Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movies That Should be Video Games - Labyrinth

Labyrinth – Jareth’s Revenge!

WARNING: The following game summary is very nerdy. Actually it borders on fan fiction. And that really scares me. This summary got way out of control. Please believe me when I say that I am not a complete emo-nerd and I don’t shop at Hot Topic. Read on if you dare… I hope I don’t lose the 7 followers I have.

If you told me that you wouldn’t buy this game, I’d call you a liar. I bet you’d preorder it too, just to get the free t-shirt. Labyrinth is everyone’s favorite movie - everyone’s. It’s a true classic, and unlike every other classic movie, it hasn’t been sequeled, spun-off(?), or rebooted.
So, let me be the first to sequel/spin-off/reboot the movie with a 3D adventure game.

Labyrinth – Jareth’s Revenge is a video game sequel to the movie. The story takes place after the events of the Labyrinth movie. When I was 7, my neighbor tried to convince me that there was in fact a Labyrinth 2. I was so excited. Every time I went to the local video store after that, I asked Todd if Labyrinth 2 was in. He would politely say, “No, not yet,” and pat me on the head. I always liked Todd. One day, his dad Norm was filling in. Because Norm is a dream-crusher, he told me Labyrinth 2 didn’t exist and never would! I ran home crying - true story. The following is a little story I came up with during a lifetime of wishing for a Labyrinth 2.

Sara is now 30 and a single mother. Due to her experiences in the goblin kingdom, she’s very protective of her baby, Paul. Forgive the name, I couldn’t think of a good one. Toby, Sara’s little brother, is 15 now and very mischievous. He runs around the house acting like a monster and constantly annoys his parents. They send him to Sara’s house for a weekend visit. Sara, still unhappy with her parents, gets easily frustrated with Toby and ignores him to care for her own baby. Toby gets jealous and locks himself in her bedroom. Bored, he looks through her things and finds the Labyrinth storybook that she carried with her in the film. With it, he is able to summon the goblins to take little Paul away. As Sara frantically tries to unlock her bedroom door, a white owl flies through the hallway and into the nursery. And of course, when she runs into the nursery, Paul is gone. The windows are open, and a goblin is sitting on the windowsill. He says something like, “We took yo babay!” Sara karate chops it in the head.

Sorry, my nerd alert was going crazy and I had to man up a little.

Anyway, both Sara and Toby go to the Goblin Kingdom to get Paul back. Jareth greets her at the entrance in a “Bwa ha ha, we meet again,” kind of way. Sara is all like, “You again! I thought I killed you!” And Jareth goes, “Not really - you said I didn’t have any power over you and I was like, whatever, I need to go, I have a pot pie in the oven.” Jareth informs her that this time he won’t be so easy on her. He needs Paul and won’t give him back.

Sara begins her adventure through the labyrinth and thus, the game begins. The labyrinth is more immense than the one in the film because Jareth has added on – he’s on his third mortgage. There are several ‘levels’ comprised of different mazes and more villages. Sara is equipped with a princess wand she keeps in her bedroom. In the beginning, all she can do is strike down enemies, but as she progresses, she receives upgrades and magic abilities. Fancy. Toby follows close behind her throughout the maze, but soon falls down a pit. Sara continues without him and when she completes the level, the player assumes the role of Toby. He needs to complete an entirely different series of underground levels to get back to Sara. The player switches between them every time a level is complete. Toby meets a “friendly” goblin in one of the underground caves. This goblin claims to have gone AWOL from Jareth’s army. Since Toby is defenseless, the goblin gives him a weapon. I can’t think of a good name for it now, so let’s call it a Snatcheroo. Basically, it's a magic wand that shoots out a beam of light and sucks the goblins up.

Dude, seriously this is getting so nerdy. I need to take a break. Beer! Chicks! Football! Home remodeling projects!

Ok - only a few more details to go. As Sara progresses through the labyrinth she encounters old friends and new. She can use their abilities for assistance. Ludo can call rocks and wipe out goblin armies; Sir Didymus can swordfight on the back of his dog Ambrosius. (Um - kind of sad that I don’t need to look up their names.) And of course Hoggle kills fairies and pees in public.

After puzzles, traps, mazes, and crazy creatures that try to take her head off, Sara makes it to the center of the Labyrinth. Jareth is there, waiting for her, with Toby standing next to him in a goblin suit of armor. Jareth reveals that it was him in the underground system. He gave Toby the Snatcheroo. Jareth is getting older and consequently weaker. The goblins down there had revolted and were planning to overthrow Jareth. Disguised as the old goblin, Jareth used Toby to capture them. The plot thickens – Jareth explains that the labyrinth affected Toby when he was there as a baby, and even when he returned home. This is why Toby was so mischievous. Jareth intended for Toby to find Sara’s book and call the goblins. He planned the entire thing so that Toby would return. Jareth needs a successor as goblin king. Sara thinks he is talking about Toby and says, “Fine, you can have him.” But Jareth explains that only a true heir can be king, and that Paul is actually his son. Saucy - somebody call Maury. I haven’t worked out those details but I’m thinking Sara drank a little too much vino at the masquerade ball.

