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
NOT THE HEAD-BITE!

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
"PART OF YOUR WOOOOOOORLD!"

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?
"YES, GODDAMNIT, YOU ALREADY SAW THAT EPISODE OF ANCIENT ALIENS!"
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.*
YOU CAN'T MAKE YOURS HAVE THE RAGE! WE CAME UP WITH THAT!

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?

video
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?