By now, you know the spiel: most Hollywood executives see movie-based games as nothing more than merchandising, no different from action figures and themed socks. Therefore, they could not give a rat's ass about quality, so long as the game sells. And therefore, most movie games are crap. And blah, blah, blah.
We're not here to debate the reasons why 95% of movie games are miserable turds. We like to focus on the positive. And we know that for every 20 or so Rambos or E.T.s or Enter the Matrixes, there's a game released alongside a film that absolutely nailed its source material. So we're going to look at the successes, the games that failed to be horrible cash-ins and stuck out in our minds as glorious reminders of everything we liked about the movies.
You know, the ones that didn't suck.
Konami | Arcade
In 1985, if you wanted a built-in backstory for your game about kicking rats to death, then basing it around a beloved blockbuster like The Goonies was a pretty good way to go. But The Goonies (known as VS. The Goonies when it was released in US arcades on Nintendo's two-screen VS. hardware) wasn't just a cool theme wallpapered over an ordinary game. No, this was special.
Aside from being a sweet game in its own right, it captured the movie's adventurous spirit (and its iconic theme music) perfectly, even if Mikey was a karate-kicking badass and the Fratelli brothers dressed like Al Capone. Hey, if you were a kid in the '80s, none of that stuff mattered so long as you could pretend to kick ass as your favorite precocious child hero.
The final feather in The Goonies' cap is that it led to The Goonies II on NES. It wasn't directly movie-based, but it was one of the earliest Metroidvania-style games, and it sported some of the worst translations ever. Our favorite was when you punched someone friendly in the face, and they were all "OUCH! WHAT DO YOU DO?"
Yeah, we're old.