The Top 7... Classic books that would make amazing games

1. Heart of Darkness

What's the story? An English steamship attempts to bring civilization to darkest Africa and retrieve company man Kurtz, whose work has been subpar of late. Kurtz turns out to have gone mental, reinventing himself as a local demigod and thinking all of humanity inherently vile. Everyone is surprised, because apparently none of the book's characters have seen Apocalypse Now.

How might the game look? While FPSes like Portal and BioShock have plenty of fun interspersing philosophical themes into their scenes of copious face-shooting, the strategy genre remains a comparatively workaday affair. A Heart of Darkness RTS could change all that: suddenly, your failure to manage resources correctly reveals the blackened core of the human endeavor, a reminder that beneath our civil masks, we are all murderers and savages. And/or because you're rubbish at RTSes.

Until then... Play Civilization with a custom world made out of thick jungle, sparse resources, and as many barbarians as the game will allow. Get to the Nuclear Age, drop the bomb, and exterminate the brutes. Or just play the hell out of Far Cry 2, which is a fairly unashamed Heart of Darkness retread.

Bonus! Books that should've made great games... but didn't

Not so fast! This here is the end of the article, and right below is where the comments go. If we know you, you're far too well-read and imaginative to let us finish an article without letting us know some of the obvious entries we missed. We're all ears, but before you let fly, here are a few classics that they already got wrong...

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

What's the story? Henry Jekyll isn't feeling himself lately; a mystery brute has been wreaking havoc throughout the city. It shouldn't surprise you to learn that these things are not unrelated.

We thought it'd be great because... You could control a London gent as he solves mysteries and gives rapscallions a good clout; too much violence and he'd become an awesome but unstable beast-man.

But actually... Bandai had that exact idea in 1988. The result was a thoroughly unplayable mess of an NES game, notable only for the ace Alice Cooper-esque cover art.


What's the story? Victor Frankenstein is amazed to find that applying electric shocks to a person you built in your attic is not the sort of thing a healthy person does. Because Victor Frankenstein is an idiot.

We thought it'd be great because... Honestly, we couldn't get past imagining how cool the character-creation screen would be.

But actually... Plenty of people have made games based on Frankenstein, and they all suffer from the problem that Victor Frankenstein is not only an idiot, but also rubbish to control.

Lord of the Flies

What's the story? A bunch of tykes think island life will be like in TV's Survivor when the crazy guy ran about naked. Turns out it's more like in TV's Survivor when the crazy guy set his own face on fire.

We thought it'd be great because... We're sick of having to choose between The Sims, Bully, Lost in Blue, Age of Empires, and Resident Evil 4.

But actually... Look, it's just an edutainment-oriented flash game, so there's no point in getting bitchy... but let's just say the Lord of the Flies game probably won't prove as timeless as the book.

The Name of the Rose

What's the story? A serial killer is loose in a medieval monastery. A murderous monk, roving demons and the Antichrist are blamed; turns out some peoples' hunger for knowledge is just a bit too strong.

We thought it'd be great because... The book is nonstop puzzles, interrogations, crime-scene investigation and grueling action. It's like a medieval Condemned with a side of Philosophy 101.

But actually... 1987's The Abbey of Crime was this game, though the author never granted the license. Still, with the adaptation never legitimized, the game gained cult acclaim and lives on via remakes.

The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha

What's the story? An old man goes soft in the head and decides to become a champion of justice. Basically it's Gran Torino with less awkward racism.

We thought it'd be great because... It's a timeless classic, packed with quests that put a wry spin on many adventure-story standards. It'd be like the SNES' Secret of Evermore.

Only, you know... good.

But actually... '80s mediocreware tycoons Universal decided to strip the tale of its subtle allegory and turn the aging Quixote into a buff action hero on an ass-kickin' rampage. We've come so far.

Apr 5, 2010

The Top 7… Games based on books
The written word, made more betterer by gamification

The Best Videogame Stories Ever
15 end-all, be-all of tales to titillate your inner literary critic. Did your favorite make the list?

Movie directors who seriously should be making games
Forget making Blox go boom; here's what we really want


  • Reebokanonymous - May 15, 2011 7:59 a.m.

    I've always thought "The Most Dangerous Game" would be an amazing video gaming experience. It's a short story, but I have this idea that they could make a game that lasts about five hours, but just put it in another game as an interactive storytelling sequence within the regular game.
  • sharker - April 8, 2010 10:42 p.m.

    Maybe "1984"?
  • CiaranW - April 8, 2010 11:59 a.m.

    The Hunger Games Would Be A Really Goood Game Aswell
  • ryno - April 7, 2010 7:28 p.m.

    i would make watership down an open world style game with randomly appearing enemies
  • SeriousSean - April 7, 2010 6:41 a.m.

    Someone needs to steal the premise behind Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light for a game. In an undisclosed amount of time in the future on a colonized world the officers of the colony ship used technology to set themselves up as gods of the Hindu pantheon and they lord over all the colonists.
  • Kaz993 - April 7, 2010 4:13 a.m.

    oh. I thought this would be a serious article for us gentlemen, and not this posh.
  • Zeipher - April 7, 2010 3:23 a.m.

    Sorry for the dub-post, but I agree BIGTIME with the supporters of Ender's Game and The Road. Those would make amazing games.
  • Zeipher - April 7, 2010 3:21 a.m.

    After reading "Jane Austen", I was afraid where this list would go. An adventure game based on a Jack London book would be pretty badass. @snothammer: I actually don't think any of Rand's books could be a successful game. Movies, yes. Games, no. "In this epic sim, you play a egoist architect struggling to survive in a selfless world!" No thanks. (Top 5 Realistically Useless Weapons in Gaming:
  • AggressiveMold - April 7, 2010 1:46 a.m.

    Paradise Lost. I can't think of a game where you actually PLAYED AS SATAN.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - April 7, 2010 12:33 a.m.

    What about alice in wonder.... Oh yeahz :D
  • TyeTheCzar - April 6, 2010 10:21 p.m.

    Baccano!, the novel-turned-anime(you can watch the whole series on Youtube for free) would make a great setting for a Heavy Rain-style adventure game. You've got the nutty thief couple, the cowardly gangster, the mindless assassins, all set before, after, and during a gruesome train incident.
  • TURbo - April 6, 2010 10:16 p.m.

    I want Medea to be a book.
  • DoctorMcNinja - April 6, 2010 8:36 p.m.

    Ender's Game. How you you forget? A battle room game would be amazing. And the end of the book, when Ender controls an entire army... It's like the book was made to be an amazing game.
  • Hinro - April 6, 2010 8 p.m.

    What about the Odyssey or the Iliad. You can't beat an actual classic book.
  • Mitchy13LAMF - April 6, 2010 7:44 p.m.

    oh lord of the be intresting for a level when they knock down a huge rock on piggy!!!!!!!
  • mattvader243 - April 6, 2010 6:59 p.m.

    ENDERS GAME!!!!!!!!!
  • jdrosenfeld - April 6, 2010 6:31 p.m.

    Nice work with the Capa image.
  • euqubud - April 6, 2010 6:01 p.m.

    Of Mice and Men! Think of the quicktime events. Press X to tag Lenny in the back of the head!
  • GameManiac - April 6, 2010 4:32 p.m.

    Thank god that the Twilight series isn't mentioned here. But I shouldn't be surprised since it's not nowhere NEAR old enough to be a classic. What about "Of Mice and Man"?
  • urfreegiftscom - April 6, 2010 3:21 p.m.

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