My Top 12 Favourite Movie-Based Games

Solely watching anything on a screen is one of the most difficult things for me. Unless it is something that demands my full attention or I have friends to discuss what we just saw with, I usually end up neglecting this activity for others. One is of course gaming, which is where I would encounter adaptations of films. While it is easy to poke fun at the bad ones, I would much rather look at those worth playing!

However, before we get to this list of mine, I have a couple of rules for it that should be addressed:

  1. If I have not seen the movie, I will not include its interactive version here. 
  2. Only one entry per franchise for the sake of variety.
  3. These instalments must be based on the movie’s style and plot, meaning it cannot merely be set in the same world. Because of this, Blade Runner and Scott Pilgrim vs the World sadly do not count.

#12 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (GBA)

Undoubtedly controversial due to its author, the Harry Potter series is still a nostalgic classic to me, with my favourite takes on these stories being the Chamber of Secrets titles for the GBC and GC. Regrettably, they could be argued for being primarily based on the novel rather than the film since it has original art and more elements from the book. Because of this, I decided to pick one entry that stuck closer to what I saw on the big screen: Prisoner of Azkaban for the GBA! Made by Griptonite Games, this is basically an RPG where you control three mages throwing plenty of spells that get upgraded forms as you use them, with a limited mana pool to each protagonist.

Due to this and the importance of learning the enemies’ weaknesses as you face different ones simultaneously, strategic planning is demanded and makes the combat thrilling. While this also does enrich the sorcerers’ specialities with what they can shoot from their wands, they also come with unique skills. For example, Hermione can lecture you into making your hexes stronger and Ron has firecrackers for stunning opponents. Even better, the team have useful abilities for exploring Hogwarts too, like casting Lumos to light up dark rooms. Admittedly, this is nothing more than a cute dungeon crawler with bare bits of the plot included, but one with great design ideas to enchant you.

#11 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (GBA)

Before the awful The Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson made one of the best adaptations of fantasy novels ever. Even the games were usually solid, with the consoles getting enjoyable hack & slash entries and the PC seeing outstanding RTSs. Though the one I love the most is the loot RPGs for Nintendo’s advanced handheld. Both The Two Towers and The Return Of The King by Griptonite Games let you choose one of the main heroes to venture through their respective storylines, which can even present unique pathways.

I went with the former of the two instalments because it contains parts of The Fellowship of The Ring and much more vibrant areas to visit. Not to mention, it is fascinating to witness how diverse the cast is in terms of class. You can journey as Eowyn who is the only one with no ranged attack yet holds various defensive capabilities. If you would rather keep foes at a distance, Legolas has plenty of powers revolving around using his bow but needs to stand still to regain HP. Frankly, every protagonist is exciting to experiment with thanks to their passive and active skills, with the co-op and robust replay value making traversing through Middle-earth simply wonderful.

#10 Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (360/Wii/PS3)

Of course, a Lego game had to appear here and there a ton to choose from. However, one that I regularly go back to, is The Complete Saga due to how fantastically it captures the first six movies’ tales by using hilarious pantomimes. Even the prequel trilogy tuned into an entertaining adventure and made me appreciate its inclusion. Although I do not wish to sell the Arcade or SNES adaptations short, this one is something I believe anyone can have a blast with because of how approachable it is to both newcomers and veterans alike.

This action platformer has plenty of characters to control, light humour, and grand replay value! Sure, you could breeze through and still enjoy the ride, but you can also scavenge for hidden collectables and even learn subtle moves like deflecting shots back with lightsabers. With these qualities and the creative stages being consistent, I believe this title can be recommended to even those who are not fond of Star Wars. Also, travelling to a galaxy far far away with a friend in co-op is always a good time.

#9 X-Men Origins: Wolverine (360/PS3)

How this is not flaming garbage, amazes me. Based on one of the worst comic flicks ever, Raven Software actually made it into a satisfying hack & slash with a huge emphasis on beautiful violence. Whether it be your different combos or defensive abilities, every single one is important to remember due to the abundance of diverse and aggressive foes to annihilate! Combat is thus constantly exhilarating, with small RPG aspects and equipable boosts supporting your playstyle! Yet, it also made sure to let you feel like being Wolverine, with regenerative health and your claws effortlessly cutting enemies in two.

