This week Marty finds inspiration in the newly announced Castlevania Anime, and wonders if any other games can work on the small screen, and what type of games would be best suited to that type of transition.
The announcement of a Castlevania anime has inspired a lot of hope and joy from fans of video games and anime alike. There are very few games that translate to a cartoon/anime format. Many have tried, very few end up successful. The Persona series has created a very strong anime, whereas the Mario, Zelda (CDI Zelda anyone?) and that wretched Donkey Kong TV show come to mind when I think of games that made a poor jump to TV. Did I spent hours of my youth watching the Mario Brothers TV show? (Yes, I did…). However, that does not mean they were good. The people in charge of Castlevania have a vision of bringing the series back to its roots, adding a metal soundtrack and some strong animation. I have faith that the producers will do a great job. Hopefully this can help other games make the same transition, below I discuss which games I would like to see as television series’, and what about those game would help lend themselves to that kind of media.
To create a strong television series you need a large world full of lore and mythos. It needs to feel like a fully realized universe. For this reason, I believe that open world games with a strong narrative could make great television. The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises could pull this off quite well. Each of these series of games have a large world (or several worlds), and they have filled it with a unique set of people each with their own lore and backstory. The stage is already set with any of these games, and the franchises are large enough to attract a huge fanbase.
Micro-adventures about a plucky scoundrel roaming the galaxy come to mind for Mass Effect, or a disgraced warrior seeking redemption for Dragon Age. For The Elder Scrolls, I would love for a show to tackle the re-telling of Morrowind, there is such a rich game to be experienced and a settling like no other. The land of Morrowind is so unique, it would be unlike anything else on TV. Naturally, other open world games could work, Grand Theft Auto comes to mind. Their story campaigns can be a little episodic already, most of the work would already be done. Perhaps a live action Grand Theft Auto series (on HBO of course, no one else could do it justice). Most of these games have such a rich history, and a world that is already packed to the brim with character, you just need to focus on a story to tell and it will write itself.
A grand open world is one way to produce a television show, but in some cases you don’t need to think as large. In anime there is a type of show called ‘Slice of Life’ where it’s just a small group of people going about their life. Normally there’s a twist, they talk to demons or compete in competitions, but they don’t have the glitz and glam of some other shows. I feel like there are games that do this too. Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley come to mind. Harvest Moon is the OG farming simulator, packed with nurturing animals, romancing the people who live in your town and… tossing stones and weeds into a pond. It’s the relationships with your town and community that make the game so very endearing, and the joy of fulfilling simple tasks.
Not every game needs to be about saving the world, sometimes it can be about dog racing or your burgeoning romance with Karen, the barmaid, or if your sick cow is going to recover and keep producing milk that is as large as you. These games are about heart, and I think if you created characters that resonated with the hearts of the audience, it could easily work as a show. A dam breaks, and the citizens have to deal with an impending flood, a local boy goes missing and you have to search the woods with his sister to find him or the old lady at the bakery is sick and you try to cheer her up by picking a flower she hasn’t seen since her youth. All of these stories can draw people in, and make them invested in the outcome.
It works incredibly well for the game. Stardew Valley is Harvest Moon 2.0, but to me it doesn’t carry the same nostalgia charm (but it would work just as well as a television show). A different type of ‘Slice of Life’ show would be from the Atelier series of games. You play a young apprentice at an Alchemy shop, who must take charge of the shop and help the citizens of your country by crafting like nobody’s business. The Atelier games are so full of charm and humor, that I feel like it is almost a TV show already. The characters are hilarious and adorable, and seeing the apprentice take charge of their job and blossom into a fully fledged alchemist could be very interesting, the games are full of small journeys to collect rare ingredients, slay strong monsters for their fangs and help your friends with their own struggles. The ‘Slice of Life’ may not have as much action or adventure, but it makes up for it in charm and characters.
With Harvest Moon, nostalgia kicks in quite strongly for me, and I feel like nostalgia can play a huge factor in what people watch. There are few games that embody the sense of nostalgia quite like Chrono Trigger, a story about an unlikely hero who travels in time to save his friend, he and his ragtag team uncover secrets about the world and learn about the effect time travel have on their precarious existence. Chrono Trigger is one of those games where the nostalgia and adoration is well deserved. With having one of the best soundtracks to any game, a vibrant cast of characters and a time travel mechanic that doesn’t such, you have all the makings of a timeless classic.
Now the television show could be non-cannon and deal with Chrono and his friends traveling through time stopping baddies and solving mysteries (like Scooby-Doo but with time travel and just as many anthropomorphic animals). I feel like this is a series that could work well for fans who want more, and for newcomers who have heard so much about the game. There is likely not going to be a continuation to the series (I hate writing that), but this would be a way to scratch that Chrono itch.
Lastly I would like to submit a Bayonetta Anime into consideration, there was already a beautiful animated movie made, but I want more! Bayonetta is the story of a wise-cracking witch who kicks angel ass with the guns attached to her stiletto shoes. She’s sexy, sassy and… sadistic. Bayonetta is a real gem of a game and that is in part due to the perfect game play Platinum studios has created, and also in part to how funny Bayonetta is as a character. She makes fun of all the sexist tropes in video games by embodying all of them at once, it is a joy to behold and is a master class in parody. In the television show Bayonetta and her best friend (or… girlfriend… I fully admit to shipping them), Jeanne would thwart the nefarious plans of angels and demons alike. While taking a break to sip cocktails, gossip and go shopping for the latest weapons and fashions.
Bringing a brand new meaning to the term dressed to kill. The Bayonetta franchise is such a treasure, I just want to have it available in every form of media. Video games, T.V. show, movie, her own line of shoes (she already has glasses available…), Bayonetta branded vodka. She could be the Elvira/RuPaul of the gaming industry, a cult icon that survives through the years by slapping their brand on anything. Elvira and RuPaul have chocolate bars, perfumes, leggings, anything you can think of. Why not Bayonetta. The next step should be the television show, but I feel like campy characters like her can branch into anything.
I will wait and see how the Castlevania television show is, but I still remain hopeful that some of my favourite games could find another life on this type of media. There are many different types of television shows, the same goes for video games, I think it is possible to make the two forms of story telling come together. It would be nice to give fans an extra glimpse of their favorite worlds, in a format that is new to the franchise. Just please, no singing/ rapping apes… I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime.