Thursday, December 25, 2014

5 weird uses of public domain on gaming

Well, how am I gonna go ahead if I don't mention Knights of the Round every few posts?

As my Game jam aproaches, I think more on these stories and characters that so influenced the gaming landscape. Sure, some like Castlevania and God of war do the obvious and pull familiar names and concepts for you to murder.

But that's not always the case. That's why I present you the 5 weirdest use of Public Domain material in games.

Sonic and the Black Knight

Pulling it off is easy.

The Blue Blur realized awhile ago that it was wasting it's time. Sonic has at times been a plumber, a doctor and a hotel manager. Sonic, though let himself get typecast as a hedgehog.

And so, he went off in the search of a new, marketable Identity. Which is how he ended in Camelot for Sonic and the Black Knight.

As a fish out of water in the Arthurian myth times, Sonic must Hack and slash in a world he never knew,in which not only did swords get jammed in rocks to decide who is king, but also the usual characters from lore such as Lancelot were now played by his friends/enemies.
Is this the fan fickiest shit you've ever seen or what?

It seems like a strange choice, I admit. The Sonic Fan in me hates it for not being Sonic 2, but the realist in me loves that isn't Sonic 2.

Dr Jeckyl and MR Hyde

The story of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde is one that makes sense for a game if you think about it. Drinking something to become an unstoppable monster? That's already an established formula!

The game, though, is not remembered for making sense. The good Doctor must traverse a world full of minor inconveniences, which trigger his rage and make him turn into his evil alter ego.

You just got hustled for a wad of cash, tell me what you gonna do? Act a Fool!

Sadly, the game is even more remembered for  sucking and giving the AVGN material.

Cthulu saves the world

The works of HP Lovecraft hold a special place in nerddom, especially Octopus Faced Cosmic Monstrocity Cthulu.

Appearing in games from high profile to obscure, there's certainly an interest in using the Great Old One as an antagonist. But one game asked the right question: what if Cthulu was the hero?
So this indie RPG casts you as the nightmare monster, as he, as expected, has to save the world in order to be able to destroy it. You guys can tell me if it's great or no.

Earth Worm Jim 2
What's the russian word for "Groovy!"?
Oh, you don't remember public domain stuff in EWJ2? Well, maybe your ears weren't paying attention. Earthworm Jim uses several songs from the public domain. Funiculi, Funicula for one, is a famous Italian opera I presume  is not an ode to the art of catching puppies.

But perhaps more pointedly, Tchaikovsky's '1812 Overture is used in the stage "Jim is now a blind cave salamander" which the titular hero becomes...err, you know.
Well, it could always be worst. This could be Clayfighter.

Besides the obvious asspull that the hero annelid is now a hero reptilian, and how nard crunchingly hard the level could feel, the most memorable part of it was the calm, soothing music, and how much weirder it made the whole thing.

You see, modernly, a lot of folks would have told Tommy Tallarico to just make his own damn music (or, implicitely, to go licence the Tchaikovsky song to whoever owns it). But that's the thing: the maker FELT like this pd song fit this moment, and was empowered to use it.

Mortal Kombat vs DC universe.

"If you hear a lightening, run and be a frightening, because here's a teenager that can tear you in half!"

Oh, you didn't know? There's a public domain character in a Mortal Kombat game! No it's not Santa.

I'm talking about Captain Marvel. NOT Captain Mar-Vell, Monica Rambeaux, or Carol Danvers, the original Big Red Cheese, Captain Marvel.

You see, it's a long story, but before Dc had to rename him Shazam, Cap Marvel was a Fawcett comics character. One day the company went under, not in little part thanks to litigation from DC. Dc swooped in and bought the company...all wrong.

You see, DC bought, or so they say, the physical place Fawcett comics was in, but not the assets. This means that DC had the physical original drawings that made up the first Captain Marvel Comic, but not the rights to the works themselves, which means that Cappy (as well as others that never fought Scorpion, so who cares) and his friends started slowly slipping into the public domain.

They got wise and stopped it just before Black Adam got into the mix, but by then it was too late. That means that Captain Marvel, Billy Batson,  the Shazam family up to and including Freckles Marvel belong to all us.*

Essentially all his traits in MKvsDC come from the PD version, albeit his appearance and moves like holding and Shazaming people come from DC's stories.  Later on Midway died, got revived and bought by WB under a different name, and they made Injustice, Gods Among Us, which included Shazam. He's got a little redesign and they finally gave up on him being Captain Marvel (and I guess Mary Marvel is now Mary Shazam, right?)
This is...actually not your father's Captain Marvel.

