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Have You Played... The Movies?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

“I think we made a terrible mistake with The Movies,” says Peter Molyneux in this interview, because of course he does, but I’m not sure I agree with his assessment. The Movies wasn’t frustrating because it was frantic, exactly, but because it too often dragged you away from the creative promise at its core in order to nanny the egos and alcoholism of actors.

Hey, maybe that’s what its really like in Hollywood.

Before release, Molyneux made The Movies sound perfect for me, because of course he did. I was into machinima at the time, noodling about with community-made Unreal Tournament tools and downloading awkward, poorly-animated videos from nascent creators via FilePlanet. I loved the idea of a game that combined the satisfaction of Theme Park-style management with a creative suite that let you more easily make your own short films.

In practice, The Movies doesn’t quite deliver on either: that creative suite is limited in terms of what you can make, and the management game splits your time between being the fantasy of heading a studio and the tedium of nannying people. I think Lionhead hoped they might marry the charm of Bullfrog management games together with the more human and relatable aspects of then-recent The Sims, but the ball and chain slows down the fantasy of the game too much.

But the other way in which I disagree with Molyneux is that I don’t there is any “terrible” mistake here; The Movies isn’t a great game, and it doesn’t live up to those Molyneux-painted dreams, because of course it doesn’t, but it is still a good game and an interesting, more modern, too often forgotten partner to older, better Molyneux work.

The Movies doesn’t seem to be available to buy digitally anymore outside the US, but second-hand copies can be found cheap. I’m not selling mine.

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Graham Smith

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