The Wachowski sisters, the creators of the Matrix series, were heavily inspired by video games – including the ones we’ll be reviewing today.
The creators of The Matrix (no longer a trilogy with the release of the Matrix 4 trailer), the Wachowski sisters are known for their passion for pop culture. Shiny Entertainment’s Dave Perry, who led the development of both Enter The Matrix and The Matrix: Path Of Neo, once told IGN that the Wachowskis “seemed to have seen every movie in the world.”
Sami Wachowski also told IGN that they spent “addicted hours” playing games. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the gaming industry has had a significant impact on the Matrix franchise, and there are many toys in the world that fans of the series should try out in order to thoroughly explore its roots.
Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller
An early CD-ROM project that took advantage of the technology. It includes a notable amount of FMV sections and a solid (for that time) portion of digitized lines performed by quite big names such as Dennis Hopper, Stephanie Seymour and Grace Jones.
The game could not stand the test of time from the word “absolutely”, but the similarities with the Matrix are painfully obvious. In the story, Hell is actually a virtual reality world built to threaten and punish the oppressed masses. The protagonists must rescue and recruit people trapped in Hell, just like Morpheus and his squad rescue people from the Matrix.
The Wachowskis are big fans of the Halo series, but their love for Bungie burned long before the studio thundered around the world with Master Chief and company. The sisters even wanted to release a game to mark the first movie in the franchise, and Bungie was one of the Wachowskis approached about the project.
This happened before Halo came out, and therefore it can be assumed that the series that inspired the sisters back then was the Marathon trilogy. As with The Matrix, one of the key aspects of this trilogy was unrestrained AI.
An early third-person action bird on the PSP, stylistically closer to Tim Burton than to Wachowski. However, nonetheless, Lily Wachowski is known for her great love for Death Jr.
In a 2006 interview with Gamespot, following the acquisition of Shiny Entertainment by Foundation 9, Foundation 9 head John Goldman revealed that Lily was a huge fan of the game. She has been outnumbered since Death Jr. was not so warmly received by audiences, but this story only confirms how wide Wachowski’s playing horizon is. Fans wishing to check out the mastermind behind the Matrix should give this game a try.
Shiny Entertainment’s ambitious action adventure has not enjoyed commercial or critical acclaim, but in total it has opened up extremely enticing opportunities for the company. Messiah is an action game with a cyberpunk setting and religious themes close to the “chosen one”, so it’s not hard to guess why Wachowski liked it so much.
The Wachowskis pursued Shiny for a long time, and finally struck a deal with them to produce Enter The Matrix. The game sold nearly 6 million copies and grossed $ 250 million, making it the largest title in Shiny history.
Beneath A Steel Sky
A cult classic in point ‘n click, with many similarities to The Matrix, even labeled as influencing the film on IMDb. True, if there is a direct reference to Beneath a Steel Sky in the Matrix, it is most likely very subtle and unobtrusive. When GameRant spoke to the developers at Revolution Software, they said the following:
“While we cannot say that the Matrix movies (or their predecessor comics) were in any way inspired by Beneath A Steel Sky, the ideas of collective intelligence and simulation theory can be traced back to George Orwell and beyond. But of course, we are pleased to think that we somehow contributed to the spirit of the times that made these topics interesting to popular culture in those days, and we would be flattered if the Wachowski sisters really played our game and were inspired by it. “
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
During the filming of The Matrix, this iconic classic was Wachowski’s favorite play. They were so crazy about her that they even went to Tokyo and visited the offices of the developers from Acquire.
During the hours they spent in these offices, the Wachowskis told studio head Takuma Endo that the action at Tenchu was exactly “what they wanted to reproduce” in the Matrix. Now, of course, there is not much to see in the game, but in 2008, Tenchu had an extremely interesting acrobatic combat system and intricate finishing moves.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty
Along with Bungie and Shine Entertainment, Hideo Kojima was also a candidate for the development of the first Matrix movie. The project didn’t work out in the end, but after Kojima watched the Matrix, he wrote to Wachowski, telling them how much he liked the painting.
They replied that the first game they played after finishing with The Matrix was Metal Gear Solid, and after that the three came together for an interview with Famitsu magazine. In an interview, Kojima said that “the ideas I prepared for my next project, they practically turned into a movie.” Kojima’s next project was Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty, which includes a few Matrix-inspired action scenes that fans will love.
When development began on Enter The Matrix, Shiny Entertainment President Dave Perry quickly realized just how obsessed the Wachowskis were with video games. In a 2000 interview with GameSpy, he recalled how Lana Wachowski mentioned Splinter Cell among other games she recently purchased and tried out. Perry said the sisters’ love of games made it much easier to work with them.
Perhaps Lana was drawn to the Matrix-like green-glow color scheme, or the acrobatic, high-tech action. Or maybe she played the game simply because it was great and because Lana seems to be playing everything that ever came out.
The Wachowskis loved board games as much as video games, and spent quite a few weekends playing Dungeons & Dragons as a teenager. They even created their own tabletop RPG called High Adventure, and later compared playing D&D with the process of making films.
Of course, there were many official Dungeons & Dragons games (some of the most famous being the Baldur’s Gate series), but Tabletop Simulator is best suited to fully understand Wachowski’s inspirations. Except for real tabletop RPGs on a real table with real people, of course.
Final Fantasy VII
It seemed that in 1997, the Wachowskis were too busy producing the Matrix to spend hours playing the biggest game project of that year. However, when you start to notice the similarities between Final Fantasy VII and The Matrix, you realize that they did find the time for it.
Both Final Fantasy VII and The Matrix talk about a secret resistance group in a cyberpunk city battling technology abuse while being pursued by mysterious special agents in black suits and dark glasses. Probably the case a la “geniuses think the same”, but the coincidence is nevertheless intriguing. Those who love the core theme of the Matrix will certainly be delighted to play Final Fantasy VII as well.