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Five Movies That Should Get Game Adaptations (But Never Will)

by Blake Hester on Jul 08, 2016 at 01:15 PM

Video game film tie-ins are generally regarded as half-baked cash grabs meant to capitalize on the hype or popularity of upcoming movies. They are often reserved for superhero properties or animated films, and rarely dabble outside of the third-person, action-platformer genre. But what if these adaptations spread their wings into different genres? What are the possibilities?

We had some ideas for five movies we’d like to see get their own games, though it’s probably safe to assume they never will.

The Exorcist
William Friedkin’s landmark 1973 horror film, The Exorcist, tells the story of Regan MacNeil, a pre-teen girl living in Washington, DC, whose interactions with an “imaginary” friend named Captain Howdy turn out to be a possession by a violent demon named Pazuzu. With little hope, Regan’s mother, Chris, turns to priests Father Damien Karras and Father Lankester Merrin to exorcise her daughter, eventually driving Pazuzu from the young girl, but at the cost of Karras’ life.

Telltale games hang their hat on all the different choices they feature, and the causes and effects of each. Players are constantly reminded their choices will have actual consequences and would be remembered by those around them. When done right, it adds a real sense of weight to each choice, the implications being that every step you make will come back to haunt you later in the game. No choice is without its consequence or effect on another’s life.

What better weight to place on one’s shoulder than that of the life of a young girl? Taking influence from Telltale’s games and even Heavy Rain, a game based on The Exorcist would put players in the shoes of three characters: Chris and Regan MacNeil and Father Karras. Chris, a worried mother, must wrestle with what she thinks is best for her daughter, trying to decide whether to take a scientific or religious approach to her treatment. Karras, a catholic priest who’s lost his faith in the wake of his mother’s death, must make radical choices about how to exorcise this young girl of an extremely violent demon. Lastly, when given control of Regan, players will have to attempt to fight against Pazuzu’s influence and control over her vocal and motor functions (spouting obscenities and subjecting herself to self-mutilation), as she tries to communicate that she’s scared and wants help.

David Fincher’s 1995 film Seven is both hard to watch and impossible to look away from. In it, detective David Mills and the aging detective William Somerset follow the ever worsening trail of murders left by “John Doe,” a serial killer whose crimes take inspiration from Dante Alighieri’s Seven Deadly Sins. It’s a film that constantly poses more questions than answers, and one that slips further and further down its own rabbit hole of grime and mystery the longer it goes – perfect fodder for the makings of a criminal investigation game.

A Seven game could take influence from LA Noire, making players investigate crime scenes and draw their own conclusions about who is committing serial crimes. It could also draw influence from the lesser-known episodic game Blues And Bullets, which had players investigating victims’ bodies, often in graphic detail. A Seven game, which presumably would be rather graphic given its source material, could have players taking closer looks at the bodies of those who were forced to eat themselves to death or forced to lie in a bed for an entire year to try and draw more clues about just who it is they are following.

Written by Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine, the 1995 film Kids tells a hedonistic story of just how awful teenagers can be when left to their own devices. With seemingly all of New York City as their stomping grounds, main characters Telly, Casper, Harold, and the rest of their rag-tag team of hoodlums commit acts of violence, lust, and substance-induced mind alteration – kind of similar to the activities most players get up to in the open worlds of many of Rockstar’s games.  

Imagine the story of Kids, but set in an open world à la Rockstar’s 2006 game, Bully – minus the boarding school and plus an M rating. It’d be a game where Telly and Casper can skateboard around freely, visiting friends around the open world, indulging in illicit behavior, and attempting to seduce girls around town. Furthermore, in Bully, players are given the option to get in fist fights with anyone they choose, something the titular kids do as well in Washington Square. It almost writes itself.

Behind its excess, Kids tells a complicated story about the dangers of teenage sexual promiscuity in the midst of the 1990s’ AIDS epidemic. A game based on Kids could have a similar opportunity to bring a taboo-issue to light, allowing players to act as freely as they’d like, but under the shadow of very serious ramifications. This is something Rockstar has never shied away from with its stories.

Woody Allen’s 1979 film Manhattan is about the tangled webs we often weave in our pursuits of love, how one’s happiness can come at the detriment of another’s, and how making the choices of who we want to spend our lives with is never as black and white as it seems on the surface.

The film opens with main character Isaac Davis, a 42-year-old dating a 17-year-old girl, though he soon runs into conflicted feelings for another woman – a woman his best friend is also having an affair with. It’s a tangled web of love and infidelity, and one that easily adapts itself well to the dating-sim or visual novel genre, such as Hatoful Boyfriend – but minus the pigeons. These are games where players are able to talk to different characters, choosing who they would like to court and eventually romance.

A Manhattan visual novel would follow Davis as he pursues the two women, wrestles with the stigmas of dating a girl 35 years his junior, and climbs through his own tangled webs in an attempt to discover whom he truly loves. He would have to have complicated conversations with his best friend about the ramifications of both his infidelity and his own desires to be with his friend’s mistress. By the end of the game, players would have to make their final choice about who to be with and whether or not their decisions up to that point had the most satisfying outcome.

Air Bud
Closing on a much happier note is the story of a real cool pooch playing some sick games of hoops. Air Bud features no tangled webs of love, sexually transmitted diseases, or serial killers, just a real good boy doing some real rad dunks. So, what about a narrative-driven sports game based on Air Bud in the vein of the Spike Lee-directed campaign of NBA 2K16?

Players would assume the role of the dog Old Blue as he escapes his abusive, alcoholic clown owner, meets Josh, and learns he has the bizarre talent of being a balling pooch. As Blue’s career skyrockets, players would have to make important choices about how to handle their career, avoid temptations, like using recreational dog treats, choose which chew bone endorsements offer the best image for his brand, and, of course, play a lot of canine basketball.

What movies would you want to see get game adaptations? Maybe an Ichi The Killer game in the style of Bayonetta? Maybe a Human Centipede Match 3 Game? Let us know down below.