High Points: The Best Games Based On Movies

During the summer season of gaming many, many games based on big blockbuster movies find their way onto store shelves. Regrettably most of these games, due to time constraints, and other restrictions placed upon the developer, end up on the wrong side of average. In a even worse turn of events, most of these substandard games then seem to find their way to the top of the charts, based solely on the selling power of the license, and we imagine then bring much sadness to those that chose to play them. As a result it is no wonder that in turn this gives the movie/game sub-genre a bad name. Of course, not all games based on movies are terrible and a few developers out of the hundreds out there struggle through the adversity and end up creating a quality game.

In an effort to back up that statement, and to make this whole blooming article worth writing, we have all raced to the attic of DZ Towers® (located in the highest room of the tallest tower) to try our best to find games based on movies that we actually enjoyed playing at the time of release. To make the job even harder we also made sure the game we found were ones we would happily recommend to you, our fair readers! As you’d expect, come the end of this adventure, we were left with slim pickings and ended up tossing most games out the DZ Skylight™, most are likely never to be seen again, but in the end we found ourselves left with twelve worthy titles worth talking about.

With the games in hand we now present them for your viewing pleasure in list form. Along with each listing is our favoured console to play it on, the year of release, and a few choice words on each of the game. Enjoy (or complain if a game you like is not there)!

Goldeneye (1997)

Well this was an obvious one wasn’t it, so it is best to get it out of the way straight away! If you have not played Goldeneye then you have missed out on something great and if you have not heard of it, well, there is something very wrong with you! Released way back on August 25th 1997, Goldeneye showcased a small, relatively new, team of coders within Rare working to the peak of their powers. From seeing the menu laid out like a MI6 dossier, to bungee jumping from the dam, to seeing the tank for the first time, to the finale with Trevelyan aboard the cradle; almost everything about the game was perfect. Oh, and let’s not forget about the multiplayer, almost single-handedly made by Steve Ellis, now director at Free Radical, that added a few hundred hours of replay value to an already great game.

Aladdin (1993)
Mega Drive

Now this is going back a bit! In 1993 Aladdin was released across three platforms, the Sega Mega Drive, Super NES, and Sega Master System. Interestingly, and it is a bit of a turn from todays movie/game tie-ins, each version of the game offered vastly different content from the other. However, almost every sane person would tell you that the Mega Drive version, created by Virgin Interactive, by many members who would later form Shiny Entertainment, was the version to get if you had to choose. If those sane people were not enough to convince you then the fact that Tommy Tallarico, David Perry and a bunch of Disney’s animators working solely on the Mega Drive version might! Also, for its time, the game perfectly captured many of the tunes made famous in the film released the year before.

The Warriors (2005)

Usually you can accuse most games based on movies for trying cash in by taking advantage of the film’s hype by making sure it gets released same time. However, this is not something you can accuse The Warriors of as Rockstar waited a whole 25 years before letting the Warriors out to play in the middle of 2005! The game itself was developed by Rockstar Toronto, of recent Manhunt 2 fame (Wii version), and while still violent it was never singled out by the mass media for particular condemnation. More recently a PSP version of the game was released (developed by Rockstar Leeds) but the Xbox version is still the one we really dig!

Super Star Wars (1993-1995)

Speaking of developers not being in a rush, another example of slow and steady winning the race was the trilogy of SNES games based on the epic film series which began in 1977, Star Wars. Released 16 years after the first Star Wars film, Super Star Wars, the first of the game trilogy, played like a Run and Gun with a little bit of platforming thrown in for good measure. Driving a landspeeder or piloting an X-wing was also thrown in to mix things up a bit. As the years went on, an Empire Strikes Back version (which added a double jump feature) and a Return of the Jedi version was released until the series concluded in 1995. A particular high point of all three games was the almost faultless recreation of John Williams’ soundtrack which was somehow squished down enough to fit on the cart but still managed to sound as epic and ear pleasing as ever.

TMNT (2007)

One of the more recent games released to appear on our list, but still a top quality move/game tie-in, is the release of TNMT on the GBA. Much like the release of the great Turtles in Time, The Hyperstone Heist and the much loved TMNT Arcade game (now available on XBLA) the game adopts a 2.5-D side-scrolling beat-’em-up approach instead of the 3D seen on other eight platforms the game was released on. As a result, the game plays significantly better than any of its more powerful cousins and, while not the best Turtle game ever released, is certainly the best one based on the current movie franchise! Unfortunately, just like the old games it is perfectly suited to co-op play but doesn’t have a co-op mode. Nevertheless, if you can pick it up cheap you will not be disappointed!

Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures (1995)

Developed by Factor 5, who are currently working on Lair for the PS3, Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures was released during the course of 1995 for the SNES. The big selling point of the game was that it took place over the huge total of 28 levels and, unlike Super Star Wars, told the story of all three movies, from Chachapoyan Temple to the Caves of Pankot to the Grail room, in the one game. Taking many cues from the films, Indy’s main weapon in the game was his bull-whip and both his guns and grenades had very limited ammo. The big set pieces from the film, such as flying a plane, riding a mine cart, and going down a mountain on a raft were all recreated in spectacular form in the game. Once again, John Williams was recreated very well on the small cart.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004)

You may have read our recent review of The Darkness and you may have even played the game yourself! Well, if you liked that then this is where Starbreeze first hit the big time with the fantastic Escape from Butcher Bay. In the Riddick storyline the game takes place before the events of Pitch Black, placing the Vin Diesel styled Richard B. Riddick in a Triple Max penitentiary as challenging the player to get him out. Interestingly, the game is most famous for being one of the first to use normal mapping, which at the time was heralded as revolutionary for producing top quality graphics. If you missed it the first time then why not wait for The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena which is a remaking of the 2004 game for PS3 and 360 with improved graphics and AI. It’s suppposed to be getting released very soon!

Scarface: The World Is Yours (2006)

Yes, say hello to one of the more recent games released to make it onto the list. Throughout the game’s development it was almost universally panned as many gamers thought the possibility of altering the hallowed final scenes of the film could lead to no good. However, when finally released, the game was hailed as a credible Grand Theft Auto-inspired title that brought its own ideas, such as the lolworthy “balls meter”, to the genre and still remained entertaining. Interestingly, the game has seen a recent reworking and has been re-released on Wii but unfortunately due to some control problems it stops it from being the best version available to buy!

The Thing (2002)

A bit of a big deal was made out of the video game adaptation of The Thing in the run up to its release in 2002. It talked a good talk with the developers announcing many new features, including a fear/trust/infection system, which they boasted would make the game fun to play. Ultimately, those features came off as feeling very forced but when viewed as a simple shoot ’em up The Thing was a highly entertaining game to partake in. When all is said and done you can’t really call any game that has the voice of the Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files bad, can you? Well John Carpenter did not think so as he even showed his appreciation of the game by lending his likeness to the character Dr. Faraday.

RoboCop (1988)
ZX Spectrum

Released way back in 1988 the ZX Spectrum release of RoboCop is easily the oldest game to appear on this list. While the game itself does not look that hot today, it was far from run of the mill when it was first released with high quality animation, sampled speech and sound effects rivalling almost all other games released in the same year. Also, the game went on to become one of the biggest selling games on the ZX Spectrum and was number one in the sales charts for over a year and a half which is a feat none of today’s top games can even think of achieving!

The Lion King (1994)

Going hand in hand with the release of Aladdin, The Lion King is the second of the Disney animated features to make a successful move to video game form. Just like Aladdin, it captured the feel of the film perfectly with a selection of the game’s levels having themes that mimic key moments seen in the film. The levels also boasted some interactivity with many of the animals aiding in your quest as you grew from a carefree cub to an adult with much stronger moves. The game even had a top quality 3D stampede stage which looked great for its time! Also, like Aladdin, the game was released on multiple platforms but in the end seemed to play best on the SNES.

Miami Vice: The Game (2006)

Released in the dying days of 2006, in conjunction with the film’s theatre release, Miami Vice: The Game is a rarity on our list, a rarity for more than one reason. Firstly, the whole Miami Vice franchise dates back to the 1984 TV show so you could argue this voids our whole list. Of course, we would argue against this as our list is very dear to us and we want no harm to come to it. Secondly, due to it being a handheld release it is one of the better film releases to not shoot up the charts on the week of its release. It has to be said that this is a crying shame as Miami Vice: The Game is easily one of the better movie/game tie-ins available for current platforms. In all honesty, we have very few bad things to say about the game as it seems to cram the best of both Gears of War and GRAW, condense it down to the PSP’s small screen and still be perfectly playable. Even some brand new games can’t say they have achieved that!