Video Game Movie Advice

I’m not much of a movie watcher. I just saw the Pokemon movie and it was the first time I’ve been in the theater in years. And it seems like now that the superhero craze is nearing its end, there might be more effort put into making good video game movies. I’ll definitely go to the theaters more often, even when they aren’t the best. I even liked the first Super Mario movie. That movie was fun and actually had an original story and amazing production values. Not to mention some pretty polished CG for the time. Although I have points of advice, all you really have to do is get the references right and most problems will be overlooked. But I have points of advice anyway.

The Legend of Zelda movie

Make it like the NES games

Due to the more open-ended nature of the NES games, there’s more room to experiment. Plus, following an already established story, if accurate, would be too predictable. The NES games have big, out-of-town locations such as the Maze Forest, Death Mountain, deserts, and hidden locations. Later games don’t have much besides towns and dungeons. Even the fields in later games aren’t that open. Plus they’re the beginning of the series.

Don’t have puzzles

Combat is more fun to watch than puzzles. Plus it lends itself more to kinetic visual creativity than puzzles. Puzzles may be interesting to solve, but watching someone else do puzzles when you know the solutions is boring.

Don’t have errands

Link needs to do heroic things like saving children and retrieving important things. Doing trivial chores for someone isn’t very inspiring. Villagers need to be in trouble without Link.

Don’t make Zelda a Strong Female Character

There’s lots of room in video game adaptations for these, but this ain’t it. Not with this character. Zelda is good at a lot of things. She can outsmart and mislead bad guys, disguise herself, and spread and hide information quickly. But don’t make her just “Link with Magic” because you run the risk of making Link unnecessary. It didn’t work in the cartoon show. Have it be more consistent with the games. And if you want her sleeping and trapped in a crystal until the end, that’s also fine. Wouldn’t recommend it though.

Don’t reveal Gannon until the end

The main character shouldn’t be Link, Zelda, or Gannon. It should be the world. Gannon isn’t the world or enemies. He isn’t even the enemies. He’s just one guy at the far reaches of the world. Also, don’t make him talk. Having scenes without Link would even be interesting.

Make it realistic

Anime art styles aren’t cool unless you’re making an anime. Even the Pokemon movie isn’t doing that.

Other than that, go nuts.

Metroid movie

Make it scary

Have it go deep into a dark, remote planet. Put in creepy creatures and even some jump scares. Establish that even armor doesn’t make you invincible.

Have other characters talk, not Samus

Samus should just adventure in the planet and space stations. Less important characters should advance the story.

Reveal Samus’s gender at the beginning

People already know by know. Just show her face in the visor sometimes. Only take the helmet back off at the credits.

No recharge stations

Those break the tension.

Don’t let Yoshio Sakamoto touch it

Yoshio Sakamoto is dumb.

Generally, start with the NES IPs. If they aren’t very big, just have them all be in one movie together. Then move onto later ones.

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Crafting

I don’t like crafting. Crafting is supposed to be about discovery and imagination, but at most, it’s a false sense of delayed gratification that just feels like it. If I am told exactly what it will make, it’s just collecting with extra busywork added. And with less instructions and guaranteed success, it isn’t much better. If I ventured to search for tools, shouldn’t I just have tools instead of resources for making them that I’ll have to travel back someplace to maybe benefit from? What if I make them wrong and never knew how I could do it better? Crafting in most games is only a superficial feature to be put as a rapid-fire selling point, not a game-changing addition that justifies itself.

There’s a difference between “strategy” and “not worth it”. Sometimes, crafted items can be fragile or consumable. Uh-oh! The investment necessary will lead players to create a play style that de-necessitates crafting as much as possible and utilizes everything else. Often, decisions and play styles are influenced by what’s less boring, not what’s more effective. Same goes for mechanics- a waning influence in crafting will make it disappear as a trend in numerous future games.

Instructions

One of my most hated elements in any game is “instructions”. Doesn’t matter which form it takes- longwinded, wordy tutorials, “helpful” tips, even the beloved and long-forgotten instruction manuals (which I never liked reading and found poorly written and confusing). Needing instructions as well as un-economical and longwinded cutscenes and text that go farther than their necessary job of providing the needed amount of context means your game/mechanics/content are in need of editing.

