With Gran Turismo about to race into theatres, we thought we’d look at the ten best video game to screen adaptations. These can be shows or movies, but they have to represent the video games in a meaningful way, and/or contribute something back to the game in its own influence.
10. The Cuphead Show!
Cuphead emulated classic cartoons of a bygone era, so when Netflix announced it was developing a show, what better way to adapt it than to do a show in the style of both the game and the old-school style of cartoons it’s emulating? In that sense, The Cuphead Show! works as an adaptation of a tough-as-nails video game, but also as an emulation of classic cartoons. So, it’s very much a great video game adaptation and one that’s open to larger audiences.
9. Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City
Ignore the haters on this one. Welcome To Racoon City is a fun and entertaining movie. It is comfortable with B-movie shlock as it takes the same base characters and plots, and unlike the absurd and entirely unremarkable Mila Jovovich movies we had for nearly two decades, this movie proves to be fun. The casting is perfect with all the roles played to perfection. The plot is tight and works in content from the first two games. Sometimes you don’t need a movie to feel polished, cinematic, or high-brow. Sometimes you just need to get it right and Resident Evil: Welcome To Racoon City is as close to getting it right as these video game adaptations have ever gotten.
8. Mortal Kombat (1995)
Perhaps controversially, I prefer the 1995 Mortal Kombat film to the more recent 2021 film. The original is a banger of a film, with that iconic soundtrack, amazing casting, and awesome action style.
Sure, Mortal Kombat 1995 lacked the gore of the 2021 film, but it makes up for it with pure bravado. It’s also telling that Netherealm Studios (creators of the video game) have used the 1995 film to influence the look and feel of some characters, showing that adaptations can also influence the source material as well.
7. Detective Pikachu
This movie faced an uphill battle. How do you adapt a Pokémon story without the use of the iconic Ash or his various Pokémon or side characters?
The answer: Adapt an obscure game that features a talking Pikachu. The plot of the Detective Pikachu game is not exactly the most exciting or original, but it provides a great basis for the movie. The movie was able to bring many Pokémon to life with CGI in a way that most fans have only dreamed of. While a sequel to the game was not being considered for a long time, the success of the movie eventually encouraged Nintendo to make a sequel game. Now if only we could get a sequel to the movie itself!
6. The Super Mario Bros. Movie
It’s hard not to talk about 2023 and the movie and video game adaptation that seemingly bypassed all controversy surrounding it to become the top-grossing film of the year.
Sure, much was said of Chris Pratt’s voice, but that didn’t hamper The Super Mario Bros. Movie at the box office and it didn’t stop the movie from being enjoyable. Unlike some other adaptations, this focused on Mario and the other characters that make up his ensemble; any liberties taken in adapting the story worked for the movie’s overall vision. Simply put, this movie entertained and did so effectively.
5. Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Much like the previous entry, the first Sonc The Hedgehog movie faced a lot of controversy over the original design of Sonic, and to the filmmaker’s credit, they fixed it and ultimately produced an entertaining and fun movie.
The sequel hits the ground running, introducing both Tails and Knuckles to the movie. The plot borrows more from the video games and includes a tasty tease of what’s to come. While the first movie was no slouch, the second film really shows what a Sonic movie is capable of.
4. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
Before this series came out, CD Project Red’s Cyberpunk video game was facing a catastrophic launch full of bugs, glitches, and other issues that made the game unplayable for a vast number of gamers. It has to be one of the worst launches in all of gaming.
Then CD Project Red put in the work, and at the same time, Netflix was producing a video game adaption anime series based on the video game. When Cyberpunk: Edgerunners came out it faced critical and commercial success; and along with patches to the game, this shot the game to the top of the most played as people came back to the game.
That’s how powerful of an adaptation Edgerunners is. If you’ve played the game before and didn’t finish it, or just want to see more of this world, the anime does a great job of complimenting and bolstering the game and the world it creates.
3. Pokemon: The First Movie
While Detective Pikachu is a good video game adaptation, no doubt most Pokémon fans will cite this movie as a monumental moment. It came out in the height of the Pokémon craze.
The movie features a great story and voice acting. Some criticize the English release for excluding some themes left out from the Japanese original. While I recommend people watch the Japanese version if they can, the movie still is great many decades later. The plot and characters are at this point so iconic and synonymous that most people can’t differentiate what elements of the characters came from the movie and what came from the games. The Netflix-exclusive CGI remake, Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back — Evolution, is also very good.
At this point, League Of Legends is an unstoppable juggernaut in the gaming industry. There’s the base game which is over a decade old at this point, and that’s launched several spin-off games, as well as the Netflix series, Arcane.
Arcane is amazing because it takes these characters from a multiplayer game and gives them backstory and pathos, all wrapped in an amazingly animated steampunk-inspired adventure. It told a gritty and grounded story, but also managed to implement ten champions from the game, making for a beautifully realized world.
1. The Last Of Us
This shouldn’t be a surprise right? Sony and HBO partnered with Craig Mazin on this series. Craig worked on the phenomenal Chernobyl, which like The Last Of Us, features humanity fighting against a radically ferocious force, and the humans who help encourage its destruction. While he traded in nuclear contamination for fungal infections, the themes ring true regardless.
The show expertly replicates the game, but it also diverges from it in interesting ways. So even if you’ve played the game, you don’t know exactly how something will go down. That makes for an interesting watch for fans of the game, and those who are watching fresh.
That’s my picks. What are yours? Do you prefer Mortal Kombat (2021) over Mortal Kombat (1995)? Let us know in the comments below.
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