You might remember that the Watchmen movie was accompanied by a video game tie-in. It was called Watchmen: The End Is Nigh, and it was terrible. But Warner Bros. Interactive was apparently also pitched on a number of other possibilities, including one from the developers who worked on 2002's The Mark of Kri.
The latest video from Unseen64 video game historian Liam Robertson explores the Watchmen tie-in-game that could have been but never was. It was going to be developed by BottleRocket Entertainment, the studio formed by Jay Beard, former head of Sony San Diego, and some of his co-workers there who had worked on The Mark of Kri with him.
According to Robertson, BottleRocket sent Warner Bros. two pitches. The first was for a third-person action game revolving around Rorschach that was open world and would focus mostly on interrogations, puzzle solving, and some fisticuffs. The second, however, was more involved, and was for a game that would follow multiple Watchmen characters prior to the events that take place in the comic books and movie.
This “Watchmen In History” video game would follow Rorschach, Night Owl, and the Comedian, with other characters showing up on occasion as NPCs, as they grappled with the events of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. An “action-packed character exploration,” the game would explore each character’s past through specific mechanics: Rorschach would be stealth-based, Night Owl would have used high-tech gadgets, and the Comedian would have relied mostly on guns and brute force.
BottleRocket was apparently working on fleshing out this second pitch during the a three month span in the middle of 2007. The developer was a front-runner to get the project, having the support of the movie’s director, Zach Snyder. But then things stalled during the contract negotiation process, and BottleRocket, strapped for cash, decided to signed with Brash Entertainment instead to begin working on a video game starring the Flash. Because we all know that back in 2007, people couldn’t stop talking about DC’s number one speedster in red tights.
Unfortunately, Brash Entertainment was not long for this world, closing down in late 2008. Eventually, BottleRocket came to start working on Namco Bandai’s Splatterhouse instead. Eternally unable to catch a break though, BottleRocket was cut from that project as well. A shouting match between the studio and Namco Bandai ensued, but time had already run out for BottleRocket, and the company had to close.
Would things have been different for BottleRocket if they’d stuck with Warner Bros. and worked on a Watchmen game instead? It’s hard to say, especially since the developer behind The End is Nigh, Deadline Games, filed for bankruptcy shortly after it was released. Would a focus on historical events like the assassination of JFK and the carnage of the Vietnam War have helped make BottleRocket’s game better than the “women in cages, dominatrices and blood spurts” of Deadline’s game? Perhaps.
The Mark of Kri was a surprisingly great action-platformer for its time, using a button-prompt combo system similar to what would later be popularized in the Arkham series. You can read Jay Beard talk about designing the game in a piece from 2013 recounting the experience and judge for yourself. But things probably couldn’t have gone any worse.