The Running Man was a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from the 1980s. The plot was perfectly appropriate for our time. Reality television and justice have intermixed to create a series of deadly game shows where the criminally accused have to literally fight for their freedom. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his prime, and along with his standard Commando fare, he took a lot of ceative career choices with exciting science fiction movies. Along with The Running Man, Arnold made Total Recall and The Predator all around the same time. It would be fantastic to remake all of their video game adaptations… they were all pretty terrible.
This video game was particularly bad. I remember how dissappointed I was with it. It was released on the Amiga, which I owned at the time. The computer had amazing graphics, lots of colours and powerful sound and graphics co-processors, so there was no real excuse for such a sub-standard experience. The colours were limited, muddy and bizarre, the animation was clunky, the fighting was slow and clumsy, and the jumping was so inaccurate that entire video posts have been dedicated to the frustration of its platforming elements.
I feel like the movie concept had so much potential for a video game, that a remake must be undertaken. I’d say it’s a complete teardown if anything, as I will be approaching it completely from scratch. I doubt this will end up as a finished product, and it will just be a great creative exercise for me that will let me learn the Unity Engine better.
The first step was to revisit the film and start to redesign it. The movie itself is a lot like a video game in structure, actually. The helicopter scene at the beginning is like a story cutscene. Each level has its own boss, even if the budget restraints make all the backgrounds look basically the same. Subzero, Buzzsaw, Dynamo, and Fireball would each have their own levels, which I could customize to give each level its own personality to match their abilities. I feel like the prison scene early on should be added to create a great tutorial level that lets the player get a hang of the controls. The ‘fake fight’ with Laughlin is actually perfect to teach combat skills. I’d also like to add the airport scene, which had some exciting action and plays an important role in the game’s story.
One challenge I’ve already realized (which is perhaps why the game jumps directly in to the Running Man game) is that Arnold’s character makes quite a few costume changes. He’s in the yellow combat leotard for most of the film, but he starts out as a prisoner, changes into a funny construction-worker style gear in the city, switches to a Hawaiian shirt at the airport, and finishes up the film in a cool vest for some final machine gun combat to take over the broadcast at ICS headquarters. Each outfit requires a new sprite, so the developers obviously wanted to avoid that extra work. I will be trying to keep more true to the film. I’m confident that I can use modern software like After Effects to “re-skin” the animations with new graphics, which will make it easier than the 80’s process of redrawing each sprite frame manually, pixel-by-pixel.