Fourteen months after its auspicious debut, we are now able to play “Dante’s Inferno” in all of its glory. The wait has been unbearable. Who hasn’t been chomping at the bit to get their hands on Visceral Games’ grand reinterpretation of Dante Aligheri’s seven-hundred-year-old poetry?
If “Dante” manages to capture an audience, we might be on the verge of a new gaming zeitgeist, wherein publishers across the land craft their blockbusters from the most traditional IPs in the public domain. Here are five games based on classic lit and the developers most suited to realizing them.
Adapted by: Omega Force for Tecmo-Koei
An aged knight sits atop a wearied steed, his sad eyes betraying countless days of travel without rest. His armor creeks as he shifts his weight. The small, portly man riding a donkey beside him advises the knight to equip his weapon before entering battle. Rain begins to fall and lightning strikes, illuminating the legions of demonic windmills before him. Koei and Omega Force couple their beloved “Dynasty Warriors” franchise with the one and only Man of La Mancha for a literary game of mass windmill slaughter. Like “Dante’s Inferno,” the text itself already fits a convenient level structure, providing players with a riveting Second Quest after they conquer the first.
The Life of Gargantua and Pantagruel
Adapted by: Blue Tongue Entertainment for Majesco
Francois Rabelais’ heretical series about giants performing heroic deeds across 15th century France while getting drunk and shoving things into their massive codpieces gets the HD console treatment. Blue Tongue takes their framework from “deBlob” and transforms it into the single most grotesque game since “Boogerman.” Guide Gargantua around the countryside as he expels waste from literally every orifice, ranking up points and making thinly veiled jokes at the expense of the Vatican! Blue Tongue’s bid at making a “mature” title fails to match the whimsy of their early efforts.
Adapted by: Square-Enix
Flummoxed after years of trying to craft a game specifically to appeal to Western audiences, Square-Enix has the core “Final Fantasy” development team craft an RPG about the literal founding of Western civilization. Guide Aeneas through a perilous quest across the fabled lands of Troy and Italia. Gather a heroic party to do battle with the villainous Latins, receive spells from your mom Venus, and win the day by founding Rome! The plan backfires on Square-Enix, as the “Final Fantasy” team manages to make Aeneas even more whiny and effeminate than Virgil did.
Sir Gawain and The Green Knight
Adapted by: Vigil Games for THQ
After “Darksiders”’ success, THQ decides that they should probably let Vigil Games make as many “Zelda” clones as they like. The big problem is that the sophomoric violence of the “Darksiders” brand is preventing them from reaching the biggest audience, so they go traditional and make a new “Zelda” clone based the 14th century epic poem of Arthurian righteousness, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” You guide Sir Gawain through eight dungeons, collecting items like the axe-repelling magic girdle and The Lady’s Ring, before your ultimate confrontation with the Green Knight. It’s actually pretty awesome until the level with the “Portal” gun.
The Canterbury Tales
Adapted by: Double Fine for EA
Tim Schafer, experiencing an existential crisis after “Brutal Legend”’s failure to capture the hearts of gamers and critics alike, decides to step away from his relentless process of creating original IP and seeks comfort in modern literature’s roots. With its wry humor and salacious characters, Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century classic is a perfect fit for Schafer’s irreverent sensibilities. Rather than get back to his personal roots, though, Schafer re-imagines “The Canterbury Tales” not as a point-and-click adventure game, but a kind of bawdy racing sim. Who can tell the most ribald tale while making the pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral the quickest? The player will decide!