By Pjalne @ Encyclopedia Obscura
If you haven't read the previous minimock on this topic, it's recommended that you do before reading further. Not only because I'll be referring to the games I've already explored, but also because it's your one chance to see Superman riding the subway.
As anticipated, after the last entry was uploaded people started bringing up games I had left out. Which is why I'm revisiting my folders containing
over one thousand ROMs. Of course, when you've got practically every Nintendo game ever created four or five clicks away, you'll end up clicking on a lot of shit. Ad a few Sega and Atari releases, and you've got today's list of games that are based on movies that shouldn't have had games based on them. First up: Disney's Beauty and the Beast for the SNES. Even before that: a Dracula update.
As anticipated, after the last entry was uploaded people started bringing up games I had left out. Which is why I'm revisiting my folders containing over one thousand ROMs. Of course, when you've got practically every Nintendo game ever created four or five clicks away, you'll end up clicking on a lot of shit. Ad a few Sega and Atari releases, and you've got today's list of games that are based on movies that shouldn't have had games based on them. First up: Disney's Beauty and the Beast for the SNES. Even before that: a Dracula update.
Bram Stoker's Dracula was released on the Master System as well. It's pretty much the same version that hit the NES, only the colors are a little cheerier, and Jonathan Harker has a headband and a karate suit. Thought I'd mention it.
Wow, with all the action that went down in Beauty and the Beast, the game creators must have gone crazy just trying to figure out where to begin. As far as I can remember, there were two scenes in which Beast got to arch his back: the wolf fight and the showdown with Gaston. How do you create a game from that? Why, you make a level where you shout like mad at Belle and chase her throughout the castle in a blaze of domestic violence frenzy while spiders and bats try to kill you. Then you get to the wolf fight, then there's a sequence I'll get back to shortly, then the books in the library rebel and try to kill you, and then you fight Gaston. This still is only enough material for half a game, so to make up for the scanty length, everything is made twice as hard:
Beauty and the Beast introduces a whole new challenge to the world of video games: ridiculogic. Because of this exiting new feature, you'll find yourself constantly saying things like 'Oh, stupid me, I should have known I couldn't climb that wall, because it seemed like the only logical way out, and it looked exactly like the wall I climbed two seconds ago.' Or 'Ah, instead of trying to jump on the platform that tricked me to fall on spikes by falling down when I stepped on it, I should have stood still and roar until another non-tricky platform appeared.' Or 'I'm such a goof, I should have known that though they're the exact same sprite, this was a killer bat, and not a bat I could climb on.' Or 'I should have known that I would land in water when I jumped down from that tree, because I shouldn't assume that giant oaks don't sometimes grow out of the water'. Every jump is a leap of faith, all enemies appear half a second before they hit you. The result? A game that forces you to quicksave (a function of course not available on the SNES) and attempt the same goddamn jump twenty times before you find the incredibly stupid sequence of jumps and roars that are needed to keep your body off the spikes. The entire game feels like a bad practical joke, and you are on the ass end of it. Now to the part I left out earlier.
Catch the snowball! This part is actually pretty fun, and about the only thing in the game that makes sense.
The game was also released in an 8-bit version. This one is of course stripped down because of the console's limitations, so Beast is now much smaller and there aren't quite as many objects moving at the same time. The result is a game that is much easier and actually a lot better. And considering the fact that the emulator I used couldn't display the platforms I was supposed to walk on, that says quite a deal.
A lot of the same things can be said about Beethoven's 2nd. Heck, all those things can be said about Beethoven's 2nd. It's impossible to control, you never know what you're gonna hit your head on when you take a jump, and there are only four levels. Yes, four levels. If the game wasn't near-impossible, it would be over in fifteen minutes.
I can't imagine what made someone think this game was a good idea. Hell, I can't even imagine what made someone think the first movie was a good idea, let alone the second one. And the third? People, when Charles Grodin jumps overboard and swims ashore it's time to call it a day. Don't get Judge Reinhold on the phone; Stop making movies about St. Bernards. We're talking about Charles Grodin here. If he says it's shit, it's shit. He was in Clifford, for crying out loud.
... And again, the same goes for Alf for the Master System. Only this time, the controls are even worse. See the second pic? I could not get past that cave, and this is one minute into the game. I got to a narrow part where I had to jump over one bat while ducking under another. If I was more than one pixel too far to the left, right, top or bottom at any time during this maneuver I would die, so timing was pivotal. Just to make sure this wouldn't be too easy, the programmers decided that the bats should fly around in different directions and at different speeds, that the gap between Alf's head and the roof should only be three fourths of a foot and that Alf should wait almost a second after you pressed the button before actually jumping. After fifteen minutes with trial and error, I decided that I didn't really need to get any further into the cave. I walked back, and when I exited the damned tunnel a rat stood exactly on the spot where I entered the screen and I died. This is a constant problem in this game: enemies often stand exactly where you enter a room, resulting in inevitable and instant death. Alf is shit.
In the last piece, I argued that one should never base a game on a sit-com. I stand by that statement, you can not make an eight-bit platformer from the medium without ending up with something that looks like someone tried to fasten dog crap to a manhole cover using a sewing machine (and is equally pleasant to handle). If they decided to make a game from the animated series, I would understand. But a platformer about an alien puppet who sits around the house eating popcorn and wisecracking while hiding from the neighbors? Don't think so. Speaking of aliens...
E.T. has by many people been pointed out as the worst game of all time. I can relate to that. Eager to make a buck or a million, Atari grabbed the rights to the immensely popular Spielberg film. Somewhere down the line someone must have realized that they'd just bought a movie without any game material in it, and this must be why the game has nothing to do with the film. At all.
E.T. walks around in a cratered landscape looking for objects (possibly to make a transmitter), and you have to climb down every hole in sight to find these. Very few of the craters have anything in them, and getting out is a nightmare. Seriously, I had a dream just like this once. To get out, you must first stretch your neck as much as you can. Then you can start to slowly float toward the top of the screen, and when you reach the rim of the hole, you fall back down in nine out of ten tries.
Atari assumed they would sell five million copies of this game. Some months later they transported three million cartridges to New Mexico, ran over them with a steam roller, dumped them in a (and this is where the poetic justice kicks in) big hole in the desert and then filled the hole with concrete just to make sure the games were there for good.
Well, that's it for now. Four more movies and shows that shouldn't have taken the step into the digital realm. But money talks, and sometimes money says 'Sure you can squeeze a game out of this, just make a platformer and hope enough people will buy it before the reviews come out'. One has to ask oneself what we would have to cope with if technology hadn't improved and companies like T*HQ and Bandai still would be able to pump out another movie license every other month. Schindler's List, anyone?
Well, until next time. And remember, even if games based on movies can be shit, the other way around is usually much, much worse.
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