Altered Beast

Zack Gilliafanakis Looking fit next to Adrien Brody.

Oh , you remember this one, don't you? Two burly bros from the ancient times have to rise from their graves, to knock the snot out of assorted undeads and monsters, eventually ditching their homoerotic human forms to become homoerotic  anthros.

What's from the public domain? The setup. Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom, can't stay out of trouble, and gets captured by a Wizard. Naturally Zeus, Almighty God of Olympus, sends two guys to rescue her. You still get some Goddess on Furry action at the end, though.

"I'd rather give my daughter away to this buff werewolf than get off my lazy ass"-Zeus

Sure, you don't need Zeus and Athena into a story like this to get it going. It's basic rescue the princess shit. But it's still somewhat interesting and weird how they got that going on, and made your characters have no emotional attachment to the lady in question.

King of Fighters/Athena

I hope I'm this modest in EVERY future representation of me.

Similarly, you don't need  Greek Myths to explain why a schoolgirl can shoot fire from her mittens in a fighting game. But in this case it's special.

Athena, wearing a red bikini and purple hair. Are YOU gonna tell a chick gave birth to herself what she can and can't wear?

 Athena once again shows up, in a little known SNK game of her namesake, where she falls down a hole in Heaven and has to fight badguys.

But as things tend to happen in SNK land, it all came to end in SNK's endless crossover series The King of Fighters. There her descendant, Athena Asimiya(first name/last name?), became a mainstay in it. However, Real Athena did show up a few times.
"You see? There, clothes, boom, sexism is over."

Good or bad, weird or serious, the Public Domain has enrichened videogames since the beggining. Perhaps, soon, we can help videogames return the favor in kind?

*But first someone would have to challenge DC's unfounded claim that it still has ownership of the character. Could it be YOU? Also, Captain Marvel, Billy Batson, and Shazam are trademarked, so avoid using those names in promotion or as the title of your work, if yeh know what's good for y'all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Why am I making a Gamejam, again?

I deliniate the reasons I'm making a Gamejam next year, in my best "Joker-interrupts-tv"style creepy video. Also, the Jam is online, now.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Horrendous Theory: My Super Ex Girlfriend is Superman's daughter.

So the Superman Reboot did well enough to try and launch a joint universe out of it. It's kind of all right, but I just saw All Star Superman and that shit is just super fantastic and positive, and not just caked in grey morality/litteral gray.

I will punch you, Son of Jor El!!!!

Do I sometimes wonder what could have been if Superman Returns had had a sequel? Yes, I do. I even remember some vague rumors  about Superman dating an Indian nurse in that movie, or something. But really, how do you follow on giving Superman a neglected, out of  wedlock kid? It's so wrong, you know, putting Superman in  the place of a guy who would lay and not even call back to check.

Except...that it already happened. In Superman III, Superman becomes infected with faulty Kryptonite by Richard Pryor and his friends, and as such, becomes evil. But not really "Elseworld's" evil, just kind of a general asshole.
"If you sing Super Hero Lover again, I will punt your head all the way to Hawaii."
The villains use computers to control all the world's petrolium carrying barges, because even bofore we invented the word "hacking" we were completely missunderstanding what they can and can't do. However one barge decides to ignore the orders, and so the villains decide it looks like a job for Superman.

They send Superman the bait, the main villain's sexy ass assistant Lorelei. She asks Superman to, as a personal favor worth points towards fucking her,  divert the barge away from shore. Naturally, he complies. Sure, an evil Superman could probably have any woman he wants, and that's without veerying off into "unconsensual" talk, but I guess whatever gets the plot moving and keeps the rating under R.

But it's after that  that things become interesting. Superman comes back to cash in on his poon coupon. And he does, albeit offscreen. And I think the fruit of said relationship is G-Girl,  the main character from the movie "My Super Exgirlfriend".
It turns out the G spot was the heart all along.
Now you may have some questions. "Where is Superman in Super Ex-Girlfriend?" "Why doesn't she have Superman's exact powerset?" "Don't they explain her origin in that movie?" "Hey, Superman can't have kids with a human!" Joke's on you, that last one isn't even a question!

