Previously on my last post, I talked about my top five most exciting adventure story ideas. While I had fun writing that post, there’s another idea that I haven’t mentioned yet. That’s because it’s an idea for a movie script based on a video game I’ve played called Sunset Riders. Here’s what everyone should know about this idea:
What is Sunset Riders?
Sunset Riders was originally an arcade game developed by Konami and released in 1991. Two years later, Konami released the game for home consoles like the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. I have a Super Nintendo that somehow still works after its 28 years of existence. But I never had the game in my childhood – I only discovered it a few years ago thanks to it being mentioned by a game reviewer named the Angry Video Game Nerd (whose real name is James Rolfe.)
I bought the game on Amazon and played it on “the Nintendo” (as it’s simply referred to in our house.) And it was fun! Konami had also made a favorite game from my childhood called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time,” and so there were similarities between the two games, which I appreciated so much. There were some boss fights that were ridiculously hard to get through, but I did eventually and finished the game.
The game is a shoot-em-up side-scroller. You get to choose between four Wild West bounty hunters named Steve, Billy, Bob, and Cormano. (I always loved Cormano because his shotgun had a wider spread and so was great for battle!) Each level starts by showing you the wanted poster for its boss. You fight your way through the level past gun (or bomb!) toting bandits, collecting weapon upgrades, health, and other small prizes as you go. At the end of each level, the boss from the wanted poster emerges and engages you in a gunfight. If he dies, you win the level, collect your “reward” (tens of thousands of points added to your score), and go to the next one.
Eventually, you go after three outlaws – El Greco, Chief Wigwam, and Paco Loco. But they’re sidekicks for a much more notorious outlaw named Sir Richard Rose. There’s a massive reward for Rose’s capture ($100,000 compared to the small tens of thousands before), but you’ll have to go through each of the three sidekicks first. Sir Richard Rose is the final boss – get to him and defeat him, and you win the game!
My Vision for the Script Idea
Already there’s enough material here for an action/adventure Western script! There just needs to be some changes/embellishment to make this work as a compelling script for a movie.
I can see this movie play out in a sort of Quentin Tarantino way. The introductory parts of the movie – when the audience gets to know each of the so-called Sunset Riders – could show all four of them working together to track down and fight the first few outlaws from the game. I can see lots of exciting action scenes – the Riders running either on foot or horseback, going separately yet still working together, guns blazing in the harsh sunlight. They each have several bandits come at them, but shoot them down quickly. There’s a few very close calls and tense fights with one or two bandits, but all our heroes eventually make it to the outlaw and defeat him in thrilling gunfights. They each whoop in victory, turn the outlaw’s corpse in to the sheriff’s office, and split the reward between themselves, another job well done.
But these first few outlaws are a cake walk compared to what the Riders have to face one day – the Smith Brothers. They hold up a saloon and take a few hostages, including one showgirl. The people screaming and running out of the saloon alert the nearby Riders of the situation, and they come running to help. Two other showgirls are the last to get out, and warn our heroes about the Smith Brothers. Undeterred, our heroes charge into the saloon and confront the outlaws.
“We’re gonna blow you away!” one of the brothers says. And they do try to blow everyone away by throwing one lit bomb or dynamite at a time, laughing sadistically with each one that blows up. In the chaos, somehow the Riders manage to free the hostages and help them escape unharmed. After dodging what seems like an endless barrage of gunshots and explosions, the Riders finally defeat the Smith Bros.
The saloon is on fire, falling apart, and completely unfit for a celebration. So that night the celebration of the Riders’ victory is held outside in the town center. There’s festive music, plenty of drinking, and cheering as the three showgirls from the saloon dance and sing away to the music. Finally, after everyone else has gone home for the night, the showgirls have a private talk with our heroes.
Sir Richard Rose and his sidekicks are introduced. Each of their evil deeds and might are revealed through flashbacks and cutaways. Each of them could have murdered people while robbing some place, and evaded capture for years. Rose himself, despite his deceivingly flamboyant exterior, could be an especially sadistic killer who has a nefarious plan to destroy the Riders’ beloved hometown. Some or all of the Riders’ own loved ones could have been killed at Rose’s or his sidekicks’ hands, which angers them enough to take on this perilous mission to hunt these outlaws down.
Whatever the case is, this battle becomes personal for the Sunset Riders. Thanks to the Smith Bros. confrontation, the rest of the movie kicks off. The Riders all agree to track down and hunt down these outlaws for more than just the big rewards, and they do – and ultimately win.
This all being said, there are a few issues I can see with this idea:
- This entire story (as laid out in my vision) could be a bit too action-heavy. Sure, some action is always fun, but if it’s overdone, I’m afraid the audience will become numb to the seemingly endless torrents of gunfights and explosions. In fact, they could get sick of it enough to just walk out mid-way through the movie! One or two bandits would have to be cut out of the story, and maybe some of the remaining action would have to be toned down. But that would be worth it. Like I said, I want to keep it Tarantino-style – not Michael Bay style.
- The game had some stereotypical racial characters. Cormano is Mexican – if you couldn’t tell by his pink sombrero, pink poncho, and red pants. And is Cormano even a real Spanish name? If it is, I’ve never heard it used before. I even searched around on Google, using the phrase “cormano spanish name,” and got no clear answer. Chief Wigwam is Native American, in case you didn’t notice his name, his small headdress with feathers, and the fact he outright says “Get ready for a pow-wow!” (To be fair, the arcade version was worse – Chief’s name there was “Chief Scalpem”. Yes, really!)
Maybe people wouldn’t mind this as much a few decades ago. In this day and age, though, I’ve seen plenty of controversies about the portrayal of race in games and movies. And each time it happens, I think at least some of the controversy could’ve been averted. It could be averted here, too. Chief Wigwam could have some other, less stereotypical catchphrase. He and Cormano could have more fitting names, and both of them absolutely should have personalities that go beyond their ethnicities and nationalities.
- I’ve never written a script before, let alone submitted one. With that inexperience, it may be difficult to get it submitted somewhere. I never saw myself writing screenplays – only writing novels, novellas, and short stories. But even if I never submit this script, or it never gets accepted and made into a movie, at least it’d be fun writing it.
So what do you think? Could you suggest something else for the script idea? Or is there something else about the idea that I missed but should know? Let me know your thoughts below!