Tag Archives: Aliens

Games That Aren’t Based On Movies…Honest!

When it comes to gaming, the movie license genre can be very hit or miss – with many, many more misses than hits. For every awesome GoldenEye 007 there’s a dozen or so Charlie’s Angels, Fight Club, Batman Forever and so on. The main thing about the movie licensed game is timing as developers/publishers want the game out in shops when the movie is in the cinema. A good film can result in a well selling game regardless of quality. Another factor of the licensed game is the cost as money has to go toward not only developing the game itself and paying all those wages of everyone that works on it, but there is also the cost of the licence itself. The bigger and more famous the movie, the more the studio want for the licence to make a game based on it. So what if a developer doesn’t really feel like paying for a movie license? Just make the game anyway and change a few details and claim the game is ‘inspired by’ instead of ‘based on’.

So here I’m going to take a quick look at a few games that are very clearly ‘inspired by’ movies but most definitely not ‘based on’ them…honest!

Werewolves of London

Werewolves of London.jpg

Developed by Viz Design and released for the  ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 in 1987. Interestingly, the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC versions were released on the same cassette as a ‘flippy’ with the Spectrum version on one side and the Amstrad on the other, probably to save production costs.

The basic plot of the game has you playing as a character who is cursed with Lycanthropy and you have to find the people who put the curse on you and kill them. An interesting action game with some light strategy elements. But the game was released unfinished as original publisher, Ariolasoft ended up going bankrupt. You play as a human but when the in-game timer hits midnight, your werewolf side comes out. This is when you are hunted by the folk of London as well as the police. The more people you kill and the more active the police become. Avoid the police and kill those who put the curse on you to win the game.

Werewolf of London Poster

I suppose that 1981’s An American Werewolf in London would be the obvious reference with this game and there are definitely elements of the film in there. But I think it’s biggest influence would be the 1935 flick, Werewolf of London. The plot of the film features a character who is bitten by a werewolf while on an expedition to Tibet and infected with Lycanthropy. Back home in London and he manages to track down the person/werewolf who bit him, who is now in London and seeks his revenge.

Alien Breed

Alien Breed.jpg

A simple top-down arcade shooter that takes inspiration from the arcade classic Gauntlet but wearing a nice Sci-Fi hat. Developed and published by Team 17 in 1991 originally for the Amiga – though other ports soon followed. Alien Breed became a successful franchise with numerous sequels, updates and even remakes.

The game has a simple enough goal of getting the the end of the level to progress to the next. The goal itself may be simple but actually achieving it is not as each level is full of aliens and locked doors to hinder your progress. Thankfully each level is littered with power-ups and credits that you can pick up and spend in terminals to buy new weapons and upgrades.

Aliens

Do I really need to mention which film(s) this game series is inspired by? Alien and its sequel Aliens are the all too obvious influences here. In fact the original Alien Breed game was so much like the Alien films (in particular the alien designs and weapons) that developer Team 17 actually approached 20th Century Fox who own the Alien film rights and asked for permission to make the game, which Fox happily agreed to. So Alien Breed is technically approved by but not based on the Alien films.

I feel a couple of honorable mentions need to go to Alien Syndrome and the Contra franchise who’s games are also very clearly influenced by the Alien films.

Zombi

Zombi

Ubi Soft are one of the biggest developer/publishers working today with successful franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Watch Dogs to name a few. Back in 2012 they released a zombie survival game called Zombi U for the Nintendo Wii which was later ported to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360. Not many people know that Zombi U was actually a reboot of their very first game released back in 1986, Zombi.

An action/adventure game where you control four protagonists who find themselves stuck in a huge shopping mall full of zombies. You must scavenge the mall for anything to help you battle the unrelenting zombie hordes. Search shops for guns and supplies as you fight to keep your four heroes alive and find fuel for an awaiting helicopter on the roof to make your escape.

Dawn of the Dead

All of this should sound very familiar to any self-respecting horror film fan. Ubi Soft’s Zombi is basically an unofficial game version of the George A. Romero classic zombie flick Dawn of the Dead. Its the exact same plot and the game features several elements taken directly from the film including using trucks to block the entrances to the mall and a gang of bikers who turn up adding to the zombie chaos. Just as an interesting aside, the movie Dawn of the Dead was re-titled Zombi for some European counties including France where Ubi Soft originated from.

Speaking of Dawn of the Dead…

Dead Rising

Dead Rising.jpg

Capcom released the first Dead Rising in 2006 with the latest in the series released in 2016. Several spin-offs and remakes have been released along the way too. All in all, Dead Rising is a pretty successful franchise in its own right. Each game has its own unique setting, but its the first game in the franchise that we need to take a look at here.

Playing as photojournalist, Frank West – you find yourself in a shopping mall that becomes overrun with zombies. Explore the mall, search shops for weapons and save survivors along the way…any of this sound familiar?

Yup, we have another zombie survival game inspired by Dawn of the Dead. In fact, Capcom were so worried about facing backlash form George A, Romero that the original print run for the game came with a disclaimer on the cover that read:

“This game was not developed, approved or licensed by the owners or creators of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.”

Dead Rising Disclaimer Cover.jpg

While Dead Rising only used a similar setting to Dawn of the Dead (unlike Ubi Soft’s Zombie with just ripped it off completely – story and all), you still feel the George A. Romero influence throughout and despite what Capcom may claim, its pretty obvious that Dawn of the Dead was a major inspiration.

