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Feature

14 Universal Films We Want To See Adapted Into Video Games

by Joey Thurmond on Apr 18, 2018 at 06:00 PM

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Video games and movies used to go together like peas in a pod. Less than a decade ago, it was rare to see a big blockbuster hit go without an interactive tie-in, but the trend has slowly disappeared due to the increasing costs of game development and higher standards. However, with recent endeavors like The Mummy Demastered and the upcoming Jurassic Park Evolution, movie publisher Universal Pictures is positioning itself back into the game industry by forming partnerships with developers to adapt its film properties.

With movie-to-video game adaptations screening in our minds lately, we decided to pitch some dreamy pairings for Universal to consider with studios well-versed in genres that would be sublime for How To Train Your Dragon, Purge, and more.

The Thing – Behaviour Interactive
Behaviour Interactive has handled a bunch of movie-licensed games and ports for nearly two decades, but the team struck its own creative vein with Dead by Daylight. It's an unusual competitive and cooperative experience with one player hunting down a group of survivors. However, instead of an immediately hostile threat that survivors must hide and run away from, it'd be a treat to see the studio try its hand with narrative tension and thrills with The Thing.

Movies like Alien or even the recent film A Quiet Place are scary since their respective beasts are nearly unstoppable forces of nature. They're fast and powerful, but The Thing's self-titled alien is slow and easily susceptible to fire, relying instead on cunning deception and careful planning. A game could be centered around a group of friends where one of them is The Thing, and the only way to find out who's who is to uncover environmental clues of where the real versions of characters have been disposed of. Players would only be able to chat through the game and not know who's playing who in order for this idea to work, but it could be a major component of character development and solving clues by talking with and quizzing other players. The Thing would attempt to bluff its way out of conversations and mislead other players, resulting in a dangerous tense game for both parties since a lapse in judgment could spell doom for either one.

Curious George – Gears For Breakfast
Much like the misadventures of a Peruvian bear named Paddington, Curious George always finds himself in everyday situations where things go wrong but steer right in the end. The little monkey is innocent, imaginative, and full of adventure, and it's not like developers haven't seen the potential in the property.  The 2006 Monkey Bar Games adaptation had solid ideas like silly minigames and a "curious meter" that fills up depending on what you interact with in environments.

Gears of Breakfast is a small yet ambitious team that worked on the widely well-received A Hat in Time. With a solid grasp on feel-good controls and charming storytelling, Universal should task them with taking Curious George on a host of seemingly everyday situations that turn into unpredictable, joyous sandboxes packed to the brim with collectibles, platforming challenges, and wacky characters to meet.

Bourne – IO Interactive
The levels of secrecy involved with projects such as Blackbriar and Treadstone seemed to know no bounds as the Bourne movies unfolded, introducing new characters into the fold like Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy with the Outcome Operation. While several of his fellow agents were killed, there are a handful (including Cross) that are still alive along with Jason Bourne after the most recent film. With a sequel planned and doubts surrounding the continuation of Cross' story, Universal would be remiss to not capitalize on the latter with a shooter guided by the stealth masters at IO Interactive.

Hitman provides sandboxes of seemingly limitless possibilities with how players can approach assassination, but in keeping with the iconic scenes and cinematography of the films, it'd be great to see a fast-paced, action-oriented game from the Hitman studio. There could be brief elements of pre-planning before players engage in an intense CQC fight or cleverly take out a group of CIA agents by using environments to their advantage, which would lend replayability and unpredictability to how encounters would turn out. A more linear, narrative-focused game would likely need to be prioritized to make this possible, but it would need to allow players to live out the tactical brilliance that Cross and Bourne display.

Pacific Rim – Platinum Games
Power Rangers popularized the concept of giant robots needing to be controlled by multiple users, but Pacific Rim brought more pseudoscience into the mix with pilots and combined neural interfaces. It's thrilling to watch them struggle and succeed working together to commandeer Jaegers, and while the safe route for a game adaptation would be a simple beat 'em up or traditional fighter in Platinum Games' style, what would make it even more compelling is turning it into a cooperative fighting campaign where two players fight as one.

