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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Movie tie-in video games you probably never even knew existed

Movie tie-in video games you probably never even knew existed

The title of this article could easily be movie tie-in video games which shouldn’t exist. Either way, whether you've heard of these or not, someone somewhere had enough money to burn and invested in these rushed, thankless video games in a bid to ride on the wave of success that can only be conjured by a movie.

Now, we’re fully aware that there will literally be hundreds of articles covering the worst movie games, but that’s not the point of this article, we’re trying to open your eyes to games of movies that you probably never even knew were made. (or at least forgotten even existed.)

Usually, a summer blockbuster means mega-millions in budget and several hundreds of thousands in marketing and associated products (Happy Meal toys, books, action figures and of course, video games.) No other video game on the shelves can match the movie tie-in game marketing super power, especially if it’s a box office busting movie, so these things still sell, they just never seem to be much good. Here’s a list of our favourite worst video game movie tie-in nightmares…

Dragon Games - Reign of Fire

Our website is all about dragons, so what else was going to top this list?

Released in 2002 for Xbox, Game Boy Advance, GameCube and Playstation 2, this movie tie-in allowed you to replicate the joys of dragons fighting humans in a post-apocalyptic setting. Unfortunately, where the game fell down wasn’t in its ambition (you could control both humans and dragons in an array of vehicles in a third person shooter setting) but unfortunately, in its execution. As ever with movie tie-ins, these games have to match the scale and scope of the movie they’re trying so desperately to replicate, and this game almost succeeds, just look at the scale of the screen grabs below. However, when you see these dragons and vehicles in a blurred pixelated mess is the problem with this game.

This Reign of Fire video game tie-in with dragons, planes and tanks should have been an absolute joy to play, instead due to rushed time frames, this game limped home with a Metascore of 56

Watch Reign of Fire’s game trailer here:

Super Mario Bros.

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4f/Supermariobros.jpg

Based on the Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper and John Lequizamo starring summer movie from 1993, Super Mario is based on the story of two plumbers who get transported to another dimension via the medium of a poo pipe. Translate this premise into a video game and you’re just asking for trouble…

OK just kidding! (And checking you were still paying attention.)


source: http://media.giantbomb.com/uploads/0/4647/841618-919538_27475_front_large.jpg

At the time, it wasn’t known exactly how successful the underworld franchise was going to be, so when you create a video game based on an unknown quantity, you have to make sure it’s good. By being an excellent game in its own right, it can stand every chance of still being successful even if the movie turns out to be a complete dud, however, Underworld the video game didn’t achieve this.

Whilst the movie actually turned out to be relatively successful, 95 million dollars from a budget of 22 million is an impressive return, (post Matrix action set in a fantasy world with vampires and werewolves was always a potential recipe for success, it certainly helped having Kate Beckinsale in skin tight PVC.) the video game just couldn’t live up to the big screen action. Yes there’s werewolves in the game, and yes there’s vampires too, oh go on then, yes there’s also the skin tight catsuit, but Kate’s butt just doesn’t appeal when there’s only 4 pixels dedicated to replicating it:

source: http://www.viciojuegos.com/img/juegos/6229/2.2.jpg

Whilst there’s no shortage of inspiration from the team charged with replicating the on-screen werewolf/vampire antics, it just all turned out a bit too messy.

Any idea what’s going on here?

Whilst many will recall the movie, I would be very surprised if there were many of you that can recall whiling the hours away on a PS2 playing this pixellated equivalent of a turd in a food blender.
Critic scores are nearly as hard to come by online as the game was (and not because it was sold out!): rated 4/10 by gamefaqs independent reviewer.

Independence Day

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PS1indepenceday.jpg

Again, an absolute monster of a movie, a box office beast, but the game was no beauty. Hands up how many of you played this game? Anyone remember it? Thought not. In the days when the Playstation was capable of producing fine games like Ace Combat with graphics such as these:

source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-a3t2TtMJfcY/Tb8OD8yDNgI/AAAAAAAAACQ/Hn1KyFLUKM0/s1600/ace+combat+zero4.jpg

Independence Day fans had to endure this:

source: http://games.multimedia.cx/wp-content/uploads/independence-day-generator.jpg


The game didn’t even get released on time. It came out a full 6 months after the film had eaten up the box office and was just looking to satisfy its appetite on the home DVD and VHS market. With much of the hype for the movie having passed, the game missed its chance to make up for in sales what it lacked in playability.

