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Publisher Take-Two Interactive reported that first-day sales of Grand Theft Auto V topped $800 million, a record for the video game industry. Actually, it’s probably a record for any cultural industry in history. To my knowledge, no piece of music, film or other art has ever made $800M in a single day. But if we wish to confine the discussion to videogames, the previous record holder was Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which generated first-day sales of $500M last November.
This fifth installment of GTA launched on September 17 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The sales figure is worldwide, although it excludes the upcoming launches in Japan and Brazil. The $800M figure equals sales of between 13-14 million units of the game, which is quite an acccomplishment considering that the last installment in the Grand Theft Auto series sold about 13 million unit over an entire year.
GTA:V took five years to develop and cost between $200-250 million, which is as expensive as any big-budget animated feature. Its earnings will easily top the highest-grossing animated feature of all-time, which would be the $1.06 billion gross of Toy Story 3.
It’s been fascinating to watch the ascension of games as a cultural force in early-21st century entertainment. It is an art form that requires new programming technologies to produce and new devices to consume, yet also relies heavily on traditional constructions like narrative storytelling and character animation. The latter is why we care, and why we will care for a long time to come. Even as immersive entertainment experiences displace older forms of media, the role of the animator only continues to grow in prominence.
Game publishers like Take-Two Interactive (and its subsidiary Rockstar Games which made GTA) obviously understand the value of graphics, otherwise they wouldn’t continually push to improve the complexity of their visuals and the nuance of their character animation. But there is still room for graphic improvement, and especially, greater believability in the character performances.
When will developers begin recruiting topflight feature film animators en masse and elevate interactive media to even more fantastic heights? The time when game producers start valuing the contributions of animators at least as much as feature film companies currently do can’t be far off, and competition for talent between game developers and film studios can only be a good thing for the animation community.
The following review of GTA:V not only provides a good sense of the gameplay, but also shows the incredible amount of animation that is contained within the game world:
In 1983, the Dayton Daily News accidentally switched the captions for “Dennis the Menace” and “The Far Side”. And then, a few days later, they did it again.
So that got me to thinking… Scott McCloud invented “Five Card Nancy“, using panels from Ernie Bushmiller’s “Nancy” comic strip.
Could I make a similar game, using the real-world example from the Dayton Daily News? Of course!
So here it is!
- Only single panel comics can be used, and only those with captions below the art. In panel spoken text is not allowed. Silent panels may be included.
- At least two comics are used. If you wish to make it more interesting, you can use more, but the number should be even.
- Normal strips should be offset by the more unusual. For every “Dennis the Menace” there should be a “Far Side”. (See below for suggestions.)
- There should be at least 100 examples from each comic (100 panels, 100 captions). The more people who play, the more comics or examples should be used. Random examples may be used, but should be in equal proportion of “normal” to “unusual”.
- The playing deck has two parts: comics and captions.
- Each player is dealt four cards from each deck.
- Play begins with a player presenting a match of a caption with a panel.
- Other players then try to “edit” the match by replacing either the comic or the caption with a card from his/her hand. Play ends when none can improve on the mismatched comic.
- All players then refill their hands and play continues with the next player.
- If you need to keep score, post the mix-matched creations to your social network feed (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Friendster, Usenet). Score points for each “like” or re-share.
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By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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American food chain Chipotle eschews TV advertising and stopped using external ad agencies a few years ago, but when they create ad campaigns, they go all out. Their latest project is “The Scarecrow,” a game-and-film collaboration with Bill Joyce’s Moonbot Studios based in Shreveport, Lousiana.
“The Scarecrow”, conceived in collaboaration with CAA Marketing (a division of Creative Artists Agency), is a free arcade-style adventure game for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch that encourages players to think about industrial food production and the processed foods that they consume. Players can win coupons for free Chipotle food if they achieve certain goals within the game. There’s also an accompanying short film directed by Brandon Oldenburg and Limbert Fabian, and music by Fiona Apple:
Like their earlier “Back to the Start” campaign, Chipotle’s “Scarecrow” campaign is being praised for putting across its message in an entertaining, classy package. Adweek says, “Branded entertainment goes doesn’t get much more well rounded or better executed than this.”
