The Top 7... Geek movies that should never become games

If there were a list of Rules for Videogames, the #1 rule would have to be, “Always make cutscenes skippable.” But the number two rule may very well be, “Don't play games based on movies.” It's a truth that's been self-evident rarely without exception ever since ET stunk up the Atari 2600.

Above: A painful lesson indeed

But Rule #2's been in for some revision lately, as GoldenEye-shaped aberrations and Butcher Bay-escaping anomalies defy the “movie games are crap” truism. Maybe the way to make a non-terrible adaptation is to hold off until you're sure you have a classic property on your hands. Given movie games’ review history, the simple act of getting them to a stage where people say they’re “well-executed” or “worth the price” is a pretty big step.

Above: “Accurate” and “fairly expansive,” we effused halfheartedly 

With positive examples like Godfather, Scarface, GoldenEye and King Kong, should we just open the classic-film floodgates? Every gamer has a wish-list of movies they're sure could be the next crossover hit, but the simple fact is that many geeks like movies that should never, ever become games. If you see something in this list and go “oh, that would make a great game!” please walk to your DVD shelf, pull that movie out, think about what it means to you, and then picture what happens to 99% of all movie games. Yes, please, let’s leave these guys alone.

7 - The Dark Knight

Hailed as “the best comic-book movie ever” by people who haven't seen Darkman III: Die, Darkman, Die!, Christopher Nolan's grim superhero fable did its level best to treat concepts like “Man dresses as animal to avenge parents” and “Crazy person paints face like crazy clown, is crazy” in such a way that grown adults weren't embarrassed to ask for a ticket. It was a massive success, which is testament both to Nolan's skill as a storyteller and the difficulty of embarrassing grown adults nowadays.

Above: The first Batman movie was great, but uh, didn’t really sell the drama 

Seems like a great idea because: It's got everything a blockbuster game needs: powerful characters who are both human and larger-than-life; a fast-moving story, with high-stakes dilemmas resolved by punishing action sequences. The movie's success isn't in presenting the gravelly pathos of a God/Gears of War minus the silly bits –  it's in treating those silly bits with enough respect that they work onscreen.

Above: The Batman Begins game. Were you really crying out for another? 

But actually: EA worked on a Dark Knight videogame, seeking to improve on the lackluster Batman Begins adaptation by contracting Mercenaries developers Pandemic Studios. The game never happened; The Dark Knight joined Casino Royale, The Bourne Identity and Collateral under the banner of action movies that were taken more seriously because there wasn't a videogame version.

Instead, try: Duh, Batman: Arkham Asylum. A less obvious second choice would be IO Interactive's Kane and Lynch: Dead Men. The connection? Both were strongly influenced by Michael Mann's crime epic Heat, a lineage proudly acknowledged by their creators and clearly visible onscreen.

6 - Hackers

Dateline 1995: Enjoying an economic boomtime, Americans turned their attention to planting the seeds of what would become internet culture. After going through the dictionary and adding the prefix “Cyber-” to everything, the logical next step was to make a movie in which the act of sitting at a keyboard and forgetting to shower was turned into a hot-n-sexy aspirational lifestyle. Hackers was born!

Above: How cool are Hackers? So cool they wear sunglasses, in a darkened room, at night, to look at a computer screen 

Seems like a great idea because: Listed as a “guilty pleasure” by many people who should feel guiltier about using the phrase “guilty pleasure” in the first place, Hackers provides neon-lit thrills with a side of irony broad enough that even your aunty knows not to take it seriously. Having turned out plenty of what-is-reality head-scratchers in its time, surely mid-90s cyber-culture (sorry) is ready to have a bit of a laugh at itself with a Hackers videogame?

Above: Another hacker (you can tell from the shades) 

But actually: Just as The Craft inspired Tori Amos-listening girls to pursue the secrets of witchery until they realized that the movie had grossly oversold the glamor of such a lifestyle, so young boys in their droves saw Hackers, donned yellow glasses and took to computer terminals in search of adventure and Angelina Jolie. They quickly realized that real hacking is dull, painstaking and ridiculously time-consuming... at which point they abandoned it to play Quake. And we don't need a game about an unrewarding time-sink that gets ditched for Quake, because there is already Daikatana.


Instead, try: Rez, whose storyline (such as there is one) revolves around hacking a supercomputer to save a malfunctioning super-AI, personified as a polygonal naked chick. Ticking the boxes, so they are.


Top 7


  • aperson789 - November 22, 2010 10:19 p.m.

  • Haikufrenzy - November 22, 2010 10:33 p.m.

    There was a shovelware PC Princess Bride game. I didn't play it myself but I remember seeing ads for it on other websites.
  • JADENkOTOR - November 22, 2010 10:54 p.m.

