We don't remember Mike Myers saying that...
Everyone who grew up watching movies and playing video games (thats a few of you, right?) knows the feeling: the seasons hottest picture just got turned into a game, and against better judgement and conventional wisdom, you decide to give it a go. Its probably not very good, but if the title scene says the words that are on the poster, and the main character has the same color clothes as someone from the movie, really how much more did you expect?
But then there are the licenses that go above and beyond in their commitment to disappointment: games whose apparent disdain for their source property is so severe that you wonder whether the designers even know what movie it is theyre supposed to be adapting. From surprise resurrections to cutting out everything you liked from the movie in the first place, heres a stack of games to make you question why any studio would ever license their IP out in the first place. (SPOILER: Its because they get paid.)
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Before the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines, developer Gearbox had proudly touted the games inclusion within official series canon, prompting fans to hope that the influential movie series might succeed in the very format which had borrowed so much from it. It was also an opportunity to remedy a few of the series more glaring plot holes, and maybe open up the possibility for future installments. Needless to say, that didn't really happen.
The most glaring story issues had to do with Michael Beihns Hicks. The character--last seen impaled by an escape pod in Alien 3--was suddenly alive and well In Colonial Marines with basically no explanation. Even Beihn himself found the whole thing a bit pointless. Similarly, after the settlement on LV-426 wiped out in an explosion so large it could literally be seen from space, it was more than a little jarring to find the whole structure not only standing, but still packed to the rafters with aliens. So much for this being the true sequel to Aliens.
Live and Let Die
Live and Let Die was the debut of Roger Moore as unarguably the silliest James Bond. This oddball film had drugs, voodoo sacrifices, and an ineffective New Orleans cops. The owners of the 007 franchise waited 15 years to create a video game version that delivered boating lessons.
15 minutes of the movies two hour run-time are given over to a boat chase through the Louisiana bayou. This is the only scene that made it into the game, which began as a boat-racing title unrelated to 007. Instead of launching straight into the movies plot, Bond--a Royal Naval Commander, lets remember--has to prove to that he knows how to work a speedboat, slogging through three training levels before even attempting the fourth and final race (?) in New Orleans. At which point the games recreation of the movies plot ends abruptly. Yeah, theres a reason people were so surprised when GoldenEye was good.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
The unregulated wild-west landscape of early gaming gave rise to a few skeletons that continue to haunt the video game closet. Video game violence was primitive by today's standards, but it still pissed off people worldwide. So it makes sense that someone would license one of those slasher movies that were also driving moral guardians up the wall.
The most notorious slasher of the day, Tobe Hoopers Texas Chain Saw Massacre, told the story of Sally Hardestys escape from the home of a gang of cannibals, led by chainsaw-welding Leatherface. Atari 2600 developers Wizard Video decided the most interesting part of this equation wasnt Sallys escape so much as chainsaw-wielding maniac, so in the game, Leatherface--under your control--kills Sally, her friends, and everyone else he meets, over and over again, until his chainsaw runs out of fuel and the game ends. The petroleum crisis of the late 1970s had been seen as one of the prime drivers of the anxiety that birthed films such as Texas Chain Saw: coincidence, or ingenious meta-commentary? Not much fun either way.
Rambo: First Blood Part II
A thriller like First Blood about a crazed drifter who stalks police and tries to blow up a North American town was hardly NES actioner fodder. Publishers mustve been overjoyed when Rambo: First Blood Part II focused on an American hero mowing down faceless grunts deep in foreign jungles. Film Rambo went back to Vietnam and killed a few dozen dudes, while video game Rambo stands in front of trees and massacred hundreds, which makes sense. He was also a wizard, which makes less sense.
See, because Rambo is a 1980s action movie, it has a cowardly bureaucrat getting in the way all the time, and the game is no different. Finish the action portion and youll return to the base, where the final confrontation with spineless pencil-pusher Murdock plays itself out much as it did in the movie. But dialogue scenes are kinda dull in games, so here Rambo literally hurls harsh language at Murdock, turning the latter into a frog. This scene was absent from the movie, which coincidentally didnt do too well with critics.