Moonbot, which won the animated short Oscar in 2012 for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, has created a lush and well-conceived feature film-quality universe for The Scarecrow. The golden-hued nostalgia that defines the studio’s visual aesthetic is a perfect complement to the environmental themes of Chipotle’s campaign.
This making-of video reveals some of the effort that went into creating The Scarecrow:
I'm pretty far from what you might call an avid gamer (games I've played in the last five years: Portal, Machinarium, Tales of Monkey Island, Botanicula, and, uh, that's it; I still haven't gotten around to Portal 2), but even I couldn't miss the attention paid to The Fullbright Company's Gone Home. Part of the reason that I ended up playing Gone Home--aside from the fact that it doesn't require
Disney’s new $100 million-plus videogame/toy line Disney Infinity launched yesterday. The company has pinned its digital gaming aspirations on this single property (available for Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360 PlayStation 3, and soon, PCs) in hopes of turning around Disney Interactive, which has lost over $1.4 billion in the last five years.
Disney Infinity, which features mostly Pixar and live-action franchise characters (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lone Ranger) has received generally positive reviews—see this IGN.com review or this Forbes review
This 35-minute presentation from D23 expo shows how the company is pitching the product to consumers:
The success of this game is particularly important because Disney has struggled continuously in the interactive realm. The Epic Mickey games flopped. Its $350 million purchase of Club Penguin and subsequent attempts to integrate its own properties like Cars and Fairies into it, didn’t work as planned. Its $563 million acquisition of Playdom has led to a loss of 20 million users.
Disney is counting on its fans to regularly buy the toys associated with the game—a similar concept to Activision’s Skylanders game—since the toys have a higher profit margin than the actual game. This Infinity overview in the Wall Street Journal speaks further about the financial impact this game could have on the company:
Speaking with Wall Street analysts in February, Mr. Iger acknowledged the high stakes. “If ‘Infinity’ does well, it bodes very well for the bottom line of this unit,” he said. “If it doesn’t do well, the opposite will be the case.” If “Infinity” flops, Disney would likely have to re-evaluate its videogame strategy, possibly shifting to an all-licensing model. The interactive unit’s remaining operations would consist of producing online content and mobile apps.
“It’s a Hail Mary with a tremendous amount of pressure to be a hit,” said a person who recently left Disney’s videogame business. As it pours resources into “Infinity,” Disney Interactive has pulled back in other areas. It halted production on an “Iron Man” game scheduled for release this year, for instance, and passed on the opportunity to produce “Star Wars” games following its parent company’s purchase of Lucasfilm.
Filmmaker and animator Arthur Metcalf (Fantaisie in Bubblewrap, It Took A While To Figure Shit Out) has taken a moment between short films to create Stress Baal, a new game app that is now available for iPhone and Android phones. The game, which features a high-strung imp ready to be tortured for the amusement of the player, is like an interactive Duck Amuck, in which the user chooses how often to inflict agony on their character. “You beat him up with your fingertip,” Metcalf told Cartoon Brew. “There’s no score, no goals. It’s meant to just be entertaining rather than addictive.”
His approach to creating the game is not unlike that of one of his films, and the small moments of personality are just as important as the big action scenes. “As a kid, I spent a lot of time just playing with Sonic on my Genesis,” said Metcalf. “Not playing the game, just playing with Sonic’s animation. If you left him alone for a few seconds, he’d cross his arms, kick the ground and so forth. It was this one simple animation, but it added a lot to the game – it made it feel like Sonic was more than just a sprite box sliding around.”
