Many times there are movies and TV shows in the pantheon of geekdom that for many gamers would seem to be a ‘sure thing’ as a video game hit. Many times games are made yet the game is released during a time long after the game’s release. Other times the game accompanies the movie but the quality of the game is unacceptable due to bugs or just plain lack of inspiration. As a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, it is commonplace to see large passionate followings of many of the good and great movies and TV shows of recent day. See the success of shows like The Walking Dead and movies like The Avengers often times spur fans into such a frenzy that all they want to do is immerse themselves in the story. This is typically the case in the downtime in between sequels or seasons.
TellTale’s rendition of AMC’s The Walking Dead franchise is a prime example of innovation and quality use of a license. For example, the Star Wars franchise went through a downward spiral of mediocre games that many believed would never end. Long after the end of the original trilogy and around the time when the prequels were rumored and anticipated, Star Wars featured a wealth of games hit the entire spectrum of classic to dreadful. Games like the Rogue Squadron and Battlefront franchises stepped in and restored hope during those dark times of the force. Since then, classic games in alternate genres than shooters or space combat sims have shown developers that the so called obvious choice for the genre of a film or show isn’t always the best choice. Classics like Knights of the Old Republic have changed how many developers approach many franchises.
The Star Wars MMORPG named The Old Republic by Bioware is making huge strides in improving the Jedi experience and more. AND IT’S FREE…2 Play.Many times, movies are released and money making scams are published in the guise of games which typically irk the fans to no end. There are a few exceptions to this trend like the short run of quality Lord Of The Rings movie based games for the previous console generation. But what happens where there are wildly popular shows or big time movies that only receive half-hearted MMO’s or half-baked movie adaptations? What is stopping them from trying again and getting it right as a sequel?
So let’s visit a few popular franchises that are ripe for the picking.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is such an in-depth storyline with a rich history and many characters that one would think it would be easy to spawn an intriguing game of some sort. While an action RPG was attempted, it received mixed reviews and didn’t quite live up to the quality of the show. The difficulty of making a game for this show does involve the storyline (which is typically the barrier for most franchises). The signature of the story is the sense of family, betrayal, honor, and duty that reside in the various factions that are all pushing and pulling for the Iron Throne.
Then there is The Wall. You would think that aspect of the story would be the easiest to extract some sort of exciting story that wouldn’t take away from the show. Most gamers could easily see Bethesda utilizing their Skyrim engine to build a unique singleplayer experience as rich and detailed as Skyrim itself. Problem is that the amount of time it would take to flesh out the world, the NPCS, the voice acting, and the story to populate of game of Skyrim’s nature would be quite the undertaking. Few if any of the core characters from the show/ book could be used for fear of creating something that would be better served for the screen.
Still, one could dream of Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall or even a prequel adventure based on the fierce Dothraki!
The Matrix Franchise
The anime flavored martial artistry and gunplay in the Matrix movies were legendary. Neo’s mastery of the Matrix gave him near superhero-like powers in the virtual AND real world. As the war against the machines raged on, those that were freed from the Matrix were typically depicted as hackers. In a way, this storyline allowed for a lot of imaginative ways to build a thrilling and action packed virtual world that gamers could leap into. As this trilogy played out, fans were hungry for more and more, even after the last movie. A couple of games were made in Enter The Matrix and Path of Neo yet neither really seemed to make the video game splash that many seemed to desire.
Enter The Matrix seemed to be the best received of the two since it’s vision was a tad bit more ambitious. The concept of the game was meant to fill in the storyline between the second and third movies. This was a brilliant strategy in theory and provided the buzz that is typically need to garner interest in movie adaptation games. Meanwhile Path of Neo was a straight up control-Neo-and-beat-things-up-like-the-movie-fest. Not that these games were bad but they did have a pretty magnificent canvas to work from in both the story potential and the known elements of action in the movies.
A part of me would’ve wanted to see a Devil May Cry styled game re-skinned as a Matrix game with crazy combos, great bosses, and great cinematics. Even better, how about a mech based mini-game focused on the defense of Zion? If you really want to get deep, how about a strategy-RPG based game where you must train and deploy teams of ‘hackers’ about the real world and into the Matrix to extract more members, execute missions, and protect Zion?
Rarely has there ever been a gaming franchise that has feverishly desired a quality current gen console game than the Aliens franchise. Games have either been just ok or they have been just plain disappointing. A majority of these games have all focused on the FPS genre and maybe that is the problem. Aliens:Colonial Marines was honestly the first game of note that made a major advertising push as a Triple A title game. Major budget, major backing, and the end result was a major fail.
Personally, this franchise could certainly benefit from a shot in the arm. A re-skin of Firaxis’ XCOM game would be a particularly welcome way of delving into this universe. Maybe the different teams used can be compiled of a mixture of scientists and military personnel all bent around extracting as much information as possible about Aliens, Founders, and whatever else is introduced. The missions could be a RTS styled survival game rather than a flat out extermination or rescue mission based game.
What if the games took on a more Dead Space 3 or Uncharted approach? It seems that games of that nature feature a greater sense of immersion than the more recent attempts at thrills in the FPS form. Even better, what if the game focused solely on playing as Aliens attempting to take over Earth or some other planet?