Let's begin with the last one. Superman Returns, being mildly in cannon with the Donner series, established that movie Superman  CAN have kids with a woman. He just can't pay them alimony (goes for high-five). "But Superman Returns takes place after Superman II and cancels out Superman's III and IV!" Yeah, those are words. But what parts of  Superman III and Superman IV  get contradicted?  Both of those movies could take place 2-3 months after Superman had his thing with Lois, and he'd then be able to fly away to space and leave her to take care of the kid. Hell, Lois' caribean vacation on 3 could have been where she met Richard White and dumped her Superkid on him.

Or, maybe this takes place in the Superman 3-4 timeline and not the Superman Returns timeline.

Kid, hopefully the worst you got from this movie was being slightly scared by Kevin Spacey.

So whatever, nobody said Superman CAN'T have kids in this movies.

I can definitively say why she doesn't have Superman's exact powerset. It's because she isn't really just Superman's daughter. She's Evil Superman thorugh faulty Kryptonite's daughter.  Hell, that alone could account for her manically obsessive personality. She's got some Bad K in her genes, besides being raised by a criminal, maybe.
"whoawhoawhoooa...Your dad knew Gus Gorman?"
Yes, she does have an origin in the movie. She'd throw a Shark at a girl, yet you don't think she'd make up an origin story to hide her shameful parentage? Come on. Further, she got those powers from a meteor. Perhaps  her Kryptonian side laid dormant until the meteor jump started them.

As for where Superman is, why would you assume he's be available to this one grown woman when he wasn't around for his kid of his main squeeze? Pick whatever answer you like: gone to space, dead, Mission in the Middle East. I can't do them all for you, you know? Now, who wants to hear about how Eggman is the Hero and Sonic is the villain?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kudos to Fox

Fox gets a lot of flack for a company that's not particularly more evil than  Disney,  or Comcast. Because while Disney might straight up rip off a Holocaust Victim's story and Comcast might make you lose faith in Capitalism,  what really makes people mad here is when you get Street Fighter wrong.
I'd expect the people who came up with "Fox Kids" to know better.

But lately they've done a great thing for me. Remember my article about the ways I would ruin your franchise? Well, let me refresh your memory a bit.
Ew. The tears taste like sweaty, salty Mountain Dew.

Get it? It's funny because it's the kind of dumb thing movie makers would do! Take a fantastical character that has endured decades  and reduce him to just some guy, some businessman or something like that! You know, like when Shredder was gonna be Col. Shrader, or when Galactus was a cloud.
"This place will become your grave, after you die from the heartbreak over displacement my oil company will do to your tribe."

Well, Toby Kebell, who will be playing Doom, says that it's gonna be sort of like that.

Good play, Fox! Just in case anyone still thought this was the movie that "rectifies" Fantastic 4 after the previous ones, especially Dr Doom, who was every villain except Dr Doom and Bluto from Popeye,  you sweep in with something like that. Dr Doom, the angry blogger? What's the Silver Surfer do, browse 9gag?
"And check out this sweet Half Life 2 Map Doom made!"
And we know you. You don't back out of terrible movie ideas on a good day, and this is more of a "keep Galactus from reverting back to Disney" day. You know that Disney would put that shit onscreen and make it awesome and faithful and make all the money. You wouldn't. You don't even care. You don't even care that you don't care.

And yet, somehow, I suspect screwing up this beloved silver age superheroes by making a crappy ass, found footage movie about 4 superheroes fighting a blogger  like it's 1996 or some shit will bring you money in the long run. You are despicable and devious. My hat is off to you.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bloody Mario! 5 realities of Mario going public domain

Mario, about to kick a fire

The time of my public domain themed gamejam is ever aproaching. As such, it's time to think about our futures again.

Mario goes into the Public Domain, according to my expert calculations, in 2078 And, much like with Batman, it is something we are utterly unprepared for.  Many people don't understand the temporary nature of copyright, which is understandable, because a few people are up there, mucking up the works.

Let's get into a serious discussion of what could happens to gaming's most popular character in 2078

5) Not much
Princess Who?

If you think Mario's gonna be just as popular in 50 years as it was 30/20 years ago, you don't understand how pop culture works. What are the tv shows that where popular in 1985? Look upon those works, ye mighty, and despair.

Don't ask me, I was 2 years old.

By the time Mario gets around to being public domain, Mario might very well be more obscures than even the Golden Girls. Who knows what will happen to Nintendo  between here and there?

4) We can finally get that Mario movie done right

Mario should never have been bald, you cretins!
But for those of us already reaching the Godly Age Limit,  we'll be able to right the wrongs of our fathers, in making a Mario Movie that doesn't suck-a-balls-ah.

