Fan Creations That Went For It, All Of It
The realm of fandom creations can be strange and terrifying, as demonstrated by our unsolicited statue of Sylvester P. Smythe with nipple piercings and track marks that was ominously labelled "a gift." But, when fans pour countless hours into a project with no promise of a reward, it can also be inspirational. The following creations radiate pure passion and love and, as a bonus, they're incapable of moving around the office when we're not looking.
Project 06 Is Trying To Salvage The Worst Sonic The Hedgehog Game
There have been over 30 Sonic the Hedgehog games, and almost four of them are good, so it's no wonder the franchise's fans are so passionate. But of all the terrible Sonic games, Sonic '06 holds the dubious distinction of being the worst. It's full of repetitive gameplay and moronic side characters, it puts way too much emphasis on a stupid angsty story where Sonic kisses a human woman, and it's riddled with enough bugs to make suffering through it qualify you as an entomologist. Sega won't even sell it anymore, and they're still willing to charge money for Altered Beast.
Fans were, shall we say, disappointed in Sonic '06. But as the years passed and the scar tissue formed, a small group of fans led by Ian Moris (aka the very Sonic fandom-esque ChaosX) decided to try salvaging this abomination. There were some good ideas buried in the rushed mess of faulty controls, insane camera behavior, and levels that were held together with spit and prayers, and Moris' team is slowly extracting them like miners delving far deeper than it is safe to be.
The most recent demo has five playable stages, and it includes improved graphics, load times that have been cut from 60 seconds to three and, most crucially, gameplay that actually works. Moris has no idea when they'll be done -- at least two years from now is his best guess -- but fans have praised all of his hard work. Maybe when he's done he can try to fix Sonic Unleashed. And Sonic and the Black Knight. And Sonic and the Secret Rings. And Sonic Forces. And Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. And...
200 Shrek Fans Remade The Original Movie
Did you know that Shrek isn't just a delivery system for "All Star" jokes, but a full movie in its own right? And 200 fans did a complete remake of it, presumably because their friends and family were threatening to get out the duct tape if they just kept sitting around and quoting it. The collective work is a mix of all sorts of styles of animation, live action, and even puppetry. Each segment is different, like the paper cut-out and cotton ball cloud recreation of the production company logo.
That's followed by the storybook intro sequence, which adds the tales of how a bunch of Shrek obsessives came together to create a new version.
Then we get a live-action recreation of Shrek's dramatic entrance via outhouse.
From there, Shrek Retold moves into animation styles ranging from (relatively) realistic...
...to, uh, whatever the hell is going on here.
Some of the contributing fans were professional animators, while others were amateurs doing the best or weirdest they could. The final product has been viewed 4.1 million times, and is never, ever coming to a theatre near you.
Though you can buy a copy on VHS, because stuff on the internet has stopped making sense.
Minecraft Players Spent Nine Years Recreating Middle-Earth
Minecraft is all about elaborate construction projects, but there's "50 foot tall penis that ejaculates flaming chickens" elaborate and then there's Minecraft Middle Earth. Upwards of 14,000 fans have chipped in over nine years to re-create every major location from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. They're still tinkering with refinements, and it may take them another nine years to tackle all the Silmarillion's bullshit, but you're free to hop in and look around at everything from Bag End to Pelargir. That's the grand port city of Gondor, as if you nerds didn't already know.
Cubist Middle-earth is 29,000 by 30,000 blocks or, if that doesn't mean anything to you, 870 square kilometres. If that doesn't mean anything to you, it's about 336 square miles. But perhaps even more impressive than the scope is the fact that the project wasn't immediately overrun by arguments between Tolkien nerds or trolls writing "FRODO LIVES!" on the side of Mount Doom. There were strict rules, and you had to do grunt work until you proved you were trustworthy, but tons of fans happily participated anyway because it's the closest we'll get to building all of Middle-earth until our distant descendants slap a Tolkien theme park on some terraformed moon.
