Sunday, October 2, 2022

5 games that require a “ Snyder cut ”

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Screaming cries of “release the Snyder Cut!” received a response today with the premiere of Justice League by Zack Snyder. It got me thinking: if yelling at studios to release the original versions of their films can really work, why not do the same for video games? Actually no, don’t do that. It’s super rude.

But the fact is still relevant today: If we could experience the games’ original cuts before they were revised into their final form, what would we be playing? Here is a list of good games that I would love to play in their original incarnations, for better or for worse.

BioShock 2

I’m especially salted about this one because while I enjoyed BioShock 2 enough, Big Sister’s original take on the game sounded so much cooler. When BioShock 2 honored Game InformantOn the cover, Irrational Games planned to make Big Sister a singular character and a lingering foe in the vein of Mr. X or Nemesis from Resident Evil. She was going to be extremely powerful; you would never kill her, you would only push her away for a while. The big sister was also meant to play a major role in the narrative, being one of the little sisters Jack saved in BioShock 1 who returned home and established a new order.

I thought that premise sounded great and was crushed when the team shifted gears and made the Big Sister just another kind of faceless enemy. Every time I took down one of them while playing, I felt disappointment instead of triumphing over how fundamentally different and, in my opinion, more interesting the game would have been in its original form.

The devil can cry

Unlike the first incarnation of Justice League, Devil May Cry turned out to be excellent after some development tweaks and helped create the sleek action subgenre. I say “rework” because some fans might not realize that Dante’s debut was originally developed as one of the first prototypes of Resident Evil 4.

Hideki Kamiya was put in charge and was given the freedom to do whatever he wanted, so he did. He stripped a lot of Resident Evil’s design features and replaced them with faster combat, added copious amounts of focused “radness” and centered it on an overpowered, school-too-cool genius named Tony, who eventually evolved into Dante. Capcom turned the project into DMC after realizing it was too drastic a departure for an RE title.

But you know what? I would love to play a fully realized version of this prototype. A full-fledged Resident Evil title with the irreverent Devil May Cry demeanor starring this “Tony” character would probably be a disaster, but it’s a style conflict that I need to see. Resident Evil 4 is re-released once a month anyway, so give us the Kamiya Cut next time!

Resident Evil 4

Speaking of Resident Evil 4, it took a few trips back to the drawing board for this game to turn out to be so awesome. The game has gone through several iterations, but the version I would like to play as a full game is the famous “hook man” version. Instead of facing zombies and biological weapons, Leon had to be infected with a strange disease and fight paranormal enemies, including an apparition of a hook wielding man. A demonstration of this idea was shown at E3 2003, which you watch in full. here.

That was quite the start, and Capcom seemingly scrapped it due to the strain of having to double assets for the real and spiritual world. However, some gameplay elements were carried over into the final version, such as the camera on the shoulder. With Resident Evil seemingly plunging into the supernatural again with the upcoming Village, it rekindled my desire to play a full version of the hook man demo.

Gate 2

After Portal stole the show in The Orange Box, Valve worked hard to create several prototypes to keep up with its success. Legend has it that the studio initially envisioned the series as having a completely different mechanism with each entry, and a prototype called F-Stop was one of them. Instead of jumping through portals, players used a camera to capture polaroid photos of objects, then used the images to make said objects appear elsewhere in the environment. It was an inventive idea (one that Superliminary sort of chips in) which didn’t become publicly known until Valve gave indie developer BoxandRocks permission to register playing a version of the game. You should check that out footage if you’ve never seen it.

Valve of course changed their mind and stayed true to what got them dancing for Portal 2, and I think most would agree that worked well for everyone involved. But F-Stop seemed like a fascinating idea, one I would love to see explored with all the budget and attention that Portal 2 has received.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Of all the games that deserve the “release of the director’s cup!” rallying cry, Hideo Kojima’s swan song Konami probably overtakes them all. It is well known that the game was developed during a not-so-great time in the relationship between Kojima and Konami. Due to budget constraints, much of the content has been removed from Phantom Pain (although it is already an extremely expensive game). Depending on who you think, this is the main reason players have to replay missions ad nauseam just to keep the story going during the second half of the game.

The most egregious example of deleted content is Episode 51: Kingdom of the Flies, which allegedly asks Big Boss to pursue Eli and his fellow child soldiers in Africa after Eli steals Sahelanthropus. This mission was, again, meant to be cut for budget reasons and can be experienced as a 20 minute cutscene told through a mix of in-game graphics and storyboard / concept art. The premise of Chapter 51 sounded very cool, and that sucks you can’t play it.

With all the headaches that seemed to exist during the development of Phantom Pain, it’s amazing that it is as good as it is now. But one can’t help but wonder what it would be like to play a version of the game developed during a more copacetic relationship between Kojima and Konami.

What games would you like to see benefit from the Snyder Cut processing, so to speak? Share your choices in the comments!


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