We're still waiting for the first truly great video game adaptations to arrive in theaters. Howeer, filmmakers are set on translating works from PC and consoles to the big screen, and they show no signs of slowing down.
We wish we could say that they were steadily getting better at it. But the past couple years gave us the tangled Christmas light mess that was Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and the super-pretty but otherwise mediocre Assassin's Creed and Warcraft.
However, failing repeatedly hasn't stopped Hollywood yet. Just look at almost every comic book movie from the '90s. So both this year and next will see a barrel of movies-- and some TV shows-- that are either direct game adaptations or just owe interactive digital media a lot of credit.
We aren't sure whether all (or any) of them will be good, but we definitely have hopes for a lot of them. Surely, creators are bound to get one right sooner or later.
Here are the 15 Video Game Adaptations You Didn't Know Were Coming In 2018 And 2019.
15 Call of Duty (2018)
Back in 2015, game developer and publisher Activision Blizzard announced that it was expanding into non-interactive entertainment with a new division, Activision Blizzard Studios. The first project was Skylanders Academy, a TV show based on the ridiculously popular and profitable video game/collectible figurine hybrid.
The studio’s getting even more ambitious in the next couple of years and reportedly plans to launch a “cinematic universe” based on the Call of Duty series of first-person shooters.
Other than some sequels, the franchise itself has taken place in a variety of historical eras and settings including, somehow, space. So it will be interesting to see how the company plans to craft a connected world out of that.
We have no details about when, if, or how this is happening. However, considering how popular the games are, we’re sure it will have some interest when the official news comes.
14 Tomb Raider (2018)
OK, well if you didn’t know that Tomb Raider was coming, we don’t know what to tell you. We’ve seen the trailer before every halfway action-y movie we’ve seen in the past month. And if this is somehow the first you’re hearing about it, we have great news. It’s out on March 16.
Alicia Vikander’s playing Lara Croft, the iconic invader of ancient temples, in this new version, which is based on the more realistic, 2013 reboot and not the older titles. So we’re pretty sure that she isn’t going to shoot any velociraptors in this movie. However, we’ve been wrong before.
Like the source material, this film looks more like a survival/origin story for Lara than the weird, wire-fu excess of the ones Angelina Jolie starred in back in 2001 and 2003-- and we’re alright with that.
13 The Witcher (2018)
Of all the video game adaptations we’ve covered, we’re most excited about the Witcher show headed for Netflix. And we know that like Ready Player One, this project is based on literature.
The original work here is the series of novels by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. But most of the target audience for this show wouldn’t know about the property without the games, so we’re including it.
Showrunner and The Defenders producer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich has promised not to "water down” the ultraviolent and nudity-filled source material. So The Witcher could be just what we need to fill the gap that Game of Thrones will leave when it wraps up next year. However, even without that, we’re looking forward to seeing Geralt of Rivia’s adventures hunting monsters in a morally gray world.
The Witcher hasn’t even filmed yet, but we’re ready to watch it right now.
12 Detective Pikachu (2019)
We aren't sure which surprised us more: that the Pokémon spin-off game Detective Pikachu existed, or that production company Legendary Pictures was making a movie version with Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds in the starring role. We’re happy that both are true, though.
The game is about the titular sleuth and his human partner solving a series of cases that basically come down to rogue Pokémon harassing people and stealing their stuff. However, that’s still more to hang a movie on than Angry Birds provides, so we’re on board.
The Detective Pikachu film will be a live action/CGI hybrid instead of a straight-up animated movie. It’s currently filming, but it won’t be out until May 10, 2019. Luckily, we’ll have most of these other video game adaptations to hold us over until then.
11 Rampage (2018)
It’s not so much that we forgot Rampage was coming because again, we’ve seen the trailer every time we’ve gone to the movies lately. But we actually forgot it was based on a game at all.
That’s partly because the source material doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a vehicle for Dwayne Johnson. It’s about being a giant monster, smashing buildings and eating puny humans for health. We’ve learned from the Fast and Furious series and the Doom adaptation that everything becomes 70 percent more watchable when you add The Rock.
However, in all of the hours and quarters we spent playing Rampage, we never wondered what was going on with the dudes in the helicopters. Mostly we just wanted to punch them out of the sky.
If Rampage embraces its silly premise, it could be a fun monster movie. We’ll have to wait until April 20 to find out.
10 Sonic the Hedgehog (2019)
Sega first announced it was working on bringing the blue blur to cinemas back in 2014. It’s gone through some development troubles since then. That’s true of most Sonic the Hedgehog projects, though, so we’re hardly surprised.
The company hasn’t revealed any plot details. However, if we had to guess we’d say it’s about Sonic running really fast and collecting things, possibly while giving his enemies a lot of attitude. We do know, however, that it will be out in 2019. Animator and effects artist Tim Fowler is directing, and Deadpool director Tim Miller is on as producer.
Sonic the Hedgehog will be a live-action/CGI hybrid. That worries us a little because we’re still recovering from all those Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. However, luckily the creators have another year to make this movie better than those ones.
9 Castlevania: Season 2 (2018)
We were plenty surprised when Netflix’s Castlevania series came out last year and wasn’t terrible. Of all the video game adaptations ever created, this was the first one to get a “Fresh” rating on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
Surprises were everywhere, and the cruelest one of all was when we only got four episodes in the first season. Luckily, the streaming service is tripling the series’ length when it drops eight more later this year. And we’re pretty excited about that.
We love this series’ more nuanced take on the villainous Dracula, whose grudge against humanity comes from the death of his human wife.
