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20 games not quite based on movies

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After pumping goodness knows how much time, energy and capital into their baby, the last thing a developer wants is for it to fade into bargain bins unnoticed. You could tie it to a well-loved motion picture, thus ensuring a pre-existing audience… but what if you can’t afford the license? Then it’s time for what charitable reviewers might call “paying homage!” Here are 20 games that are just really, really big fans of their cinematic cousins… copyright be damned.


1. Rastan = Conan the Barbarian




Rare was the movie from the Golden Age of Schwarzenegger that didn’t lend itself to digital re-interpretation. While Conan, Robert E. Howard’s cult sword-and-sorcery hero, may have ended up starring in games of his own, it’s not hard to see what Taito were watching when they came up with Rastan.



Conan battles snake-cults and stars in sex scenes that never make it into the TV cut. Rastan battles snake-men and is notorious for sneaking nips ‘n’ pubes into a Sega Master System manual. Um, cheers for that, Taito?


2. Kane and Lynch: Dead Men = Heat


IO Interactive was up front from the get-go about wanting Kane and Lynch: Dead Men to recreate the mood of Michael Mann’s crime epics, like Heat and Collateral. And that’s exactly what the game did.



While Kane and Lynch may have been somewhat notorious for the controversies attending its release and shortcomings, the game’s story of two uneasily paired guys against the world is classic Mann fare. Here’s hoping the sequel, Kane and Lynch: Dog Days, gets closer to fulfilling that promise.


3. Flashback = Total Recall


Both Flashback and Total Recall took their cues from Philip K. Dick’s surreal short story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. But Total Recall at least had the decency to license the tale before turning it into a frantic romp through a world of exploding heads and three-boobed hookers.



Both are tales of interplanetary secret agents turned workaday amnesiac schlubs; both won acclaim for their visual effects and depictions of an alien realm. Both feature more violent deaths than every Philip K. Dick story put together. We knows what we likes.


4. Alien Syndrome = Aliens


1986’s Aliens had every ingredient a hit game needed: memorable characters, nasty monsters, and really, really big guns. And while Konami would produce a well-received arcade title with the license, that game bizarrely turned Ripley into a redhead. Clearly the perfect Aliens game still wanted for making!



Bally/Midway’s Xenophobe recreated the movie’s claustrophobic atmosphere, and Sega’s Alien Storm provided the “Golden Axe in Aliens trousers” experience the world was clamouring for. But it was Sega’s other “Alien” game – Alien Syndrome – that most successfully combined the movie’s key elements: confined environs and ridiculous levels of alien carnage. And no redheads.


5. Dead Rising = Dawn of the Dead


As anyone who’s been stuck at a party with a film studies major can tell you, George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is less of a horror and more of a trenchant satire of 20th-century capitalism at its most soulless. Who’d make a game based on such a formula?


Above: Oh, very bloody clever

Dead Rising took more of a cue from Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake, ditching the commentary and upping the carnage.



Capcom had already rejected Romero’s attempts to make a Resident Evil movie, calling his ideas “silly.” With Dead Rising, they took the basic, mall-full-of-zombies scenario of Dawn of the Dead, and stripped it of everything not involving the words “corpse” and “explosion.”


6. God of War = Clash of the Titans


Read interviews with the artists for any game featuring scimitar-toting skeletons, and the name “Ray Harryhausen” will come up in the first few paragraphs.



But while games from Killer Instinct to Prince of Persia paid respect to the SFX genius, God of War plays like an interactive trip through Harryhausen’s best-known work: Clash of the Titans’ Kraken and Gorgons, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad’s Cyclops… and plenty of Jason and the Argonauts’ gosh-darn skeletons.

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22 comments

  • Xeacons - April 27, 2010 7:02 p.m.

    Not to mention 90% of these movies have their game knock-offs anyways...
  • RedBandit - April 26, 2010 2:06 a.m.

    Is it just me or do about half of these have Arnold Schwarzenegger?
  • lovinmyps3 - April 24, 2010 7:49 p.m.

    Uncharted = Indiana Jones also. Which is a better game than Tomb Raider.
  • Cyberninja - April 24, 2010 5:12 p.m.

    tmnt is/was a old show not a movie.
  • hagelbreaker - April 24, 2010 5:01 p.m.

    Uuuh..... "Jacob's Ladder" and "Silent Hill" anyone?
  • Spocksjock - April 24, 2010 3:58 p.m.

    The skeletons were not in Clash of the Titans...just saying lol Jason and the argonauts for ya
  • NanoElite666 - April 24, 2010 3:21 p.m.

    This article is made of win for making a Land Before Time reference.
  • bamb0o-stick - April 24, 2010 1:51 p.m.

    "Capcom had already rejected Romero’s attempts to make a Resident Evil movie, calling his ideas “silly.” Wait, what!? That's pretty cocky of Capcom to turn down an offer made by the father of the freakin zombie genre!
  • philipshaw - April 24, 2010 12:07 p.m.

    Is it good that I know all these reference points?
  • Conman93 - April 24, 2010 11:44 a.m.

    I always though heavy rain was a bit like se7en
  • jmcgrotty - April 24, 2010 7:43 a.m.

    Give me a break. David Carradine jokes became funny exactly 37 seconds after his body was found.
  • garnsr - April 24, 2010 4:25 a.m.

    It's always weird to come across the British quirks in Tom's articles, when I see he's at GR US. I keep hearing about Indie's sequels lately, I still like Last Crusade best of all the movies.
  • Imthedoctor - April 24, 2010 2:52 a.m.

    Somtimes I wish I were a owl
  • GodofPS314 - April 24, 2010 1:46 a.m.

    Is it me or are there a lot of Arnold Schartaneiger movies used?
  • invadgir - April 24, 2010 12:02 a.m.

    Hey what happened to the new splatterhouse remake? i hope it didnt get cancelled.......
  • Link555 - April 23, 2010 11:55 p.m.

    i had battletoads for game boy color, it was ace wot about a remake for the ds
  • JamesT - April 23, 2010 11:50 p.m.

    Kayne and lynch always reminded me of a gritty retake on that movie "Bandits" that Bruce Willis was in.
  • Skykid - April 23, 2010 11:09 p.m.

    @Wriggly; sadly, only one Arny movie. And I saw that GR nearly commited SACRALEGE! Indy is NOT like Lara Croft. If id was like it, there would be Nazis Can't make a comparison without the dang Nazis.
  • Justadnauseumtogerballoons - April 23, 2010 9:45 p.m.

    I thought the skeletons were from Jason and the Argonauts, not clash of the titans???, i guess clash fits better overall tho...
  • Wriggly - April 23, 2010 9:43 p.m.

    Amazing how many of these lead to movies with Arnold in them.

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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