Back in 1993, Hollywood Pictures released a little film called Super Mario Bros., starring the late Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the titular plumbing duo. It featured Mario and Luigi (minus his trademark mustache) being thrust into a dystopian Mushroom Kingdom that looked more like a post-apocalyptic New York City with dinosaur people, and a quest to rescue Daisy from the ever-menacing Dennis Hopper and save the world. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, Mario-mania was everywhere, so it was a no-brainer that Hollywood would produce a movie to capitalize on the Nintendo franchise. However, what Hollywood didn’t expect was for the film to bomb at the box office. Over the years, the film has attained a bit of a cult following, but Super Mario Bros. didn’t perform to expectations with movie-goers when it was first released. The planned sequel that was teased at the end of the film was then swept under the carpet, along with any other ambitions to make movies based on video games for a while.
While this film put a damper on the prospect of Nintendo-based movies for some (not me, considering it’s my guilty pleasure movie), this hasn’t stopped some studios from making attempts at rekindling the fire. Back in 2004, acclaimed film director John Woo was in talks with Nintendo to produce a movie based on the Metroid series. Unfortunately, nothing was heard of it since then, and it can be assumed it was canned. Now we’ll never get to see Samus Aran blast Ridley in the face while majestic doves fly by in the background.
Metroid wasn’t the only series with an attempted film; Imagi Animation Studios, the same studio that produced TMNT and Astro Boy, pitched their take on a film based on The Legend of Zelda series to Nintendo back in 2007. Their CGI-based pitch featured Link, Zelda and Ganondorf in a style akin to their previous films, but it was shot down by Nintendo. It was indeed an interesting vision, but most would probably agree that it was all for the better that it wasn’t produced.
When it comes to film, Nintendo has typically been very protective of their IP ever since Super Mario Bros., and for a long time, the chance of seeing another movie based on a Nintendo franchise has seemed slim. However, the company has recently loosened its views on working with film, and has become a lot more open to making movies based on famous franchises. Of course, this means it’s time to speculate! What kinds of projects can we expect to see from Nintendo in the future? If someone took a franchise like Zelda or Metroid, handled it with care and reverence for the source material and made a film, the end result could be wonderful. Here’s some thoughts on what film producers could do with certain Nintendo properties, and what would make them awesome.
As made evident by the 1993 film, live-action probably isn’t the best way to handle the brothers Mario. With a world as vibrant and colorful as the Mushroom Kingdom, and characters as bright and bouncy as that world around them, I think the best fit for a Mario movie would definitely be 3D animation a la Dreamworks or Pixar. To be honest, this is really the only medium that could truly express the atmosphere that the Mario universe has to offer. Of course, since the film would be animated, the original voice actors would reprise their roles, including Charles Martinet and Jen Taylor.
In terms of inspiration for story, one usually-forgotten Mario production comes to mind: Super Mario Bros: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen, or by its English-translated title, Super Mario Bros: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach. This was an anime film released in 1986 based on the original Super Mario Bros. video game, but it only ever saw a release in Japan.
Unbeknownst to many, this film was actually the first movie to be based on a video game. The story followed Mario & Luigi being sucked into a copy of Super Mario Bros. for Famicom, and the ensuing quest to save Princess Peach from Bowser’s clutches. The concept was whimsical and charming, with the brothers bursting to the brim with personality. The plot stays true to the original (while also adding a few harmless little things to help advance the plot), and that would certainly be the best way to go about making another Mario film. Keep it simple, include the characters everyone loves and hold onto that trademark Nintendo charm.
Zelda, on the other hand, is a completely different story. While the series has seen its entries with colorful, vibrant visuals, most might agree that the ones more suited for the big screen involve a touch of realism, such as Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess. If Nintendo were to take the Wind Waker route with a Zelda film, 3D animation would be preferable, but for anything else, live-action or 2D animation would certainly be more fitting. For a series as grand in scale as Zelda, it definitely deserves a film to match that scale, with a booming orchestral score and long shots displaying the land of Hyrule in all its majesty.
