Monday, 1 March 2010

Playing to win

A couple of weeks ago EastEnders celebrated its silver anniversary with a special live episode, accompanied by more behind-the-scenes footage than the Lord of the Rings box-set. But there's another soap landmark on the horizon, and it makes 25 years of Walford seem as inconsequential as Albion Market.

This year Coronation Street turns 50 years old - making it one of the longest running TV shows in history. Understandably keen to leverage the show's remarkable heritage, producers are arranging a variety of special events, sponsorship deals and promotions to ensure that nobody forgets Weatherfield's birthday.

Although it's not too difficult to imagine how brands like Warburtons and Typhoo tea will be able to get involved in the celebrations, another tie-in has been announced that seems a little harder to fathom. According to reports, a Coronation Street game is currently being developed for the Nintendo Wii.

Computer games based on popular entertainment properties have a patchy history - the E.T. adaptation was famously rushed to market in 1982 and almost bankrupted Atari. In the end, the unsold games ended their days as landfill in Mew Mexico.

But if a game based on the world's favourite movie (at the time) couldn't translate into a half-decent gaming experience, things don't look too great for a TV show that would think nothing of basing a cliff-hanger around an under-cooked hotpot.

With just nine months to go until the game is released, developers must be scratching their heads about how to turn one of our best-loved programmes into a compelling adventure. So here's a few suggestions to get them started, taking inspiration from some familiar titles:

Fans of beat-em ups would love a special edition of Mortal Kombat, featuring those scrap-happy chappies Mike Baldwin and Ken Barlow. Round one sees the bare-chested hunks go mano-a-mano in the Rovers Return, before spilling out into the street.

As the fights become more intense (hair pulling and tie-stretching a speciality) we'd also be treated to spectacularly rendered backdrops of Ken's school staff-room, Mike's underwear factory, and Alma Sedgewick's front steps. The triumphant player wins the fair hand and crinkly neck of Deirdre Langton-Barlow-Rashid-Barlow.

Free-roaming adventurous types might prefer Grand Theft Auto: Weatherfield Stories. Join juvenile delinquent David Platt as he takes his girlfriend for a ride in a stolen sports car, stopping along the way to break into Roy's Rolls and steal the condiment bottles.

If your taste in driving games leans towards speed rather than crime, then it's Gran Turismo: Rosamund Street. Players buckle-up as Steve McDonald in a nitro-fueled taxi from Street Cars, with bonus points gathered every time you deliver a baby in the back-seat or ditch your ride in the Manchester Ship Canal.

What's that terrible shuffling, groaning sound? It can only be the living dead, creeping inexorably up the street to feed on our brains and infect us with a fate worse than death. You'll need to pack some serious heat if you're going to take on the triptych of terror - Emily Bishop, Betty Turpin and a recently reanimated Vera Duckworth - in Residential Home Evil.

But the game I'm most excited about is an adaptation of one of Coronation Street's seminal moments, when Rita-beater Alan Bradley gave chase across a busy Blackpool promenade and met his maker under the wheels of the world's slowest tram. This moment of high drama is just crying out to be turned into a 21st century version of Frogger.

Ultimately though, I imagine that Granada will insist on an original game that makes full use of the Wii's innovative motion-capture technology. So prepare for a race against time as you totter up the famous cobblestones in Bet Lynch's leopardskin high-heels whilst balancing a tray of Newton & Ridley's finest (Wii Fit balance board not included).

Better start forming an orderly queue outside GAME now...

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