Despite that the gore is probably the most mesmerising aspect, it is also incredible that the story was better in this adaptation. With no fluff dragging scenes out, the plot became intriguing and ended on a neat cliffhanger. Certainly far from great, but serviceable nonetheless. This entry has minor issues with bland variety such as turret sections and still follows a terrible movie, but with costumes to unlock and a strong challenge, it sweetens the already captivating calamity caused by your flawless parries and quick scratches.

#8 The Jungle Book (Genesis)

Even if it is not my favourite take on the original novel, The Jungle Book by Disney is a nice film about a man-cub’s search for his identity that I respect. Virgin Interactive surprisingly took on making a game of this classic, with their track record being a grand one at that point with titles like Aladdin and Earthworm Jim. Though similar to most of their 16-bit products, the Genesis versions were usually the best options.

Unlike the SNES instalment, this side-scrolling collectathon with a helpful compass has responsive controls and lets you always get enough view to make sure any mistake is your own. Even the variety in locations is excellent by making you face different challenges, such as crumbling temples to leap through, climbing between labyrinth treetops, and hanging on vines while throwing bananas at rude monkeys! Combined with a soundtrack and visuals that gorgeously represent the movie; this is a comfortable and engaging journey through one pleasant cartoon.

#7 Aladdin (SNES)

Possibly one of the most famous Sega versus Nintendo arguments, I love both versions of Aladdin. Nevertheless, despite the beautiful recreation of the animations and music by Virgin, the latter by Capcom focuses more on the protagonist’s acrobatic capabilities, which is more fitting! Using momentum to reach ledges, parachuting with a blanket, and swinging off poles to kick soldiers, add to make this a riveting platformer.

What I especially admire is how the levels’ designs are heavily integrated to enhance the overall adventure, such as stalactites to grab onto and bouncing on enemies being important to master. Even your attack in the form of throwing apples is just for stunning opponents, meaning you have to jump around mainly. Again, I would completely understand if someone would prefer the action side-scroller for Genesis, but these are basically pears and oranges of a wonderful movie, meaning you cannot go wrong with either.

#6 Jurassic Park: The Lost World (Arcade)

I would not have experienced this classic had it not been for Casper taking me to a fantastic video game museum in the Netherlands. The film itself is an underwhelming slog that is hard to recommend, but thanks to the developers at Sega having primarily contact with the promotional team at Universal Pictures, only its fundamental plot was offered. Because of this, a heavy emphasis on action was given to this light gun entry and it is a thrilling ride due to this.

Sitting inside a vehicle-shaped cabin, your goal is to survive hordes of dinosaurs by accurately firing at them as quickly as possible, giving you a fierce adrenaline rush! However, there are some great implementations besides the gorgeous visuals and audio, such as being able to save your partner by hitting the foes’ weak spots and finding power-ups to get the upper hand. There is even a difficulty mode inside this genuinely balanced title, causing it to steal your coins by being entertaining instead of unfairly punishing! Perhaps a fool’s hope, but this one truly deserves a revival outside of the arcades.

#5 Goldeneye 007 (XSX/XSS)

Honestly, I initially did not understand the praise for this one. The version for the N64 has clunky controls and a horrible framerate that made it age poorly. Luckily, Rare was able to rerelease this gem on Series X/S with a modern aiming setup, stable 30 fps, and widescreen, making it the ideal way to experience this objective-based shooter. In fact, this made me appreciate what a landmark instalment this one is!

Following the awesome spy flick of the same name, you take on the role of secret agent 007 through various stages while carrying out tasks that increase in quantity and challenge depending on the difficulty. All expect you to explore intriguing environments, using your diverse gadgets and weapons properly, and survive dangerous encounters. None are easy assignments, but due to the short and memorable levels, it is engaging to learn how to efficiently approach each and master them. If that was not enough, the multiplayer and tons of cheat codes are still delightful to mess around with! Fixing up nostalgic products should definitely be more common, and this is a showcase for why.

