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The Top 7... Geek movies that should never become games

Having brought the heist, crime-drama and blaxploitation genres into the modern era by adding car-trunk POV shots and discussions of obscure TV shows, Quentin Tarantino turned his attention to proving a truth known by geeks and stoners alike: shitty kung-fu movies rule. Unsure whether to take the Kill Bill flicks as exceptionally good pap or uncommonly entertaining cinema, audiences rejoiced regardless – none more so than geeks and stoners.

Seems like a great idea because: Having given the gaming world Reservoir Dogs –“Acceptable,” we gushed – the only way is up for Tarantino-based games. If any Tarantino movie was worth interactive reinvention, it'd be one in which dialogue was unusually sparse and there were more swords than skinny black ties.

But actually: Stop and think about the pivotal action scenes of Kill Bill. With the exception of the legendary Crazy Eights battle, they're either one-on-one scraps between Uma Thurman and a well-cast guest star, or Thurman performing game-unfriendly feats like moving a toe or one-inch-punching her way out of a coffin. If that sends your mind to the logical place - “that's easy, just do it as a one-on-one fighter with QTE bonus sequences!” - ask yourself: does that actually sound like a game you'd want to play? Maybe that's why it was cancelled.

Instead, try: Try pretending Red Steel had been hyped as a curiously male-centric Kill Bill adaptation/expansion instead of a system-defining Wii blockbuster. See if your interpretation of Red Steel, in this context, is at least marginally less crushingly disappointing. We’d suggest the vastly superior sequel, but it’s all Western instead of modern-day ninja ballet.

1 - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Wrath of Khan succeeded where many would sayeven JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot didn't: pleasing the crowds with its well-drawn action and characters, while satisfying hardcore Trek nerds with its devotion to the franchise's universe and backstory. It's still held up as the template for Trek films – which means, for certain sectors of the populace, the template for all films, period.

Above: Interplay's 25th Anniversary game could finally be due for improvement

Seems like a great idea because: There's never been a truly classic Star Trek videogame, which should be like shooting fish in a barrel. Maybe designers' problems with the franchise are the same ones solved by Khan's filmmakers: game producers could take their cue from the movie by starting out with a kick-ass crowd-pleaser, then working backwards to make sure there's plenty of fan-friendly nods to canon.

Above: Or just graft Ricardo Montalban's head onto Ivy Valentine's body and call it a day

But actually: The film works because it's a small-but-pivotal episode in a massive larger universe. Would Khan be a space-combat game? A third-person adventure? An RPG? Would it hew closely to the film's structure, only letting you do each of those things briefly then moving onto another mode? Or would it expand each section with token-collecting stretches of filler, negating the movie's self-contained formula? It's hard to know which is the less palatable option, and the opportunity for disaster is so great that it’s best to just let Kirk, Kahn and those creepy ear bugs stay on the silver screen.

Instead, try: If you're really desperate, there's always the Wrath of Khan Game Watch– it does feature two whole game modes, after all. There's also a Star Trek Legacymod that recreates the space-combat bits of the movie. Or you could just relive the movie's single greatest moment at its very own website.

Nov 22, 2010

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