There are games that, in my opinion, just wouldn’t work as movies, animated or otherwise.
- Dark Souls
- Call of Duty
- Left 4 Dead
- A Lot of Western RPGs
I’ll be tackling each game individually, but it really all boils down to this point – these games rely so much upon the interactive aspect of the video game medium in order to succeed.
Dark Souls is known for its challenging difficulty. You will die. A lot. There’s a ton of lore to it, too, which would help add to the plot for a movie, but how do you replicate that feeling of repetitive failure in a movie and how do you replicate the euphoria you have when you succeed in a movie? The chances that a movie can do that successfully are slim to none.
If Call of Duty didn’t have its gameplay to fall back on, it’d just be like any war movie (although with the futuristic spin it has taken recently, perhaps a futuristic war movie, which, actually, could be doable?).
Left 4 Dead’s primary conceit is the fact that you are fighting against a zombie apocalypse with friends/other players, which is what makes it fun and exciting – without that aspect, it’d be like any other zombie apocalypse movie where the goal would be getting to a certain location, with many characters dying along the way to keep the stakes high and having one or two characters remaining. That’s a lot like other zombie apocalypse situations, isn’t it? People can’t respawn, so that’s another game mechanic gone from the movie, and one less connection to the game.
Undertale THRIVES on the fact that it’s a game. So much of the story relies upon character interaction, and it knows the fact that it’s a game, breaking the 4th wall quite often. Many of your in-game decisions decide how the plot goes, and in that way, Undertale feels like a real, living, breathing thing. You can’t feel that same connection you get from interacting with Sans and Papyrus or any of the other delightful monsters in a movie.
XCOM would probably be Independence Day if the series didn’t have the tactics/strategy gameplay to keep it going.
I feel like a lot of RPGs would have some struggle fitting into a 90-120 minute movie cleanly (as I mentioned in my Dragon Quest VII piece). There’s just so much narrative to try to slim down – you could still end up with too much or little little.
Western RPGs, especially, would have trouble translating into a movie because a lot of pleasure is derived from the interactive aspect. I’m talking specifically about games such as Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, etc. It’s like Undertale, where the decisions you make affect the world, and a lot of enjoyment can be found in that. In a movie, you don’t get to make the decisions, nor can you really feel the weight of your decisions nearly as much as you do in a game. As such, I feel like these sorts of games basically be translated to a mere fantasy adventure movie.
And if you’re in the market for that, that’s fine. I would personally love to see a Mass Effect movie or Dragon Age movie, but I feel like, realistically, they would probably only serve to enhance the actual video game content at best, rather than being true adaptations. Perhaps, in the long run, that’s fine, and maybe that’s what video game movies should be, but one day I’d really like to see a really successful video game adaptation.
I want to watch a game-to-movie adaptation and say, “This is totally Ratchet and Clank, or Mario, or Halo, or Sonic the Hedgehog.” I don’t want to feel like this is a movie that LOOKS like this game, but isn’t.
I want to watch some movie adaptations of video games at some point and really try to figure out why so many video game movies have failed, and what can be done to succeed.But until then, see you in the next post.