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Movie adaptations are the junk food of the gaming industry. Yeah, they taste good and kids can’t get enough of them, but they just aren’t good for you. Most gaming adaptations fall prey to the same problem: developers rush to have them out in time for the movie’s release so they can cash in, and they spend more development resources on recreating the film than implementing proper gameplay mechanics. Thus, while that video game based on this year’s summer blockbuster might move huge units within the first few months after it’s release, it’ll be regulated to bargain bin shovelware status by this time next year, and often times before the dvd hits stores. However, there are several games that have managed to not only avoid this problem, but they became classics in their own right, doing justice to the movie they were based on. Here are 5 of the best.
1. Scarface – The World is Yours (PC, Xbox, PS2)
If it didn’t have the Scarface name attached to it, this game would be dismissed as yet another GTA rip off. However, it is, and while Scarface: TWIY may be inspired Rockstar’s franchise, Grand Theft Auto owes just as much to the game’s source material. Putting players in control of Tony Montana, the game takes place in an alternate universe where not only does Tony survive the grisly shootout at the end of the film, but escapes the bloodbath, rebuilds his empire, and get his revenge on Sosa. Players will finally meet the Diaz brothers (who were mentioned throughout the film but never seen), revisit key locations from the film, and guide Tony on his quest for more money and power. You can even cuss out your opponents and chin check random passerby with the game’s swear button! While the drug dealing mechanic tends to get tedious and repetitive, the amount of cash you’ll make from successfully making a big score more than makes up for it.
2. The Warriors (Xbox, PSP, PS2)
Speaking of Rockstar (and movies that inspire hip hop), the company made a solid adaptation of the 1979 cult classic. Anyone who has seen the movie knows that it’s pretty much already tailor made for a video game, but as usual, Rockstar went above and beyond a simple movie adaptation. You’ll take control of the gang as they make their way back to Coney Island, but not before you learn how each member joined the group, learn the origin of the Warriors, and get up close and personal with gangs only mentioned in the film. You can bring along a second player for co-op action, and the package is rounded out by a number of unlockables, as well as an excellent variety of local multiplayer modes.
3. Die Hard Trilogy (Playstation, Saturn)
The plots of the Die Hard movies were used as a backdrop for three separate arcade style action games. In Die Hard, you make your way up each floor of Nakatomi Plaza while diffusing bombs, killing terrorists, and escorting hostages to safety. In Die Harder, you pick up a light gun and blast the living shit out of terrorists packed in the Dulles International Airport. Finally, in Die Hard with a Vengeance, you drive through New York running enemy car bombs off the road. The games were easy to pick up and play, and the PS1 game was one of those discs which let you listen to its music. Also, the game was even bloodier than the movies were. Enemies and civilians exploded in a shower of blood and gore, and you even had to use your windshield wipers to wipe off the blood in Die Hard 3!
4. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (Xbox, PC, Xbox 360, PS3)
In a rare case of a movie adaptation being better received and more well known than the movie it was based on, Vivendi Universal/Tigon Studios prequel to Pitch Black benefited from having star Vin Diesel at the helm of its development. As the titular Riddick, you explored the interstellar prison known as Butcher Bay. The combination of stealth, exploration, hand to hand combat, and stellar graphics (for its time) put this game head and shoulders above other movie adaptations, and on the same level as other FPS titles of its day.
5. Spider-man and Spider-man 2 (Xbox, Gamecube, PS2, PC)
While the previous 4 entries had the benefit of being concieved years (and in some cases even decades), after their source material had long since left theaters, Activision/Vicarious Visions’ Spider-man video games had to accompany their respective movie releases. In one of the rare cases of a good movie tie-in, these games were actually good, thanks mostly to the games building off the success of the awesome PS1 Spider-man game. The two games followed the basic plot of the movies, but padded themselves out with material from the comics. In Spider-man, not only will you face the Green Goblin, but you’ll also go toe to toe with Shocker, Vulture, Kraven The Hunter (Xbox only), and Scorpion, with each level being vastly different from the last. Spider-man 2 introduced a open-world style of gameplay that put players in the shoes of Peter Parker like never before. The original game also contained some cool extras, chief among them being the ability to play as the Green Goblin. Sadly, these would be two of the last good Spider-man games we would get for a long time.
Honorable Mention: Batman (NES), Hook(SNES), Alien 3 (SNES)
It’s not that hard to make good 2D platformers, especially back in those days.
Only a handful of movie adaptations manage to live up to the success of their big screen counterparts. Even so, lets be thankful these are video game adaptations of movies, because the other way around is usually much…..