To fend off Kaiju and prevent as much damage to cities as possible, there are specific weapons, combos, movement, and other features of Jaegers that would need to be combined or specifically-assigned efforts to each player like leg or arm movement, weapons management, etc. Different Kaiju would demand different approaches and compensating actions to survive. Should players do so effectively, they could charge up special moves or modes to turn the tide of battles. Perhaps this could even be a co-op experience with four players piloting two Jaegers with PvE events set across the globe. Competitive is a possibility as well given the events of Jaegers fighting each other in Uprising, too. Either way, Platinum Games would do a fine job since the bombast, scope, and tone of the films closely aligns with the developer's pedigree of colorful, explosive titles like Transformers Devastation and The Wonderful 101.

Insidious – Supermassive Games
Until Dawn knew exactly what it wanted to be with its B-movie premise and stereotypical characters, but Supermassive Games took these attributes and crafted a thrilling, branching storyline of survival that never lets up. Characters' fates are in your hands with the most subtle decisions and sudden events that can drastically shift outcomes when you least expect it. With a little more suspension of disbelief, Insidious could be the next step up for the studio to evolve Until Dawn's formula.

Insidious follows demonologists who research and help people who can access The Further: a spiritual purgatory of haunted souls between worlds. They attempt to possess individuals with the ability to astral project (their souls leaving their bodies), and since the series can go back to any place or era with this premise, why not have a Victorian setting of budding demonologists who encounter a spirit that traps them in its own personal maze within The Further? The group would have to work together to slowly work their way back to reality, but with other demons to face and hard choices to make, not everyone will carry on with what they've learned about this haunted dimension. Players could have characters' fates in their hands with tense quick-time events, a branching narrative, and dangerous puzzles to solve.

How To Train Your Dragon – Insomniac Games
The tale of a small, purple dragon and an orphaned Lombax loom large over Insomniac Games' history since the developer has always been at its peak with 3D platformers. The team hasn't been afraid to cover other genres with first-person shooters, VR titles, and mobile RPGs, but whimsical fantasy and wit are at Insomniac Games' core. Combined with its bold willingness to experiment, they'd be a perfect fit to turn How To Train Your Dragon into a sprawling single-player adventure.

School of Dragons and previous movie tie-ins poked at this potential with semi-open worlds and freeform flying, but the scope and beauty of DreamWorks' animation and imagination are hard to match on a budget. With the third movie setting Hiccup to be the new chief of Berk, a coinciding game during his first years of leadership should go all in with different islands to visit in a giant open world where flying is only half the fun. The title of the third film was recently revealed as "The Hidden World" to boot, which that couldn't be more spot-on with our tie-in premise.

Players would customize their character and take on quests for Hiccup and his friends to continue charting the world, and along the way, they'd discover new dragons much like in the television series. Players would customize and level up dragon companions, and also adapt to different play styles with varying weapons and combat maneuvers as they tame wild dragons and fight their oppressors. This adaptation could be unique by allowing players to work with and command their dragons to do all sorts of things with platforming, puzzles, or combat.

The Purge – Rockstar Games
What if you could do anything without consequence? That's what The Purge films explore with  an exaggerated premise involving a single night where authorities turn a blind eye to any and all crime. It may be a horrifying scenario, but it's a perfect fit for the battle royale genre, with a host of players that could duke it out from the streets of New York to the rural countrysides of Georgia. With Rockstar's history of making lawbreaking a good, old time, no developer is more suited to take the burgeoning genre and bring twists to it with The Purge.

Instead of just being a free-for-all where every player can be a lone wolf or forge tentative alliances, it'd be fascinating for the game world to generate targets (whether A.I. or even some players) that contribute to individual or team scores. The Purge films put the affluent and politicians in the most danger, so it'd be interesting to see how firefights would carry out if players want to risk death for big stakes or stick with eliminating the competition and completing smaller objectives. Perhaps the game could pit a small team with a targeted player in a fortress that can be custom-rigged with traps and security systems? On the other end, a swath of players on the outside are forced to work together to get inside. As to who would survive on the way or who takes out the target in the end? That's hard to say when betrayal is the name of the game.

Check out the second page to see the rest of our picks.

The Fast and The Furious – Ghost Games
Most of the time, the over-the-top insanity of this racing movie franchise is self-aware enough to embrace the dumb drama and fun it so expertly provides. The action sequences and dialogue are ridiculous, but much like the Transformers films, enjoyment can be had if you just turn your brain off and go along for the ride. In a similar vein, Ghost Games has been trying to capture the nightlife street races and arcadey appeal of Need for Speed with mixed results in recent years, but instead of forcing doofy writing and experimental systems on a franchise that never needed these things, they'd be welcome and expected to differentiate a Fast and Furious adaptation.