What’s worse is when the instructions tell you how to do things you already knew or were even already doing. Sometimes taking away moves- ones you may have thought you had after reading the other instructions in the manual- to see if you can figure them out. Some may laud the weaving of exciting story moments in with tutorials, but tutorializing cheapens them. Just making an easy-but-exciting-looking first level is better. In some cases, helpful text boxes may even obscure or interrupt the action when you already knew what to do and break your concentration.

The only measure of the designer winning is, ironically, when players have maintained the interest to win multiple times. Lose interest, and you’ve lost. Many more games have been quit due to disinterest than difficulty. The average popular “infamous hard game” has a higher percentage of clearing than an uninteresting easy game that most people got bored of.

Signs that the Switch might have a rough road ahead

“The Switch is doing amazing!” Yeah, awesome, alright. A Nintendo console is successful. Good times, right? They’ve learned everything, will ride a good economy, and never make the same old mistakes again, right? I have some issues.

The Switch’s position is a little too perfect. Reversing the fortune of the Wii U, it seems the machine can’t be stopped. Look a little closer, and the long-term success of the Switch and all future Nintendo consoles is looking shaky. Let me explain, it gets pretty complicated. This won’t be the usual surface-level analysis from old media newspapers.

The tiers of consoles goes like this: Successful console with classics, franchise games, and hidden gems (NES, SNES, PS1, PS2, GBA) > Pretty popular and present console with the staple genre games and franchise games (Megadrive, PSP, Xbox 360, PS4) > mostly unsuccessful console with a few undeniable classics that later becomes a collector’s item until its games get ported (Turbografx-16, Saturn, N64, Dreamcast, Vita and Wii U) > Just overall bad failure console (5200, CD-I, 3DO, Pip-Pin, Virtual Boy, Hyperscan, Xbox One (lol 🙂 ) ). Most Nintendo consoles fall in the middle. They haven’t quite had one in the top category since the glory days of old. And sadly, I’d have to say the Switch isn’t quite in the top category. It’s in the second one at best.

Think of most of the Switch owners you’ve seen. They hardly have ANY games and it’s usually the same ones. There is an ABNORMALLY HIGH attach rate for BOTW, Odyssey, Mario Kart and Smash, and soon, Pokemon. Hardly any Switch owner likes different games other than those. There is a very high concentration of remastered games and the online store is full of “500 channels and nothing to watch” fodder that nobody buys. And in 2019, there’s been a much higher concentration of otaku games featuring anime girls (nothing wrong with those up until they beget oversaturation). Look at most people’s Switch Main Menus right now, and they don’t even fill more than the first twelve squares (after which you’d have the option to expand the menu and make them smaller). The best sellers and big spenders present a more “top heavy” graph than that of most other popular consoles. And as for multiplatform games? Most people are still sticking to PC, PS4, or even Xbox One for anything other than exclusives they don’t have at least one of on Switch yet. Little “version exclusive bonuses” aren’t important to most people. Comfortable controllers (the Shell is uncomfortable and the Pro is too expensive) and a console you’ve already gotten attached to with no pigeonholed “identity” seem to be beating out the Switch when it comes to multiplatform games for these reasons. That, and some Switch ports are terrible.

What Nintendo seems to do these days is instead of making hit after hit, they coast off of one hit and make a bunch of games they like making with no actual target audience. Nowhere is this more obvious than in their latest Nintendo Direct where they dedicate a very small amount of time to Mario Maker 2 (the important console-selling original 2D Mario, VS SMB and NSMBUD don’t cut it) and a YUGE section to Fire Emblem Three Houses. It doesn’t matter how many waifus and highschools you put into Fire Emblem, Nintendo. We just don’t like Fire Emblem.

Also, another bad habit Nintendo needs to break RIGHT NOW is the insane prices. $300 definitely looked ridiculous to many. And that’s on top of the expensive peripherals and added costs to things that used to be free. Nintendo can only get away with this because the economy is good. Once it turns down again, high prices will be a difficult habit to break.

Remember, this has happened before. The Wii had more million sellers and even more 10 million sellers than the Switch does now and that was in a bad economy. And even it still went downhill in the second half and begat the Wii U. What if the Pokemon games don’t make the impact they used to? I’m not sure Nintendo has such a great contingency plan if that happens.