It also features a less than heroic version of vampire hunter Trevor Belmont, who spends a lot of time drunk but still does the right thing eventually. It's a real possibility that we're going to watch all of these episodes in a row the day they premiere.
8 Ready Player One (2018)
We know that director Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One is based on a book. But it also contains more video game characters than Nintendo’s entire Super Smash Bros. cross-franchise fighting series.
The plot entirely depends on gaming, too. Most of the action happens inside a digital, virtual reality world that everyone prefers because in the real world, people live in places that are literally like 20 trailer parks piled on top of each other. We’d spend a lot more time in our headsets, too.
Regardless, we expect to see a lot of familiar gaming faces crammed into this movie. However, whether Ready Player One provides more entertainment than just being an hours-long game of “spot the reference” is still up in the air. We’ll know for sure at the end of March.
7 Minecraft (2019)
The open-world, block-based building game seems like one of the least likely video game adaptations to show up on a production schedule.
However, that’s also how we felt about The Lego Movie, and that turned out alright. And the episodic spin-off game, Minecraft: Story Mode from The Walking Dead developer Telltale Games, proved that a plot set in the square-centric universe can work.
Let’s not think that the ease of making a movie has much to do with whether someone films it, though. The year 2017 gave us The Emoji Movie, a project that exists mostly to remind us that Hollywood will make anything that comes with half an audience in tow. However, everyone else is making video game adaptations, so why not Minecraft?
We’ll find out how well this goes sometime in 2019.
6 Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (2018)
This Disney sequel is as much a video game “adaptation” as Ready Player One, but we’re inclined to include it for the same reasons. It’s about games, and it will be poundcake-dense with references.
The first movie includes cameos from Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Pac-Man characters. It also has a wealth of references, visual gags, and in jokes from across decades of gaming history. So it’s not so much a translation of a particular property as it is an adaptation and commentary on gaming itself. And we’re fine with that.
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 will expand from arcades and consoles to include online gaming. And Disney is making full use of its properties by tossing in its own Princess characters and some from Star Wars and Marvel films to remind us that they basically own all entertainment now.
5 Mega Man (2018)
Capcom is bringing the school-age adventures of the beloved game character to Cartoon Network this year. And it sounds like it might be interesting.
Rather than directly adapting any of the games, this animated series will follow a younger Aki Light as he tries to juggle his superheroic work as Mega Man and his normal life as a pre-teen schoolbot. It will include some new villains to go along with the game series’ Robot Masters and Dr. Wily.
We’re completely on board for this series, but we do have a question about the whole “young Mega Man” premise. The character is a robot. Why and how does a younger version exist? How does he get older? This is going to rattle around in our brains forever.
4 Persona 5: The Animation (2018)
Ultra-stylish role-playing game Persona 5 is getting its own anime series this year. It follows the 2016 film Persona 5: The Animation - The Day Breakers, and that title is the least complicated thing about this whole project.
The games are about high schoolers who use their “Persona powers” to fight evil. Persona powers let the hero characters manifest extensions of their own psyches to cast spells and perform attacks. Persona 5 also lets players manage their dungeon-crawling night work with school, social interactions, and part-time jobs.
We don’t know if the anime will include all that side work and friend-making or just focus on the part where kids fight demons with their mind monsters. However, here’s hoping it’s the latter.
3 Angry Birds 2 (2019)
Developer Rovio is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their mobile smash hit about throwing birds at pigs with The Angry Birds Movie 2. It’s due out in September 2019, which gives us plenty of time to figure out what Angry Birds ground the first film didn’t cover.
It seemed to have everything: pigs steal eggs, so birds launch themselves out of catapults to wreck up their business. And that’s everything that happens in the games.
Then again, we didn’t expect anyone to make a 97-minute movie working with just that, so this is probably reason 437 why we are writing about movies instead of making them.
Regardless, the first Angry Birds movie was about as good as we could have hoped for from source material that an alarming number of people played on the toilet. So sure, make a second one.
2 Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katori no Nazotoki File (2018)
This anime, the name of which translates to “Layton Mystery Detective Agency: Kat's Mystery-Solving Files,” is based on the Professor Layton series of puzzle games for Nintendo’s DS portable systems.
The adaptation will premiere this spring and will feature the adventures of Katrielle Layton, whose father is the eponymous archaeology teacher.
We’ve always loved these games’ charming art style, plot lines, and characters, and this is one of the few video game adaptations here that we’re actually looking forward to. We’ve already seen from the earlier movie, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, that the series can make the transition, so a few dozen new episodes sounds alright to us.
So far it looks like Mystery-Solving Files will only air in Japan. However, we’re hoping it might make its way west in some form.
1 Costume Quest (2018)
Developer Double Fine’s Costume Quest operates on a simple premise: Halloween is the best.
It’s a turn-based adventure title in which kids’ festive get-ups transform from oatmeal containers and plastic fangs into the awesome giant robots and vampires the children imagined when they made their costumes. It’s kind of a cozier, cuter version of Persona, now that we think about it.
Frederator Studios has a deal with Amazon to produce an animated series based on Costume Quest, and we’re excited. The games perfectly capture the fun and excitement kids feel about Halloween.
We hope the people making the show manage to maintain that. But we’re not too worried because Frederator’s credits include The Fairly OddParents and Adventure Time. It seems like the project is in capable hands.
Costume Quest will premiere on Amazon Video later this year.
Can you think of any other video game adaptations that are coming out in 2018 or 2019? Sound off in the comments!