Movies based on video games often seem to flop, but video games spun off from movies are the opposite. With video games, players can take on the roles of their favourite movie characters and immerse themselves in their worlds. It’s the ultimate form of role play.
The formula has been a hit with fans ever since the first movie licensed video game – Raiders of the Lost Ark, released in 1982 for the Atari 2600. Generations of gamers have been born since then, and technology has moved in leaps and bounds. Today, players can enjoy a gaming experience that would have seemed pure science fiction to the old school.
Let’s take a look at some of the most famous franchise spinoffs.
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Star Wars – the original blockbuster sci-fi adventure that got generations dreaming of the stars. Today the immortal franchise created by George Lucas is practically a genre of its own, with countless tie-ins across all media. Gaming is one of the most important varieties. Currently there are at least 1000 different Star Wars games – FPS, RTS, MMORPGs and more.
One of the most legendary Stars Wars titles was Star Wars: X-Wing. Released in 1994, this ground-breaking video game gave players the chance to see things from the Empire’s point of view. Take that, rebel scum! Star Wars: X-Wing got a lot of love from fans thanks to its then unique combination of FPS action, gripping space flight simulation, and authentic immersion in Star Wars lore.
The great thing about the Star Wars franchise is that the time-lines are so vast, developers can create games based on practically any period through the space opera’s history. That makes for endless creative gaming potential. Take BioWare’s 2003 masterpiece, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Thousands of years before the original Star Wars movies began, there were a lot more Jedi and Sith – so there were a lot more wars between them. Knights of the Old Republic is a riveting RPG set in this universe. The characters, story, original score, and turn-based combat are all unforgettable.
Drenched in Horror and Gore
Turning from lore to gore, horror movies have spawned a lot of tie-in games that fans love. Computer Artworks 2002 classic The Thing is one of the best.
The game is a tie-in with the cult monster movie of the same name by John Carpenter. The action takes place after the events of the movie, when the Special Forces arrive in Antarctica to find out just what exactly happened to the American and Norwegian outposts. As Captain Blake, you’re in charge of ground operations – and you’re first in line to fall prey to the evil alien. What makes the game especially good is the Fear/Trust system. It’s basically a paranoia monitor – if your team thinks the alien has infested you, they’ll ignore your orders and try to kill you. Watch your back!
Switching from body horror to cosmic horror, no mention of the genre would be complete without mentioning the awe-inspiring Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, where horrifying ancient entities lurk waiting for the day when the stars are right and they can annihilate our universe. Possibly the best encapsulation of this epic madness is Cyanide’s 2018 release, Call of Cthulhu.
The game turns Lovecraft’s famous story “The Call of Cthulhu” into a truly modern nightmare. You play Edward Pierce, a heavy drinking private eye with a shadowy past. Travel to Darkwater Island to investigate the mysterious death of a family in 1920s Massachusetts – and discover horror beyond your wildest nightmares. Call of Cthulhu showcases what horror games can do, with an exceptional sanity mechanic, as a great balance of detective work, exploration, branching dialogue and skill trees.
Superhero movies cry out to be adapted for gaming purposes. Marvel’s Spider-Man, released by Insomniac in 2018, is an open-world adventure set in the Marvel Universe.
Spidey is up against the Sinister Six, some of the nastiest villains you ever saw. Sling webs and take in some fast-paced combat action in the Spidey suit of your choice as Spider-Man fights to keep himself alive. Excellent game-play aside, Marvel’s Spider-Man stands out for the way it brings Spider-Man’s world alive, with rich content that pays homage to all the Spider-Man stories of the past, from the classic comics to the latest movies.
Not to be outdone, the DC Universe is also fully represented in the world of video games by Batman: Arkham Asylum. This big-budget 2009 release by Rocksteady was the first game that really let players adopt the persona of the Dark Knight. Attention to detail is the hallmark of this AAA franchise game – Batman fans will love being immersed in so much rich – yet dark – content. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill play Batman and the Joker respectively, as the Dark Knight slugs his way through the brutal nightmarescape of Arkham Asylum.
Epic Fantasy Adventure
Fantasy is one of the world’s most beloved genres across movies, comics and books. Tolkien is the biggest name in fantasy today, thanks to the Lord of the Rings trilogy of epic fantasy adventure movies directed by Peter Jackson.
Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War (2017) is a thrilling Tolkien tie-in that takes elements from all the movies and adds some details from the books, too. The story follows two heroes as they go behind enemy lines in a Middle-Earth that’s completely faithful to the lore and backstory of the Lord of the Rings.
Then there’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Monster-hunter Geralt of Rivia is out to save his adopted daughter Ciri from being hunted and killed by ghoulish beings from another dimension. The game is packed with stories within stories, as Geralt meets up with friends and lovers from the past, makes new allies, and slays monsters in the explosive battle scenes in gaming history.
Exceptional world-building makes the characters’ game world really come alive, and there are so many side-quests and activities that boredom is never an option when you’re playing The Witcher 3.