My Pop Culture Teachers Part 2 (Getting Physical)

I’m back with some more choice pop culture teachers! Make sure to check out Part One before you continue. Basically, I pick out a few fictional characters that I would want to teach me in various subjects of education. This batch will focus on the classes involving the human body. We are housed in complicated, fascinating structures. And I believe these fictional characters would help me better understand and care for it.

Medicine

The healing factor is an important one. Experts of a damaged body and bedside manners, I would be in good medical hands with these gents.

Jack Shephard was the only doctor who crash-landed on a Lost island. This spinal surgeon tended to every injury of his fellow survivors and became a de facto leader because of it. He kept (a majority of)  people alive in an intense environment. And he did it with extremely limited resources. I still berate his involvement in a love triangle during such serious times, but nonetheless, I trust his medical hands.

Hacksaw Ridge is one of my favorite war movies and true stories. All because of Desmond Doss. He took his non-violent Christian beliefs to heart as he wouldn’t even touch a gun. But he did everything in his power to save more than 75 lives in the middle of a warzone. He also had a perfect bedside manner, remaining positive and friendly to the men he delivered from hell. You can learn a lot from this man, not just about medicine.

Now take that friendly, happy doctor type and turn it inside out. Doctor Leonard McCoy, aka “Bones,” is another OG Star Trek main: the chief medical officer. He always made sarcastic, cranky comments whenever the captain did something stupid. That never got in the way of his skills or loyalty. Although he may only come in handy for the future of medicine, all things considered.

You probably don’t recognize the last guy. That’s because he doesn’t have a face! (Well, no face model.) Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and RE 8: Village are played from the perspective of Ethan Winters, an everyday man simply trying to save his family. But I’m only here to talk about the healing salves he makes. Ethan gets brutally injured, entire limbs severed, but just pours that herbal juice on himself and comes out fine! Whatever is in that stuff, we need that!

Survival 

When you get dropped in the middle of unfamiliar, shitty surroundings, you need to know how to stay alive. These people went through the shitiest circumstances and still survived. 

Katniss Everdeen’s life was always dark and shitty. She had to step up to the motherly role and provide for her dirt-poor family. She made her own bows and arrows to live off the wilds. So it was no surprise that she could make it to the end of the Hunger Games. Only when people “got in the way” did she struggle. Much like myself, she is not socially adept. Her teachings would have to be one-on-one.

Sydney Prescott redefined the “final girl” horror trope. The ones that came before only survived by running. Sydney doesn’t run; she fights back! She was the main target of Ghost Face, yet she kicked their ass in several Scream movies. Sydney proves that the will to survive is just as important as the skill set required. She would probably be the “too cool for school” teacher as her school experience was a bit traumatizing.

The hardiest (and sexiest) choice for surviving the apocalypse: Leon S. Kennedy. One of the faces of the Resident Evil franchise, he was thrown into the zombie chaos with only his police training to save him and others. He gained notoriety, progressing in a world trying to regain control. No matter how far Leon is backed into a weird corner, he fiercely shoots his way out of it. 

Cartoon characters can typically survive anything. However, Tom Cat has gone through hell. The fact that he is famous for his screams is messed up (and hilarious). He just wants to catch Jerry Mouse, but that psychopath makes it impossible! Sure, he can be an asshole, but no man or cat deserves this level of abstract pain. I would pay to know how Tom survives every creative torture the animators— I mean, Jerry put him through. #StopTheTomAbuse

Physical Ed/Sport 

Our bodies are the most important tool/weapon we can master. P.E. was never my “thing,” but if I had these powerhouses as my coaches, I might’ve considered a gym membership.

The Bride fights through the bloodiest of circumstances to get what she wants. But it’s a lot harder to Kill Bill than you’d think. She hits rock bottom frequently yet forces herself to push on. Resilience and persistence are important to fitness. Although she won’t be too hard on you, she won’t be easy either. Her limits definitely surpass mine, but she makes me believe that no feat is impossible when you set your mind to it.

