Throughout video gaming history there have been many video games based on movies. In many cases movie based video games target an audience who are already familiar with, and probably already fans of, the source material that gave the video game its title. In some rare cases a movie based video game can be based upon something more obscure or older than the player, or the video games itself, leaving the player unfamiliar with its source material, or origins.
A personal example would be one of my favorite original Playstation games: The Italian Job. The year was around 2002, and I was buying up as many inexpensive PSone games as I possibly could. I liked having variety in my collection, but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit the factor that played heavily into these purchases was that these games were selling for probably less than the cellophane they were wrapped in just to make room for PS2 games.
As a kid my family never went to the movies and we rarely ever paid much attention to VHS releases. When I was a kid, the only way I saw a movie was the, often times heavily censored, version that was the weekend matinee on the basic TV channels we had. We never had cable either. So when I found a game called The Italian Job that looked like Driver, but with Mini Coopers, and was published by Rockstar games, the company behind Grand Theft Auto, I was sold, but knew absolutely nothing about the source material this game was based on.
The following year a film bearing the same name was set to be released, but it looked nothing like the video game I was playing. As the commercials for the new movie by the same name started appearing on TV I decided to hit the internet and find out what exactly this video game was based on and why there was a new movie using its name. It didn’t take long for me to find out The Italian Job was a cherished classic from a bygone era, starring Michael Caine. This resulted in me purchasing a copy of the DVD and loving the movie, as well as giving further context to the video game. A video game based on the new movie was released, but I would dare say neither the new movie or its video game are anywhere near as good as the originals.
Another example would be Starsky and Hutch on the Gamecube (also available on the PS2 and Xbox). I was familiar with Starsky and Hutch, as it was played on a local channel at 5am, but I had never sat down and actually watched the show for very long, just bits and pieces. The comedic movie version was set to be released the following year but, yet again, a video game based on the original version was released beforehand. Admittedly loosely based on the original TV show, it turned out to be a fairly ok game, while no further version was needed for the comedic movie.
A perhaps weak examples might be The Three Stooges on the NES. I’m not sure how popular they were when this game was released. The NES game was released some seventeen years after the final episode of The Three Stooges. Maybe they were still popular in this era, or maybe there were a lot of kids scratching their heads when they saw this on the shelves in toy stores.
One of my favorite examples is Chapolim x Drácula, which is a ROM hack of Ghost House for the Sega Master system, but released on physical cartridges in Brazil. The game is based on a Latin American character by the name of El Chapulín Colorado, portrayed by the late, great Roberto Gómez Bolaños (aka Chespirito). From what I understand a Brazilian company secured the rights to produce their own Sega products within the country to keep costs affordable to the citizens and somewhere therein this game was born. I would love to have a copy of the game myself, but I’m not sure many, if any, have left Brazil.
I’m sure in most cases everyone is familiar with the Duck Tales and the Rescue Rangers and the Tail Spins from the Disney Afternoon lineup of cartoons. It’s the obscure things, at least to me, that cause me to research the source material, and learning more about it that I enjoy. As with The Italian Job, I had played through the game and enjoyed it without knowing anything at all about it, but once I watched the movie I could pick out what each situation was based on and recall the movie scene in my mind, which added to the enjoyment of the game overall. Sure, sometimes games are loosely based on the title they spawned from, but in some cases having the knowledge of where they came from can add a bit more excitement and enjoyment to the overall experience.