4 Hollywood Trends Video Games Need To Steal (And A Couple They Don’t)

By: 04.16.14  •  21 Comments
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Marvel Studios/Nintendo

Video games have wanted to be movies since the time video games were invented, and yet oddly today’s game industry is ignoring a lot of what’s going on in Hollywood. Now don’t get me wrong, video games and movies are different mediums, and there’s value in each doing their own thing, but the video game industry is leaving a lot of money on the table by not yanking the following ideas from Hollywood…

The Avengers

How is there not a video game Avengers yet? No, not a video game about the The Avengers (there’s a few of those) — an Avengers-like team made up of video game characters. I mean, I guess Nintendo has Smash Bros. but that’s not quite the same thing.

If Nintendo was serious about pulling themselves out of their current doldrums, they’d announce new Mario, Zelda, Metroid and Star Fox games at this year’s E3, each of which would have a post-credits scene that leads to the SUPER MEGA MINDBLOWING CROSSOVER game in 2016. Stop trying to cobble together a movie universe with nothing but Spider-Man, and do it with your video game properties instead, Sony. Stop doing, uh, whatever it is that you’re doing Capcom and give us a Mega Man/Resident Evil/Street Fighter mashup.

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Scholastic/Lionsgate

Don’t tell me you’re not interested in controlling Jennifer Lawrence.

YA Novel Adaptations

How much better would The Hunger Games have been as a video game? The movies are decent enough excuses to gaze at Jennifer Lawrence for two hours, but a Hunger Games video game would have actually let you play through The Hunger Games. Publishers need to be keeping both eyes on the young adult fiction market so they can bring the next sparkly vampire/child murder phenomenon to the video game market first.

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Disney

Thanks to this movie, most kids are probably more familiar with Q*Bert than Nathan Drake or Master Chief. 

CGI Cartoons

What’s the most popular thing in movie theatres after superheroes? Colorful computer generated cartoons. Video games were founded on wacky cartoon characters havin’ adventures, and yet around the same time Hollywood started raking in billions on CGI cartoons, the video game industry abandoned its mascots. Wreck-It Ralph makes 500 million dollars and the video game industry just shrugs, and continues making brown-grey “realistic” shooters. The kind of mediocre Lego series has sold over 100-million copies largely because they’re the only colorful, lighthearted games on the market.

The Xbox One and PS4 can output Pixar-level visuals. Imagine if you will — a new Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokemon movie comes out and you can pay 10 dollars just to watch the movie, or pay 30 dollars and take home an interactive version of the movie. Every action scene from the movie would be playable at home featuring visuals that are a match for what you just saw on the big screen. It would be huge. Yes, video games can be gritty and “mature” — that’s been exhaustively proven over the past couple decades. It’s time to lighten up again.

Remakes

Yeah, I know, movie remakes usually suck — why would we want video games to copy this heinous Hollywood trend? Well, because video game remakes work much better than movie remakes.

Movies are a relatively static medium — unless you’re talking about big, effects-driven blockbusters, movies from the 60s, 80s or 2000s are essentially the same. The hairstyles and slang changes, but the basic visual language and techniques are the same. As such, most movie remakes are about retelling a story that was probably told pretty darn well in the first place. There’s not a lot of point.

Video games on the other hand are rarely about the story. They’re about an experience. They’re toys, and toys can always be improved, particularly when you consider how rapidly the technology behind video games advances. A video game from the 80s and one from the 2000s are definitely not the same. We groan every time Hollywood dredges up another beloved classic from our childhoods, but come on, who wouldn’t want to play a beautiful, crisp, HD version of the original Super Mario Bros? A 3D remake of Super Metroid? A lavish modern retelling of Final Fantasy IV? It’s time the video game industry stopped letting their classics collect dust in the attic.

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Of course, not every Hollywood trend is worth emulating. Here’s a few video games should stay far away from…

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Sony

Ready to wear this on your head for future six-hour gaming binges?

3D and Other Assorted Gimmicks

3D, IMAX, special chairs that jab you in the butt — movies are all about the gimmicks meant to “immerse you in the movie” (and immerse more of your money in Hollywood’s vast cash pool) and video games seem to want to follow suit. A couple years ago, there was a lot of talk about video game support for 3D TVs, and now everyone’s jumping aboard the VR bandwagon with the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. Well, even Mark Zuckerberg is wrong sometimes.

People are willing to pay a small amount of money to rent some dorky glasses and sit with a bunch of other people who look similarly dorky. It’s a shared dorky experience. It’s okay. People aren’t willing to spend large quantities of money to look like dorks in their own homes. Until 3D and VR is cheap and requires no goofy headwear, it’s not going to catch on, no matter how good the effect is, and even if it does get to that point, I’m not sure 3D and VR really works for video games. I find passively sitting through a 90-minute 3D movie stressful enough on my eyes and stomach. Being actively engaged in a video game for two or three hours while wearing a VR headset may actually kill me.

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The epic conclusion to the Super Mario Trilogy!

Trilogies

Not everything has to come in threes. Also, don’t bulls–t us — stop pretending every time a series just happens to make it to a third entry that you intended to do a trilogy all along.

What movie trends do you think video games should be cribbing? Agree with my picks/think they’ll destroy gaming as we know it? Hit the comments and let’s discuss.

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