Here at Pixel Bedlam we acknowledge, and at times respect, the inbred love children of film and games, be it the discussion piece on a film based on a game like Super Mario Brothers: The Movie or this list which puts forward the other way things can go, when games are based on films. The following are, in my opinion, some of the greatest examples of how well things can go if respect is given to the source material.
Star Wars Episode I: Pod Racer
It goes without saying that there is a hardcore following of fanboys for Star Wars and I consider myself a fan – quite a big fan in fact – but it’s worth pointing out that with many things in this pop-culture world that there is a bandwagon effect. Point in case is Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
It was not a great film, I can’t deny that, but then at the same time, it wasn’t the blasphemous material that people made it out to be.[Yes, it was - Editor] It overly relied on people’s interest in trade agreements and bureaucracy in space, but on the flip side it had the Pod Racing. The game that span off from this was a joy to me in my teenage years. It had all the visual fun of the film but at the same time the same kind of fun that something like Mario-Kart produced. This wasn’t a serious racer but it was one that should be respected. The tracks were imaginative but adhered to the canon of the universe and the same could be said for the multitude of interesting pods and their racers.
The speed of the game was perfect, you felt like your pod was flying at intense speeds but at the same time the tracks were wide and well designed enough so you didn’t feel like you were out of control. Flaw wise there were a couple, personally I couldn’t stand the N64 version as you were forced to use one of the worst controllers ever designed. Another issue with the game on the whole was the insta-win turbo button that was far too easy to pull victory off with. Multiplayer or in an arcade, the game takes a light speed jump further into greatness as everything just felt right. In terms of its connection to the film, it was canonical but at the same time took it into its own personal area, just as any game tie-in should.
Bruce Campbell narrates the training in this game, enough said? Well other than that this game deserves to be in the list for two main reasons. The first is that it holds true – by this I mean it sticks to the plot of the film – but at the same time it gives its own feel and side stories that in all honesty the film may have benefited from.
The second reason this is a great tie-in is that not many superhero games are actually any good, the developers often produce what they think the character should be as opposed to who the character is. They take liberties with abilities or story and extract only select elements. This game takes nearly all of Spiderman’s skills and puts them in an open world. Nothing is more satisfying than climbing to the top of the Empire State Building before swan diving off and only spinning out a saving web inches from the ground. This game is just fun and tickles both my film and my comic sides nicely.
Lego Star Wars
I admit that two Star Wars games in one list is slightly cheap, however when you think about it this whole list could be made up with them. Dark Forces and the Jedi Outcast games are great canonical led series and Rogue Squadron somehow makes a space combat – flight sim fun. The Lego franchise games are two for a penny these days but they’re worth playing if you get the chance. I started, as many people did, with the Lego:Star Wars series, but in my humble opinion the others, Lego: Batman, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean, are good games. The problem is that they are all carbon copies of the previous games with a re-skinning.
Lego:Star Wars is what is says on the tin. Star Wars with Lego figures. What makes these games fun – other than the drop-in/drop-out co-op – is the humour they bring. Recognisable scenes from the film are portrayed by mute pieces of plastic, the fact they are mute just brings out simple but great facial expressions and miming, and as with any good comedy it’s not just what’s happening front and centre that’s so funny, quite often it’s the background situations that produce the laughs. Seeing a Storm Trooper fall over, or a simple exchange of shrugs between Han Solo and Chewbacca can’t help but bring a smile to my face, and when it comes down to it, that’s why I rate this game so highly. It’s a simple game with easy puzzles and an obscene amount of collectables, but it has a certain charm that you can’t help but be overwhelmed by, much like when you watch anything with Matthew Broderick and forget that he killed somebody.
The Thing was a scary film, it really was, but the game? That could easily produce a round of brown whack a mole in your underwear. The game follows the film quite accurately putting you into the film’s plot for the opening couple of hours. You – as part of a military squad – must work out what’s happening at a remote outpost in the snowy expanse. The reason this game is great is because it introduces a mechanic that quite simply I wish was in many other games. The fear/trust meter.
As you know, or at least should know, The Thing is about shapeshifters, The Thing: The Game is about your friends becoming shapeshifters and shanking you in the spine when you’re least expecting it. You don’t know when your team mates have been replaced by the aliens but if you do suspect them there is always the option of blowing their brains out or crisping them up like Joan of Arc with your trusty flame thrower. The issue comes if you decide to fry up a nice human friend rather than a nasty alien bugger, unsurprisingly the rest of your squad might turn to look at you as if you did something a bit strange and slightly naughty. This is where paranoia comes in and a mechanic that turned this so-so movie tie in game to something interesting and worth putting a few hours into.
I’m not sure why I need to talk about this game, its a given it was going to be in the list, I’m just sorry I’m being cliché. If you haven’t played this game by now, to be perfectly honest I’m surprised that you are on a gaming site and I’m also judging you right now. This game has an atrocious single player mode and awful controller attached, but you will instantly over look these issues as soon as you sit down with three other people and play multiplayer. Faculty level with four people is something to behold and will always make top multiplayer lists due to it’s simple confined enjoyment. Just don’t play as Odd-Job, it’s cheating…
Aladdin on the Mega-Drive is a great example of 16-bit gaming, artistically amazing sprites, great hit-detection, fun level design and above all else it matched the film down to a tee. The silly cartoon fun of the film translated to the Mega-Drive and produced not only one of the greatest movie tie-in games but also one of the greatest platformers of any generation.
Making a game based on a cult film is a brave move, you could end up with something akin to an Evil Dead game, crap, or something like The Warriors, great! This game follows the film’s basic premise, a gang from New York trying to make their way from one side of the city to the other. The game is a third person fighter, much like a modern Streets of Rage, but so much more impressive. I appreciate that I talk about co-op a lot in my articles but to me it’s a game maker, and Rebellion’s game takes some beating, it’s a mixture of being able to handle things on your own but at the same time when those Baseball Furies come clopping along you have some back up.
A lot of the gangs you see in the film are in this game as enemies as are many of the locations. The game sees you play as all of the gang members through the story and quite quickly you’ll notice different traits and skills. This game proves that given the opportunity that Rebellion can actually produce something jaw dropping. The reason this game is in this list is not only its obvious fun but it also is a film from 1979 with a modern game, not many titles have that kind of maturing. Whether you agree with this list or not, this game is worth digging up….“Warriors…come out to plaaaayyyyy”.