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Pitches for the Nintendo movies I’d like to make

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In a recent interview with Fortune, master game creator Shigeru Miyamoto hinted that Nintendo might be open to discussions about the possibility of the company getting involved in movies again. Whether that means more internal productions, like Miyamoto’s own Pikmin shorts, or god forbid another live-action adaptation of one of its iconic franchises, is anyone’s guess. Our NXpress podcast crew recently discussed the idea a bit, and their unanimous conclusion that if anything was going to get the Hollywood treatment it should be Metroid, as well as the news that FOX is developing a Mega Man movie, got my inner screenwriter thinking: what Nintendo game worlds are most ripe for the film world? And more so, what kind of movies would I personally make them? Anything could be animated, so that’s too easy; live-action only is the name of this game. Of course the company is so damn careful with their image these days, most of these incredibly amazing ideas probably would never get through the door, but here are my top five pitches for Nintendo movies I’d like to pen:

zelda-movie

 

5) The Legend of Zelda

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Link shouldn’t talk. Ever. I wouldn’t give him one peep to speak for the entire running time, and it would work. How? Easy. Just pair him up with someone more important to the actual plot and let that character talk their head off, Steve Buscemi-style. The titular princess herself should do nicely, in a melancholy, guilty-about-the-fate-of-her-people kind of way. Link is the wandering hero, a man out of place and time with no connections to the world anymore, only a vague prophecy deeming him a savior of the ages, preventing him from having a life of his own. What could he possibly have to say? Fate sucks. Instead it would be Zelda who drives the story, a woman fighting for the freedom of her oppressed Hyrulian kingdom. Escaping from the clutches of Ganon’s moblin minions, she bumps into the reluctant green-clad warrior (who just wants to be left alone) and drags him into his “destiny”, teaming up with an assortment of classic Nintendo weirdos like The Postman and Beedle along the way to form a ragtag band of misfits set to take on the evil plaguing the land. Link learns to accept his mythological role in the universe, and Zelda goes from princess to queen the moment she pierces Ganon’s swinish heart with the metaphorical Light Arrow. Naturally, Tingle makes an appearance as an Obi-Wan Kenobi figure who everyone pretends somehow is perfectly acceptable.

One Line: Willow meets Mad Max: Fury Road.

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4) F-Zero

If you’re like me and saw Speed Racer three times in a row on a flight back from Europe, then you know exactly why I’d be super excited for this franchise to make the leap to the big screen, but add to the acid-trip visuals a darker zaniness showcasing the enormous pressure and emotional peaks and valleys accompanying racing F-Zero machines powered by G-Diffusers in the 24th Century’s F-Max Grand Prix, and you’ve got a mainstream megahit. Humans and aliens mix together (in every way imaginable), as the first tournament in seven years after the death of the legendary Sterling LaVaughn in the “Horrific Finale” is about to take place. A new champion will be crowned by the wealthy industrialists who medicate the galaxy’s peons with gladiatorial racing and illegal narcotics smuggling. Bounty hunter Captain Falcon goes undercover as he competes both on the track and off the track with his arch nemesis Samurai Goroh, a criminal mastermind and former partner on the force who burned him big time. Falcon seeks to stay focused on exacting revenge from his old “friend” while slowly succumbing to the drug-fueled hardcore party lifestyle of his fellow adrenaline junkies. Spectacular crashes occur.

One Line: Speed Racer meets the chariot race in Ben Hur meets Trainspotting.

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3) Punch Out!

Little Mac has finally made it to the top. After flattening the beast that was Mike Tyson Mr. Dream, he’s bigger than the Italian Stallion and Drederick Tatum combined. But with wealth and power comes decadence, and Mac falls victim to the old axiom that mo money equals mo problems. Ignoring Doc’s sage advice to join a wholesome club, he mixes business with pleasure and winds up on the wrong side of a Mafia debt. Over-sexed and over-boozed, he fires Doc in a drunken rage, takes a dive in his title defense, and watches everything he fought for crumble away until he’s just another bum without a gym locker. No mansion, no ex-model girlfriend, no friends. Give up? Retire? No way. Hat in hand, Mac seeks out his old mentor, dons that handsome pink jogging suit, and starts training for his comeback. Refusing to compromise his integrity this time around and declining to play ball with the Mafia, Mac is faced into taking on organized crime’s best bruisers in the ring, who will stop at nothing to prevent him from exposing their fight-fixing racket. Guys whose names clearly telegraph their day jobs as hired goons, like Glass Joe, Bald Bull, Don Flamenco, and King Hippo line up one by one with blatantly illegal tricks up their sleeves, but each also with a fatal flaw that takes Mac back to where he began, where he must choose once again between the glory of the belt or the righteousness of justice.