Rocky Balboa is the poster child/man of physical education. His iconic jogging scene in his first film shows us that a healthy journey comes before the hard-won destination. If you want that trophy (or that great body), you have to work for it! And although I haven’t seen all the Rocky movies (don’t @ me), I will never forget Rocky’s speech to his son in his 2006 film. That scene alone proves what a great coach he is.

You can’t just train your body without training your soul. Everybody wanted Yoda to be their Jedi master growing up, and I’m no different! Cool force powers aside, Yoda is a 900-year-old philosopher guiding his pupils toward understanding the mind and the world around us. His wisdom isn’t boring either. He has a senile sense of humor to keep you on your toes. But you can’t lift the X-Wing (or gym weights rather) if you don’t believe you can first. 

Sometimes we need someone to yell in our face when we work out. How about Kratos: A god with a temper who loves butchering monsters to protect his family. He reminds me of those angry drill sergeants in war movies but is really good at heart and gentle when it counts. And he took a Hel of a journey (Norse mythology pun win) to become a well-rounded barbarian. Just don’t screw up too much around him, or he’ll call you out, boy!

Sex Ed 

This may be an uncomfortable subject for conservatives, but sex education can’t be suppressed any longer! We must understand our bodies' desire to connect with one another, or else we aren’t safe and healthy. These eccentrics can teach us the ins and outs of getting down

Yes, I am condoning Lucifer, the Devil himself, to teach "the sex.” The moment he entered the Fandom, he dripped with charisma and appeal. He is extremely honest, so he isn’t afraid to talk about the naughty stuff with literally anyone. But he ain’t a man whore, he genuinely cares about people. Sure, he might bang the students to get them a good grade, but he’ll do it safely (and experimentally).

That stereotype of older people being, well, too old to engage in "the sex" died when Grace and Frankie took over. These silver queens are open and unafraid of the changing times. In fact, their own husbands became gay for each other. Every dirty thing you can think of, they’ve probably done or witnessed. Not just on the naked stuff either. So they won’t (completely) judge you in the classroom. 

Frankenfurter is just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania, aka a mad scientist alien who wants to sleep with everyone. Rocky Horror Picture Show came out when "the sex" and being openly weird were frowned upon. Now it’s a cult classic. Although portrayed with malicious intent, Frank helps the repressed couple who stumble into his castle. We should never repress our desires. But we also shouldn’t kill or create a living sex doll, so Frank will be a “socially distant” teacher.

And that is all for part two! Awesome, I know. Engaging, you might say. Who would you want in pop culture to do your physicals? No, I do not want your “hit list,” that’s for another day…

The Games That Define a Generation: The Original PlayStation

Let's take a trip down memory lane starting with this video:

That iconic PlayStation startup sound resonated with a lot of 90s kids when it was released in 1994. It was a make it or break it moment waiting to see if the disc was readable or not. If the second startup screen shows up, rejoice! You can now play the game. Or, if you’re like me, who lived in the Philippines and owned an American PlayStation in the 90s, it was probably some disc that was not compatible at all.

Image of the "insert CD-ROM" screen from the original PlayStation console.
Every 90s kid’s nightmare, and our version of the Red Ring of Death!

Many games have come and gone during the life cycle of the original Sony PlayStation, which had to compete with the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn from 1994 to 2006. Some of those games are critical successes, like Gran Turismo and all three Tekken games. Others became cult classics years after their release, like Parasite Eve, which combines survival horror and RPG elements to create an interesting take on the genre. A handful of titles from that console have left an indelible mark on my life, and here are some that defined that generation.

Dino Crisis

Dino Crisis screenshot with T-rex bursting through a window, jaws open
“Uh, I can explain.” T-Rex (probably)

I never fully played any survival horror games growing up. The only exposure I had was being overwhelmed with fear playing Resident Evil 2 for about five minutes when my cousins wanted me to “try” out a new video game as a prank. And I swore that I would never touch another game like that again! Until Dino Crisis, that is. The plot focuses on multiple characters who are part of an elite commando squad called the Secret Operations Raid Team (SORT). They encounter recurring outbreaks of deadly dinosaurs and other monsters in a closed environment at a laboratory on an isolated island, and they find a doctor who was thought to be dead for three years. This title was the first meaningful experience I had playing the survival horror genre. 

