Let’s get one thing straight. There isn’t a single video game movie that’s actually good. Or even half-way decent. You can give Silent Hill or Prince of Persia as many squinty sideways reviews as you want, but the truth is that they’d never stand up on their own. Video games and movies mix about as well as a barman with parkinson’s, and that’s why we’ve been getting shit like Super Mario Bros: The Movie, and therefore the only reason we remember that song about “walking the dinosaur”. They’ve already fucked up a load of franchises that we like, but what are the franchises we really, really hope they leave alone, for the sake of our sanity? Come with us, on a journey of wonder and discovery, or just keep reading, because we’ve listed them all here. WITH PICTURES!
10. Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption tells the tale of John Marston, who is neither red, nor as far as we can tell, dead. But he IS seeking redemption for his youthful six-gun indiscretions, so the redemption bit at least makes sense. Being a Rockstar Games title, it’s fully of cheeky digs at the romanticised western genre, as well as managing to contain a storyline that created more manly weeping than a tear gas attack at a lumberjack conference. Done properly, it could open up the gun-slinging western genre to the younger generations, and show that films set in the wild west aren’t just for people who live in trailers in Mississippi, own a gun rack and fly those weird little “don’t tread on me” flags. But done poorly?
The main reason we care so much about John Marston is that we are following him at all times. We’re walking a mile in his spurs. Every action he takes is guided, and like most modern game protagonists, his moral choices are our moral choices. Sure, you can tie as many ladies-of-the-night as you want to train tracks, but you can’t sleep with them because Marston is a decent family man. You can leave whole towns hogtied in your wake, but Marston has a very firm moral code, and we come to appreciate that. We form respect for Marston on our own terms, not because he spouts a quick one-liner when he guns some poor innocent down, but because it feels wrong when we force him to gun them down at all. Red Dead Redemption: the movie would be free of these concerns, only showing us the side of Marston that exemplifies him, perhaps with a few flashback scenes of his time with Dutch’s gang, but it couldn’t let us follow him.
Marston is at his finest when he’s happy. He’s got his farm, and his family, and the ‘missions’ where he takes the wagon out to town to pick up supplies, or keeps an eye on his cattle is what really makes him stand out. He doesn’t want redemption for redemption’s sake. He wants redemption in the form of his family, and a quiet, comfortable life, which couldn’t be represented in a movie without tension to keep the audience from getting bored with all the satisfaction. His wagon would have to be fitted with a bomb that explodes if he drops below 7 mph, and there’d have to be a crude sub-plot about his son being gay.
Bioshock asks one important literary question: “What if Ayn Rand novels weren’t boring as shit?” Instead of being about architects and railroad managers, what if they were about awesome underwater cities, and lunatics with mutant powers and juggernauts in diving suits? Bioshock manages all this, while still keeping the ideals and explorations of objectivist thinking mostly intact. It’s not perfect, but it allows for a fun little dual experience that combines the satisfaction of killing your first big daddy with the controversy of Andrew Ryan’s philosophy.
What could possibly be bad about a movie version of this gaming masterpiece? It’d turn movie-goers on to the fantastic elements of casual political philosophy! No. It probably wouldn’t. No casual movie-goer has ever been trusted to make up their own minds on political issues. Bioshock would become either a tense political thriller that so happens to be set underwater, or a fantasy blockbuster romp that does as much to raise literacy levels as a Triffid invasion. It’d more than likely star some seasoned veteran hero-star like Keifer Sutherland or Denzel Washington as some hard-bitten DEA agent who goes through the motions of rapture, making plain his own philosophy, punctuated by gunshots. Lines like this:
“You forgot one thing, Ryan. You forgot about “We, the people.”
Would be prevalent, which the audience would nod their way through because you can’t disagree with Keifer or Denzel, and wonder why dictators are allowed to operate.
Because you can be damned sure that Andrew Ryan would be the dictator. He’d be labelled quicker than the expensive cheese in a student dorm. He’s trying to form his own government, and that government doesn’t have a president. He’d almost certainly be either British or Russian, just so the evil is properly punctuated, and the whole “would you kindly” reveal would be levered into the subplot wherein Jack was Ryan’s sleeper agent, forced to kill his lover before vowing revenge.
8. Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid is well-known as a game that might as well be a bloody movie anyway. It’s what you get when you combine James Bond with not really understanding James Bond, telling the tale of Solid Snake, the manliest man ever to watch a woman undressing from an overhead vent. His struggles to rid the world of a bunch of animal-themed lunatics and inexplicable 70’s mecha have spawned countless sequels, but thankfully, never a movie that ever left the first stages of production. But what could go wrong? It’s a perfect setting for a movie, and already has a cinematic style about it, because Hideo Kojima always wanted to direct movies. This one would be easy, surely?
Well, there’s a reason that Hideo Kojima doesn’t direct movies. He’s no bloody good at it. During the game, it’s made very clear that as soon as someone uses a political term like “non-proliferation treaty”, it’s a not-so-subtle cue for you to leave the game running while you fuck off and make a cup of tea or a casserole or something, leaving Snake and Hal to their 25-minute long slideshow presentation. The movie would either have to leave these out, and dumb down the dialogue to CSI: Miami levels, such as:
“Damn it! We have a non-proliferation treaty!”
“Non-proliferation treaty. I read about this in Wired, or something. It means when everyone agrees not to have nukes, and stuff!”
Or even worse, leave it all in, and count on everyone in the cinema audience to whip their phones out and play Peggle until they’ve finished droning the contents of a Wikipedia article over a set of stills. Besides, if you make a movie containing characters called “Vulcan Raven” and “decoy Octopus”, then they damn well better dress like a raven and an octopus respectively, which might take the edge, ever so slightly, off the tension of various scenes.
Add to this Kojima’s irritating tendency to break up perfectly-serviceable scenes with Benny Hill grade humour and the explosive climax of the movie would be ruined by Raiden showing up naked on a space hopper to talk about how much he likes “American hot dog!”. Which would then become his catchphrase.
7. God of War
The God of War series is a great example of how a franchise can spiral wildly out of control. In the first game, we meet Kratos, an angry-as-fuck bald Spartan who made a deal with Ares, the titular God of War when a battle went belly-up. He’d serve Ares, and everything would be awesome forever. But when Ares (the little scamp) tricks Kratos into killing his family, their relationship turns a little bit sour. The series mainly focuses on Kratos being commissioned, in various circuitous ways, to kill of a bunch of Greek gods in the longest instance of protracted deicide since Christianity. Surely, if 300 made for such an epic, blood-pumping slaughterfest, then the same would be possible with God of War?
It’s unlikely. Movie heroes have to be more human than the bad guys. Leonidas is at least a human character. His wife is alive; he has a son, friends and dies at the end. That’s more human than the other guy or the hunchback, at least. Kratos isn’t really a human character at all. He works his way through gods like a fussy classics student and is less warm and appealing than a frozen big mac. He’d have to change, and that means focusing far more on the gruesome death of his family as a subject of his unquenchable angst. Of course, it would have to be someone else that did it, too.
Because God of War: the movie couldn’t be able to focus solely on slaughtering gods over and over. It’d be too expensive and shallow if it did. The movie would have to have another focus, but there really isn’t that much going on in God of War. Nobody could accuse Kratos of procrastinating in his duty to kill everything in his path, and they’d have to conjure up some pretty impressive side characters. Maybe they’d give him Eris as a wise-cracking trickster sidekick, and all her lines could be apple-related puns, but it’d still suck. Besides, they’ve already remade Clash of the Titans. For all the good it did.
Minecraft shows just how great game ideas can be developed through simple, aimless fun before being ripped off and sold as Minecraft. But at least they don’t seem to mind other people ripping off Minecraft, so that’s okay. It’s basically a “wasting a day when you should be doing something else, but that something else is harder than making shit out of cubes” simulator, and the greatest method of putting off work since actual unemployment. Which is also a common feature of Minecraft players. As a movie, it could be a hit. An eerie, conceptual piece about the bleak form of the world being moulded by the hands of intelligent agency in the form of a –
– Just kidding, it would be ass and nothing would happen. We’re thinking a Cloverfield level of nothing happening, here. Because of the basic wilderness setting of the game, they’d probably shoot it in Canada, where the protagonist lives on his own in the woods, shunned by the religious sect that sired him for looking altogether too cuboid. But still he is haunted by their memory, and the god they serve. Every day is a desperate bid for survival, with long montages of him punching trees threading reeds into paper, and every night, in his draughty cabin, he is woken by the hissing of their god-figure. Like other terrible horror movies, it would pretend to be psychological, and there would be long scenes of him sleeping, a la paranormal activity with the occasional explosion that wipes out half of his house. Then we’d watch as he slowly and painstakingly puts it back together again.
