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09/19/2003

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William

Um, it seems like Greg C. just doesn't get the joke. Starsky and Hutch is being "revived" as kitsch. The new movie stars Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in "the roles they were born to play, baby."

Reading Greg's bit was like watching a 767 fly right over his head.

Bowler

I've found that many companies feel that any licensing (even old, outdated licensing) is better than no licensing at all. I'm not saying I agree with this.

Certain companies are now pulling titles out of their basement vaults and re-making them (Midway: Area 51, N.A.R.C., Cinemaware: Defender of the Crown) in the hopes that just the small nostalgia factor involved in invoking the old title name will be enough to push people over the rent/buy threshold. These games could have easily been original concept games (at least the Midway ones could have been), but they chose to pull the old name out of the hat. It's maybe worth 5 bonus points of recognition in a review (not to the overall score, mind you, just towards the reviewer's nostalgia factor; assuming they remember the original), but I think in the long run handcuffing yourself to an old game for a bit of nostalgia and recognition isn't worth the lack of freedom of creating an original story and title.

simoniker

Regarding Starsky And Hutch - the game was originally licensed by small English publisher Empire Interactive, and there's a pretty good reason why it was chosen - price. In other words, it was an inexpensive license, all they could afford, and the nostalgia value was good bang for the buck, especially in England, where it's probably the best known of the '70 American cop shows.

It also probably seemed like a good bet because of the nostalgia-filled smash of The Italian Job for Playstation in the UK (this was before the remake had come out), which sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

Then Take Two/Gotham picked it up in the States, sure, also possibly because there was now a movie remake coming out, but.. any attempts to talk about why it was licensed should probably be taken in that context.

From what I hear, the Starsky and Hutch game is kinda good fun, but a little unwieldy. But it's got music by Tim Follin, dammit, so everyone in the entire world should buy it. Deal?

Tim E

Starsky and Hutch fails on two counts:

1. It's simply not a very good game.
2. It's use of the license is abysmal.

Rather than making use of the assets of the series, the games plot and atmosphere is fleshed out using hand drawn stills with a voice over by a pair of sound effects. The only real resemblence to the TV series is a few snippets acted out by Anthony Fargas, and the Ford Gran Torino.

re: the bad game. If you don't use a lightgun for the shooting bits, it's actually impossible to complete some sections, since the automatic cursors switches so erratically between targets.

Joe

Yeah, Greg Costikyan is missing the point in his mad rush to write something angry and jaded. To the younger gamers, the fact that Starsky & Hutch is/was a tv show is irrelevant. The screenshots all make it look like Grand Theft Auto, which is more than enough to quirk interest. For the more peripheral-minded kids, it works with a light gun and/or a wheel, which is pretty rare. And '70s style is more or less back in fashion, and teens today are very aware of that. To someone who has never seen the show, it comes off as a hip, two-player GTA clone.

To someone who has seen the show, there might be a tug of nostalgia. "Holy crap, I can't believe they made a game out of that!"

Sounds like a win-win to me: adults remember the license, kids come after the style and gameplay. I mean, S&H isn't going to win any awards, but it's not the gaming abhorration or license abuser that Greg wants it to be. That dude needs to calm down.

And anyway, it's only $20 brand new. My wife and I have been playing it all week (me: Dual Shock 2 driving, her: Gun Con 2 shooting) and it's easily worth $20.

Karoshi

Two words:

Huggy Bear

Scott Miller

I've been arguing for years that original games (and their sequels) are far more successful than licensed games. I studied this years ago, and I've re-visited it a few times since then, and it's always the same results: approx. 80% of the best selling games each year are based on brands born within the game industry, NOT licensed brands from other industries.

I've pointed this it to publishers we've worked with and they sometimes acknowledge that it's true (after all, they cannot argue against black & white facts), but they point out that it still "seems" like it's more reliable making a game based on a license (due to built-in public awareness) than a fresh, unknown original brand -- they'll happily point out that there's no guarantee wither way.

This is not unlike the movie industry, which relies on the star system to make and sell movies. Movie studios falsely believe that big stars sell movies, yet I've studied this and found it to be entirely untrue. Movies with big stars are exactly as hit and miss as movies with lesser known or unknown stars. In fact, 9 of the top 15 box office hits either had no well known stars at the time of their release, or they were sequels with these same stars (who had then become stars). The bottom-line is that stars due not make hit movies -- hit movies make stars. Yet, movie studios will still pay $10 to $20 million for stars, believing that just because the star is well-known it will attract droves. There's no such thing as a bank-able star, just as there's no such thing as a bank-able license.

Scott Miller, CEO
3D Realms

Jeffrey

As a life long gamer I'd much rather play original titles like Animal Crossing or Viewtiful Joe than crap like The Matrix. Sure, I was completely pumped up after seeing the latest movie but knowing that the game was crap I had no interest in buying it.

Frankly, I don't even know much about the S&H game other than I knew it was being developed. Once I saw the titled I ignored it and went on to read about the latest Ratchet and Clank.

Give me more Duke please Scott ;)

Ian McGee

Scott, I think the publishers are thinking of the sales of "bad" games. Without gameplay a licensed game will sell better than an unlicensed game. Tougher to analyze probably, but it feels intuitively right to me.

To a publishing exec who isn't a gamer, removing the factor of whether it's a good game might make some sense... (I'm not defending, just trying to understand...)

outsider

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