While the Spider-Man franchise has had its struggles over the years, the closest the films ever came to getting it exactly right was 2004’s Spider Man 2. Fortunately the game followed suit, and New York became a gamer’s ultimate playground as Peter Parker dealt with struggles big and small. The web slinging achieved what so many games before had attempted, and while the side missions are fun, it’s also nice to just go for a leisurely swing around manhattan’s skyscrapers.
What could have just been a generic side scrolling adaptation of the latest animated Disney hit actually ended up being one of the biggest and best games of 1993. Aladdin’s game designers were able to incorporate cell animation from the actual Disney animators who worked on the film for a much more vibrant look than gamers were used to in those days. Kids who thought they were too old or cool for a Disney game probably missed out on this diamond in the rough.
It’s almost not fair to include Goldeneye on this list, as its legacy and impact as a game has surpassed that of the film it’s based on. This game predicted the demand for multiplayer shooter games before it was possible to play them online. Along with Mario Kart, Goldenye best represents that small window in video games’ history when it was truly a group activity. The single player gameplay was decent and somewhat faithful to the film, but Goldeneye will aways be remembered for it’s fun multiplayer features like “slappers only” and the advantages of being Odd Job.
Dune II makes the list not for it’s faithfulness to the source material, of which there’s little, but for pioneering Real Time Strategy games. Only loosely connected to the plot of the films and books, Dune II had players building and commanding armies to control the desert world of Arakis. The team behind this game would later apply this kind of gameplay to the hugely successful Command and Conquer series.
Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
The 80s were a strange time and few personified it better than the king of pop, Michael Jackson. The man was a brand with almost as many merchandising tie-ins as Star Wars. It’s kind of faded into obscurity now, but some of us still remember his film Moonwalker, a collection of Jackson-centric vignettes that were basically extended music videos released as a feature film. Of course there was a video game with Jackson dancing his way through various levels while saving children. It sounds silly, but this side-scroller was oddly addictive.
Was there ever a more appropriate movie to base a video game on than Disney’s 1982 gamer fantasy Tron? Following a computer programmer who gets sucked into his own program, the 3D look of the film and early use of CGI predicted the future of video games and movies. Aimed squarely at the burgeoning gamer demographic, it’s no surprise that the arcade tie-in was hugely successful. Kids voted with their quarters and Electronic Games magazine declared Tron the Coin-Operated Game of the Year. Tron remains one of the few recorded examples of the game making more money than the movie it was based on.
While the Sega Genesis Jurassic Park game may not have a legacy quite as impressive as the film, it was certainly a worthy tie-in and one of the better home console games in the early 90s. One unique feature was the option to play as either Dr. Alan Grant or a velociraptor. While the levels were the same, the gameplay was quite different depending on if you chose to be the hero or one of his ferocious antagonists. In a time when saving your game wasn’t an option, the game utilized passwords for every level so that players didn’t always have to start at the beginning. That might not sound like a big deal, but today’s gamers definitely take always being able to pick up where they left off for granted.
While Mel Brooks may have made fun of him for it in Spaceballs, you gotta hand it to George Lucas for inventing multiple revenue streams by merchandising the heck out of Star Wars. Not only did he cram in ample characters to maximize toy sales, he also got in on the ground floor of gaming by crafting sequences which leant themselves perfectly to the new technology’s limits. Released in 1983, the first Star Wars game contributed to the Golden Age of Arcade games and is still considered one of the most popular games of all time.