It would no doubt end with some terrible M. Night Schmalayan twist, like the creeper is his evil twin brother, or something. The inevitable sequel would take place entirely in the Nether, where the same shit happens, but this time the creeper is a ghast, and the bed blows up whenever he tries to sleep in it.
Then again, even this wouldn’t be as pretentious as the actual ‘ending’.
5. World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is immense, both in size and scope, and needs no introduction other than the admission that there are probably more people acquainted with the geography of Azeroth than can point out Wales on a map, and that number is growing every day. We expect that by the year 2019, we’ll all be forced out of this normal, boring world and into Azeroth full-time. So we’ll be there, doing what we always do in WoW. Hang around those fucking meeting stones, wondering why nobody wants a shiftless, poorly-specced Shaman in their group. But surely with such expanse, it’d make a great movie?
Not on your life. The thing about WoW, for most people, is the sense of exploration, and finding new areas to plunder for XP before moving on to more challenging climes. Most players aren’t really interested in the long and turgid lore of the place. Very few WoW players would admit to sitting in an inn, and poring over the minutiae of Illidan’s life story, or the history of the Black Temple. But that’s what the movie would have to focus on. With the inability to focus on exploration or spectacle on the same level of the game, we’d have to follow fucking Thrall around, and eat up whatever sub-LOTR level dross would pass for story line.
Yeah, we get it. WoW is big and popular, but when you get right down to it, the actual setting, no matter how pretty and varied, is still shallower than a quadriplegic’s swimming pool. Much of the content is borrowed from other fantasy series and novels, and the neat little twist is that you get to muck around in it to your heart’s content for 9 quid a month. Making a movie based on the lore of WoW would be in equal parts pretentious, silly and boring. And the only people that would want to go and watch it would be too busy playing WoW for sixteen hours a day anyway.
If you don’t already know what Pong is, we don’t know how to deal with you. You’d have to be too young to know, in which case we can only recommend that you get back to whatever primary-school art class you bunked off from in order to read this, because if you don’t finish that papier-mache cat by the end, it will stifle your future chances of ever getting a job. Pong is one of the first video games that everyone remembers because nobody gives a fuck about spacewar!, and centres around what we can only presume to be two bats and a ball, though it could just as easily be two really polite diners constantly declining to take the last of the cheese, or if you’re feeling particularly deep, the forces of determinism and free-will buffeting the human condition back and forth. But they wouldn’t make a movie about this, would they?
You better fucking believe they would. Remember Battleship? Probably not, because most of those that saw it ended up withering the memory centre of their brain by pure force of will. They’d likely do a similar thing to Pong. Maybe it would be about two rookie bomb-disposal agents, brothers named Joachim and Salazar Pong who get caught in a sinister plot to blow up Washington, and can only keep the bomb from exploding by passing it between them at semi-regular intervals. Or better yet, Stacey and Hortense Pong, two half-sisters from very different worlds who are both interested in the same guy! Who they then have to pass between themselves at semi-regular intervals.
The lessons to be learned here are that cynical marketing executives will turn on the most unlikely targets when they’ve finished picking over the bones of dire 70’s cop shows, and that Pong would probably star William Shatner at some point, because terrible ideas always do.
Many people might not remember Pitfall too well. It was a classic back in the day, and it was the only game we could play that made us even remotely feel like Indiana Jones. Of course, there was an official Raiders of the Lost Ark game, but that was shite. No. For us, it was Pitfall Harry that saved the day here, swinging across lakes filled with crocodiles, avoiding logs, and being swallowed by massive holes that just appeared out of nowhere. So, as a movie, Pitfall would become an action-adventure title to turn a whole new generation off pre-pubescent wizards and Mormon vampires, and back onto wisecracking adventure heroes, right?
