Games Ripe For Animated Feature Film Adaptation

by Kyle Hilliard on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:01 PM

With the announcement this morning of a Ratchet and Clank feature-length animated movie destined for theatres, it got us thinking about what other video games characters and franchise could work well with an animated movie treatment.

Some of the items on this list have already received non-video game treatments in the form of mostly terrible TV shows, live-action movies, or animated cutscenes sprinkled throughout their games, but we’re thinking more along the lines of animated movies.

With very few exceptions, video game movies or movies inspired by them have been borderline unwatchable. The Ratchet and Clank movie could be a step in the right direction. An animated movie does not take them out of their comfort zone like putting them in a live-action film. We already know and like these characters, and it wouldn’t be a stretch for non-gaming film-goers to feel the same way.

Mega Man X – When I was younger, I used to dream about a Mega Man X movie. I was a huge fan of the games, but I was also (perhaps embarrassingly) fascinated by the idea of an android forgotten by time, only to be awakened to a world where AI robots could go Maverick. Mega Man X had to battle against the teammates who used to fight by his side. Talk about a lot of emotional turmoil. Plus the action is child-appropriate. Killing robots, even in gruesome explosive ways, is totally fine. 

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – Rumors are always floating around about a Zelda movie in the works, but they never see fruition, which is probably for the best. If any of Zelda’s worlds were considered for adaptation to an animated film, however, Wind Waker would be the best candidate. The colorful world would look gorgeous on a large screen, and the game has a sense of humor that few Zelda games have emulated.

Spyro the Dragon/Skylanders – Why isn’t a Skylanders TV show or movie already in the works? The answer is beyond me. At some point, it's bound to happen. It made this list simply because we’re surprised it hasn’t already happened.

Dust: An Elysian Tail – Dust has a Disney-esque quality that is difficult to deny. Its anthropomorphic characters could be stars in a Disney movie, albeit one with a much more serious tone. It may have a serious story that  doesn’t ignore the effects of violence and war, but its cute characters make it accessible enough that filmgoers likely wouldn’t mind rooting for Dust and discovering his mysterious history.

Phoenix Wright – Phoenix Wright tried the movie thing with a live-action adaptation, and while the costume and hair design certainly paid their respects to the source material, it just seems like a world and story that would be better suited for animation.

Psychonauts – Absolutely brimming with fantastic art direction, humor, interesting characters, world realization, and story, Psychonauts would be perfect for the big screen. Maybe if they make a Psychonauts movie, it will inspire enough interest for the sequel to finally see the light of day.

Earthbound – I could almost put the same exact description for the theoretical Psychonauts movie above for an Earthbound movie, only I would need to change keywords like “Psychonauts sequel” to “Mother 3”.

Infamous – Sucker Punch’s comic book superhero tale may feature real human beings, but the scale of its story and superpowers make it seem like if there were a film based on Cole McGrath’s adventure, it would be more comfortable in an animated world.

Lego City Undercover – Lego City Undercover’s cutscenes are full of jokes and pop-culture references. How about a version without all that pesky gameplay in between so we can just laugh at Lego police officers doing funny things?

Super Time Force – Super Time Force has not released yet, so this recommendation is based purely off of the merit of its trailer. There’s a of lot humor here, plus characters that I already would like to learn more about. Also, the tone of this world is clearly ridiculous, and I’m doubtful it could be emulated in the real world.

Devil May Cry – This would be a much darker fare than a children’s animated feature, but it is one that could work. Devil May Cry is about ridiculous action, so why not make a ridiculous animated action movie? Some people love, and it’s hard not to at least like, Dante’s “I’m too cool for everything except killing demons” attitude. It could translate well to the big screen.

Sly Cooper – Sly Cooper’s story of anthropomorphic animals overcoming the difficulty of growing up in an orphanage to become the world’s most talented and morally pure thieves could easily translate into an animated film. There has been a severe lack of animated movies where characters sneak into high security places. Remember that one scene in The Incredibles where Mr. and Mrs. Incredible have to sneak into Syndrome’s layer? Imagine a whole movie like that, except with a talking raccoon.

Mario & Luigi – The last time Nintendo flirted with a movie based on the Super Mario franchise, the results were less than stellar. However, the Mario & Luigi games might work better as a setting since this spin-off series is funny and narrative-driven. The best part is, Mario and Luigi wouldn’t even have to talk. All the dialogue would be a product of the supporting characters.

Monkey Island – In some ways, Monkey Island is already a movie-like experience. There’s no action, it’s just leisurely puzzle solving as you sit back and let the hilarious diloague and characters wash over you. And we know that comedies about pirates can be successful because of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Jak and Daxter – Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank sort of go together. All were heroes of the PlayStation 2, and both pairs starred in action/platforming games. They even have cameos in each other’s adventures. If this Ratchet and Clank movie proves successful, it’s a pretty sure bet that a Jak and Daxter film wouldn't be far behind, which would be great news. Much like Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter offers known characters in a realized world full of humor and action. This may be an arguable point, but I have always felt that the Jak and Daxter series offered a much more successful narrative (thanks in part to Uncharted scribe Amy Hennig's involvement). Distilling Jak and Daxter’s story into a focused film has huge potential.

Shadow of the Colossus – Another video game/film mash-up that has been rumored for some time is one that could benefit from animation, as opposed to live-action. An animated film light in dialogue, with a focus on beautiful scenery and Wander’s difficult journey would be amazing .

What do you think? What video game franchises would translate well to the animated film medium?