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This Week @ Shack: 'A Night at the Cinema' Edition

In which we wax nostalgic about movies and the inconsistent quality of video game tie-ins.


Welcome to This Week @ Shack, our regular roundup of news, commentary, video, and guides.

It's mostly a change for the better that developers aren't beholden to make cheap movie tie-in games anymore. There was a time that any big-budget blockbuster had a game hit within a few months at the least, which is how we got a top-down action-adventure game from Jurassic Park or possibly the most infuriating game ostensibly meant for children.

There were some high water marks, of course–usually when developers used the framework and name recognition to push the boundaries of what games could do. Goldeneye 007 helped bring FPS to console, and Spider-Man 2 helped redefine an open-world adventure. Something about the transition to 3D made these games more and more of a rarity, though. Development has gotten expensive and unpredictable, so it's hard to gamble on a tie-in when most of its value will be lost if it doesn't hit simultaneously. Plus games constantly shift during development, so planning those two tracks simultaneously seems to have become too much of a burden to bear.

Still, as bad as they often were, there was something special about reliving your favorite movies over and over with a video game. The plot would be changed in nonsensical ways, and they were almost impossible to finish, but in the days before easily accessible video-on-demand and lightning-quick home releases, this was how we extended and expanded our time at the movies.

I say all this because we're starting the summer movie season this weekend, and yes, it's coming earlier and earlier just like Christmas. And that has me pondering what kinds of games would have come about. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is a movie that would have lent itself to game adaptations, and those adaptations would probably have relied largely on when and where it was made. Single-player action for NES, shmup for Genesis, janky cash-in third-person shooter for PC and PS1. The possibilities are endless. Maybe because the Guardians series captures a spirit of light-hearted space adventure, it feels very at home to me, in those nostalgic notions of video game tie-ins.

I would have popped quarters into a 5-person arcade beat-em-up cabinet. And I would've called Rocket.

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