Rated 2/10 by IGN on its release.


source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Iron_man_video_game.jpg

Did you know that they made a film about Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man? We sure as hell didn’t. When did that come out? Was it any good? If you’re reading this article then you don’t need to be the next Einstein to come to the prediction that it was a big bag of dross.

At least this game actually made its release date and came out when the movie did. But that was probably all it did actually manage to get right. Let’s start with the facts, the game lets you play as Iron Man, you get to fly, you get to shoot rockets, you get to land and run around, you get to blow up tanks for goodness sake! It all sounds like the best game ever right? Right? No. It’s not. Its poop.

Because yes you can fly, but there’s a catch, you can’t ever fly in the direction you really want to go in. Yes you can shoot rockets, but you rarely can tell what you’re supposed to be shooting at. Yes you can blow up tanks, but only after spending 5 minutes trying to sort the camera out to point in the right direction so you can just aim your rocket, left a bit, left a bit more, right a bit now. Etc. etc.

source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-9t5X7_A5bIE/Tj9FQmsSdSI/AAAAAAAAAT8/Ji3-rnUJ1hs/s1600/IronManWii3-1--article_image.jpg

By taunting you with relatively good looking visuals and the promise of a fun title, the game ultimately slinks off with its tale between its legs, knowing it’s failed to deliver on its huge potential.

Metacritic: 42/100

Fact fans: 2 years later a near identical game was released for Iron Man 2. This time gaining 2% over its predecessor with a whopping 44/100 on Metacritic.

Men in Black

source: http://image.gamespotcdn.net/gamespot/images/bigboxshots/5/573855_12034_front.jpg

Another entry based on a Will Smith mid-90s sleeper hit. Oh wait, we mean multi-million pound box office goliath. The game however, was less Goliath and more, well, the ugly as sin, neglected lesser known relative that was left largely ignored in the corner at all the family parties. And for good reason. It sucked.

Released in October 1997 on the Playstation 1, the Men in Black game was a third person shooter which allowed you to step into the world of the famous agents J and K. Running around in sun glasses, shooting weird and wonderful guns like the little cricket and massive polished chrome rocket launchers, blowing to pieces the numerous slimy alien types at any given opportunity. It all sounds rather fun doesn’t it? Unfortunately, fun isn’t an option when it looks like this:

Source: http://media.giantbomb.com/uploads/11/116773/1807766-virtual_pc_2011_06_01_23_51_12_89.jpg

The game creators Gremlin Interactive actually had a good idea; let’s copy the style of another really successful game series like Resident Evil and paint it with Men in Black branding. Unfortunately, what they failed to do was actually achieve anything more than the game looking a bit like Resident Evil and the characters controlling a bit like Resident Evil characters, all of the other master strokes from the Evil series such as puzzles, tension and seat of your pants action were all left out completely. The game features one of the worst kinds of learning curves, it starts with the hardest level first, and then gets easier. What? Yep, the first level of the game is near impossible to complete, so only the most skilled of gamers or persistent MIB fans actually got to play anywhere near the majority of the game before giving up. Morons.

Gamespot score: 3.4/10


source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/15/Driven_%28video_game%29.jpg

You remember Driven right? It was the Sylvester Stallone “come back” movie, about the 9th comeback of his career. Tagged as Rocky on wheels Sly wanted to create a movie to reveal to the world how fun motor racing actually was. To all the fans across the world waiting for a decent Formula One movie, this wasn’t it, it was pretty much an Indy Car Fast and Furious featuring some quite ridiculous Matrix style crashes. (At one point a car defies physics as it flies into the air and then hangs in a cool slow motion shot whilst the other cars whiz past underneath. The Wachowskis then saw Stallone plagiarising their work with racing cars and then got in on the action themselves with Speed Racer, also spawning a horrid game tie-in.)

