It’s common knowledge that movie games have a sordid history. In the early days of the hobby, video games based on films were a sort of “kiss of death” littering the market with sub-par gameplay and cheaply made visuals. There are rare exceptions, like the Genesis version of Disney’s Aladdin or the infamous Rare multiplayer hit Goldeneye 007, but mostly…we get the NES adaptation of Friday the 13th. As the number of tie-in games died out in the era of THQ’s downfall, developers began to use obtained film rights to make games that focused on distilling the universe over making easy money. Titles like Alien: Isolation, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, or The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Despite this newfound quality, some film franchises have yet to get on the bandwagon, so let’s check out 10 film franchises that deserve new video games and the development teams that would knock them out of the park.
10. The Terminator Franchise (ID Software)
The terminator games have always been a little too “generic shooter” to be enjoyable. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines on the PS2 is a perfect example of the kind of shooter shovelware the franchise is commonly represented by. This same precedent was followed with the derivative Terminator: Salvation on last-gen consoles. Terminator will always be represented by a shooter. Just like Robo-Cop or similar sci-fi action hits, this in an inescapable fact. So, who does shooters better than ID software! With their return to their roots in 2016’s DOOM, we know they still have the chops to make a gritty, unapologetic shooter experience, and that they know how to make a game drip with atmosphere without relying on narrative weight. Terminator as a whole is already essentially story-absent by this point, and ID’s shooter mastery might just give the shiny chrome robots we all learned to fear a fresh coat of menacing paint.
9. The 007 Franchise (Bioware)
James Bond is a mixed bag when it comes to video games. We have mega-hits like Goldeneye 007, Blood Stone, or Agent Under Fire. But right behind them are 007 Legends, Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, and…yes…007 Racing, tire-fires in their own right. We always get the tense shoot-outs, the thrill of melee combat (slappers included, I guess?), and the excitement of challenging car-chases but the personality of the overly-womanizing Bond is always left out for sake of gameplay. With Daniel Craig offering a more emotionally complicated Bond, a studio known for its detailed character writing and inclusion of in-game romance may serve to give us the Bond game that 2010’s Alpha Protocol was meant to be. Bioware is a pioneering force in character driven action RPGs and would definitely bring the required narrative to the game. Hopefully, someone could teach them how to make an Aston Martin drive better than the Mako beforehand?
8. The Evil Dead (Telltale Games)
When Ash Williams, esteemed under-thinker and infamous Deadite slayer appeared in Telltale’s Poker Night 2, my heart skipped a beat. The cult classic franchise was re-entering popularity with a reboot film and a green-lit TV series coming to fruition and a game would have been the perfect round-out. Instead we got…well…a lukewarm imitation of Guardians of the Galaxy. Darkest. Timeline. The Walking Dead has proven that Telltale is not opposed the hyper-violence and Tales from the Borderlands showed that Telltale knows how to handle both camp and a killer sound-track. They could even toss in Batman: The Telltale Series’ planning stage mechanics, allowing players to choose how Ash handles the Deadites in the current scene before springing into action. I will cling to this pairing as a match made in heaven until somebody else reads from that damned book and makes it happen.
7. The Fifth Element (Insomniac Games)
So far, I’ve only talked on games that have had a real shot, with several attempts and a long history, but it is a genuine travesty that the world of The Fifth Element has only had one, admittedly abominable, attempt. The world drips with color and creativity, action and atmosphere all wrapped in a weird little sci-fi shell. Fans have made this one more and more of a hit over time, and I cling to the stylistic designs of the film as one of the greatest sci-fi design documents of all time. Hand this world over to open-world insanity masters Insomniac Games. After Sunset Overdrive, I want this team on everything even remotely wild, because they do not hold back. Even in their upcoming Spider-Man title, the personality is tangible and the cuts into the world are deep (NEGATIVE MAN!?!?) Ratchet and Clank proves they know how to make space, guns, and aliens feel like more than their tropes and they could only add good things to this relatively small universe.
6. The Harry Potter Franchise (Remedy)
Harry Potter games are not inherently bad. They’re just…not inherently good. From exploration titles to third-person cover-based spell-slingers, the series has leapt around the board, trying on every genre in the attempt to find the perfect fit. Hear me out. Remedy can find that fit. I base this entirely on Alan Wake. Remedy, in Alan Wake, made combat that sounded strange and unorthodox, fighting with flashlights and flares, into an easily understood, and strategically sound experience. Between Wake and the recent Quantum Break, Remedy has made their passion for narrative intertwining quite obvious, and I think that passion for traditional storytelling media will allow for new Harry Potter stories to blossom well. The key to success? Don’t use Harry Potter. Don’t use Scamander, or Dumbledore, or anything we’ve seen or heard. For a Harry Potter game to succeed in the post-Potter era, whatever developer ends up with the series needs to build a new story from the bottom up. I deeply feel that Remedy would live up to the challenge.