Personally, my dream Zelda production would be a Ghibli-esque animated adaptation of Ocarina of Time, on a scale akin to that of The Lord of the Rings. Think Princess Mononoke, but with a touch of whimsy and lots of fan-service. On the other hand, a lovingly-crafted live-action adaptation, or even an original story penned by Miyamoto and Aonuma would suffice as well.
There’s also the hurdle of producing a movie in which the main character tends to be a mute. No doubt, die-hard Zelda fans would want Link to remain silent if there were ever a film adaptation. Every time Nintendo has allowed Link to speak full sentences, the world has a shed a single, collective tear.
Out of all the big-name Nintendo franchises, Metroid is definitely the Nintendo series best fit to become a Hollywood blockbuster. With boatloads of space action, alien creatures, creepy atmosphere, and one of gaming’s most iconic female badasses, it has the perfect ingredients for an amazing movie experience. Metroid even has the potential to become a multi-film franchise; imagine the first movie being a live-action origin story for Samus Aran, explaining her horrific backstory & then adapting the plot of the original Metroid, followed by a sequel based on Super Metroid. Something similar to James Cameron’s Alien comes to mind, following Samus through the barren landscapes of Zebes with an unsettling vibe lingering in the air; a film that aims to make the audience feel just as tense as Samus, then making them jump in their seats when Ridley appears for the first time, accompanied by a frightening orchestral swell.
Last year, Rainfall Films released a live-action short film titled Metroid: The Sky Calls, with Jessica Chobot playing Samus Aran. The tone of the film is very similar to what one might expect from a theatrical Metroid experience, encapsulating the vastness of space and the horror of braving its terrains alone.
A few months ago, UFC superstar Ronda Rousey showed interest in playing Samus Aran if there were ever a Metroid movie. Personally, a live-action Metroid film helmed by Legendary Pictures with Ronda Rousey playing Samus would be a dream come true. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see something like that within the next decade if we’re that lucky.
Of course, we can’t simply gloss over the cute puffball beloved by millions of gamers around the world. Kirby is one of Nintendo’s most popular characters, starring in numerous games, an anime television series, and loads of merchandise. His appeal is undeniable; who can resist the whimsical charm of Kirby’s innocent personality, along with the goofy demeanor of King Dedede and the mystical flamboyancy of Meta Knight? Not to sound like a money-hungry Hollywood CEO, but the Kirby franchise holds the perfect recipe to become a smash-hit animated family film.
A CG-animated Kirby film, featuring an original story and characters, would definitely be the best route to take with this series. Kirby: Right Back at Ya! has shown us how well Kirby and friends can adapt to various different plots, so there shouldn’t be any worries about adapting a feature-length story. A Kirby movie certainly wouldn’t need a crazy, grandiose plot to work; for all we know, the film’s main conflict could come from the antagonist stealing Kirby’s favorite cupcake. Characters like King Dedede and Meta Knight would probably be given voice roles, but having Kirby speak anything other than his trademark ‘poyo’ language would be a sin, to be quite frank. One could definitely see a Kirby movie being one of those movies: y’know, the kind that everyone expects only kids to be interested in, but ends up having lots of teens and adults flocking to see it.
What’s that, you say? Pokémon has already had eighteen theatrical animated films, with a nineteenth set to release this summer? Don’t worry, we’re not forgetting about those. Rather, we’re thinking about a completely different kind of Pokémon movie. Recently, a high-stakes bidding war for the rights to a Pokemon movie adaptation has been underway, with studios like Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. vying for the chance to bring Pikachu to the big screen. This more than likely points to one thing: the big wigs over in Hollywood have their eyes set on producing a live-action Pokémon film.
We already know how well Pokémon films work in the animated format, so we’ll be focusing on speculation for a live-action project. Is this a good idea? Is it possible to bring the fantasy world of Pokémon into a real-life setting without completely butchering what makes it so charming and enticing? It’s honestly really hard to tell.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the 2016 Super Bowl commercial advertising Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. It blends live-action segments with CGI Pokémon that closely resemble their in-game counterparts, and depicts a snippet of what a live-action Pokémon battle might look like. The commercial was praised by fans of the series and others alike, making it probably the most popular ad to air during the entire game.
