Video games are a massive medium, home to a great variety of genres and experiences that can only be made in games themselves, and from a massive amount of diverse people around the world. And though many modern games may take inspiration from films, they are still their own thing.
But of course, gaming has its own history adapting films, especially with tie-ins. But what about those games that are made in the universe of those films, but not as tie-ins?
Terminator is one of the earlier examples of a film depicting a dystopian future of AI control, mixed with the typical 80's flair of the era – just like the Terminators themselves, the franchise always comes back. As with any major franchise, it has plenty of video games too.
A lot of them play the typical role of tie-in game rushed to completion to hit a film's release, or ones playing on run-off popularity. But there's actually quite a few set outside specific films. There's the recent Terminator: Resistance, a first-person shooter that takes place during the war of the originals, and Bethesda's multiplayer Skynet from 1996.
9 Star Wars
Star Wars is a juggernaut franchise, nigh on impossible to not have interacted with in some way, and has gone far beyond the films, including toys, shows, music, theme parks, books, and of course, video games. In all honesty, many Star Wars games are likely more beloved than the films.
There are the known ones, such as Battlefront, Jedi: Fallen Order, KOTOR, and even the Lego games, but there's also Star Wars: Rebellion, a real-time strategy game from 1996, or even the heavily criticized Jedi Arena, where two Jedi duelled to defend against a seeker ball.
8 The Godfather
The Godfather is a beloved if somewhat complicated franchise. Starting as adaptations of the Godfather novel with writing by the original author, it spawned three films and many legal issues with rights as time went on.
Of course, the games had to be a part of this. Though released decades after the films, the first Godfather game was well-received by reviewers, though not the original film director. They went on to create a sequel too, though it received less favourable reviews, leading to the ironic cancellation of a third game adaptation.
7 Aliens Vs Predator
Aliens vs Predator is a fascinating project. It was created with the intent of a crossover universe, an elaborate collaboration project that would see two massive extraterrestrial franchises collide. Interestingly though, outside of the original comics, the first major portrayal of this combo was actually in video games.
There are a great many of the games now, beginning in 1993, with the most famous being the 2010 Aliens Vs Predator game that sees you take the role of either Aliens, Marines, or Predators all hunting each other. There are plenty of older SNES and GameBoy adaptations too, and even some pinball machines.
6 Jurassic Park
Who doesn't love dinosaurs? There's a good reason Jurassic Park is so popular. Sure, not all of the dinosaurs are actually from the Jurassic period and maybe they might have had feathers, but who wouldn't love going to the Danger Zoo? It's a wide franchise now, and even has a trilogy that's still ongoing.
Now, you might know a few Jurassic Park games. The recent Lego games and the ironically theme park-esque Jurassic World Evolutions come to mind. But what about Warpath: Jurassic Park? This was a dinosaur fighting game published by EA for the PS1, and is a surprisingly good time. Plus, you play as dinosaurs, so a major win.
5 Ratchet And Clank
OK, so this one might seem a little weird. How exactly are Ratchet and Clank, the beloved Playstation gaming mascots that began in 2002, a video game adaptation? Well see, that's because of the 2016 film, which is itself a retelling of the 2002 game, and the tie-in 2016 game is also a retelling of the 2016 film.
It's a lot to take in. But the game was made to advertise the film. Ratchet and Clank already had a functioning gameplay formula so the game ended up having a better reception than the film itself, one of the rare examples of an adaptation being better than the original work. Just don't dive too deep into the semantics of it.
4 The Matrix
The Matrix is like a universe of its own. With the upcoming sequel/reboot/remake film thing coming up, what better time than now to acknowledge the canon Matrix games?
There's Enter the Matrix, Path of Neo, and The Matrix Online. Enter The Matrix has you play as Ghost and Niobe, each having a slightly different playstyle and story. There's Path of Neo, a rough retelling of the films with added scenes. Then there's Online. The Wachowskis themselves touted online as a continuation of the series, which might end up explaining the absence of the original Morpheus in the upcoming film.
Tron is an interesting series. Originally seen as a landmark with regards to the implementation of computer imagery in films, it dropped in fame as it became more and more common, relegated to the odd Disney reboot. However, Tron itself was actually created due to a love of video games, so it makes sense that it would have plenty of games of its own.
Now, one could say Kingdom Hearts 2 is the best Tron game, but that would be cheating. Instead, let's focus on the original arcade games. There was the first one, based heavily on the original game featuring various inspired minigames. Its arcade sequel, Discs of Tron, was more independent, and an early example of a 3D environment in games all the way back in 1983.
Stalker (or S.T.A.L.K.E.R, if we're talking about the games) initially started as a book called Roadside Picnic in 1972, before being adapted into a film by the original authors and director Andrei Tartakovsky. Then came the games, not adaptations but rather very clear inspirations.
All are set around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and have you playing as the eponymous Stalkers. Many of the original Ukrainian devs went on to form 4A Games, the creators of Metro, which are also book adaptations. There's a long history that can be tracked with all these games, and the care put into their atmosphere.
1 The Nightmare Before Christmas
Finally, here's one you might not expect – The Nightmare Before Christmas not only has a video game adaptation, but actually has two of them, Oogie's Revenge for the PS2 and Xbox, and the Pumpkin King for the Gameboy Advance, a sequel and prequel respectively.
The Pumpkin King got mediocre reviews, calling it a decent if not lacking adaptation of the original work. Meanwhile, Oogie's Revenge saw poor reviews but interestingly had a combat style incredibly similar to Devil May Cry (it was developed by Capcom). In fact, it may have even influenced Devil May Cry 4, as Jack Skellington has similar moves to Nero long before that game released.
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