Most of you grew up watching and loving TV shows from the '70s, '80s, and '90s — and perhaps some of you are even fans of earlier series from the '50s and '60s. Well, now it's time to think about which one of them you'd like to see turned into a modern-day video game.
Your choice is only limited by the fact that your nominated show must be from the last century. Once you've come up with your selection, please tell us a little about why you think it'd make a great game — perhaps by giving us an outline of how it might play.
While you take a trip down memory lane in search of the show you'd like to play on a modern console, here's what Team USG has chosen:
Back when I was a kid, there were two different shows on prime time about dudes who transformed: Manimal and Automan. The former was about a werewolf, while the latter was basically a giant Tron rip-off, not about a guy who turned into a car (that was the cartoon Turbo Teen. God, Reagan's America was so screwed up).
So anyway, I don't think either one necessarily would make for a great game on its own. But what if you combined them? I would absolutely love to see, in a twisted and admittedly ironic way, some developer acquire the rights to both of those TV shows (and you just know that '80s TV mogul Glen A. Larson, who produced both, is eyeballing those properties and wondering how he can cash in on the negligible nostalgia that exists for them) and combine them into a single property: Automanimal.
As to what form it should take… I leave that to some genius studio executive somewhere to decide. Should a tragic The Fly-like teleporter accident somehow cause Manimal and Automan to merge into a single being, creating an amazing fusion of special powers the results in a wolfman who can digitize himself and explore the virtual universe of the computer? Or should they team up, with Manimal fighting undead crime in the real world while Automan hacks vampire databases? I don't know, and honestly, I don't care. I just want it to happen, if only so that we have an ultimate example that we can hold up to demonstrate the creative toxicity of nostalgic pop culture recursiveness.
In that light, let's just make it a lazy iPhone game full of cheap Internet memes. Can Automan make all your base belong to him while Manimal dukes it out with Emperor Grumpy Cat? Who cares! Let's burn all pop culture to the ground!
I read Cyborg, the book upon which this seminal TV show is based, when I was very young, and it had a huge impact on me. The idea of bionic parts being used to not only piece together a broken man, but to turn him into some kind of superhero just blew my nine-year-old mind. And when the book became a TV series and was shown on British TV, it immediately became a lifelong favorite.
So the thought of seeing Steve Austin getting a second chance to strut his funky bionic stuff in a modern-day video game is hugely appealing to me. I'd keep it strictly period, and have it set during the series' heyday of the mid-70's. An accurate period soundtrack would also be key, as well as Mr. Austin's penchant for safari suits and shirts with collars the size of a Boeing 747's wings. I mean, how much cooler could you get?
I'm thinking of a gun-free, third-person action game, with heavy stealth elements and plenty of puzzles involving his bionic arm, legs and eye (jumping, running, hand-to-eye coordination, visual analysis etc). Since Steve's arm has a built-in Geiger counter, the underlying theme of the game could well be Cold War nuclear-inspired - something that was never far away in the series. Perhaps an OSI mission in which Austin has to track down and disarm missing nuclear weapons in a pseudo-Bond, megalomaniacal plot. I'd love the game to perhaps feature the Bionic Man's nemesis, Maskotron - an android packing similar bionic-style technology to Steve's own implants. That could make for a really fun set piece or two.
Since bionics can be messed with via ultrasonics and temperature fluctuations, particularly cold, some interesting puzzles could be brought into play. And because the Bionic Man is ultimately human, there are plenty of other threats that could be introduced into the environment to ratchet up the challenge. The game could essentially have a "realistic" feel within the boundaries of its own limitations.
I think all that could add up to a really entertaining and fairly original game - one that you wouldn't necessarily have to know the source material to enjoy. I'd get a kick just out of hearing the theme tune at the start of the game! Oh, and those classic Bionic sound effects. Boop-boop-boop-boop-boop!
Let's be honest, The Prisoner is one of the best television mini-series ever and it was far ahead of its time when it first aired in 1967. The British series was written and directed by Patrick McGoohan, who also happened to star in it. The show followed the trials and tribulations of an unnamed Secret Service agent who finds himself drugged and kidnapped upon resignation. He wakes up in a sleepy seaside town called The Village (the real-life town of Portmeirion, which still looks exactly the same as it does in the series).
The agent is given a new name, Number 6, and introduced to the status quo. Every other citizen of the island is in the same boat and they continue to live a comfortable existence as long as they toe the line and conform to their new situation. Every episode of the show involved Number 6's various attempts to escape from the island, And every episode brought Number 6 face-to-face with a new Number 2. Each Number 2 attempted to break Number 6's spirit and determine his real reason for resigning from the Secret Service; each failed and was in turn replaced.
