5 Movie-Based Games That Weren’t Terrible

There was a time in gaming’s long and sordid history when most major films had to have a video game tie-in.  And most of them were terrible.  So terrible that they almost destroyed gaming (thanks E.T.).  We’ve had some that should have worked but were badly made (Fight Club was a wasted opportunity), others that shouldn’t have even been considered (Wayne’s World exists for some reason), and others still that confuse me (Street Fighter: The Movie which is a game of a film of a game).  But sometimes game developers, movie makers, and people with cash manage to get their shit together and make something genuinely good.  Here are five such examples.

Street Fighter
This is either the worst movie of all time or the greatest parody of all time.
As ever, I must have played these games.  Whilst they don’t have to be directly based on a single specific movie, their source material must be clear and there should be a direct link to the movie(s).  Whilst researching this I found far more than I expected, so narrowing it down became tricky, but narrowed I have!  Read on!

Aladdin

Aladdin

Probably my favourite “classic” Disney film, Aladdin is a retelling of the story of a young boy who finds himself in possession of magic lamp containing a genie who grants him 3 wishes.  Aladdin obviously uses it to impress a girl because that’s pretty much always the case in old fashioned stories.  Anyway, magic, murder, marriage and everyone lives happily ever after.  The ones who survive anyway.

Aladdin
Jumping on camels makes them spit. Just like in real life!
As was the case for most games of this era, Aladdin was a platform game retelling some of the key scenes from the movie.  The art and music captured the style of the film perfectly and the tight controls  gave use a mechanically solid game.  The platforming was fun, with simple sword attacks and ranged moves forming the combat (cutting the guards trousers to make them fall down was a nice touch).  Other stages involved magic carpet flights and boss battles to keep the game fresh.  It worked surprisingly well (I played the superior Mega Drive version by the way!) and it’s a pity that most other Disney video games couldn’t match the quality here.

Wolverine

Wolverine

So the film wasn’t great.  At all.  Every character was used badly, Deadpool couldn’t speak(!) and the whole “Origins” movie idea fell at the first hurdle (although I feel it paved the way for First Class).  Still, the Wolverine movie series managed to survive somehow, and the tie-in video game was actually tremendous.

Wolverine
Visually, the game was so much more violent than the films.
Playing as a solid hack n’ slash game, Wolverine follows the plot of the film closely enough but makes it as violent as a game featuring a man with claws in his hands should be.  Logan carves through enemies with his claws, dishing out brutal finishers (the helicopter moment from early in the game proved rather memorable for me) with a surprisingly solid set of combos that can be upgraded.  Solid controls and fun boss battles keep the game from getting stale (plus the fun Easter eggs that parody other games are enjoyable to find).  The visuals are excellent, with chunks of Wolverine being blown away, exposing his skeleton before gradually healing.  It’s a well put together package that was far more enjoyable than its source material.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim

I love this film.  I know it’s not great, but I enjoy watching it so much with it’s fun visuals that do a good job of bringing the books to the screen.  Michael Cera looks the part and I still like seeing the man who would be Captain America exploding in a skateboard accident.  It’s what I would call a guilty pleasure if I felt any guilt for liking it.

Scott Pilgrim
A 4-player co-op brawler. What’s not to like?
Feeling very much like River City Ransom, you and up to 3 allies select a character from the story and proceed to fight anyone and everyone that gets in your way.  You’ll collect money to spend in shops along the way to strengthen your character (which you’ll need to, it’s pretty tough) before confronting the boss.  I found the controls a little loose at times but playing anything that reminds me so Streets of Rage and its ilk is alright by me.  Visually it’s great too, using the style of the books combined with a retro graphical style.  I’m hoping this one eventually comes to backwards compatibility, but with all the licenses involved I suspect that’s wishful thinking.

TIE Fighter

TIE Fighter

Right, this hasn’t aged brilliantly (especially as far as visuals are concerned) but it’s story and experience are a wonderful extension of the Star Wars universe.  This doesn’t tie into a specific movie, and tells its own set of stories but it’s a great tale of galactic battle, subterfuge and FLYING ALONGSIDE DARTH VADER.  Sorry, I got overexcited there.

TIE Fighter
It doesn’t look pretty by today’s standards, and it probably doesn’t play all that well either nowadays, but damn was it a great game in its day.
Game’s like this are less common these days.  It’s a narrative driven (with multiple branches in fact) space combat simulation.  You need to manage your TIE fighter’s (or bomber, interceptor amongst other craft) resources to be as effective as possible whilst you crush the Rebel alliance.  The controls were excellent (assuming you used a joystick) and the missions varied.  The graphics do not hold up well, though the sense of scale you get as you fly beside a star destroyer is impressive.  It’s a shame we’re unlikely to see many (if any) Star Wars games in the future, as a modernised version of this could work very well.

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters

What can I say about this movie?  You all know it, you probably love it, and you’ve probably seen it more times that you’ve had hot dinners.  It’s amazing that there have been so many shoddy games to come from the franchise considering how easily it should translate.  From the fairly shonky Commodore 64/NES/etc. game, to the horrifially overpriced 2016 spin-off, there have been very few good games in the series.