Kill Bill is one of the greatest action movie franchises of all time. Quentin Tarantino knocked it out of the park with this modernized homage to classic samurai, kung-fu, and anime movies. It is very hard to take any kind of liberty with the source material of this movie. This classic revenge story of the Bride had everything you could ever want in a martial arts film. You had the classic boss style battles and the difficult training motif with the sensai. With each moment in the movie from The Bride’s awakening from her coma until her Five Finger Death Punch finale, these movies featured countless sequences of great martial arts action. Armed or unarmed, The Bride was deadly! Still, once the movies concluded, there was NO attempt at a video game and even now, no desire to continue the story.
If a game was done, a movie adaptation wouldn’t be much of a stretch as a beat ‘em up Double Dragon or Final Fight (old school games) kind of game. Back in the days of 8-bit and 16-bit gaming, the transition to video games would be quite similar to the very satisfying pixelization of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. On the flip side of just a carbon copy of the movies, one could take the prequel route. Individual stories of the different members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad could be fleshed out where you show the origins of each.
Of course, the best fit genre for this movie would certainly be a fighting game a la Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. That way, the story portion of the game could be very light and inputting characters would be quite easy. Regardless of how it is done, the P Wagon MUST make an appearance!
With the recent movie success of Marvel’s The Avengers (which had mixed success as individualized games for the main heroes), DC is on the verge of planning their own mega movie. Undoubtedly there will be a video game. Surprisingly, through the years, there have been few to no Justice League games (I personally don’t count the Lego Batman games) whereas Marvel has done quite a few different Avengers iterations. Back in 2006, there was a relatively uninspired version called Justice League Heroes that followed the same format as the popular Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. Unfortunately, the quality of that game wasn’t quite enough to make much of a splash.
In an odd response to the DC video game void, the DC Universe MMORPG game was designed. The only problem is that game requires you to create your own superhero and you are not allowed to actually play as one of your fav heroes. This takes away from the dream of controlling your favorite DC heroes. With great comic storylines such as the Blackest Night and others, the ability to lead Superman or Power Girl or Green Lantern together as a team would be lost in a host of generic goofy named wannabes flying around. While this may fulfill the fanboy desire to create their own superhero in the DC universe, there is nothing like taking the reigns of Batman and beating up iconic villains like the Joker and the like.
Maybe the recent dip into the fighter genre will be the answer that DC is looking for. While the MK vs DC game didn’t wow the fanboys, Injustice looks to be the pummeling answer many crave with over the top combos and powers. With a host of costumes, villains, and heroes to choose from, it is very possible that they could strategically build a lot of DLC featuring new characters or costumes that allow for new combos or finishing moves (based on the storyline the costume is from of course).
Farscape / Firefly
This is a two for one situation because both TV series had wildly loyal and passionate fanbases that would have loved to explore these universes in other ways. Since the cancelation of these shows, fans even today hope and pray for the series’ to continue or return since both ended kind of suddenly and in ways that begged for more.
Firefly was that classic space pirate kind of fantasy storyline. It was an inventive mix of a sci-fi and western motifs led by an enjoyable sense of light-hearted back and forth between crewmembers. It was funny, exciting, and mysterious all in the same breath. The revelation of the Alliance’s experiments with child prodigies (such as River) leading to telepathic abilities was interesting. The neverending scare of encountering Reavers provided the terror and gravity necessary to keep all factions in the Firefly universe in check. The result was a universe that was ripe with possible storylines for both main and fringe characters and villains.
Farscape, though different in storyline, also had countless memorable characters both fringe and main. Focused about the hodge-podge circumstantial crew of the living ship Moya, Farscape lived off of the drama of different races and species coming together to learn about each other, survive, and hopefully return ‘home’. All the while, the villainous Peacekeepers and the powerful Scarrens chased them all throughout the galaxy for knowledge of wormhole technology known by one crewmember. Always fleeing and always arguing amongst themselves, the series held grand designs cut short by loss of viewership due to unpopular story arc changes.
As for what genre these universes would be suitable, most would probably answer MMORPG. While this is the common direction developers choose to take to immerse the fans in the universe, it rarely becomes much of a success. Still, this would probably be the best course of action for gamification.
If you wanted to stretch things a bit for Farscape, a strategy game based on the Peacekeeper/Scarren war could be done. Even better, a space combat sim of the same war with mercenaries thrown in the mix could work as well. Oh, the possibilities!
Either way, I think both franchises are probably looking for more shows or movies at this point. The storylines were great and each seemed to be cut short before or during their prime.
This franchise has seen great success on TV in 2 different generations which is quite rare. The original series is a sci-fi classic and the reboot that the Sy-Fy channel featured is repeatedly debated as one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever. So why haven’t there been ANY games facing the Cylon menace? A simple answer could be because there are already a bit too many clones in the market already. Not to mention the target genre (space combat sim) seems to have disappeared from the console (and even PC) market to a degree.
BSG’s story holds some of the most gripping and unpredictable moments in TV sci-fi history. Spanning four gripping seasons, the show has space combat, espionage, firefights, and much much more. Capturing all of this in a video game is quite hard and the MMO that exists barely touches on the intensity of the show’s subject matter and action.
In a way, Mass Effect is an epic mesh of Star Trek and BSG and has effectively dashed many opportunities to have a truly successful BSG game. Even Wing Commander was a bit of a clone of the BSG universe to a degree. Flying constant missions to save, protect, and scout for various reasons was done so well in those games that the opportunity for a great BSG pretty much played itself out in these games and many of the like.
Maybe since the genre has yet to see a quality or even ambitious space combat sim for the current gen of consoles, we may be due for a good one. Come on… who wouldn’t want to fly as or with Starbuck?!