There was a couple of announcements on the internet recently, news that made me and many of the other writers sit up and scream. The star of The Party at Kitty and Stud’s, Sylvester Stallone, is going to be in two games in the near future. The first we expect to see is a movie tie in downloadable title, Expendables 2. Secondly we will see the Italian Stallion donning a red bandanna and a permanent sheen of sweat in a new Rambo game.
These aren’t the first games featuring the muscles that mumble. Infact quite a number of Stallone’s films had a tie in games in the early to mid-nineties. I thought before we start looking forward too much to games like The Expendables 2 and Rambo we should look back at see how his previous ventures into pixel land fared.
Demolition Man was a film released in 1993, the film featured the Hell’s Kitchen flat face being cryogenically frozen on the off chance that wacky hair dyer Dennis Rodman thaws out and escapes from an ice cube prison in the future. And lo and behold what happens, like a polar bears whatsits in the Bahamas Dennis Rodman’s cell melts and he scarpers. Que Demolition Man Stallone’s reassignment to the police of the future.
The game is pretty much what you expect from a 16-bit movie tie in. Vaguely nice graphics wrapped around a so-so platformer. I replayed this game a couple of years back after a binge of Snes movie tie in games, and my main takeaway from this game was how brutal the final boss was. Quite simply I don’t acknowledge Dennis Rodman as a bad actor, supposedly good basketball player, or even the man who for some reason decided to sleep with Maddonna; I see him as the man who made me scream many a horrific obscenity after he killed me for the umpteenth time. But with blistered fingers I beat the bastard and came away feeling cheated out of playing a game that might have been good.
Stallone’s 2 biggest characters that he has played are easily Rocky and Rambo. Two men who like to sweat in slow motion. Both have had a few games released featuring the franchise. The Rambo game on the NES is quite simply atrocious. The game takes place during the events of Rambo II, probably because the concept of First Blood where Rambo is a vet with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder tearing a town apart like it’s papier mache and killing everyone with a badge would have been frowned upon back then, unlike now.
The game is a classic NES cluster of crappyness, a platformer where the combat is generally hand to hand but with awful hit detection. You spend the majority of the game not killing soldiers in Vietnam but actually taking down the eco system like you’re an oil baron with no soul. Killing spiders, bats, tigers and other wildlife is your bread and butter, apparently Rambo isn’t a member of Greenpeace or the WWF. The game takes its ques from many games of the era where you would walk around a 2d maze aimlessly with the vain hope of happening upon the area that the programmers wanted you to find without help. Eventually you do pick up a bow and arrow and other weapons but personally I gave up after about 45 minutes of playing, rather than holding your hand on an adventure and guiding you to have fun this game is against you and wants you to quit.
Rocky on the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube is a game that isn’t intentionally hard, but through mind boggling glitches does produce a confusing experience. This game is not at the quality of a Fight Night game, but it does feature some fun scenes from the films. Generally training rocky up is good fun with montages and beef punching and as much of a slog as it is to get to recreating the street brawl between Rocky Balboa and Tommy Gunn is a high point of the films and the game. Glitches include eyes and jaws disappearing from characters and the often seen fighters sinking through the ring. I’m not a huge fan of the Rocky films, they will pass some time but they’re not the be all and end all of cinema history to me. That being said, I would have like to have seen Rocky given a fair chance in the boxing game genre as all there is now, thanks to the demise of Sega and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, is Fight Night and EA’s hands are firmly wringing with that knowledge.
All in all Stallone hasn’t had a good run with the world of pixels. The Expendables is one of my favourite films of the past few years and the latest installment of Rambo, whilst bat poop crazy, was a fun gorey film. My hopes are that with a proper studio behind to the two projects Stallone can finally appear in a genuinely good game with a proper story and gameplay. Hell at this stage I would accept a Wii game where I can punch a side of cow for 2 hours.