CARBONDALE — It was a video game that was almost never made, but "Rampage" launched into one of most popular arcade games of its time.
Creator Brian Colin, a former Southern Illinois University student, won a role as an extra in the film based on the game, an invite to the movie’s premiere, and a chance to socialize with movie stars at a private party.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Colin said.
The characters in "Rampage" are not bad guys, Colin says, but victims. George took a bad experimental drug that turned him into a giant gorilla, Lizzie swam in a polluted lake and was transformed into a giant lizard and Ralph ate a bad hot dog and became a giant wolf.
However, once the turn is over in the video game, the creatures turn back into their human forms and scurry off the screen, naked and in shame.
"I wanted to make a game where the player never actually died," he said.
The game starts in Peoria, with the object to cause as much destruction as possible. Carbondale is even a featured level after the characters make their way around the world.
Colin said he had to put parts of southern Illinois, especially Carbondale, in the game because of his time at SIU.
“It was a big part of my life," he said. “Coming from Chicago and coming down there and discovering the Shawnee National Forest, it was a beautiful place.”
While enrolled at SIU in the 1980s, he majored in film production and created the animated film "In Search of a Plot," which won several international awards, he said.
"Rampage" isn’t the only shout-out to southern Illinois in a Colin video game. In "Arctic Stud Poker Run," Colin has an entire level based in Makanda. He also mentions WIDB Radio, the student-run radio station at SIU, in several games, with the most notable being "Arch Rivals," a basketball game where the players are encouraged to foul one another.
A few months after his film debut, Colin got a call from "Rampage" producer John Rickard. He said he got an invite to the last week of shooting, where he got to meet Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Naomie Harris, and Jason Liles, who plays George in the film.
Later on, Colin said he got another call from Rickard, which came with an invite to the movie premiere, where he was called out by one of the actors as the creator of the video game. As he was being flooded by fans, he said he was thinking, “it doesn’t get any better than this.”
Colin said after the premiere, he received an invite to an exclusive after-party with all the stars and those working on the movie. He said the hardest part of the whole experience was trying not to “geek out completely,” and making small talk with celebrities.
“Unforgettable,” he said about the entire experience.
Colin said he liked how the movie turned out and kept the humanity of the character, which was a bonus to him. He said there are a number of Easter eggs in the film that throw back to the video game.
Colin is still making video games. In the early ‘90s, he was part of forming the company Game Refuge. He said the company is in the process of finishing "General Chaos 2," a sequel to a popular 1994 Sega Genesis video game.