As much as we love films, we can’t deny that there are aspects of the industry which underperform, to say the least. One of these, which has seen some surprising progress over the last few years, is that of digital game tie-ins. Whether through traditional console-based games or more modern mobile adaptions, these games have long suffered a less than stellar reputation – but now, finally, the trend is shifting.
Before getting into the more positive developments, we want to take a look at the heroically bad. Nowhere is this better illustrated than with the 1982 release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600. Often regarded not only as one of the worst film tie-ins, but also as one of the worst commercially released video games of all time, this game’s rushed development is the stuff of legends.
“…E.T. was incredibly impressive, at least by the standards of failure.”
Contributing to the 1983 video game crash and playing a major part in sullying the name of film-to-video-game adaptions for decades, E.T. was incredibly impressive, at least by the standards of failure.
So what is it that makes the modern environment so much different?
A great deal of this owes it thanks to the increased financial potential to which major property owners are now paying attention. As video games now earn more each year than even the US Box office, it stands to reason that license holders need to take stock of just how much this part of the entertainment market has to offer.
The key here has often come from the understanding that while direct adaptions of films into games can work, the best efforts are usually born from those more focussed on properly adapting to the chosen genre or system. While this often means taking a film-universe and putting their own spin on it, this can also take a far more unusual form, when proper attention is given.
Mobile adaptions are major players on this unusual front, but perhaps more interesting are those offered by online casinos. This may seem a difficult form to adapt to, but developments like movie related slotmachines offering the likes of Planet of the Apes and Spinal Tap have proven that it can be done and that significant success can be found on this front. This also helps reach a market which traditional video games might not, again boosting popularity and raising public awareness.
“Mad Max, on the other hand, gives the player a wasteland to explore with enemies to race and fight…”
Back on the more traditional video gaming front, the most successful modern adaptions like Alien: Isolation and Mad Max give something films never could – a way to take part in the feel of a world. Alien: Isolation, just as with the first Alien film, let players experience the helplessness and fear of the xenomorph for themselves.
Mad Max, on the other hand, gives the player a wasteland to explore with enemies to race and fight, all while upgrading your car to the murderous standards as set forth in the films. These excel because they understand the texture and the mood, even when the execution differs from the source material.
With an Avengers game on track for release sometime soon, we can’t help but appreciate just how much progress we have seen on the film and gaming front. Sure, games translated or adapted into films might underwhelm more often than not but, at least, the other way round is rarely as disappointing.