One thousand years ago (give or take a millennium) FOX Interactive unleashed Futurama: The Game for the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation 2. Critics looked down on the mediocre gameplay, but the real appeal for fans of the television series came from the animated clips concocted by the show's creative staff that drove the story between levels. The game has been out of print for years, so some fans (such as myself) had been forced to acknowledge that this material would go unseen and forgotten. Now that Futurama has come roaring back from cancellation in the form of new direct-to-DVD movies, however, the lost episode has been compiled into a special bonus feature for the second film, The Beast with a Billion Backs.
The evil businesswoman Mom has bought Planet Express Deliveries from Professor Farnsworth. By doing so she now owns over fifty percent of the Earth, making her the supreme ruler. Her first step is to enslave all humanity and turn the planet into a gigantic warship to conquer the known Universe.
What, that's not impressive enough for you? Don't you realize how difficult it was for the producers to compile the lost material? The DVD commentary tells the story of how the actual original 3D game data had been lost when the game's developers and publishers went out of business and/or were absorbed into other companies. Thankfully, Futurama executive producer David X. Cohen had played through the game on his Xbox several years ago, so armed with his old memory card and a $50 Xbox component cable (plus a few helpful cheat codes), the production crew was able to record the clips directly from the console's video output. The sound team then cleaned up some of the effects and music to better fit the Futurama universe, and a few graphical touch-ups were added to help fill in the gaps left in the plot once the gameplay elements were removed. The result is surprisingly watchable and entertaining. Best of all, now that I've seen the lost video footage, I find that I no longer have an interest in actually playing the game. Everybody wins!