The positive reception to this depiction of the famous franchise leans in favor of a live-action film adaptation, as long as it is made with respect. Lots of fan service that would bring in lifelong fans is essential, and bombastic orchestral arrangements of classic Pokémon tunes would bring people to nostalgic tears. As long as it isn’t made into some sort of gritty reboot in the vein of Transformers, there hopefully isn’t much to worry about. Surely, the responsibility of developing one of the world’s most popular video game series into a Hollywood phenomenon will be placed in the right hands. If they pull another Dragonball Evolution though, we get our pitchforks and riot.
What do you think? How should film studios handle adaptations of beloved series like Mario, Zelda and Metroid? Are there any games not mentioned that you think would make interesting movies? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
‘New Super Lucky’s Tale’ is Polished, Pleasing Platforming
Streamlined, focused, and tons of fun, New Super Lucky’s Tale is a fantastic reworking for the Switch that absolutely nails the lighter side of Nintendo-style 3D platforming. Tight controls and a nearly flawless camera support running and jumping challenges which more often than not emphasize creativity over complexity, and it’s all set against a colorful, pun-filled, charming world full of quirky characters and light satire. Though the experience is not as epic or razzle-dazzle as something like Super Mario Odyssey, developer Playful has wisely trimmed the collect-a-thon fat that so many others in the genre employ in order to pad play time. The result lasts long enough to satisfy, yet also instills a fervent desire to see more adventures from its fearless, furry hero.
In the fine tradition of its gaming ancestors dating back to the N64 days, the basics of New Super Lucky’s Tale revolve around acquiring arbitrary objects sprinkled through various stages in order to unlock doors and move on to the next area. This time it’s pages from the mystical Book of Ages, which contains the power to travel between worlds, and is the endgame of an nefarious cat sorcerer named Jinx and his gang of cartoonish thugs, the Kitty Litter. As part of a secret organization sworn to defending this kiddie-friendly Necronomicon knockoff, it’s up to Lucky to track down as many of these clover-embossed pages as he possibly can, and hopefully complete the book before his nemesis can get his claws on it.
It’s doubtful that the story will be what compels most players to keep going, and to that end, New Super Lucky’s Tale‘s simple setup also fits right in with its genre brethren. Still, Lucky is an amiable and upbeat fox to follow around, and Playful does an excellent job of surrounding him with a cast of gibberish-spouting weirdo goofballs that includes hayseed grub worms, supremely zen Yetis, loyal rock golems, and slick carny ghosts. Though their dialogue does little to drive any sort of narrative, it is endlessly amusing and often witty in its cheesy wordplay. In other words, the writing has a very Nintendo-like feel in its eccentricities that adds to the overall fun.
Those jokes would be less endearing without fantastic gameplay, but New Super Lucky’s Tale delivers some of the best running and jumping this side of Mario. Though this fabulous fox can’t quite match the plumber’s precision, Lucky does feel extremely responsive, and has a nice sense of weight and momentum that never feels out of control. He also comes out of the den with a well-rounded moveset, including a nifty double jump, a swishy tail (a la Mario’s spin punch), and the ability to burrow under ground. These moves can be chained together to create a satisfying flow both when exploring 3D stages and side-scrolling ones alike, and will surely inspire players to use them in creative ways in order to access seemingly out-of-reach spots.
And they’ll have to if they want to find all four pages hidden in each stage. New Super Lucky’s Tale requires a bare minimum of these leaflets to be found (and simply beating the stage merits one as a reward), but it’s in rooting around those nooks and crannies where much of the fun lies, and it gives the developer a chance to squeeze every ounce out of the unique mixture of environments they’ve created. From the assorted carnival games of a haunted amusement park to a beach party dance-off, there are a surprising amount of different things for Lucky (and players) to do here, with hardly any two stages ever feeling alike. One 3D level might task Lucky with casually exploring a farm as he gathers up the members of country jug band, while a side-scrolling obstacle course sees him dodging canon fire from an airship piloted by a feline Napolean. Some stages have a platforming bent, while others emphasize searching out secrets tucked away in mini puzzles.
