The good old days. It's rough being a video game icon in the transmedia age.
With titles like "Red Faction" and "Halo" starting to expand
beyond their gaming roots into novels and television, some of the rights owners
for the games that made the industry big in the first place are exploring their
options. And it's not a pretty picture.
Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Merv Griffin Entertainment is planning to adapt Pac-Man as a reality series.
The show is envisioned to be a "big, crazy Wipeout-type
event with a lot of energy," Roy Bank, Merv Griffin's TV president, told
the site. "The idea we have is to take what Pac-Man is and bring it to
life, to bring what is essentially the world's biggest game of tag to
television." The idea is being shopped to broadcast networks now.
If only, however, that were the worst television fate the
little pellet-muncher were facing.
Last June, Namco-Bandai announced it was working
on a new television program featuring its most popular character -- one that
would air in stereoscopic 3D. The show is pictured as a reboot, featuring a
teen Pac-Man who is thrust into greatness and must save Pac-World when it is
overrun by ghosts. The only way to do that? Eat the ghosts (which dissolve into
an eco-plasmic, mucus-like goo when they're devoured).
He's aided in this mission by a teacher/mentor, a group of
Pac-friends and four friendly ghosts - Pinky, Inky, Blinky and Clyde (who, ironically, were his arch-enemies in the
original arcade game). Since he's not an adult, Pac-Man will suffer the usual
angst of teenagers, including being forced to deal with his split affections
for a friend and fellow student as well as one of the ghosts.
It's a long way from the arcade for the little yellow guy.
Pac-Man has had his share of time on the small
screen before. In 1982, ABC ran an animated show based on
the groundbreaking arcade game, starring Pac-Man, his wife and child (and their dog and cat -- Chomp Chomp and Sour
Pus -- again, to steal a phrase from Dave Barry, I am not making this up) in
their day-to-day lives, battling the ghosts for power pellets. It only lasted
two years, but it was enough to inspire CBS to launch a show called Saturday Supercade, which featured other popular video game characters like Donkey Kong and Q*bert.
Pac-Man is hardly the only classic game to be subjected to
this kind of humiliation.
Last July, Universal Studio won a bidding war - yes, a
bidding war - for the film rights to the "Asteroids" video game. Disney
writer Matthew Lopez ("Bedtime Stories," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice") will pen
the script, while Lorenzo di Bonaventura ("Transformers," "GI Joe," "Doom") is
Ultimately, the scariest part about the television and film
revivals of these basically plotless games is not so much that they're being
made -- it's the chance that they just might succeed.
If they do, it's only a matter of time before Hollywood's copycat
tendencies take over and we get "Dig Dug" on the Discovery Channel and "Donkey
Kong with Cesar Millan" on Animal Planet.
Consider yourself warned.