The final stage begins, Sara must fight her way through the Escher maze again, this time it’s crawling with baddies. I think this level would be killer and reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy. The maze would turn Sara upside down and you’d never know which way was up. Totally awesome. When Sara reaches Jareth at the top, she must actually fight him. By this point she should have a full arsenal to combat his magic balls. Once he’s defeated, Toby turns back into a human, and he and Sara bring Paul home safe.

Sheesh. That was exhausting. I may have to discontinue the movie/video game thing.

After some research I discovered there have actually been at least two games made based on this movie. Below are some screen captures from them. Apologies to anyone who owns the copyrights... not because I'm using them, but because your games look lame and mine rules.

Hmmm...Who is responsible for that not-so-subtle graffiti? Hoggle looks suspicious.

Who is this dude? What is that furby looking thing? And what the hell is going on in the woods back there?!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Movies That Should be Video Games - The Shining

Ok, let's get nerdy shall we?

Sometimes when I watch a movie, I think, "Wow - this would make a sweet game." I imagine that quite a few people do this. Otherwise, we wouldn't have brilliant games like Wayne's World or ET. Sadly, I seem to have grown out of video games. I have a Wii, but I usually play Mario. I love Mario. I just don't really like recent video games. Somehow all the game companies have managed to turn modern warfare and pimping into children's entertainment. But I digress. What follows is a synopsis of one game I'd probably play.

The Shining is my favorite scary movie of all time, and I always think how awesome it would be to visit that hotel and get freaked out of my mind. Since the real hotel is in Colorado, and probably not half as scary as the Overlook, why not go there virtually! "The Shining - The Game", as I call it, will emerse the player in the hotel and pit you against ghosts, monsters, and of course, Jack Torrance. The Shining will be a survival-horror game in the spirit of Resident Evil or Silent Hill. You play as little Danny Torrance and your goal is to survive your stay at the Overlook Hotel. The hotel is entirely free-roaming. Some doors are locked and you have to find keys or solve puzzles to get through them. And of course, you collect pieces of the hotel map to move further into the game. As you play the game, you encounter several past guests of the hotel. Some are good, and offer hints or useful information. Some are bad and want you to play with them forever and ever! Danny doesn't die when the ghosts get him because he's just a kid and that would be kind of inappropriate. I like to think that he becomes trapped in the hotel forever when it's game over.

Come play Nintendo with us, Danny

Danny is assisted by three additional characters. His mommy, Wendy Torrance, initiates the game with Danny. She gives him simple missions to accomplish, but soon he's on his own. Mr. Hallorann shows Danny how to 'shine', or communicate with ghosts and the hotel itself. Hallorann's head pops into the scene, most likely in a cloud, to share hotel history or offer helpful hints. Tony, the little boy that lives in Danny's mouth, speaks to Danny when there's a clue or unlocked door nearby. Danny makes choices involving these three people, and if he makes good choices, they will come to him in times of danger. For example, if you help Wendy cook lunch or something early on in the game, she will show up later with the baseball bat. If you eat ice cream with Hallorann, he might show up later on the snowcat.

Danny also encounters Big Papa Torrance who is slowly losing his marbles. At first, Jack Torrance is calm and just a little weird - he poses no threat to Danny. But after a while, the hotel starts to "affect" him. Jack Torrance randomly jumps in and out, kind of like Jason in the old Friday the 13th game, and throws axes at Danny. I won't cheapen the film by providing Danny with any weapons, though. Danny uses skill and tricks to avoid Jack and the ghosts, or hides in nearby closets. Whenever Jack is nearby, Tony shouts, "Redrum!"

Danny also receives special power-ups along the way, like his ability to shine. He can tune into other people's thoughts, speak to ghosts, and sense danger. He may also receive the "pestering child" power, with which he asks silly questions of adults. This is Jack Torrance-repellant. And if that's not enough, he can throw his school papers all over the floor, which Jack will slip on. Danny's most powerful tool however, is the Big Wheel. He receives this from his mother for successfully completing some preliminary missions. Danny can find upgrades (bumper stickers, special wheels, NOS, etc.) throughout the hotel. As an added bonus, the game will feature special mini-games for multiplayer action - such as hallway racing.

Prepare to qualify!

Through all the puzzles and missions, Danny starts to realize what's happening to his dad, and who the responsible party is. Once the mystery is solved, Jack loses it completely and chases Danny through the bathroom window and into the hedge maze outside. The game's final level would take place in this hedge maze. You'd have to solve the maze while avoiding Jack. I would also like to suggest we take something from the book as well, and throw some topiary animals in the mix. They come to life and also chase poor Danny. When you reach the end of the maze alive, and Jack freezes to death in the snow, you win. But of course, there's plenty of replay value thanks to all the great mini-games!

