The Top 7… Games based on books

Have you ever heard someone say, “sometimes words aren’t enough?” That person was probably talking about books. Yes, books may seem like nothing more than a primitive ancestor to videogames, and in some ways, they are. Books are linear, non-interactive, and require little to no skill to write. They might even be obsolete today if it weren’t for people with no reflexes. But books aren’t entirely without merit, because occasionally they’re adapted into some really great videogames.

Lots of games have been inspired in some way by literature, or based on movies that were based on books. The games in this list go beyond loose ties, and were judged not only on overall quality, but also on how directly they relate to the books they’re based on. We’re not saying you should base your next book report on any of the following games, but that does seem like a pretty good idea.

We tried really hard to wedge in a Fahrenheit [whatever temperature plastic burns/melts] joke, but various plastics have a wide range of melting points, so it didn’t really work.

7) Dune (1992)

Based on: Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)

If you’ve read the book, the Dune videogame provides a strong (if rudimentary) base which you can flesh out with your imagination. You start at the Atreides palace in Arakeen, and from there travel by ‘thopter (which the game calls an “orni” for some reason) from sietch to sietch to get the Fremen to start working for you, mostly mining spice. Your ultimate goal is to gather a Fremen army to drive the remaining Harkonnens off the planet. It’s simple and short, but it has the right feeling to make it remarkably immersive, whether you’re talking to your mother Jessica in her chambers at the palace or walking out by yourself into the deep desert.

Above: Resist the urge to adjust your stillsuit 

How faithful is it to novel? While a game this simplistic could never do justice to Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, Dune at least scores points for not getting anything horrendously wrong (unlike say, the 1984 David Lynch movie, as beloved as it may be - what’s with those Weirding Modules?).

Speaking of the movie, Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty (called Dune II: Battle for Arrakis in Europe and for its Genesis/Mega Drive port) is, somewhat confusingly, not a sequel to the Dune videogame. Dune II, which solidified the RTS genre as we know it today, would have easily taken Dune’s place on this list were it not actually based on the aforementioned David Lynch movie instead of being based on the actual book.

6) How to be a Complete Bastard (1987)

Based on: How to be a Complete Bastard by Adrian Edmondson (1986)

This game has a Fartometer.


In this ZX Spectrum classic (also available on Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64), you’re a guest at a hoity-toity yuppie house party with the goal of clearing out all other guests by being as bastardy as possible. Like completely bastardy. Find the most inappropriate places to fart, pee, jab at people with pointy objects, and otherwise be a drunken asshole.

You know you’re in for a treat when reviews range from:

“Adrian Edmondson’s book is brilliant, and so is this game.”
-Crash Magazine, Oct 1987 

“…merits an X rated tag…”
“Crass, tasteless, juvenile.”

-Sinclair User, issue 67 (page 30page 31)

“…es una programa que encorpora una serie de caracteristicas totalmente innovadoras…”
-MicroHobby, issue 159 

How faithful is it to the book? You can sort of think of the Complete Bastard game as an intermediary step where you can apply what you’ve learned from the book in the game world before trying it out in real life.


Top 7


  • Ded - December 15, 2009 12:54 a.m.

    Pity, was hoping for Discworld. That was a difficult point-and-click!
  • Cwf2008 - December 15, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    Huh weird why isnt this being displayed proudly on that revolving thing? Anyway games based on books being good...weird
  • michaelmcc827 - December 15, 2009 12:58 a.m.

    Better late than never! Some interesting selections.
  • Usgo - December 15, 2009 1 a.m.

    Unfortunatlely i have only read one of these books. Guess i should pick a couple up, or play the games. YAAAAAAAAA!
  • ATLAS - December 15, 2009 1:20 a.m.

    I really hate your intro to the article. Books take lots of skill to write and aren't primitive. Comparing a book to a video game is like comparing Uwe Boll to James Cameron. It doesn't work. Nevertheless, I have found some books that I need to read, particularly How To Be a Complete Bastard. Seems like a funny book. reCAPTCHA: abysmal NAVYCREWBEATS .... sounds like a horrible wannabe metal band.
  • Ninja-KiLLR - December 15, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    i always wished they would make a game after one of tom clancy's other books "Red Storm Rising" which is one of my favs
  • JohnnyMaverik - December 15, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    "I really hate your intro to the article. Books take lots of skill to write and aren't primitive. Comparing a book to a video game is like comparing Uwe Boll to James Cameron. It doesn't work." ^^ The internetz are serious buisness only -_-
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - December 15, 2009 1:31 a.m.

    @Atlas You've stumbled across one of the many "jokes" that permeate the internet. Between the misspelled strapline and the overly anti-book intro, it should be obvious we're intentionally prodding books because they're unquestionably important. FOR SRS
  • Scotch - December 15, 2009 2:01 a.m.

    i started watching "Alice" on syfy last night and it is awesome!
  • GameManiac - December 15, 2009 2:18 a.m.

    I'll reluctantly admit, books and me don't mix. Books just enter one of my ears and come out of the other (or however that saying works with books). Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six is based on books??? I never knew!
  • CountFenring - December 15, 2009 2:26 a.m.

    This is by far my favorite Top 7 in a while. Dune is my all time favorite book. I take my name from one of the minor characters who is rather awesome after the events of the first books.
  • Gotxxrock - December 15, 2009 2:43 a.m.

    Hate to sound like an apathetic ass, but I have never heard of any of these games (though I've read alot of the books). I'm surpised the Darkness wasn't put in here. ARE YOU SAYING GRAPHIC NOVELS ARE IN FACT NOT BOOKS GAMESRADAR!?
  • Schizo - December 15, 2009 2:51 a.m.

    Weird how an obscure game like Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy text adventure was in two top sevens in the span of 4 months :P And could this mean Carolyn is gonna be on talkradar? :OO
  • wcatdoor - December 15, 2009 3:18 a.m.

    If u think about it bishock wasnt based off a book, but it did contain alot of that book.
  • Spybreak8 - December 15, 2009 4:06 a.m.

    I was going to say something about Dune but then I finished the paragraph haha. Interesting article, good read.
  • nummymuffin - December 15, 2009 5:03 a.m.

    Just fyi the second of the Withcer novels has been translated into english under the title of "The Blood of Elves." I have read it and it's pretty good.
  • CH3BURASHKA - December 15, 2009 6:20 a.m.

    Hugh, I was REALLY hoping for another 'I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream' mention here. I'm still planning on reading that book; it sounded fascinating.
  • Mavarious - December 15, 2009 9:40 a.m.

    Atlas will be indirectly mocked in the podcast.
  • Unoriginal - December 15, 2009 10:18 a.m.

    @Gotxxxrock Allowing the Graphic Novel allows the comics wich would have made the list a lot less interesting
  • rxb - December 15, 2009 2:17 p.m.

    This article was a real page turner.

Showing 1-20 of 49 comments

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