6:00am PT by Patrick Shanley
'Futurama' Finds New Life Once More in Fresh Mobile Game
Cult classic animated comedy Futurama has returned for the fifth time — in the form of a new mobile game.
The oft-canceled series from Simpsons creator Matt Groening is back in Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow, the new game that puts players in control of Fry, Leela, Bender and the rest of the Planet Express crew.
The cartoon has had a turbulent history. It premiered on Fox in 1999, was not renewed at the network in 2003, found success in syndication on Adult Swim shortly thereafter, was given a second life by Comedy Central in 2012 with a series pickup for 26 new half-hour episodes, then was canceled by the cable network in 2013. Despite the wild ride, the show has maintained a diehard fan base who are never quiet in their desire for more content from the land of tomorrow.
"We have an insane, hardcore group of fans that border just on the edge of enough fans to keep us on TV and losing that battle every three or four years and then regaining it when the standards for what's a good rating on TV goes down," creator David X. Cohen told Heat Vision.
"When you think about Futurama, there's no fan base that's more hardcore than them," said Chris DeWolfe, CEO of Jam City, the fastest-growing mobile game publisher responsible for Worlds of Tomorrow. "In our original Family Guy game [Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff] the number one customer support request was to build a Futurama game."
That fan fervor eventually led to the development of Worlds of Tomorrow, which includes the original voice cast from the series as well as many of the show's writers. Last week, many of them celebrated the game by reuniting for a table read at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood. The event was hosted by Chris Hardwick, with a surprise appearance by Groening.
Stars Billy West, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Tress MacNeille and David Herman performed the fourth episode from the show's sixth season, "Proposition Infinity," in which Bender and Amy fight for the legalization of robosexual (the love between a human and robot) marriage, for the crowded theater. Katy Sagal, who voices Leela, was the only member of the original cast not onhand as she was booked elsewhere for a musical gig. MacNeille handled her lines, but wasn't the only actor pulling double (and triple or quadruple) duty when it came to voicing characters, as each performer deftly handled the task of switching among multiple roles on the fly.
The jokes got big laughs as Bender and Amy fought for marriage equality between bots and humans, a right granted to the union of most in the show's timeline, even "ghost and horse," as Bender pointed out. Perhaps the biggest laugh of the night, however, was DiMaggio's impromptu (and spot-on) impersonation of President Donald Trump in response to a fan's question during the Q&A portion of the night's proceedings.
The new game returns fans to New New York as they gather items to undo the damage done by the Hypnotoad following a cataclysmic event. In addition to multiple character upgrades and skins, collectibles, space exploration and Futurama Easter eggs galore, the game also features the iconic art style from the original series as well as 8-bit design in battle sequences.
As for whether the show will once again find life on television, particularly now in the era of streaming, Cohen was open to the idea — if it felt right. "We don't want to come back if it has to be the cutrate scribbled on a notecard Futurama," explained Cohen. "If we came back we want it to be as good or better. It would have to be done right if we were to do it again."
Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow is available on the App Store and Google Play.