#4 The Godfather (Mult)

When I heard one of my favourite movies ever would be adapted into a video game, I was lost for words. I make no secret that I am not a general fan of GTA, but do love its genre and The Godfather is a terrific addition to it. Playing as a new recruit, you will be helping the Corleones out with different missions that follow the film’s events and taking over businesses to gain income for your new family. Because of this, it becomes a wonderful retelling of the main story where you are a significant part of it.

Exploring New York in 1945 is enchanting due to the myriads of detail in the presentation and layouts to make it all feel authentic. Of course, combat is a big aspect of this journey and it comes with some neat inclusions, such as letting you aim at opponents’ specific body parts while taking cover and even go hand-to-hand if you want to neglect your grand selection of firearms. Speaking of, fighting up close comes with plenty of moves for persuading those unwilling to cooperate, such as tossing them around. While I would say the Wii version is the definitive experience as it has fantastic controls and extra content, this is an offer you cannot refuse for any console.

#3 Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue (DC, N64, PS1)

One concept I am particularly weak for is the miniature perspective. A Bug’s Life and Stuart Little 2 are some noteworthy examples of this, but my pick for this list has to be Toy Story 2. This is simply a superb collectathon where you venture through Andy’s house, the backyards, a construction site, and much more as a small action figure. Because of this, you have incredibly varied and creative sceneries, such as sliding down clotheslines, battling jackhammers, and avoiding harmful basketballs. 

Each location is also easy to grasp, with five tokens to gather in order to get further. These will regardless be acquired by finding a hidden one, collecting 50 coins, rescuing five buddies, racing, and boss fighting, but are always uniquely executed to make them captivating tasks to take on. Even Buzz is excellent to control thanks to his acrobatic abilities and combat manoeuvres that make destroying antagonists fun, with the presentation being absolutely stellar. I would even argue this surpasses the cinematic source material, which should speak volumes.

#2 Batman (NES)

Tim Burton’s Batman movies are some of my favourite comic book films ever, with both getting tons of great adaptations on multiple hardware. While I was initially considering the beat’em up for the SNES, the NES platformer is everything I want from its genre. As the caped crusader, you will be tested in diverse scenarios, where both your light hops and strong leaps will have to be properly utilised, with a remarkable wall jump at your disposal! This is made fantastic by the fierce level design that will make sure your skills will be tested continuously, with no obstacle being cheap.

Additionally, there is wonderful action as well with various utilities that you need to use wisely for dealing with the different lawbreakers, such as your limited batarangs or short punches. It all comes beautifully together to make every stage tense and the bosses dangerous. Completing this package, are the outstanding visuals, the magnificent soundtracks, and the cutscenes that make the immersion marvellous. Frankly, I put this one up with Arkham City, as it is that phenomenal.

#1: Spider-Man 2 (PS2, GC, XBOX)

What a stunning title. The adaptation of the first Spider-Man movie by Sam Raimi did experiment with added content from the comic, but this sequel goes open-world and I have rarely felt such joy from this genre as here. Playing as Peter Parker, you will be following the main plot of the film with more imaginative elements from the graphic novels, such as chasing Black Cat or dealing with Mysterio’s illusions. All of this is done with the cheesy and charming humour of the flick, causing even random NPCs to become memorable!

However, it goes far to make you feel like you are this witty superhero, with realistic swings by needing your web to connect to buildings, stopping random crimes, and even being just a decent citizen by getting a balloon back to a little girl. Furthermore, additions such as delivering pizzas or finding tokens enhance the exploration and fast-paced nature of the whole setup. Even the combat is excellent by having each button dedicated to a specific function, but combinable for creative moves. This makes you not just a part of the film’s structure, but its world in every way possible, making it the best of its category in my humble opinion.

Upon doing research to make sure I was not misinterpreting film adaptations for others, I realised that these do deserve a mention too. A bit similar challenge and I hope you can forgive my unoriginality, but I would like to know your favourite games based on books, Casper. They can be set in the same universe or feature distinct inspirations from these, but cannot have visuals influenced by comics, manga, or movies.

Published by Slionr

A guy who likes to talk about video games and loves tabletop gaming. You can always follow me on twitter: @GSlionr

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