Video games adapted from movies, including GoldenEye triumph and Street Fighter flop

It can be hit and miss when developers look to the big screen for inspiration (just ask Atari)

From left, Wayne’s World; Goldeneye 007; and Superman 64. Photo: Capstone Software, Nintendo and Titus Interactive
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Movies and TV shows adapted from video games are on the rise, with the blockbuster success of this year's The Super Mario Bros Movie and the television adaptation of The Last of Us receiving universal acclaim.

However, the same can't be said for games based on movies – as The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, which was released last month to below-average reviews, has shown. Some call the game broken, while others say it looks drab and flat.

Here, The National looks at what the industry got right and wrong, as well as the ones that deserve to be simply been forgotten.

GoldenEye 007 (1997)

Developer: Rare

Publisher: Nintendo

Platforms: Nintendo 64

Released almost two years after the movie came out, GoldenEye 007 is considered one of the most important games of the last 30 years, scoring 96/100 on entertainment aggregator Metacritic.

Developed by gaming company Rare, which had already found huge success with Donkey Kong Country on the Nintendo 64, the James Bond game is a first-person shooter that put players in the shoes of Ian Fleming's British spy.

It mirrors the events of the film as Bond attempts to avert nuclear warfare.

What made GoldenEye 007 stand apart was the multiplayer feature, which allowed up to four players to navigate levels as they attempt to better one another.

The game's popularity persists till today, with Nintendo and Xbox recently remastering the title for a new generation of gamers.

Alien: Isolation (2014)

Developer: Creative Assembly

Publisher: Sega

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360 and Xbox One

There have been numerous attempts to translate the thrills and scares of the Alien films into video games. While most left players disappointed, Alien: Isolation finally broke the mould.

Released in 2014 and developed by Creative Assembly, Alien: Isolation takes most of the elements that made the original Alien a powerful horror film and replicates it for gamers. The main playable character is Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley who was played by Sigourney Weaver in the films.

Amanda is faced with a similar situation to the one her mother found herself in; she is trapped on a space station where a terrifying alien creature is trying to hunt her down. Armed with a variety of weapons, Amanda has to navigate several missions and escape.

Alien: Isolation received positive reviews on release, earning a 93/100 review from PC Gamer magazine.

White Men Can't Jump (1995)

Developer: High Voltage Software

Publisher: Atari Corporation

Platforms: Atari Jaguar

Long before the recent remake of White Men Can't Jump landed on Disney+ for a new generation of viewers, the early '90s Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson basketball movie also spawned a game for Atari's Jaguar console.

The game, unexpectedly, centres on the simple act of shooting hoops. However, it was widely perceived as mediocre – scoring average reviews across the board, with most just confused as to why it was made in the first place.

The most surprising part of it was the game’s exclusive release on the Jaguar console, which did not sell very well – moving a mere 150,000 units worldwide before it was discontinued in 1996.

Toys: Let the Toy Wars Begin! (1993)

Developer: Imagineering

Publisher: Absolute Entertainment

Platforms: Super NES and Genesis

In 1992, after appearing in Hook and voicing the Genie in Aladdin, Robin Williams starred in this whacky but surprisingly deep comedy directed by Barry Levinson of Diner and Rain Man fame.

Centred on the story of a toy factory and its new owners who want to move it in different directions, the script was hardly begging for a video game adaptation. And yet, Imagineering went ahead and made one anyway.

After all, while games based on large blockbuster films such as Batman or Terminator appeal to a broad spectrum of gamers, when it comes to a film from the director of Wag the Dog, the demographic seems questionable.

The game certainly split opinions, with one review saying the game is "addictive fun", and another review saying "the gameplay itself simply isn't compelling enough".

The Sum of All Fears (2002)

Developer: Red Storm Entertainment

Publisher: Ubisoft

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube

Tom Clancy’s name has been synonymous with some of the most highly acclaimed shooter games of the last 25 years, with the Rainbow Six series still going strong.

However, Clancy’s 2002 book The Sum of All Fears, which was adapted into a feature film starring Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman, seems to have been an exception to the rule.

The game was of course a covert shooter and emulated the style of play in the Rainbow Six games. Despite receiving average to above-average reviews, it did not endure in the collective consciousness as well as Clancy's more memorable franchises.

Wayne's World (1993)

Developer: Gray Matter

Publisher: THQ

Platforms: Sega Genesis, Nintendo Super NES

Mike Myers and Dana Carvey starred in one of the most memorable comedy movies of the 1990s Wayne’s World. The cult classic remains popular and fans still effortlessly quote lines.

The 1993 game based on the movie, however, does not command the same following.

Released on the Sega Genesis and the Super NES, the Wayne’s World video game was a basic platformer that had gamers controlling one of the main characters from the movie, attempting to ward off enemies in the form of sentient musical instruments.

The game scored average scores from reviewers, with one saying the gameplay was "bogus". Most reviews referred to the repetitive nature of the game, with little variation beyond jumping and collecting.

Superman 64 (1999)

Developer: Titus France SA

Publisher: Titus Software Corporation

Platforms: Nintendo 64

During the late 1990s, the Nintendo 64 had a catalogue of excellent games, including Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64 and Star Fox 64.

However, one game released on the console was notorious for being practically unplayable. Released in 1999, Superman 64 is primarily an adaptation of the Superman animated series, which gained popularity after the success of the Batman cartoon.

Those who played the game cited clunky controls, drab graphics and an overall a bad experience – especially a particular mechanic requiring players to fly through a series of large rings before time runs out. A review from Gamespot said: "It serves no purpose other than to firmly establish the bottom of the barrel."

The game frequently tops lists of the worst games ever made and has become a collectable relic among video game fans.

ET the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Developer: Atari

Publisher: Atari

Platforms: Atari 2600

In 1982, Steven Spielberg directed one of the biggest films of the decade ET the Extra-Terrestrial. The movie broke box office records and won four Academy Awards.

The popularity of the film prompted the production of a video game, which was highly anticipated by fans.

Releasing in time for Christmas 1982, people rushed to purchase the game. Experiencing initial success, the title sold more than 2.6 million copies in the US. However, by the end of January, more than half a million copies were returned by unhappy customers.

The subsequent failure of the game had a huge impact on the video game company Atari, which had bet high on the success of ET. Unfortunately, the poor consumer experience triggered what is now called the video game crash of 1983.

The video game industry went on to suffer a recession that was later saved, in part, thanks to the success of Nintendo’s Famicom console.

Street Fighter: The Movie (1995)

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Acclaim

Platforms: PlayStation, Sega Saturn

With Street Fighter 6 launched this month to widespread acclaim, the franchise has remained one of the most popular in the fighting game genre since the original's release in 1987.

Its popularity later led to a film adaptation starring Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1994.

When developers decided to turn the movie back into a video game, they decided to ditch the drawn animation style the franchise was best known for and opted for digitised images of the cast of the film instead – a style made famous by the first three Mortal Kombat games.

The game scored very low in reviews, with many left confused why a game was adapted from a movie, which was originally adapted from a game, to begin with.

Updated: June 10, 2023, 3:04 AM