It’s an absolutely delightful mix, and that sheer variety keeps New Super Lucky’s Tale fresh all the way through to the epic battle with fat cat Jinx himself. And though platforming veterans might find the overall challenge a bit too much on the friendly side, a few of the later bosses and and bonus stages may make that 100% goal a little tougher than it at first seems. And yet, it’s hard not to want to go back to incomplete stages or that block-pushing puzzle that stumped the first time around; the brisk pace and clever design will likely compel many players to find every scrap of paper out there.
No, Lucky isn’t the second coming of Mario, but there are few 3D platformers that offer such a polished, concise, joyful experience as New Super Lucky’s Tale. It may have taken a couple of efforts to get there (and for those who have played the original Super Lucky’s Tale, levels and bosses have been reworked here), but Playful has nailed a balance between creativity and efficiency that begs for more.
How Do ‘Pokemon Sword and Shield’s’ Max Raid Battles Measure Up?
Max Raid Battles are one of Pokemon Sword and Shield’s premier new features. Do they live up to their full potential? Let’s find out.
One of the most heavily promoted new features of Pokémon Sword and Shield have been their Max Raid Battles. These gargantuan fights are both a key part of the online experience and likely the first taste most players will get of Dynamaxed Pokémon in-game. So, how’d this take on Pokémon Go’s raid system pan out in the series’ first mainline entry on console?
Well, on the plus side, getting into the thick of a raid is super straightforward. After the opening hour or two, players are introduced to the Wild Area and can access Max Raid Battles straight away by walking up to a pillar of red light on the field. From there you can invite others, challenge the raid with NPCs, and choose which Pokémon you want to use.
Real Friends Raid Together
Playing with friends online, though, is a bit more convoluted. There’s no “Invite Friends” option to be seen. Instead, all social features are handled through the Y-comm (literally accessed by pressing the Y button). It’s here that players can Link Trade, Link Battle, exchange player cards, and more.
After actively connecting to the internet–which has to be done each play session and each time the Switch is put into sleep mode–it’s up to the host of the match to find a portal and send an invitation to everyone. A notification will pop for friends on the side of the screen, and then it’s up to everyone to join the match directly through the Y-comm interface.
If players want real people to fill in any remaining slots (all raids are four-person affairs), they’ll need to join before the room fills up. Setting a Link Code avoids this hassle by creating a room but, unlike Salmon Run in Splatoon 2, only computer players can fill remaining spots after friends finish joining this way.
After some experimenting and fudding about, my buddy and I were able to hop into matches fairly quickly without much issue. Nonetheless, it’s hard to shake the feeling that creating friend lobbies is only such a headache because it had to be tied to the Y-comm. Pair this with the fact that battling while waiting for a friend to create a room can cause the notification not to pop, and getting a group together is a bit more painful than it should be.
Max Raid Battle Rundown
The raids themselves are a surprisingly engaging twist on the classic Pokémon battle formula. Groups of four challengers work together to take on a Dynamaxed raid boss. Each raid boss has a different star rating, and even the 1-star battles are no joke the first few times around. These boss Pokémon are merciless, and regularly one-shot lower leveled ‘mons with ease.
To combat these monstrous foes, one random trainer in every group is granted the ability to Dynamax their chosen Pokémon and lead the charge. The Dynamaxed Pokémon gets the benefit of having extra-powerful moves and increased HP, though it’s rather disappointing that there only seems to be one Max Move per move type (one Grass move, one Dark move, and so on). Each of these has a secondary effect on the battlefield; some trigger sandstorms, others trigger a health regeneration field that heals everyone a bit each turn. Regular moves with type advantages deal a significant chunk of damage, but it’s Max Moves that can truly turn the tide of battle.
If one of the group’s Pokémon faints, that trainer has to sit out for a turn before it automatically gets revived (a smart design choice to keep all trainers actively involved). However, the fainting of each Pokémon triggers the storm above to become more and more vicious. After four faints or ten turns, everyone is booted out of the raid sans rewards.
