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Futurama Preview
game: Futurama
posted by: Shawn Rider
date posted: 09:10 AM Wed Jul 16th, 2003
last revision: 07:06 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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Finally it is here. Since the premiere of Futurama, Matt Groening\'s genius follow-up to The Simpsons, I have been wanting a videogame. It\'s such an obvious connection. Even before Fry wondered, in the Season Three Anthology of Interest episode, \"What if life were more like a videogame?\" I\'ve been wondering, \"What if Futurama were a videogame?\" It\'s an obvious connection: Futurama pioneered a style of 3D cartooning that seems made for an immersive game. Futurama features a wacky cast of characters who could potentially embark on an unlimited number of adventures. And Futurama can pull in any and every influence, trend, style, or story. All of this screams out to me: Make a videogame! And I\'m such a huge Futurama fan that I lay awake at night, planning my own personal Futurama game, which mainly involves getting revenge on the evil FOX corporation for mistreating, abusing, and neglecting what could be the greatest animated television show ever (excepting the Simpsons, of course, who were never quite a natural match for videogame conversion).

I suppose if anyone aside from myself were to plan a Futurama game, Matt Groening is a good choice. He has served as executive developer on this game, and his close involvement shows. The game features all of the voices from the Futurama cast, and the story was written by Stewart Burns, longtime Simpsons and Futurama writer. The plot revolves around the Planet Express crew trying to stop Mom from taking over the universe, or some similarly nefarious plot. There are over 32 minutes of cinematic scenes, and the whole game comprises two episodes worth of content. This is the game that Futurama fans have wanted, and that\'s a great thing.

The three playable characters are Bender, Fry, and Leela, as one would expect. Each character plays through different action-oriented levels, and each one has their own special styles. Leela is a kung-fu queen, breaking out with impressive hand-to-hand combat moves. Fry is a weapons kind of guy, using laser guns, big \'mechs, and other tools. Bender is, well, Bender: He\'s got the unique abilities to belch fire and bend things that you\'d expect. There are also plenty of cameos from other characters, and we were told that we can expect to see a playable Dr. Zoidberg in the form of a racing mini-game. If anything makes my gut chuckle, it\'s the sight of Zoiby scuttling along.

The game was basically finished at E3, and we got to see quite a bit of content. The graphics are looking great, although they are just shy of perfect. Fry, in particular, has especially bulgy eyes in the game. But overall the translation from TV to game console is looking beautiful. The environments are populated with all kinds of subtlety and jokes, as we expect in the show itself. There are working suicide booths, hilarious street signs, crazy advertisements, and plenty of wacky background characters. Control is a dream, and the game is very easy to pick up. Each character controls a bit differently due to their unique abilities, but it\'s not to hard to switch characters as you switch levels. Unfortunately, we won\'t get to fly the Planet Express starship, which is a bummer, but we can deal.

Overall, Futurama is looking ripe for the gaming. With news that the series won\'t be included in FOX\'s fall lineup, all we can say is thank goodness for Cartoon Network. The series will continue to show in syndication, and hopefully the sure-to-be strong success of the videogame can help Futurama stick around for years to come.