Ghostbusters
For a nearly 10-year-old game it still looks pretty damn good.
Thankfully, the 20099 release fixed that, with an original story (purported to be Ghostbusters 3 in essence) in which you play a new character alongside the original cast.  The story was fairly standard, with ghosts having taken over the city meaning someone’s gonna call the Ghostbusters.  You would control your character, exploring environments (some surprisingly creepy) with your PK meter to find and catch ghosts.  Combat came down to weakening ghosts with your proton blaster (or alternative weapon) before slamming them into a trap.  It all worked really rather well with solid controls and good visuals to go with the fun gameplay.  I loved that crossing the streams with your teammates caused you to get knocked back.  There was even a really rather good mutliplayer mode that died way before its time because it wasn’t Call of Duty.

As ever, there are a few honourable mentions.  I didn’t put Goldeneye above as I feel it has not aged very well at all.  Whilst the single player is still great, with a ton of content, the multiplayer feels pretty shoddy with a horrible framrate.  I suppose I didn’t know any better at the time.  Blade Runner is a great and, for its time, very inventive adventure game with multiple endings.  Alien: Isolation is an excellent survival horror game in which you feel under constant threat; it’s just a shame that it goes on a bit too long and becomes a slog towards the end.  Spiderman 2 deserves a mention for its fantastic swinging mechanics that developes are still trying to live up to to this day.  Finally, a game I rarely see mentioned: Starship Troopers which was a rather fun RTS game that received a lot less attention than it deserved.

Have I missed any?  Are there any movie-based games that you think deserve their time in the sun?  Let me know, I’d love to give them a look!

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44 thoughts on “5 Movie-Based Games That Weren’t Terrible”

      1. The Lion King was a pain to play, period.

        I did watch a speed run of it earlier where a dude beat the whole thing in 15 minutes. Takes me that long to eventually give up and fail on Level 2.

        Oh and… Y NO GOLDENEYE (it really hasn’t aged well)

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Ya know, for years I labored under the delusion that Aladdin was the same on SNES than it was on the Sega. Turns out I was horribly wrong. Not even the same team was responsible for either. There was no sword play or anything of that nature on the SNES game, it was more centered around platforming and avoiding enemies.

    Still one of the greats, though!

    Oh, and I second Lion King as being one of the greatest movie-game adaptations, as well as Hook, which was also a great time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Deadpool couldn’t speak in that movie? What is this nonsense?

    Anyway, there are usually more instances of good movie-based games than game-based movies, and you certainly highlighted some interesting ones; I may have to check them out at some point. I think it’s because when going from films to video games, you’re adding content, and when going the other way, you’re taking away content – specifically the medium’s identity and primary appeal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, when he becomes Deadpool in it they see his mouth shut to make a point. They make him all Dark and gritty rather than fun too.

      Whilst there are some movies based on games that are alright (I know they’re bad but the RE movies are a guilty pleasure) I would expect that movies based on walking simulators may be the best way to go. The interactive element is minimal in many cases whilst the story takes centre stage.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. big shout out to TIE Fighter! I loved that game so much back then. It was the first experience where I played as the bad guys. I remember seeing the intro sequence and the game glorifying that cut scene where tie fighters and bombers destroy a space pad and take out the fleeing x wings. It made me feel sick, but little did I know though that this was the formula for one of my favourite games of all time. They really don’t make enough of these space flight sim games anymore. These were easily my favourite types of star wars games, rogue squadron also has an honorable mention.

    Although it may not be movie based, but based on TV/comics, is the Transformers Devastation game. The sequel to War on Cybertron. they highly improved on the first of the 2 games, and it features some really epic moments that will make fans go gaga. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, space sims are few and far between these days (although Everspace is pretty good) and I tend to find myself looking back at ones I loved from days gone by. Freespace 2 still holds up fairly well!

      Devastation was a fun Transformers game! The show’s aesthetic came across really well and the gameplay was Platinum doing what they do best. It’s a pity it was so short is all.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s surprising how well some platformers from that era hold up. It’s quite amusing how many film to game translations back then ended up as platformers and in later years they were all third person action games.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I almost feel like certain genres are a “sign of the times.” Platformers were all the rage back then because, well 3D was nonexistent, and I’m guessing the basics for that type of game was pretty easy to make (I’m 100% talking out my ass, because I have no idea how to program a game. I completely assuming), but now third-person action is the go-to genre. Obviously, there are timeless ones like RPGs aren’t going anywhere, and we’ll always have platformers (though they’re are a lot more in 3D now), but I think 3P is considered “more modern” so that’s what the film will translate into.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent list. Scott Pilgrim and Ghostbusters in particular! Ghostbusters is the next entry in the series that would have been acceptable as a film.

    Never had the pleasure of playing Aladin. And wolverine was one of those games I’d heard was decent for “boosting”, but turning out actually enjoyable. I never did play it to boost, but Will on our site did and actually enjoyed it more than expected.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you gave Spider-Man 2 an honourable mention at least; like you said, there still hasn’t been a Spidey game that’s matched it. (Cautiously optimistic about next year’s upcoming one, but we’ll see.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a little wary of the new one. I’ve seen lots of QTEs which isn’t really what I’m hoping for. Still, so long as they get the swinging right I think most people (myself included) will be happy.

      Like

      1. Yeah, to be honest I’ve kind of blanked out on everything that they’ve shown except the swinging! I’ll probably get the game and just deliberately ignore anything resembling a quest in case it sucks, instead just swinging merrily about.

        Liked by 1 person

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