Majesco adapting <i>Taxi Driver</i>

[UPDATE] Martin Scorsese's nihilistic 1970s film will be basis for 2006 third-person shooter; Papaya Studios developing. First details inside.

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For April Fools' Day, GameSpot sent up the classic-movie-game craze with a fake story about one of the most depressing movies of the 1970s, The Deer Hunter, being turned into a game. Today, Majesco announced it was adapting an equally grim film from that decade for real.

The slice of celluloid in question is none other than director Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, the 1976 drama-thriller profiling Travis Bickle, a lonely New York City cabbie (Robert De Niro). Already unbalanced by his nightly drive through Manhattan's then-seedy underbelly, Bickle's mental state further deteriorates after he meets a presidential campaign worker (Cybil Sheperd) and a child prostitute (Jodie Foster). He proceeds to attempt the killing of the former's candidate and the latter's pimp (Harvey Keitel), bringing the film to a spectacularly bloody conclusion.

Though the hookers, pushers, and assorted low-lifes of Taxi Driver's sprawling urban milieu seem prime fodder for a(nother) Grand Theft Auto clone, its societal angst and mentally unbalanced melancholy might seem less well suited to games. And since the film was cited as an inspiration by John Hinckley after he tried to assassinate president Ronald Reagan in 1981, it will almost assuredly court controversy.

What is unclear is whether or not any of the Taxi Driver cast will lend their likenesses or voices to the game. However, De Niro's character will once again be the protagonist, according to Ken Gold, vice president of marketing for Majesco. "Nominated for four Academy Awards, Taxi Driver remains one of the most iconoclastic films of our time," he said. "Compelling and powerful, the movie ensnares viewers in the seedy urban world of New York cabbie Travis Bickle, and we hope to do likewise with our game."

Slightly less acclaimed was Whirl Tour, the sole game from California-based Papaya Studios, which will develop Taxi Driver. However, the developer was happy to share details of Taxi Driver with GameSpot. "The game picks up where the movie left off," said the developer in a statement. "As Travis reminisces about his bloody rescue of the young prostitute Iris, it seems the violent catharsis and recovery that ended the film has turned his life around. However, a terrible sequence of events finds him unable to stop the murder of someone very special to him. His ensuing quest for revenge finds Travis Bickle once again on an inexorable path towards violence. Players will fight their way through the mean streets of New York City in Travis's bid for vengeance, to bring the ruthless rain that will clean the scum off the streets once and for all."

Papaya also said Taxi Driver will be a "third-person action game comprised of both story-driven, on-foot missions and driving-style missions in a vast, sandbox city environment." It is being written by the team behind Dead to Rights and will be released next year to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the film's release. And although all three next-generation consoles are expected to be on the market in 2006, neither Majesco nor Papaya announced any specific platforms for the game.

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