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‘Les Misérables: The Video Game’?

Will Perkins
Wide Screen
January 24, 2013

You probably knew that director Tom Hooper’s Oscar nominated “Les Misérables” was based on a popular stage musical from the 1980s. You may also know that the Tony-winning musical was in turn based on Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel of the same name.

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But did you know that there have been a few unexpected adaptations of Hugo’s famed story of redemption, love, and rebellion since the play's debut? Inexplicable adaptations like a Japanese fighting video game "Arm Joe," which pitted characters like Jean Valjean, Cosette, Javert, and Marius against one another in a “Street Fighter”-style 2D melee.

Don’t believe it? Have a look at "Arm Joe" for yourself below.

Yes, more than a decade before Hugo’s “Les Mis” characters featured Hooper’s dignified Best Picture nominated film, they were beating each other up in the 1998 2D fighting game “Arm Joe." The game's name is derived from a Japanese title of the novel and musical - "Ah, Mujou" (translated "Oh, Cruelty").

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Players can choose to fight as almost any of the major "Les Misérables" characters or as a number of bonus characters, including Cosette's stuffed bunny toy "Ponpon" and a robotic version of Valjean called "RoboJean." All the game's characters also have hilarious special attacks which supposedly relate to their backstory in the novel. Play as the villainous Inspector Javert and rain down meteors on your opponents (for some reason), or fight as the rebellious Enjolras and drop a massive barricade on the other player.

See more: Five film facts about 'Les Miserables'

There really is no way to explain the existence of something like "Arm Joe." "Les Misérables" is extremely popular in Japan, and a number of animated and comic book adaptations of the story have been produced over the years. Nobody ever expected the tale to make good fodder for a video game though. That said, we would pay good money to see an updated version featuring the likenesses and voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. Make it happen, Internet!

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