I saw 9 over the weekend. I’ll spare you the full review, but suffice it to say that it’s the first movie that I actually thought might be better as a game. I’ve often been critical of the idea that games should try to adapt themselves into film form, largely because they’re entirely different media with different strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know if the creators of 9 are gamers, though, because they owe an enormous debt to a whole variety of games. Just a few of the striking similaries (I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum):
- The characters: the ragdoll-esque main characters are straight out of LittleBigPlanet. The exact design, of course, isn’t identical, but it’s notably close, right up to the zippered front. Compare Sackboy with 9.
- The world: I’m not sure that I’d go so far as to say that the resemblence is as obvious on this front, but I couldn’t help but think of a cross between the LBP and Bioshock (or even Fallout 3) universes. One scene: where the characters are fighting a mechanical monstrosity in a wrecked, hollow futuristic shell of a factory while playing physics-based tricks with local scenery. The scale of the ragdoll characters’ world, coupled with the abandoned, rotting sci-fi wasteland, is enormously evocative of the games. I half-expected to see a Big Daddy.
- The plot: the plot of 9 is paper-thin, but the striking part is that it’s essentially a number of survival set-pieces. Much like a platformer, the characters careen from one dangerous action-oriented encounter to the next, without much in the way of linkage between the scenarios. I suspect that had I been controlling them, it would have been a more compelling experience.
- The story arc: Without giving too much away, 9 is about a problem that is almost self-created before being solved by the same protagonists that caused those issues in the first place. There are a ton of game-related archetypes for this type of arc, although I suppose they’re variations on the Pandora’s Box theme.
- Inventions: Crafting has always been an important element of many post-apocalyptic RPGs, and 9 doesn’t disappoint. Created items pop up regularly as key elements of the film.
There are a few other debts to be noted, but this gives you a flavor for just how much the contemporary game landscape has contributed to the game - in spirit, if not in practice. (There are also a ton of similarities with Tim Burton’s last film, Coraline, but since those aren’t game-related I’ll let you consider them on your own.) I’d bet there’s a solid game to be found inside the unremarkable movie.Posted in Etc, Geoff, Non-Gaming |