A Call to Restore FMV Games


Full motion video games sucked. None of them approach even the simplistic playability of modern mobile titles.

But, there is a fondness for them. The black & white footage of Prize Fighter, the dopey Top Gun knock-off attitude of Tomcat Alley, a wild Mike Ditka barking orders in Quarterback Attack, or a friendly prospector in Mad Dog McCree still made these inherently dumb games nostalgic.

However, these games look awful. Baked onto the miserable 64 colors of the Sega CD or burned out on sub-VHS MPEG-1 compression on the 3DO, the visuals are forever marred by technology that is nothing short of archaic to modern eyes. Look at this emulated run of Prize Fighter:

Dragon’s Lair (and its sequel & spin-off) has been restored. You can play it on Blu-ray in a dazzling restoration. The colors are brilliant, the sharpness is impeccable, and the detail stunning. Originally released on Laserdisc, Dragon’s Lair looks better now than it ever did in its original incarnation.

Dependent upon their source, any one of these weirdly enjoyable titles could undergo the same revisionism, provided the hardware was capable of actually running them. Some of these games were likely shot on tape, a limited resolution format that condemns the footage to a lifetime of sub-HD quality. Others, especially the professionally crafted efforts like Wing Commander IV, could have utilized 16mm film, or maybe 35mm. The resolution potentially awaiting those titles is still unavailable in the home, but even at the current standard of 1080p, they could be dazzling.

It’s important to remember and acknowledge our culture, even the stuff we’d like to forget. These “games” existed, and should not be held to their awful encoding forever.

Yes, it would be illogically expensive, certain never to make a profit no matter the platform. In the scheme of things, as a side project for someone with the materials and a studio willing to take a risk, it’s worth it just to see this quirky piece of digital history preserved.

Who’s up for it?