CLOSE

11 Nintendo Games Based on Classic Works of Literature

You don't have to invent a family of mustachioed plumbers to create a video game. Here are some classic works of literature that got the Nintendo treatment in the 1980s and 1990s.

1. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1988)

In this side-scrolling game based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella, Dr. Jekyll is going to his wedding but everyone—pets, men with bombs, ladies in hoop skirts—keeps getting in his way. It makes him so mad, he turns into Mr. Hyde and has to fight monsters and aliens until his anger abates. The game goes on like that until Dr. Jekyll reaches the church and goes inside. The end.  

2. Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1989)

Tom Sawyer falls asleep in class and dreams he must save Becky Thatcher from Injun Joe. The game has six levels that initially resemble Mark Twain’s novel with riverboats on the Mississippi, but become progressively weirder until Injun Joe appears riding the Loch Ness Monster. After Tom Sawyer defeats him, Becky Thatcher shows up looking suspiciously like Princess Peach from Mario Bros and gives him a kiss. Tom Sawyer wakes up from his dream and looks confused. So was I.

3. Puss N Boots (1990)

For some reason, Puss N Boots is in Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days. He goes to different lands all over the world, including “New York,” Arabia,” “Space Wars,” and “Ocean.” In “The West,” for example, Puss N Boots shoots tumbleweeds, dodges flying horseshoes, and fights cats dressed like cowboys. 

4. Super Robin Hood (1986)

An adorably cartoonish Robin Hood jumps through Nottingham Castle while cheerful music bops along in the background. Dodging spiders, guards, and fireballs, he gathers keys to move from level to level. At the end, you scale the castle wall and rescue Maid Marion [sic] and the treasure. “King Richard will return soon,” the game reassures you as an afterthought. “Long live the king!” 

5. Frankenstein: The Monster Returns (1990)

The monster from Mary Shelley’s novel “rises from the grave”—a problematic concept given the monster’s origins—and abducts “Emily,” whoever that is. You, dressed in gold armor and a cape, kill monsters until eventually, you fight… no, not Frankenstein’s monster. That would be too logical. You fight a “Demon Horse,” half-horse, half-demon, and then the game just kind of ends. 

6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1993)

Based on the movie version of the book, Jonathan Harker journeys through Transylvania and fights vampires, zombies, and wolves while a musical score tinkles ominously. Various bosses pop up along the way, including vampire Lucy Westenra, Dracula's three brides, a fire-breathing dragon, and of course, Dracula himself. 

7. Bible Adventures (1991)

Three games in one. In “Baby Moses:” Miriam has to save baby Moses by carrying him on her head and throwing him over walls and Egyptians. (That’s right, you throw a baby.) In “Noah’s Ark,” Noah collects animals for the ark by stacking them on his head. In “David and Goliath,” David saves sheep by also stacking them on his head. Then Goliath shows up and David hits him with a slingshot. 

8. Peter Pan and the Pirates (1990)

Peter Pan has to defeat Captain Hook, but before that, he has to run through many forest scenes fighting pirates and pigs. Sometimes Wendy or the Lost Boys show up to offer advice like, “Peter, Watch Out For Traps!” 

9. JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Vol. 1 (1994)

Similar to The Legends of Zelda but more boring, Frodo performs a series of “fetch quests” to protect the ring. The game ends at the Mines of Moria. Since there were no sequels to this poor-selling Super Nintendo game, Frodo never gets to Mordor.

10. Little Red-Hood (1990)

A weird Taiwanese game where Little Red Riding Hood wanders through the forest fighting goblins and turtles to reach her grandmother's house. No wolf appears, but grandma sure is happy to see her grandchild. “Oh! My dear little red hood! Thank you for your coming!” she says as she and Little Red-Hood flap their hands wildly.

11. The Great Gatsby (2011)

Finally, a game where it makes sense to collect gold coins. As Nick Carraway from Fitzgerald’s novel, you frolic about dodging flappers, jumping on train cars, and fighting Dr. T. J. Eckleburg’s glasses between animated scenes from the book. Though initially presented as a long-lost Nintendo game, The Great Gatsby was actually made by developers from San Francisco in 2011. Who cares, it’s better than any of the games above. Play it yourself here

Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
arrow
History
P.G. Wodehouse's Exile from England
Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

You don’t get more British than Jeeves and Wooster. The P.G. Wodehouse characters are practically synonymous with elevenses and Pimm’s. But in 1947, their creator left England for the U.S. and never looked back.

