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Monday, July 27, 2015

Pixels: The 8-Bit Disaster

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Hollywood doesn't understand gaming culture.

I don't understand why Sony (or their movie division) decided to release Pixels in theatres. Or anywhere. Why does it exist? Obviously they saw the success of Wreck-It Ralph a few years ago and wanted to replicate it... except live-action and with Adam Sandler (acting and producing). I can't give a detailed analysis about the differences between Wreck-It Ralph and Pixels and why the first was critically acclaimed and well-liked by moviegoers and gamers alike, and why Pixels is just garbage. I'm a videogame blogger, not a movie analyst.

I do know this, though: Damn, Pixels really sucks. Not that I've watched it, mind you. But I don't think this is a case of "you can't trust the reviewers."

Pixels film Rotten Tomatoes score fresh
I like that it's a critic consensus that, apparently, Pac-Man is one of the worst arcade games.
These critics should go into gaming.

If you don't know the plot of Pixels, apparently NASA (this is an alternate universe where they aren't more concerned with getting more Muslims into science) sent a time capsule into space featuring 1980s arcade games. For whatever reason, aliens take this the wrong way and rather than do their inevitable invasion of Earth (because aliens don't have anything else to do with their time) under the guise of their normal selves, they decide to replicate the arcade games sent along with the capsule.

It actually reminds of of the Kid Icarus Uprising Aurum alien invaders. They were plagiarisers too and took the forme of knock-offs of the Underworld Army and the Forces of Nature when invading Skyworld. This was humourously reacted to in-universe.


One critical difference is that the Aurum had smooth jazz. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm assuming there is no jazz of any sort in Pixels. So it's a worse set of aliens.

Pac-Man Pixels film movie Adam Sandler
"Pac-Man is a bad guy?" - Adam Sandler. Well, DUH. He murdered Claira!

From the trailers anyway, Pixels doesn't seem to be self-aware and humourous. It's serious!

If there's one good thing that came from this movie, it's that it granted the world another Billy Mitchell interview. Billy Mitchell isn't in the movie (which would make it a must-watch), but he was interviewed about it (though not really about the movie but about Pac-Man, though he never says positive things besides calling it popular) and a primary character in the movie is based off him.

So... Let's analyse this. Sony made a movie that doesn't really appeal to gamers, because it uses arcade nostalgia that doesn't connect to most gamers today. Arcade culture is also either associated with mobsters or drunk frat boys eating nacho cheese, and gamers want their own culture separate from that. Wreck-It Ralph had that. Disney showed that they understood gamer humour and culture. I don't think Sony gets that. Sony and Adam Sandler put together a juvenile (but not endearingly juvenile) plot to throw a bunch of 8-bit special effects for characters no one cares about.

Sad to say, is that Nintendo promoted the movie a few times on social media because they licensed Donkey Kong to appear in it. Or more accurately (but no one involved in the film cares), Cranky Kong.

Pixels Donkey Kong arcade movie film 8-bit final boss Adam Sandler
When they told us Nintendo would be licensing their properties more, is this what we get as a result?

Nintendo doesn't really identify with their arcade roots other than by saying, "Oh, this is how Shigeru Miyamoto got game design skills before we launched the NES." So even they don't truly care. And they shouldn't, because there really isn't a base of people who care about this movie. Besides, like, dedicated Adam Sandler fans? (Who the hell are you?)

Pixels Pac-Man Toru Iwatani eat hand Professor movie film trailer
Another picture of Pac-Man being a bad guy, this time eating off his creator's hand.

...Again it doesn't help that it's apparently a pretty poor movie. Oh well, guess gamers should be playing games and not watching movies about them!

Ludwig himself doesn't watch movies in theatres much. ...Very, very rarely. He has never appeared in an arcade game and never wants to. Have you watched Pixels? If so, how was it?

Ludwig instead thinks gamers should be watching movies about how the IRS abuses Americans. 
Ludwig also would have watched a movie about the gaming-related "Madden Curse"... but it was canceled after a long series of KoopaTV-exclusive investigations. 
With Nintendo now announcing a full-fledged movie business, Ludwig might go back to the theatres.
Billy Mitchell gets his own dedicated article, though it is about his integrity.


  1. I knew it looked bad from the trailers.
    I did in fact expect it to be kind of like Wreck-It Ralph, with tons of well-known characters, games, references, etc.
    But, sadly, it just threw in a whole bunch of arcade games no one, not even gamers or your middle-aged parents trying to relate to you, care about.
    Not even Pac-Man or Donkey Kong's inclusion was well done or fanservice-y.
    It seems to me like it's just Hollywood trying to make a quick buck out of true gamers by taking that "your generation would never know real video games" mentality and attracting them with older games that, while can be recognized universally as games once played frequently and enjoyed by many, are not talked about or cared too much about the gamer community alike.

    >expected it to be like Wreck-It Ralph
    >used long-forgotten arcade games
    >riding WIR's coattails while simultaneously hustling gamers with aforementioned washed-up games
    >movie is shit
    >Ludwig is better off not watching it, he needs his smexy fingers for writing (err, typing) articles.

    1. (Woah, Wreck-It Ralph is abbreviated as WIR...)

      But yeah, generally agreeable analysis there. (It helps you pretty much summarised the article.)

      Did you actually watch it? :o

    2. Wreck-It Ralph? Some parts. It shows occasionally on Disney Channel.
      Pixels? Hell no, but then again, it's better than Minions. :T

      Why can't we watch a movie together uuuugghhhh ;~;

    3. ...Why the hell is Minions a successful (or trying to be) thing?

    4. No idea. But, people like them.
      *cough* Except me. And you. And everyone with sense.
      And it somehow acquired the rights to be on anything and everything, from video games to toilet paper. -_-

    5. ...So are they really on toilet paper? I don't understand why you'd want branded toilet paper. It sounds demeaning to your brand.

      Un-fun fact: Wendy submitted some Minions-related work she did as part of her portfolio when we hired her.

    6. I don't know for sure, but I can bet money it is real.

      FIRE HER.

    7. I don't wanna fire her. ;-;

      She's literally my sister. >_>

  2. A comedy's purpose is to make the audience laugh. If it accomplishes that, it should be considered a good movie. A reasonable plot is irrelevant in comedies.

    "But I don't think this is a case of 'you can't trust the reviewers.'" But it is. Look at the difference in scores: 40%. That is quite a lot, and it's not unusual for Adam Sandler movies to be hated by critics but loved by audiences. A large percent of them are this way (

    One doesn't have to have been alive during the arcade era to appreciate the references. When my friend and I, both of which are 16 saw this movie, we tried to spot all the cameos.

    1. ...So DID it make the audience laugh? Answer that two ways: You & your friend, and everyone else in the movie theatre. (Assuming there was anyone else.)

      40% IS a lot, but this isn't between 60% and 100%. It's between 18% and 58%. Those ranges don't even overlap! (I totally didn't choose numbers that would make that the case.) Honestly, I'm surprised, given grading scales (or maybe the "7 is a terrible game" is a thing only within the videogame industry), that it could even get that low.

      The non-fresh scores are 38% critic and 66% audience. Those scores are still pretty terrible. I wouldn't call that loved by the audiences, or loved by anyone.

      Another thing: Is it really a reference/cameo if it's shoved in your face? I mean, that's why you're watching the movie. Sorta reminds me of The Wizard.

      By the way, thanks for commenting/reading. You should do it more often.


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