Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Fan Based Videogame Related Works Shot Down by Companies

If there is a definitive truth in the core of the gaming community it would sure be that there are some things that are definitely "bigger than the game". A great game is often defined by the number of units sold, but if we take the time to look a little further into the effect that a game can have on gamers, we see that there are other things that sometimes are even more valuable than spreadsheet with money signs on it. We are talking about things like loyalty to a franchise and the kind of appreciation that can basically last for a lifetime. These kinds of things while embedded in the mind of a talented fan can result in some impressive pieces of work that can delight the fans in the case of an abandoned franchises or just give us a little extra material that the game company is not willing to make. Sadly, very few of these works survive all the way to a release and today we are going to see some of those that were close, but were shot down before we could fully enjoy them.

Final Fantasy VII The Web Series
Square Enix went the way of Shinra on this one.

1) A Final Fantasy VII fan made web series.

This project began as an initiative in Kickstarter on July 22, 2013. It was supposed to be a 6 episode series based the popular JRPG and it had a goal of $400,000. The campaign for this project caused quite a stir when production photos began to appear on the net, mostly the ones showing Aeris working with her flowers on the church or her standing on an entrance where a "wanted" poster for the members of a "terrorist" group called Avalanche. The curious thing about this case is that the project producers even got the rights to use the game soundtrack, but the project got shot down anyway as Square Enix moved a team of evil black mages, I mean lawyers to make a cease and desist order that killed the project before it even had a chance. The people behind the project tried to plead that their work was entirely fan based and therefore was not to be seen as a threat, but Square Enix didn't back down and so the series ended lost in the lifestream.

Castlevania Prelude to War
You can say anything about the film quality, but at least this one was finished and fans liked it.

2) Castlevania: Prelude to War

It was 2004 when independent film maker Ben Isaac began promoting what for a short time was the first full feature Castlevania film. The quality of this 40 minute movie was not even close to Hollywood standards, but taking into account that high definition wasn't there yet and also that the project was made on a very small budget, we can say that the fan service that Isaac provided with Prelude to War was very good and loyal to the story of the game. The film's plot goes around Simon Belmont some time before the first game (NES) giving some background insights of the iconic character up to the point where the first Castlevania game starts. The film had decent costumes and some neat visual effects for the time like Simon Belmont using the classic flaming whip. This film was completed and even released on DVD for a while until Konami stepped up and stopped further distribution of the product, meaning that if you didn't get it back then when you had the chance, it is very unlikely to be able to find it now.

As an added fact, a real Hollywood style Castlevania movie has been "in the works" since 2005, directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious: Chapter 2, The Conjuring) and written by Paul W.S Anderson (Event Horizon, Solaris, Resident Evil). The production of this movie has been quite long, going into several periods of silence with small announcements that had kept the film project barely noticeable and shrouded in mystery.  

Chrono Trigger Fan Based Games
Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes  and Chrono Resurrection

3) Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes / Chrono Resurrection

These are two of the saddest loses for any fan of the franchise since they were not movies, but full fledged games based on the famous JRPG that had its debut on the Super Nintendo in 1995. For Crimson Echoes, the game was supposed to become a sequel to the original with its game developers spending five years working on the project with the clever use of the graphics featured in the original game. By doing this they managed to create a new adventure with new places to explore and a completely fresh storyline featuring all the elements that gave the original one a legendary status in the gaming community.

In the case of Chrono Resurrection, a programmer called Nathan Lazur, began working on a 2D-3D rendered remake of the original game, filled with good stuff like new places and even different endings. The project at first was supposed to be released as a Nintendo 64 game, but later on became an interactive demo for Windows which once again began to capture the attention of the fans who wondered if the game was ever going to become the product they were waiting for.

Sadly, both games suffered the same fate as the other productions mentioned before. First, Square Enix struck down Chrono Resurrection in 2004 and later on stopped Crimson Echoes in 2009 when it was 98% complete. In both cases the game developers faced the risk of been sued with heavy fines so they had to kill their respective projects before they could be released.

Legend of Zelda The Hero of Time Movie
With all the hype that LOZ is causing, it would be awesome to have this film now.

4) The Hero of Time - A Legend of Zelda fan made movie: 

This isn't about that heartbreaking prank that IGN played to us on April fools day in 2008, much less the tons of LOZ videos you can find on YouTube. This is all about a full featured fan made Legend of Zelda movie that we are not going to see anymore. The movie was released in Atlanta by an independent film making studio called BMB FINISHED. The film was shown in a few theaters in 2009 and was shown online for a little while before Nintendo dropped the cease and desist hammer on them and the movie had to be pulled out and canned, which happened on Janurary 1, 2010 as the studio settled with Nintendo.

Many gamers and film enthusiasts alike still argue and see the movie as a fan made production that instead of "stealing" from Nintendo was in fact promoting the franchise with a good dose of fan service. Unfortunately for us, Nintendo didn't saw it that way.

Mortal Kombat HD
This remake just looked gorgeous, it is too bad that Warner Brothers just came and crashed the party.

5) Mortal Kombat HD

Mortal Kombat HD was going to be an enhanced version of the first game with improved HD graphics. This remake was going to become possible thanks to a team assembled by a Mortal Kombat fan known as Gabriel "Bleed" Melendez. The complete name of the game was going to be Mortal Kombat HD: Kommunity Edition and it would had featured everything the original game had, but 10 times better with a great improvement on visuals along with more fluid animations all made with the help of Melendez himself as he is a graphic artist. The project itself started in 2011 and the motivation behind it was to fill the empty space left by the promised, but cancelled official Mortal Kombat HD remakes which were going to be Mortal Kombat I, II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.

Not long after the remake began getting some attention, Warner Brothers stepped in and knocked down the project before it could be completed and up until now all that we have been getting are demonstration videos and pictures of what could had been. Up until know Melendez has permission to keep distributing any models, music, pictures or video that he makes, but he can never release a full game even if he plans to give for free.

Wrapping it up

There is still much debate about if big fan made productions are just stealing content from big companies or if the companies are just been too paranoid. There have been other fan made projects that were not shot down with copyright claims and we all saw how they helped the game franchise instead of hurting it. Take for example the MUGEN Project where fans began creating projects with many characters that are owned by Capcom. This would had seemed to be a sure cease and desist case, but Capcom did not stopped them because they acknowledged their actions as fan based work and not an attempt to steal from them. The same has been happening with the fan made Resident Evil 2 Remake that has been in development for some time now. Bottom line, if the companies will never do it then why prevent the fans from making possible an otherwise impossible thing?

Bonus Stage: 
If you people were curious about the dead projects mentioned in the list, here are some trailers just so you can see how these initiatives looked like:

Final Fantasy VII Web Series Trailer

Castlevania: Prelude to War (Trailer 2)

Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes (Early Trailer)

Chrono Resurrection Trailer

The Hero of Time Trailer

For gameplay footage of Mortal Kombat HD please click HERE, as the blogger system could not find the video as it did with the others.

Square Enix Shuts Down Final Fantasy VII Web Series
VGMuseum: Castlevania: Prelude to War Review
ComingSoon.Com - Castlevania Movie
Castlevania Wiki - Castlevania: The Movie
Square Enix Kills Near Complete Chrono Trigger Fan Project
Nintendo Shuts Down Fan Made Zelda Movie
The Hero of Time - Legend of Zelda Movie Site
Mortal Kombat HD on Mortal Kombat Online forums

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