Cinematech Episode 258: “City of Heroes Film Festival”
An ep that shows the winners in various categories at the CoH Machinima film fest, as well as some licensed superhero games.
CoH was a popular MMORPG with a superhero theme that let you create your own hero with their own appearance and power set.
Timecode: 0:06:''' “Evangel” by Michael Orner, winner of the Best Action category at the film fest. It's about a guy who was stolen from his family and experimented on by a corporation and turned into a weapon, until he ran away to Paragon City, the city of heroes. There, he assumes his new identity of Evangel. The machinima is presented very well with some cool cuts and camera angles.
3:05: A brief clip of Sunsoft's Batman NES game, well-known for its awesome music and high difficulty level. The game is actually loosely based on the first movie, but the differences between the game's story and the movie's has been noted elsewhere.
3:59: “A New Threat” by Eric Young, winner of the Best Animated category. It is animated in stop-motion with custom action figures. It must have taken a lot of time to make. Intriguingly, it turns into a sort of trailer for the CoH expansion pack, City of Villains at the end.
9:31: “Your Superpowers and You!” by Richard H. Moon, winner of Best Comedy. It takes place in a hospital and shows a conversation between a doctor and his patient. Let's see what they are talking about, shall we?
- Doctor: Well, then, uh... Jimmy. What seems to be the problem?Jimmy: Well, doc, I guess you could say... I've been having a burning sensation.Doctor: M-hm, m-hm. And when exactly does this happen?Jimmy: Well, actually, it's when I hear someone say a certain word. A color.Doctor: A color, you say? Hmm. What color?Jimmy: Well, I'd rather not say...Doctor: Red?Jimmy: No, no, it's not red...Doctor: Blue?Jimmy: No, please, shouldn't we figure out—Doctor: Periwinkle?[Jimmy bursts into flames]Doctor: Ah, I see. Don't worry, Jimmy, this sort of thing's not as uncommon as you might think. In fact, here's something that should answer your questions.
We are then launched into an educational film, Your Superpowers and You!, sponsored by the cereal Hero-Os!
- Narrator: Meet Jimmy. Recently, Jimmy has been noticing changes. His voice is lower, he's becoming interested in criminal activity, and he's begun projecting hyper-energized plasma from his skin. Jimmy has taken his first steps on the road to becoming a full-fledged superhero.Jimmy: Oh, boy! I can't wait to b—Narrator: Woah there, Jimmy! You're not ready for that yet. After all, you don't want to get stabbed and left for dead in some back alley, do you?Jimmy: No, sir!Narrator: Of course you don't. First, after choosing a costume that's not a complete eyesore, the next thing any hero needs to do is reserve a name. A hero's name should reflect their powers...[shows a glowing, robotic hero named Positron]Narrator: Their personality...[shows a feline-themed heroine named Minx]Narrator: And perhaps even their sense of humor.[shows a glowing alien named “Mr. Knott A. Nalien”floating in front of a banner saying, “Earth for Humans! Let's keep it that way!” that also shows the Statue of Liberty in profile]Narrator: It's important that a new arrival be... sensible in their choices.''
Jimmy goes to an office and pitches names to a secretary. However...
- Jimmy: Blaze!Secretary: Taken.Jimmy: Fire Lord!Secretary: Taken.Jimmy: Inferno.Secretary: Taken.Jimmy: Inferno Man!Secretary: Taken.Jimmy: The Burninator.Secretary: Taken.Jimmy: THE FLAMING LISP!Secretary: That's... open.Jimmy: It is?!Secretary: Yes, would you like to reserve it?Jimmy: I don't know... Yeah, sure.Secretary: Great! I'll just – oh, sorry, it's taken.[Jimmy grunts in frustration]Narrator: Next up, training! Paragon City offers a wide variety of experienced superhero trainers.Trainer: You must master your fear, or fear will become your master.Jimmy: I understand. Wait – no, I don't! What do you mean?Trainer: He who questions his trainer only causes his trainer to question.Jimmy: What?Trainer: You must strike swiftly, and without hesitation, like a shark with ADD.Jimmy: I don't think this is helping.Trainer: Go take 40 laps. Now.Narrator: Now that you're ready, it's time to take the fight to the bad guys. Go out there and do some good, hero. And so another hero joins the valiant defenders of Paragon City. Properly prepared to face the challenges of a superpowered life of heroism, Jimmy is ready to take full advantage of his potential, and face any challenge that comes his way. Do you have special abilities? Do you feel an urge to fight crime and villainy? If so, perhaps you too should learn all about - Your Superpowers and You!