In Dino Crisis, the team behind the Resident Evil franchise brings their signature flair of tension and scenery to a new location: an island where there are no apparent means of escape. This time, instead of the undead, it’s dinosaurs who are the looming threat in the game. Meanwhile, the different puzzles littered throughout the island are a nice break from the crazy chases and gunfights. Plus, the multiple endings really got me to play the game more than once. With Dino Crisis, the weight of a person’s decision determines where the story will end. Some titles prior to the release of Dino Crisis have a linear beginning, middle, and end and have little to no sway from the player’s decisions.

Metal Gear Solid

Screenshot from Metal Gear Solid showing the player hiding from a marauder with a gun
Solid Snake in his natural habitat: Walls!

Solid Snake. The name is synonymous with the stealth subgenre of action games. This was my first time playing a game like this, and my love for the stealth genre originated from playing Metal Gear Solid. He sneaks around the fictional island of Shadow Moses, and he attempts to thwart a nuclear attack from the terrorist group known as FOXHOUND. Game director and Quentin Tarantino clone Hideo Kojima took the game in a more cinematic approach as longer cutscenes picture the over-the-top narrative. Kojima created characters with unique personalities and traits that stood the test of time. One of these is Revolver Ocelot, the straight-shooter mercenary with a penchant for the macabre. 

What’s even more interesting are the different gameplay mechanics that were introduced in the game. This included quirks such as breaking the fourth wall when Psycho Mantis was reading my memory card to reveal a save file from another Konami game—it blew my adolescent mind! It also included larger boss fights where every inch of the screen is used to show how big a boss fight can be. And in the case of the firefight with Sniper Wolf, the space is tight and shows how anxiety-driven the fight can be.

Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII screenshot with Cloud facing off against a giant robot
Cloud brings more than a big sword to a fight!

What can I say about Final Fantasy VII? I spent countless hours playing the three-disc epic! This was the game to play on the original PlayStation, and for good reason. The story was solid as the fight to save the world becomes a priority rather than just another mercenary job for Cloud Strife. As the story progresses, the more the game world comes to life outside the metal walls of Midgar. The characters are deep, and their personalities shine! Cloud, for example, dreams of becoming part of the elite SOLDIER unit. Though he falls short of that goal, he finds clarity over the course of the game, transforming him from selfish and cold to supportive and selfless. The combat itself is amazing, too. Though it's a turn-based RPG, the attacks have an impact as the hits land with a THUD!

This game made such a lasting impact on me that the Final Fantasy VII remake in 2020 really resonated with me. The worlds that I visited so long ago were lovingly restored to match the graphics of the current generation of consoles. Seeing these moments done on the next-gen PlayStation 5 console really hit home as memories of playing all three discs of this epic came flooding back. And it brings new players who have never played the original Final Fantasy VII to get a chance to make their own memories playing it!

But wait, there’s more!

Here are some of my fellow Couch Soup contributors reflecting on the original PlayStation games that define them:

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex’s Revenge (from Patrick Sutherland)

Screenshot of Crash about to run through a straight path of obstacles in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex's Revenge
This is easy!

The PlayStation game that best defines my experience with the PS1 is Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back. Growing up, I didn’t own the original PlayStation, but fortunately, I had family that did. When this game was released in October of 1997, I was five years old. Being the baby of the extended family, this small rectangular box from Japan was a tool used to create familial bonds with our large Swedish family. While I may not have been able to bring anything to the table conversationally, I could communally enjoy the sensation of beating a tough boss or hurdling over some whacky obstacles. Besides all the quality-of-life improvements that I’m able to reflect on and appreciate as an adult jumping from Crash Bandicoot to Crash 2, what stands out to me the most was how accessible this game was for me as a child. It didn’t matter if I was falling into bottomless pits; I was riding a polar bear. It didn’t matter if I would instantly get blown into oblivion from spinning into nitro containers; I was having fun while doing it. After recently revisiting Cortex Strikes Back (now included in the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy), I can say that this game still holds a special place in my heart.

