3. The Half-Life Series
Valve’s Half-Life series is widely considered to be one of the best videogame series of all time—it’s creatively and technically groundbreaking, incredibly well-written, and utterly entertaining all the while.
You control Gordon Freeman, a scientist recently recruited to work for the top-secret government facility known as Black Mesa, as an experiment goes awry that inadvertently opens a dimensional rift between the lab and an alien world called Xen. Soon the lab is overrun by all manner of hostile creatures, in addition to a government hit squad sent to silence any scientist survivors, Freeman included. After saving the day and defeating the Xen overlord, Gordon Freeman is hired by a strange man known only as “G-Man,” who immediately puts him into stasis…for twenty years.
Once Freeman is released, the world - and by the world I mean the human race - has been conquered by the Combine, another alien species and enemy of the Xen, that used the Black Mesa incident to find Earth. After Freeman comes into contact with his old scientist pals from Black Mesa, he joins the resistance and becomes the face for human rebellion in a scenario that’s more reminiscent of World War II than, say, Star Wars.
Recently, Valve spoke about their interest in personally making a Half-Life movie, as opposed to selling the rights to a Hollywood studio that wouldn’t do the story justice. Since there’s nothing official as of yet, we felt it was acceptable to include Half-Life on the list you’re currently perusing. So without further adieu:
In my opinion, an inspired choice for director would be Paul Verhoeven, a filmmaker who’s no stranger to the strange (Total Recall, Starship Troopers) or World War II for that matter (Black Book). Then imagine Guy Pearce as Gordon Freeman, Rosario Dawson as Alyx Vance, and Steve Buscemi as the creepy, almost omniscient G-Man, and you’ve got yourself a Half-Life movie.
2. The Monkey Island Series
Lucasarts' Monkey Island series of adventure games is, without a doubt in my mind, the funniest and weirdest series of videogames in gaming history. You control Guybrush Threepwood, a wannabe pirate and the lovable loser of the story, as he tries and tries and tries (and fails and fails and fails) to become a badass cutthroat pirate, all whilst falling in love with Governor Elaine Marley and constantly battling the ghost/zombie/demon (depending on the game) pirate, LeChuck. Those unfamiliar with Monkey Island will probably write it off as Pirates of the Carribbean-lite, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, the games are primarily about pirating, not unlike Pirates of the Carribean. Sure, the games were (to a degree) inspired by that infamous Disney ride, also not unlike Pirates of the Carribbean.
But unlike Pirates, Monkey Island isn’t about action, adventure, and popcorn thrills - at least not in the conventional sense. In point of fact, the only action involves Guybrush getting his ass handed to him time and again. The character is a moron, a weakling, and an aloof, incompetent pirate reject, plain and simple. But he’s also very lucky, very likable, very handy, and he can hold his breath under water for ten minutes. You’d be surprised how often that comes in handy.
Monkey Island, above all else, is a bizarre satire of every pirate-related book, play, movie, and theme-park-ride known to man, which is why a director like Wes Anderson would be perfect at the helm. Imagine Owen Wilson as Guybrush, Emily Blunt as Elaine, Gary Oldman as LeChuck, Jason Schwartzman as Wally B. Freed, Will Arnett as Stan the sleazy salesman, Bill Murray as Herman Toothrot, Willem Dafoe as Murray the Demonic Talking Skull…
And last but not least, Queen Latifah as the Voodoo Lady.
I don’t care if this movie exists solely in my head, I’m already jittery at the thought of it.
1. Grim Fandango
Lucasarts' Grim Fandango is a gaming masterpiece, which is probably why it's my favorite videogame of all time—I play it about once every year and it’s always like I’m playing it for the very first time. The art design is amazing, the music is moving and memorable, the story is incredible, the dialogue is hilarious, the characters are fantastic and well-drawn, and the game itself is about as perfect as they come (with the exception of some minor control issues). For every time a person says, ‘Videogames can’t be art,’ I say, ‘You haven’t played Grim Fandango.’
Grim Fandango (1998) was the last vestige of the truly awesome adventure games in the vein of Monkey Island and Full Throttle (indeed, it was created by the man behind Full Throttle, the esteemed Tim Schafer). You control Manny Calevera—a grim reaper of sorts—whose job is to guide dead souls from the Land of the Living to the Land of the Dead, where Grim’s story takes place. Basically, you’re a government travel agent who sells travel packages (based on the quality of their life) to recently deceased souls for their four-year-long “journey of the soul.”
Manny, a walking skeleton himself, eventually gets embroiled in a corrupt plot by gangsters working with the DOD to steal every goodhearted soul’s golden ticket on the #9 train straight to heaven. He joins forces with the Lost Souls Alliance—an underground resistance—to thwart the villains while never giving up his search for his one lost love, Mercedes “Meche” Colomar.
One part film Noir, one part comedy, one part Gothic horror, with a style that combines art deco, Tim Burton, and Mexican folklore, Grim Fandango would easily make the greatest stop-motion movie since The Nightmare Before Christmas. Imagine if Henry Sellick and Alfonso Cuarón (hell, why not Tim Schafer, too) joined forces to direct the original voice actors—Tony Plana, Maria Canals-Barrera, Alan Blumenfeld, etc.—and just try not to drench yourself in sweat and salivation. Too late for me.
And the best part? A successful movie could mean—gasp—a sequel to the game itself! I’m officially having a panic attack here.
So, readers, did we miss anything? Are there other unique videogames you could imagine being awesome movies? Don't just go for the obvious choices, dig deep and let us know about unexpected choices that could truly make for a memorable cinematic experience.