Hollywood draws inspiration from everywhere - true stories, bestselling novels, mythology and, of course, video games. We’ve seen Angelina Jolie take on the role of sultry tomb raider Lara Croft, we’ve seen Jack Gyllenhaal star in the Prince of Persia, and not too long ago we saw Duncan Jones adapt World of Warcraft for the cinema.
In other words, there’s no shortage of movie adaptations of popular video games. But what can be said for the reverse? No, we’re not referring to movies themes in arcade machine games or various types of online casino slots. We’re talking about those times when video game studios team up with Hollywood to deliver a title that successfully combines great gameplay elements with a recreation of the stylistic atmosphere which saw the movie franchise succeed.
Well, there’s a good deal of those too - and you’ve probably been playing a bunch of them since your childhood. Here’s our round-up of the top video game adaptations of movies!
The Alien franchise has spawned (pun intended) a number of memorable video games over the years. From the arcade shooters in the 90s to the nerve-wracking terror of Alien: Isolation in 2014, the games are characterised by the same eerie atmosphere as the movies. With the incorporation of the Predator franchise, there have also been a number of Alien vs. Predator video games which achieved success upon release - particularly the first one in 2010 which was available for both Xbox and PS3. However the aforementioned Alien: Isolation was perhaps the first Alien game with such a huge focus on stealth, as opposed to combat, as a survival technique. The game expertly incorporated a great number of themes from the films and sees you play as the daughter of Ellen Ripley. The clever use of sound and echoes on board the spaceship goes a long way in creating tense vibes. This is a game that will have you playing with the lights switched on.
Arguably there have not been as many memorable Indiana Jones video games compared to some other franchises - but there are nonetheless a few titles that stand out, some of which gained something of a cult audience as opposed to wide mainstream success. The Lego Indiana Jones game will induce great nostalgia for a lot of gamers, however the most critically acclaimed of titles were the older games from the 90s. The Fate of Atlantis from 1992 is perhaps the most well-received video game from the franchise and remains a gem to this day. The point-and-click adventure game still holds out and has overwhelmingly positive reviews from most major game critics.
The Star Wars universe has, unsurprisingly, inspired a massive number of video games. There have been so many incredible games released over the last three decades that at least one Star Wars game is part of every gamer’s childhood. But the franchise has not just seen single game adaptations but game series - each of which having several different game titles. Some of the most popular series include Jedi Knight, X-Wing, Force Unleashed, Battlefront and of course the Lego Star Wars games, which interestingly was the first Lego video game based on a movie and its success led to subsequent Lego video game adaptations.
It’s not surprising that Star Wars of all franchises has allowed for some of the most successful video games. The vast universe of the space fantasy has appealed to generations for its heroic and epic tales of good vs evil. Together with its fantasy elements and classic sci-fi motifs, Star Wars is simply the perfect recipe, not just blockbuster films but for video games too. It’s hard to pick only one title from the vast number of games, but perhaps the most memorable was Star Wars Battlefront 2 from 2005.
For a great many of us, Bond video games made for the centerpiece of our childhood gaming experience. Released in 1997 on Nintendo 64, GoldenEye 007 is widely regarded as one of the best and most influential video games ever created. Many levels in the game were based on locations from the GoldenEye movie. It had a multiplayer mode which allowed for competitive split-screen play, and the game was therefore hugely popular as a game to enjoy with friends. In fact, it’s probably this social aspect of the game which most people remember so fondly, as it was one of the earliest examples of competitive couch gaming. This four-player split screen feature was consequently replicated in subsequent Bond games such as 007 Agent Under Fire in 2001.
Lord of the Rings
In 2006, The Battle for Middle Earth II was released, which was the sequel in an RTS video game series which received massive praise. It helped bring to life the universe we knew from the films and incorporated all of the major characters from the franchise. More recently, in 2014, Shadow of Mordor was released which featured its unique nemesis system, where enemies would remember their encounters with you. The game was received very well and got exceptional feedback and is a must-play for any fans of Middle Earth.
So far, these are the movie franchises that come to mind in the context of video games - but there’s a lot of potential success on the horizon for the likes of Jurassic Park, with Jurassic World: Apatosaurus VR coming out later this year. Meanwhile, Paranormal Activity has also proven a hit franchise for VR with the spooky title Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul. With increasingly sophisticated virtual reality technology, it’s reasonable to think game developers might see great opportunities in bringing other cinematic worlds to life - perhaps allowing us to play alongside our favourite characters of the screen someday soon. In any case, it doesn’t look like the relationship between video games and Hollywood is likely to dwindle anytime soon.