Rather than moving towards digital puppetry with simulated physics, Metcalf challenged himself by sticking to his traditional animation background while simultaneously pushing the number of reactions he could get out of the character. “Part of my decision to make Stress Baal was to try to figure out if this kind of animation would work at all in a game. I was told by a lot of tech guys that it would probably be impossible due to technical limitations, that there was a reason characters had to only have one animation for each action. I’m glad to find out it wasn’t so.”
As a result, the action in Stress Baal is a combination of repetition and surprises that makes the game charming, fun and comically sadistic. “It’s meant to be sort of an easter egg hunt. You will see animation repeated, but I can tell you from having done the game testing myself, that it can take an entire day of nonstop play to actually see it all.”
Stress Baal is available for 99 cents in the iTunes app store and Google Play.
Blog: Welcome to my Tweendom
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By: Stacy Dillon,
A bit ironic as I was trying to escape from Chicago's O'Hare airport when I started reading this one! Honestly, I wasn't in the best frame of mind when I opened the cover. I was delayed, then canceled. Many hours and gate-changes later, I was delightfully immersed in this book written so clearly for book lovers!
Kyle Keeley comes from a family of gamers. Not just video games, either...board games too. And in Kyle's opinion, the king of the game makers is none other than Mr. Luigi Lemoncello of Lemoncello's Imagination Factory. Too bad Kyle isn't as interested in school as he is in games! His friend Akimi has to remind him on the school bus that he was supposed to write an essay on why he is excited about the new public library. The old public library had been torn down 12 years ago, and now there is a contest asking the 12 year olds of the town to write about the new library. The winners of the contest will be able to participate in a library lock in before the space is opened to the public. Kyle furiously scribbles his half hearted essay on an extra piece of paper on the bus ride to school.
Kyle is soon kicking himself about his lack of effort on the essay as he soon finds out that Mr. Lemoncello himself is going to judge the essay contest since he is one of the new library's biggest benefactors. But here's the thing about Kyle -- he's not a kid who gives up and he finds a way to write a better essay and he tries to get it to Mr. Lemoncello himself.
Imagine everyone's surprise when Kyle is one of the 12 chosen for the library lock-in.
What follows is a wonderful ode to all things library. Cool state of the art gadgets, crazy technology, and all kinds of clues will keep book lovers glued to the pages once the 12 12 year olds realize that this isn't any old library lock in. Lemoncello is Wonka personified, and the title dropping is a hoot. All of the ideas wouldn't work without Grabenstein's tightly written prose and vivid descriptions. This is a great book that I cannot wait to get into the hands of my book lovers come the start of school.
I’m partial to video games that look and feel like animated short films, which is why this E3 trailer for Hohokum is so enticing. The game is being developed by Honeyslug and artist Richard Hogg, and animated by Kwok Fung Lam, for Playstation 4, Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita systems. There’s an interview with the creators at GameInformer.com.
The game has been in development for a while. The gameplay video below is from three years ago, and shows how you maneuver your sperm-ish creature, euphemistically called the Long Mover, through a neo-Yellow Submarine universe:
(Thanks, David Calvo)
Gigglebug, a newly released iPad app from Finland, uses infectious laughter to encourage social play among children. Through touching and swiping the screen, players can tickle various 2D animated characters to make them smile and laugh. This sort of interactive, responsive play is irresistible to kids, and elicits a reaction that may or may not be desirable to parents:
Infectious laughter has proven to be a guaranteed form of entertainment—how else could videos of laughing babies have 60 million views on YouTube? Several cartoons, toys and other products have found success in using laughter, such as Sesame Street shorts and Tickle Me Elmo.
Then there’s Sh-h-h-h-h-h, a clasic Tex Avery cartoon about a man trying to escape the constant laughter and noise of his surroundings. The soundtrack of the cartoon comes from the early-1920s Okeh Laughing Record, a bizarre recording that features a man and woman laughing uncontrollably.