I mean, some people like Super Mario Brothers: The Movie.  But the general consensus is that it's hot garbage and should have been good. 

17 years old Max Landis(of Chronicle fame) wrote an enormous, mammoth script for a Super Mario movie.  I'm sure we've all dreamed of adapting our childhood heroes for a modern age. It's probably too much to expect Max Landis to reach 2078 alive and lucid enough to get this script to filming with enough budget to get it to make sense. But those are the breaks. Somebody else, surely will, and hopefully they will.

3) More LEGAL Mario

Now, mind you, there's not a lack of Mario out there. In fact, I think I kind of called on all of you to fucking quit it with the Mario already.

But those are fanworks. They're not official, and they're only in existence because Nintendo is merciful/tired and doesn't want to take them down. If Mario where legal to remake now, you'd see the XBLAs and PSNs and Steams just be bursting with Mario all over the place.

Not only that, but Mario would consistently be showing up in other videogames as well. But remember...

2) Somebody would Legally make Mario Horrible
Art by José Emroca Flores...please don't sue me! I have kids to feed!!
This is one of the concerns of people out there when we talk about shorter copyright: That  somebody could make a mockery of the authors intent. or, as it was put to me:

That Captain America: The Winter Soldier DVD was just asking for it.

You don't have to go very far to see that. Mario's  been possesed by the Satsui No Hadou, Princess Peach has been made to fuck her way through the Mushroom Kingdom and some people apparently think Waluigi is sexy.

Apologies to those of you that got here expecting sexy Princess Peach pics.
Invariably somebody's going to make a game where Mario is a serial killer, and it's going to be legal as shit. They'll be selling it on gamestop.

But this is a good thing, in the same way  American McGee's Alice is a good thing: By being able to do a dark take officially, we can get "Dark and Gritty Mario" to be something compelling, instead of something made to be just for kicks.

1) Nintendo would benefit most of all.

We're-ah all about the money!
 Yes, Nintendo will not be the only game in town with Mario game's anymore. But that's perhaps for the best.You see, Nintendo's sphere of influence it pretty much limited to Nintendo consoles, officially. They don't do PC, Mac, or cellphones(unless they started doing that and I never found out). What has happened is that, what, with the Internet and all, those of us who won't buy Nintendo's machines anymore can still play a game of Mario, only, say, one that happens to also have Megaman and Simon Belmont. The fans filled the void.

Nintendo's influence would spread ever farther if you could legally buy Super Mario Bros for the Xbox 1. People would play it, like it, love it, and then look for Nintendo to provide more. Sure, technically they didn't make money on the one sale, but "official" New Marios would still be available exclusively in Nintendo's machines.

5 ways in which Cyborg will suck as bad as Steel

I don't envy you, kid. Except your charming good looks and your money and that you get to play a superhero, and you're a shoe in for an Obama Biopic.

Ah, yes, once again DC/WB had announced  a bunch of movies, and like a kid saying he'll be a rockstar one day, you have to humor the idea that, even if you know in your heart you've heard the same flights of fancy from others, who are currently flipping burgers. You just don't have the heart to tell DC it's more likely to end up sweeping floors than it is to make a Wonder Woman movie.

If I know my DC it'll be back to just Batman in no time (and occasionally Supes getting a reboot), but let's play their game. Sure, you plan to have  2 DC films a year ,yeah, whatever. Green Lantern and everything.

But most baffling of all of those is Cyborg. Dc HAS been trying to push the character to the forefront as of this last few years. He's on the new 52 Justice League, and also features in a big way on recent DVD and game based affairs.

And he was also in a pretty popular cartoon over 10 years ago. But you all knew that.

It's not the first time DC has tried to get hype for a black tech based superheroe. Years ago, shortly after Superman did his little tango with death, a character rose from the ashes of synergy. Steel. He was my favorite. When I read Steel had a movie coming out, I thought it was great. But I had THIS guy in mind.
I always wondered how he managed to move the face, though.

Instead, I ran across THIS in my local Blockbuster.
His helmet was like the movie...they both flopped.

Now, I know it was a different time, where DC movies where slightly more likely to be supershitty and slightly more likely to exist(but not too much, either). But I feel Cyborg is gonna end up being closer to Steel than it will be to The Dark Knight. It's not just because they both star a black Superhero. Buuut...

5)  A Black Superhero
No movie for you!

