Thursday, February 28, 2013

VGR Futurama

I talked about the show, here's the game now!
3, 2, 1, Blast Off!

VGR: Futurama The Game aka Futurama: The Lost Adventure
From Unique Development Studios/Vivendi Universal Games/Fox Interactive
Played on Xbox
Also available on PS2

Type 3D Action platformer
Year 2003

It's Futurama The Game, baby!

Developed alongside the production of the 4th Season of Futurama, this game ended up being actually released after the show's cancellation.
No wonder it has since then been referred to as the "lost episode" of the show by David X Cohen, co-creator of the show.
He considers it to really be the missing "73rd episode" of the show.
Most of the crew behind the show worked on the game.
Matt Groening oversaw the whole thing as the "executive game developer".
Most of the voice actors came back, such as Billy West, Katey Sagal and John DiMaggio with the only exception of Phil LaMarr and Lauren Tom sadly.

The game, simply just officially titled "Futurama" features an original story written by scriptwriter J. Stewart Burns.

[Warning, this will turn spoiler-y for summary purpose]

The story opens with Professor Farnsworth arriving at work wearing a sombrero.
Turns out he's just sold Planet Express to Mom.
It's not like this was such a bad decision, afterall the Planet Express crew always forget to charge people and they only ship a package each time.

Bad News, Everyone!
Mom now owns more than 50% percent of planet Earth, making her the primary owner of the blue planet.
She decides to turn it into a giant warship!
The crew attempts to escape..but their ship is inexplicably broken...?
After a quick repair, they flee Earth.
End up finding living being on the Sun.
Farnsworth is kidnapped. (well, just the head, really)
Fry, Bender and Leela turn to his old mentor, Adoy (mmmh..?) on the swamp-forest planet Bogad. (hint: read those in reverse)
They use the Time Tunneller to go back in time to prevent all of this from ever happening to begin with.
They crash their own ship, so they steal the ship from their past selves.
They try to prevent the sale.
Mom faces them with the robot Destructor.
The crew gets killed, so Farnsworth refuses to sell the company and goes away.
Mom throws in an additional sombrero.

Good News, Everyone!
The professor just sold the Planet Express to Mom!

Waitaiminute!! It's a time loop!!

The game itself is what you'd expect a simple fun 3D action platformer to be.
The game looks actually fantastic.
I never noticed how clean and crisp it looked until replayed it a bit on the Xbox 360 lately. (yes, it's completely retro-compatible)

The graphics use a very effective cell shaded look that makes the game look exactly like the cartoon!
To some extend.
If Bender, the robots and most of the locations look exactly identical, some characters look a bit odd in 3D though. Leela looks a bit off, particularly with the pink-ysh color of her hair. And Fry's hair was clearly designed for 2D.
Apart from that, it's perfect!
The professor is easily my favorite in the game, he looks pitch perfect!

The game seems to have a lot of elements inspired from the Crash Bandicoot series.
You can jump - there's a lot of platform in this game!
You can attack with another button.
You get to control Fry, Leela, Bender and even Dr. Zoidberg at some point!
The game switches characters at some point depending on the story.
Fry and Leela uses some weapons. They get the more action elements. Often collecting stuff or getting places open by exploring a bit.
Bender can do a spin attack (yes, similar to Crash). He has a lot of platforms to reach and gets the more adventurous portions.
Zoidberg only gets a cameo. Poor Zoidberg... His part plays exactly like those animal-riding segments in the old Crash Bandicoot games. Zoidberg's riding a blue horse-thingie(?) and only has 6 minutes to reach some place to activate the time tunneller's generator...or they'll have to get back in time to redo the whole thing.

The game not only looks great, but also sounds great.
Thanks to the cast and the exceptional writing, it's an hilarious experience - well worth of the show!
The game is quite clever and breaks the 4th wall on various attempts.
It's a very fun self-aware experience.
The characters get to "die" in-story thanks to the Professor's latest invention, namely, the Re-Animator!
A giant toaster that will pop out another "life" as long as you can afford those.

The story puts in over 30 minutes of cutscenes overall.
But it's quite a short game, you might get stuck in one bit or another but it shouldn't be that difficult to finally overcome it.

Christopher Tyng is back behind the original music of the game like in the show.
The music is groovy and perfectly fitting. He made some original remixes of the main theme that has since then been kept in the movies and the series.

Everyone gets to make a small appearance at some point, even if voiceless.

Overall, it's The perfect cartoon-turned-videogame game (duh..).
Years before the Simpsons game on the Xbox 360, Futurama attempted the same and paved the way for it.
It's sad the game didn't get much publicity and was mostly ignored by everyone.
Plus the fact Futurama had been canceled didn't help either.
The original story is well done in perfect Futurama-style.
The game recaptures the feel of the show in every aspect, like those funny advertisements you get during loading screens.

The game has even been included on the DVD of the movie Bender's Big Score later on.
Recut as a 20 minutes episode, titled "Futurama: The Lost Adventure".
I give it:
2.5 / 3 Quacks!

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