As was the case the last time I tied in Gamera’s birthday in with Thanksgiving, the dates still don’t match up just yet (I’m late by two days). But seeing as how I’ve seemingly exhausted all horror-related Thanksgiving content, it’s turtle time. As you can tell by the title of today’s entry, this post is about Gamera 2000, a video game released for the original Playstation back in 1997. In it, you controlled vehicles (which varied depending on the level you were playing) to fight alongside Gamera as he battles a horde of monsters. Although you don’t actually control Gamera, you can request his help (although he doesn’t always respond). Oh, and those monsters? They’re all related to Gyaos in some way, from quadrupedal creatures with Gyaos’ facial features to a two-headed version of Gyaos! Interestingly enough, the idea of a monster that’s a radically mutated version of Gyaos was later used in the film Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris and a Gyaos with multiple heads had been used years earlier in a Gamera manga. Despite being only released in Japan, the game featured numerous FMV cut scenes featuring actors speaking in English! Thanks to grommbert, you can watch them below:
I was going to joke about the awful performances being the reason the game’s planned US release was canceled, but then I remembered how numerous games were released in the US despite the presence of bad acting. I defy you to say Chaos Wars had better performances than Gamera 2000. Hell, Resident Evil is considered to be a classic despite the groan-worthy lines and cheesy FMV opening.
So why did this game, which is often compared to the popular Panzer Dragoon series, never make the leap to the States? I just don’t know. I was going to speculate how Gamera’s relative obscurity with the American public had something to do with it, but there are many examples of anime-based video games getting a release here despite the (then) lack of familiarity or unavailability of the original source material. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if Bernie Stolar’s licensing policies for the Playstation had something to do with it. Not that it stopped hardcore American fans from playing it. There were numerous methods of getting a Playstation to play games from other countries, from disc swapping to mod chips, so the only real obstacle was finding an import copy at a decent price (or to keep from accidentally ordering the soundtrack CD instead of the game). That’s not much of a problem nowadays, although I have no idea if any of the old region unlocking tricks would still work on later versions of the Playstation or the various sequel consoles. Feel free to comment if you have any experience in that area.
Happy (Belated) Birthday Gamera!