The Last Express Remixed

A couple of years ago, for a fun weekend project, I captured a dozen hours of gameplay footage from my 1997 adventure game The Last Express and edited it down into a single, 75-minute linear narrative.

Other than a walk down memory lane, I’m not sure what it’s good for. It doesn’t work as a movie — the demands of game vs. film storytelling are too different — and the low-res, dissolve-between-still-frames animation looks awfully clunky now. But for anyone who’s interested, here it is (in eight 10-minute segments).

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t played the game, Part 8 gives away the ending.


The Last Express – Part 1 from jordan mechner on Vimeo.

Parts 2-8 are available here.

Posted on Mar 7, 2009 in Blog, Film, Games, Last Express | 22 comments

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  1. 3-8-2009

    From an art design standpoint alone, this is brilliant. That it was an actual game (which I purchased and played) is astounding. This game fulfilled the promise that Myst and others of it ilk advertised but didn’t quite pull off. Way ahead of its time.

  2. 3-9-2009

    That’s great… Everything concerning The Last Express is welcome!

  3. 3-9-2009

    Excellent! :) I’ll have to watch this once I get some free time. Thanks Jordan.

  4. 3-10-2009

    Oh, that brings back memories. Unfortunately I lost my copy of the game.

    Who owns the right to this game? It would be great if it was available again. There are lots of digital distribution services that would find a new (and of couse old) audience for this game.

    I am especially fond of “good old games” (www.gog.com), who try to pick up and legally release really old (but good) games, making them run on XP/Vista without any DRM. They would certainly be interested in adding this game to their catalogue, and I would certainly be interested in buying and experiencing it again.

  5. 3-10-2009

    Thank you for posting this. The Last Express is a game that meant more to me than games probably should. I replayed it with friends and family, espousing its merit as true entertainment as good as any book or film out there. Sure, I was a teen at the time, but it really was something special.

    Finding these clips (through Offworld.com) has been my happiest moment this week… which, I realize, is probably sad :-p

  6. 3-10-2009

    While I’d heard about the game many years ago, I’d never had the privilege of playing it- the artwork was astounding, I imagine it must have been great working on them!
    The videos of them kept me riveted all the way through, Makes me want to try and find a copy and play through myself. Thanks so much for posting them online!

  7. 3-10-2009

    Oh wow, this edit is so great, it brings me many fond memories! Thanks!

  8. 3-12-2009

    I replayed it with friends and family, espousing its merit as true entertainment as good as any book or film out there. Sure, I was a teen at the time, but it really was something special. Thanks!

  9. 3-12-2009

    Thanks for this video! It sums up the the key sequences and the atmosphere of the game. It means a lot to me personally, and I know a lot of fans who share my opinion.

  10. 3-15-2009

    Jordan,

    thanks for taking the time and trouble to edit and post the footage. I loved the Last Express dearly – it’s one of the few games I took time to review on Mobygames – and to see that memories brought back today was great fun.

    Best, Bjoern

  11. 3-15-2009

    This is was a great game, something about the Mystique of the Orient Express is intangible. I hope you are some day able to make a live action-motion picture based on this game, just as you are doing with Prince of Persia.

  12. 3-16-2009

    Thanks for this wonderful video, how I wish a sequel for this fantastic game ;_; but i know that maybe it is not possible anymore…

  13. 3-23-2009

    Oh god, the animation reminds me of Tom Goes to the Mayor.
    Did they use Photoshop to create the cel-shaded effect?

    • 4-13-2009

      I believe they used a rotoscoping technique, after photographing every shot in the game. Pretty cool stuff.

      “During a 22-day long live-action video shoot, every action by every character in the game was photographed by actors wearing distinctive makeup and costumes against a bluescreen on 16mm film and digitized. From this, a limited number of frames were selected and put through a patented process developed in house, where the frames first had all colour removed. Then, a powerful computer program created black-and-white line drawings of the frames, which were then coloured in by hand. The finished product has 40,000 frames in total.”

  14. 5-5-2009

    This is the best (!!!!) game I have ever played. The first time I played it I was twelve; now, at nearly 20, I still find myself wondering what else there is for me to do on that train. Even at 12, I could appreciate what effort went into the making of it. I’m really excited that I found my copy again just in time for summer break. :) Thank you for posting these videos and bringing on the nostalgia!

  15. 6-2-2009

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  16. 8-13-2009

    I too bought a copy of this game when it came out.

    I loved it dearly. Without fail I always seem to mention this game in discussions regarding computer games. It was a gleaming example of what’s possible with the medium. The game stands toe-to-toe with some of my favorite novels, songs, and films. I always cherish the time I spent with it.

    But alas, my copy was lost as well. I passed it on to my grandfather to play and when he passed on I think it just got lost in the shuffle. A shame. I would really like to play it again!

    Thanks Jordan, and all those involved in its production, for making such a great game.

  17. 8-17-2009

    How about, ummmm, releasing the game on GOG, huh? I would buy it in an instant.

    • 1-24-2010

      I already own the game and I’d buy it again on GOG in an instant, if only to not have to worry about swapping and losing disks. =)

  18. 10-26-2010

    This game was such a memorable experience and I absolutely share j_king’s experience that it comes up very often in conversation. I would really love to see this game remade in 3D. Though the core of the game – dynamic storytelling, immersion and visual style – remains compelling, the control scheme was always tricky and is really dated. It’s hard to play this game, but not for good reasons. The 90 degree increments in turning around in a rail car means you often don’t know which way you’re facing.

    Are there any plans to revisit this IP, and if not – what would you think of a fan-made re-creation using modern 3D technologies?

  19. 3-10-2011

    I have heard rumors that you are working on a film based on this game. I sincerely hope this is true; it would be a true delight.

  20. 10-26-2011

    For anyone interested, the game is for sale at bigfishgames.com

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