The makers of Wreck-It Ralph — Walt Disney Animation’s joyful love letter to the quarter-popping world of arcades — created three fictionalized videogames for its pixel-perfect characters to super jump and power slide through. There was Fix-It Felix Jr., a Donkey Kong-style game in which the film’s titular hero (voiced by John C. Reilly) is the high-rise smashing villain; Hero’s Duty, a space aliens first-person shooter akin to the high sci-fi style of games like Halo; and Sugar Rush, a racing game that’s like a candy-coated version of Mario Kart and plays home to the film’s other ne’er-do-well protagonist, wannabe racer Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman).
Each of the faux titles was meant to evoke a specific gaming experience, but well into pre-production on Wreck-It Ralph, the filmmakers were planning on including a fourth game designed to capture the uninhibited open worlds of games like The Sims and Grand Theft Auto. Its name: Extreme EZ Livin’ 2.
Below, producer Clark Spencer explains how this game would have fit into Wreck-It Ralph‘s story — and why it was cut from the film. But first, check out an exclusive first look at concept art for what Extreme EZ Livin’ 2 would have looked like had it made it into the film (click the image to embiggen).
As told by: Clark Spencer
Extreme EZ Livin’ 2 was Grand Theft Auto meets The Sims done Disney-style. We felt like we hadn’t quite hit that morally ambiguous world that exists in videogames. We thought if we had all four of those, we’d hit every major genre.
When Ralph has his low moment, the thought was, as opposed to him going back to his original game Fix-It Felix Jr., he would choose to give up. And his giving up would be, “I’m going to go to a place where no matter what I do, people love me.” That’s all he really wants — love and appreciation. Throughout the movie, people have been telling him about this place called Extreme EZ Livin’ 2. And he chooses to go there. But once he’s there, he realizes that isn’t satisfactory. That’s not really what he needs in his life right now. So he chooses to go back and help Vanellope get her dream.
But it was this world where people shoot at Buick Skylarks and they hang in hot tubs. And no matter what you do, you’re loved for it. Sort of that sense of The Sims, where everyone says, “Like it, like it, like it,” with the idea of Grand Theft Auto where you could do things that aren’t necessarily good, but people still love you.
We didn’t get into animation [for this game]. We put our movie up [in a rough-cut, storyboarded screenings] seven times. For the first two screenings, it was a huge part of the world. We’d done a tone of visual development and talked about the game itself. We had recorded actors who were going to play parts in it. [But] we hadn’t actually started animation. Then you get that moment where you have to make a decision. The problem was it was a really fun world, and people loved it, but they also felt it was jarring to drop into that next world and have to explain what the rules are of this world. You have to spend a moment giving the audience some sense of this game and how it works. It was that aspect of it that really was hurting us at a point where we’re trying to get ourselves to the end of the movie. At a certain point, that late in the movie, to go to a fourth world was hard for an audience to really want to travel into.
If I remember correctly, [there] was [a game] called EZ Livin’, then there was Extreme EZ Livin’, and then it was Extreme EZ Livin’ 2 — so it was actually the third game, but you think it’s only the second.