Why Games Made From Movies Make Me Sad

Image from Flickr User: Pelikauppa Retrotunneli
Image from Flickr User: Pelikauppa Retrotunneli

Is it just me, or are video games made from movies and books usually not very good? I don’t know, maybe I just pick bad games, but I have learned over the years to never play a game based off of something else, and I have since placed nearly every game I own from this category into my to-sell pile. (I’m pretty much waiting for another Play & Trade to open up near me because Game Stop won’t take old games. There was one, and then it closed…. Frowny-faces.)

You see, what happened is, many years ago, when I was still naïve, I would sometimes buy games from movie series I enjoyed, and I was rarely ever happy with what I ended up with. I bought “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” quite some time ago (which I sold to Play & Trade when they were still around), and I was not a fan. It was just ridiculously hard, and all I could really do was button mash all over the place and watch as my character got beaten to a pulp by all manner of orcs and trolls and other freaky things. Not my idea of a good time, even if the orcs likely found my pain to be entertaining. And then I played “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” on the GameCube, which was largely frustrating and involved a bunch of challenges that didn’t actually relate to the game at all. And exploring Hogwarts was not nearly as cool as I thought it would be. I also didn’t have many happy thoughts on “The Hobbit” video game, which seemed to be well-liked, but it was just too difficult and, once again, involved a lot of unrelated challenges, so we hates it forever, precious. And “Jurassic Park” on the SNES was rather horrible, as well. And not just because there were no save points.

So, yeah, I just never got along very well with those games, and I think I know why. For one thing, on the most part, I don’t think good movies necessarily translate into good games. You’d think they would, but they don’t. Movies can make good books, and books can make good movies, but video games are a different category entirely, and I don’t think many people realize that. Yes, all of these are forms of entertainment, but video games are interactive entertainment, and thus, need to be handled differently. A video game with a long boss battle may be fun to play, but that same battle may not be so fun to simply watch. While events that are entertaining in a movie may not be that fun to play through. So, in the end, when people decide to make a movie into a game, they think they have to add in a lot of battles and random, meaningless challenges just to make the movie more interactive, which is basically what happened in the games I mentioned earlier, and it didn’t work out well. Because, while the movie is now playable, that doesn’t automatically make it fun.

And I have one more reason why I think movies don’t make good games. Because there is usually no effort put in. At least, not from what I’ve seen. And why would there be? The popularity of the movie is motivation enough to get people to buy the game, so why put effort into something people are guaranteed to buy anyway? That’s why most games I’ve played that are inspired by movies tend to be low quality, since people are basing their decision to buy the game off of how great the movie was, so the quality of the game doesn’t really matter. I fell into the same trap multiple times, and even though I didn’t enjoy the games, the developers got my money, so they met their goal, despite their product filling me with sadness.

But, I’m not saying that all things based off of something else are necessarily bad, and for me, “Star Wars” illustrates this most of all. (But, I’m referring to standalone “Star Wars” games, not the ones based off of movies, as I hear those are still as dreadful as all the other games made from movies.) One game I rather enjoy is “Star Wars: Battlefront II”, which really just involves battles that take place in familiar locations, whether they be on planets or in space above said planets, but it’s pretty fun (and I like being General Grievous whenever I get the chance). And then there is the well-known “Knights of the Old Republic”, a game whose sequel fought for a space in our top 10 games list. (Though, while I played the first “KotOR”, I wasn’t a huge fan, mainly because I was terrible at it and because, no matter what I said to certain characters, they still got mad at me.)

But, aside from the occasional “Star Wars” game (and some of these are definitely not very good), I’ve learned my lesson, and I will never again buy a game based off of a movie (unless it’s a “Star Wars” game that’s gotten plenty of good reviews first). Because the Duck doesn’t make the same mistake more than, oh, five, maybe six times. And then after that, I have a will of iron. Which makes me too heavy to drive to the store and get any more bad games to begin with.

Duck Wars: Ducks of the Old Ducks

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Hatm0nster says:

    You have a point with the Star Wars games. For the most part they’re actually really good, and mostly because they don’t try to recreate the movies. They work because they do their own thing. Even the SNES games (aside from the first) are decent. Sure they follow the plot (loosely) but are meant to be games first and foremost.

    You are right though, whether or not they’re doing their own thing apart from the movie is made irrelevant when no effort is put into them. They’re just glorified cash-grabs for the most part, happy to settle for the bare minimum so long as they can still con those who don’t know any better into buying the game for their kids.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      I’ve since learned my lesson with these kinds of games. Some of the worst games I’ve ever owned were of this variety. Really, any games that were made with no sense of pride usually turn out bad. Yeah, they always make these things for money first and foremost, but you can tell which games had love put into them and which didn’t.

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  2. cary says:

    Great post, and so true! Movies, even the really, really long ones, just don’t have enough content to full up even a short 10 hour game, so the developers end up having to make up things for the players to do to just to fill up space (You brought up the perfect example in “Harry Potter.”) But that really only happens, as you guys mentioned above, when they try to recreate the movie in the game. Games that are inspired by and pay tribute to movies and keep gamers at the forefront of development rather than movie-goers (several great LEGO games come to mind), are much more enjoyable.

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    1. duckofindeed says:

      That’s true. It’s best to just take good aspects from the movie, but not try to force the whole movie into a game. I already saw the movie; I don’t need to sit through it again, but with it spread out to fill 10 hours rather than 2. These are different forms of entertainment and need to be treated as such.

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