Video Game adaptations for famous movies are a dime a dozen with many big movie franchises often receiving cheaply-made tie-in adaptations. However, this was not always the case. Once upon a time, franchises might have adaptations that were wholly unique versus being cash-grab tie-ins. I remember putting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone into my PlayStation 1, only to find that half the game was entirely different from the movie. While the game was loads of fun, I was disappointed that it included new elements and excluded others featured in the movie. Naturally, as time passed, I grew to appreciate the nuances of game adaptation and how audiences differ vastly from consuming media and interacting with media. This is why I find it both hilarious and extremely sad when movies announce tie-in video games. These are, more often than not, flops… but when Bethesda released the teaser for a brand-new Indiana Jones game, it got me thinking: are there other dead movie franchises that need video game adaptations?
In late 2020, IO Interactive announced both Hitman III, and more importantly, an untitled James Bond video game. In early 2021, Machine Games and Bethesda announced the aforementioned Indiana Jones video game. These games are presumably removed from tying directly into their counterpart movie franchises, and both are coming from studios with great track records at adapting classics. So what is next?
Well, this list of Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations might give us a clue! In this list, we go through movies that may have had games in the past, but which have long since been forgotten. Not all movies are dead, mind you, but let us be honest: they are so niche, they hardly get mentioned in the mainstream circles any more. Who knows, maybe a decent adaptation might just do the trick and bring them back into the limelight!
Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations
The daywalker may finally be seeing a comeback in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This release is so far off, however, that many fans have not even picked up on it. For this reason, and a few obvious others (read: daywalking vampire-human hybrid vampire slayers are dope), a fresh adaptation might do the franchise some good! Blade originally fell on many eyes when Wesley Snipes took on the role of the titular daywalker in 1998. This R-rated film quickly rose in popularity and effectively proved comic books could successfully be adapted into blockbuster films.
While the franchise received a pair of movie video game tie-ins, they never really stood out as must-have games. They were so lacklustre, that Blade: Trinity (2004) never even got a big platform video game tie-in of its own! As such, the games fell by the wayside of gamers, and moviegoers also tried to forget the third Blade outing – the movie was not great. However, the trilogy is almost two decades old; hence why now might be a perfect time for a video game adaptation straight from the comic book?
This entry in the list of Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations is here solely because of its cool factor… and I would not have it any other way. A video game ripped straight from the Blade comic books would likely lend itself well to a third-person action game. Just imagine a game with hack and slash elements akin to Devil May Cry (2001) or God of War (2018). A combo system that integrates Blade’s projectile weaponry into his iconic sword abilities would also be amazing. WB Games, I am looking at you.
This 80s and early 90s franchise may be as dead as a doornail, but it is certainly not forgotten. The franchise made its debut in 1984 when Police Academy hit cinemas. The premise was simple enough: a brand-new police academy has opened up where recruits from all walks of life try to get into one of the most prestigious career paths possible. As luck would have it, these recruits would be nowhere near what the Police had in mind. Despite being misfits, they were all noble souls who only wanted to save the town from an eccentric plot. The franchise is seeped in low-brow comedy – the kind that ran rampant in the early 90s, and it was the kind folks could not stand much longer than necessary. As such, the franchise quickly died down and faded into obscurity.
As far as I can tell, Police Academy did not have any video game adaptations of any kind. That makes it the perfect entry for this list of Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations! Video games were in their primitive stages by the time the movies first released, and mobile gaming even more so. The truth is that people in 1984 just did not care for video gaming all that much. A shame, considering how much of a boom gaming enjoyed at around the same time.
It is easy to look at Police Academy and think of a multitude of games it could become. At the end of the day, however, I firmly believe Police Academy would be suited to a third person sandbox type video game. Every time I think of the franchise, I also immediately think of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and while the real reasons for this are mostly personal, it fits the premise and franchise incredibly well. Police Academy would lend itself perfectly to Rockstar North, who could develop the game in the same vein as Bully or Grand Theft Auto. They could make it wacky and zany and implement the same low-brow and slap-stick humour the films are known for. Instead of shooting hookers and robbing banks, players would instead be brawling with thugs stealing handbags and rescuing kitties. A million-dollar idea, no?