Ghost Games already has the visual splendor and game feel of racing down to a T, but we'd like to see the studio keep going in a more linear direction (like with Need For Speed: Payback) with scripted yet smooth, cohesive scenarios involving getaways, chases, and vehicular combat written by the filmmakers instead of EA. Co-op could involve taking down targets or helping each other avoid collisions, further stressing the "family" aspect through gameplay that's been a core part of the film series' stories. As for a narrative, the game could explore a different part of the universe with a new cast and some fun appearances.

Chronicles of Riddick – Arkane Studios
The Riddick franchise is a passion project for Vin Diesel, being one of the rare adaptations that has proven its worth with a couple stealth and action-based spin-offs. Escape From Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena are replete with weighty, dark levels and stealth sequences that rival the likes of Splinter Cell and Thief. While the series has been dormant for the past decade despite a film and TV series supposedly in the works, Arkane Studios' work on Dishonored and Prey make it an eerie match for the franchise's tone and gameplay, especially with world building since Chronicles of Riddick has an expansive universe ripe for expansion.

The game adaptations are more atmospheric than they are strategic, with most encounters involving a couple enemies that can be taken out quietly or loudly without much fuss. However, the games did have a compelling open-ended freedom with objectives. Arkane Studios could flesh this out with larger levels with compelling backtracking, multi-layered objectives to move forward, and so forth. As for close-quarters-combat and methodical stealth, Riddick should be forced into an ill-suited environment with naturally strong lighting and weaponized light. The shadows would truly be your alley because players would need to take advantage of levels' layouts and objects to move forward with caution. However, to stay true to the series' roots, players could go in guns blazing, but only under carefully executed circumstances. Stealth would be the typical name of this game.

Kick-Ass – Rocksteady Studios
With a little determination and spunk, superheroes don't need superpowers. Batman may be emblematic of this outlook, but Dave Lizewski might just be a more relatable example with his determined (yet awkward) efforts to fight crime. The grotesque, dark comedy he stars in was recently rebooted on the comic scene with a new heroine Patience Lee, filling out the green and yellow suit, and Universal Pictures could support this endeavor with an open-world title expanding on her exploits with a comeback for Rocksteady Studios.

Taking place in New Mexico, players would live out Lee's double life when she assumes the Kick-Ass mantle after being a mom and student by day. Being an army veteran as well, there's great potential to lend weight and moral conflict to her story as she juggles her various roles to get by. What is she willing to do as a vigilante? Players could take her down different paths with varying side quests to see how they impact her life and relationships.

With a host of possible new villains and connections to make to the established Kick-Ass universe, there could be plenty of side quests to take on alone or even with other heroes in a new form of the Justice Forever league. While Lee may not possess superpowers, she could expand her martial arts and arsenal for new strings of combos to take on tougher variants of bad guys. Considering Kick-Ass' legacy of pushing boundaries with its characters and writing, it'd be interesting to see how Rocksteady would handle such a tone after its more mature handling of Batman: Arkham Knight.

King Kong – genDESIGN
Taking the iconic King Kong and turning him into a mindless monster is easy. Nintendo did that exact thing with its inspired arcade classic Donkey Kong, and other games like Rampage have turned the giant ape archetype into a stereotypical monster, which the recent film adaptation is interestingly going against. In either case, the tragedy of the misunderstood monster is evident throughout most of the films, which is a theme that Fumito Ueda exemplified in The Last Guardian. His team at genDESIGN captured an evolving, emotional relationship between a beast and a boy, and the same could apply to King Kong.

The premise would be a prequel to the classic Kong story, with a Skull Island native sacrificing one of their own to the beast. However, he or she quickly discovers the gorilla has no intention of harming them. Considering that Kong would be younger and more susceptible to the island's dangerous creatures, the player would have to work together with him to survive in a jungle filled with perilous ruins and heart-pounding fights. Players would also need to struggle with commanding Kong (similar to Trico in The Last Guardian) to do certain actions to progress, which would steadily increase in scope and effectiveness as the bond between them grows throughout their adventure. Other massive creatures could make way for a Shadow of the Colossus vibe where players need to climb them and expose weak points for Kong to handle.

