Pastiching Video Games: Kill Bill, Scott Pilgrim and Persona 4

KBWhile video games are often based on films, there is an increasing reversal in this trend as the world of cinema appears to be taking inspiration from games. Indeed, the narrative structure and characterization of films are beginning to increasingly resemble what we play on our consoles. In films such as Kill Bill, for instance, battle scenes take up a large proportion of screen time while conversations between characters are brief and consist often of clichéd sentences thereby mirroring the gameplay, bosses and cutscenes of video games.

Take this scene, for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hii2SwI39ek

And now compare it to this clip of Kingdom Hearts gameplay:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvcrEWgxxUY

In both we have the same formula: cutscene introducing the villain/boss followed by protagonist/playable character fighting the villain/boss. Note that both ‘scenes’ are set and remain in a confined space with the villain/boss looking down on the hero, contain a combination of first and third person perspectives, in addition to close ups of the weapons they use. Also, on the DVD of Kill Bill, there are subtitles and this further likens it to game cutscenes.

Moreover, the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World similarly draws on video games. Like Kill BillScott Pilgrim predominantly consists of battle scenes with shorter conversational scenes between them. The plot is similar to that of Kill Bill as well. Indeed, like Beatrix Kiddo and her take down of various members of the assassination squad, Scott Pilgrim must battle his girlfriend’s seven ‘evil exes’. However, Scott Pilgrim takes its borrowings from the world of video games further than Kill Bill. Indeed, if Kill Bill pastiches various film genres, Scott Pilgrim pastiches video games as there are direct references to gameplay throughout the film. For example, when Scott ‘kills’ enemies they vanish and coins are left in their place as a reward. He also gets ‘points’ whenever he defeats a villain. Also, at when Scott loses the battle against the villain/boss Gideon Graves at the end of the film, he does not die but is revived with an ‘extra life’ and the fight begins again. While the scene is repeated, the second time is played out faster and any mistakes he made are corrected. This mirrors the way in which a player looses a boss when playing a game, skips the cutscenes and demonstrates a better understanding of how to beat it this time around.

Furthermore, the characters in the film are largely two-dimensional. Indeed, they are often emotionless and deliver their lines in a deadpan manner. This is similar to the way in which characters in early video games were underdeveloped, when there was a stronger emphasis on gameplay rather than story/narrative.

Moreover, a series that takes this idea of putting game characters into television even further is Persona 4: The Animation. This anime is directly based on the video game Persona 4 (indeed, cutscenes were literally taken from the game and put together, we even have a ‘loading screen’ between scenes detailing characters’ status after battle) and the protagonist, Yu, literally has no personality. Throughout the series, he remains a largely bland and unresponsive character, reacting to moments of crisis with little or no emotion. This parallels the way in which game protagonists act as a stand in for the player and thereby remain silent and emotionless.

Therefore, while video games are often based on films, this trend appears to be reversing as cinema is increasingly pastiching games.

An insightful article that outlines why Kill Bill should be made into a game and why we need more games with female protagonists:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/29433-kill-bill-the-video-game-is-a-great-idea-for-these-reasons-video

An article that discusses Persona 4: The Golden Animation and the concept of a ‘New Game Plus’:

bservationdeck.io9.com/persona-4-the-golden-animation-is-the-weirdest-conceit-1603709431

Eisenbeis, Richard. ‘I Watched the Persona 4 Anime Without Ever Playing The Game.’ Kotaku, 12 Apr. 2012. Accessed 2 Mar. 2015. Web.

Kill Bill. Dir. Quentin Tarantino. Miramax Films, 2003. Film.

Kingdom Hearts. Dir. Tetsuya Nomura. Square Enix, 2002. Game.

Persona 4: The Animation. Dir. Seji Kishi. Anime Network, 2011-12. Anime.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Dir. Edgar Wright. Universal Pictures, 2010. Film.

‘Video Game References.’ Scott Pilgrim Wiki. Accessed 2 Mar. 2015. Web.

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