Gigglebug also features lush watercolor backgrounds and laugh scenes that are fully animated with quality not often seen in 2D animated apps. Not surprisingly, the app was developed in part by Helsinki-based Anima Boutique which has extensive experience producing animation for entertainment purposes. They are simultaneously developing Gigglebug as a children’s TV series. The success of another Finnish creation, Angry Birds, appears to have normalized the idea that a successful app can lead to cross-media adaptations on more traditional platforms like TV and film.
Genevieve Tsai is a character designer and concept artist who has primarily worked on video game productions.
Genevieve’s blog and Tumblr show off recent development work that she created for the latest Sly Cooper game, Thieves in Time, which include these detailed layout drawings of a chunk of 3D game space and ideas for character movement (see them larger on her own site):
You can see move of Genevieve’s character concepts and illustrations on her website, Charicreatures.com.
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, Ed Schofield
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, Pencil Test Studios
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Doug TenNapel, creator of games like Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood and the TV series Catscratch, is crowdfunding a new clay-animated stop motion game called Armikrog. He’s working with Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield of Pencil Test Studios, his animation collaborators on earlier games, to create a point-and-click adventure game for PC, Mac OSX and Linux.
The game tracks the adventures of “a space explorer named Tommynaut and his blind alien, talking dog named Beak-Beak [who] crash land on a weird planet and end up locked in a mysterious fortress called Armikrog.” TenNapel’s Kickstarter goal is to raise $900,000 in 30 days, and the production has already received over $11,000 in a little over one hour of campaign time.
Chris Gardner, who drew our beautiful Drawn logo, shows some sketches and preliminary work for a logo he drew for a new iOS word game called Letter by Letter that launches today.
I’ve been playing a closed beta of the game for the past few weeks, and I’m complete addict. Its the perfect mix of Scrabble, Boggle, and Risk with short, but challenging turns that require some crafty strategy and a healthy vocabulary.
I know, I know. It's only the third of December.
Traditionally (a tradition of 24 years standing this year), we have four birthdays in January. So I am preparing about ten days earlier than everyone else. (Who else saw that hilarious Kikki K insert in The Age on Saturday? that calendar had NO TIME FOR SHOPPING in it. Just 'list' seguing effortlessly into 'wrapping'.)
Some of these are quite old. So forgive me if you have seen them already.
If you are feeling the pull to slow down over this busy time of year, the ABC has been running a program introducing meditation over the past six weeks. I heard about it through the Melbourne Meditation Centre, but it may well have been bruited elsewhere. Here's the toolkit. (You can easily trawl down the page to week 1 and begin at the beginning.)
I was interested to see this app, Flipboard, mentioned on the Killings blog by publishing researcher Caroline Hamilton, as I follow one of its developers on Twitter. And it looks to be a very pretty way of aggregating all your stuff on your iPad, too.
Caroline also mentions a 2010 article by Craig Mod that I really thought I'd read already. As it's not in my bookmarks, then I guess I will have to read it now, but it sure looks familiar...Books In The Age Of The iPad.
It's probably a bit late for Australians to order these and have them by Christmas, but this gorgeous Swiss toymaker's website is fun to look at, and I dare you not to order something one day. Via Things magazine. (Being the non-starting quilter I am, I have this on the wishlist.)
Something else I still haven't read - Terry Eagleton's review of a new bio of Derrida, from The Guardian.
Robert Crum, a couple of weeks back, had things to say about book marketing, coming up as a result with a list of lit-labels of his own which included the rather clumsy 'lit-lit':
The development of the literary marketplace in the past 30-something years has been echoed by a new, and acute, sensitivity to the place of genre within the trade. In a market-savvy creative economy, you could say that genre has become everything. I have been able to identify 15 contemporary shades of "literature".
I'll leave it to you to decide if his colours of writing are to your taste. Happy Christmas - if Typepad is listening, I want a better clipping tool, please. Like the one I have already on this blog, where, regrettably, you will be more likely to find me in the lazy, hazy days of summer. Thanks for reading the very intermittent postings here this year.
