Waypoint Weeklies: The Movie: The Video Game

Adaptation is challenging. Telling a story at a different pace; portraying characters in a different style; taking a world and adding rules, mechanics to it so it works in a video game.

But despite the challenges, and despite the many failed attempts, there are a lot of phenomenal video games based on comic books, TV shows, films, books, anime, and even tabletop games. This week, let’s share our favorites!

What are your favorite video game adaptations of other works? Have any video games gotten you to check out the source material? And are there any which maybe aren’t good, but that have interesting mechanics or new lore for their source material and you’re fond of regardless?

1 Like

I think The Path of Neo is a particularly great adaptation because it’s an adaptation of what the general public thought the Matrix franchise was about i.e. maximalist anime bullshit action, with creative oversight and a fourth-wall break from the original creators. Just a tremendously self-aware, enjoyable way to make a tie-in game.

2 Likes

The Witcher 3 is about the only time I can recall where I started with the video game adaptation then when back to the source material. I played it first, then read the books, then played some of the first 2 games, then watched the Netflix series. It’s a rare case where I do genuinely love all three adaptations.

That game shows how great it is for a game developer to mine an entire book series. The world building, lore and characters are all there for the taking. I loved in W3 how a character would show up and I as the player had never seen them before but Geralt clearly had an existing relationship with them. It makes the world seem more lived in

After reading the books I do think the game developers went a bit overboard trying to throw in as many characters and references from the books as they could. I didn’t pick up on it first play through but going back to the game now I’m like ‘this person does not need to show up here!’. The game also completely wiffs Dandelion. I didn’t care for him at all during the game but he is the best in the books and TV series.

2 Likes

It’s cheating a bit, but Alien: Isolation. While it has its own story and setting, it largely borrows plot beats directly from the original film and very effectively captures that feeling. It gives itself the freedom to do more, and different, but it is the closest there is to an original Alien game.

6 Likes

This is a little bit of heresy in retro gaming circles, but I really like the NES adaptations of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.I think both of them take ideas and concepts from the movies and use them as interesting video game concepts.

Elm Street is a predecessor to a rogue like, in a lot of ways. All of the levels are set, but the order you go through them is random. In addition to this, rather than focusing only on health, you also have to focus on balancing your sleep meter with coffee. If you fall asleep, you are pulled into the dream world where you are more vulnerable to Freddy showing up. There is a positive trade off, though. In the dream world, you can become a dream warrior and you will be considerably more powerful in the game. So, at times, there is a benefit to falling asleep. Are there balance issues? Absolutely. This game is a Rare game on the NES. Like Battletoads, there is some bullshit difficulty here. But, I really do think it’s an interesting take on the source material.

Friday the 13th is a predecessor to a lot of modern horror games which feature an antagonist that stalks you. Jason follows a set path in the game, so you can use that information to either avoid him and attack him when you’re powerful enough to do real damage. In addition to that, having to piece together clues to obtain new items to help you in your fight against Jason, while also being acutely aware that he can strike at any time, is just a neat tension in a horror game. Like Elm Street, there is some bullshit here. Losing your axe by accidentally picking up a knife is extremely frustrating to say the least. But, overall, I think it does a lot of really cool things.

So, yes, while these two games have earned their reputations for being a little unfair at times, and complete bullshit at other times, I think they both did right by their franchises and created solid horror game atmospheres, even in the limited era of the 8-bit games.

2 Likes

This may be stretching the question a bit, but I adore how Eternal Sonata contextualizes the life and music of Frederic Chopin. For those that don’t know, the game is a JRPG set in the mind of the famous composer as he dies of tuberculosis. While it’s a grim premise, the game itself is delightfully bright and gorgeous. Through a lengthy quest, we learn how Chopin grapples with his mortality, understand the role of music in his life, and get glimpses into his life before this dying dream. It’s biography meets art, all scored to some of Chopin’s finest work.

3 Likes

Is saying S.T.A.L.K.E.R. cheating? They are great games, I hear some random podcast recently did a STALKTOBER series :slight_smile:

I am a big fan of the Total Warhammer games. I have never really gotten into the tabletop game but have always liked the world. The army/faction variety has really spoiled me for other Total War games. How can the Middle Ages Europe or Shogunate era Japan compete with Orks vs Dwarves vs Elves vs Lizardmen vs Tomb Kings vs etc etc etc

I also enjoyed Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor a very solid stealth action game. The sequel wasn’t as good but is a decent sale purchase.

I think generally the less direct an adaptation the game is the better. Using a pre-existing world/setting and exploring it from a different angle, time period etc is a way to adapt something into a game without making one of those trash film tie in games of the early 2000s. Also wanted to note that the LEGO games kind of solved how to do the ‘retell the movie story in the game’ genre. Those games all have pretty much the same game play but are fun and goofy enough to make playing a simple game with a story you already know fun.

3 Likes

Simpsons: Hit and Run is my favorite GTA game, my favorite car game, and also the best Simpsons game by a huge gap. It’s a grand celebration of the series with tons and tons of deep references in the environments, cars, and voice lines. (“I am Evil Homer, I am Evil Homer!”) The final level is a Treehouse of Horror send-up. Love this thing to death.

