7. Beyond Good and Evil
Ubisoft's Beyond Good and Evil was, for my taste, the surprise hit of 2003. Unfortunately, it came out at the same time as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and was subsequently, and undeservedly, overlooked—but not, however, forgotten. Almost ten years later, the game is so beloved by its small but ardent group of fans that Ubisoft is in the process of producing a sequel called…wait for it…Beyond Good and Evil 2.
The original takes place a few hundred years in the future on the mining planet Hyllys—which, obviously, is somewhere deep in the far reaches of space. For years, Hyllys has been under constant attack by the DomZ, an evil alien race hell-bent on eating or enslaving every living creature on Hyllys. Unfortunately, the Alpha Sections, Hyllys’ supposed protectors, cannot seem to protect its citizens from any meaningful attack. You control Jade, a photojournalist and martial arts expert who, along with her friend and mentor Pey’j (a giant pig-man), plunge themselves headfirst into this conspiracy to find out what’s really going on. Are the Alpha Sections and the Domz in cahoots? Or are they—dear heavens, let’s hope not—one and the same?
My synopsis doesn’t really do the game justice. What makes Beyond Good and Evil so special is its characters, its emotion, its mystery, and its whimsy. You’re totally immersed in this completely alien world as you unravel the most horrific conspiracy in the history of conspiracies. Plus, did I mention there’s a giant and endearing pig-man?
Because Beyond Good and Evil is a French game, Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) would be the perfect choice to direct it. And since Jeunet’s directing, it’s only fitting that Audrey Tatou play Jade, Danny Devito play Pey’j (because he looks and sounds the part), and Jean Reno play Double-H, Jade’s helpful, if stupid, partner later in the game.
6. Full Throttle
Lucasarts' Full Throttle was another a point-and-click adventure game back when such things were cool. Set in the near future in some barren desert out west, Full Throttle was, thematically-speaking, about the future encroaching on the past: in with the hover cars, out with the engines and motorcycles. You play Ben, the leader of a motorcycle gang called the Pole Cats, the toughest and meanest (but nonetheless honest and loyal) motorcycle gang on the road.
Meanwhile, Michael Corley, owner of Corley Motors—the last domestic motorcycle manufacturer in business—is on the road with his sleezy, money-grubbing vice president, Adrien Ripburger. When he sees the Polecats' bikes outside of a highway bar, he stops to have some drinks with them and make friends. Unfortunately, after befriending Ben and his gang, Malcom is murdered out back by his vice president, who promptly frames Ben for the act.
It's basically the classic Hitchcockian trope of the man wrongfully accused and on the run from everyone - only, in the future and with lots of motorcycles. And barfights. And very violent road rage. Etc...
If I had my druthers, John Carpenter would direct this Full Throttle movie with a massive budget and crew at his beck and call. Of course, that would mean Kurt Russell would star as Ben alongside Kristen Bell as Maureen Corley (Malcom's daughter) and Sam Elliot as Malcom. Conversely, if the above director and cast are considered too "old" for those young Hollywood studio folk, I would suggest that Edgar Wright direct with a cast including Chris Evans as Ben, Kristen Bell (still) as Maureen, and Sam Elliott (still) as Malcom.
If you've never played Full Throttle, do yourself a favor and find it on Amazon as quickly as possible.
5. Final Fantasy VII
Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy VII, the videogame single-handedly responsible for popularizing the console RPG, is the most successful Final Fantasy for a reason. Combining fantasy elements with cyber punk/science-fiction trappings, the story is epic, the characters plentiful, and the visuals mind-boggling. It’s basically the Japanese Lord of the Rings, although I probably shouldn’t be saying that because I know very little about Japanese culture. Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII’s protagonist, is the most recognizable Final Fantasy character ever, if not as recognizable as Mario, Link, Sonic, and the rest.
Set in a dystopian future of sorts, the story follows Cloud, a bleach-blonde mercenary, and a group of activists who try to stop Shinra, a mega-corporation responsible for sucking the life out of the planet as a means of producing energy for their cars and microwaves and technological what have you. Eventually, a megalomaniac named Sephiroth, created by Shinra during an experiment with an extraterrestrial lifeform, decides to become a god, destroy the mega-corporation that wrought him, and take control of the planet. Cloud and his buddies eventually come to the conclusion that this would probably not be good for anyone and try to stop him.
The Wachowski Siblings, who once upon a time tried to make their own awesome videogame (and failed), were born to make Final Fantasy VII into a trilogy of movies. Say what you will about The Matrix and its sequels—or even Speed Racer—those films are proof positive that an adaptation like this would be right up the Wachowskis' alley. Imagine Jared Leto as Cloud, Common as Barret Wallace, Emma Roberts as the doomed Aeris, and Jason Isaacs as Sephiroth, then throw in an epic, soaring music score and some giant swords and you’ve got easily the best Final Fantasy film ever made (which isn’t saying all that much considering The Spirits Within and Advent Children were both pretty bad).
4. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is possibly the most unusual game in the entire Zelda library, which is precisely why it found its way onto this list. Implementing gorgeous ‘cartoon’ visuals via cell-shading, it was immediately chastised by fanboys at that year’s E3 for being too ‘young-looking.’ As we all know, fanboys love their videogames, movies, and comic books to be all dark, all the time. Despite initial concerns, Wind Waker was extremely well-received by both fans and critics upon release, and it’s one of the few Zelda games to produce a direct sequel.
Whereas the typical Zelda game found our hero, Link, battling monsters and bad guys in the magical medieval kingdom of Hyrule, in servitude to the perpetually-imperiled Princess Zelda (your typical fantasy tale, really), Wind Waker finds Link searching for his kidnapped sister in a Hyrule made almost entirely of water. As young Link, you boat around—on a talking boat, mind you—from island to island, fighting goblin pirates in constant search of your kidnapped kin. Zelda, of course, plays a large part, but she’s more a pirate than a princess.
Imagine if Hayao Miyazaki (Ponyo) and Studio Ghibli adapted this, the most creative Zelda game of the past ten years, into an animated, seafaring, action-adventure film for the whole family. Then, for the American release, Disney could hire a whole bunch of adorable-sounding children to voice the characters, as is their wont. Frankly, I would be onboard with all of this and more.