The adaptation of videogames from movies is a long and ignoble tradition. As long as there have been arcade, and later, console and computer games, there have been ‘games based on the movie’. Invariably, they have been a pretty sorry bunch even at the dawn of videogames (a Death Race 2000 game courted controversy over 30 years ago, but was poor even by the basic standards of the day). A few years later, Atari adapted the Spielberg blockbuster E.T. for their 2600 console, but its confusing, badly programmed gameplay left consumers cold and Atari on the verge of collapse. If you have never heard the story of hundreds of thousands of copies of the game being buried in a landfill, then take a look here.
At epinions.com there is a list of the worst movie to game adaptations.
There have, however, been some great games of movies, and even great games that just take the characters out of the movie and put them into a game. Here are a few off the top of my head;
Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (Gamecube, 2001)
Lego Star Wars (Xbox, PS2 & various other platforms, 2005)
Robocop (Arcade, 1988)
In my opinion, some of the best adaptations of movies to games have been based on the Alien series of movies. This is by no means a definitive list of games based on the characters and films, but presents what I think are the best or most significant of the bunch. The list is chronological, from earliest to most recent.
Aliens – The Videogame (1986 – Amstrad CPC464 and Commodore 64)
I had the Amstrad version (published by Electric Dreams*) and thought it was one of the best games or apps for the system – up there with the Graphic Adventure Creator, Alien 8, Footbal Manager or Elite. You had control of several characters, including Ripley, the Marines, Bishop the Android and that bad man from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Burke. The objective is to explore the devastated colony by instructing the people under your control. You must also ensure that you watch them or else they could be under attack. Each character has different characteristics and reacts differently to each situation. The objective is to get to the Queen Aliens chamber and destroy the eggs she is incubating. A great game for its time, and one that is worth investigating.
Some kind soul has posted up some action from the Amstrad version on youtube;
IGN review of the game
Alien Trilogy at Gamespot
Some good coverage of the title at Moby Games
There is a list of Alien and Predator (and Aliens versus Predator) games here
Relive the heady days of the nineties when web pages were written with what looks like notepad-type simple text programs and learn more about the Alien movies at the same time!
* and if that’s not a name for the Eighties, I don’t know what is.