These days, movie tie-in games have developed a poor reputation, and seen mostly as quick and dirty cash-ins than enjoyable gaming experiences. That wasn’t always the case, however, and back in the day, gamers were treated to some amazing games based on their favorite films. Today, I’m looking back at some of the most enjoyable retro games that happen to be movie tie-ins!
Aladdin & The Lion King
Sure, these are two separate games, but frankly, they’re worth listing together as they’re both from Disney (based on movies of the same name) and feature some rather impressive platforming. Frankly speaking, the accolades I’m about to mention are going to be the same for both of these games, so rather than copy and paste, I’m just going to list them together.
The truth is that Disney could have EASILY cranked these games out and made tons of money. These films were huge and kids were eager to get their hands on anything related to it (if you’re not old enough to remember, just look at the fervor surrounding Frozen), so as little effort as possible could have been put into these games and they still would have made bank. Fortunately, that’s not what gamers got.
Instead they were presented with a pair of solid platformers that were both challenging and fun. The controls were fluid and the blend of traditional animation with pixels made for some seriously good looking games that manage to still look nice even today. Aladdin and Lion King have both aged incredibly well and as far as platformers go, can still be well worth your money to pick up and play if you find them.
Obviously you can’t leave such an iconic game like GoldenEye off a list like this. This N64 game hasn’t aged very well and compared to modern shooting games, it’s shortcomings are evident and pronounced. But that doesn’t make it any less important or deserving of recognition. GoldenEye was revolutionary at the time and proved the viability of the FPS genre on the home consoles to gaming studios.
Beyond the influence the game’s design and mechanics had on the industry going forward, however, it’s also impressive how closely the game followed the plot of the James Bond film of the same name. Seriously, it didn’t miss a beat from the films and anything they threw in extra helped flesh things out and genuinely improved upon the experience. Couple that with throwing in maps and villains from classic Bond movies, and fans of the super-spy were given an incredible treat.
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for Spider-Man video games, and I can trace my love of playing them back to one game in particular: Spider-Man 2. While games based on the wall-crawling superhero were nothing new, this tie-in to Sam Raimi’s second Spidey flick (still one of my favorites) changed up the formula drastically. For the first time, gamers were given the ultimate freedom in an open world map they could explore by swinging around.
More than just going from mission to mission, this is one of the first superhero titles that helped you to feel like an actual hero, as you encounter random crimes and side-missions as you travel the city. The web-swinging mechanics felt fluid and I would literally swing around in the game for hours, not even doing any missions, because it was just so much fun!
The story tied in directly to the new film, but also added in tons of other plot points and goodies to keep general fans of the character engaged. Spider-Man 2 set a new standard for this particular game franchise, and arguably remains the best one to utilize it. The fact that even the latest games (the tie-ins to the rebooted films) continue to stick with the basic formula established in this game is a testament to how well crafted it was.
My love of the classic Dune games knows no bounds, and it’s something I’ve talked of a few times here on the site. While Dune II, one of the seminal real-time strategy games doesn’t follow the plot of the book/movie directly, it is the game most heavily influenced by David Lynch’s 84 film. It uses the same characters and likenesses of the characters from the movie and incorporates a few of the same ideas...as such I’m including it on this list whether you like it or not!
This game helped defined the modern RTS games and truly shaped the genre into what it is now. Truly, everything from Command & Conquer through StarCraft owes a great deal to Dun II and the mechanics it implemented. It’s use of the the Dune movie, and implementation of characters/ideas from the book series also struck a chord with fans and kept them invested in the game.
The Super Star Wars Trilogy
Star Wars and video games seem to go hand-in-hand, and the results have ranged from the cringe inducing to the mind-blowing. While I could list a great many of their games on here as amazing retro tie-ins (like Knights of the Old Republic), I’ll keep this one limited to specific movies. As such, the Super Star Wars trilogy is an easy pick to put on here.
If you like classic feeling side-scrolling action that makes you want to tear your hair out in frustration...look no further. Many gamers remember these titles for their punishing difficulty, and while that’s true, they’re still a lot of fun. Back in the day, these were the best ways to play within the galaxy far, far away and take on the role of our favorite characters from the film. The integration of vehicle stages and interesting bosses kept the gameplay fun and engaging. Sure it didn’t stick terribly close to the films’ storylines and created some of it’s own weird encounters, but they’re still fun to play and have done a great job of withstanding the test of time.
Yes, there are some modern video game movie tie-ins that manage to be fun and solid games, but looking back it feels as though developers tried just a little bit harder back then. Rather than grabbing for the cash, they did their best to make games that fans cared about. What were some of your favorite movie based retro games? Tell us your picks in the comments below!