This summer we have a glut of super-hero movies, the last Harry Potter film, a new Pixar film, another Transformers movie that will probably disappoint and who knows what else. And with this comes video games based on said movies, which are almost invariably rushed and released to coincide with the movie as a cash-in rather than a game that can stand on its own. It is an unfortunate reality that we all have to live with that have plagued games since the earliest days, whether it was the disaster known as E.T. the video game for the Atari 2600, the games that the masters of licensed crap LJN released for the NES or modern day disasters like Iron Man, these games typically only sell because of the name and little else.
But despite this overall bleak view of games based off movie, there is still many good to great movie based video games that are more than a licensed cash-in. And while these are my favorites, there are more out there.
Top 5 Movie Games
5. Batman Returns - SNES
A 2D Final Fight styled beat-um up from Konami, this game had you more or less following the path of the movie as you bashed your way through The Penguin,, his army of clowns and dealing with the mysterious Catwoman. The games has 3 game styles, the standard Final Fight-style stages, 2D platforming stages and 3D-ish driving stages. The best part of the Final Fight-style stages has you kicking the crap out of the clowns, not to mention throwing them into the background to bash against the walls. The 2D platforming is basically the same controls but enemies die in one hit and you have do some kinda clunky platforming. The 3D-ish driving stages usually have you surviving a horde of motorcycles and a boss fight. Not much to say as you just control and shoot. Despite the iffier modes, the overall package is fantastic.
4. Little Nemo: The Dream Master - NES
As you may recall from my retro review of Little Nemo, this is a game based off a movie. Now not very many people knew this because to be honest, how many people actually saw Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland? This game benefited, like many on this list actually, from not really following the movie's story and being its own game. So instead you go into many dream themed environments to rescue King Morpheous from the Nightmare King and save Slumberland. And considering it was made by Capcom who had an almost impeccable 8-bit line-up you really can't go wrong with this great platformer.
3. Aladdin - SNES/Genesis
While I am kind of cheating with this one as the Aladdin games for the SNES and Genesis are very different games. The SNES one, made by Capcom, is more or less a straight-up platformer that focuses on Aladdin's nature as an acrobatic thief to traverse the levels. The Genesis one, made by Virgin Interactive, is a hack and slash with beautifully drawn character sprites and is easily the more well-known of the two. Both games pretty much follow the plot with some amusingly similar plot deviation. While both are good, I prefer the Super NES one for the overall package and also that I feel it is more akin to how Aladdin would actually traverse his world. But preferences will differ.
2. Batman: The Video Game - NES
Yes I have two on here. But I especially picked this one because as far as I know it may very well be the first good movie based game ever. While not following the movie's plot from what I can tell, there are references to the movie in cutscenes but the seem thrown in to give the game a semblance of relation to the movie. The game goes through 5 stages, which barely have anything to do with the movie and Batman plays very little like the movie version of him. Instead of being a walking tank (though he is) Batman, along with his punch, relies also on a gun with 3 attack options and a very useful wall jumping ability, necessary to get through some of the more difficult parts of the game. The game is short but very hard and will kill you many times especially in the later levels. Also the music rocks.
1. Goldeneye 007 - N64
Goldeneye is important for a couple reasons, one being the best movie game of all time and also for bringing a great console only FPS experience to the consoles. What is amazing is that this game was given a lot of time to mature as it was released 3 years after the movie it was based on which given the a nature of movie-based games is almost entirely unheard of. What Rare gave us was a game that followed the plot reasonably well while expanding the narrative quite a bit. Though I'm pretty sure what most people remember is the multiplayer. Many hours were lost playing deathmatch on this game and is typically what people remember the most. It was such a nostalgic game that Activision gave Wii owners an exclusive update of the game, which while different from the N64 game, plucked on the old nostalgia heart strings for many of us.
Honorable Mentions: Spider-Man 2 (GCN, XBox, PS2), Journey to Silus (NES) (it was meant to be a Terminator based game and it shows), Lion King (SNES/Genesis)