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When cinema lands in your hands…

In the modern age, a blockbuster film is about so much more than a couple of hours' entertainment; Mylene Furtado looks at the top 5 movies turned into games

It is about merchandise, spin-off shows, video games conversions and so much more. The big production companies releasing the films often have a brand to sell, not just a piece of cinema. Like it or loathe it, that is the way of the world and when the latest Marvel film touches down next year, Martin Scorsese can label them as ‘not real cinema’ all he wants, but they will make a lot of money across a range of different platforms.

Video game conversions have been around since the inception of decent hardware back in the 198os. Back then, a movie game was often panned by critics, selling in strong numbers not because it was good, but because it had the right branding. Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) was a big release back in 1990, starring the director and Madonna, but the video game release was rated by Commodore Format as the worst ever game on the platform.

Not all movie spin-offs have been bad though, as hardware has improved, so has the gamer experience and now some movie releases are regarded as classics of their time. So with that in mind, we have pulled together five of the very best movie to video game conversions of all time for you to enjoy.


1. Ghostbusters – Commodore 64:

In 1984, Activision released the classic 8-bit game Ghostbusters, and whilst it does look old today, it deserves a place on the list for its innovation. As a player, you had to move around the city trapping ghosts and stop them from reaching Zuul. Eventually, it culminated in a battle with Mr Stay-Puft, remaining true to the film. It was not only cutting edge with speech samples but also great fun to play.


2. Goldeneye 007 – Nintendo 64:

Gamers of all ages will have tried their hand at a James Bond video game, but few will leave a lasting legacy as Goldeneye 64 did. The James Bond franchise is a cultural phenomenon and developers Rare made sure their movie tie-in was too. It was described at the time as “the best movie game, and, more importantly, the best first-person game ever,” and even though it plays horribly now, it laid the foundations for the likes of Call of Duty and Halo. Simply put, it is probably the best movie conversion ever.

3. Batman: Arkham City – PlayStation 3 / Xbox 360:

It stands to reason that movie tie ins from the modern age should dominate the list, and as games have become more ambitious they have shrugged off the restrictions of the movie on which they are based. The Batman Arkham trilogy is loosely tied in with Christian Bale’s rendition of the Caped Crusader, although they set their own narrative. Are video games the new movies, giving the consumer the power to set the story and the pace? Maybe, and if they are, the Rocksteady Studios trilogy set a precedent, with the second game arguably the best.


4. Star Wars Battlefront – PlayStation 4 / Xbox One:

Star Wars lends itself so well to the gaming universe that there have been over 100 titles released since 1983 across every conceivable platform. In 2015, the multiplayer Star Wars Battlefront set a strong precedent, omitting the single-player element but nailing everything else about the experience. Gamers could play as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in epic battles for hours, which is ironic in some respects. Whilst Darth Vader was a star of the original trilogy, Gala Bingo reveals he only had 37 minutes of screen time across all of the movies. That means there are at least three Star Wars games for every minute he spent on screen, with EA’s masterpiece the best of the bunch. Avoid the sequel though, a ‘pay-to-win’ disappointment which lost sight of the original’s core principles.


5. Marvel’s Spider-Man – PlayStation 4 / Xbox One:

Marvel may not be real cinema in some people’s eye, but the 2018 release Spider-Man from Insomniac Games was everything a real video game should be. Released in 2018, it followed the film Spider-Man: Homecoming (Jon Watts, 2017) in terms of release date, but again very much set its own narrative and experience. The character of Peter Parker (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) had depth and the likeability to carry a major central role, whilst the game mechanics led to it being called the ‘greatest superhero game ever’ by many critics.

By Mylene Furtado - 20-04-2021

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