1993 was a big year at the movies as films such as Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, Schindler's List, and Super Mario Bros. lit up screens at cineplexes everywhere. One movie that seemed like a guaranteed blockbuster on paper that failed to live up to its potential, however, is Arnold Schwarzenegger's Last Action Hero in which an ordinary boy is magically transported into the film world of his favorite action hero, Schwarzenegger's Jack Slater. While the movie didn't perform as a traditional Schwarzenegger-backed action film, it does hold up as a charming deconstruction of action movie tropes. As a film, Last Action Hero eventually found a following. As a video game, however, there's a reason why it's never mentioned on lists of fondly remembered titles. Seven versions of Last Action Hero were released across a variety of platforms, and Hardcore Gaming 101 chronicles them all.
Now from the very first level, you'll realize something is very wrong. First of all, Arnold is balding and about the same size as a general thug, so that's already a massive let down in the visual department. I can't even begin to understand how you do not represent the most popular and iconic movie star of the era properly in a video game centered around him, but that's the least of its problems. From the very start, Arnold has no weapon. (Well, he doesn't really need a gun I suppose; he killed some dude by ripping his arm off and slapping him with it in Commando so anything goes.) But despite firing a hand gun multiple times in the movie, here he goes into action with only his Jell-O mellow hands. Well, maybe that's not so bad, you might say, then you realize that every enemy in this game carries a weapon.
So what went wrong? The article goes on to quote one of the developers who explains that Schwarzenegger's efforts to soften his image at the time meant that his in-game likeness could not shoot guns or use other related weaponry. There was even a struggle with Schwarzenegger's lawyers when it came to allowing the Slater character to punch enemies! Taking away the protagonist's offensive maneuvers doomed this game from the start. It's a shame, as imagine what a talented studio could have done at the time if given free rein to deconstruct action video game tropes. Parodies and self-aware titles are common these days, but in 1993 the idea would have been a breath of fresh digital air.