Supple Think: Modern arcade vaporware: The Act

Modern arcade vaporware: The Act

by alzabo

Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2007
Labels: , , ,
Full motion video games get a bad rap and I think it’s mostly undeserved. When the subject comes up and people start throwing about terms like “Interactive Fiction” and “Digital movie” the conversation starts down a path that eventually leads to Dragon’s Lair, Night Trap and maybe even The Daedalus Encounter.

Most gamers would agree that Full Motion Video games are a dead genre, and that they should stay that way. Based upon the games that have come before, I mostly agree. Well, I agreed until recently. I’ve noticed that game play elements from full motion video games are starting to make a comeback in modern video games, and they mostly go unrecognized.

Arcade classics like Dragon’s Lair and Space ace had full motion video game play that required the player to press specific buttons in sequence to advance in the game. That was the whole of the game play, and I admit that it was quite limited; but you have to admit that it was a huge leap forward in interactive entertainment in 1983. Even today, when I come across a working Dragon’s Lair cabinet I can’t help but drop some coins in and enjoy the lavish Don Bluth animation. Dragon’s Lair is very similar to several sequences in Sony’s God of War, Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword and Capcom’s Resident Evil 4. All three games have playable sequences that are almost exactly like Dragon’s Lair, requiring quick input of specific commands in rapid succession to get past obstacles.

Old full motion video games are usually dismissed as not being video games, some claim that they are trying to imitating movies. I could easily counter that almost all video games contain cut scenes and that that game “feature” grew directly out of full motion video games. Even today some games are mocked for imitating films, the Metal Gear Solid series and Final Fantasy VII (VIII, IX, X and XII) come to mind. Full motion video games are not dead; they live on in games of all genres. All this discussion brings me to a game that currently languishes in Production hell and will probably never be released because it is dismissed as a “Full Motion video game.”

The Act, by Cecropia blends high quality animation by Disney animators, an innovative simple control scheme and an endearing plot to make a game that I find absolutely tantalizing. While the premise of the game should be obvious from the attached photo, the way you win her heart isn’t by pressing A and going right, then left then jumping. The game’s only control is a potentiometer, you control the protagonist’s reactions, demeanor and actions; by twisting the knob to the left he is calmer, more shy and quiet, turning to the right makes the hero quicker, more boisterous and outgoing. That the inputs are highly variable is a huge step up in game play interactivity when it comes to full motion video games and interactive cut scenes. While this control scheme may seem odd, it makes perfect sense when you consider how the player clears the challenges. You don’t force your way thru by jumping and interacting with objects, you use the knob to control your characters emotions and reactions to the events around him, too much twist in either direction for too long beyond the correct emotion on the knob results in failure. Wow, a game where victory depends on feeling, emotion, and tricking people. I can’t wait to play it. . .

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