5 Famous Games Inspired By The Most Absolutely Random Things
Most of the time, the inspiration behind a video game is pretty obvious, like Red Dead Redemption and westerns or Pokemon and cockfighting. But in some cases, the source material is so random and bizarre that you'd have to be a complete maniac to even guess it. You know, like the maniacs responsible for how ...
Mass Effect's Look Is Taken From The Terrible Final Fantasy Movie
We've demonstrated how recent sci-fi movies and shows are ripping off Mass Effect's visuals, from the architecture to the technology to the sexy robots. Thing is, Mass Effect's art director, Derek Watts, admits that the game itself borrowed a lot from an unexpected source: Final Fantasy. Ah, so which of the classic games in that series did they use as inspiration? None of them. He's talking about Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the crappy 2001 movie which bombed so hard that it took an entire studio with it.
If you can't remember any anime pretty boys, stupid hair, or ridiculous zippers in Mass Effect, that's because Spirits Within looks nothing like any Final Fantasy game. The movie takes place in a future where everyone wears very bland, functional, and militaristic uniforms. Mass Effect is set in the same type of fashion dystopia.
And remember the soldiers from Spirits Within, with their black armor and shiny goggles? We'd honestly be shocked if you did. But here are mercenaries from Mass Effect, using almost the exact same design:
But it's not just the people. Even the spaceships are undeniably similar:
Wrist-mounted hologram computers are everywhere by now, probably because of Mass Effect ... and they're definitely in Mass Effect because of Spirits Within.
Watts even kept a folder full of Spirits Within images, which he'd point out to the art team while saying (and this is a direct quote) "Change it like that!" And that's how an embarrassing failure no one saw accidentally became one of the most influential sci-fi movies of this century.
Street Fighter Blatantly Copied A Charles Bronson Movie
Street Fighter feels like an inevitability, something that just happened. Mortal Kombat brought in the gore, Dead Or Alive the T&A, but Street Fighter is just ... Street Fighter. What could it possibly take inspiration from? Well, the answer is obviously an obscure 1975 Charles Bronson film called Hard Times.
The movie is set during the Great Depression, when everyone was poor and hungry -- in Bronson's case, hungry for ass-kickings. So Bronson and a buddy start competing in illegal street fights for a few pennies. But what does this have to do with a game about giant mohawked Russians suplexing green-skinned electrical Brazilians? Well, the arenas in Hard Times bring about a curious sense of deja vu:
Aside from the giant Capcom boat, Street Fighter II's Ken stage is a pretty good 16-bit rendition of the above scene from Hard Times (so the awesome music isn't the only thing that's unoriginal). Then there's Zangief's stage, a boring Russian factory. Why not Red Square? Lenin's Tomb? The Kremlin? Probably because this one is from Hard Times too.
Notice the guy in the trench coat? That's James Coburn's character, who can be seen enjoying the hospitality of one of those boats in Ken's stage. He also appears on the poster for the Japanese version of the movie, which was called ... The Street Fighter.
Street Fighter II designer Akira Yasuda says that Capcom's chairman told him to take inspiration from movies, and Yasuda "took that to mean we should just openly plagiarize them." Fortunately, he stopped short of turning Ryu into a 50-year-old ugly short guy named Barles Chonson -- though we can't rule out a character like that appearing in a future sequel.
F-Zero Was Inspired By Batman
F-Zero, the legendary Nintendo racing series, wouldn't exist if it wasn't for 1) Batman, and 2) Americans being rude.
It all started when Nintendo's Japanese developers proudly showed their U.S. counterparts a Formula 1 game they'd made, only to get "bashed." According to F-Zero designer Isshin Shimizu, the Nintendo of America employees looked at the pixelated cars he'd lovingly created and said, "This isn't a racing game! Racing cars should be cooler!" Dejected and upset, Shimizu did what we all do when we're sad: He watched the 1989 Batman movie. As did everyone else, because it was 1989 and that movie was absolutely inescapable.
This gave Shimizu a brilliant idea: What if Formula 1 was more like Batman? He brought back a stack of Batman comics to Japan and began designing cars inspired by the Batmobile's futuristic look. The only problem was that creating constantly rotating wheels for each car was too challenging ... so they simply removed the wheels, making the cars even more futuristic.
Shimizu also imagined a futuristic 3D city like Burton's Gotham, but something like that would have made your Super Nintendo explode. So again, they had a creative solution: setting the racetracks above the city so they didn't have to show it. The entire game came about using Rob Liefeld logic.
Finally, one of the racers in the series, Black Shadow, looks like Bruce Wayne if a bull had crashed through his window that night instead of a bat.
Super Mario Bros. 2 Is Based On A Zany Japanese Festival
You've probably heard about the time Nintendo took a game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic, put some Mario skins on the characters, and sold it as Super Mario Bros. 2 in America. But where the hell did Doki Doki Panic come from? Why is an Arabian prince throwing turnips at a giant frog? What's with all those masks?
The short answer is that it's all Brazil's fault. In the '80s, some executives for Japan's Fuji TV happened to be in Brazil during Carnival, and they liked what they saw -- and not just the barely covered boobies everywhere, but also the concept of throwing one giant crazy party in the streets. So they decided to organize a 44-day festival of their own, which they called Yume Kojo ("Dream Factory"), because it was supposed to revolve around dreams and imagination. Somehow that translated into "masks everywhere, all the time."
As part of the year-long media blitz to promote the festival, Fuji TV commissioned Nintendo to make a Yume Kojo video game. Nintendo threw the festival's visual elements (including its turban-wearing mascot, Imaji) into a blender with an existing prototype of theirs, and what came out was Doki Doki Panic.
Even after they ditched Imaji and turned the game into a Mario title for international release, Nintendo still kept Yume Kojo-related elements, like the masks and the dreaming theme. The game ends with the revelation that Mario dreamed the whole thing, after all. Considering how long the real festival went on for, and how hard they tried to push it on people, we can't blame Mario for having a stress nightmare in which he goes around pelting festival-goers with vegetables and throwing them into bottomless pits and such.
The Wolfenstein Reboot Series Owes A Debt To ... Yahtzee?
The only plot in the original Wolfenstein games was "Hey, there are Nazis here. Kill them." When the series was rebooted this decade, one of the main innovations was adding an elaborate story, complex characters, and actual emotion to the ol' formula. How did they do that? Easy! By taking notes from Zero Punctuation. Yes, the jokey game review series by extremely British critic Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. Specifically, the joke video about Duke Nukem Forever.
In his review, Croshaw imagines the (at the time unreleased) Duke Nukem Forever as an over-the-top character study that actually humanizes Duke ... which sounds a lot like what ended up actually happening in Wolfenstein: The New Order. In Yahtzee's satirical version, the game is a decade after aliens (Nazis in Wolfenstein) have conquered the world. The protagonist is living in Europe, away from the action, until a woman he cares about (his daughter in Duke, nurse / love interest in Wolfenstein) begs him to help out. Croshaw mentions starting in the Swedish ghettos and ending up baking a cake on the moon. In The New Order, you start in a Polish suburb, and near the end you're on the moon, wearing a white admiral uniform -- the next-closest thing to a chef suit.
Yathzee also praises how in his imagined Forever, you have to run around and befriend children. In Wolfenstein, you have to run around your base finding toys to befriend a mentally ill, childlike teammate. He finally concludes the review with a bizarre aside about Jimi Hendrix. Also bizarre? The fact that Hendrix is a character in The New Order.
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