Pixelated Pulp

It’s my opinion that the pulp magazine entertainment of the 1930’s and 40’s has a cousin in today’s video games, whether it’s with pulp-inspired games (like the “Tomb-Raider” series, the upcoming “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune”, or the outstanding “Crimson Skies” series), or games based on existing pulp-originated properties (“Call Of Cthulhu” and the upcoming “Conan” game). According to some things I see on Gabriel’s blog, I don’t think I’m alone here.

There’s never been a game based on a hero-pulp character, though. There was a Shadow game once based on the Alec Baldwin movie, but it was never released. Just as well: I played it through a Super Nintendo emulator I downloaded online and it’s pretty bad… like a bad “Final Fight” clone with a cloak. With Columbia / Sony and Sam Raimi making a new Shadow movie, maybe we’ll see a PlayStation 3 game tie-in (and if any developers are reading this: contact me. I’ve been thinking about a Shadow game for years and have got tons of ideas). Of course, I’ll have to sell a kidney to afford that PS3, but it’ll be worth it… if the game doesn’t suck.

To be honest though, the only pulp-hero I can think of as translating well to video-games is The Spider, a character who originally was a kind of Shadow rip-off who found his own footing; he’s now regarded as the most violent character from the pulps. His adventures were bloody and outrageous and almost blurred the line between hero-pulps and hooded-menace pulps. If The Spider were a video game, it would have to be a first person shooter, and rated “M” for “mature” too. The Spider (although far from being my favorite pulp-hero) should never puss out.

Can anyone else out there envision the crossroads of the digital age and the pulp era? Any ideas you may want to discuss or share, feel free.

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Published in: on April 4, 2007 at 6:58 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Damn it! I had a really good posting and I @#$%-ed up somehow! I’ll repost it later.

  2. Gabriel, I’m interested in hearing it. Love your site, by the way. Those “Serpent and the Rainbow” dance images you found are truly creepy.

  3. Okay, here we go. I’m going to try and remember my earlier post.

    A good golden/silver age hero game is Freedom Force. You can d/l 100s of skins/templates based on MANY different preexisting heroes. There are numerous sites in which one can request skins to be made. It’s better than City of Heroes because you’re not playing it online hence, NO LAG. Making the skins is really difficult because you need some deep insight and experience in using 3-D programs (the 2nd game doesnt come with any tools). I’ve seen every pulp and mystery man hero. From Doc Savage to the Phantom Detective. From the Shadow to Flash Gordon.

    Now, as for City of Heroes/Villains…. The only redeeming quality is its character editor. You can make almost ANYONE.

    I’ve made everyone from my Red Phantom mythos (the images can be found on my blog but if you want the direct links, email me nycpulpwritergmail.com), the Shadow, the Phantom, The Spider, even the Grey Ghost from the Batman: The Animated Series.

    In fact, the character editor is much more fun than the game itself. It’s a pain dealing with idiotic teens who have no creativity or respect for comic book characters. I need not go into detail with the lame anime fans.

    If you can, get a SNES emulator and the ROM, Indiana Jones. It has all 3 movies and it’s a pretty fun side scroller (you even fight the Nazi on the back of that tank).

    A friend of mine is working on cracking the source code for the PC game Freedom Fighters. The game takes place in the 80s and begins with the USSR invading NYC. It’s great fun and huge levels to run around in.

    My friend plans to redo the skins so it’s the Shadow running around shooting up the Nazi’s. I’ll keep you posted on that.

    If there would be a Shadow game for the ps3, let’s hope it’s a free roamer like the Grand Theft Auto series (I hate using the term “sandbox”). Emulating his powers shouldn’t be too hard. Unlike the Marvel games in which you LOSE energy for using your powers, the Shadow’s “power to cloud minds” can be left on and represented like the Adam (alec?) Baldwin Shadow. Brief flashes of his fists and upper torso or hands holding his guns when he attacks.

    Gameplay can be handled in that when the Shadow attacks (STRIKES!), he’s vulnerable for a moment and the enemies with guns can draw a bead on him (course they have to be extra challenging).

    You know what would be a good engine to make a pulp game? Fable. You start off as a youngster seeking: revenge/justice/power/etc and as you develop your skills/powers you choose your costumes. Or something to that effect.

    Another good engine for heroes who rely on hot lead would be the Syphon Filter one. a 3rd person shoot with HUUUUUUUUUGE maps is perfect for someone like the Shadow, Spider, Crimson Avenger etc.

    I wonder how much $$ one needs to buy the source code…

  4. Oh yeah, aint that picture of that dancer freaky or what?
    I got an idea in that the crime boss, Papa Morte, of New Orleans contacts someone (something?) and through it, he resurrects the Axeman. That dancer could represent the entity in question.

    But somehow something goes wrong and New Orleans is the epicenter of a huge spiritual smackdown.

  5. It’s funny. I don’t have any experience with computer programming and have only recently gotten a computer worth a damn (so I’ll have to check out those games, but I’m not much of an online player). But I’ve discovered the joys of character creations from (of all things) console wrestling games. I’m not a wrestling fan or anything, but have discovered that for dirt cheap, wrestling games can provide some fun create-a-character stuff, along with the creation of some fun character-specific ring-entrances. So far, I’ve made a great looking Doc Savage (that looks exactly like the version of Doc I have in my head when I read the pulps), The Phantom, Shadow villain Shiwan Khan, and a few others, including a couple of pulp characters I’ve been working on (Thurston “Challenger” Storm and The Cipher). The only one I haven’t really been able to pull off successfully is the one I want to do the most- The Shadow! Oh, well. Maybe one day.

    Oh, and if I could use any existing engine to do a pulp (non-“mind clouding”) version of The Shadow, I would use one of the Splinter Cell engines. Perfect for shadowy stealth stuff.

  6. Oh hell yeah. The PS2 wrestling games are chock full of excellent creation possibilities. I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I beat the crap out of some guy with G-8 and Blackhawk.

    You will not go wrong with the hero games Freedom Force. It has that wonderful Kirby feel to them.


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