It happens all the time: Hollywood announces the next big movie, and then shortly afterwards a video-game adaptation is announced.
Unfortunately, for gamers and developers alike, movie games usually suck.
Since movie games must be released alongside the corresponding films, their development is often rushed.
Sometimes, the quality suffers because there’s an inadequate amount of time to perfect the graphics, gameplay, or other technical issues. Other times, a game simply doesn’t have a discernible plot, making you wonder if the developers actually knew the name of the film they’ve supposedly adapted.
According to Anthony Burch, features editor for the popular gaming blog Destructoid, it’s difficult to tell the plot of a movie through a video game.
Burch told the Georgia Straight that, since developers want players to feel as if they got their money’s worth, they fluff up the storyline with elements that may not necessarily be related to the movie in order to extend the gameplay.
“They’re all basically trying to force in things from the movie that don’t really belong,” Burch said. “Spider-Man 2 [the game] didn’t have a lot from the movie, which is focused a lot on character development and understanding who Peter Parker is. It didn’t have enough gameplay to justify the game’s running time and its price, so they just threw in all these other Spider-Man characters that weren’t in the movie.”
Another example is the Batman Begins video game, where gamers play Bruce Wayne as he runs through his burning mansion beating up ninjas and saving people before escaping the flames. None of this happened in the movie, in which Wayne simply escapes as quick as he can.
Burch argued that movie games are usually better when they don’t stick closely to the film’s plot.
“Like the Godfather game, if you have any respect for the Godfather as a movie then it’s sort of a travesty,” he said. “If someone had just changed the name of the Godfather game to “Italian Mobster” or something like that, it’s actually not a bad game because it throws away most of the things that the movie is known for.”
That’s not to condemn all movie games.
Burch said that there are still a few titles with redeeming qualities. Nintendo 64’s GoldenEye 007 is one of these games.
“GoldenEye had the good luck of being developed by Rare, one of the best developers in the history of video games,” he said. “More often than not, movie games are made by B or C list studios, because they’re more about money than anything else. Really, GoldenEye is the exception that proves the rule.”
Although most video games based on movies do suck, there’s a few diamonds in the rough waiting for those looking for them.