Well, it's not that making a movie about a black superhero is harder than anything. There's some good black superheroes out there, who just need their story told right.

 It's just that, historically, they've never been done right. But right as in "anyone would watch it, even if they didn't have some kind of ban against White People stuff".

Or maybe you have some counter-examples?

Sadly, Steel had to rely on being a "Black" movie, with gangbanger enemies, a chika-chicka 70s soundtrack , and an obvious blaxploitation feel. This is gonna be one of the challenges of Cyborg because...

4) The character's worth depends on other characters.
Seriously, Cyborg's not even the most interesting Titan

So let's say I'm not heavilly invested in DC comics of today. In fact, I'm not. All I know from Cyborg is what I know from the Teen Titans the cartoon(he's a cyborg and likes yelling Booyah!)

Sell me Cyborg. What are his enemies? What makes him special? What makes him likable?

I suspect Cyborg is at his peak in the Teen Titans. He's got attachments,  there, relations, stories. Just like Steel.

Steel's very origins where related to Superman. That's where he was at his most interesting. Otherwise he was just a black Ironman.

Which is one of the things where the movie goes wrong. Shaquille O'neil as a low ass budget Tony Stark? Come on!

Again, Cy-Hards, let me know if Cyborg has some great villains and stories waiting to be  brought to screen. Otherwise, he, too might just end up saving the 'hood from a gun dealer operating out of  an arcade.

3) The Tone is compromised
Not even Michael Jordan could have saved this tripe.

Steel the movie could never be like Steel the comic. No way with a budget like it had. The changes to it's source are mostly traceable to "not enough money." Even if it had had intentions of being the best possible movie starring the (other) Man of wasn't enough for Flying.

Cyborg faces similar problems, but money's no object this time. For you see, Cyborg is being set up in next year's Batman V Superman.
For the record, here's Smallville's low budget Cyborg.

Whatever they're gonna do in 2020 depends heavilly on what the character is set up as in Batman vs Superman and in the Justice League movie. If that movie has Cyborg as a wise ass clown, or boring and generic the solo movie's director won't be able to turn him into the next Wolverine.

And what exactly will be set up, with Wonder Woman, The Suicide Squad, and Flash and Aquaman all also being set up? Is it like when they set up Hawkeye is a human who shoots arrows in Thor?

2) DC is bad at cinematic universe building, Solo movies.
"In my planet, liking fried chicken is totally a white people stereotype."

DC's terrible record at making movies that aren't Batman and Superman is well earned. But a large part of that comes from spinning of secondary and tertiary characters into their own movies. Because as long as we're not leaving our comfort zones(Gotham and Metropolis), we might as well dredge up some of the unexplored characters from there.

This is how we ended up with Catwoman, Supergirl, and yes, Steel.  All these characters suffer from #4, and their movies are a testimony to that.

It might take some universe building, Marvel style, to get people into  Cyborg. Or rather, the opposite of Marvel: try to use a team up to promote a single character. Their attempts to initiate a united universe have gone straight to hell so far, unless the Justice League movie they have coming up is called Justice League : Mortal and The Suicide Squad's Amanda Waller is played by Angela Basset.

If you're a betting man right now, money's good on them screwing up  something that's both of the things they can't  ever do right.

1) You can't do the Marvel, DC
We don't roll our eyes when Marvel announces their Captain Marvel movie, DC.

Franchises everywhere want in on the Marvel thing, from Universal Monsters to Robin Hood. As always, Hollywood studio heads completely misunderstand the very basics of what makes something a success.

Marvel's first couple of movies only had little hints at a larger universe. They also happened to be mostly good-to-great  movies about characters  who where not as popular as the X-MENs and Spider-Mans of the world.

A Mediocre Batman movie is already a half won battle. Millions of people in the world who only know what movies say through Subtitles, millions who'd never Wiki-binge the Dc pages or pick up a comic, know Batman and are willing to give him money.

Getting people to shell out a Bunch of money for Guardians of the Galaxy takes something WB  didn't sure as hell put into Jonah Hex.

WB didn't put any heart into Steel. If they successfully put as much heart into Cyborg  as much as they did Steel, and history so far says that's likely, then obviously it's poised to be the next Steel.

If it ever gets off the ground, that is. If you can actually go through with a plan to make a movie in 5 years, I'll eat my hat. That I'll have in 5 years

Friday, November 7, 2014

All wrongs deserved

Reminder: Public Domain GameJam coming soon!