Once a month, Gimme 5 will bring you a ‘Top Five’ of all things gaming. Adam Smith may claim that his crystal ball of gaming goodness shines far brighter than most, but don’t let that stop you shattering it on the floor if you disagree! Let us know your views in the comments below!
We all love a good movie, and on occasion we see a film that truly tickles our fancy – a film so impressive, even, that it might even be worth phoning home for…
Occasionally, one of those magnificent moving picture shows gets the attention of the video gaming gods, who huddle around their take away pizzas and ponder the possibility of making the film into a game. In recent years, the mention of such a feat is often met with a mixture of gasps and groans: the ‘gasp’ part stemming from the fact we all know how great it would be to play as Indiana Jones, for example. But, then, we also know how ‘great’ most movie tie-ins end up being (remember the god-awful Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark?), and that’s where the ‘groans’ part peers in.
But frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about the groans today. Instead, I want to focus on nothing but gasps: the gasps of unexpected joy and amazement that, somewhere, there exists genuinely remarkable movie tie-in video games. Quiet on the set! Here’s the best of the bunch…
Movie tie-in video games are like a box of half-eaten chocolates: it’s only very occasionally you find something to your taste that’s worth unwrapping. 1993 was a particular good year in Agrabah, as Aladdin for the Sega Mega Drive gave us much of the film’s humour and excitement, as well as plenty to collect and challenge us along the way. Two years later, Disney and Pixar had us at hello with the phenomenal release of the first Toy Story movie, which was partnered with a pretty decent Mega Drive and SNES tie-in. A long time before that (in a galaxy far, far away), the SNES also delivered the tough-as-toffee Super Star Wars to tie-in with the 1977 film sensation, and was excellent if you could cope with getting your ass handed to you on a regular basis. Alas, none of these tie-in titles quite made the top 5…we’re ready for the close-up.
5 – The Lego games based on movies (not ‘The Lego Movie’ game)
Released – Various
Platform – Various
Genre – Action-adventure
Did you know… Beginning with Lego Star Wars, there have been several movie franchises covered including Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and Lord of the Rings. Movies due for the Lego video game treatment in the near future include both The Avengers, and Jurassic World.
I’ve had the displeasure of playing the movie tie-ins for both Harry Potter and Indiana Jones in the past, and yet, when the series is remade entirely from little plastic blocks, something unthinkable occurs: they get good! And not just good, but genius: the novelty factor is cranked up to 11, the humour that comes from brick-built levels and characters is utilised perfectly, and the simple pick-up-and-play mechanics mean it’s genuinely good for all ages. Some may argue these aren’t ‘strictly’ movie tie-ins, but if every tie-in video game gave the time and effort that Lego does to making these masterpieces, maybe the whole genre wouldn’t have such a bad reputation. For the young, these offer endless replay value and hilarity, and for those of us with facial hair and mortgages, they offer well-needed escapism from reality and remind us how much better everything is with a bit of colour.
4 – Toy Story 3
Released – 2010
Platform – Various
Genre – Action / Platformer
Did you know… Though the game was released on nearly all platforms available at the time (including PS2), the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions received the most favourable reviews due to their expanded version of the ‘Toy Box’ mode.
What we often look for in a movie tie-in video game are sections of the film recreated for our gaming pleasure, special features specific to the game that make it stand out, and genuinely decent gameplay. Toy Story 3 does all of that, as well as throwing in a brilliant co-op mode which adds hours of extra play time if you’ve got a mate who is just as juvenile as you are! The story mode is pretty good on its own, but the real winner here is the ‘sand-box’-style Toy Box mode, which has you completing quests which unlock more quests…making for ridiculously addictive gameplay that has even the older gamers saying “I’ll be back”. It’s by no means tough, either, meaning the young’uns can have a blast too. Ultimately, the game grants the player control over their favourite Toy Story characters, and doesn’t forget to be fun about it – what more could you ask for?!
3 – The Lion King
Released – 1994
Platform – Mega Drive / SNES
Genre – Platformer
Did you know… There are a couple of levels in the game that don’t appear in the film. Though these were originally thought to be add-ins specifically for the video game, it was later announced that they were based on scenes which were later cut from the movie release.
Virgin Interactive were doing things right in the early Nineties. They’d made games based on the fizzy drink 7 Up’s mascot Cool Spot, pulled out the magic lamp with their tie-in of Aladdin, and then they released this king of the jungle. Let’s be honest when we say that, of all the great Disney classics, The Lion King remains one of the absolute best. The music is timeless, the story is Shakespearian (it’s based on Hamlet, you know), and the stampede aftermath still has me bawling to this day… If any film deserved a decent video game, it was this, and The Lion King delivered a challenging, captivating tie-in that saw Simba grow and growl as he journeyed to the final battle with Scar. It’s by no means perfect, but it captures the emotions of the film so well, and is still worth a play-through even today.
2 – Spider-man 2
Released – 2004
Platform – PS2, Xbox, Gamecube
Genre – Action-adventure
Did you know… This game was also released on the PC, but was so badly dumbed-down for the port, that it received a critics’ rating of half the home console versions’ scores.
Getting to play as any superhero is cool, but getting to play as Spider-man is something most teenagers have dreamt of. Web-slinging, wall-climbing, free-falling from great heights: these are the things of fantasy! But, when Treyarch and Activision created this little gem, they made sure these aspects were not only key, but unbelievable amounts of fun too. The story faithfully followed the film plot, and yadda yadda yadda… that’s not important here. Yes, the story was good and all, but YOU COULD FREE-ROAM-WEB-SLING, PEOPLE!!! No invisible walls or buildings too high to climb up, the game was as close as we’re likely ever to get to being radioactively altered in such a cool, non-monstrous way. The controls were sweet and on point, the graphics were good for the day, and… Spider-man! That is all.
1 – Goldeneye 007
Released – 1997
Platform – Nintendo 64
Genre – First-person shooter
Did you know… The game actually out-sold The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, missing out on the highest sold N64 game to only Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario 64. It also debuted a kind of ‘stealth’ element that was unseen in FPS games that had come before it.
Ah Rare… what happened to you? Back in the glory days of the Nintendo 64, Rare were churning out classics as if it was something they could do in their sleep whilst juggling lemons. And atop their pile of prestige will always be Goldeneye. So often imitated, but arguably never beaten, was there ever any doubt which movie tie-in would find the number 1 spot? If the incredible in-depth single player mode was the cake itself, the icing was without question the multiplayer, which paved the way for every FPS since. It’s not only the best movie tie-in of all time, it’s the best Bond game of all time – and arguably the best FPS too. The graphics may not look quite as cool as a Martini nowadays, but no amount of shaking or stirring can dislodge this behemoth from the top of this list.
The name’s Bond, Games Bond…