I hope I’m wrong. But the Switch doesn’t look perfect to me.

Games have more limitations than ever!

It would seem as if modern hardware and industry size would eliminate all limitations. But they’ve actually brought on more limitations than they’ve solved. As the industry grows bigger and more money hungry and better hardware drives up expectations, it makes everyone (even smaller developers) more risk-averse. Before making games, companies opt for something that they already know how to make and won’t run into too many problems. If something goes wrong, changing or scrapping things is harder. And besides, familiar genres and IPs are more likely to sell, making them extra imperative. And here’s another thing- anything new will be priced lower and make less money. And the budget differences will be very apparent, docking favorability with everyone. And that brings up one more thing that hampers new IPs: Franchise expectations- every new game is expected to be a loss leader for a franchise, resulting in something lower quality than what could have been. And the bigger budgets just highlight the cynical sequel and spinoff plans, not to mention the bad writing.

So if you’re developing for a console with limitations, be thankful- you might not get another chance to work with something that has built in editing and longer leashes.

Never buy modern AAA games again!

So the word is out- Modern AAA games are trash. It seems the only reason they’ve ever sold so well is because of great marketing campaigns, peer pressure, and lack of alternatives plus lack of historical knowledge, particularly from younger players. You don’t have to stand for it though- there are more alternatives than ever. Each one of these alone will allow you to wait out the deluge of live services.

Reproduction games: These allow you to play both fan translations (though most games being translated either aren’t that great or are perfectly playable without your language) they greatly extend your favorite gaming eras. And if you’re willing to sacrifice quality control for preferred content even further, rom hacks are now being published as reproductions as well. No more dealing with dodgy, legally grey emulators. Now you can have the intended console-and-TV experience.

Retro/Import games: My preference over the last several years, and probably for life, at least until the industry gets its way back (after losing it). What can I say- cheap, low demand, plenty of variety, more choices than you knew existed, guaranteed value and low disappointment possibility… the only drawback is the language barrier. Though you would be surprised how little of an issue that is even in some text heavy games.

Mods: The modern version of rom hacks. Play these on an old console that’s been cracked and enjoy an endless amount of user made content. Also benefits you in that you’ll never have to buy a new game/console and may even experience content from newer games.

Reviving old online games: Now-defunct online games can be played on a private server. Again, will bring back the nostalgia without having to buy a new game/console.

Don’t worry about how “illegal” any of these are. These days, due to the industry getting more frisky with regulations, my concern for the legality of these things is running out.

Customers don’t need to “broaden their horizons”. You just need to make better games.

Numerous games across many eras and platforms already exist out there. And I appreciate a hidden gem as much as anyone else. However, most gamers only stick to a small number of well-known mainstream franchises. Disappointing, right? Those plebes need to learn. What if a new one comes out and ruins everything? Well, they might be playing it smarter though. Buying less games means spending less money and having more opportunities to get really good at and well-acquainted with a few. Plus it’s easy to choose one for multiplayer when people come over. And people like playing a game instantly rather than having to learn completely new rules and controls, which regular franchise updates usually offer. Plus if a game’s more popular, achievements will mean more even if it’s not as difficult as a more obscure game.

This sadly fosters an environment in which few games have most of the marketshare, but it could also lead to them resting on their laurels and inspiring a smaller developer to make something better. One of the main reasons games fail is if people couldn’t get comfortable with it early on. Most games are not tested for this and end up failing despite lots of hard work put into them. According to the public, gaming is “getting better” if there are more titles the average person is familiar with and have in their library. The fewer games there are worth playing at a time, the worse it is.

Volume alone doesn’t matter. This would explain why AAA developers often pour lots of resources into making one really big and expensive game and not making several smaller games like many critics would suggest (and it seems logical) because smaller games have exponentially fewer players. People want recognizable content and immersion, not “gameplay and assets”. And initially expensive games can still fall in price and be dirt cheap eventually while offering the same experience (though things like ambassador bonuses are sadly taking this away).

It’s good that some of you are well-rounded. Just don’t expect everyone to be. Normal gamers might be more well-rounded than you in other activities, which they put more focus in.