Since movie producers have no qualms about turning inappropriate games into films, it should come as no surprise that crummy cross-promotion is a two-way street.
Take for example, “Survive the Road,” a browser game that’s part of the official web site for “The Road” that lets you inhabit the emaciated body of Viggo Mortensen’s nameless drifter as he travels the post-apocalyptic landscape in search of food and shelter while fending off those annoying cannibals.
It’s kinda like “Oregon Trail,” though I don’t recall in that game ever having to choose whether or not you’ll explain to your son why you had to mercy-kill a woman you saw bleeding by the side of the road.
Needless to say, this probably isn’t what Cormac McCarthy had in mind when he signed off the rights to his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel for a film adaptation. But maybe he’d be charmed by the fact that the rudimentary gameplay lends itself to being prose-heavy. Instructions range from plundering goods from others (“You run over to the man, remove your knife and cut his throat. You take a ragged knit cap (-10 energy loss)” — after all, your survival depends on keeping your energy level up) to describing one’s approach of a stranger (“The man is startled. He gets up and runs away as fast as he can. Unfortunately, he was cooking human remains, so you don’t get a hot meal.).
Even without the potential of flesh-eating, “The Road” doesn’t seem like the type of film that calls for a game tie-in, despite the fact that the practice is de rigueur in Hollywood these days. The website for “Old Dogs,” for instance, sports the game “Golf Cart Chaos,” where Robin Williams’ business client’s happiness level depends upon how you maneuver a cart around a course fraught with trash cans, sand traps and gophers. (Which is disappointing, since Disney could’ve gotten right to the point and produced a game where you hit golf balls at Seth Green’s nuts like in the trailer.)
And “Survive the Road” seems positively tame in comparison to what New Line cooked up for the Paul Walker thriller “Running Scared” in 2006, the type of frenetic B-movie that was already practically a video game. Some lucky developer worked their magic on “Welcome to Grimley,” a “Grand Theft Auto”-esque jaunt that allowed those who passed through an age restriction screen to “Find the G spot” on Vera Farmiga’s character between shooting up foes and driving recklessly on different levels. (New Line removed the oral sex level of the game after family groups complained, and now the site that hosted it is but a distant memory.)
Still, it should be noted that “Survive the Road” has a following. Over at Zombie Squad, readers talk of how much time they spent on the road, and appropriately enough, the consensus was that it goes nowhere.
[Photo: Screencap of “Survive the Road,” Weinstein Company, 2009; “Welcome to Grimley,” New Line, 2006]