Whenever a developer decides to make a game based on a film or film series, there are really only two ways that it can go: either it is fantastic, or it is an abysmal failure. Whenever it is done, it is obviously just an attempt to capitalize on the popularity or notoriety of the series, and that is alright with us so long as it is fun to play. Unfortunately, the normal state of affairs for movie-based games is that they are complete and utter garbage which should only be left in caves and caverns deep within the mountains where the light of day shall never reach. There are some gems, however, like the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers or The Return of the King, which are filled with immersion and action.
It is difficult for a good game to be made, especially one in an already cinematically established universe. When they are made, we know that we can enjoy them for a long time and supplement our disappointment at the movie’s brevity. When they fail, well, we just want to be frozen in carbonite until it’s over. Here are some of the best and worst movie-based video games ever made.
15 Michael Jackson's Moonwalker - Good
Moonwalker is an anthology film which has left a huge impact on at least American culture, and the video game that is based on it is no different. Perhaps the best movie-based game, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker features the late, the great, and most beloved King of Pop, Michael Joseph Jackson as the player’s character and hero. He grooves his way through each arena using his magic dancing moves to dispatch enemies and save the day. When you play any of the games in this particular series, you will notice a number of the arenas are scenes from the movie. A true testament to how great this game happens to be is the fact that it remained a staple of arcades across the United States for many years.
14 Plan 9 From Outer Space - Garbage
Here is an interesting tidbit about your humble narrator: I am a huge fan of truly terrible movies, and few come close to the terribleness of Plan 9 From Outer Space. When it was discovered that there was a parody game based on the film, it sounded too awful to be true. Unfortunately for everyone who’s laid eyes upon it, it exists. As bad as the game is, it holds quite true to the movie in how garbage it is; ironically, it is a much better game as the movie. Since a Bela Lugosi lookalike is the main villain who steals the master copies of the film, you almost hate having to stop him just because what he’s done would save the real Count of Darkness the embarrassment of being in the worst film made from beyond the grave.
13 The Thing - Good
Remember the terror of John Carpenter’s The Thing, remake of the classic Thing From Another World? If not, this game might seem a little off to you. Taking place shortly after the end of the first movie, it is up to you to track down the abomination from beyond the stars and save the Earth. Something that makes this game so unusual is that it had favorable reviews from most publications upon its release. There were even some innovations the gaming market thanks to this game’s infection system. The infection system made it so that all NPCs could potentially become infected by the Thing at any given moment. For those who enjoy playing older games, this is probably a good pick; you’ll be satisfied with the purchase.
12 Friday The 13th - Garbage
This has got to be one of the worst (if not the worst) games ever made. This game is so infuriatingly bad and difficult that you will just want to smash your face into the gaming system as well as probably weep in the corner, reflecting on your poor life decisions. The irritation isn’t just from the difficulty, but the infinitely repeating soundtrack just makes your mind go numb each rotation. If you hate yourself, you should go and play this game, if you have friends you never want to see again, give them this game as a gift. Another game for Friday the 13th that is heavily flawed was recently released, but the original NES game makes it look like the greatest thing ever made.
11 Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay - Good
We got blood, guts, dismemberment, and excessively brutal executions with this convict’s gem. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay is easily one of the best games that I have had the pleasure of playing. Something that will make anyone who loved this game happy is that it still looks pretty good visually; the game’s graphics look like it is much more recent than 2004. Being one of those games that your parents warned you about, you’ll massacre your way through to the end. By the end of the game, you’ll have made Butcher Bay’s janitorial staff angry beyond belief. Guns, shivs, screwdrivers, and walls are all deadly weapons in your hands, for some reason the developers neglected to add a tin cup as a weapon.
10 The Crow: City Of Angels - Garbage
First of all, the movie that this entry is based on was not that great either, but it certainly was better than Acclaim Entertainment’s abomination of a beat ‘em up. The worst part of this whole affair might be that it attempted to bring the whole story of the film to a 2D environment. The traditional controls and play style of this game were generally viewed as uninspired, boring, and worst of all, clunky by even 1997’s standards. The ironic part is that the video game version of The Crow: City of Angels has a much higher rating than the film, which is objectively better. The video game is often times included on lists for the worst games ever, having never received better than the equivalent of a 3 out of 10 stars.
9 Alien: Isolation - Good
From all of the movie-based games out there, Alien: Isolation is perhaps the one that captures the spirit of its movie the most. If you ever noticed, the original film is nothing but one giant deadly game of hide and seek; if you want to survive, you better hide and outsmart the greatest killing machine ever bio-engineered. The titular Alien in the game is the only creature, human, android, or otherwise, that you see. The beast will hunt you like prey, thus causing the game to be totally non-linear. The fact that this game is non-linear makes it terrifying as the Alien has no predetermined path and you cannot hurt it or kill it. If you are not inclined to being stealthy, you will die an excruciatingly painful death, most likely by the inner mouth.
