lose money when I land in the skull circles because that’s a worldly ideal: skulls = bad. And it has to be coins because I don’t have 5 of anything else.

But seriously? You couldn’t think of a better way of adding time travel to the game? If not, then don’t put it in. Just bypass the whole thing. I don’t remember Bill or Ted ever getting stuck in the “circuits of time” because they ran out of money.

Coins? So you were able to think ahead on the money idea. Well, a phone call will probably cost more than a quarter in the future so let’s just call them coins. If you thought that, you should have thought that no one would hold on to a tiny ass booklet that tells you exactly what to do screen by screen then either.

Just take it out. It’s not any fun.  Give me a sweet ass animated graphic of going through space and time with Bill and Ted saying something like “Dude, this is totally wicked.” “Yeah, Dude, but it’s making me totally sick at my stomach.”

I can relate.

4. Inviting graphics

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived

What am I looking at,you asked? Well it’s a lot of green. That’s it… Just a lot of green. Too much green. Way too much green.

Either give me something more pleasing to look at or get it out of my view. What to know how you fix this bit? Look below.

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived_smaller

Ahhh, so much better. Oh what’s that over there? Oh it’s a tree. Well that’s nice. Oh and a fence. Much more pleasing to look at. Yeah, all I did was crop out the crap you don’t have to see anyway. Most of the graphics on the outside of the “gaming area” is off limits anyway. You can’t walk over there. You just can’t. The game won’t let you. It just wants you to look, don’t touch, and the rest of the area is just a lot of puke green to enjoy. Yeah, I like it better this way too.

Now the graphics don’t have to blow my mind. I’m not expecting Final Fantasy or huge sprites like Final Fight. But something better than what you’re giving me. Give me some detail in the grass. Give me more than just one type of rock. Give me something. Put a fucking clown in there I don’t care. Well, I guess, a clown wouldn’t work for the time period, but a Jester would. Or some cattle grazing on the luscious non-existent grass. Something that’s not green.

5. Direction

So, you start the first level, and pat yourself on the back for that because we’ve lost 50 percent of the players all ready. But what do you do? Well you walk around talking to people. But they give you some of the most pointless information.

bat_strange

So… is it strange good? Strange bad? Which way is south? Heard something? Like from a person or an inanimate object? If you heard some from a tree then yes that it strange. What was it? Why won’t you tell me? I’ve got nothing.

You see this throughout most of the game. The game calls these “hints”. There is nothing there that I would call a hint. First, he says that he heard something. OK, but from whom? Someone important? Someone that I care to talk to?

Plus where is south? There’s no map, no indicator of where I am exactly in the level. These levels are actually pretty large to say the lest. To give just a general direction in a space where direction doesn’t technically exist, which way is south? How about this: “I’ve heard something strange can be found down south past _________” then give me a landmark. Like the pastor, or the dueling knights. Fucking something! I just need a little more information. Unless you’re going to give me a map.

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived_compass

Oh well, won’t you look at that. I know where I am because of this handy map I have and well look at that! A compass. Now I know which direction I’m going in. Man, this is going to be a fun adventure. I can’t wait to start talking to people and discovering the secrets of this level. Gee whiz. I hope they make a sequel because I’m already having a blast.

Final Thoughts

It’s games like this that make me sad. It just missed the turn. Even if this game wasn’t a hit (which it wasn’t) if the engine would have been designed good enough, another game dev could have taken it and made something great with. Something original; something fun. This game is not fun.

So, for those who know how to program, do me a favor: make this game fun. Because I truly believe that a game like this would be great. It was be a great mix between action and RPG. There’s zero violence in this game. I mean you throw pudding cups at enemies to ward them away. How awesome is that? But the train was missed. Thank you, LJN and your rainbow of shit.