Shake your Sonic-Wiimote…

From Hub_111, February 2010.

A couple of weeks ago it was revealed in the press that the BBC has decided to get back into video games. Apparently, they want to turn some of their biggest licences into DS, Wii, iPhone and online games.

This is of interest to me, genre fan and gamer, because Auntie Beeb has this small property called Doctor Who and I would hate to see something rushed out to hit the market in time for Christmas 2010 but the timing just makes me wonder… However, the BBC have been stung in the past. They closed their own Multimedia division in 2005 due to poor sales and the last Doctor Who game, Destiny of the Doctors in 1997, was poorly executed, to put it politely, so surely it must be a case of lesson learnt?

Unfortunately, though, we have to succumb to the fact that the odds are not on these being games that will keep everybody happy. I’m sure we’ll see quite a few BBC properties (In the Night Garden, anyone?) high up the video games sales charts but they won’t necessarily be any good.

Taking Doctor Who as an example; I’d love to see the developers actually work hard at this, be given the time to realise their original plan and get a writer on-board who knows the product and maybe even make the storyline canonical, making it matter. This, however, doesn’t always make a successful, top selling, game. Sure, games developers always work hard, I know enough of them, but sometimes things just inexplicably do not gel together. Take 2008’s Lost: Via Domus for example. It was loved mostly by fans and panned by everyone else. The developers had worked very hard with a tricky property, working alongside the development of the TV series, but in the end it just didn’t quite get there. Incidentally, it’s over in about 3 hours so an easy 1000 gamerpoints for Xbox 360 owners! Star Wars: The Force Unleashed did very well in sales numbers, as pretty much every Star Wars game does, was canonical and did OK by the critics even though it was, as far as I’m concerned, not much more than a fun, yet repetitive, button basher. Again, I’ll stick my neck out and say the replay value was pretty much only endured by die hard fans. Now, I like Star Wars but I have my limits… However, as far as mass appreciation versus keeping the fans happy goes, The Force Unleashed did pretty well.

I could go back through the entire history of video games, dissecting all of the film and TV licences, but I know as well as any other who has probably played far too many games since a young age that the overall trend is that they sell in large quantities even if the game sucks. Now, in my opinion this latest exercise will be primarily about potential cash revenue but, then, I’m a cynical so and so!

Anyway, enough of my ranting. This week in Hub we have an extract from Guy Adams’ new book The World House along with a feature by Richard Whittaker on the use of religion in some of the more recent genre films to hit the big screens. Enjoy!