8 Blade II - Garbage
Blade II is definitely daring and tried its hardest to push the gaming world forward; sadly, it took about 100 steps back. Since there is no good, let’s get started with the bad. This game attempted to make a new combat system where the player controlled the direction of attack, but nothing else, thus neutering what makes the Daywalker such a cool vampire hunting hero. Now let’s get to the ugly. Blade II was such an abysmal failure in every single way that its terrible graphics and cringe worthy voice acting caused many to put the game down before they even completed the first level. As I have said before, I will definitely say it again: this game killed the Blade experience for many fans around the globe.
7 Peter Jackson's King Kong - Good
Depending on who you are, you may believe that the Peter Jackson adaptation of our favorite gargantuan gorilla is the best version ever made. The video game rendition of the movie is easily one of the best of its kind. It not only forced players to seek unconventional ways to deal with problems without a HUD, but it added a true sense of danger to the universe. The action adventure feel of the game was coupled with the survival horror elements it possessed, especially when you had to deal with other giant beasts, traps, and natives; the limited availability of ammunition for firearms made this all the better. For those of you who have always wanted to feel like a Georgian Era colonial explorer, there is a good chance that you may want to play this game.
6 Land Of The Dead: Road To Fiddler's Green - Garbage
The Land of the Dead, the film, was one of George A. Romero’s better films; it was no Day of the Dead, but it was pretty good. The game, on the other hand, felt like you were slogging through horde after horde of mannequins; a better title would be Land of the Might as Well Be Fish in a Barrel. The Road to Fiddler’s Green is actually a prequel to the movie, starting out on a farm with your character trying to make it to a sanctuary outpost in the now depopulated Pittsburgh. There were a lot of problems with the game and Alex Navarro from GameSpot described it best: “There is an almost pseudo-brilliance to the sheer awfulness of Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green."
5 The Warriors - Good
“Warriors, come out and play!” A lot of us who saw this 1979 movie were greatly excited when they announced that the movie would be coming to gaming platforms in our homes, and we were not disappointed one bit. Quite frankly, The Warriors game is easily regarded as one of the best and truest adaptations of cinema. From the Riffs to the Furies to the Orphans, each and every gang and their respective levels are rendered with such good detail and atmosphere, that it felt like you were actually there as the Warriors’ War Chief. This is a superb example of Rockstar’s craftsmanship: it may not be as polished as games like Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption, but the grittiness only adds to everything positive about this game.
4 Jaws - Garbage
There is a special place in gaming hell for this abomination of an adaptation; if you’ve played this game, you’ll understand how much you envy the shark at the end of the original film. The game features a lot negatives from a terrible and near constant overhead view and fully repetitive landscapes; it feels like you’re watching only the background sequence of a silent film. Combating the myriad of randomly generated and easily forgettable sea creatures is the embodiment of watching paint dry. Should you somehow soldier through and get to the final boss fight, the difficulty may cause you to rage quit, but as Brett Alan Weiss of AllGame said, “by the time you reach the final anti-climactic scene, you'll be so tired that you won't care if you kill Jaws or not. You'll just be glad the game's almost over.” He was being nice in saying that.
3 Rocky - Good
Rocky, both the games and the movies, have a place in the world and the 2002 game is, by far, the best of the three. Although the 2002 game had the best graphics, controls, and immersion of any of the games, credit has to be given to the 1987 original which would set the stage for all future installments. Boxing had been a sport on the decline in popularity for a number of years, but the 2002 Rocky game and the subsequent films revitalized the sport, something which many of us are quite thankful for. Following each of the movies pretty closely, Rocky (2002) will spoil all of the first five movies. Featuring a slightly modified combat system from other games, you will quickly be saying, "I must break you."
2 Back To The Future - Garbage
Back to the Future is one of those entries which is a cool concept and is quite faithful to the film, but seems to not be a very enjoyable game. It isn’t entirely the fault of the team that made the video game that it isn’t a good game, an immovable deadline was made and the team was forced to produce the game in approximately two months, which was too short of a time to “do the film justice,” as one of the developers, Mark Eyles, stated in December 1985. Compared to the original game, the subsequent Back to the Future games were considerable improvements; this includes the moderately okay Telltale releases. If the trend of improvement continues (should new games be released), then someday a good entry may materialize. Until then, we’ll just have to keep waiting.
1 GoldenEye 007 - Good
Widely considered to be one of the greatest games ever made, GoldenEye 007 revolutionized the first person shooter genre. What this particular entry in the Bond Series proved that shooters could be successful on consoles; few believed it was possible before its release in 1997 for the Nintendo 64. Not only did it prove to be successful in terms of where you could have a shooter, but it was the first (unmodded) game to feature context sensitive locational damage, meaning a headshot will kill any enemy. It was also the first game to feature multiplayer deathmatches which were made all the more adrenaline pumping thanks to the then highly realistic gameplay. GoldenEye 007 set the standard for console multiplayer systems until Halo: Combat Evolved came out in 2001.