Hellraiser (Nintendo): Movie-Based Proposal(s)

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    The iconic Hellraiser horror-film franchise begun with the original 1987 Clive Barker project inspired many spin-off short-stories and pulp-horror novels and horror-comics, but it also inspired an idea for a Nintendo video-game concept based on the original 1987 film.

    The video-game was never made, but Clive Barker fans who love video-games still talk about the social/imaginarium value of a Hellraiser-based video-game which can offer players the chance to run through underworld mazes/labyrinths and try to use the ominous Lemarchand's Box (the fictional source of hellish magic from the film-franchise) to evade the Cenobites/minions and destroy demons/ghouls and find the ultimate 'cure' to the puzzle-world and pit created by the mind of Pinhead (the primary demon from the Hellraiser franchise).




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    The concept-game being developed by Nintendo, Dan Lawton (of Color Dreams), and engineer Ron Risley in the late 1980s-early 1990s was meant to offer fans of the 1987 Hellraiser film and video-games an intensive experience of adventure and macabre maze-running to re-create the imaginatively-dark dominion of the adversarial Pinhead.

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    The characters and demons in the game would resemble the Cenobites and other colorful characters/figures from the 1987 film. The Cenobites were humans who were transformed into hellish creatures (e.g., Pinhead himself) who were 'sentinels' of this hellish underworld. The Cenobites would use Pinhead's interest in the Lemarchand puzzle-box to wander around Earth and interact with humans and 'invite' them to quest in their dominion and realms.

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    Some of the original screenshots of gameplay showed obvious engagements between the player and the realistic characterizations of the ghoulish hell-world demons and monsters from the Hellraiser film. You have to get points when you find treasures/items and of course when you destroy demons/Cenobites. You have ammo, weapons, and a health-meter. Sometimes, you have to carry/wield the Lemarchand box yourself and use it to find Pinhead.

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    The Nintendo cartridge being developed by Color Dreams (Dan Lawton) was a re-engineered (by Ron Risley) 'super-cartridge' which contained a Z80 processor, programmable array logic chips, and an additional four megabytes of RAM. It was also capable of intercepting the NES processor's ROM and RAM accesses so it could manipulate video in real time, as well as allowing pixel-by-pixel manipulation of the screen, some sprite manipulation, and also supported panning and zooming in on hardware such as fully animated backgrounds. Many Hellraiser/Nintendo fans were devastated when the game was cancelled.

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    Here's a screenshot of the player running through a hell-world maze and encountering one of those fleshy human-victim demons from the film. The player is holding the Lemarchand box, hoping to use it to find Pinhead. The player has to first kill/destroy this demon flesh-creature running towards him/her.'

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    Color Dreams developed multiple renditions of the gaming-experience of this proposed Hellraiser film-based Nintendo video-game. The purpose of the game was to create a wider fan-base for the Clive Barker vision of humans enduring contact with hell-world 'sentinels' delivering messages of absolute carnage and the yearning to be free.

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    Years later, there were other adaptation visions for a Hellraiser game for more advanced platforms. Like the original concept-game proposed by Color Dreams (Lawton), these additional proposals likewise offered ideas about players using the Lemarchand box to engage with Pinhead and quest through hell-world mazes/labyrinths and basically just try to survive.

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    Of course, Nintendo developed other movie-based games (e.g., Ghostbusters, Back to the Future) and multiple Nintendo games were actually adapted into movies (e.g., Mario Brothers, Contra). Nintendo was such a hit with consumers in the 1980s and early 1990s that you have to wonder what a Hellraiser-based video-game would have achieved for the horror-comics and horror-RPG industry/genre.

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    Perhaps a definitive Hellraiser based game will finally be released by some imagineer in the future. Until then, fans of Clive Barker and Nintendo and horror-cinema and video-games in general will have to wait to see if visions of 'demon-exorcism' can be adapted into fantasy-adventure gaming experiences.


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