Tetris The Movie, anyone? Why Hollywood should stay away from classic video games
Sonic The Hedgehog might have the highest-grossing opening for a video game film. But have you forgotten about Warcraft and Super Mario Bros?
Is there ever such a thing as a good live-action video game movie? Has there been, critically speaking, a good entry into the genre in the 27 years since the release of the first official video-game movie Super Mario Bros starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo?
Let’s see. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Street Fighter in 1994? How about 1997’s Mortal Combat? Yes, we don’t think so, either.
Alas, the dismal track record of game-to-movie adaptations has never stopped Hollywood from making more. Which is why we’ve now got a Sonic The Hedgehog movie that, frankly, nobody asked for.
Sure, the film about the well-loved and iconic Sega video game character overcame massive Internet backlash, mixed reviews, production delays and a set of very bad, creepy teeth to race to the top of the US box office in its opening weekend. And at US$58 million (S$80.7 million) over three days, it’s officially the highest-grossing opening ever for a video game film.
But let’s be honest: For every Sonic, there’s a Prince Of Persia. And for every passable Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, there’s bound to be an Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft.
And the fact that back in 2016, there were reports that a studio had partnered with Atari to turn Centipede and Missile Command into movies has put our collective childhood memories into a wild tailspin. Do we even need to mention Pixels?
If you’re worried as we are, here’s a list of classic video games that we hope Hollywood never ever touches – and won’t be coming to a cinema near you.
It's hard to pin down what makes Tetris truly great, other than there is nothing more addictive than finding the best way to successfully arrange a group of descending coloured blocks. Tetris was a game for both gamers and non-gamers, and had everyone from businessmen to babysitters staring at the Game Boy's tiny glowing screen. We simply cannot imagine how Hollywood would be able to make this into a movie and we don’t want to ever know.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA
The desire for a Zelda movie adaptation is so strong that conspiracies surrounding it actually happening has been legitimately buzzing for years.
It’s achieved huge success since its release, both commercially and critically, that it’s a household name even among non-gamers.
People loved it for its strong sense of exploration around a fantasy world. Who’s not a fan of Link, that green-clad, pointy-eared youth who must save Princess Zelda (and by extension, the world) from the evil Ganondorf?
Even as it possesses all the makings of a great film, we don’t want Hollywood touching this one with a ten-foot pole. On the one hand you have die-hard fans who would never accept anything less than a pitch perfect representation of Link, Zelda and Ganondorf. On the other, you have the general public who probably won't have the patience to journey with a mostly silent protagonist.
Considering how bad a beloved classic like Super Mario Bros did when it transitioned to the big screen, we think it would be sacrilegious to put Zelda through the same horrors.
A precursor to the modern first-person shooter game, Duck Hunt wasn't about blasting zombies, mutants or even mutant zombies. But lowering the waterfowl population was just as satisfying.
Perhaps it was the bundled NES Zapper – one of the finest lightguns we’ve wielded. Or maybe it was the chance to wipe the smirk off of that dog’s face. Either ways, this simply cannot be made into the big screen. No animal rights activist would allow it.
This unashamedly big and dumb game was a go-to for fans of running and gunning, mostly due to the bro-tastic two-player co-op. A movie in which a duo of macho dudes gun down aliens would probably make a fun ride but, let’s be honest, not a film that anyone would be proud to admit that they watched in the cinema.
Contra is about as gun-ho as video games can get, pitting the player against the evil Red Falcon Organisation. But can anyone remember the background story without looking it up on the Internet? Then again, a lack of story doesn't seem to stop Hollywood from making a movie based on a property. Right, Battleship?
PAC-MAN AND MS PAC-MAN
Considered as one of the famous and iconic video games of all time, Pac-Man was released in 1980 in Japan, with the title spelled as Puck Man.
This game is so popular that Pac-Man derivatives were made: Pac and Pal, Ms Pac-Man, Pac- Land, Baby Pac-Man and, of course, loads of merchandise. Pac-Man also had an animated television series and a hit song by Buckner and Garcia entitled Pac-Man Fever. All of which would most definitely lure Hollywood to its door.
But the 2015 film Pixels, which showcased Pac-Man as one of its many characters, showed exactly why this gem should never be touched.
Ms Pac-Man was introduced as one of the first female protagonists ever seen in a video game. Built on the popularity and success of the original Pac-Man, with new and varied level designs and mechanics, she sold more than 115,000 machines to take her place as the best-selling American-made arcade game of all time.
Aside from Mario, it's hard to think of a more iconic character than that little hairbow-wearing yellow disc. Why sully this memory with a film adaptation?
Sonic The Hedgehog is now out in cinemas.