After eleven years, X-Strike Studios is closing its doors.
You may have heard of them recently, or you may be a longtime fan. Or you may never have heard of them. That’s one of the struggles with being an independent artist. Sometimes some of the best work goes unnoticed.
I don’t hesitate to apply the term ‘best’ to X-Strike Studios’ catalog. While their films are definitely low-budget, that hasn’t held back their excellence. If anything, it’s helped to underscore the talent and skill at play. These are movies for a niche audience, by that same audience. There’s no irony, there’s no multi-audience pandering, there’s no attempt to be anything that they’re not. These are movies for gaming fans and nerds. And the result is that they are some of the best video game movies ever made, hands down, bar none, damn straight.
But it isn’t some goofy love of games that makes their movies good. River City Rumble, called ‘the Citizen Kane of video game movies’, is a solid (if low-budget) action movie that straddles the line between being serious enough to be internally consistent but not taking itself too seriously so as to deprive the fans of fun antics. Silent Horror, and its sequel Resident Horror, are genuinely creepy at points while still providing a tremendous good time in every vein, something that their big budget imitators like the Resident Evil series fail to deliver. Project Snake is an ambitious action story that some consider more entertaining than the games that inspired it. Their Off-Campus series, while full of inside jokes, remains some of the funniest segments on the internet to this day. And their most off-the-wall film P. Rappa’s Nth Mile is…a thing that exists.
X-Strike Studios came along at a time when video game films of pretty much any type were novelties. The best video game movies available were studio-made behemoths like Street Fighter and the Super Mario Brothers movie, attempts made to appeal to general audiences with the after-thought of tapping into the video game fan market. With the exception of a handful of Star Wars or Star Trek videos here and there, fan films hadn’t yet taken hold either. There was no Street Fighter Legacy. There was no Mortal Kombat Legacy. No Megaman live-action. And the idea of a video game-inspired fan film that was feature-length? The very idea was unfeasible, a pipe dream fanboys talked about but knew wouldn’t happen.
And then X-Strike did it. And then did it again.
Much like Troma Films, much like Robert Rodriguez’s early work, X-Strike Studios would establish a baseline from which other studios would be able to build their success. An early pioneer of committed and dedicated fan films, X-Strike Studios would be a harbinger of what we know as the fan film industry today, an industry that continues to inspire and influence mainstream cinema.
It isn’t a surprise that X-Strike is closing its doors. The assorted members had stated on numerous occasions they hadn’t planned for the company to endure indefinitely. After all, it’s hard to maintain a consistent artistic vision from your early twenties into your mid-thirties, as most of the leadership has seen. It’s a bittersweet announcement all the same because they’ve given the fan community so much entertainment.
Thank you, X-Strike Studios.