Scott Pilgrim – Dontnod Entertainment
Teenage life is a minefield of emotions to navigate, but Dontnod Entertainment has accurately captured its fragile, complex nuances through several characters' angles in Life is Strange. Not only that, but the studio also has experience with action-based gameplay with Remember Me and the upcoming Vampyr. Combine these two angles of their development and you have a perfect storm for a reinterpretation of Scott Pilgrim: the comic series where the eponymous teenage nerd must defeat his girlfriend's evil ex-boyfriends to prove his worth.

Ubisoft Montreal's 2010 adaptation of the license is in a league of its own as a side-scrolling beat 'em up, but Dontnod could take Scott Pilgrim in a more narrative-heavy direction with branching paths where your actions and words change the dynamics of your friendship and romance with Romana, similar to the Persona series. The world itself could adopt the same irreverent tone with combat where Scott uses his guitar, fists, and accrued weapons in over-the-top ways to fend off the henchmen of the ex-boyfriends, which would ebb and flow in a diverse series of unique boss fights over the game's course. Earned coins would unlock new, customizable combos akin to Remember Me's gameplay by switching between selected weapons, and players could speed this up with side quests by performing alongside Sex Bob-omb, going on adventurous outings with Ramona and friends, and more.

Battlestar Galactica – BioWare
Caprica was a spin-off to SyFy's Battlestar Galactica reboot that delved into the creation and beginning of the Cylon, but the first battle that comes about some years after their introduction hasn't been given much attention since the cancellation of Blood and Chrome, a web series that would've followed William Adama's early adventures during that time period. However, we'd like to see a new crew investigating the Twelve Colonies for rumors of an uprising among the Cylon.

Like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Battlestar Galactica's tensions revolve around cybernetic and robotic prejudices, whether sentience is only possible among humans, and so forth. These issues would deepen and drive your space crew forward as they secretly quell small insurrections of Cylon (and even humans who aid them), which slowly unveil the grand plot resulting in The First Cylon War. Debate, friendship, conflict - these and more could be a part of your evolving relationship with your crew. Considering Bioware's experience creating excellent character dynamics in their space opera Mass Effect, it could bring even more tension into the mix with suspicions of crew members being double agents or Cylon androids.

You'd be outfitted with the latest tech and weapons to execute morally questionable, clandestine missions, but to follow through on them, you'd need to explore the Twelve Colonies and pursue clues, interrogate people, and travel to new planets to move the main story forward. Along the way, you could go off the beaten path for side quests and immerse yourself in the cultures of the Twelve Colonies. And most importantly, it wouldn't be Battlestar Galactica without some strategic space combat, which could be integrated into the story with small cells of Cylon zealots that intercept and assault your cruiser at random while traveling between planets.

Balto – Stoic Studio
While Balto may have been overshadowed by Toy Story during its theatrical release, it performed strongly and garnered a cult following. Subsequent movies were direct-to-DVD, and even though there's a third film, Balto II: Wolf Quest has an enticing cliffhanger. The movie isn't really centered on the titular wolfdog, but his daughter Aleu as she goes on a journey of self-discovery. She's the outcast of Balto's children, who all took after their husky mother except Aleu. Her uniquely strong wolf heritage eventually prompts her to uncover a prophecy that she must lead a wild wolf pack. She sails across the Bering Sea to a new land at the movie's end, but what became of Aleu and her clan? A game spin-off would be suited to answer that from Stoic Studio.

The premise would be founded on Aleu's wolf pack having grown to be its own civilization after settling in the far east of Russia. Your character is a descendent of Aleu leading the nomadic clan across forest and snowy locales, but ferocious predators and the need to provide for your wolves make survival difficult. A cast of characters would support and challenge your leadership as you take risks traveling to dangerous or unknown regions. Friendships and strife are inevitable in the hope of growing your clan's influence and morale. With the mystical aspects of Balto in mind, engagements could be turn-based with physical attacks, magic, and strategic items to draw from that would need to be carefully spent to take down bears, lynxes ... or perhaps you could form alliances with some species? The wild is relentless, but Stoic Studio's Banner Saga series emulates this with its thoughtful combat and rich stories, which could bring about a refreshingly mature spin on the Balto license.