“I will not make any deals with you. I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own. I resign," Number 6 famously said in the series.
The Prisoner was a wonderful exploration of individual freedom, conformity, and oppression. Even better, the show was just plain weird. Parades, parasols, giant chess games, and big white enforcement balloons were the norm. There's so much material that would make an excellent adventure, especially in the Telltale style. Episodic Prisoner adventures? Sign me up!
It was either this or Twin Peaks, and they've already announced a Twin Peaks revival, so I'm going with The Prisoner.
My heart broke the day that Sierra's Yosemite Entertainment was shut down, effectively taking the Babylon 5 flight sim with them. I had so been looking forward to experiencing Newtonian space physics from the comfort of a Starfury cockpit, but it wasn't to be.
In the mid-to-late 90s, I was a huge fan of the J. Michael Straczynski's sci-fi opus, following it obsessively from the end of the second season on through its move to TNT and the (admittedly really bad) made-for-TV movies. A rousing space opera that borrowed from Tolkien and classic sci-fi alike, it was decidedly ahead of its time with its then-novel use of serialized storylines and CGI special effects. It admittedly doesn't hold up very well, particularly the overwrought dialogue and the cut-rate acting; but when this show is cooking, it's still deeply enjoyable. "Severed Dreams" and "The Coming of Shadows" are still two of my favorite hours of television ever.
Throughout the show's run, I hoped against hope that someone would come to their senses and make a game based on the Babylon 5 license, but no game seemed forthcoming. Finally, Sierra answered my prayers with a space combat sim slated to be released in 1999; but ultimately, nothing came of it. An attempt to resurrect it on the Xbox was likewise unsuccessful.
These days, Babylon 5 is largely forgotten despite repeated efforts by its creator to revive it as a feature film, with its contributions to serialized television having been buried by The Sopranos and those that followed it. Among gamers, it's mostly remembered via mods and fan projects like this one. I've long since given up hope of a resurrection for the series in the popular media (no, I don't think the new movie is getting made either), contenting myself with the knowledge that the original story was finished, and that it was ultimately quite good.
If someone came out and made an actual Babylon 5 space combat simulator using 21st century technology though? Oh yeah, I would buy that in a nanosecond. Where's Kickstarter when you really need it?
Konami's 1991 adaptation of The Simpsons just might be my favorite arcade game of all time. Sure, it's just a simple brawler based on a very familiar template, but the developers went above and beyond to convince passersby to surrender their valuable quarters--25 cents could nearly get you a menu item from Taco Bell back then! Even if they didn't get all of the details exactly right, The Simpsons arcade game remains a gorgeous love letter to the first few seasons of the show.
It's a shame, then, that King of the Hill didn't come into being just a half-decade earlier, because Mike Judge's tribute to/takedown of Middle America deserves the same intriguingly bizarre treatment. So, that's my pitch: King of the Hill interpreted through the same off-kilter lens that made Konami's The Simpsons so compelling--and since this is supposed to be a "modern" game, make it a neo-retro dealie, like the semi-recent Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
If you think about it, King of the Hill provides the perfect cast for a four-player brawler. You have Hank Hill, skilled in the art of old-fashioned Texas ass-kicking, Dale Gribble, with his trusty pocket sand and squirrel tactics, the sheer mass of Bill "The Billdozer" Dauterive, and Boomhauer's… well, I'm sure they could make him a ninja or something. And, just as Konami's The Simpsons turned Mr. Smithers into a jewel thief/mad bomber, this hypothetical King of the Hill: The Arcade Game could play just as fast and loose with the series' rules. Let's say Hank's rival M.F. Thatherton steals Arlen's entire propane supply to build his evil empire, forcing the town to grill their food with inferior combustibles. The only solution? Revenge against anyone who would do evil in the name of Sweet Lady Propane.
Unfortunately, the chances of this idea ever happening remain pretty low, despite King's recent resurgence thanks to countless reruns on Adult Swim. As it stands, the show's single video game adaptation took the form of a mini-game collection so lousy, few traces of it can be found on the Internet--hell, even Beavis and Butt-head got a pretty great LucasArts-style adventure game. So I've come to terms with the fact that this KIng of the Hill brawler will never be a real thing, despite being one of the best got-dang ideas for a vidya game anyone's ever thunk up. I tell you hwat.
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