Bonus Mini-Games!!!
Hallway racing
Snowcat obstacle course
Library wall-ball
Typing tutor

Friday, July 3, 2009

Captain EO

I've been reading a lot of blogs about Michael Jackson lately. People have a lot of great memories to share. I wanted to jump on that bandwagon and share my favorite MJ memory. Like most people, I associate Michael with my childhood. I remember watching the Beat It and Billy Jean videos on Dtv (Disney's music video show). I can also remember singing The Girl is Mine into a hairbrush at my friend's house. I always sang Paul McCartney's part. My friend was a much better Michael - all crotch grabbing aside.
But my favorite memory is of Captain EO. If you're unfamiliar, which is possible, Captain EO was a 3D movie featured at Disney World's Epcot Center, starring Michael Jackson. I loved this movie. The 3D effects fascinated me - I remember everyone in the theater reaching out to grab the little flying furball thing. I was obviously really into Star Wars at the time too, so I appreciated the Star Wars feel to it.
I have to say though, the spider-woman really freaked me out. If this were a real movie, I'd add it to my Frightening Family Films list. I remember taking my 3D glasses off every time she came on screen. But then, the blurriness made her look even scarier! My mom made it all better by buying me a little Captain EO Mickey Mouse toy.
Anyway, I found this on Youtube. Enjoy!

Part 1...

Part 2...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's Like That... Only Different

Ever watch a movie and think, "This is kinda like that other movie... but not really?" Have you gotten the feeling that whoever made the movie you're watching was somehow inspired by some other movie?

I’d like to try a new feature. Well, actually I’d love to start a “movie night” thing of sorts where we’d watch two “similar but different” movies, but A, I don’t have any friends that like movies, and B, I don’t have any friends. So for now, I’ll just mention in passing that I love movie nights, and if anyone wants to be friends and come over, let me know, and I’ll ask my wife.

The "It's like that... only different," feature will highlight two movies, maybe more (that's right Iceman, I am dangerous) that have absolutely nothing to do with each other but will complement each other well when watched back to back.

Let's give it a shot. This pair actually gave me the idea for the topic.

Harold and Maude / Charlie Bartlett

Harold and Maude is one of my top ten favorite movies (see list at right). When I watched Charlie Bartlett recently I couldn't help but think of H and M. Story-wise, these two couldn't be more different. Harold doesn't sell prescription medication to achieve popularity and Charlie doesn't hook up with any saucy old chicks. Nevertheless, there's just something about these flicks that tie them together.

Harold and Maude is about a young man who is so obsessed with the idea of death that he regularly attends funerals for people he doesn't even know. He's not suicidal, but enjoys playing morbid pranks on his mother. The mood is dark but hilarious. His life changes when he meets Maude, a woman on the verge of her 80th birthday. She embraces all sides of life, the happy and the sad, and shows Harold what it means to be alive. And I know the whole thing about a 20 year old with an 80 year old is weird and maybe a little gross, but have an open mind. The movie isn't really about that. It's not like that movie you rented last month when your parents were away. What was that called, "Cougars on the Prowl 6?" Maude has lived a long time and experienced moments of joy and sadness. That's the key. I imagine that, if this were to be remade, they'd cast Cameron Diaz and through some plot-dialogue simply announce that she's been through a lot and it would all be very convincing I'm sure. Harold and Maude is a funny and brilliant film. From the shocking first scene to an even more unexpected ending, it's truly an emotional ride.

Charlie Bartlett is about a troubled high school teen who wants nothing more than to be worshipped by his peers. His mother thinks all his problems can be solved with therapy and prescription meds. This provides Charlie with a means to make friends. He holds therapy sessions and sells medication out of the boy's bathroom. It's not entirely plausible, but makes for a pretty good story. It's funny and touching and Robert Downey Jr. plays a great drunk.

I will bet you five dollars that the creator of Charlie Bartlett likes the movie Harold and Maude. I won't say that he ripped off H and M because the stories are nothing alike. But I can definitely say that he was inspired by it. Everything about Charlie Bartlett echoes H and M. The characters are quirky and the locales are vintage. Both mothers are snobbish, entitled, and proper, and they have no idea how to raise a son. They also dress alike even though they live decades apart. Harold and Charlie are polite and calm and have this creepy yet endearing stare. The boys also thrive on rebellion and crave attention from their mothers. These two movies have an odd sense of humor and over-the-top supporting characters. While often dark and dreary, some shared spirituality and romanticism make both films very uplifting.

And if those similarities weren't enough...

Harold and Maude - If You Want to Sing Out

Charlie Bartlett - If You Want to Sing Out

So, if you're in the mood for a different kind of movie night, try these two. They are both hilarious and heart-warming. While they are each unique in their own right, they complement each other perfectly. At the end, discuss the similarities over some pie and coffee. Harold and Maude should go first, in case you're the easily bored type. I want you to at least see the one on my top ten list.


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