Starship Troopers is one of those franchises that always teeters on the edge of slipping out of the geek zeitgeist. As far as Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations to go, Starship Troopers (1997) was a cult classic the moment it was released. Its courage to put females in the lead alongside an exceptionally diverse cast; were unprecedented in action films of the time! It also had strong roots to Robert Anson Heinlein’s novel of the same name (which is already the second project after an animated series from 1988). These humble beginnings imply the franchise could have been incredibly desirable for adaptations in its future. Sadly, not many adaptations ever came of it.
Starship Troopers has been the subject of a few interactive tie-ins. There are a few tabletop board game releases, and even a miniatures release in the vein of Warhammer (from the same publisher, no less). The franchise also received two video games in total: a single movie tie-in in 2005 and a mobile game meant to act as a prequel to the 2012 animated film, Starship Troopers: Invasion.
Seeing as the live-action movies have all but faded away, and the animated movies are showing no sign of continuing, a video game adaptation may be exactly what the doctor ordered. More specifically, a video game set in the original movie’s timeline with the same aesthetic, and a strong female lead in — get this — what is essentially DOOM with Bugs! Seriously, it is a winning recipe ripe for the taking. Machine Games would be the ideal candidates for this, making it one of the better Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations!
As a kid, it is easy to see an extreme sport and think it looks incredible. Imagine if the clips you are seeing feature one of your favourite actors – of course, you are going to love it! This was Rollerball (1975) to me, and while it was panned by pretty much every critic under the sun, it found a good place in my heart. Rollerball was good enough to warrant a pinball game in 1984 (with a Nintendo Entertainment System port in 1988), and a reboot in 2002. Sadly, the franchise pretty much died out after that. I would too if my reboot sucked as much as this one did.
What makes Rollerball a good candidate for one of the Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations is twofold. Firstly, it already had a game with a two-player mode back in the eighties, and secondly, it is a cool concept that would more than likely be a strong hit if released today. Who can deny how well an extreme sports game would be after the success of Steep, and Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1+2?
As expected, Rollerball would be an easy concept to adapt to interactive media. It is just two teams circling an arena while attempting to throw a ball through a hoop. The trick, however, is that both teams consist of rollerbladers, motorcyclists and catchers. This will require some form of Artificial Intelligence in the form of bots, or support for up to 20 players, and some good development on the extreme sports category. Also, let us not forget the fighting aspect as well… which means some form of damage calculation and gear will need to be figured out. I am no development wizard, but I am certain this would be easy for a studio like Ubisoft Massive or Activision Blizzard. Do it, you cowards!
RoboCop was, and honestly still is, one of the coolest concepts Hollywood has ever brought to life. The first movie may have been released in 1987, but I have many fond memories of binging all released movies with my dad in my youth. I am certain I am not alone! While its sequels were continually rated worse and worse, the franchise saw a resurgence in ratings when its reboot released in 2014. The reboot only scored 41% on Metacritic, but it showed the world that it was both better than the sequels and had an -albeit tiny – spot in modern-day Hollywood. Alas, talks about a direct sequel to the rebooted movie have been in limbo since 2016.
Whether it is because of his huge mech-like appearance, or the fact that he is half-robot-half-man (read: more like 90% robot), Alex Murphy is a dystopian cyberpunk icon. While the Deus Ex video game franchise was inspired by the creator’s wife’s fascination with X-Files, it also pulled a lot of pages from RoboCop’s book – it’s recent prequels even more so. RoboCop is a huge franchise that just… kind of died after its failed reboot. As such, it is perfect for this list of dead movie franchises that need video game adaptations. The reason? It might very well put the spring in Hollywood’s step that it so desperately needs! Not to mention Murphy has enjoyed several video game adaptations already.
Whether it is a side-scrolling shoot ‘em up or weird rail-shooting action, it is safe to say RoboCop has been featured in multiple games over multiple genres. Sadly most of them were tie-ins to their respective movies, with the single exception being a crossover with Terminator. A modern-day video game adaptation, however, would need to be a lot more than a tie-in if it needs to succeed. As such, I have this proposition: why not follow suit of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and make the game a narrative-focused semi linear title? Imagine playing as Alex Murphy during the prologue. Something happens, and RoboCop is born. The player then hulks around a dystopian Detroit for the rest of the game as RoboCop tries to fight crime and get to the bottom of his murder. Come on, we have a winning formula prime for the taking here!
