Through the years gaming has taught us many things; sequencing, timing, persistence, how to rescue princesses from spiky shelled turtles and that you should never get excited about game adaptations of films you love. Sadly the latter, a strange yet true phenomenon, is as old as gaming itself, with the most notable entry, ET, baring its own urban legend regarding a landfill site dedicated entirely to copies of it. However, as all gamers know, sometimes one game arrives to fool us all into a false dawn of quality film adaptation yet to arrive.
The Terminator franchise has been ripe for gaming since the red glint in James Cameron’s eyes signified the moment his blockbusting brain conceived the pitch. However, only one game stands out as worthy of the franchise (well, the first two films anyway), that game is T2: The Arcade Game. With a gun bigger than Arnie’s biceps, the arcade machine looked so imposing you’d go with it if you wanted to live. While offering nothing new to the rail-shooting genre, it featured exactly what fans wanted, a glimpse of the action in Cameron’s future war against the machines, which may have been better targeted at Mark Zuckerberg.
Next, a game that assisted my recovery from a bout of tonsillitis one Christmas, Jurassic Park on the SNES. Taking control of Dr. Alan Grant, the aim was to escape the island to safety while zapping as many creatures as possible with a cattle prod, evidently ensuring Grant’s continued supply of work on fossils. Featuring first and top down elements, the game looked great and continued to surprise with appearances from the T-Rex. Frustratingly though, the game asked you to play from start to finish in one sitting, but this didn’t bother me, it’s what childhood illnesses at Christmas are designed for.
Who could resist some lightsaber action in Super Empire Strikes Back? The epitome of what a great Star Wars game should be, it was gaming nicotine to a child who spent way to long wondering whether he would ever wield a real-life lightsaber. With various force powers at your disposal and the prospect of also playing levels as Han and Chewie, the game also introduced flight-sim elements and a Snow Speeder level that looked amazing. Jumping around like there was no tomorrow, the game was formidably difficult to complete but worth every wasted second of life for the Vader fight at the end.
However, one game rules the roost of film-to-game adaptations and if I didn’t mention it, an alcoholic womanizer with narcissistic tendencies may silently dispose of me. Goldeneye 007, for the N64, shows what can be done with film licenses in the right hands. Stylish, sleek and sophisticated, the game had more set pieces than Q had gadgets. The multiplayer mode also added gravitas to the brilliantly realized single player campaign and guaranteed Goldeneye a place in the history books of gaming greatness.
Is it so hard to ask that great films receive games worthy of their brilliance? Perhaps taking a look back at the games that have truly realized their source material will encourage us to demand the best of future adaptations. Maybe we will one day look back and laugh at the abominations we had to endure as we play through a plentiful bounty of quality movie tie-ins. At least while we wait to see whether this dream occurs prior to the end of all things, we have, at least, a few gems to replay and enjoy during our next attack of tonsillitis.