Honestly, I feel like the Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith game is an underrated entry into the licensed game…genre? “Good” might be a strong word, but it’s surprisingly well-assembled. And it has local multiplayer! Also shout-out to James Arnold Taylor for being Obi-Wan forever.

I loved the old Frogwares Sherlock Holmes games more than I probably should. I haven’t played them pirated them as a youth (early 20s counts as youth right?) and I haven’t touched the newer ones besides dipping into Chapter One this weekend. But I remember always enjoying the mystery and mechanics that were even janky for their time but with an undeniable charm.

As I’ve been playing it this week after picking it up on the Series X from the Black Friday sale, I’ve got to say Guardians of the Galaxy, because I’m shocked at how much I’m legitimately enjoying it. It feels like it stands up as its own take on the characters (unlike the Discount MCU Avengers game), the gameplay is solid, the writing is genuinely both funny and warmly human giving the characters more depth than just jokey jokes, the voice acting is excellent, and it’s lovely to look at to boot.

3 Likes

As a kid I really enjoyed Spongebob Squarepants: The Movie (the game). It was a platformer, and in my memory both lengthy and challenging. Maybe I’d beat it in a minute nowadays? But as a kid that game felt huge and unknowable for some reason. Liked it a lot, never was able to beat it.

I never played it. I don’t know if I will play it. But, as far as sheer audacity goes, I have to give it to Arm Joe, a doujin 2D fighter adaptation of Les Miserables.

.jpg
.jpg

7 Likes

The Chronicles of Riddick was probably the first movie license-based game I played that was actually any good.

I also know people who only know the story of Naruto because of the Ultimate Ninja Storm games.

3 Likes

I misunderstood this at first and was getting ready to type out a few thousand words about the Resident Evil movies being Good, Actually but I’ll have to save that for another day. Instead, I’ll say that Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr is a really solid survival horror game. It provides a lot of extra background lore and history about the area the movies take place in which I think is for the best - trying to do those movies as a game would probably be miserable. It’s a bit short and kind of light on the puzzle solving but what’s there is better than you’d expect it to be! One of my favorite things is that they tell you the forest is confusing and possibly moving to make you get lost and they make it really feel that way with a confusing map plus disorienting camera angles (plus a bit of cheating and occasionally teleporting you somewhere you shouldn’t be). And I’ve got nothing but respect for the developers who took their original characters from their previous game, Nocturne, and inserted them into the Blair Witch canon. I wish I could say the same about the other two games in the trilogy (Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock and Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale) but those games get so focused in on the (rather janky) combat that they’re really not much fun at all.

Oh and I don’t know about the game under normal circumstances, but there’s a Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace game for PS1 that has a really cool speedrun. Lots of cool out of bounds tech and weird platforming shenanigans that makes it a pretty fun watch.

3 Likes

I’ve played a decent amount of Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth based games (mostly fan/flash-games as a teen) and the one I like the most is Sil. It’s a traditional rouge-like and it rocks. It really feels of a piece with the source. Magic is stripped back compared to other rogue-likes and singing songs is given the importance magic usually has. Stealth plays a large role in the game and feels mechanically supported by a lot of the other systems in play. Darkness is good for stealth but a lot of big enemies have darkness based attacks which your only defense against is light. Avoiding fights still allows you to level up and get new abilities because the experience system is skewed towards exploration rather than killing monsters.

And as far as ascii games go, I think it's super nice looking and playing.

1 Like

Alien Isolation is fantastic, with the caveat that I worked on it for like 6 whole weeks

3 Likes

It’s so good! One of those “I’m glad it was made and it probably doesn’t need a sequel” but if it does get a sequel I’ll play the crap out of it.

Late last year/earlier this year I made a vow to myself that for certain media properties, the only willful first-hand engagement I’ll allow myself to have with will be through any video game adaptations they have received. In addition to that, going forward I will refuse to engage with whatever the source material is of these games.

Through this bold personal decision I have experienced several major One Piece story arcs through One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (a musou game) and have gleaned the essence of the plot and characters of Neon Genesis Evangelion through the DS game where everyone’s been chibified (Puchi Eva: Evangelion @ Game) and the typing game for Dreamcast (Shinseiki Evangelion: Typing E-Keikaku). At this point, I’ve assumed everything I’ve seen in these games is not only 100% accurate to the source material but also that it is all canonical as well. Hasn’t failed me yet and I’m certain it never will!

Also I learned how to properly touch type by playing the Evangelion typing game, so thanks for that Gainax!

1 Like

I have a fondness for any anime game that has a lot of silly lines for when characters are against each other. In the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure games, pretty much every character from DIO to Hol Horse has their own line insulting Josuke’s hair, exclusively so he can lose it on them. It’s the sort of silly, fun detail that makes it enjoyable. Though none of those games are especially good, especially when compared to Dragon Ball FighterZ - but I like JJBA more than DBZ, so alas.

Does 80 Days count? I made the thread, so it counts. It’s both an interesting adaptation of the concept, circumnavigating the globe in the titular timeframe, but also it’s just got its own great stories to tell. Still one of the top 5 interactive fiction/visual novel/text-based sorta games I’ve played.

2 Likes