Warner Bros. released Batman at the end of the blockbuster-packed 1980s, preceded by a torrent of marketing that upped the stakes for future summer action movies. Neglecting to release an NES tie-in would have been tantamount to throwing money away! Besides, so longs as it said BATMAN on the box and had a protagonist who looked a bit like the Caped Crusader, everyones bases were covered, right?
Today the Batman adaptation is well-regarded among NES platformers, though certainly not for fidelity to its source. Having battled his way through such movie-rejects as Killer Moth and the Electrocutioner, Batmans no killing rule--already scrapped in the movie--doesnt is obliterated when the Joker finally shows up. Whereas the characters cinematic death could plausibly be ruled accidental, video game Batman just out and cold-bloodedly hurls his nemesis off a building. Somehow he survived (unlike his film counterpart) and returned in the semi-sequel, Batman: Return of the Joker.
The Goonies II
Konamis The Goonies II isnt directly based off a movie: its the sequel to the companys own Goonies game, which was never released for home consoles outside Japan. The sequel that would see worldwide release, prompting confusion among players and movie fans alike. Was there a Goonies II movie we werent aware of? Was Konami attempting to continue the films storyline single-handedly? Was Spielberg even aware of this?
Everything cleared up once the cartridge booted up, though: turns out the first movies bad guys escaped from prison, and kidnapped the Goonies, utilizing the Fratelli familys secret teleportation abilities to hide the kids throughout the world, locking Goonie best-pal Annie the Mermaid (???) inside an underwater vault. Thus the stage is set for a proto-Metroidvania platforming epic in which remembering your passwords is vital to your success--but forgetting anything you thought you knew about these Goonies is vital to your sanity.
Terminator 3: The Redemption
The first couple Terminator movies had massive inconsistencies from time travel, but most ignored the series nifty robot time-paradox because watching robots shoot each other over an awesome soundtrack is more valued by filmgoers. Yet, the game Terminator 3: The Redemption stretched the franchise's iffy science to the breaking point.
Terminator hinges on a backwards-only vision of time-travel that works if you don't really think about it. Redemption, in a somewhat arbitrary departure from the plot of the third movie, says screw that: turns out theres also forwards-travel time machines after all! Bi-directional time travel basically ruins the entire concept the series was based on, but at least some middling shooter levels came out of the decision.
The Empire Strikes Back
In constructing his Star Wars series, George Lucas drew heavily on the writing of folklorist Joseph Campbell. Campbell taught, among other things, that atonement with the father was a crucial step on the heros journey. In The Empire Strikes Back, this comes through in the scene where Darth Vader declares himself Lukes father, lops off the sons hand (symbolizing the heros Will) and leaves him for dead. Its a contender for the most important scene in the entire series.
Unless youre playing the NES game, in which case the heros journey goes a lot smoother. Whack Vader a few times and the Sith lord will leap to his own death, taunting that it is our destiny to meet again. Just think, if your only exposure to the original trilogy was somehow through your NES, youd think Star Wars was just a story about a dude who likes to punch robots, and then he punches their boss, the end.
The Hunt for Red October
The SNES version of The Hunt for Red October was one of the few games released for Nintendos Super Scope, so savvy readers will already have figured that it was probably a pretty disappointing outing. Unlike other fun-but-inaccurate entries on this list, The Hunt for Red October game combined complete disregard for the license with all the high-octane twitch-play of a massive slow-moving metal bullet-magnet chugging laboriously through icy waters.
The plot of Red October, originally the debut novel bestseller-delivery-robot Tom Clancy, concerns a rogue Russian nuclear submarine headed for the USA, triggering a tense stalemate in which its not certain whether the crew will defect to the US or just start World War III. While this scenario had been recreated halfway faithfully in the 1987 computer game, console developer Beam Software decided that a much more exciting story would be the Red October sails all over the place blowing everything up. Besides negating the central tension of the movies plot, they couldn't even make such an obviously fun concept enjoyable.
The black sheep of the Alien series, Alien 3 will always divide fans. One of the core issues at the time of its 1992 release was the movies departure from Aliens' military setting in favor of a sparse battle between an unarmed cast and a solitary alien. This return to the original film's formula makes sense theoretically, but the gun-toting space marines (or basically any guns) were missed.