Final Fantasy IX (from Josh Neff)

Final Fantasy battle HUD used in the original PlayStation titles
The Final Fantasy battle HUD commonly used on the original PlayStation titles.

My PlayStation moment was with Final Fantasy IX, one of the last major games to come out of the PS1 era before the start of the PS2 era. Being 10 years old, it gave me a view of the future in terms of graphics and storyline. With my small game library, while growing up, I had never experienced a story that had laughs, action, horror, and tragedy all in one game. This will be a hot take: the best Final Fantasy games on the PS1 (in order) are FFIX, FF Tactics, FFVIII, and FFVII.

Tomb Raider (from Candace Bisonette and Michelle Holstine)

Screenshot of Lara Croft in the original Tomb Raider video game
Lara Croft from Tomb Raider (1996)

From Candace: I was nine years old when the original Tomb Raider was released for PlayStation. As a young girl, I was ecstatic to be able to play as Lara Croft, who was a strong independent, cunning, beautifully intelligent female lead. Lara's story piqued my interest in history, and I deepened my studies to see where the game took fact and molded it into fun fiction. I spent hours playing the original and couldn’t wait to see where Croft’s next adventure would take her in the world. Tomb Raider helped broaden my mind and develop a strong desire for adventure. Lara never hesitated to take on a challenge, and I took that to heart as I matured.

From Michelle: I am going to echo what I mentioned in Candace's article, Our Journey as Female Gamers, and repeat that Tomb Raider is the PlayStation game that left a huge impression on me. I grew up in a family of sisters in an area where hard work was a necessity. We were females leading a male-driven life with farm work, construction, etc. Having Lara Croft as a lead in a video game escape spurred my love for strong female role models. This has since grown to include the likes of Wonder Woman, Xena, and Rebecca Walton (newer to the scene). Lara Croft helped me grow to be the strong female I am today and be proud of it, not ashamed!

Resident Evil 2 (from Daniel Morris)

Screenshot from Resident Evil 2 showing Leon Kennedy killing the undead
Leon Kennedy being a bad-ass fighting the undead on Resident Evil 2.

Resident Evil 2 is a staple of the original PlayStation library for many reasons. It defined survival horror as a genre. It worked within the limitations of the time to deliver a cinematic and terrifying experience. It also showed that there was a desire for mature games, much like Deadpool did for R-rated superhero movies. On a personal level, RE 2 made me a believer in Sony and the PlayStation. To this day, I still play the originals on a regular basis as I still love getting lost in the atmosphere and the horror. It defines the console.

Thanks Patrick, Josh, Candace, Michelle, and Dan!

What original PlayStation title left a great impression on you?

Yes, I Live With A Survival Horror Junkie

The first step is admitting you have a problem. Right? Or does he have a problem? How does this work? 

Suppose you live with a gamer. Maybe it's a family member, a roommate, or even a significant other. And because you live with them, you are exposed to whatever games they like to play. This includes the horrifyingly graphic and disgusting games with copious amounts of blood. Oh my god! The blood! It's the kind of games that they play over and over and over again and on harder difficulty each time. 

If this is you, my friend, you just might live with a survival horror junkie.

 

I have never been a fan of games designed to terrify the living daylights out of me. I prefer to play games that let me escape the horrors of everyday life because, let's be honest, most jobs are a nightmare. But since I moved in with my significant other, I have been exposed to some of the scariest, most intense, and squishy (you know, the sounds that zombies make when they chomp on your face) games I have ever seen. He has actually tried to get me to play some of his favorites, including Resident Evil. The old-school pixelated original version of Resident Evil didn't freak me out (that much- okay, the spiders got me). 

*WARNING: Very salty language in the following clip*

I mean, seriously, I told him there’s never anything good behind red doors. And I was right! 

He also got me to play the re-released version of Resident Evil 2, and that was a giant NOPE for me. I tried. I really did. But when there is a massive blood smear leading under a half-opened door that I have to crawl under, no thank you, I would like to live. I stood there so long that he finally took over the controller. 

