The future is a tricky thing. Technology moves so fast, and the world is an increasingly unpredictable place. As such, it’s tough to set ANY work of fiction in a believable future, let alone a video game that may take 3-4 years to create. Doesn’t stop the game-makers trying, though. Sometimes it works eerily well, other times… um.
The following eight games made a noble attempt to predict the future but, as time has now revealed, ultimately failed. Some harder than others. It’s easy to sit here and mock (and not necessarily very kind) so I’ve looked really hard at each title to see if there are any elements they did predict.
Metal Gear Solid 2
The year: 2007
The Metal Gear franchise has been set in the ‘near future’ since the original Metal Gear for MSX and NES, but when the series shifted to Solid it went from speculative to science fiction. It’s very believable that mercenaries might band together to take over a small African nation (and in some cases, this is pretty much the case). However, what’s less plausible is that a reanimated corpse could become a badass cyborg ninja. In MGS2’s version of 2007 giant, missile-shooting robots are as commonplace on the black market as hollow point bullets. The closest we have even now is sophisticated military drones. At the same time, the President of the United States (who is also a clone of Big Boss) resigns, forms a paramilitary group, and then successfully conspires to kill his one-time running mate, the current POTUS. While I’d actually welcome that kind of drama… much of the tech in MGS2 has yet to be realised, and was a pipe-dream back in 2007.
Mega Man 2
The year: 200X
If we recall high school Algebra correctly, the highest number X could be in this situation is nine, meaning (at the latest) Mega Man 2 takes place in a 2009 we hardly recognize. Simple robots that appear to have a semblance of sentience have only recently appeared, so… fully formed Robot Masters with proper AI is just too far fetched. As is the tech that allows for helmets to teleport onto your head. Mega Man 2’s future is one where you cant take three steps without a robot flying straight at your face. In fairness, the military does now use spy drones crafted to resemble birds and insects, but there’s nothing as sophisticated as the robots here. Oh, and same goes for the dangerous architecture that has dozens of disappearing platforms and bottomless pits with no guard rails. Health and safety just wasn’t that lax in 2009, or 2016.
Twisted Metal 3
The year: 2008
Twisted Metal 3 predicted that Hollywood would be levelled by the Great Earthquake of 2007. Sadly, it’s still very much standing. As any California resident can attest, theres always a fear of the big one, that huge quake that will sink the entire coastline, but 2007 wasn’t the year for that. L.A. did get a 4.4 quake on August 9 of that year, but thats barely enough to wake most residents from a nap. So, because the city is still standing, the locals aren’t fighting it out in a car-combat battle to the death, meaning Twisted Metal 3 called it wrong. In the game’s defence, it has always been accurate about how frightening clowns can be.
Street Fighter 2010
The year: 2010
After the original Street Fighter, Capcom didn’t seem all that sure about what it wanted to do with the would-be franchise. One year before Street Fighter 2 took over arcades, Capcom looked forward 20 years into the future to create Street Fighter 2010. The platformer reimagines karate expert Ken Masters as a super intelligent scientist who invents hyper advanced robotics. It gets more unbelievable from there. The 2010 version of Street Fighter has colonized planets, inter-dimensional travel, advanced robotics, and bionic upgrades that make the already bastard-hard Ken into an unstoppable killing machine. Later Street Fighter games completely ignore this odd spin-off, but I like to think there’s some alternate dimension where Ken actually does win a Nobel Prize in 2011.
World Series Baseball
The year: 1994
Not many sports games attempt to predict the near future, though the deadline is approaching for a couple that gave it a shot. San Francisco Rush 2049 is pending, along with Super Baseball 2020 but neither are all that likely to be accurate. However, there’s at least one real sports game that was clearly wrong about the very near future of its sport. The original World Series Baseball for the Genesis/Mega Drive was a huge deal at the time, mainly because it was the first game to feature all the real teams and players in the same title. As the name suggests, you can play a normal Major League Baseball season all the way till the prestigious World Series… which any baseball fan will tell you didn’t take place in 1994. That year saw a strike that cancelled the World Series and hurt the sport for years to come.
Assassin’s Creed 3
The year: 2012
The original Assassin’s Creed was clearly meant to be the start of a long-running series, but the first entry has a number of issues that Ubisoft smartly adjusted in later sequels. One of the biggest was the setting. Released in 2007, the scenes with Desmond Miles were firmly placed in 2012, but tech such as the ancestor exploring Animus seemed fairly complex for just five years into the future, as did the city just outside the windows in the Abstergo offices. Both seem even more impossible today. But the real ‘out there’ prediction of the game was a pending apocalypse that would come in December 2012. It was a matter of months away in the games story, but far off enough for players that it seemed possible. Each annualized sequel brought players closer to 2012 without any resolution of the end of the world. Just as Assassins Creed 3 was in danger of actually coming out after the franchises predicted a cataclysm, the game finally dealt with the end of the world, basically just punting it down the way with the promise of a much worse future for humanity. It has all been quietly forgotten now.
Duke Nukem 3D
The year: 2007
Duke Nukem has never been an accurate portrayal of reality. There are numerous misconceptions about women, smoking, or the endless amount of urine that one man has, though Duke Nukem is right about the power of quoting lines from They Live. The game itself takes place in 2007, and while you could argue the availability of rocket launchers is consistent, or that steroids can indeed make someone run faster, science has yet to perfect the shrink ray. The same goes for jetpacks, creating the perfect holographic likeness of yourself at a moment’s notice, or evil bases on the moon. Plus, the game predicts that Duke would still be relevant in 2007, which isn’t strictly true.
The year: 1999
The book/Schwarzenegger film Running Man takes viewers all the way to 2017, where America had fallen to fascism (uh oh) and the public watch deadly game shows hosted by Family Feuds’ Richard Dawson. While that vision has yet to come true, it inspired Robotron creator Eugene Jarvis to update that title’s gameplay and send players forward to 1999. In Smash TV, players blast the crap out of enemies while walking around a sound stage and collecting fabulous prizes to the delight of the live audience. Its hard to deny Smash TVs surface similarities to shows like American Gladiator, but few end in actual death.