Shadowrun

Shadowrun

So there have been several Shadowrun games over the years but I’ll be looking at the SNES version for this one. The games are most directly based on the tabletop RPG board game series but that itself is inspired by a certain movie. The SNES version of Shadowrun was released in 1993 by developer Beam Software.

Set in a cyberpunk-fantasy, dystopian future where you play as a Jake Armitage who wakes up in a morgue with complete memory loss and has to investigate who he is and why he woke up in a morgue. Jake explores the city interrogating civilians and being attacked by cybernetically enhanced humans.

Blade Runner

Story wise, they are nothing alike (the story is actually based on the first Shadowrun novel – Never Deal with a Dragon) but its the setting and overall look that makes Shadowrun very, very similar to the 1982 Sci-Fi classic Blade Runner. The look of the characters, the lexicon the dialogue is written in, the weapons, the overall art style, etc all have a very distinct Blade Runner look and feel to them and all make the SNES version of Shadowrun one of the best (none) Blade Runner games.

Another couple of notable mentions to the games Snatcher and Syndicate as other Blade Runner-esque titles.


There are several other games that are quite clearly ‘inspired by’ other movies, but I’ll save those for another time.

Game Over Man, Game Over! Remembering Bill Paxton

Well this is a kick to the scrotum – we recently lost Bill Paxton and right here, I’d like to remember the man, his career and reveal what Bill was doing the day that JFK was assassinated.

Bill was born in Texas on the 17th May 1955. His first acting job was in a movie called Crazy Mama from 1975, where he played a small uncredited role. He directed and starred in the all too strange and surreal video to the Barnes & Barnes song Fish Heads in 1980.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. You want to know about that JFK connection right? Well…

The above photo is on display At The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Its a photo of the gathering crowd outside the hotel that JFK was staying in on the 22nd of November, 1963 and it was taken in the morning just as JFK was setting out for his what would be a fatal tour of Dallas, Texas. See that 8 year old boy being lifted above the crowd in the back? That’s Bill Paxton.

Anyway, back to Bill’s movie career. He managed to get a few small roles through the early 80s in movies including Stripes (1981), Night Warning (1982), Streets Of Fire (1984) among others. Yet it was a small role playing a spiky, blue haired street punk in some young and unknown film director’s low budget flick called The Terminator from 1984 that most movie fans remember seeing Bill for the first time.

He may have had the first line in the movie, but he learns the hard way that you just do not pull a flick-knife on a killer cyborg sent from the future. This small role kick-started a long friendship and career with director James Cameron. Bill and James collaborated several times through the years including True Lies (1994) and Titanic (1997). The duo even teamed up for a documentary on the real Titanic called Ghosts of the Abyss released in 2003. And yes, of course James gave Bill his breakthrough role as Private Hudson in the 1986 sequel – Aliens.

Yet there is one more collaboration between Bill and James that not too many people are aware of. You see, in 1982 Bill formed a musical band called; Martini Ranch. They released a song called Reach and the video was directed by none other than James Cameron. The music video is worth watching to see how many other The Terminator and Aliens alumni you can spot. But be on the look out for Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser and Jenette Goldstein.

Bill continued to forge himself a career as an actor through the 80s and 90s in films and TV. His many, many appearances include; Commando, Back to Back, Next of Kin, Brain Dead, Trespass, Predator 2, Tombstone, Apollo 13 and Twister just to name a few.

By the mid-late 90s, Bill was getting more and more roles. With his performance in the Sam Raimi’s tense thriller A Simple Plan from 1998 being one of my personal favourites.

All through the 2000s, he was continually working in movies and TV. Frasier, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Thunderbirds, 2 Guns, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all featured Bill. He even starred in a sequel TV show to the Denzel Washington movie, Training Day. And I can’t forget the Groundhog Day-esque Edge of Tomorrow where Bill acted alongside Tom Cruise from 2014.

From the morning of the JFK assassination of 1963 and his cheeky appearance to his as yet unreleased movie; The Circle where Bill will be seen acting with Tom Hanks, John Boyega and Emma Watson. Bill had an impressive, long and varied career. But I have always found it strange how he never really become the big leading man in the movies. A handful of larger roles aside, he always seemed to be a secondary character – and I’ve saved the best until last…

Even with over 90 roles in music videos, TV shows, documentaries and of course movies. There is one character in one film that I will always remember Bill Paxton for. You can keep your Private Hudson and Aliens. This is the Bill Paxton I’ll always remember.

chet-monster-gif

From the John Hughes classic Weird Science – the lovable asshole that is Chet Donnelly. I love this character so damn much even though he’s horrible, overbearing and does nothing but terrorise and bully his younger brother Wyatt throughout the film.

Chet is just so damn memorable with so many quotable lines.

But first I’d like to… butter your muffin.

That’s not a joke, that’s a severe behavioural disorder. I mean, the next thing you know, you’ll be wearing a bra on your head!

Not having a good time? Do you think they’re having a good time being catatonic in a closet?

How ’bout a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?

I’m gonna tell Mom and Dad everything. I’m even considering makin’ up some shit!

You two donkey-dicks couldn’t get laid in a morgue.

You’re stewed, buttwad!

And my all time favourite Chet Donnelly line from Weird Science

An accident? An accident? Do you realise it’s snowing in my room goddammit!

I really need to go and re-watch Weird Science for the 157th time.

Bill Paxton died on the 25th February 2017 due to complications from surgery. He was 61.

Thanks for the movie memories Bill.

Anyone who’s worked very hard on a craft or an art to get a certain precision in terms of execution and performance wants to get past all that stuff that holds you up – your ego, all the doubts.