lunes, 19 de junio de 2017

The Hobocop Curse

Retrospective of all the Hobocop cancelled games

Full article in Spanish:

Hobocop is a Spaniard cop TV show that aired from 1985 to 1992 about a bum police officer and his partner Hipstertective solving crimes. It became a cult hit on autonomous provinces after the pilot was mistakenly shown in the TPH cartoon block for children.

In the gaming community, there is a phenomenon called The Hobocop Curse that affects every effort to adapt the show into a game from 1994 to 2017. After the disastrous adaptation to the ZX Spectrum and Hobocop Jr. for the Super Nintendo, every Hobocop project has been cancelled for unpredictable reasons.

This article is a retrospective on every attempt to make a Hobocop videogame over two decades in chronological order. The curse started in 1994, after the commercial and critical failure of Hobocop Jr., both the spin-off show and the SNES game. Tidus sold the rights to Argonaut Games, creators of the first Star Fox and the Croc saga, to make a game for the Brain of the Beast.

Super Hobocop (SNES, 1994)
Super Hobocop was going to adapt the first season of the series, being the most ambitious game of the company. It was conceived as a beat’em up like Batman Returns with driving levels. It was going to break the Super Nintendo limits using pre-rendered graphics of live actors in the style of Mortal Kombat for the beat’em up stages and the 3D graphics of Star Fox that Argonaut popularized for the driving parts.

The game was surrounded by controversy with the fans for using the actors of the British version of Hobocop for the live-action segments, which lasted for a single season and is considered inferior to the Spaniard edition, ever in England. The Spaniard cast rejected to participate in any game after the disaster of Hobocop Jr. The multiple complains of the live-action British parts of Super Hobocop was the beginning of a decline that will continue over the years.

On 1995, Nintendo confirmed the Ultra64 console in the works, which would later renamed Nintendo 64. This meant that Nintendo forced the cancellation of the games in development with Argonaut for the SNES: Star Fox 2 and Super Hobocop. Their 3D technology was primitive in comparison to the new console.

Hobocop 64 (N64, 1995)
Argonaut tried to resume the Super Hobocop project and was renamed Hobocop 64. Shigeru Miyamoto suggested working in a game more appropriate to a console with 3D graphics. In his words, an action game with driving elements wouldn’t work in the Nintendo 64.

The studio disagreed and recreated the game in a prototype that mixed platforms with races starring Yoshi. The project was named Yoshi Racing and was ported to the original PlayStation changing the license to a new character called Croc and completely different to Super Hobocop.

Hobocop: Nose Corruption (GameCube 2003)
Silicon Knights obtained on 2003 the rights for the Hobocop, which was absent on the Fifth Generation of Consoles outside his cancelled apparition as a Guest Fighter in Clayfighter 63 1/3. In honor to the infamous pilot of the TV show, “Hobocop: Nose Corruption” was going to be made for the GameCube, an open world Sandbox inspired on Grand Theft Auto 3.

Denis Dyack, founder of Silicon Knights, announced the Sandbox was a perfect playstyle for Hobocop since The Simpsons and Torrente also had a game in the style of GTA. Hobo-fans rejoiced with the idea, especially because the series was rediscovered for the anniversary VHS. But the slogan of “The first sandbox focused on story” wasn’t well-received between gamers since there were already story-driven games like GTA 3 itself. Factor Five joined the development of Nose Corruption in 2004 after having problems with the engine for the driving stages.

The gameplay was going to be based on “Star Wars: Rogue Squadron”, but the companies had problems like for which console they should make the game. Factor Five wanted to move the game to the original Xbox to have less limits, while Silicon Knights preferred it on GameCube even if their contract with Nintendo already finished.

The gameplay was also a disagreement topic because Silicon Knights wanted more levels on foot and Factor Five on vehicle. Denis Dyack commented that “a game centered on vehicles wouldn’t let Hobocop shine, what the players want to see”. The game was in Development Hell until they accorded to divide the Nose Corruption game in two on 2006.

Hobocop: The eye that sees almost everything (PlayStation 3, 2007) & Hipstertective (Xbox 360, 2007)
Silicon Knights transformed his part of the Sandbox into a Third Person Shooter where Hobocop stops being a vigilante to become a superspy. Factor Five maintained the most similarities with Nose Corruption, just erasing the parts outside the vehicle. The protagonist was changed to Hipstertective and the game received the same name instead of Hobocop.

