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Retro Corner: Film to Game Adaptations

by on March 1, 2013

Retro Corner: Film to Game AdaptationsSo, a news story has broke that your favourite film is to be made into a video game. For most gamers this would some alarm bells rather than rejoicing and dancing in the street.

With the recent critical-flop that was Aliens: Colonial Marines, anticipation had been building for years that finally we were going to get the classic video game in the Aliens universe, that the source material deserves. But somehow – through a combination of many factors – the game didn’t live up to its billing and it will be remembered as just another failed movie adaptation.

Many are rushed out in time to coincide with the theatrical release of the film, meaning that not enough time and care has gone into the title. Others may come years after the film was popular, trying to leech off the success of a well-loved property, yet somehow manage to miss the point of the film entirely. These are the worst film to video game adaptations – so sit back, relax and let the GodisaGeek Retro Corner guide you through just a select few of the most infamous and frustrating ones that have emerged over the years.

Raiders of the Lost Ark – Atari 2600 (1982)

You certainly wouldn’t say the graphics on the Atari 2600 were very detailed. In the game, the famous, fedora-wearing hero appears as a brown blob, and things just get worse from there. Environments are a pain to navigate due to bad collision detection and boring design, the items you need to collect in order to solve puzzles are indiscernible and confusing, and the controls are stiff and clunky. None of the set pieces from the film are recreated – in fact it is hard to work out what is happening at all at any given moment.

Wayne’s World – SNES, NES, Gameboy (1993)

Why there was ever a game made to tie in with Wayne’s World, I will never know. And the fact that rather than even loosely following the film, the game throws you into a world of giant killer musical instruments and the like, shows the laziest concept design imaginable. Wayne and Garth like rock music? Lets have a level featuring giant guitars. Add the fact that jumping is incredibly finicky for a platform game, the sprites are ugly, and a looped piece of music will repeat throughout the whole level – and there is enough to drive anyone crazy.

Fight Club – PlayStation 2, Xbox (2004)

Fight Club the film explored mental illness and consumer culture in a radical and interesting way, making it a cult hit at the cinema. So how do you translate that into a video game? Make it into a generic brawling title with sub-standard graphics and the ability to unlock hidden fighters such as Abraham Lincoln and that well-loved fighter, Fred Durst. The game became just the brainwashed, mass market rubbish that the film was condemning so strongly, and missed the point of Fight Club entirely.

Street Fighter: The Movie – PlayStation, SEGA Saturn (1995)

A video game, adapted into a film, then adapted back into a video game. One question: why? Street Fighter was the fighting game of choice, with bright, bold sprites, fast and smooth gameplay and a great move set – it had everything. A film was never going to be a good idea, as the premise for the game was paper-thin anyway, so inevitably the film was awful. But to compound issues, the film was adapted back into a game, using digitised versions of the film actors in a Mortal Kombat visual style; losing all of the charm of the source material. It didn’t help that the game played like you were wading through glue and the animations were horrible. Raul Julia is still rolling over in his grave, even after all these years.

Back to the Future – NES (1989)

The Back to the Future series is so well-loved, with a fantastic premise, that a game seemed a no-brainer. Travelling through time as Marty and Doc Brown would be great, right? The game adaptation was nothing more than a boring top-down action game, where you were avoiding enemies such ballerinas and jocks, as you collect clocks (its about time travel remember – clever, no?). Marty didn’t even resemble the character from the film, and the levels all look the same and have absolutely nothing to do with the movie plot. The game really had no links to the film and was a frustrating title to play, with stupid animations, and the game didn’t even feature the iconic theme tune. At least Telltale Games have since made a Back to the Future game that is worthy of the name, and possesses the spirit of the movies.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – Atari 2600 (1982)

E.T. is by far the most notorious film to game adaptation, and merely the mention of the game will bring terror to the minds of many. If you thought Raiders of the Lost Ark looked bad, E.T. really makes no sense visually, and is nearly unplayable. You will constantly find yourself falling through the environment, winding up who knows where, struggling to even navigate the different screens. It is hard to tell if there is even any real gameplay in this title at times – what are you even trying to achieve? This massive failure is often popularly accused of being responsible for the 1983 video game crash, and both gamers and retailers took some time to trust games again after the mess of the Atari 2600. Rumours persist that unsold copies of the game were buried in the New Mexico desert – adding to the mystique of the game – but that is certainly no reason to check it out or yourself – this is a car crash of a game.

You can see previous entries into the GodisaGeek Retro Corner by clicking here. If you want more retro fun, check our our weekly videocast, here.