That was a great one. The part where Jimmy's trying to get a good name makes me wonder if it was really that difficult to get a good name in the game itself, or if it's that difficult to get a new character created for a comic book with an original name. This is my favorite of all of the machinima shown in this ep.
13:17: A brief clip of the infamous Silver Surfer side-scrolling shooter game on the NES. It shows the Silver Surfer shooting ghosts flying at him. This game is infamous for its high difficulty level, where one hit kills abounded, and the They Just Didn't Care page reveals that the Final Boss is Mr. Sinister, a villain associated with the X-Men, not Silver Surfer. The cover for the game looks really nice, though.
13:57: “Omu's Revenge” by Pete Mitchell, Runner Up for Best Animated Short. It is about a hero, Omu, getting revenge on German-accented bad guys for getting his cape dirty and defeating him. So Omu seeks the assistance of his name-challenged fellow heroes. Why name-challenged? Because their group is called Generic Supergroup 851. Humorously, Omu is the only member of his group that can't fly. This short is funny thanks to its snappy and snarky dialog.
18:09: In a World… before Superman64, there was – Superman on the NES! This game takes some liberties with the license. The graphics are cutesy and superdeformed instead of being based on a more serious comic book style; the music, at least in this clip, is dreadful; Cla- I mean, Superman receives instructions from the Statue of Liberty; and the game is known for being rife with Guide Dang It!s.
Superman's video game history is not good. He has some of the lowest-rated games of any superhero. Why is this? There are theories that Superman is difficult to craft a fun game around because he's pretty much invincible unless magic or Kryptonite is involved. He's also super-strong and can fly, so it's difficult to create worthwhile obstacles for him that would also be well-served as a game. I don't think it's impossible, they just haven't found the right developer yet. Let's face it: a lot of the developers that work on licensed games are lower-tier developers that are just trying to turn a cheap buck to finance their own pet projects. Some of these developers rise above into stardom, while others fall into obscurity. Even if you have developed your own well-known games in the past, one badly-reviewed licensed game can still take you down. Just look at what happened to the developers of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, who made the BloodRayne games beforehand. Let The Angry Joe Show elaborate.
18:20: “Freedom Phalanx” Episode 1 by Bruce Zeus Simeoni, Best Overall at the CoH film festival. It's a stop-motion piece with customized LEGOs and other toys serving as the heroes and villains, with LEGO sets. The dialog is voiced but is also subtitled in word balloons to simulate an actual comic book. The story has the Captain America Expy, The Statesman, disarming bombs in Paragon City. There's a funny part where a speedy character, Synapse, is running back and forth, having fun, and The Big Guy Back Alley Brawler gets annoyed and holds his arm out to stop him from running around. He then tells Synapse, “Take your Ritalin.” Another fun part features the filmmaker's toddler in the role of a kaiju-style giant monster.
Which superhero comic book games have you liked or loathed? I like the Treyarch Spider-Man game, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games (moreso the first than the second), and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. One infamous comic book game that we have is the Wolverine: Adamantium Rage game on the SEGA Genesis. This was a typical 16-bit side-scroller, with one unusual method of enforcing the game's time limits: Elsie-Dee. Elsie-Dee was a character in the comics at the time; an artificial humanoid in the shape of a little girl whose body hid a bomb inside. They thought that this would be a way of stopping Wolverine despite his mutant healing ability. It's a pretty disturbing idea. Strangely, I don't remember seeing Elsie-Dee in any of the comic books at the time. My memory of seeing her in this game completely eclipsed seeing her elsewhere. There was also a Super NES version of the game which had a different developer and publisher.