Last week, I started doing Instagram live videos for my profile to directly connect with my followers. I have been using it mostly for mini film lectures and news about my upcoming projects. During one particular session, I was asked about the upcoming film adaptation of the popular Playstation series, Uncharted. This sparked an entire conversation about which video games needed to be made into movies as well as the ones that need serious reboots from past failed attempted at lighting up the box office. There has always been this gut feeling of mine that the video game scene under the right circumstances could be the next major trend in cinema should the audience finally suffer comic book movie fatigue.
In preparing this Top 10 blog piece, I had many suggestions thrown my way, but I narrowed it down to the ones that I would personally love to see. Some are very popular titles while others are so obscure that millennials would have no clue unless they played them. There are also some titles in particular that are not listed because they are currently in development at the major studios (i.e., Super Mario Bros, Sonic The Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat, etc.). At the end, I will list my honorable mentions.
Onto my Top 10:
10. Comix Zone
This was a highly underrated Sega Genesis gem that fit the Generation X era of the 90s. You play as artist Sketch Turner who gets sucked into his own comic book and battles his various evil creations in a series of comic book frames. I remember it having an addicting beat ‘em up style of gameplay that resembled some of the arcade-style Batman games of the period as well as some incredible graphics for the Genesis. Some would say the premise might be too close to the failed Ralph Bakshi film, Cool World; however, Comix Zone would have had serious movie potential under a director like Terry Gilliam or Barry Sonnenfeld had Sega continued to pursue a franchise in its next gen consoles. Unfortunately, most of us know how the Saturn and the Dreamcast turned out.
9. Out of this World (aka Another World)
Inspired by Star Wars, Dune, and Planet of the Apes, Out of this World was arguably one of the most innovative games of the early 90s. Developed by French programmer Eric Chahi and initially released for the PC before moving on to all 16 bit system, the story followed a young scientist whose particle accelerator experiment sends him to a far away alien planet where he teams with a friendly alien to evade creatures and unruly evil humanoids running a massive prison complex. No dialogue, no health bar, no lives, and no clues to help the player. The player is thrusted into the story as if he or she is in control of a living motion picture with some of the most incredible 3D graphics of the period, all of which was rotoscoped by Chahi himself. The look and feel of each level alone would have been worth adapting to the screen.
8. Flashback: The Quest for Identity
Developed by the same publisher as Out of this World, Flashback took inspiration from that game as well as the original Prince of Persia. As a cross between Total Recall and Blade Runner, you play as an amnesiac special agent who evades everyone from dirty cops to mutants as you travel from the jungle to a mutant planet in search for your identity. Unlike the simplistic storyline of Out of this World, Flashback had more twists and turns than most Philip K. Dick novels. Even the SNES and Sega Genesis box art had the main character drawn in the likeness of Harrison Ford. It also had one of the most haunting in-game music from that time. The game came with a prequel comic from Marvel and it spawned the sequel Fade to Black for the original Playstation.
7. Twisted Metal
The highly popular vehicular combat series that helped to kick off the release of the Sony Playstation had everything you wanted in a game: Machine guns, rockets, turbo boosting, and plenty of dark humor. You would battle up to 11 vehicles from the motorcycle riding Mr. Grimm to the iconic killer ice cream truck Sweet Tooth. A film adaptation had been planned by Sony in 2012 with Crank co-director Brian Taylor at the helm. Sadly, the higher ups canceled the project after realizing the fanbase was not enough to warrant a big budget production.
The gothic side-scroller that captured the hearts and minds of gamers since it first hit the NES in 1986 has been the gem of the Konami brand alongside the Metal Gear series. For 32 years, the series has made successful transitions into multiple gaming platforms without ever truly losing the essence of what made it special to take control of the Belmont clan in their never-ending war against Dracula. Though the game has been adapted in animation form with both the critically panned take on Simon Belmont on Captain N: The Game Master and the critically praised take with the anime series on Netflix, filmmakers have had a tough time bringing Castlevania to the big screen. Directors ranging from Paul W.S. Anderson of Resident Evil fame to Sylvain White have all been attached to the project with no success for the past 10 years. Personally, I think it needs a more legitimate touch from a real director like Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) or Andy Muschietti (Stephen King’s It).
Long before Halo, Call of Duty, Goldeneye, Duke Nukem, and Doom, Wolfenstein 3D was a definitive pioneer of the first-person shooter. As a kid, it was one of the first video games I played that had such excessive gore and over the top enemy bosses that would have scared Indiana Jones shitless. It took the typical P.O.W. escaping Nazi Germany premise and injected steroids into what would have been otherwise a typical Call of Duty game. While the games I mentioned in the beginning have far surpassed it since its release in 1992, Wolfenstein has carried a lasting legacy with multiple sequels and remakes for current gaming platforms. A film adaptation had been announced in 2012 with Roger Avery set to write and direct. No news since then.
4. The Last of Us
Made by the company behind Uncharted, The Last of Us was living proof that a video game could have the same emotional impact on the public as movies do. It was less of a typical survival horror game and more of a tale about the lengths that a father would be willing to go to protect their child. One could say it owes The Walking Dead a debt of gratitude. Sony had plans to produce a film as early as 2014 with Sam Raimi producing. It has since been stuck in development hell.
After the massive disaster of the Super Mario Bros. movie in 1993, Nintendo vowed to never produce another classic game from their library to the screen. But in the wake of the success of Wonder Woman and most likely the upcoming Captain Marvel, it may be time for them to revisit another major game changing classic with the heroic space bounty hunter Samus. Metroid was the first Nintendo game that proved that the brand was not just exclusive to young children. It took the side scroller style of Mario and gave you a dark but hypnotic style of gaming that could have been influenced by the Alien franchise. John Woo had the film rights at one time before he quit Hollywood to return to Hong Kong filmmaking. The early scripts had told the origin story of Samus, but Nintendo could not help to flesh out the story beyond the games themselves. Maybe I can take a crack at it. After all, I am the “Mother Brain”.
2. Street Fighter
Now I know what everybody will be thinking: There have been 2 live action Street Fighter movies that both failed miserably at the box office. There was also a really lousy American cartoon with Guile leading the heroes against M. Bison like a continuation of G.I. Joe. But the best adaptation, which should have been done as a hard R-rated action picture, was the 1994 animated movie distributed by the Toei Company. This film followed Ryu traveling the world to fight the many challengers from the game while being tracked down by M. Bison. All the character backstories from the game were preserved here and the right characters (Ryu, Ken, Guile, Chun-Li) were front in center while the others were used sparingly. To me, this was the Street Fighter live action movie we deserved and hopefully we will get something close to that one day.
1. The Legend of Zelda
A game that needs no introduction. You know the name. You know the story. Much like Metroid, Nintendo refused any offers for a Zelda movie in any form due to the Mario Bros. experience. If it were to be done, not only should Nintendo be actively involved in the production, but they also would need to hire a proven director like Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, or Guillermo Del Toro to handle the property with care and appreciation.
Metal Gear Solid
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Gears of War
Donkey Kong Country
The Oregon Trail
Wizards and Warriors
Streets of Rage
The Secret of Monkey Island