Our favorite game is ending tonight—forever. At 8pm Pacific time, the lights will blink out across the land of Ur, and Glitch will be no more.
Yeah, we’re pretty sad. We’ll be signing on to say our goodbyes. Will we hear the Good Night Glitchen song one last time? Will you?
Blog: Jrpoulter's Weblog
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The Untangled Tales website is the best of the Summer Reading sites. Going over the site, was like being in one of the famous ‘But WAIT, there’s more!’ advertisements! At every click of the mouse, there was more! There is something here for children of all ages [preschool, primary, secondary], for their parents, teachers and librarians. The site is gorgeous [literally] to look at, easy to navigate, entertaining in content and layout and engagingly informative!
The Celebrity Corner questions brought out the creative quirkiness of authors and illustrators in a very entertaining way and featured a very diverse group of creatives!
The Untangled Tales game is a blast – great fun! It challenges memory and prods research capabilities and informs about other cultures, their customs and attitudes as reflected in their fairytales and legends.
Check out the side tabs and their drop down menus – there is heaps and heaps of fun activity, fantastic tales, playful poetry and fanciful stories, arty opportunities, creative competitions in writing and art activities and painless learning along the way!!
Lately I've been interested in Kickstarter, and I keep finding interesting Kickstarter projects to back. This is my second Kickstarter post recently, and I don't want to turn this into a Kickstarter blog, because that would change the purpose of the blog. So instead, I decided to start a new Tumblr called Kickstarter Addicts
to post those projects I find interesting.
To kick things off, I wrote about a really exciting project called The Game of Books. It sounds like a fun game that both kids and adults would enjoy, and I want to play it! The picture above is my game card from the demo of the game. If I remember right, I entered Ratha’s Creature
, Dust & Decay,
and The Hobbit.
I may also have entered The Hunger Games but I can’t remember for sure.
Read more about it on my Kickstarter Addicts post!
While you're there, I hope you'll follow my new Tumblr!
I SPY a Challenge!
'Tis the season for games! Video games are on many holiday wish lists (including mine)! Some of you may even have a couple I SPY games on your lists. If you do, Scholastic has a special treat for all the I SPY gaming fans out there. For the first time ever, Scholastic has released I SPY game packs on Wii and Nintendo DS that offer double the fun with two complete I SPY games in one. The Wii game pack includes Ultimate I SPY and I SPY Spooky Mansion, while the Nintendo DS pack includes I SPY Fun House and I SPY Universe (all rated E).
Did you know that the covers of all the I SPY video games are designed so that you could play I SPY on the cover? It's true! There are numerous objects hidden within each I SPY cover and you could play I SPY on each one. So in honor of the game packs and for some fun (not to mention extra challenge), we've developed two I SPY riddles to solve across the Wii and DS games. Are you up for the challenge?
Yes? Alright! Ready, set, go!
I SPY CHALLENGE #1
Click to enlarge the image.
I spy a horseshoe, a cymbal, a bell, a little red bug, and a brown pot that fell; a tower, a diver, a rocket, a hat, a hidden sailboat, a key, and a rat.
I SPY CHALLENGE #2
Click to enlarge the image.
I spy a jack, two balloons, a drum, a plane, a ringed planet, and a little candy cane;
Two ice cream cones, a dog with a hat; a letter, a snake, two balls, and a cat.
Did you find all the objects? Let us know in the Comments below. And, for extra fun, get creative and write an I SPY riddle of your own using these covers!
—Amabel, Scholastic Media
Deltora Scavenger Hunt Answers
If you're into magic and monsters, good vs. evil, and just plain good fantasy, chances are you will love the Deltora books. And chances are you did our Deltora Scavenger Hunt last week. And chances are we've got the answers below!
- How many books total are there in the Deltora series (counting the bonus books)?
