The innumerable rip-offs and cash-ins within gaming itself are already a minefield for the less-discerning buyer. But bring identically-titled films into the equation and you're pretty much screwed when it comes to asking for birthday presents from Grandma. Yes, it might come on a shiny disc. Yes, it may have the phrase "Dead Space" written on it. But trust me, the Dead Space you'll find further down this page will not be the Dead Space you were hoping for.
1. Dead or Alive
The game is: A series of slick, pacey, accessible 3D fighting games from Tecmo Koei, famed for their smooth, flowing responsiveness, powerful sense of impact, and simple-to-grasp core mechanics. And tits.
The movie is: The first part of a trilogy of crime thrillers by legendary Japanese weird-monger Takashi Miike. The three films are related to each other only in the most abstract ways, and by their casting of the same two actors as their (completely different) leads each time.
The first one is a fairly straight cop vs. gangster story which nevertheless ends with a rocket launcher vs. Hadoken fight, but by the third one we’re looking at a futuristic dystopia, forcibly suppressed human sexuality, and a climax involving a giant robot and a passionately buggered saxophonist. They are all, obviously, utterly brilliant.
2. Grand Theft Auto
The game is: A series of 2D and 3D open-world crime-‘em-ups by Rockstar North, featuring increasingly slick cinematic production values, increasingly deep storytelling through all aspects of their vibrant, living game worlds, and a vast slab of brutal satire on modern American life.
The movie is: A 1971 road/chase movie caper comedy, written by, directed by, and starring Ritchie Cunningham from Happy Days.
Above: Admit it, you want Rockstar to adapt this yesterday
Ritchie elopes with a rich girl, steals a Rolls Royce, and is chased by half the country and the police along the way to Vegas. Hilarity and car smashes ensue. It’s basically a GTA five-star wanted rating stretched over two hours and multiple different U.S. states.
3. Dead Space
The game is: A brutally jarring, vomit-inducingly tense sci-fi horror shooter which flagrantly rips off Resident Evil 4, David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Asteroids, and the average butcher’s shop window. But it mixes all of its transparent influences together so well that you really won’t mind at all. Except the asteroid shooting bits. They’re shit.
Plot? Scientists experimenting in deepest space have released a deadly new life form, and a bloke dropped into the middle of it all has to deal with the spiky, fleshy, drooling fall-out.
The movie is: Scientists experimenting in deepest space have released a deadly new life form, and a bloke dropped into the middle of it all has to deal with the spikey, fleshy, drooling fall-out. Wait a minute, didn’t I say in the headline that these films are nothing like their game-sakes? Crap. Between the last entry and this one I get the feeling something’s gone wrong here. Still, gravelly trailer voice-over guy don’t lie…
The film is a cheap-as-Shao-Kahn 1991 sci-fi horror movie, produced by cheapo genre king Roger Corman and starring cheapo genre film regular Marc Singer, as well as Bryan Cranston from Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad.
The game is: Guerilla and Sony’s PlayStation-exclusive sci-fi FPS series. Kind of like Sony’s very own Halo, if you strapped lead weights to Master Chief’s legs, gave him a nifty cover system to make up for it, and then stabbed him in the eyes until he could only see in shades of grey, brown and white.
The movie is: The schlocky-beyond-schlock 1985 story of a troubled Vietnam vet who has a (really long) flashback while on a brutal training/mental conditioning exercise at a simulated prison camp. Goes mental. Kills a shitload of people.
Above: Fans of crap cinema, I present you with nearly ten minutes of wonder
If that makes it sound a lot like First Blood’s inbred younger cousin to you, then that’s probably because it pretty much is. Also, it’s the first film by the guys who would later bring us the beautifully shit, legendary action-stinker Deadly Prey.
Yeah. It’s their practice film for Deadly Prey.
The game is: The first part of Valve’s pioneering, genre-changing FPS series, which took storytelling through in-game action to a brand new level and promoted environmental immersion in a way that has influenced the design of FPS ever since.
The movie is: The multi-award-winning 2008 directorial debut of Jennifer Phang, by way of a surreal family drama about siblings who use their powerful imaginative creativity to escape an oppressive home life. Also, fodder for some of the funniest, saddest, and most utterly damning evidence I’ve ever seen for the necessary irradiation of 90% of the human race, by way of some desperately confused, angry, and depressingly unironic comments on the IMDB.
Alternately, there’s a 2011 Russian film about a couple who decide to improve their impoverished city life by moving to Chernobyl. Yeah. Party town Chernobyl.
6. Dragon Quest
The game is: Enix's (and later Square-Enix’s) long-running JRPG series and rival to Final Fantasy since the late ‘80s. Has remained lighter and more humourous in tone over the years, making it an appealing alternative as FF has become more serious.
The movie is: A worse-than-herpes-looking fantasy adventure, set in that special kind of medieval fantasy world where everyone is really clean and well-kept and wears bright, modern machine-stitched clothing with a few additional cosmetic heavy threads sewn on as short-hand for “Oh shit guys, this is happening like millions of years ago”. And everyone talks in their best posh telephone voices, because that makes you sound exactly like they all talked in medieval times, even if you’re using modern English dialect and American accents.
A boy has to find a dragon which can kill a monster which is threatening to screw everything up. And Marc Singer, from cult fantasy schlock Beast Master, is in it. He was also in the Dead Space above. So that double-appearance essentially makes him also the lead star of this feature. Shit, I really need to have a talk with my casting director. Via the medium of a punch in the face.