The developers of the SNES/Genesis adaptations didn't take that route. Players got to mow down wave upon wave of acid-spitting monsters, in an Alien 3 console adventure thats probably the best Aliens adaptation made to date, in which half the fun is spotting the copious references to James Camerons beloved take on the series--before Aliens: Colonial Marines came along and invalidated it all, anyway.
The mid-90s basically had a whole genre called Games where the sidekick got kidnapped and you were stuck playing a sub-par platformer, because that was how to ruin a movie license in those days. But the kidnapped sidekick/extraneous jumping formula reached a low point in Waynes World, a game whose entire existence seems to revolve around the concept of awful video games are awful.
Waynes World opens with a discussion of the worst video games known to Wayne and Garth, a list which omits this very game which featured the worst MIDI version of Bohemian Rhapsody ever programmed. Then Garth gets sucked into Zantar the Gelatinous Cube, a risible video game mentioned very briefly in the movie. For some reason Wayne doesnt follow Garth into Zantar, instead jumping around haphazardly-arranged platform versions of film locations, saying schwing a bunch and riding roughshod over Mike Myers brand. This failure makes Love Guru seem almost palatable.
The Great Escape
The Great Escape is a World War II film in which a group of Allied POWs conceive the most audacious escape ever attempted from a Nazi prison camp. Or, as publisher Gotham Games reasoned in 2003, something World War II, something something profits. While the film focuses on Steve McQueens Capt. Virgil Hilts, the game is more of an ensemble affair, detailing the backstories of Hilts core crew in great detail, but it ends with all four characters achieving a Great Escape, just like the title said they would.
SPOILERS for the the 50 year-old film: only one of the four would-be escapees actually makes it out alive, and it aint Steve McQueen. In the decades between the release of the movie and the game, youd think someone wouldve worked out how to depict heroic failure within a video game, but here we are. In fact, this was the second Great Escape video game license: an earlier and far looser adaptation had been released by Ocean in 1986, and there were several ways of playing through that game--all of them also ending in your characters successful escape. Happy endings all around.
Die Hard Arcade
By the time Die Hard Arcade was released in 1995, audiences had seen a lot of a guy named John who wears tank-tops and battles terrorists. Perhaps when Fox Interactive saw Dynamite Deka, as Segas beat-em-up was known in Japan, the company figured itd found another installment. Just put Dekas main character in a singlet, write Die Hard on the title screen, and youre home free!
If you saw this thing in a 1996 arcade, you mayve been drawn in by the intros convincing recreation of Die Hard's Nakitomi Plaza, or how the main character looked like he was designed by someone who saw Bruce Willis once. From there onward, good luck finding canonical elements amid the search for the Presidents kidnapped daughter. McClaine fights off-brand terrorists with names like Mr Tubbs and Hongo, who are a poor substitution for Alan Rickman--but you could say the same for most movie villains, honestly. Less forgivable is the omission of Let it Snow! over the end credits: some elements of Die Hard, sadly, are non-negotiable.
Scarface: the World is Yours
Brian de Palmas 1983 thriller, Scarface, was itself a remake of a 1932 gangster pic loosely inspired by Al Capone. '30s Censors had imposed heavy strictures on the original, which were gleefully flouted by the '80s edition; but the core story was still that of a tragic antihero undone by hubris and excess. Mountains of cocaine are fun and all, but crime still doesnt pay for Al Pacinos sociopathic antihero.
However, crime pays through the freaking roof in the 2006 adaptation. Beginning with a reprise of the movies finale, in which you thought you saw Tony Montana gunned down, the game suggests that Montana made it out with relative easy. And if he could survive that, the game reasons, the world really would be yours--notwithstanding the matter of an empire to rebuild and a hit-list full of rival drug lords to take down. Why, that almost sounds like the plot of one of your GTA rip-off! Lucky youre playing as a guy who, its already been established, has hit enough blow to literally be invincible. (NOTE: this does not work IRL.)
Unfaithful adaptations unleashed!
Do you have a favorite movie adaptation that switches the antagonist and protagonist around? A resurrection that should've happened on the big screen all along? Or just tell us which movie adaptations are the absolute worst, that'll be fun too.
Or check out our Top 7 games where the bad guys actually win, The 100 most anticipated games of 2014, or The top 7 games you just have to play to understand.