ANSWER: 17! Deltora Quest has 8 + Shadowlands 3 + Dragons 4 + 1 Travel Guide + 1 Book of Monsters. Whew! That's a lot of Deltora books!
- Watch The Golden Door trailer and finish this sentence.
“What terror lies beyond ___ _____ ____?”
ANSWER: The Golden Door.
- The author, Emily Rodda, lives in what country?
- In which game do you catch rats with your “mouse?”
ANSWER: The City of Rats. Scroll down to see all the games!
- Read an excerpt from Deltora Quest Book I: The Forests of Silence. Who dies on the first page?
ANSWER: The king (King Alton). Check out the Deltora Books page to read excerpts from the other books too.
- Name three of the main characters.
ANSWER: All the main characters can be found on the Characters page. Scroll down to see all the main characters.
- How many levels are there in The Dragons of Deltora Adventure games?
ANSWER: 4! If you log in to the STACKS, you can save your game stats on your Profile.
- From whose point of view is the book The Secrets of Deltora told from?
ANSWER: Doran the Dragonslayer. He is the greatest Deltoran explorer ever, and a friend of the dragons.
So go forth. Fight evil. Slay dragons and monsters. And let us know what you thought of this Scavenger Hunt!
—Ratha, Stacks Writer
Disney announced today that they will shut down Austin,Texas-based Junction Point, the game studio that had developed the Epic Mickey gameseries. Disney acquired the studio, founded by Warren Spector and Art Min, in 2007.
In an emailed statement, the Disney company said:
“It was with much sadness that we informed our teams today of changes to our Games organization, which include the closure of Junction Point Studios. These changes are part of our ongoing effort to address the fast-evolving gaming platforms and marketplace and to align resources against our key priorities. We’re extremely grateful to Warren Spector and the Junction Point team for their creative contributions to Disney with Disney Epic Mickey and Disney Epic Mickey 2.”
Spector will no longer be involved with Disney. The Disney Company announced earlier this month that they were developing a new gaming initiative called Disney Infinity.
I know nothing of video games or Playstation… but this trailer for the just-released Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has me very intrigued.
Not sure if this is Ghibli’s first foray into video games, but it’s the first one I’ve seen that looks like the real deal (even the music is by Miyazaki stalwart Joe Hisaishi). I’d love to hear more about the game itself from those who’ve already played it.
By: Vanessa G.,
Blog: Ink Splot 26
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Game Changers Book #2: Play Makers by Mike Lupica
Attention, sports fans! For those of you who love a good sports story, the latest book in Mike Lupica's Game Changers series is out now! It's called Play Makers.
Ben McBain and his friends are still riding high after winning their football championship, but basketball season isn’t going as smoothly, especially when their cross-town rival, Chase Braggs, starts causing trouble on AND off the court.
Read an excerpt.
Head over to the STACKS Sports site to play the new Game Changers basketball game! How many shots can you make?
-- Vanessa, Scholastic Staffer
New Monopoly Token Writing Prompt: Goodbye to the iron, and hello, kitty!
Fans of Monopoly voted out the iron player token, and voted to add a new player token, a cat. The cat beat out a robot, guitar, diamond ring, and helicopter with 31% of the vote. The lowly iron came in last with 8% of the vote, with the wheelbarrow and the shoe just squeaking through the elimination to remain in the game.
So today's Writing Prompt puts the vote to you. Which token would you choose to eliminate from the current Monopoly game, and which token do you think should be added?