I guess you could say that I have a powerful survival instinct. I would rather run away from danger! Not into it! Growling and snarling noises? Go the other way! To me, it’s very simple. Not to a survival horror junkie. They run headlong into the most gruesome and disturbing scenes imaginable and watch as their characters die in incredibly awful ways over and over again. And these are the games they enjoy playing! I get it. It's all about the challenge. I think. 

I have had the incredible privilege (I'm holding up my sarcasm sign) of watching him play through things like The Last of Us, Days Gone, The Evil Within, and a slew of Resident Evil games. This is just a small list. There are many, many more. And sure, today's graphics are incredible, and they can do so many things to make everything look more realistic, but must they? I have seen more realistic-looking entrails and body parts that main characters have to slip and slide through to get away from whatever madness is chasing them than I ever care to (I'm looking at you, Evil Within). Never EVER try to eat ANYTHING when the person you live with decides to start playing one of these games. Just DON’T. 

And why would I want to play games that have literally made him scream? The first time he played Phasmophobia (a ghost hunting game) with his friend, they were both screaming. Like girls. For more on those hilarious shenanigans, you can check out my previous article “When Men Scream Like Girls”.

Shana's creation

As much as these games can make me squeamish and blow my blood pressure through the roof, sometimes funny things can come out of it when I am forced to watch some of these horrifying games. While streaming Evil Within, I had asked my significant other to please turn his "butt light" off (the lantern that hangs from the character’s belt) because it attracts zombies. I thought it was a perfectly reasonable request. It became a hilarious possible t-shirt idea thanks to fellow Replayer and stream watcher Shana Martin. 

I sometimes have an easier time dealing with these types of games if I am co-oping them with him. We played Dead Space 3 together and I was so proud of myself when I had a headshot on the space zombies (or whatever they are), but those bastards kept coming! Headless! Full spine headless space zombie grossness crawling at me was not what I had in mind for a romantic evening of co-op gaming with the man. 

I have also started playing Phasmaphobia with him and friends, but it is seriously scary no matter how many times I have played it. I've been known to stay in the van to “look for orbs” on the cameras. Don’t judge! I live so I get to keep my money and my equipment to help fund future ghost hunting expeditions. That’s my story and I am most assuredly sticking to it. I have also been known to just guess what the ghost is and drive off with the van when we get a particularly nasty ghost that has killed off the rest of the crew—because I am not going in that house!

I’m sure I will continue to get roped into either sitting with him while he plays or attempting to play with him because apparently, my reactions are “funny.” The small bit of satisfaction I get is that many times my reactions to jump scares actually scare him more than the actual game itself. What can I say? I’m jumpy and we get a good laugh out of it, and it makes for some entertaining streams and content. You’re welcome?

As much as I complain about the awfulness that I hear and see emanating from his screen on a daily basis, I don’t think I would have it any other way. It makes him happy, and the fact that he can share something with me that he is passionate about is incredibly important to both of us. I have learned a lot about the franchises and do get interested in the great stories behind things like the Umbrella Corp, for example. Even if I am watching while my hands are covering my eyes.  

 

What games do you get exposed to that you wish you didn’t? Do you or someone you know live with a survival horror junkie?

 

 

Talking Zombies, Hobbits, and Mocap with Nicole Tompkins

5 Video Games Perfect For Theme Parks

At the 2020 Nintendo Direct live streaming event, Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario, gave viewers a brief tour of the brand new Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Japan. Set to open in February of 2021, Super Nintendo World is a Super Mario video game come to life with everything from special interactive power-ups on item boxes, apps that sync with a special wristband to collect coins from various locations, and fully realized sets recreating the iconic levels of the franchise. 

To top it off, Miyamoto previewed a state-of-the-art ride with never-before-seen technology that puts guests right into the heart of an epic race called "Super Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge." If you've ever wondered what it'd be like to wander through a warp pipe and end up in the Mushroom Kingdom, Super Nintendo World will give you that experience tenfold.

As a theme park enthusiast and a former Cast Member for Walt Disney World, I've been fascinated with theme parks from all around the world. With the creation of Super Nintendo World now coming to life, I've compiled a list of what I believe to be the five video game franchises that would be perfect for theme parks. Some you may expect and some may surprise you. Either way, it's time to level up the world of theme parks with my very own wishlist.


