Sonic the Hedgehog 2 released earlier this month, and like its predecessor, is a massive commercial and critical success. Although movies based on video games are notorious for being bad, our favorite blue hedgehog proved that in the right hands, you can do it right. With that, here are five other video games that could translate well to film.
Since first launching in 1986, Castlevania became an essential title in retro gaming. The gothic, side-scrolling action game set itself apart with its unique tale of vampire hunters. In addition, the visual and audio aesthetics created an atmosphere unlike most NES offerings at the time.
While other gaming classics from that era have seen their stories translated to the big screen, Castlevania’s vampiric world remained in the dark. Even some more cartoonish and outlandish video games of the time found their way to the silver screen. Unlike Super Mario Bros., whose bizarre tale involves two plumbers rescuing a princess from an evil anthropomorphic turtle, Simon’s quest to slay Dracula translates easier to film. Since Nosferatu helped define the horror genre in the silent film era, vampires and movies went together like necks and fangs.
Even more frustrating is the fact that Castlevania did almost become a movie at one point. Originally, Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson would direct the movie, before being replaced by James Wan. For those unfamiliar, Wan is the horror genius behind Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring. Although Castlevania: The Movie had all the tools to become a success, the project unfortunately dissolved in 2009.
Although the Konami franchise has yet to sink its teeth into live-action film, there may be hope. Rumors creeping through the dark last October suggest the publisher has plans to raise the franchise from its coffin. Add in the resurgence of live-action gaming adaptations, and a re-popularized Castlevania reboot could eventually inspire filmmakers once more.
When it comes to indie horror games, few match up to the nightmare fuel that is Outlast. The nail-biting tale of an investigative reporter uncovering the dark secrets of Mount Massive Asylum is one that haunts me to this day. And as a horror fan that’s hard to scare, that’s an achievement!
Utilizing a night vision camera as a key gameplay mechanic, Outlast plays like an interactive found footage movie as it sits. Although the movie critic in me wants to creep out and say the found footage horror subgenre often ends in disaster, this is one time I think it could work. As a suspenseful survival horror with intense jump scares, the movie adaptation could utilize the first-person perspective to give the audience a similar feeling of helplessness and dread to what the game already masters.
In addition, the game has an impressively rich lore, filled with the supernatural and evil experimentation. All of these story details leave room to build off the game’s story without directly copy-and-pasting plot points. With the next installment, The Outlast Trials, currently in development, the IP stands to grow in popularity and further cement itself as a survival horror essential. And with that, this indie gem could have all the makings for a truly terrifying movie adaptation.
The Legend of Zelda
Moving away from horror into a video game movie with the potential to become a family fantasy classic, we have The Legend of Zelda. Like other Nintendo franchises, Link’s many quests are immortalized gaming relics that helped shape the industry as a whole. With its rich and unique history, therefore, it’s more than reasonable to suggest The Legend of Zelda deserves the movie treatment.
With a rich history dating back multiple decades, writers have lots of material to pull from. While the timeline gets confusing across the series, taking the game back to its roots could create a memorable film. The defining RPG of the NES actually follows a pretty standard “hero’s journey” character arc.
A young boy, and unlikely hero, Link must travel the kingdom of Hyrule to save the land and its princess Zelda from the evil Ganon. Is that a simplified version of the story? Yes, but it’s one that would work as engaging family fantasy in the linear film format.
Like the game, a Legend of Zelda movie could also work as a great launching point for sequels that explain the lore further. While the first film could introduce the Triforce of Power, subsequent sequels have the opportunity to expand the story. The movies could even better explain the curse that ties incarnations of Link and Zelda together across Hyrule’s generations.
When it comes to open-world gangsta games, most people instantly think of Grand Theft Auto. However, as GTA helped popularize the open-world genre, other developers worked to implement the successful formula themselves. And more than any other “GTA clone”, Saints Row did the best at utilizing the tried and true style, while making a game with a wholly unique voice.
Although Rockstar’s criminal sandbox incorporates a degree of satire, Saints Row thrives in all that is strange and wacky. As a result, the crude humor and over-the-top action of the games would blend well into a dark-humor laden action comedy. When it comes to ultra-violent, yet hilarious gangster action, nobody does it better than the Third Street Saints.
Just imagine a movie that features a fight scene where the main character wields a giant purple… you know… instrument. Yeah, let’s go with that. In addition, there could be a scene that plays on the septic tank mini-game from Saints Row 2. Ultimately, there’s so much potential for an outlandish crime comedy that not making a Saints Row game is, well, criminal.
Bad jokes aside, there may be hope in the future. For the first time in years, Deep Silver and Volition are working on a new entry in the franchise. Although the Saints Row reboot makes drastic changes from the original franchise, the insanely detailed customization suite shows that the devs still know what makes the series work. Ultimately, the arrival of the reboot this year, means Saints Row will be back on everyone’s mind in mainstream culture.
Read Dead Redemption (1 & 2)
The franchise that tops most game-to-movie wish lists, Red Dead Redemption also finds its way here. Although there’s much to love about Rockstar’s open-world cowboy shooters, the best part of these games is undoubtedly the narrative. In fact, I’d almost argue that the stories of Red Dead Redemption 1 & 2 are already interactive movies.
Therefore, while retelling the final days of Arthur and John would feel highly redundant, Red Dead Redemption 2 sets up the unique opportunity to dip back farther in time. In a story that focuses on the man with a plan himself, Dutch van der Linde, a Red Dead movie could even culminate in the infamous Blackwater Massacre that sets up the 2018 gaming masterpiece.
In addition, the western genre has much more history with movies than gaming. As Red Dead draws from the westerns of film’s golden era, harkening back to the genre’s roots is undoubtedly fitting. Overall, a Red Dead Redemption movie done right could grow the world established in the games, while cementing itself as a modern cinema masterpiece.
Do you think these proposed video game movies would be great? What other video games do you think would make for awesome movies? As always, share your thoughts in the comments!