Developer: Sculptured Software/Virgin Games
When movies are converted into video games, strange things happen. In Wayne's World... hmmm, on second thought, let's find a different example, I'll probably want to explore that one in a later article. How about The Goonies? The monstrous, though kind-spirited Sloth was replaced with a beautiful mermaid, and the storyline only vaguely resembled that of the movie. The SNES version of Disney's Beauty And the Beast had Beast running around in his castle, killing small animals and jumping over obstacles. I could go on forever, but the point is that very few games in essence have anything to do with the original movies, they just happen to carry the same title and include graphics that resemble the original's characters. Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves is no exception. In fact, if crap video game conversions was a school subject, this game alone would be a semester's worth of syllabus.
First of all, none of the characters look anything like the original actors. Just look at the image above - the graphical designer's train of thought must have run something like this:
Seeing Costner and Elvis together, I can't help thinking about 3000 Miles to Graceland. I've discussed this movie with a lot of people, and many tell me they though it was stupid and too long. What they have to realize is that any movie that includes Costner in an Elvis outfit is GOD. There is no greater thing than Costner in an Elvis outfit. The movie could be five hours long, and I would still think it was pure gold.
Well, back to the game. It pretty much is Zelda meets Diablo meets Final Fantasy in a badly lit bar with stale beer and rancid pretzels. I'm sorry, I'm in the mood for elusive comparisons today. Anyway, you control Costner, and meet a lot of people that join your group of merry men. For some reason, Christian Slater isn't one of them. Either that, or I didn't recognize him. What they all have in common is that they are unbelievably ugly and look like they're made out of terra cotta. Take Mr. Tuck here. If he looks like a monk, he looks like a monk from some seriously disturbing Italian killer-zombie-eyeless-monk movie. You'd think I'd give you the worst example available here, but the rest of the crowd is just as bad: Morgan Freeman looks like a Neanderthal crossed with the Latin-American guy from Boogie Nights, and Alan Rickman... well, we'll get to him soon enough.
Another problem with the game is the controls. You can't go anywhere without bumping into something, and if this wasn't a big enough problem of its own, you also are treated with the worst 2D solution ever: No matter how far away something is, if the perspective places it beside you, it's beside you. This means you're likely to crash into the tops of flagpoles twenty feet away. All the time.
On with the game: After you gather your men, you learn that people are afraid of something mysterious out in the woods. "Ah," you say, "the spooky tree ornaments everybody thought were ghosts until Freeman and Costner showed them they were sissies enough to be afraid of a couple of sticks." Wrong. What's scaring your crew is a twenty foot long wild boar. I haven't seen this movie in a long time, but I still have trouble accepting this. Oh well, better kill it and move on... WHAT THE... it exploded! I mean, everything explodes in this game. Wolves, soldiers... if you can put a sword in it, it's explosive. But this boar! It explodes like it's 1999! If you thought things were getting nuts when Costner's hair seemed to cover his entire scalp, that's nothing compared to exploding monster boars, and exploding monster boars are nothing compared to what's to come. This game is incredible.
So, what's next? I don't really remember, I pretty much skimmed through this game on my emulator, but at some point on the next mission, you climb down a well. "Wait a minute," you say, "I don't remember this part of the movie." Well, then you probably don't remember the giant demon skeleton either. The thing is, this wasn't really a part of the mission, I just saw a well and used my rope on it, and there I was. I assumed I had found some secret stash of great items, but all I got was an old bag lady with a demon skeleton I couldn't kill. Dumbfounded, I climbed back up and did what I was supposed to do.
I just remembered I should tell you about the menu system in this game. To use the rope, I had to enter the menu, select Morgan Freeman, give the rope to Costner, put it in his hand, and then exit the menu and use the rope on the well. To get an item from an enemy, you have to kill him, cover your eyes when he explodes, walk over to his skeleton, enter the menu, choose 'search', read "Robin found a leg of meat!", choose 'take', read "Robin grasps the leg of meat" and exit the menu. All that for a leg of meat.
All right, on to the next mission:
Now you're pushing it, Robin. I know you didn't go to a magical pool filled with arrow flinging mutant sea horses to find some healing water. You took from the rich, gave to the poor, got Marian in the sack and shook hands with Richard Lionheart. You did not kill those creatures, that's just some cock-and-bull story you told people in a bar thirty years later. I wouldn't accept this if it was from the Mel Brooks parody, and I sure as hell won't let you trick me into believing that this happened in any Costner movie. Not even in Mad Max on an Ocean... erm, Waterworld, I mean.
You know what? This is what I think happened:
Now we have come to the moment we all have been waiting for: melee with Alan Rickman. But first, we'll have to get by his bodyguard: Giant Skeleton Guy! Boy, am I glad I happened to climb down that well earlier, none of this would make sense to me otherwise.
But what the... That's not Alan Rickman! That looks like a middle-aged German porn actor. Guys, I think you got it wrong, Alan Rickman is the guy who played Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Dr. Lazarus in Galaxy Quest. He did not play the handyman in Helga Gets it on 7! I played through the entire game to see this?! Screw you guys, I'm making up my own ending, using your graphics! If you can do it, so can I.
Robin: Ha! Rest in pieces, Rickman! Now I'll get back to Marian and marry her!
Friar Tuck: Good plan. I would have married too, if I wasn't a subhumanoid.
Robin: Oh no! I'm stuck between a pebble and a tower that's thirty feet away! Now how will I get to my wedding?!
Azeem: What have you gotten us into this time? If I wasn't Morgan Freeman, I'd lose my serene aura and slap you like the bitch you are, Robin.
Marian: Hey, who are you? I thought I'd be marrying Kevin Costner?
Beetlejuice: I'm the ghost with the most, babe. Give us a kiss.
Richard: Hi, I'm Richard Lionheart, back from the crusades. I'm here to kiss the bride so at least the ending will be coherent with the movie. I'm also played by Sean Connery, if you didn't notice.
Beetlejuice: You're not kissing my woman, Richard.
Richard: Didn't you hear me? I'm Sean Connery. I'm kissing the bride.
Beetlejuice: If you do, I'll use my demonic powers to put you on the Entrapment cast list.
Jesus, I need to get some sleep, this is getting out of hand. I guess you get the idea, though. This game is one of the most awful things I've ever played, and I should know what I'm talking about, I'm the Nintendo county champion of '91.