Let’s try some free association. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when viewing this NES screenshot?
The Rocketeer is one more movie-based NES game that somehow escaped notice during my previous efforts to flush all such titles from the list of unentered NES titles. It wasn’t until I read this Cracked.com article about 5 awesome sci-fi inventions that would actually suck, which happens to illustrate jet packs with a still from the 1991 Rocketeer movie, that I recalled seeing an adaptation in Nintendo Power.
Strangely, this Disney license was sold to Bandai rather than Capcom, the usual Disney partner in video gaming during that period.
All I remember about the movie is that I don’t remember anything about it. According to plot synopses on the internet — which the game follows faithfully in the intro — a crazy inventor develops a jet pack and a benevolent guy uses it to become a hero and save the world, or at least keep the technology out of the hands of Nazis.
The game starts off as a standard run and jump affair as I try to figure out if I’m supposed to be able to fly. I quickly comprehend that I have 6 offensive options at my disposal — fist, pistol, tommygun, spread gun, grenade, and bazooka — all from the get-go, provided that I have enough ammo points collected. The fist is free, the bazooka requires 20 ammo points. Everything else takes some amount in between. This is a nifty feature, save for the fact that it can be cumbersome to constantly cycle through all 6 options during the action (no cycling when paused).
Finally, I stumble upon a gas can powerup that extends a new power meter. This finally allows me to fly in wildly uncontrolled bursts. The game’s flight capability is a bit oversold. I’m guessing that it’s necessary to use both the jet pack and some fierce firepower to take down the first boss, which I was unable to do.
Here’s a curious feature about the game. Above is the opening shot (apparently, some of the movie’s story takes place against a movie industry backdrop). Note that the sign reads “Hollywoodland”. Next, look at some of the exposition text:
The text reads plain “Hollywood”. Do you know why that is? The answer comes courtesy of a Taco Bell placemat that I read some years ago during one of their many contests. The busy disposable placemat showed the Hollywood logo, probably to showcase a trip to Hollywood as a grand prize. Reading the fine print of the placemat revealed that the famed Hollywood logo in the hills is a registered trademark of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
4 thoughts on “<span>The Rocketeer</span>”
I have a different theory… the sign says “Hollywoodland” because the game takes place in the 1930’s, when the sign actually did say “Hollywoodland”.
And while I don’t hold a very high opinion of US legislation in general, I would be really surprised if such usage of a trademark would be a problem by US trademark law.
Multimedia Mike says:
Nnice bit of history there. Some Google image searches back it up with photographs.
I see the Wikipedia entry mentions the trademark issue. It doesn’t mention whether there is any fee for its use, just required permission.
They are not using the trademark to promote anything, nor are they devaluating it in any other way; they would just be displaying the sign as is.
Though I guess I shouldn’t try to appeal to common sense in matters of law.
Hmm, I had forgotten how much the plot of Rocketeer resembled that of Rocket Ranger, one of Cinemaware’s lesser known titles. Though thankfully it’s not a side scroller. Strangely enough the NES version of Rocket Ranger changes all references to Nazis and World War 2… making it about an other space invasion. Hmm, didn’t Bionic Commando do the same thing? Guess these things are accepted if it’s a movie adapation though :P