The 15 Best Video Game Adaptations Of Movies, Ranked

A movie license does, at times, appear to be a lazy excuse for game developers to change the graphics on an existing title (typically a platform game), knock together some levels that loosely resemble some of the scenes from the film, and release it to poor unsuspecting punters who will buy it solely for the name on the box. It's lazy and cynical, but it's a time-tested method. However, there are those that break with this tradition and make the effort, being excellent games in their own rights.

It's worth noting that this article will only cover games that are solely based on the source material, and not spin-offs set in the same cinematic universe – so, the excellent "Ghostbusters" game from 2009 won't be included, no "Alien: Isolation", and no mention of the myriad of "Star Wars" related titles.

So, grab your controller and your popcorn, and let's look at some of the best ever videogames based on movies.

15. Terminator 2: Judgment Day – 1991 – Game Boy

You'd think it would be hard to do justice to a $100m blockbuster on a screen only 160 pixels wide and 144 pixels tall, but this Schwarzenegger vehicle was one of the better licensed games released for the diminutive handheld device.

Following the events of the superlative sequel, the player takes control of John Connor fighting his way across a future battlefield to reprogram a Terminator, before playing said android assassin in the present day to try and defeat the mechanical machinations of the T-1000. Concept-wise, it's nothing original –- a series of right-to-left side-scrolling missions bookending a hacking mini-game involving shifting circuits to hack a Terminator –- but it passes the essential test, in that it's fun.

The missions are brief, and the difficulty level is perfectly pitched. There's enough variety in the package that there's no time to get bored, and it's a blast. To pack this much fun into such a small cartridge is a technological feat worthy of anything achieved by Skynet.

14. Tron - 1982 - Arcade

Of course, the overwhelming risk with any arcade game based on "TRON" was that there would always be a reticence to approach it for fear that a tiny laser would emerge, digitize you, and force you to fight for your life among a warrior civilization living inside the machine itself.

Luckily, the actual arcade game had no such hidden features, and was just an impressive set of linked mini-games themed around the events of the movie. It was also an arcade game where the cabinet itself was just as distinctive as the bright familiar neon styling of the Disney movie, a brilliant glowing blue joystick feeling like it had just been grabbed from the world of "TRON" itself.

The player would duel in tanks, take to the grid in Light Cycles, fight swarms of bugs to enter the I/O tower, and defeat the MCP (Master Control Program) by throwing disks at its glowing core. The four sub-games are varied, and it's a worthy legacy of a memorable movie. The arcade cabinet itself appears at the beginning of the 2010 movie "TRON: Legacy", introducing a level of meta self-referentiality that hurts the head.

13. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King - 2003 - Playstation 2

"Lord of the Rings" games are nothing new — in fact, this particular writer can remember the original text adventure on the ZX Spectrum — but had never been anything to write home to the Shire about. Peter Jackson's take on "Lord of the Rings" would change all of that. Both of Electronic Arts' "Lord of the Rings" games (covering the last two-thirds of the trilogy) were excellent slash-em-ups, but it's the final installment, "Return of the King," that really shone. The game let you play as a variety of heroes from the trilogy, and took you through key moments from the film.

The cut-scenes were mostly clips from the movie, and the use of the Howard Shore score and character likenesses made this game feel special, like you were directly playing scenes previously viewed on the big screen. Co-operative two-player play was the icing on the honey-cake, and this game was a worthy conclusion to an excellent series.

12. Ghostbusters - 1984 - Commodore 64

It was a different, simpler time. We'd rarely heard speech in videogames, apart from some notable examples –- Impossible Mission's "Another visitor! Stay a while; stay forever!" dialogue snippet, for example. And yet, when "Ghostbusters" finished loading on the Commodore 64, there it was: the word "Ghostbusters" followed by maniacal laughter, and then an awesome chiptune rendition of the soundtrack complete with lyrics highlighted by a bouncing ball. And if you hit the space bar, it'd repeat the word so you could accompany the tune.

Closely following the events of the first film, you'd follow the exploits of the phantom-hunting foursome as they roamed the streets of New York hunting ghosts, using the money from said spirit-snaring to upgrade both their vehicle and equipment. Eventually, like the film, this would culminate with a final boss encounter with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

Despite a notoriously tight development cycle of six weeks (assisted by borrowing game elements from a battling vehicle game already in progress) it neatly captured the essence of the film, elegantly bringing together a number of disparate game elements into a coherent whole.

11. Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - 1994 - Super Nintendo

The "Super Star Wars" games were all variations on a theme, being side-scrolling platform games in which you control a variety of heroes from the classic trilogy, interspersed with Mode 7 shenanigans in which you get to pilot land speeders and the Millennium Falcon through a variety of "Star Wars" environments.

It's a fascinating curio to see the liberties that the developers take with the source material, contending with extending movie set-pieces into full videogame levels. In this game, you're moving through the plot of the familiar episode 6 of the Skywalker Saga ... albeit in a way you've never quite seen it before.

Luke Skywalker having to fight against a teleporting Bib Fortuna? Princess Leia having to confront a Klatooine-paddy-frog-spewing Jabba on a floating hover platform? Forget the "Star Wars" extended universe –- this is where the real variety is. It's like viewing "Return of the Jedi" through a fever dream, as though the developers had never actually seen "Star Wars", just heard about it, and seen some still photographs. For this alone, they're well worth playing.