I would be damned if Nicholas Cage did not appear on this list at least once. What better way to feature the man than the highly underrated gem that is National Treasure? 2004 was a wonderful time. The Queen christened a ship, the CIA admitted there was no real threat from Iraq before 2003, and the EU saw one of its largest expansions to date. What do all of these things have in common? I have no idea, but I know for sure that Benjamin Franklin Gates might.
While National Treasure enjoyed coveted success, the franchise never really picked up in popularity around the world. The first film, while only garnering average scores from critics, received several nominations in various categories from many different award ceremonies. Sadly, its sequel seemed to double down on modern American Patriotism and Action, which resulted in a confusing mess of an action flick. National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) may not have been the hit sequel fans hoped for, but it did open up the series to a whole spate of spin-off novels… some of which could make good video games.
When one thinks about National Treasure, it is challenging not to think of Nathan Drake and his adventures. As such, National Treasure is an easy one to fit into the video gaming geekosphere: make it a third-person action-adventure similar to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016). The specific reason for this is because it was not only the most narratively driven game of the lot, but also the most cinematic. National Treasure lends itself well to this kind of game design! Uncharted, but in the city. It does not even have to be directly associated with the characters in the films – make it a standalone title, with brand-new characters based on another important historical family. Naughty Dog pls.
And the award for the strangest entry in Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations goes to The Descent (2005). Do not let that status fool you, however, for this horror franchise needs to make a comeback! The Descent was a marvel for its time, combining deep-diving exploration with next-gen horror only previously entertained by films like Alien. Its all-female cast also played a huge role in its success – a fact that I think played toward the uncalled-for sequel’s demise.
The way The Descent ended left it open to interpretation and intrigue. The moment The Descent: Part II (2009) came out, however, the singular film turned into a franchise lying in wait. Alas, it did not get anywhere after this due to the second title’s weird doubling down on gore and cheesy horror. The cast doubled in size from the first, and the inclusion of many horror tropes removed all the charm the first introduced. Thankfully that means the franchise is ripe for a soft reboot or direct sequel tie-in to the first, undoing the sequel completely, much like Alien.
The reason I keep bringing Alien up is simple: a The Descent game will fit perfectly into the same narrative survival horror category Alien: Isolation slots into. The game needs to return to the franchise’s roots and strengthen the cores it established. Make the protagonist a strong female, with great supporting female characters. No male meddling like what was featured in the second film! The game would likely be a short six-to-eight hour romp, but it would be a scary romp in the process. Exactly what the world needs right now. Why not have Creative Assembly have at it as well!
Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations can only go so far without ever including Die Hard, and it is obvious why. Badass balding detective, classic 90s catchphrases with a character also stuck in the 90s, and incredible action sequences that defy all sorts of physics (okay maybe not that last one), Die Hard has it all! Since its 1988 inception, Die Hard has been touted as one of the best Christmas films of all time. Its sequels may have slowly worked away some of that magic, but they have most certainly stood the test of time as great action flicks.
Die Hard may be known as one of the more prolific action franchises of the last three decades, but the newest instalment will be turning eight in 2021. To top that off, there is no concrete evidence of any new instalment or spin-off in sight! Is must also be mentioned how there are at least eight video games (by my count) that have been released since 1988, with the newest title released in 2013 as a movie tie-in. Almost a decade has past since the last film. Naturally, that means the franchise is primed for an all-out and mega badass video game revival!
With eight video games below its belt, Die Hard is a challenging one to top. Thankfully, all of them were weird side-scrolling movie tie-ins. To revive a franchise with as much weight as this, however, will take some doing. So much so, I am willing to bet the only way this can be done is if and when this hypothetical video game takes a page out of the recent Hitman game’s book; and dials the action up a notch. Kind of like Hitman (2016) meets Hitman: Absolution, with a tiny bit of Michael Bay for good measure. The question, however, is whether brave studios are willing to take on such a project. Maybe even IO Interactive? Then again, maybe not since they will be handling James Bond.
Whether these Dead Movie Franchises That Need Video Game Adaptations are already dust, or have only recently died, one fact remains: there are thousands of fans out there who want to see more. It was also quite a challenge to cut the list down. Out of this list, which franchises are you most keen on seeing? Are there any others you would prefer to see revived? Let us know!