5. Nightmare on Elm Street (BeHaviour Interactive)
Alright. Apologies to Behaviour, they are likely sick to death of making horror-slash-a-thon titles thanks to their really great recent release Dead by Daylight. But I have to suggest this franchise for the development team. I base this not on anything in Dead by Daylight, but rather, my time with Naughty Bear, their 2010 teddy-bear murder simulation. When I first bought Naughty Bear, I expected nothing. I thought I was buying a bad game for a laugh. But as I played, I dreamed of the future we’ve arrived at now: a world full of asymmetric horror titles, and stalking my friends as a slasher over the internet. The problem with this current future though? The dependency on multiplayer only models. I want a slasher title with two distinct narrative campaigns for single player; one for the slasher, and one for the survivor, and I think that Freddy Kruger is the poster-boy for a slasher with visible character. Where Jason and Meyers are characterized by their calmly stalking visages, Kruger is famous for flashy gore and one-liners. This makes him the perfect candidate for player embodiment, even in single player. If well written and designed, as I know they’re more than able, playing alone wouldn’t feel empty thanks to the range of kill types and campy puns that Kruger could sling between silences.
4. The Matrix Franchise (SUPERHOT Team)
The Matrix is one of the original VR deep dives. The world is computerized, and the paranoia is palpable in the same way A Scanner Darkly is, you have to look over your shoulder to see what’s real and what’s not. With Superhot’s astounding and synapse-lighting action being my absolute favorite VR experience period: I want to see them take on The Matrix. In a way? Superhot already tackles almost all the franchises’ mechanics and themes, you could add DLC missions to the base game that The Matrix would feel right at home in, but I’d rather see SUPERHOT team take on an Animatrix style episodic structure that allows players to embody several different heroes across The Matrix. It is a no-brainer that almost makes me feel guilty as I type. Just be sure that you take breaks between sessions, lest you start to see the cracks in your actual life.
3. Cloverfield (Creative Assembly)
Non-combat horror experiences are all the rage. From Slender: The Arrival to Outlast 2, every horror fan is firmly on the hype-train. Creative assembly proved with Alien: Isolation that they understand what makes non-combat scary, and they offered enough mechanic diversity to keep hobby players involved. The biggest lacking in Alien: Isolation was story, which was the typical action-horror fare. I would love to see, as a challenge, Creative Assembly take on a more story-focused horror experience. Enter…Cloverfield. Imagine being trapped in your New York apartment with your family, you’re all scared, alone, and there’s stomping, exploding, every second spent hoping your building wont be next. Excursions to super-markets and dealings with other scared survivors, whom you’ll have to choose whether to kill or spare, will frame tense emotional sequences with your family like helping talk down a teenage son from leaving the apartment and running to find his significant other. My only request? Make the protagonist a mother, as we have enough father & family horror narratives.
2. Inception (Overkill)
It’s just Psychonauts with guns people. Dream-walking is such a well-used theme in games (Nevermind, Observer, Psychonauts) and players clearly want more of it. Inception brings the high-concept sci-fi theme to the gun-toting middle ground, allowing more casual players to enter the same space as those who walked the walls of the human psyche before. Overkill, the developers behind Payday and an Upcoming Walking Dead experience handle attitude heavy shooters well and I’d like to see them pushed to their limit with a game as potentially hectic as Inception could be. Payday’s gun-play and team mechanics combined with huge set-piece moments and unbelievably diverse level design. Just please leave the film plot alone and focus on a another team of dream-divers.
1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Owlchemy Labs)
Alright…hear me out…this has to be a VR title. Imagine waking up in a VR bed, brushing your teeth, jazzy detective music plays. No one has told you what you’re playing yet. You Open the door to your detective agency, you say hi to the mail desk guy and step out into a street full of both humans and cartoon characters. The shock of that reveal alone in a VR environment is worth part of the price of admission. Owlchemy labs, developers behind Job Simulator are both good at making wacky but intelligent jabs and at pacing games with as much detail as possible. You’d wander the cartoon world of the movie, alongside popular film characters like Jessica and Roger, and hopefully a few licensed cartoons the game could court, solving crimes as a new detective, or maybe even the child of Eddie Valiant, film detective. Investigating VR crime scenes already sounds fun, but a crime scene littered with interact-able magnets, rocket shoes, and ACME black holes is an amazingly fun sounding romp for sure. Please Owlchemy. Disney. READ THIS. Make the lovechild we didn’t know we needed. I BEG YOU.