Kingdom Hearts - Tokyo Disneyland Park

The Square Enix/Disney crossover franchise is an obvious choice to be an extension to the Tokyo Disneyland park in Japan. Through the magic and ingenuity of the brilliant Disney Imagineers, guests would enter a secret portal on Destiny Island into Traverse Town being greeted by Sora as well as Donald, Goofy, and Mickey in their respective Kingdom Hearts costumes. Upon arrival, Guests wearing their park exclusive Magic Bands with the Kingdom Hearts logo will be able to go on an interactive quest throughout the park helping stop the Heartless from taking over designated areas around shops and character meeting areas.

The main attraction (or E-Ticket Ride as it's known in the Disney Parks lingo) would be a ride called "Journey into the Realm of Darkness'' where guests journey together to face the Darkness in their Gummi Ship while using Keyblades to fend off foes sent after them by the evil Maleficent. It would be a combination of the vehicle technology used in "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" in Universal Orlando Resort and the laser blasters in "Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters" in Disneyland, plus some 4K digital mapping projections.


Uncharted - Universal Studios Epic Stunt Show

Stunt shows are a staple of theme parks around the world and there's no better franchise that lends itself to it than the Uncharted franchise. Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles would be a perfect park to have this show. A grandiose outdoor amphitheater showcasing an exotic temple would be the perfect setting and size for Nathan, Elena, and Sully to climb, shoot, and drive in a series of action-packed stunt scenes. Water would surround it like a moat for jet ski chases. Set pieces of all sizes would fill it out perfectly for Nathan’s signature climbing and jumping while fending off evil mercenaries. Fill in the ground with a huge track for stunt car chases and you've got yourself a three-tiered show capped off with pyrotechnics of all kinds!

Stunt shows usually have pre-recorded vocal tracks that actors lip-sync to and this would be no different with Nolan North, Emily Rose, and Richard McGonagle reprising their respective roles. What better way to see your favorite characters in real life than to hear their actual voices on stage? Imagine, if you will, a scenario where Nate has once again found himself in the midst of an epic journey to find an ancient relic thought to be lost to the ages. With Elena and Sully by his side, the three of them fend off an evil group of mercs hired by a rival treasure hunter intent on stealing it for themself.

The action-movie style of the franchise is perfect for a stunt show of this caliber. The humor, the fight choreography, simulated shootouts, and car chases, all kept at a pace with a sweeping score from the original game's soundtrack, would make this stunt show a signature piece at any theme park around the world.


Bioshock - Islands of Adventure Hybrid Thrill Ride Experience

Imagine walking through the Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando with all the fantastical buildings surrounding you and, in the distance, an unassuming simple lighthouse. You walk through a winding path filled with aged newspaper postings on signs talking about the amazing eighth wonder of the world built by the infamous Andrew Ryan. Once inside the lighthouse, you find yourself presented with a staircase that goes down to an antechamber filled with propaganda signs from Andrew Ryan himself promoting his underwater city, Rapture.

Soon, attendants dressed in the finest 1950s uniforms designed by Ryan Industries invite you to step into designated patented multi-rider bathyspheres. Once inside, you're taken on a (motion-simulated) journey underwater and transported to the marvelous city of Rapture. However, on the way, the recording of Andrew Ryan's voice becomes distorted and suddenly the recording is hijacked by a mysterious character who warns them that all hell has broken loose in Rapture and they need to turn back.

But it's too late. Once you've emerged from the depths, you're suddenly confronted with a Splicer (portrayed by a live actor) who attempts to break into your bathysphere. A large bellowing voice scares them off and your vehicle opens with a tattered-uniformed guide claiming to be a friend of the voice that warned you to turn back. Collectively you all walk through the dilapidated city and back towards an emergency exit avoiding any trouble you encounter along the way. Eventually, as you are surrounded by a multimedia experience with special effects to fully immerse you in the city of Rapture, you make a daring escape in a submarine while a Big Daddy attempts to break-in.

