Best Movies Based on Video Games
We’ve got plenty of “video game movies.” Movies, like the much-maligned Super Mario Bros. or objectively the best movie, ever made Mortal Kombat have a special place in the heart of nearly every gamer. Whether it was the lovingly-created CGI, the meticulously crafted worlds, or the ever-changing score by composer Jon Brion, movies shaped our childhoods. When reviewers talk about what makes a game “great”, movies are often the first thing mentioned. So why can’t they also understand how movies are made?
Video games were a fashionable genre in the ’80s. Only sci-fi was its dominant preoccupation. PlayStation launched the Mindcraft series with 1987’s The Game Masters. It followed the adventures of a young boy and his robot sidekick. Most of these games were relatively forgettable, but their modest size showed designers still had plenty of juice left in the tank to innovate.
Famicom, Nintendo’s most successful console, came out the same year. To broaden its appeal, it launched the Video Games section of its shoddy hulking mass-market unit, with hit titles like Gunstar Heroes and Darkwing Duck. But Nintendo stuck to its guns.
Arguably the biggest name in gaming overall, the Japanese giant focused its resources on creating an all-encompassing, legendarily enduring universe. Famicom games were divided into nation-states, allowing players to play the ballerina amiibo as a member of Josef Stalin’s Russian or Hungary squad.
Shigeru Miyamoto spent four years creating the mythological Mario universe. Inspired by myths and legends he’d heard about from his family, the award-winning creator created over 700 different characters and stories. Miyamoto was always self-conscious about his creation’s flaws. He was constantly thinking of ways to improve upon Mario, turning the guy from the neighborhood into a somewhat more relatable figure.
The straight-laced Miyamoto also insisted that everything had a purpose. Even ghosts jump when they see light. This philosophy would turn him into a global industry titan.
Nintendo’s creation was their production playbook, and the lessons were designed to change minds and affect behavior. Miyamoto did his best to design his creation so that it could be experienced in an endless variety of ways. Gameplay was never the sole priority; as players found themselves endlessly moving from one end of the map to another or exploring a consistently changing world, they forgot that it was all a game. Miyamoto cared only about the experience, the thrill of solving a seemingly endless puzzle, and the impossible leap of pure unadulterated joy.
When Miyamoto spoke about Super Mario Bros., it was in 1998, and for the first time, he allowed himself to be introspective.
But you don’t have to risk a ban for giving a kid the power to zap a bad guy with a katana. Steam, for instance, offers millions of emotionally engaging games (and games that make you want to play). You know the type, the ones that feel like watching a Pixar short as an adult. Orange County, a game developed in Irvine, Calif., is one of the best—and that’s saying something since we’re partial to Mega Man the Game and Beat Em All.
This feature is very personal, very literal in its approach to player choice, and emotionally resonant in ways big and small. For every enjoyable game you can play with hockey stick Mario, there are dozens of offshoots—some of which include an enterprise-level community that fervently plays over 100 games per month. Many of the most popular games, in other words, got it right on the design front.
Cowula, a co-production between Finnish game development studio POWGI Games and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, is an excellent example. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic Finland near the end of the 19th century, and the player takes control of either the farmer or the wild boar that has gotten loose in the wilderness. They must scavenge for food, build defenses against the many dangers that can stalk the land, and keep an eye on the other players as they try to complete or fail in their objectives.