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, better known as P.G., was living in northern France and working on his latest Jeeves and Wooster novel, Joy in the Morning, when the Nazis came knocking. They occupied his estate for a period of time before shipping him off to an internment camp in Germany, which he later said he found pretty pleasant:

“Everybody seems to think a German internment camp must be a sort of torture chamber. It was really perfectly normal and ordinary. The camp had an extraordinarily nice commander, and we did all sorts of things, you know. We played cricket, that sort of thing. Of course, I was writing all the time.”

Wodehouse was there for 11 months before being suddenly released to a hotel in Berlin where a man from the German foreign office named Werner Plack was waiting to meet him. Wodehouse was somewhat acquainted with Plack from a stint in Hollywood, so finding him waiting didn't seem out of the ordinary. Plack advised Wodehouse to use his time in the internment camp to his advantage, and suggested writing a radio series about his experiences to be broadcast in America.

As Plack probably suspected, Wodehouse’s natural writing style meant that his broadcasts were light-hearted affairs about playing cricket and writing novels, This didn’t sit too well with the British, who believed Wodehouse was trying to downplay the horrors of the war. The writer was shocked when MI5 subjected him to questioning about the “propaganda” he wrote for the Germans. "I thought that people, hearing the talks, would admire me for having kept cheerful under difficult conditions," he told them in 1944. "I would like to conclude by saying that I never had any intention of assisting the enemy and that I have suffered a great deal of mental pain as the result of my action."

Wodehouse's contemporary George Orwell came to his aid, penning a 1945 an essay called “In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse." Sadly, it didn’t do much to sway public opinion. Though MI5 ultimately decided not to prosecute, it seemed that British citizens had already made up their minds, with some bookstores and libraries even removing all Wodehouse material from their shelves. Seeing the writing on the wall, the author and his wife packed up all of their belongings and moved to New York in 1947. They never went back to England.

But that’s not to say Wodehouse didn’t want to. In 1973, at the age of 91, he expressed interest in returning. “I’d certainly like to, but at my age it’s awfully difficult to get a move on. But I’d like to go back for a visit in the spring. They all seem to want me to go back. The trouble is that I’ve never flown. I suppose that would solve everything."

Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack before he could make the trip. But the author bore no ill will toward his native country. When The Paris Review interviewed Wodehouse in 1973, they asked if he resented the way he was treated by the English. “Oh, no, no, no. Nothing of that sort. The whole thing seems to have blown over now,” he said.  He was right—the Queen bestowed Wodehouse with a knighthood two months before his death, showing that all was forgiven.

Original image
iStock
arrow
literature
The Internet Archive is Making 62 Obscure, Out-of-Print Books Available Online
Original image
iStock

Dozens of of obscure, out-of-print books are about to become much more accessible thanks to the Internet Archive, the digital archive of public domain media. But to do it, they’ll have to exploit a loophole in a controversial copyright law, as Ars Technica reports.

The Internet Archive is releasing the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection, a group of books from the 1920s and 1930s that are out of print, but still technically under copyright—meaning they’re extremely difficult to get a hold of.

The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act was a copyright extension law passed in 1998 to extend copyright protections to works published after 1923 (which would otherwise have already entered the public domain) by 20 years. Unfortunately, while Disney may be happy that Mickey Mouse still falls under copyright protections, that also means that less-famous books that are now out of print can’t be made available to the public. But a provision of the law provides for public access for research, allowing nonprofit libraries to distribute the works if they cannot be found elsewhere for a reasonable price.

A screenshot of an online collection of books from the Internet Archive
Screenshot, Internet Archive

The Internet Archive explains:

We believe the works in this collection are eligible for free public access under 17 U.S.C. Section 108(h) which allows for non-profit libraries and archives to reproduce, distribute, display, and publicly perform a work if it meets the criteria of: a published work in the last 20 years of copyright, and after conducting a reasonable investigation, no commercial exploitation or copy at a reasonable price could be found.

Libraries don’t tend to take advantage of the law because it takes considerable resources to track down which works are eligible. However, the Internet Archive collaborated with Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a Tulane copyright expert, and a pair of interns to find books that could be scanned and uploaded online legally. Gard has released guidelines for libraries based on this work to help other archives do the same.

The Internet Archive is starting out with 62 books published between 1923 and 1941 (meaning they’re within 20 years of their copyright expiring) and plan to release up to 10,000 more in the near future to be downloaded and read by online users. And the collection will grow each January as more books enter that 20-year window.

[h/t Ars Technica]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios