The entertainment industry has always turned its nose up at the story telling potential that lies in video games.
The notion that video games are only capable of telling two dimensional stories is as old as Mario himself.
With blockbuster games like Gears of War creating dramatic character deaths and Grand Theft Auto breaking several entertainment industry records, it seems the interactive medium is shooting for the big leagues.
But, despite the snobbery around gaming’s story telling quality, film executives long ago identified the strong following that video games amass and found releasing adaptations were a good way to exploit the audience for money.
With the announcement that Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed story and Blizzard’s expansive RPG World of Warcraft will be getting the Hollywood treatment, the video game community waits with baited breath.
Surely the hard work of fantastic story telling is done for the film executives. They can’t mess it up this time, can they?
For better or for worse, here is a list of video games that have made it to the big screen.
Based on the 1994 Namco Beat ‘Em Up games by the same name, Tekken actually stays fairly true to its original story line.
The movie follows main character Jin as he fights his way through the King of Iron Fist Tournament to avenge his mother’s death.
The movie wasn’t deemed a critical success, but fans made the title a box office success, which of course means a sequel.
Rumoured to be in development last year, no release date has yet been announced.
Tomb Raider (2001)
Lara Croft is one of video games most recognisable icons… for some reason.
Based on the 1996 games from Eidos Interactive, the busty young English archaeologist is brought to life by A-list celeb Angelina Jolie.
Again, the film failed to dazzle critics, but the film enjoyed commercial success and the sequel Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life even held the title of highest grossing video game to film adaptation until 2010.
Lara has recently been reinvented in a prequel which casts her as a much younger and naive girl.
This new direction has been applauded by critics, but no word on another movie has been released.
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
Video Game’s poster boy Mario first hit the scene in 1985. The brain child of Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario quickly rose to fame and has been helping Nintendo sell consoles ever since.
It was inevitable that Hollywood would try and capitalise on the characters fame and in 1993 the job fell to Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel.
Unfortunately the story behind early Mario games is fairly limited and there is only so far you can go with the saving a princess routine.
The film instead relies on Science Fiction and parallel universes to tell the plumbers story.
It was immediately panned by critics as a transparent attempt to make cash and filed away forever as a novelty movie
DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
Another film using a popular Beat ‘Em Up title as its muse. Dead or Alive was Tecmo’s addition to the once popular genre.
The adaption isn’t the worst of the offenders. But, what it does lack in narrative, it certainly makes up for with Holly Valance… in a bikini… playing volleyball.
What were we discussing again?
Silent Hill (2006)
Released by Konami on PlayStation in 1999, the horror title really helped to break new ground in video game storytelling.
Pioneering the ever popular Everyman technique used in a lot of modern day games, this psychological thriller pinned the player against not just one evil, but a whole town.
Building from such solid foundations the movie was always going to be a critical and commercial success. But this success was short lived when it was then followed up by the hasty 3D sequel Silent Hill: Revelations – which was inevitably panned by critics.
Max Payne (2008)
With a ‘dynamic’ name like Max Payne, the action game was always destined for a Hollywood spin off.
First released in 2001 and then ported to PlayStation and Xbox by Rockstar, the series followed the tribulations of NYPD cop Max Payne in a neo-noir fashion, the film adaptation was publically damned by the games creators who criticised it for not properly telling the story.
Despite this open bashing the film still managed commercial success among its original fans.
Street Fighter (1994)
Capcom’s retro arcade Beat ‘Em Up recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. In its long history the game has enjoyed; a revival, several sequels and, yes, a live action film featuring none other than Jean Claude Van Damme.
The movie was described as one long action sequence with witty one liners, but for a movie based on a game about fighting in a street, what more can you expect.
The Hitman franchise first began in 2000.
A stealth game based around the cloned assassin Agent 47, the title is still going strong.
Recently bought by Square Enix, the company declared the release of the most recent title Hitman: Absolution a failure after it failed to meet their expectations – despite selling more than eight million copies worldwide.
A film was released in 2007 with commercial success, but its sequel was recently put on hold after the tragic death of Paul Walker who cast to play the role of Agent 47.
Resident Evil (2002)
That’s right, the blockbuster film franchise originally started as a video game.
Released onto PlayStation by Capcom in 1996, the game itself received worldwide critical and commercial success.
The subsequent film is arguably one of the most successful and recognisable video game adaptations in the film industry.
Currently standing at five films strong, the films have vastly deviated from their origins in video games and taken on a life of their own.
Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (2010)
Ubisoft first brought us Prince of Persia in 1989. The action adventure game was a huge success and even held the Guinness World Record for highest rated platformer on PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
Disney took the franchise to the big screen in 2010, creating a commercially, if not critically, successful movie.
It is now the current title holder for the world’s most successful film adaptation of a video game ever.
The one thing all these titles have in common is commercial success. No matter how bad the film was, video game fans will always support the franchise they love with their wallets.
The hope now lies with Assassins Creed and the World of Warcraft’s adaptations to change the film critic’s views on video game adaptations.
Assassins Creed is due to begin production this summer for a 2015 release date and World of Warcraft is set for a 2016 release.