Wrong. They tried making a TV series back in the day, and they loused it up even as an animated short running alongside Donkey Kong and Space Ace. Back then it was the inclusion of extra characters that ruined it. He had his niece along for the ride, and for some reason was accompanied by a cowardly mountain lion. 25-odd years later, and nobody would have learned a thing. They still ruin, of course, but they have a word for it now. Re-imagining.
Harry Pitfall would be imagined this time around as a schmaltzy romantic comedy featuring loveable yet hapless merchant banker Harry P, who dreams of a perfect life away from the turmoil of the urban jungle (a-ha). The vines would become deadlines, imposed by his harsh and uptight boss Mr. Scorpion, and the crocodiles and quicksand would be ably represented by the tumultuous relationship he has with his on-again-off-again girlfriend Victoria Rollinglog, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Instead of collecting treasures, his adventure would consist of a mad dash around the fancier parts of London, meeting with clients. Cinema staff would be handed stun batons, and authorised to use reasonable force on anyone who asks awkward questions. Just like in the A-Team remake.
2. The Sims
The Sims is a strange non-game, as far as we’re concerned. A kind of strategy game for bitter spinsters, or menopausal women who don’t have children to dote on anymore. A game of The Sims has all the entertainment value of a keeping a moonshine still in the woods. You keep a constant, manic vigilance over it in case the whole thing explodes while you’re not looking, and in the end, all you’re left with is something that makes you melancholy, incoherent and very possibly blind. Don’t let the millions of quirky expansions fool you, The Sims is Risk for the terminally-unoriginal. And you know what?
Fuck it. It would make for a popular movie, but on the second of its release, the human race officially loses all credibility. It’d be the worst kind of reality TV trash to drip from the open sores of creativity, and considering what it’s up against, that’s some pretty stiff competition. It’d be one of those dreadful slice-of-life reality things, where nothing ever happens to the boring, two-dimensional characters outside of the box they live in and one or two pointless outside venues and so most people in the western world could kind of relate.
A couple move into a new house on the block, and hilarity ensues! They cook a meal, and it catches fire! They sit and watch TV! The neighbours come to visit, and talk for hours about nothing! Old uncle Henry has a nasty turn after pissing himself next to an open fireplace and roasts to death! And it’d still be more realistic and entertaining than Real Housewives. Put simply, we’re waiting for the release of The Sims: The Movie so we can see just what an extinction event looks like up close, and very probably in 3D.
There are two types of people who enjoy Castlevania. There are those who remember fondly the old days, when gaming was hard, and who still have nightmares about Medusa heads, and there are those who enjoy the more metroid-vania recent offerings, where exploration and wild, weird Japanese story lines prevail. There are also those who liked Lords of Shadow, but they don’t count as people. Castlevania makes number one on this list because it’s not all about wild, angry speculation. A Castlevania movie has been in the pipeline longer than an agoraphobic turd, and there’s a dearth of information floating around the internet that details the proposed ‘Gothic blockbuster’. With a few changes, of course. Changes that would in no way alienate fans of the games!
Thankfully, the movie has been trapped in development hell for years, but until recently, Paul W S Anderson had been ‘interested’ in directing it, in the same way that a starving lion is interested in gazelle. This is the same Paul W S Anderson that managed to fuck up Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat for everybody, which places him only slightly higher than Uwe Boll on our “people we wish would choke on shit” list. Apparently, he gave it up to direct Death Race, which tells us exactly how badly he wanted that job, but not before leaving a script. He’s now been replaced by some Malaysian guy who directed Saw and Fast and the Furious 7.
The story was originally billed as “A Dracula origin story…with the story of the Belmonts”, but you’ll forgive us for not believing pre-production babble when you see that the cast list involves a handful of Nazis, a gypsy that looks a lot like Dracula’s dead wife, and Simon Belmont’s brother Cristofor, who becomes a werewolf. Like all terrible ideas, this story has been reconsidered and dumped, in favour of a blander version that basically reads like Lament of Innocence. The problem there being that most people experienced the story of Lament of Innocence years ago, strangely enough while playing Lament of Innocence.
We heartily expect the eventual, inevitable Castlevania movie to be something like a cross between The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Carry on Screaming, at which point we will bury ourselves deep beneath the earth and wait for the failed experiment known as humanity to shit itself out of existence.