One Line: Cinderella Man meets Goodfellas.

animal-crossing-movie

 

2) Animal Crossing

It’s a classic setup: newcomer arrives in a cheery, idyllic town only to discover that everything isn’t quite what it seems… One summer morning, a woman disembarks the ten o’clock steam train at Animal Crossing station, her entire worldly possessions fit neatly into two travel-worn suitcases, ready to start her new life of freedom from employment. Helped by a porter named Porter and not weirded out at all by the fact that he’s a humanoid monkey, the woman, who the rest of the anthropomorphic multi-species population refer to simply as The Villager, purchases an overpriced home and settles into the charming, bucolic lifestyle of randomly planting flowers, shaking trees for food, fishing for rent, and figuring out how to make decorating one room in a small hut somehow interesting. Life is good, the world is in harmony, at peace. Seasons change, however, and once the leaves begin to fall, The Villager notices that her good friend Boomer, a lazy penguin and possible pilot, has mysteriously stopped coming around and asking her to run useless errands in exchange for cheap t-shirts or wallpaper. Hey, no big deal; people come and go in Animal Crossing all the time, right?. Maybe. Or maybe one night blues guitarist K.K. Slider lets a secret slip from the shadows of Club LOL that sets The Villager down a quaint walking path to uncover the dark and twisted secrets buried beneath the rustic façade. Hint: it’s not just dinosaur bones.

One Line: The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Down a Mountain meets Twin Peaks.

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Metroid

Was there ever any doubt? This needs to play out like the majority of the games, where isolation and exploration are the overriding elements. Bounty hunter Samus Aran has crash-landed on an uninhabited planet on the far edges of a frontier system, shot down in her never-ending pursuit of the Space Pirates. Surviving with all of her powers intact (amazingly), she is marooned in the dense jungle environment, solitary outside of her Wilson, the silky-voiced onboard operating system, A.D.A.M.. Work begins on repairing her ship, but lacking the proper materials she comes to the realization that she may be stuck. Days go by, with Samus setting out into the unknown, expanding her knowledge of the environment, alert to the dangerous alien world around her, occasionally having to kill some of it. The ruins of an ancient civilization, long extinct, provide not-at-all-boring data scan points, filling her in on the tragic downfall of the native culture, and hinting at the foolish bio-engineering of a creature so deadly its propagation could threaten all existence in the universe. One night while quietly eating rations and contemplating the campfire, she hears the familiar but dreaded croaking chirp, and discovers that the life-draining metroids she had hoped were eradicated live on, subject to the experimentations at a secret research facility run by her enemies. Despite Samus’ cautious approach, A.D.A.M. curiously insists on infiltration of the base, and so duty-bound she enters, ready to face the terror of her nightmares and confront the lethal grotesqueries of the Space Pirate organization, only to deal with ultimate betrayal by her own species and the resignation that she is all alone in the universe.

One Line: It would be easy to say Alien meets Castaway, but I’m going with All is Lost meets 2001: A Space Odyssey meets 28 Days Later.

Personally, I’d rather Nintendo never get into the movie business, but if they do, I hope they don’t play it safe (please, oh please let me do Animal Crossing). So those are my pitches; what Nintendo franchises would you like to see turned into movies?

Patrick Murphy grew up in the hearty Midwest, where he spent many winter hours watching movies and playing video games while waiting for baseball season to start again. When not thinking of his next Nintendo post or writing screenplays to satisfy his film school training, he’s getting his cinema fix as the Editor of Sordid Cinema, Goomba Stomp's Film and TV section.

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‘New Super Lucky’s Tale’ is Polished, Pleasing Platforming

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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.

New Super Lucky's Tale carnival

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.

New Super Lucky's Tale factory

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.

New Super Lucky's Tale farm

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. 

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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.

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max raid battles

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.

max raid battles

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.

max raid battles

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.

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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.

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Metal Gear Solid 3

“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

Metal Gear Solid 3
“Snake, try and remember some of the basics of CQC.”

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 PatriotsSnake 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.

Revolver Ocelot’s gun-slinging pre-boss cutscene was completely animated through motion capture footage.

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

Fun Fact: Kojima has gone on record saying that Naked Snake’s favorite CalorieMate Block is the chocolate-flavored line (rightfully for promotional reasons!).

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.

Snake Eater 3D Limited Edition Bundle included a ‘Snake Skin’ themed standard 3DS (only released in Japan).

2011 saw the release of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collectiona 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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