The Top 7… Games based on books

The written word, made more betterer by gamification

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 30,page 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.


Life is nature's way of keeping meat fresh.
We recommend