The Fruits of Victory
Two of the easiest ways to better your odds are 1) Choose a Pokémon with a type advantage going into battle, and 2) Manage who Dynamaxes when. Each trainer’s Dynamax meter grows periodically and, though only one trainer can use it at a time, multiple players can activate it over the course of a raid. It also seems like each raid’s star rating is tied directly to the raid boss’ level, so bringing a generally powerful Pokémon to a lower-level raid is another viable strategy for success.
Aside from the chance to capture the raid boss itself (and some Pokémon are Max Raid Battle-exclusive), winning a raid nets players some very worthwhile rewards. These include everything from EXP candies and berries to nuggets and TMs. It’s not so much of a haul that it hurts the overall balance of the game, but there’s enough to make getting a few friends together and grinding raids for a couple of hours worth it.
Though Max Raid Battles are just a small part of the overall Sword and Shield package, they’ve ended up being a rather fun take on Pokémon’s traditional multiplayer offerings. For as unnecessarily complicated as playing with friends is, there are also a few cool ideas here, like being able to join a raid from anywhere on the map as long as the host is at the raid pillar. There’s some good fun to be had here if you prefer to battle alongside your friends instead of against them.
15 Years Later: ‘Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater’ Is Kojima’s Espionage Love Letter
On November 17th, 2004, ‘Metal Gear Solid 3’ was released, marking the first entry in what would become a major part of the Metal Gear Saga.
“After the end of World War II, the world was split into two — East and West. This marked the beginning of the era called the Cold War.”
On November 17th, 2004, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater released in North America and Japan marking the first entry in what would later become a line of prequel games within the Metal Gear Saga. Big Boss’s story would finally be expanded upon in the Hollywood action game that forever changed the course of video game storytelling.
The legendary mercenary’s journey began in Kojima’s espionage love letter to the ’60s that broke the primordial gaming standards of both interactive design and visual storytelling through immeasurable gameplay depth piled onto a mind-boggling top-notch origin story. Snake Eater was only the beginning of a tale of how one of gaming’s greatest heroes descended into a villain through what is not only arguably the most compact and well-executed Metal Gear story, but Kojima Productions story ever conjured up to date.
Taking the Narrative Back
Snake Eater ditched Solid Snake and Raiden’s current predicaments in a postmodern world to provide audiences with background knowledge and explanations for the previous chapters that came before it in what was intended to be Hideo Kojima’s final Metal Gear game at the time. Cold War political fiction and espionage thrillers from the game’s time period such as the Sean Connery and Roger Moore James Bond 007 films became the foundation for this entry’s story and tone; a balance of both goofiness and seriousness that is simply unmatched when compared to the rest of the series.
Metal Gear Solid 3 marked the beginning of a prequel series of games that would later proceed to continue after Solid Snake’s story had concluded in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Snake Eater threw players back in time to tackle the story of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake villain Big Boss, who was formerly referred to as three different names being John, Jack, and of course the iconic codename Naked Snake — the first character to take on the reptilian infiltration name.
Whereas Metal Gear Solid and Sons of Liberty questioned the fantasy aspects of the story, Snake Eater fully embraced the campiness that it provided. A gun-slinging, cat-growling GRU Major or a man who is able to manipulate bees are never questioned by the game’s characters. Nothing feels out of place due to how accepting everyone is of what is going on in their interpretation of history. The first fantasy aspect that players encounter is during the opening 5 minutes of the game when Naked Snake makes the HALO jump. The location the game takes place, Tselinoyarsk, is not the actual name of the location and isn’t an area of the world that has jungles.
Political fiction often comes into play during the story by incorporating real figures and the game’s characters into events that actually happened during the height of the Cold War. For example, Eva and Ocelot are depicted as the two NSA codebreakers, Martin and Mitchell, who defected to the Soviet Union. Weapons and designs featured in the game such as the hybrid screw-propelled metal gear, the Shagohod, are based on real blueprints for military weapons of the time period. While the story incorporates science fiction and fantasy aspects, the story still remains grounded and has its own limits even in gameplay.
