Rare is the person whose heart doesn’t harbor some deeply personal creative fantasy–be it writing the great American novel, transforming a run-down bit of parkland into a thing of beauty, or opening a small, meticulously managed movie theater. The vast majority of these dreams are destined to remain just that–objects of aspiration with no little to chance of fulfillment.
Occasionally, however, an individual will reach a point–such as having recently starred in one of the most successful action movies of all time–where he or she is in a position to make that fantasy become a reality. While there are many ways to spend that kind of creative capital, most sources agree that one should probably avoid bankrupting a major motion picture studio with a horrible trainwreck of a vanity project.
Even if the worst did occur, and one managed to blow $65 million on a subcontracted slice of cinematic fan fiction that ends up grossing less than a third of its cost, there should be no need to compound that shame by releasing a cruddy NES game to commemorate the event…
…yet that still managed to happen.
While the film version of Hudson Hawk offers a fascinating glimpse into both the dangers of creative megalomania and the limits of Bruce Willis’s imagination, Hudson Hawk: The Videogame turned out to be another generically awful side-scrolling platformer among the many shoveled into stores during the NES’s salad days. The one thing that set the Hudson Hawk game apart from its genre peers was its licensed link to one of the most notorious bombs in recent cinematic history, and it wore that albatross of misplaced optimism with the proud smirk of the truly oblivious…
…and when I say “smirk,” I mean that quite literally. The programming team at Ocean/Sony may have cut quite a few corners during the game’s development, but they didn’t skimp on capturing the title character’s smarmy swagger in full 8-bit glory. It’s all there, from the bitchin’ shades to the smug expression to the laughable attempt to mask a receding hairline — in short, the full package of forced coolness and tragic desperation that marked the Hudson Hawk phase of Bruce Willis’s career.
As for the game itself? I honestly can’t tell you, as the poor collision detection and shoddy jumping mechanics prevented me from completing the first level. (This also prevents me from reporting whether or not the game features a chiptunes version of “Swingin’ on a Star,” but I am perfectly OK with that.) What little I did play did appear to follow what passed for the movie’s plot. I’m not sure I recall the part of the film where Willis was savaged by a googly-eyed owl after getting chomped on the ass by a rabid dachshund…but then again my attention did tend to wander a bit whenever Andie MacDowell and David Caruso were onscreen.