If you are at all sensible, you will likely have purchased the 'Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs' DVD, which came out this week. It's the second of a set of four DVD specials which will be cut up into sets of four episodes when shown on TV.

The Wikipedia page for the special has plenty of initial information, but one of the DVD extras will be of particular interest to GameSetWatch readers. It's a recut version of the 'lost Futurama episode' which appeared as cut-scenes within the Futurama video game.

As noted on the Wikipedia entry: "Many of the crew from the Futurama series worked on the game. Matt Groening served as Executive game developer and David X. Cohen directed the voice actors. These voice actors were the original actors from the series: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, and David Herman... music composition [was] provided by Christopher Tyng who also composed the music in the series and Futurama scriptwriter and producer J. Stewart Burns who scripted an original storyline for the plot."

There's a gigantic multi-person commentary on the 30-ish minutes of cut-scenes (using 3D assets created for the game) that the Futurama folks cut together for the bonus feature, and I thought I'd highlight some of the interesting bits:

- In order to make the linear DVD story flow properly and to improve it, the Futurama producers and editors actually cut new sound effects and inserted excerpts of gameplay footage to make it flow correctly - even adding a sound effect joke or two to bridge things over.

- When the Futurama folks went to try to find the original, non-compressed version of this footage (which was presumably rendered FMV and not in-engine), they found out that the Swedish developer, UDS had gone out of business, had its assets taken over, and were taken over again by an online poker company - so even though former employees of UDS tried to help them, they couldn't track it down.

- Therefore, the footage on the DVD is actually taken directly from the Xbox version of the game. Apparently, series executive producer David X Cohen had a memory card with the completed game on it, so that served as the basis of the DVD grabs. However, they couldn't get some FMV sequences that were triggered by bonuses, so had to go find a cheat code on the Internet. Oh, and also: "We had to go buy the component cables to get decent video."

- There's some interesting discussion of video game voiceover work from the assorted actors on the commentary, including Billy West, John DiMaggio (who voices Marcus Fenix in Gears Of War as well as Bender!), and Maurice LaMarche. They noted that the variant voice sound effects were really rough to perform in games, especially when they had to do a lot of 'shouting'-style reactions to being shot or bumped.

In fact, LaMarche revealed that he lost his voice on a Yosemite Sam game, and had to go on enforced voice rest for an entire month, after having to do too many short, medium and long bellowing-style sound effects, and "took a long hiatus from video games" after that, only returning to do the Futurama game. He didn't mention the game in question, but I'm going to guess it's Loons: The Fight For Fame. Anyone?

There's also a tribute to the sad passing of Gary Gygax on the main DVD commentary. In fact, it's mentioned that Gygax is a "heavy inspiration" to the third DVD, 'Bender's Game', for which there's a trailer on the 'Billion Backs' DVD, and which features nerds, D20 rolling, and... oh wait, here's the trailer on YouTube.

[BONUS: In a montage during the main 'Billion Backs' feature, Fry is playing 'Normal Combat' (in a Mortal Kombat font) in a video game arcade when the two main characters in the 2D fighting game kiss, reminding him of his lost love (aw!) As is traditional in Futurama/The Simpsons, there are a bunch of neat fake arcade game references, in the background.

This time they include 'Honkey Kong' (Donkey Kong font), 'Exlaxian' (Galaxian font), 'Coin Vacuum', 'Extreme Flosser' (with the 'm' as a tooth), 'Shovel Command(o?)', and most awesomely, 'Ms. Marple Madness' (Marble Madness font, but with two+ joysticks instead of a trackball, get with it, guys!) Ah, and there's a good gag involving a Pac-Man board game elsewhere in the movie. That's enough Futurama for now!]