But what happens when you’re a game developer and you’ve got a lacklustre video game that’s based on a box office smash? Well, you sell loads of copies and hide from the backlash and fan boy hate mail. Sounds do-able. Hell, it even sounds like quite a cushy pay check and you might get tickets to the premiere thrown in too. But now lets take the example of Driven, a 75 million dollar movie which fails to live up to its early potential and turns out being a big steaming box office turd. What if your game is still crap? Do you release it? Can you still make money? Will people even know it exists?

That’s the whole point of this article. If it stinks, don’t release it. Maintain some credibility and see what you can salvage of the work you’ve already put in and come up with a better game in the future not based on the movie.

Take the game for Alien Resurrection for example, in 1997 (when the movie was released) the game looked like this:

source: http://www.unseen64.net/wp-content/gallery/alien-resurrection-psx/alienresurrection_2.jpg

But after some serious consideration they decided to delay the release of the game. The developers knew it was crap, (just look above, that’s not a bloke, that’s Sigourney Weaver. And look at that Alien, sitting like a puppy, awww cute! What, an alien, cute? WTF? This game sucks!) they wanted to maintain some of their pride. So THREE YEARS later, that’s right, in 2000 when all hype/criticism surrounding the movie had long since disappeared, out came the game of the movie, now looking like this:

source: http://justgamesretro.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/alienres5.jpg

An improvement over what we could have had, I mean at least the Alien looks fricking scary this time, the game used the delay to get distinctly average scores (6/10 across the board) but it could easily have been a whole lot worse had it been released in the 1997 incarnation. So delaying the game if you know it sucks is a confirmed successful strategy, at least to some extent.

But no, that’s not what bam! did with their game. They released it to rub salt into Stallone’s wounds at the time. “Hey Stallone, your movie sucks!” “Hey, so does the game!” “And the soundtrack!” “And what’s up with your face nowadays?!”

Driven the game took the elements of the film that were the most un-realistic and made them the staple for the game.

source: http://ps2media.ign.com/media/previews/image/driven/new/driven_9_640w.jpg

It played like too much of an arcade game for sim fans of the sport and like too much of a dull Formula One style game for fans of the arcade racer action. Considering this then only left fans of the film, of which there was only one, (called Til from Germany, who enjoys cooking and skiing in his spare time) the game pretty much alienated everyone.

Metacritic Score: 38/100

So there you have it. A bunch of movies with games you’ve probably never heard of and should never have played. However, if you have played any of the above, and if you have actually enjoyed any of the above, don’t bother contacting Dragon Zoo, just hang your head in shame and go look online for the following:

"10 of the best video games of all time." someone out there will have written something that can help you recover from playing these lackluster games.

That should sort you out.


However, here’s a few movies which should have had games but never did.

1)      Avengers. (It would have torn the video game industry up if it managed to allow players to control Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and Hulk with any sort of true representation of their movie counter parts)

2)      Casino Royale (Based on one of the best Bond movies in decades, this game could have reached the dizzy heights of Goldeneye had it actually existed at the time of the movie’s release. It was later covered as an afterthought in a few catch up scenes in the Call of Duty clone; Quantum of Solace.)

3)      Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (A film which features action scenes such as running around the outside of the world’s tallest building, driving at breakneck speeds in a sandstorm and a fist fight in during a prison riot can only be the ingredients to make a good game. Right?)

4)      28 Days Later. (A game which would be shit your pants scary. Imagine long periods of solitary exploring through the ruins of London with just a flash light and a bag of soda. Then bam! A door flies open, you’re faced with almost 20 infected running straight at you and you’ve only a narrow alleyway to run back down. AAAAaaahhhh. In fact, don’t ever make this game. We couldn’t take it.)

5)      Speed. (Yes, you know it. This should have been made. As Homer Simpson refers to it, “The Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down.” There’s no left trigger for breaking in this game, it’s negotiate the obstacles at 50 or above or die. Could have been repetitive fun. Even the bit at the airport, where the bus has to keep going around in circles? Well, they make entire games of that about Nascar don’t they?)

6) Edge of Tomorrow. That Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt movie where they Live. Die. Repeat that same day over and over, the day where they invade a beach from hovercrafts and rip the hell out of aliens? The film which was basically a videogame? Yeah, that sounds like an awesome game and an absolute piece of cheese to create a decent tie-in. Why oh why didn’t it happen?


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