One Fan Saved A '90s Steven Moffat Sitcom From Oblivion
Steven Moffat is best known for his work on Doctor Who, Sherlock and his family's hit single. But he previously created Press Gang, Coupling (which had a brief and terrible American remake), and a short-lived comedy called Joking Apart, which ran from 1993 to 1995 in two six-episode series ("series" is British for "seasons").
Joking Apart starred Robert Bathurst and drew on the breakdown of Moffat's first marriage. It reviewed well and picked up some award nominations and so the BBC, displaying textbook British business acumen, delayed the broadcast of the second series for a year, never reran it, and decided it would be stupid to release it on VHS or DVD.
So the show had basically been a one-off stage play until 2004 when Craig Robins, a fan and, conveniently for our story, an experienced video engineer, thought it would be nice if his personal VHS recordings weren't the only way he could share his love of the show. So he paid no small sum for the rights to release Joking Apart, obtained the master tapes from the BBC, and set about remastering them for his own damn DVD release. He even contacted the creators and cast, who provided episode commentaries and interviews for bonus features.
Season one was released in 2006 on Robins' own DVD label, and reviews praised both the show and the professionalism of the product. Sales were strong enough that Robins was able to tackle season two as well, and reviews were positive again. His label is still in business today, having also reissued the first season of another lost Moffat comedy called Chalk. And eventually, when no one has a DVD player anymore, they'll be a great resource for another superfan looking to launch their own all-Moffat streaming service.
One Fire Emblem Game Took 20 Years For Fans To Translate
Nintendo's Fire Emblem franchise has come a long way since its 1990 inception. Once a fringe series for anime dweebs, 2019's Three Houses topped sales charts and won awards by being an absolute masterpiece for horny anime dweebs. Much of its success can be traced back to 1999's Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, which introduced numerous series staples like fog of war, branching routes, and a difficulty level that will kick your little Kirby-loving ass. And if that makes it sound like Fire Emblem fans are a bunch of masochists, well, it took 20 grueling years to translate Thracia into English, so you might be right.
Fire Emblem games weren't released in the west until 2003, partially because Nintendo worried that we were too dumb for them but also because of how much text they have to translate. Fan translations of the other Japan-only games have long been available, but Thracia was considered a "translation patch killer." Thanks to the game's messy and often illogical code, even the slightest change (like rewriting the text) tended to crash it. It was like a mechanic trying to modify a car that combusted if you exhaled on it. Fans, of course, kept trying anyway.
In 2006, after attempt upon attempt ended in defeat, a fan released a 50,000 word text document translation. It let fans follow along, but it was like trying to watch a foreign movie by reading its script at the same time. In 2007 a mostly-functional fan patch was released, but it was made by an edgy high school student who riddled it with memes and gibberish and it mostly just pissed off fans who knew they shouldn't have dabbled with that monkey's paw. It was starting to look like it would be easier for fans to just learn Japanese when, a decade later, a hero emerged.
Thracia was Christo "Cirosan" Brittain's first attempt at translating a game, which is like saying that your first attempt at getting into jogging will be the Boston Marathon. But things went well and, to give you a sense of his passion, time Brittain spent stuck in bed recovering from kidney stones only accelerated his pace. One by one, the infuriating technical challenges were solved, often by consulting other fans and analysing the "graveyard of previous fan translation attempts." In May 2019, Brittain's patch was released and Thracia was finally playable in the west, 20 years after its initial release. It was an incredible accomplishment driven only by enthusiastic volunteers and so, in true gaming fandom fashion, some fans immediately ripped into Brittain because they thought it wasn't good enough.
John Soanes is a London-based writer who, like a stereotype, drinks tea constantly. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSoanes. Michael Battaglino is a contributor to Cracked.com. Be sure to check out some of his other work if you enjoyed this article. Domenico De Luca has been writing for thirty years -- screenplays, short stories and songs making up the vast majority of his output. He is a film buff with his very own blog called So Many Films, So Little Time.
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