Smile for the Bat

Admit it: Most video game adaptations suck.

This usually stands true, and I anticipate the upcoming Men in Black Game to fit that niche like a glove. However, this editorial won’t be about bashing video game adaptations (although some of their developers do deserve an impersonal online thrashing). Rather, I’ll be analyzing what several video game adaptations have accomplished as a result of their greater degree of creative expansion than movies.

Take, for example, the adaptation of Zathura. First, a little background: While its movie counterpart did fairly well, the game pretty much crashed and burned in the public light. Now, speaking for myself, having fallen for the standard trap of exaggerated content on the back of the PS2 version during the 2005 holiday season, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of content and events included that wasn’t incorporated into the movie. What does this add? For me, it more greatly expands on the book the movie was based on, which was also similar to the plot of the Robin Williams classic, Jumanji.

But I digress. What does it really all mean, in the context of Zathura? Expanding content to cover things that a movie didn’t/couldn’t adds single-player value, but development is ultimately useless if the consumers (a.k.a. us) are dissatisfied, or worse, deterred by low-scored reviews. Regardless of the effectiveness and the “fun” of the gameplay or story, I enjoy playing any game to experience all of the many flavors out there. That being said, I now move on to two other examples of video game adaptations.

Perhaps more nostalgic than my previous example, the Star Wars video game series, across all its many universes, is, was, and probably will remain an effective and strong video game adaptation franchise. While the original and prequel movie trilogies shine in their own right and can never be matched or surpassed, the videogame expansions touch base on events, places, and characters that were either never or inadequately addressed by the movies. As in my previous discussion on Zathura, the many adaptations of Star Wars have explored various concepts that the movies didn’t. My three favorites among these adaptations, and I apologize in advance if you think I missed out on some other critically-acclaimed Star Wars games, are Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (as-yet unplayed for me), and Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. Each had their individual uniqueness and flavor, and each added greatly to the Star Wars universe.

If any had the most radical change, it would be the Force Unleashed  franchise. Why? The concept of having to make a choice in a game that leads to long-lasting consequences is captivating for many players, and thus is something that many developers look into with interest. Choice-driven gameplay is what makes games like Heavy Rain  so successful, or at the very least, highly anticipated. With that in mind, choice in the Force Unleashed franchise, albeit somewhat narrow and linear in nature, was the driving force for many consumers to buy into the first and its sequel, though I haven’t yet. Next, let’s look at the cover image game, Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Why so serious? With that bad reference in mind, let me begin. Batman: Arkham Asylum will no doubt be familiar to most of you, as it’s sequel is widely well-praised. Anyway, I really haven’t played either yet (I know, shame on me…), but I can say they must have both been near-perfect, and for good reason. That level of recognition and critical acclaim, and Game of the Year awards, is the sweet spot for many developers, and their developers, Rocksteady Studios, have every right to be proud of their work. But what makes it awesome? Is it any one thing? My opinion: Hell no. Good games are always combinations of many different factors, but I’d say probably the gameplay is the biggest influence. Other Batman games have tried and failed to capture the same feeling of epic fist-fighting and classic use of utility-belt mayhem and confusion, but only these Rocksteady got it just right. Of course, the graphics, atmosphere, and puzzles also add to the experience, but gameplay really nailed it for most buyers. So, final verdict? Can’t really say, but it must be good. Finally, we next examine Toy Story 3.

I know, I know, why even bother with wasting my time on a kid’s game. Ah, but there is your first mistake, my readers. You must play them all to know what truly is your preferred game genre. I myself break these very words, since I’ve never played fighting or horror games for myself, and yet I stick to my comfort zone: action-adventure. But that’s where Toy Story 3 takes pride in: action-adventure, in a kid-friendly manner of course. Now, assuming you’ve stayed with me all this way (I know I ramble alot), Toy Story 3 loosely follows the plot of the movie. There is an open-world section I’ll talk about next, but that comes later. For me, as a gamer somewhere between casual and hardcore (I’ll stick with moderate), I love to completely clear the single-player portion of a game before moving on to the other parts of a game, and Toy Story 3 is no different. In terms of just the SP, Toy Story 3 deviates from the film for the better, providing comedic levels with a completely fictional element, utilizing the imagination of a young girl in possession of Woody during playtime. Detailing anything else would be spoiling, so I’ll stop there.

Now, about that open-world section. Titled Woody’s Roundup, you’re the sheriff of a town that you need to populate, upgrade, and defend, while other outer-lying sectors need to be visited in order to obtain complete quests and obtain additional customization items for your town. Think of Civilization with a tinge more of comedy, fantasy, and animation. Finally, and this is my favorite, only for the PS3 version, you can collect all of the scattered pieces of Zurg and play as Zurg in Woody’s Roundup (those of you familiar with the Toy Story film trilogy will know who Zurg is, but if not, here you go).

It was a long post, but I thought it necessary to break down each game as best I could. This being my first post on OnlySP.com, please post any suggestions/comments below, they are welcome and appreciated!!!

Cedric Lansangan

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