6 movies that look and feel exactly like video games (but aren't actually based on games)

2. Speed Racer

Speed Racer is the world’s first non-interactive sci-fi arcade racing game. There’s not a single element of its homicidally epic race scenes (which take up about half of the film) that you haven’t experienced in a game. The rollercoaster track design is pure F-Zero GX/Wipeout. As for the race choreography itself, throw together GX's velocity, Ridge Racer's physics-breaking drifts and Mario Kart's knockabout combat. Then mix thoroughly, sprinkle in a few magic mushrooms and heat to boiling point.

No-one in Speed Racer drives in a straight line. They pull Ridge Racer-style 90 degree powerslides on the straights and they tackle every corner with a 1080 spin, whether technically attached to the track or not. Ripping a page straight out of F-Zero’s combat book, those spins are also the primary component of the film’s “car fu” battling, alongside a Mario Kart’s worth of cartoony in-car weaponry and defensive tech, not to mention spring-loaded bunnyhops as standard.

And did I mention that the frequent occurrences of carsplosion that result from all of this are preceded by the unfortunate driver being safely ejected in a large spongey bubble, referred to in the film as a “quick-save”? And that the opening race, in which Speed chases the lap record of his deceased older brother, is depicted by his racing against a literal ghost car. Oh poor Speed Racer. You do want to be a game so much, don’t you? So much it hurts.

And there’s more. Although imitating the original SR anime’s visual style, the film’s hyper-saturated colour palette vomits the essences of the Mushroom Kingdom and classic blue-sky Sega in equal measure.  The stunning cityscapes look like preview footage from an unreleased Ratchet & Clank game. Race-scene dialogue is built around nothing more than competitive throwaway one-liners. The vast but largely faceless background cast all look, feel and behave just like generic NPCs. There’s even a first-person vehicular gun turret sequence. All it’s missing is loading screen between reels. 


film movies


  • NOGIRLSIWANNAJETPACK - November 13, 2012 7:36 a.m.

    Thank you for doing a traditional article for once. I really don't like the scrolling screenshot format.
  • fpavez - November 13, 2012 8:22 a.m.

    +1 For this Guy!
  • DynamicJul - November 13, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    Agree completely. Thank you GamesRadar.
  • RonnyLive19881 - November 13, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    Me too... the screen shot thing is annoying. Still, why can't you just make the whole article on one page?
  • darkvare - November 13, 2012 7:36 a.m.

    i got my sucker punch blu ray thanks to the lollipop chainsaw double pack that had it free
  • b-dog1991 - November 13, 2012 7:50 a.m.

    I'll chime in with the obligatory Scott Pilgrim mention, although to be fair, the film takes its cues more from the source material rather than videogames themselves. Still, a lot of shots in that film are framed in the side-on Street Fighter stance and it's story structure couldn't be more gamey if it tried.
  • ColtPersonality - November 13, 2012 9:21 a.m.

    indeed, in my opinion, Scott Pilgrim is more "Game Fan Service: The Movie" than Sucker Punch could ever be. Video game references out the wazoo, and yes the story structure makes it feel like this is what life would be like if we were in a video game/comic book (Dat Onamonapia)
  • Exiled Reaper - November 13, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    Loved Sucker Punch, all the action was brilliant despite the semi-rubbish plot. Surprised not to see a couple others on here, like Terminator or Cameron's Avatar. Also very, very surprised not to see the 2009 movie Gamer on here. A good article overall though!
  • christopher-renfrow - November 13, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    Er... not sure about this but how about Tron? Especially Tron Legacy...
  • cgriff63 - November 13, 2012 10:21 a.m.

    Not sure why scott pilgrim didn't make it on the list..
  • GR_DavidHoughton - November 13, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    Re: Scott Pilgrim, Tron, Gamer etc. They were deliberately left off because they referece gaming too explicitly, or are directly built around it as a plot point. The point of this list is to discuss films that are just influenced by the aesthetic or structure of games without games being their primary theme or subject matter. Same reason things like Wreck-It Ralph and The Last Starfighter aren't applicable.
  • Fuzunga - November 13, 2012 10:53 a.m.

    Speed Racer, man. All I could think when watching that movie was "I want to play this".
  • BladeBlur - November 13, 2012 11:54 a.m.

    Words. Of. Truth.
  • RedHarlow - November 13, 2012 11:21 a.m.

    I loved the girls and the Steampunk World War I scene in Sucker Punch. I could do without everything else.
  • nintendo365 - November 13, 2012 11:46 a.m.

    Crank was unexpected, but PERFECT. It is exactly like a GTA/Saints Row Crossover. And plus Chev Chelios is a Niko Bellic looking mofo.
  • christoffer-karlof - November 13, 2012 12:03 p.m.

    Children of men, very much inspired by half life 2, and the whole movie is basically about level progression. Also one of the best damn movies in a decade
  • FuzzyDeath - November 13, 2012 3:37 p.m.

    When I first saw the trailer for Sucker Punch, I was ZOMG! Went to watch it in the cinema, and I wanted to walk out after thirty minutes of bullshit. -_- Movie sucked so bad. I hated it.
  • alex-roy-bristol - November 13, 2012 3:51 p.m.

    Dude, that movie was literally one of the best thinking movies I have ever seen, or even HEARD of... Where you just going to see boobies?
  • Peguin - November 13, 2012 8:34 p.m.

    That article was a long time coming (i remember you discussing it on a podcast way back) but a very enjoyable read. Good work
  • wheresmymonkey - November 14, 2012 1:36 a.m.

    Good list. I would of Added Dredd, Old Boy and The Raid to the list.

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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