Since the early 1990s, the film industry has “treated” us to a steady stream of motion pictures based on video games. And they’ve been critical disasters. But it could all be so different, and the precedent’s already set. When Netflix’s Castlevania premiered in July, a four-episode precursor to a fuller second season, it was met with unanimous praise. Episodic, and animated rather than live-action, it had space to introduce the main cast to the viewer, and show why each character matters.
Netflix also has The Witcher forthcoming, albeit based on author Andrej Sapkowski’s books rather than the games they inspired. But the company could, and should, be looking at games for future programming, because it’s in the episodic format that lengthy interactive adventures can truly shine as passive experiences.
Yakuza is a perfect place to start. The series has grown from having a cult following to being known worldwide; it features wonderful characters, many of whom are far from black-and-white; and the neon-drenched environments of Kamurocho are an obvious visual hook. With the series leads partial to (literally) bursting into hyper-violent action, animation would surely be the way to go.
I can already picture how some episodes could come together. One could focus exclusively on Kazuma Kiryu’s sewer encounter with Dojima lieutenant Daisaku Kuze, and subsequent (somewhat surreal) dancefloor tête-à-tête with Hiroki Awano, from Yakuza 0. This, and so much more, positively races into the mind’s eye.
Hollywood is bringing us an Uncharted movie in the near future, a prequel to Drake’s Fortune, and while that reflects the Indiana Jones DNA, the ongoing adventures of Nate and Sully, and/or Chloe and Nadine, represent perfect Netflix fodder. The BioShock and Infamous movies are stalled, likely permanently – so do the right thing, somebody, and give us ten episodes apiece of Rapture and Ray Spheres. More time, more exposition, more understanding: it’s the only way to make these stories shine, out of our hands.