Video Game Adaptations: Six to do Next

From Consoles to Theaters

Tagline:To those who loved this world… and knew friendly company therein… this Reunion is for you.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Studios have struggled to make good video game adaptations. Shelves used to fill with shlock, using names and vague plot directions from hit games. More effort has gone into making recent movies and TV work. Recognizable characters, stories, and adventures are brought to life. The curse of bad video game adaptations has been broken!

Castlevania and Arcane led the charge, and The Last of Us is widely expected to be an Emmy contender. But there are still plenty of franchises worthy of a shot. So what are the next six video games to adapt? Let’s find out.

Criteria: We won’t consider anything that was adapted in the past ten years (World of Warcraft, Super Mario Bros) or series that have been done to death (Pokemon, Resident Evil.

Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy

Auron:Now! This is it! Now is the time to choose! Die and be free of pain or live and fight your sorrow! Now is the time to shape your stories! Your fate is in your hands!

Final Fantasy X

Why This Series: Final Fantasy has hundreds of intriguing heroes and villains. The creatures are instantly recognizable, the stories are unforgettable, and the music is divine.

Final Fantasy’s variety is the reason that this video game adaptation is only an honorable mention. Each game occurs in its own setting and is linked by recurring motifs. Final Fantasy 4’s Star Wars-esque story clashes with 10’s religious pilgrimage and 15’s road trip aesthetic. There are plenty of sources to draw from, but they don’t mesh.

Movie or Show?: A T.V. show would work best because the stories are dense with many moving parts. 

#5 Horizon Zero Dawn

Aloy:Where the path leads, I will follow.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Synopsis: Earth has been overrun by animalistic Machines and reverted to a Bronze Age. An infant named Aloy is banished from her tribe and raised by an outcast. As a child, she finds an AR device called a Focus that provides information from the Old World. When Aloy becomes an adult, she participates in a trial to rejoin her tribe so she can learn about her past. 

The trial is interrupted when a cult called Eclipse attacks. Aloy survives and is tasked by the elders to stop Eclipse. They will answer her questions if she is successful.

Why This Game: Horizon Zero Dawn blends the past and future. Aloy’s main tools are a bow and spear that wouldn’t be out of place in a caveman movie. The Focus allows her to research anything with a single glance. Aloy is empathetic, courageous, and curious. She’s fascinated by the strange locales and objects of the old world and spends as much time investigating ruins as she does fighting the Eclipse cult.

The Machines are a standout, ranging from mostly harmless deer to heavily-armed dinosaurs. Unprovoked, they act like the creatures they resemble. But where did they come from? The Eclipse cult is less impressive, but its cruelty and surprisingly advanced technology are dangerous. Bronze Age hunters are gonna have problems against cultists wielding guns.

Show or Movie?: A movie. The plot of this video game adaptation can unfold over two films, the first featuring Aloy becoming a hunter and fighting Eclipse. The second could be a great prequel.

#4 Elden Ring

Morgott:Thy kind are all of a piece. Pillagers. Emboldened by the flame of ambition! Have it writ upon thy meager grave: ‘Felled by King Morgott! Last of All Kings!

Elden Ring

Synopsis: In The Lands Between, the immortal Queen Marika has ruled for eons thanks to a rune called the Elden Ring. Her heir was murdered by unknown assassins, the Elden Ring was shattered, and Queen Marika has disappeared.

The fragments of the Elden Ring were forged into lesser Great Runes and taken by five of Marika’s demigod children. The runes drove them mad and sparked a stalemated Civil War between them that ravaged the country. The calm is now disturbed by The Tarnished, an undead warrior seeking to reforge the Elden Ring, become the Elden Lord, and restore peace. 

Why This Game: Elden Ring is an easy sell to any studio. Just describe it as a divine Game of Thrones, complete with lore and backstory written by George R. R. Martin. The Lands Between are harsh, but beautiful and full of horrors for the writers to exploit.

The characters and factions make the world feel lived in. A maiden named Melina guides The Tarnished, providing information about new friends and foes. Will they side with the diverse Roundtable Hold? Square off against the depraved Lord Mohg? Is the enigmatic witch Ranni a friend or foe? This world offers many stories.

Show or Movie?: A show. The lore and backstory are told in passing or through item descriptions. This video game adaptation can show the Lords and Ladies’ manipulations. Explore the many factions. Each piece of the Great Rune can be the focus of a season, or at least a story arc.

#3 The Legend of Zelda

Zelda:Link… You may not be at a point where you have fully recovered your power or all of your memories… but courage need not be remembered, for it is never forgotten.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild

Synopsis: A young boy named Link is chosen by a divine relic called the Triforce to bear a third of its power, the Triforce of Courage. A kind princess named Zelda has inherited the Triforce of Wisdom. The duo face the evil king Ganon, bearer of the Triforce of Power. All three reincarnate during every Age.

Why This Game: Each game in The Legend of Zelda series is self-contained, but builds to show an eon-long battle between two heroes and the king of darkness. Each incarnation of Link travels Hyrule protecting the innocent while Zelda’s divine magic slows Ganon’s armies.

Link’s travels introduce the audience to Hyrule’s diverse cultures. He may scale a mountain alongside the fun-loving Gorons or delve into the sea with the long-lived Zora. Perhaps Link has to forge an alliance with the all-female thieves of the Gerudo. There are many allies to encounter and even more foes.

The Legend of Zelda would be higher on our list, but Link holds the series back. His character is shallow and offers little dialogue outside of the worst spin offs. While writers would appreciate a blank slate, this ambiguous character could alienate fans who have their own mental image of him.

Show or Movie?: Movie. Link and Zelda’s reincarnations mean that each sequel can show a new cast fighting evil across the ages. Perhaps the series of video game adaptations could also recast the leads in each movie to show the dynasty of heroes?

#2 Metroid

Quiet Robe:The E.M.M.I. are being used by Raven Beak. Samus Aran… listen well. He has commanded them… to extract the Metroid DNA from your body.”

Samus:…Do not worry. I will end this. Once and for all.”

Metroid Dread

Synopsis: A young girl named Samus Aran watches marauding Space Pirates wipe out her home. She is saved by a mysterious race called the Chozo, who train Samus as a warrior, enhance her body, and give her a suit of power armor. 

Samus becomes a bounty hunter to kill the Space Pirates and learns of their plans to exploit dangerous predators called Metroids. Samus must travel the universe to wipe out the Pirates, Metroids and other threats.

Why this Game?: Metroid was one of the first games to focus on continuity. The events of each game lead into the next, showing Samus’ evolution from a super soldier into a woman who can save or destroy entire planets by herself.

Exploration plays a large part in Metroid. Samus must scour the worlds she visits to find paths through labyrinths and environmental threats. Exploring the diverse ecosystems would break up the action scenes and show diverse vistas to the audience. Think Star Trek blended with Aliens.

Show or Movie?: Movie. Brie Larson’s understated performance as Captain Marvel is extremely similar to Samus’ personality, and she has discussed playing the character in a video game adaption with Nintendo. Seems like a match made in space.

#1 Life is Strange

Max:I’m so glad you’re my partner in crime.”
Chloe:As long as you’re my partner in time.

Life is Strange

Synopsis: A young woman named Max returns to her hometown of Arcadia Bay to attend college. She develops the ability to rewind time after seeing a girl get shot in the school’s bathroom. Max saves her and learns the victim is her childhood friend, Chloe. They experiment with her powers and help those around them. 

Unfortunately, those powers come with a vision of an enormous tornado mere days away. Several of Arcadia Bay’s secrets will soon be unearthed, centered on a missing girl…

Why This Game: Life is Strange has the best story I’ve ever played. The characters are believable and likable. More focus is put on relationships and mystery solving than on action set-pieces. Mysteries weave together through character moments and subtle cues. Max and Chloe’s relationship is a highlight as they mend bridges over Max moving away years earlier and Chloe’s troubles.

Time travel can be a protagonist’s ultimate cheat, but Life is Strange manages it well. Max can only rewind so far and past a certain point, her choices lock in. Actions have consequences that she can’t foresee. The rewinds also stress Max’s body and can stop working when she is overexerted.

Life is Strange may seem like a bad pick because the player is supposed to make choices about what Max says or does. I think that it is more interesting than other adaptations because the viewer won’t know what path the writers choose. 

Will Max taunt a bully caught in a prank or comfort her? Intervene to call out an abusive security guard or take a picture for evidence, which the victim sees as being a bystander? And the choices only grow more difficult over time, with lives hanging in the balance.

Show or Movie?: Show. The story and characters need time to breathe to have the game’s impact. This video game adaptation could easily float a few seasons on existing content, and then switch gears to the sequels.

What video game do you want to see be adapted? Is there one that would be better than these? Tell us in the comments.

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