There’s an unspoken rule – or curse – dictating that video games based on movies (and vice-versa) must be terrible. It’s a jinx that’s been passed down from developer to film-maker ever since 1983, when the tie-in Atari game for Steven Spielberg’s E.T. was buried en-masse in an Alamogordo landfill to prevent anybody from playing it ever again. That is, until 1,300 copies (of 700,000 in total) were exhumed for a documentary in 2014 and the curse began anew.
There are exceptions luckily. Titles based on movies that defied fans’ expectations and even grew beyond the original subject matter. Let’s do things a little differently though. In place of the usual rundown of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dune II, and The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, three of the most fortunate movie licenses in video game history, here are a few of the most criminally ignored tie-ins:
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
One of the slot games carried by bgo, Monty Python’s Life of Brian is a bitesize bit of ridiculousness, featuring the Foot of God, the People’s Front of Judea, the Holy Sandal, and the Eyeball Monsters’ spaceship. It’s one of 22 games based on pop culture carried by bgo, along with epics like Spartacus: Treasures of Rome and Noah’s Ark, and can be played with the brand’s 200% first deposit bonus.
Whatever you might think about the upcoming remake of Ridley Scott’s haunting 1982 movie, the Blade Runner point-and-click adventure was the worthy heir of a revered name, if only because it nailed the somber atmosphere of the original movie; the gameplay is almost a secondary consideration to the design work – or, to quote GameSpot, the developer “forgot to include a game”. As a work of art though, it’s a nice one.
Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis
It’s theme park with dinosaurs – what’s not to like? The perfect mobile game released a few years too early, Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis tasks the player with running a wildlife park sans Jeff Goldblum with his shirt unbuttoned to the waist. Much like Blade Runner above, Jurassic Park enjoys a following in casino today, with a slot playable at Magical Vegas, but it continues to exist as a conventional experience thanks to the Lego series of games.
Related to the eponymous 1992 movie, Aladdin was a gymnastic platformer combining an Arabic aesthetic with tablecloth parachuting, spelunking, magic carpet flights, and, for some reason, escaping a volcano, Aladdin was a beautifully presented game in a similar mould to early Mickey Mouse games like World of Illusion. It’s hard to discount the influence of Jordan Mechner’s seminal platformer Prince of Persia too.
Source: Daniel Ruiz.
Aliens vs. Predator
The Aliens vs. Predator franchise is one part perfection, one part salivating garbage. However, the 1999 video game of the same name succeeded in capturing the essence of the two characters’ original films – if it’s not trying to frighten you, it’s coming to eat you. To conclude our “movies that became slot machines” motif, the Xenomorph also lives on outside the silver screen in SpinGenie’s Aliens game.
Finally, it’s not easy to see why video games based on movies fail so consistently (in contrast, games based on books, titles like Spec Ops: The Line, Bioshock, The Witcher, Metro 2033, and Bloodborne, do very well indeed) but the staggering hype that accompanies many blockbuster movies may play a part in increasing expectations for game tie-ins – maybe they aren’t all that bad after all; we just expect too much from them.