There have been two (well, technically three) games based on the world's first Summer blockbuster, 1975's Jaws. And they all sucked. Doesn't the quintessential underwater villain deserve better?
Ashcraft, our resident film expert, and myself, our resident shark hater, decided to find out. What follows is an informal email discussion on the subject, which begins in two very different places before coming together over a common love. Of Roy Scheider.
LUKE: So, Brian.
I'm thinking, about this whole Summer in Gaming week thing. Jaws is the original summer blockbuster, right? It's set on a beach. It's got plenty of killing in it. Killing handed out by a giant monster, which then gets blown up.
This should mean it's also the perfect summer video game, but for some reason, it's not. All three (I count the home computer version of the original NES game as a different title) Jaws games have sucked.
Which is a shame! I mean, that giant rubber shark is still one of the most terrifying monsters in cinema history, and the quest to hunt it down and kill it is something I think could translate really well to a video game.
Jaws Unleashed, 2006
BRIAN: Dun dun, dun dun, dun dun dun dun...
I do agree! I mean, it seems to have crowd pleasing elements there like blood and explosions. And the much of the first movie is from the point-of-view of the shark, so yeah, it could definitely be a first-person shooter, er biter.
The shark in Jaws is somewhat of a sympathetic character. It's just doing what it is supposed to do: eat. All these vacationers are encroaching on its waters, so perhaps they're the ones the blame!
While I think it has the elements of a game, I think where it runs into roadblocks is it cannot tap into the player the same way the movie taps into the viewer. Jaws, the movie, is an interactive experience. The fact that the shark doesn't actually make an appearance until later in the film causes the viewer to imagine the creature as they are watching the film, making their imagination run wild.
For a game, developers would have a more difficult timer reproducing this. If you are the shark, then doesn't it matter what you look like? If you are, say, Roy Scheider, then for most of the game you'll be wandering around investigating shark attacks and seeing attacks from afar.
Game developers don't have the luxury of passivity that film does. The audience cannot do anything but watch. And for about half of the film, that's all the characters can do as well. That makes for compelling viewing.
Now, I am sold on a shark attack game. Something open world, you go around and bite surfers...
LUKE: Maybe you're right about not being able to tap into the experience of being the shark, but of being Roy Scheider? A guy teaming up with two other very different men to set off on a boat and try to kill a monster? I think there's a game in that. A game that's all about the build-up and the payoff.
A game with one enemy and one boss fight. Shadow of the Colossus' design taken to its logical conclusion, with a single boss.
I'm not going to sit here and draw out a fully functional design document, but a game that combined the strategic planning of X-Com with Shadow of the Colossus' finite payoff would be an interesting thing to see.
It would of course have to deviate slightly from the plot of the movie, adding in a few elements to keep it lengthy and interesting. Maybe catch 2-3 sharks before Jaws, have Hooper's methods and technology improve as you go. Hell, you could even have a Mass Effect-style ending where, if you play your cards right, Sam & Hooper make it home, instead of winding up shark food.
So, yeah. Take some gamey elements that suit the plot and tone of the film, then adapt to suit. Whaddya think?
Jaws: The Video Game, 1987
BRIAN: You're right though, a Jaws game with one boss fight could be interesting. But I agree, it could be done, and I like what you've fleshed out. I just fear that developers ditch comparing scars scene and would cram it full of mini-games. It would end up being a boat or a fishing simulator.
A Roy Scheider movie that should be made into a game, however, is The French Connection. I like The French Connection 2 better (Gene Hackman lonely and on drugs!). That flick, or Sorcerer. You know, the one in which Roy Scheider drives a truck of dynamite. It's a remake of a great French film. I think it's prime game material!
LUKE: Yeah, I guess we're both right. A SotC-like game would be awesome, but yeah, between the time the project was green-lit and it appeared on shelves it'd probably end up as Amity Island Resort Party.
You know what, The French Connection is great, but of all Roy Scheider's works, you know which one I'd like to see turned into a game? A game like Mass Effect?
Seaquest. You know it'd work.