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The Top 7... Classic books that would make amazing games

What's the story? An English steamship attempts to bring civilization to darkest Africa and retrievecompany man Kurtz, whose work has been subpar of late. Kurtz turns out to have gone mental, reinventing himself as a local demigod and thinking all of humanity inherently vile. Everyone is surprised, because apparently none of the book's characters have seen Apocalypse Now.

How might the game look? While FPSes like Portal and BioShock have plenty of fun interspersing philosophical themes into their scenes of copious face-shooting, the strategy genre remains a comparatively workaday affair. A Heart of Darkness RTS could change all that: suddenly, your failure to manage resources correctly reveals the blackened core of the human endeavor, a reminder that beneath our civil masks, we are all murderers and savages. And/or because you're rubbish at RTSes.

Until then... Play Civilization with a custom world made out of thick jungle, sparse resources, and as many barbarians as the game will allow. Get to the Nuclear Age, drop the bomb, and exterminate the brutes. Or just play the hell out of Far Cry 2, which is a fairly unashamed Heart of Darkness retread.

Bonus! Books that should've made great games... but didn't

Not so fast! This here is the end of the article, and right below is where the comments go. If we know you, you're far too well-read and imaginative to let us finish an article without letting us know some of the obvious entries we missed. We're all ears, but before you let fly, here are a few classics that they already got wrong...

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

What's the story? Henry Jekyll isn't feeling himself lately; a mystery brute has been wreaking havoc throughout the city. It shouldn't surprise you to learn that these things are not unrelated.

We thought it'd be great because... You could control a London gent as he solves mysteries and gives rapscallions a good clout; too much violence and he'd become an awesome but unstable beast-man.

But actually... Bandai had that exact idea in 1988. The result was a thoroughly unplayable mess of an NES game, notable only for the ace Alice Cooper-esque cover art.


What's the story? Victor Frankenstein is amazed to find that applying electric shocks to a person you built in your attic is not the sort of thing a healthy person does. Because Victor Frankenstein is an idiot.

We thought it'd be great because... Honestly, we couldn't get past imagining how cool the character-creation screen would be.

But actually... Plenty of people have made games based on Frankenstein, and they all suffer from the problem that Victor Frankenstein is not only an idiot, but also rubbish to control.

Lord of the Flies

What's the story? A bunch of tykes think island life will be like in TV's Survivor when the crazy guy ran about naked. Turns out it's more like in TV's Survivor when the crazy guy set his own face on fire.

We thought it'd be great because... We're sick of having to choose between The Sims, Bully, Lost in Blue, Age of Empires, and Resident Evil 4.

But actually... Look, it's just an edutainment-oriented flash game, so there's no point in getting bitchy... but let's just saythe Lord of the Flies gameprobably won't prove as timeless as the book.

The Name of the Rose

What's the story? A serial killer is loose in a medieval monastery. A murderous monk, roving demons and the Antichrist are blamed; turns out some peoples' hunger for knowledge is just a bit too strong.

We thought it'd be great because... The book is nonstop puzzles, interrogations, crime-scene investigation and grueling action. It's like a medieval Condemned with a side of Philosophy 101.

But actually... 1987's The Abbey of Crime was this game, though the author never granted the license. Still, with the adaptation never legitimized, the game gained cult acclaim and lives onviaremakes.

The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha

What's the story? An old man goes soft in the head and decides to become a champion of justice. Basically it's Gran Torino with less awkward racism.

We thought it'd be great because... It's a timeless classic, packed with quests that put a wry spin on many adventure-story standards. It'd be like the SNES' Secret of Evermore.

Only, you know... good.

But actually... '80s mediocreware tycoons Universal decided to strip the tale of its subtle allegory and turn the aging Quixote into a buff action hero on an ass-kickin' rampage. We've come so far.

Apr 5, 2010

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