— Sonja, STACKS Staffer
Photos courtesy of Hasbro
Video gameplay is about to get a lot more realistic. Game producer Activision unveiled this new demo yesterday at the Game Developers Conference. Uncanny or not, the progresss in computer animation has been remarkable. Real-time rendering techniques today look far more impressive than any rendering from a decade ago:
This animated character is being rendered in real-time on current video card hardware, using standard bone animation. The rendering techniques, as well as the animation pipeline are being presented at GDC 2013, “Next Generation Character Rendering” on March 27. The original high resolution data was acquired from Light Stage Facial Scanning and Performance Capture by USC Institute for Creative Technologies, then converted to a 70 bones rig, while preserving the high frequency detail in diffuse, normal and displacement composite maps. It is being rendered in a DirectX11 environment, using advanced techniques to faithfully represent the character’s skin and eyes.
More details on Jorge Jimenez’s blog.
Double Fine has released a teaser trailer for its point-and-click adventure game Broken Age, which raised $3.3 million on Kickstarter last year (a record for games at the time). The game is the parallel story of a young boy and girl:
The girl has been chosen by her village to be sacrificed to a terrible monster–but she decides to fight back. Meanwhile, a boy on a spaceship is living a solitary life under the care of a motherly computer, but he wants to break free to lead adventures and do good in the world.
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The line between animation and video games has long been blurred. There was the Saturday Supercade on CBS in the mid-80s, where Frogger, Q-Bert and Donkey Kong starred in short segments. A handful of years later, Fox ran the Super Mario Bros. Super Show! and NBC had Captain N: The Game Master. All of these shows were relatively short-lived marketing methods of pushing Nintendo further into homes and the minds of children. But lately, the animation and video game industries have united under the banner of nostalgia, appealing to adults whose childhoods were spent chasing down the aproned token keeper in the local arcade.
This nostalgic trip is partly due to a major shift in demographics. Generation X and Y, the first to experience video game-filled childhoods, have grown up, and many of them now have young children of their own. It explains the broad appeal of Wreck-It Ralph—a father who spent countless hours feeding quarters to a PacMan arcade game was just as likely to be entertained by the film as his child. In fact, Disney succeeded in creating faux arcade games that felt so real, adult audience members were convinced to the point of feeling nostalgic. Fix It Felix Jr., the game in which Ralph was the villain, felt ripped from your childhood arcade.
You could assume this nostalgia trend would’ve peaked with Wreck-It Ralph, but it shows no signs of slowing. Ratchet & Clank, the series of Playstation games initially released in 2002, is finally receiving the animated film adaptation that its fans have craved. Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment plan to produce the film for a theatrical release in 2015. Fortunately, the fan base has grown right along the game. Says one commenter on The Nerdist : “The twelve year old in me (currently 23) just stood up and yelled, ‘Finally!’”
Then there’s game developer WayForward, set to release a remastered version of DuckTales, Capcom’s hit that originally sold nearly 3 million copies on NES and Game Boy. It was and is exceedingly popular, with gamers still raving about the game’s tight handling. Among 8-bit musicians, who derive their tunes from the sounds of Nintendo, the DuckTales soundtrack is a unanimous favorite. Some even say that the Nintendo game eclipses all other aspects of the DuckTales franchise, including the animated series.
What’s most incredible about this project from WayForward is its unabashed pandering to a nostalgic audience. WayForward’s remastering remains true to the original, with whole levels of the game completely duplicated, save for enhanced background graphics. According to an article on the Verge, Disney even went so far as to provide original art assets and the voice actors from the DuckTales animated series, including 90-year-old Alan Young as Scrooge. “We’re really trying to make it play as identical to the original as possible,” says WayForward’s Austin Ivansmith. “We thought, well if the original developers could make this again today, what would they do?”
There is no doubt that DuckTales was a major keystone of early video game history—I even revisit my own copy once every few years. Young parents who grew up playing DuckTales on NES will leap at the chance to reintroduce the game to their kids on the contemporary consoles of today. These sorts of modern reinterpretations can certainly yield some fresh, artistic perspective. But the relationship between the animation and video game industries is becoming more blatantly based on the desire for financial sure-bets. And if we know anything about Hollywood, where movies based on boardgames are greenlit, audiences will continue to be encouraged to wallow in childhood nostalgia.