By: Joey Connelly (aka "JoAnkhamun" & "The Jaded Gamer"
Originally published on NESfan.com - 09/10/2000
The Troubled Genre
Since the advent of the home gaming console, developers have always wanted to cash in on popular films by creating video game versions of whatever was the blockbuster at the time. From E.T. on the Atari 2600 to GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64, movie-licensed games have always been in abundance. However, not all such games ever make it into production. Whether the designers couldn't agree on a game design or the entire project was ill-conceived and doomed from the get-go, for various reasons several movie-based games never get produced. In this article we will take a look at three such titles that were developed, but for one reason or another never made it into production.
"Steel Magnolias" by Tecmo
One of the most popular "chick-flick's" of the late '80's, "Steel Magnolias" centered around the diabetic character of "Shelby" (portrayed by Julia Roberts) and her wedding, motherhood, eventual death, and the impact these events put upon her mother and her group of friends. Now this may not seem like much of a plot for a video game, but apparently Tecmo thought otherwise. From what I gather from inside sources who claim to have worked on this game in development, there were 2 levels completed at the time Tecmo pulled the plug. Apparently in the first level you played as the character of Shelby, and your goal was to eat as many cookies and drink as many cups of orange juice as you could within a certain time limit. If you were speedy enough you moved onto the next stage. However, if you were too slow your character would go into diabetic convulsions (one of the more memorable scenes) and eventually pass out.
The second level I am told, has you playing the part of Shelby's father (portrayed by Tom Skerritt in the film) and his quest to rid the trees in his yard of pesky birds (which was one of the more light-hearted scenes in the film). To do this you get to use a shotgun and fireworks. I've been told it was kind of like "Duck Hunt" meets "Missile Command". I've also heard that this was the most exciting of the two levels, and showed what great potential this game had.
Unfortunately, Tecmo felt that the game wouldn't fit into their targeted demographic, and killed the project shortly before the programming of the remaining four levels of their six level design. All my efforts in locating the two levels that were completed have been futile, as they simply seem to have vanished into thin air.
"Fried Green Tomatoes" by Capcom USA
Another extremely popular female-friendly film that was to be made into a videogame was "Fried Green Tomatoes" starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary Louise-Parker. With a plot that spanned several decades, characters, and highly emotional personal and societal issues, this game was a mammoth undertaking. Even though a daunting task, Capcom USA was up for it. Almost immediately after acquiring the rights, the game went full swing into development, or at least that's what the board of directors thought was happening.....
Capcom USA had invested nearly $80,000 in securing the rights to "Fried Green Tomatoes", and development was expected to start immediately on the game. However, when the CEO of Capcom USA demanded to see how much work had been done on the project after six months, he was shocked to see that only a title screen and gamepak/box art had been produced. Apparently the "Fried Greem Tomatoes" (F.G.T.) development team had taken the development funds and invested them in a new game company known as 'Active Enterprises Ltd.' in the hopes of reaping a huge profit in producing Active Enterprises upcoming 'Cheetahmen II'game. They foolishly believed that 'Cheetahmen II'
would bring in enough money for them to be able to develop "F.G.T." and still make a huge profit without anyone being the wiser. Of course 'Cheetahmen II' failed miserably, and the "F.G.T." development team was up the creek without a paddle. Needless to say, the entire team was promptly fired and Capcom began litigation against them. The "Fried Green Tomatoes" project was immediately dumped and soon forgotten.
"The Last Temptation Of Christ" by LJN
Our last piece of "vaporware" to be featured is LJN's "The Last Temptation of Christ". This Martin Scorsese film about Jesus created an extremely large amount of controversy when it was released, and why LJN wanted to make a videogame of it is beyond me. I've been told by an ex-LJN employee that they were hoping to lead the way in software created for the "mature NES player" demographic, and "The Last Temptation of Christ" was to be their flagship title in this new endeavor.
After creating gamepak/box artwork and the first level of the game, LJN pulled the plug on the project after Martin Scorsese's production company filed suit against them for infringement of copyright. Apparently in LJN's excitement to get the game developed they "forgot" to secure the rights. Not only was all programming on the project destroyed, but I have yet to hear any information as to what the completed level was like. We can only imagine.... One thing is for certain though, even if the game had been completed, Nintendo would never have licensed such a controversial title as "The Last Temptation of Christ".
As we've seen, the world of movie-licensed games is a diverse and strange one. Who knows what other movie-based games ended up being canned before development was finished? As long as the possibility of finding such games is there, I will continue my search...