This idea was inspired by Disney's "Rise of the Resistance" attraction in Disney's "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" theme park. It would consist of a simulator ride through a virtual ocean, a walkthrough experience with live-action actors, fully realized set pieces, state-of-the-art animatronics, and digital projection mapping, and LED video to simulate the infamous underwater tunnels. The ride would conclude with a thrilling simulated submarine ride and a terrifying encounter with a full-sized Big Daddy animatronic. It would be an incredibly ambitious attempt at bringing the world of Bioshock to life.


Resident Evil - Universal Studios Japan Horror Maze

Every year in October, Universal Theme Parks in California, Florida, and Japan hosts an event called “Halloween Horror Nights.” Themed mazes litter the park and have delightfully frightened park goers with creatures and characters from the most famous horror films and television series. 

In 2014, Universal Studios Japan went a step further and dedicated an entire zone of their park, from August to November, to the video game franchise Resident Evil (known as Biohazard in Japan). Characters from the game were scattered throughout the area, and live-action re-enactments of scenes and encounters from the game were played out right in front of guests at periodic times throughout the day. 

In my idea for making this a theme park attraction, I'm taking all of this one step further.

A year-round horror maze is not uncommon these days, but what if you were to take all the great elements of a haunted house, live-action presentations, and state-of-the-art special effects and then combine them with the added bonus of augmented reality? All of these elements under one roof would make for an incredibly immersive experience.

Guests would enter through a STARS-themed queue with video monitors describing what they're about to experience all along the way. As the line moves, guests learn they have volunteered to try out a brand new technology that will allow them to help the patrol identify early-onset infections of the t-Veronica virus. They are also being trained to learn how to eliminate the already infected as they'll be given specialized weaponry. In reality, guests are putting on special augmented reality equipment used in such experiences as "Ghostbusters: Dimension" created by AR event creators, "The VOID."

A walkthrough set, live-action zombie actors, digital projection effects, a specialized HUD on your equipment, and immersive effects surrounding you at all times--you’ll feel like you're inside the video game. It would not be for the faint-of-heart, to say the least.


World of Pokémon - Full Theme Park

The Pokémon franchise is too big to put into one ride, one live show, or even one park. This nearly 25-year-old franchise deserves to have its very own theme park. The World of Pokémon would be an absolutely immersive experience from the moment you step through the gates. Entirely enclosed so that year-round access is guaranteed, the World of Pokémon would be divided into several areas taken from the most famous locations in the video game franchise. 

Guests would wear a special RFID chip wrist-band with a signature pokéball on it that would act just like the item does in-game. Connecting via Bluetooth to an exclusive downloadable pokédex app, guests would find themselves in a park-sized spanning game of Pokémon Go! Instead of virtual images on their phones, guests would be able to use the app to find special locations where scale animatronics of the most famous original 150 would be scattered throughout the park. They'll be able to see their own starter Pokémon in real-time battle with the other creatures on their phone. And if they're lucky enough to capture five of them, they can take them around the entire park to do special AR challenges and even compete for gym badges.

Beyond the fully immersive premium encounter game, guests can have meet-and-greets with an animatronic Pikachu, eat signature dishes inspired by the game at the many eateries, ride roller coasters inspired by the Legendary Pokémon like Articuno, Zapados, and Moltres. Or even see a live-action Ash, Misty, and Brock face off against the evil Team Rocket in a special effects show using high-end screen projections. The big-ticket ride would be a 3D dark ride where park-goers would take a special tour through the famous cities of Pokémon only for their ride to be hijacked by Team Rocket with Ash and his Pokémon following to save his new friends.

Combining the look of the worlds from the video games, the animated series, and the live-action movie "Detective Pikachu," the World of Pokémon theme park would be the number one destination for all things Pokémon. You will absolutely know the true meaning of “gotta catch ‘em all” by the end of it as you try to become a true real-life Pokémon master.

Those are my picks for video games I feel would be perfect for theme parks. What games would you like to see come to life in a ride, show, or full-fledged park? Which ones from the list would you want to see the most? Let me know in the comments below.