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Stiq Flicks: Knights of the Old Republic I and II and Cloak & Dagger

Kevin Kelly

Stiq Flicks – from film and video game industry freelance writer Kevin Kelly – examines video games and attempts to pair them with matching films. It's like wine and cheese, but with more aliens.

We're entering the doldrums in the yearly video game release schedule, when the waters have calmed and the wind has stopped blowing. It's all in preparation for the busy holiday gaming season that appears to have spilled over into August, with games like Sleeping Dogs, Darksiders 2, Guild Wars 2, and more brightening the end of summer.

With that in mind, we're taking a look at something a little different this week. In case you never experienced the goodness of a Star Wars game done well, the Knights of the Old Republic I and II PC Bundle Pack is out now, providing two classic games in one $19.99 package. Sure, they aren't new, but both games provide a classic experience that still holds up today.

Since the light game season inspired us to go retro for the game, let's dip into the archives for the accompanying movie. Our movie pairing to accompany this retro release might not hold up as well as a KOTOR title, but it's a classic nonetheless. Video game movies are nothing new, and over the course we'll hit on some of the best from years past (including Joysticks, a personal favorite that is a terrible blend of Porky's and video games) but what we've chosen to accompany this double-pack is the 1984 classic film Cloak & Dagger.

Hitting theaters only one year after Return of the Jedi, the last in the trilogy that inspired the Knights of the Old Republic games, Cloak & Dagger takes a post-E.T. Henry Thomas and drops him in the middle of a spy thriller wrapped around a video game. It was originally released as a double feature with The Last Starfighter, another classic video game movie that has burned the phrase "Greetings Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada" into thousands of pre-teen brains. But where The Last Starfighter was science fiction, Cloak & Dagger was something that could actually happen.

Granted, it's extremely far-fetched to think that spies would hide the plans to a top-secret spy plane inside a video game cartridge. Then again, who's going to think to look inside a kid's game for Air Force blueprints? With hundreds of thousands of carts made back in the 1980s, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. That's all fine. Now the extremely silly stuff lies in the fact that you could only reveal the code if you played to a certain score on the game. Which means you'd have to have a game geek on staff in your spy organization.

Stiq Flicks Knights of the Old Republic I and II and Cloak & Dagger
Now here's where things get even weirder. During the development of Cloak & Dagger, the producers discovered that Atari was working on a spy-themed video game called Agent X. They agreed to partner up, and in exchange for Atari changing the name of the game to Cloak & Dagger, it would be featured heavily in the film. Which it is, except the version in the movie is the arcade version of the game, and not the Atari 5200 version, which is what they are meant to be playing. That version never came out, due to the famous gaming crash of 1983, and the arcade version saw limited release as a conversion kit from Atari for Robotron machines.

But that's all fluff that you can geek out on later. The film stars Henry Thomas as 11-year-old Davey Osborne, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his widower military air-traffic controller father Hal (played well by Dabney Coleman). Davey is obsessed with Jack Flack, the star of his favorite roleplaying game, Cloak & Dagger, which has also been turned into a video game. When we say obsessed, we mean to the point where he actually imagines that he sees Jack Flack for real, and he looks like a tricked out spy version of his father.

Stiq Flicks Knights of the Old Republic I and II and Cloak & Dagger
Davey accidentally gets involved in a real-life spy adventure when Morris, the owner of the local video game store at the mall, sends Davey and his friend Kim out to buy Twinkies for him. They accidentally witness a murder, and just before the victim dies, he gives Davey a Cloak & Dagger cartridge and urges him to get it to the FBI. Of course, the authorities believe Davey is just playing a game, and ignore him. Why are adults in movies always so stupid? Anyhow, that's a good thing because it provides us with the plot for this film. Of course, you'll have to watch the film to see how things turn out, but one thing you'll learn in this movie is that video games actually can get people killed.

Where You Can Watch Cloak & Dagger
Cloak & Dagger hasn't hit the HD generation yet, but you can find it to stream in SD on Amazon Instant Video for $2.99, or you can purchase it for $9.49. You can also purchase it on the Xbox in SD for 800 points ($10)

But you'll thank us later, because as it turns out, Cloak & Dagger is available on DVD as a double feature with the Fred Savage classic The Wizard for only only $5.49. Why Universal hasn't turned back the clock to 1983 and made this a double feature once more with The Last Starfighter, we'll never know. But, The Wizard is a great piece to team this up with if you want to ground your video game movies in reality. I love the Power Glove. It's so bad!

So treat yourself to some retro gaming, and continue that experience with this retro flick. It's enough to make you want to visit San Antonio and purchase some old-school, giant walkie talkies from Radio Shack.

Kevin Kelly is a writer and pop culture junkie with a fixation on video games, movies, and board games. His writing has been seen at Moviefone, io9, Film School Rejects, TechRadar, Wizard World, G4, and The Austin Chronicle. He lives in Los Angeles and does not know how to surf. Follow him on Twitter @kevinkelly.

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