The lights are on
I recently took a look at the few times in gaming history in which movie-to-game translations actually worked out. It seems that more and more, motion pictures have video game tie-ins, and it's obvious the majority of them are of dubious quality. Despite the frequency of movie-to-game adaptations, there are some instances in the past where certain films seemed like they had all the makings of a fantastic game, but none were ever developed (or the ones that did get made were atrocities). Here are some of the biggest "could haves" from the last few decades:
(Note: Obviously, games based on the older films on this list wouldn't have been able to meet the hypothetical game experiences I describe if released alongside the movie. An open-world Road Warrior game couldn't have happened in 1981, I'm just talking about films that have concepts that would lend themselves well to games, even in 2009.)THE RUNNING MAN, 1987Arnold's 1987 adaptation of the Stephen King novel is absolutely custom-made for video game glory. It has built-in stages, Mega Man-esque boss fights, and a wrongly accused, way-too-buff protagonist. Plus, at the end you'd get to kill Family Feud host and Match Game regular Richard Dawson by putting him on a sled that explodes. Check out the list of who the "bosses" would be: Dawson shedding his lady-kissing television persona to play a villainous game show host, NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown as a jetpacking baddie named Fireball, Jesse Ventura as Captain Freedom, a murderous hockey player named Sub-Zero, an insane dude with a chainsaw and motorcycle named Buzzsaw (whose groin you'd get to chainsaw through if it was faithful to the movie), and a guy named Dynamo who sings opera and adorns his suit with Christmas lights. Just look at these guys:Not only are the villains amazing video game fodder, the plot of the film is basically Smash TV. It centers around Arnold as Ben Richards, a wrongly imprisoned man who is forced to compete in an ultra-violent game show that involves prisoners facing off against what amounts to American Gladiators who can legally murder you. It's as incredible as it sounds. Plus, the developers wouldn't have to worry about putting up invisible walls or barriers to keep the player from leaving the area. Prisoners in the movie have to wear exploding neck collars that do exactly what you'd expect when you step out of bounds...A one liner button a la Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick would be required, as Arnold is simply on fire in this one. "Here's your Sub-Zero...now just plain zero!", "He had to split" (after chainsawing Buzzsaw in half), "Now that hit the spot", "Need a light?", and "What a hothead" are just a few of Arnie's masterfully-timed puns in this movie that's ripe for a gaming adaptation. If I ever win the lottery, I will single-handedly fund the creation of this game. Ed Boon, I'm looking at you.
THE ROAD WARRIOR, 1981Borderlands and Fallout 3 are recent examples that gamers love exploring a post-apocalyptic wasteland. There's something about scrounging for goods and weapons amongst the total disintegration of law and order that just works well in an open-world video game. The Road Warrior is that concept exactly, and it's awesome. You'd play as the pre-crazy Mel Gibson as he drives his sweet car across the wasteland, taking out bands of roving marauders and finding various outposts that hold gasoline. Plot and dialogue would be sparse just like in the movie, and there could be incredible vehicular segments as you drive from outpost to outpost in the tanker, surviving attempted high-speed hijackings. God of War II's Cory Barlog has expressed interest in creating such a game in conjunction with director George Miller, but nothing has ever come out of it. In the meantime, it seems that Borderlands has done a fine job of replicating The Road Warrior experience.THE DARK KNIGHT, 2008
2008's biggest movie (and the second highest-grossing film of all-time in the US) had a game in the works by Pandemic Studios, but was eventually scrapped due to issues regarding the game's quality and a handful of technical problems. It was initially supposed to be an open-world game whose release would coincide with that of the film. If done right, an open-world Batman game could potentially be amazing. Imagine tracking down thugs and gang leaders, beating them and interrogating them about the Joker's activities. You could use any of Batman's vehicles to get from point to point, or just grapple up to buildings and glide from location to location with your cape. Knock-down, drag-out street fights would be frequent, not unlike the scene near the beginning of the film that involved the Dark Knight beating the holy hell out of Scarecrow's henchmen. Plus, there would always be the fear of a random and intense Joker encounter as you explore Gotham. The silver lining on this cloud of missed opportunity is that we eventually received Batman: Arkham Asylum. Not only did that game give us the first true feeling of being Batman, it gave us a brand-new story, tons of characters, and an unforgettable setting.THE ROCK, 1996
Michael Bay is almost universally considered to be one of the biggest goobers in the universe, but at least he directed one great movie. 1996's The Rock was essentially Metal Gear Solid if Shadow Moses was replaced with Alcatraz and Solid Snake was replaced with an old, retired James Bond. Hell, they even infiltrate the island using underwater transports, and Metal Gear composer Harry Gregson-Williams helped put together the excellent score. Sean Connery was in full-on action hero mode throughout the entire 136 minutes, while Nicholas Cage perfected the cheesy, geeky sidekick role and gave us a great line about the anus of Zeus. If turned into a game, the majority would be spent as Connery's John Mason, dodging flames while crawling through the vents, stealth killing traitorous soldiers, and going all-out run-and-gun when needed (there's even a mine cart shootout). You'd travel throughout the prison, saving San Francisco by collecting and destroying the guidance chips from the VX rockets (presumably through some kind of Bioshock-esque hacking minigame). Boss fights would be against Francis Hummel's various right-hand men, including the weaselly dude that gets a nice face-melting ball of VX poison gas shoved into his mouth. Grab the flares, jab your heart with the needle, and get the hell off Alcatraz. It could have resembled a more action-oriented Metal Gear Solid, but never received a video game treatment of any kind.
So what do you think? Are there any of your favorite movies that you think would be prime fodder for a great video game? Surely at least one of you wants a Tycoon game based on There Will Be Blood.
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