Both projects were moved to the next generation of consoles: PS3 and XB360 respectively. There were plans for Wii and PC ports in both cases if they were successful. Both games were delayed in favor of Factor Five’s Lair and Silicon Knights’ Too Human. The companies bankrupted after being unable to completely produce the games and having some legal troubles with the license.

The Hobocop (PC, 2016)
Almost a decade after the disastrous divided project, a Kickstarter promised a new Hobocop game by Five Knights Inc., formed by ex-employees of both Silicon Knights and Factor Five. Their website made it look like the definitive Hobocop game, just titled The Hobocop.

Not only they made the action and driving game they wanted with the best of every cancelled Project, but they managed to get the cast of the show. The original actors reprised their roles in voice-acting while the screenwriters and directors were contracted to base the plot on the eighth season that was never made. Even if it wasn’t as successful as other Kickstarters, it managed to get the 120% of the budget. But the Hobocop Curse was still alive and the project was completely destroyed the following year.

Director of the Hobocop season 7 Bill Raccord stopped liking the project on early 2017. He was hated by the fandom for screenwriting some of the worst received episodes like the two-parter Hobocop’s Wedding and canceling the eighth season in favor of the Hobocop Jr. spin-off.

The developers of the game said that Raccord arrived saying he wanted something more in the vein of The Lego Batman Movie. “Nobody is an actual Hobo-fan”, said the producer, “people only watch it to laugh at how bad it is, we shouldn’t take it seriously if they won’t”. That statement angered the team, lead actor David del Rio answered that Hobocop was the childhood of many and is non-ironically enjoyed by plenty of people. “Most of the bloopers people laugh at are part of the time period when it was made”. He linked Raccord not knowing the real Hobo-fans with the cancelation of Season 8.

Bill Raccord’s Hobocop (PC, 2017)
Bill Raccord used 70% of the budget gotten on the Kickstarter to make his own vision of The Hobocop after contracting Canis Verde to rebuild it as a 2D platformer to mock the most criticized elements of the show. Only some concept art survived, showing a fatter Hobocop based on his Clayfighter model and the Hipstertective from the porn parody “Hobocop XXX: Nose Erection”. Five Knights Inc. publically apologized as soon as they noted the budget gap and cancelled The Hobocop. Bill Raccord’s interpretation was also unplugged and never seen outside the April 1st of 2017 Canis Verde game selection:

“This is the cancelled game financed by Bill Raccord, who should be in the street, not imparting justice like Hobocop, but waiting to be run over by a car.”

Hobocop (ZX Spectrum, 1987)
For some reason, making a Hobocop game has always been a horrible experience from 1994 to 2017. The idea of having a Hobocop action game has survived over the years and evolved to meet the standards of each age. There won ne a day when the Street Vigilante is going to have a decent adaptation.

The “best” official Hobocop to date has been the unreachable ZX Spectrum adaptation, which was disappointing as a pick your own adventure text. It’s part of that genre of text adventures abut monsters like Cthulhu with interesting art in the cover but no graphics. The game could only be passed after watching certain episodes of the show, with mistranslated words and no indications.

Most of commands are answered with “I don’t have enough money to do that”, even if the order was just walking on a straight line. The only chapter that properly worked was the first, based on the pilot. The second chapter was based on one of the infamous episodes written by Bill Raccord, the one with Hobocop constantly having random flashbacks without music.

There were just three chapters badly novelized without adding new stuff for people who already watched the episodes. There aren’t even video-guides to explain casual fans what to write in the acronic levels. The third and final level is based on the alternative ending of Season 2, when the show was almost canceled. Hobocop was going to be killed with tuberculosis after developing an addiction to eating potatoes, “the bread of the poor”. The rejected final had Hobocop becoming a killer potato before dying, but it was a non-canon dream.

The only redeemable aspect of Hobocop Spectrum was the Konami Code parody with the game being won writing “HOBORRUN”. That means seeing the text “Justice always wins. The end” and the only graphic in the entire game, which was Hobocop’s pixilated face showing the middle finger like Atari E.T.

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