Back in the ’80s and ’90s, video games based on movies earned a bad reputation because most of them represented the very worst of the video game and film industries. More often than not, a video game publisher would simply buy the licensing rights from a movie studio and slap the film’s name on a very poorly thought-out game engine, leaving fans of the movie let down when they purchased what was clearly a phoned in effort, at best. With that said, there were a few truly brilliant video games from the classic era that were based on movies. These are the best retro video games based on movies, titles that belong in every gamer and film lover’s collection.
10) Toy Story – Sega Genesis, Super NES – 1995
The developers of this game could have rested on their laurels and let the movie license reel in the bucks, but they created a truly addictive and strongly made action/adventure title. The 3D-rendered graphics brought depth and visual flair to the 16-bit world at the end of the Genesis and Super Nintendo’s lifecycle. This movie-based video game can usually be had for just a few dollars.
9) Rambo: First Blood Part 2 – Sega Master System, Virtual Console – 1986
This overhead action shoot-’em-up is a really solid movie-based video game. The game was simple but the great gameplay mechanics, precise control, strong speed of action, and well-crafted stage design made this a top action title for Sega’s 8-bit console. This classic Rambo video game can be found for just a few dollars at used game stores or downloaded for the Virtual Console.
8) Jaws – Nintendo Entertainment System – 1987
Many critics panned this movie-based video game, but just as many also came to its defense. The game itself was not groundbreaking but its execution was a pleasing interpretation of the film upon which it was based and the old-school style of gameplay was refreshing. Perhaps, some people had just been burned by too many other LJN titles that were terribly executed. If you are looking for a strong movie-based video game for your NES, pick up this title for just a few dollars.
7) Terminator 2: Judgement Day – Arcade – 1991
“Terminator 2: Judgement Day” was a blockbuster in the truest sense of the word and the arcade game based on the classic action film managed to deliver just as big of a hit. This shooter is considered one of the best arcade games of all-time, and certainly one of the best of the ’90s. The game was ported over to the Sega Genesis and Super NES, but the game lost a lot of its luster due to the graphical limitations of those 16-bit consoles. You can pick up a home console cartridge for just a few dollars, or shell out upwards of $500 for the full-on arcade cabinet experience.
6) WarGames – ColecoVision – 1984
WarGames marked the first time that a video game based on a movie had been done well. Prior to the release of the ColecoVision classic, gamers had been burnt badly by titles like the Atari 2600’s awful version of ET. WarGames was good, really good. In fact, many consider it one of the best ColecoVision games ever released and certainly one of the best movie-based video games of all-time. For $10, you can own your very own copy of this great ColecoVision game.
5) The Room – Adobe Flash – 2010
“The Room” is widely considered one of the worst movies of all-time, but the free Flash-based video game based on Tommy Wiseau’s movie is one of the most addicting titles you will ever play. Sure, the game was released recently so it does not technically count as a classic but it’s retro aesthetic and gameplay style make it purely retro.
4) Die Hard Trilogy – Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation – 1996
Die Hard Trilogy is three games in one, bringing its replay value through the roof…of the Nakatomi Plaza. All three of the games in the trilogy are loosely based on the original three “Die Hard” films and the execution of all of them is strong. Strong controls, memorable level design, and addictive gameplay will help you look past the dated visuals; mid-’90s 32-bit video games didn’t age well. Pick up a copy for just a few dollars and you’ll be saying, “yippee-ki-yay,” for weeks.
3) Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker – Sega Genesis, Sega Master System – 1990
Leave it to early-’90s Sega to turn a Michael Jackson movie into a video game, a beat-’em-up video game to be precise. Michael Jackson uses his sweet dance moves and boomerang hat trick to save kids with the guidance of his chimpanzee. It’s really odd, but the gameplay is highly addictive and the overall experience provides more than a few laughs. Due to Michael’s Jackson’s rabid fanbase, the game’s cult-classic status, and the fact that it was yanked from shelves, you should expect to pay between $20 and $30 for this pop-culture icon.
2) Die Hard Arcade – Sega Saturn, Sony PS2 – 1996
Sega took a play from the Double Dragon playbook with this movie-based video game, but the results were anything but derivative. Die Hard Arcade is one of the most addicting titles of the mid-’90s and the fact that it can be played from beginning to end in around 30 minutes makes it a very satisfying arcade-style experience. The action is fast and the fight sequences are memorable. Prices vary for this classic title, but expect to pay in the range of $10 to $40.
1) GoldenEye 007 – Nintendo 64 – 1997
The 32-bit consoles were flooded with first-person shooters in the mid-’90s as Doom-clones became as common as Street Fighter ripoffs just a few years prior. The notion of a movie-based first-person shooter could easily have become a cheesy title, but this classic video game took the Bond franchise and gave gamers a legitimate gaming experience in James Bond’s world. This N64 game is considered one of the best on the 64-bit system and also widely hailed as the best classic movie-based video game of all-time. Pick up a copy of this cartridge for between $10 and $20.
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