    When there is a poor video game adaptation of a movie, it in no way diminishes the integrity of the movie, just itself. Why you think this would hurt the reputation certain movies I just don't understand. Anyway I agree that a lot of these wouldn't make for good games especially Hackers... that made for one of the most boring movies of all time even though I did like it when I was going through my dial up computer phase in the mid 90's. Turning this into a game would be dreadful. I used to want Kill Bill to be made into a game until WET came out and ruined the entire thought of this happening... I do think that if put in the right hands it may be able to work though. and The Dark Knight is way overrated... Christian Bale is terrible.(except in American Psycho and maybe Harsh Times but thats pushing it)
  • KnightDehumidifier - November 22, 2010 11:01 p.m.

    Where is my Short Circuit 2 video game? You can engage in free-roaming as Johnny 5 on the streets of New York City, joining the Los Noches gang and piloting RC planes into criminals. Supply a soundtrack from Bear McCreary, hand it off to Naughty Dog to develop and bring back that British guy who portrayed an Indian in the original film, and we're good to go. Also 32-player multiplayer modes and make it for me. Sincerly, KnightDehumidifier age 8 1/2
  • OneEyedGoon - November 22, 2010 11:30 p.m.

    Twin Peaks FTW
  • CH3BURASHKA - November 22, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    You brought up Alan Wake, but not Deadly Premonition? They came out within months of each other, and looked incredibly similar. You guys even did an article comparing the two! As for Princess Bride, I hadn't seen it until earlier this year. It had been so built up, so put-on-a-pedestal-ey by others that I was slightly disappointed. It was a quality, well-rounded story, but I found it kind of underwhelming. Sometimes a straight-forward story is all you need, but from the way people talked about it, I was expecting some kind of crazy-ass twist. I'm rifling through my memories thinking of "nerd" movies that seem like good game potential that would really be shit, and no other fits better, in my opinion, than "Dark City". I saw it two years ago and was fucking blown away - I fell in love with that movie. As a game, depending on the story (are you Murdoch, or a citizen in Murdoch's new world?) there's plenty to do. Ever since seeing it, I've wanted to know more about John, about the City, about the Strangers, but that's just my id talking. There's plenty of evidence that adding to a story will sooner or later fuck the whole thing up, and dilute the meaning of the first story in the process. I'm now content with letting go of such childish desires. Another of my favorite movies (in this case, a mini-series) is "The 10th Kingdom". Once again, I want to see and experience more of the story, but it simply wouldn't work as a game.
  • MrTwinbee - November 22, 2010 11:50 p.m.

    I gotta admit I was a bit miffed about the omission of Deadly Premonition when talking about Twin Peaks. The coffee, deer head, music etc are all heavily referenced in what is one of the best games of this generation. The bits when you drive around and Agent York starts to talk about his favourite films are awesome too. reCAPCHA: "Ruchest concern" Sounds like some weird charity.
  • juicenpancakes - November 23, 2010 12:16 a.m.

    Reading a single entry about Serenity has made me pop in my Firefly Blu-ray. I anticipate having the series completed by the end of the week, followed by a week of sadness that it will never again return.
  • Overlord153 - November 23, 2010 1:12 a.m.

    No wonder people hack the leaderboards in games if they get that kind of action!!!
  • Yeager1122 - November 23, 2010 1:14 a.m.

    Ive actually seen Darkman III: Die, Darkman, Die! sooooooooooooo much better then dark knight obvisiouly.
  • batmanboy11 - November 23, 2010 1:53 a.m.

    Great list. Also, lol at "Hailed as “the best comic-book movie ever” by people who haven't seen Darkman III: Die, Darkman, Die!,". (Although in all honestly I like Scott Pilgrim more than TDK)
  • soopermoose - November 23, 2010 1:56 a.m.

    Yeah I agree with the others about Twin Peaks and Deadly Premonitions, seriously the game is practically an indirect sequel to the TV series.
  • Eliath - November 23, 2010 2 a.m.

    @juicenpancakes It's hard for me to hear or read Serenity or Firefly without immediately watching the series over again. It's then hard for me not to watch it again as soon as I finish. I will, however, resist this time due to the extremely large amount of games that I need to play. Also... Willow, Robin Hood: Men in Tights (and other Mel Brooks movies), Krull, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Fifth Element, and The Ewok Adventure.
  • Valntyne - November 23, 2010 2:27 a.m.

  • Sevej - November 23, 2010 3:19 a.m.

    awesome game watch...
  • Doctalen - November 23, 2010 3:22 a.m.

    I would like to point it, its Crazy *Eighty*-Eight battle not "Crazy Eights battle". Even with slang, you gotta give them some honor by using their correct name.
  • BlackElement17 - November 23, 2010 3:25 a.m.

    It's going to be at least a day before before I stop thinking about a princess bride game.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - November 23, 2010 3:27 a.m.

    Wouldn't it be hilarious if there was a wrath of khan game, but in the scene where the guy yells "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!", there was a prompt to mash X? :P
  • NightCrawler_358 - November 23, 2010 3:45 a.m.

  • ChipTheExecutioner - November 23, 2010 4:59 a.m.

    I was expecting "Akira" and "Neon Genesis Evangelion" to make the list but hey, you put on the princess bride so I have no complaints ReCAPTCHA: wearat season? what the hell are wearats?

Showing 1-20 of 38 comments

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