Since the earliest days of video gaming, developers have often tried to give players the feeling that they're "playing a movie." Therefore, it would seem to make sense that some of the best video games ever made were based on movie franchises.
Unfortunately, movie-to-video game history is riddled with 50 epic failures for every one triumph. E.T., for the Atari 2600, is still widely regarded as the worst video game of all time, but it's just the tip of the crap-berg that has been movie games. Fortunately, I'm going to run down the top five "movie game" triumphs that are out there. The first one, unsurprisingly, is a game based on a movie where people are trapped in a video game.
5. Tron (Arcade, 1982)
Much like its movie predecessor, Tron didn't need a good plot to be a great time. The controls consisted of a tall joystick with a trigger on the back, and a spinner with which to aim. They worked well for the levels where you were battling spiders, hunting tanks, and destroying a cone brick-by-brick, but they worked perfectly with the light cycles. Anyone who's seen the original Tron (or its reboot) knows how this works: make lines with your cycle, and try to get your opponent to crash into your lines. It really made you feel a sense of desperation, especially when going against three enemy vehicles at once.
4. Spider Man 2 (Gamecube, 2002)
Spider man seems like such a perfect fit for a video game, it's a wonder that it took until 2002 for there to be a great one. You got to freely swing around New York, wherever you wanted to go, as high up as you wanted. The "2" in the title is cosmetic: the game was released to tie in with the Sam Raimi movie reboot. Boss Battles were a blast, and you even got a few lines drawn over your head representing "Spidey senses" when you were about to get nailed by an exploding barrel! If you have a Nintendo Wii (or Gamecube, for that matter,) it's worth picking up.
3. The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (Xbox, 2004)
This one really flew under the radar, despite winning numerous awards for level design and sound when it was released. Instead of turning the movie into a mindless video game blast-a-thon, Starbreeze Studios made a tense, gripping, and very difficult prison escape game. The voice acting (featuring Vin Diesel's signature growl) was top-notch. You really felt like you were in the worst prison in the universe. Battles were brutal and bloody, and never easy. I highly recommend finding this one at a used game shop if you still have an Xbox.
2. Discs of Tron (Arcade, 1983)
Discs of Tron had to be played in the enclosed arcade cabinet to be enjoyed properly. It had the same joystick/spinner control scheme as Tron, but it also had a carpeted seat and speakers all around you to add to the experience. It simulated my favorite part of the movie, where two opponents used paddles to throw discs at each other, trying to knock each other off of a small circle. You could use the spinner to aim 360 degrees, and strategically bounce your discs off of the boundaries to take out your opponent. The levels got progressively more difficult, giving you multiple, moving platforms to jump across while engaging in combat. It's the closest that any game has made me feel to being inside of a movie, except for...
1. Star Wars (Arcade, 1983)
"I can't shake 'em!" "Use the force, Luke!" "Red Five, I'm going in..." These were some of the direct-sample quotes you heard while playing the vector graphic madness of Star Wars: The Arcade Game. The controller was exactly how I'd imagine it being in an X-wing fighter. You didn't need four triggers, but having them gave you the sensation that you were shooting faster. Every game started with you flying toward the death star, shooting down tie fighters and, more importantly, the growing "fireballs" they were shooting at you. You had a limited number of shields depending on what difficulty you picked, and when they were gone, the game was over.
After taking out enough tie-fighters, you went down to the surface of the Death Star, destroying bunkers and towers which were shooting at you. Then came the real meat of the game: the trench. While in the trench, especially when you reached the more difficult levels, the game threw an insane amount of obstacles at you. Sometimes you had to fly through a tiny little square in one wall, then immediately get by a wall with a tiny square in the opposite corner. It was sublime insanity. When you got through all of that, you got to drop the bomb, destroy the death star, hear congratulations from Han Solo, and start all over again on a harder setting. It was, and still is, the best movie-to-game translation ever made.
-Article by Tom McDaniel