A Whole New Meaning to Survival
When Hideo Kojima and Yoji Shinkawa saw the 1987 movie Predator, one concept from the film that stuck with them was how the technologically advanced alien Predator used camouflage within the jungle setting to stealthily take out a military rescue team lead by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Camouflage became part of the foundation for Snake Eater‘s gameplay that delved into the realism and campy side of the series. Players could swap outfits and face paints at any given moment to adapt to their current surroundings. The top right-hand corner has a camouflage index that constantly keeps track of how well-hidden you are in the environment.
Just as gadgets are a critical part of James Bond’s arsenal of weapons, Snake Eater saw the Metal Gear Solid series expand on the variety and utilization of items. The number of different ways to tackle standard environmental obstacles and boss battles was exponentially increased due to how many ways one could actually use their equipment. Grenades, lethal firearms, night-vision goggles, cigarettes, and even cardboard boxes all inherited a multi-functional philosophy that most players would never even discover unless they had experimented during their playthrough or were told to do a specific action. Even food became a weapon of war that could be used to poison and distract guards if it had gone spoiled.
On the topic of food, alongside the standard health bar, Snake has a stamina meter that must be ministered to constantly by eating foods found on-site and administering proper medical treatment. Animals, fruit, medicinal items, and various packaged resources must be collected and watched over throughout the game. All food items ran on a real-time clock leaving food to go unsanitary and rotten after a matter of real-time days.
The Beginning of Product Placement
The Metal Gear Solid series kickstarted Hideo Kojima’s constant usage of product placements within his games that are still ongoing today. These products include but are certainly not limited to clothing, accessories, toys, household items, and of course, food. Snake Eater began a trend of future Kojima Production games featuring real-life items that are purchasable in many small scale and large retail stores throughout Japan through the brand of nutritional energy bars and gels, CalorieMate.
The chocolate-flavored CalorieMate Block appeared in the original version of Snake Eater, while the maple-flavored kind replaced it in the HD Collection due to it being the latest flavor release at the time. Advertisements for CalorieMate during the game’s release showed Naked Snake holding a chocolate-flavored Block saying “If you wanna survive in the jungle, your going to need one of these.”
When initiating a Codec call with Paramedic after eating a CalorieMate Block, the character will question the legitimacy of the food. In reality, CalorieMate first released in 1983, contradicting the 1960’s setting of the story, therefore, making its placement in the game an anachronism; an object or person that is displaced in time.
A Legacy Worthy of The Big Boss Rank
At the time of Snake Eater’s release, although the game garnered a completely positive reception from critics with a 91 Metacritic score, it was highly debated whether the sequel-prequel was superior to the entries that came before it. Critics commonly praised the graphics and cinematics the game had to offer but questioned whether the gameplay was too complex for its own good. Snake Eater also had to ride the coattails of unsatisfied audiences originating from the previous entry’s lack of Solid Snake being the protagonist which ultimately lead to sales of the game being significantly lower than the previous Solid entries.
Over time, Snake Eater became the fan-favorite entry of the series and would go on to receive the most re-releases out of all the Metal Gear games to date. Most notably, in 2006 Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence expanded upon the online mode in the game and added a completely new third-person controlled camera system that enhanced the overall experience and became the right analog stick standard for future entries. Buyers of this version were also treated with the original two MSX Metal Gear games found on the main menu- the first time the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake had ever been localized outside of Japan.
2011 saw the release of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, a compilation title that included an updated version of Subsistence — arguably the best way to play Snake Eater today. In 2012 the game also saw a release on the Nintendo 3DS dubbed Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater which included a new real-life camera camouflage system and multiple gameplay changes inherited from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker to accommodate the 3DS’s lack of dual analog sticks.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a true patriot that definitively holds its ground against the rest of the series today due to its creative liberties that the series never quite revisited in complete depth. Hideo Kojima and his team of masterminds behind Kojima Productions are well deserved of a salute for the tremendous efforts they put into creating a groundbreaking title that forever changed what it meant to be a cinematic video game. From its action-packed plot to its cinematic orchestra inspired-score, even after 15 years the pure indigenous nature of creativity from the studio never ceases to amaze audiences.
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