10. Aladdin - 1993 - Sega Genesis

As mentioned in the introduction, the lazy platform game port is commonplace in the world of shoddily executed movie licenses (not unheard of for Disney) and, at first, "Aladdin" looks like it falls squarely within that category. However, just a few minutes on that distinctive bulky black Genesis joypad will dispel any doubts — it's not only one of the best film-related titles out there, but also one of the best games released on the platform itself. The fact that the in-game sprites were directly taken from the film's animation cels only adds to the game's distinctive look, many of the scenes looking directly lifted from the movie itself.

Silky smooth animation and inspired level design make this Genie-related game a great play, and some inspired minigames between levels and excellent side-scrolling flying carpet battles make this a definite game for your wish list –- and you'll still have two wishes left.

9. Peter Jackson's King Kong - 2005 - Xbox 360

The unwieldy full-titled "Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie" was one of the first games released for the Xbox 360 back in 2005, and still stands out now as a bold and innovative use of a film license –- and visually, has barely dated.

Taking the dual roles of both Jack (Adrien Brody) and super-sized simian Kong in their own respective quests across Skull Island, the game's far from perfect. It's bugged, is short enough to be completed in a single day, and it's never quite sure what type of game it's attempting to be – but as a short-lived experience, it's amazing.

Playing as Jack, Skull Island feels like a real living place, with mixed environments and food chain mechanics making for interesting, varied encounters and puzzle-solving possibilities. Kong is the Apex predator that the game demands, parkouring with ease across mountainous landscapes and treacherous terrain, and portraying an unstoppable force of nature in the frequent dinosaur combats. Unlike the source movie, which achieved little other than reminding viewers how good the original was, the game is infinitely more memorable.

8. Friday the 13th - 2017 - PS4

Lawsuits over the "Friday the 13th" rights achieved what Freddy Krueger and Tommy Jarvis could not — stopping the murderous rampage of Hockey fanatic Jason in both movie and game form.

The game, at its height, was a phenomenal amount of tense fun. Players took the role of Camp Crystal Lake counselors fighting for survival against a lone player portraying the hockey-masked hulk Jason Vorhees. The counselors could survive by escaping (made easier by them cooperating) or by turning the tables on their silent stalker, whereas Jason had a number of supernatural abilities to assist him in locating and slaughtering his panicked prey.

"Dead by Daylight" continues the trend with similar themes and gameplay to "Friday the 13th", but it's a shame that the official licensed "Friday the 13th" property is a shadow of its former self, the official servers long since deactivated so only playable through peer-to-peer matchmaking. It was once a treasure trove of content for "Friday the 13th" fans, featuring almost every film variant of the mute murderer. With no updated content, however, the game is now as stagnant as the lake where Jason met his initial watery demise.

7. The Warriors - 2005 - Playstation 4

"Warriors, come out and play..."

The release dates of games based on movies are usually timed so their releases coincide, but that's certainly not the case for the videogame of "The Warriors," released more than a quarter of a century after its inspiration. However, it helps if the source material is well regarded and a classic, and Walter Hill's legendary film of warring gangs on the streets of New York is certainly that.

Reuniting many of the original cast characters for dialogue duties, the game sees the titular Warriors gang travelling across New York from their Coney Island headquarters. The events of the film –- which sees our heroes framed for killing a rival gangs' leader and trying to get back through hostile streets to the safety of their home turf –- takes up only a fraction of the gameplay. The rest of the game does what any decent games license should do and expands on the source material –- looking into the particular recruitment details of key gang members, for instance. For what is effectively a beat 'em up, it's got a surprising amount of depth and has the mark of quality you'd expect from a game from any of the Rockstar studios.

6. Robocop 3 - 1991 - Amiga 500

Ocean Software had cornered the market in games based on films during the '80s and '90s, with a level of quality control above many of their peers –- but "Robocop 3" stood out as something special, a rare attempt at doing something different with a license.

The UK Manchester-based development team had had some success with games based on the first two "Robocop" movies, both side-scrolling shoot 'em ups based on Data East arcade games. It was therefore expected that the third game would be of a similar ilk.

The film itself was mediocre at best, but the game stood out. Players would fill the giant metal boots of Robocop across a number of first-person perspective activities: driving a Ford Taurus around the streets of Delta City, gun battles to save hostages and avoid shooting innocent bystanders, and finally taking to the skies in a jet pack. Missions could be practiced individually or played sequentially in events mimicking the plot of the movie. It looks a little primitive by today's standards, but back in the early '90s it felt truly ground-breaking.

5. Star Wars - 1983 - Arcade

Following the events of the final fateful assault on the Death Star in "A New Hope", this legendary arcade game was the first of a myriad of licensed "Star Wars" games, and among the best of them all.

With primitive vector graphics, the player would take on the role of Red 5 – better known as Luke Skywalker, back from when he still had both his hands. Piloting his X-wing fighter with only one life but a full bank of Chempat Deflector shields, Luke would hurtle through swarms of TIE fighters before skimming the surface of the Empire's technological terror, taking out gun towers to clear his approach for that notorious circumferential trench.

Choosing the fancy sit-down cabinet rather than the stand-up one for maximum immersion, many an arcade-goer would zone out on that final trench run, with glazed unblinking eyes and deft movements of the double-handled flight-stick avoiding the barrage of oncoming fireballs. To not return fire was the key, anything to earn that "Use the Force" bonus. If they were lucky, their proton torpedoes would bullseye that exhaust port and they'd be treated with a vector explosion, all ready for the Empire to rapidly build another Death Star so they could do it all over again. You were Luke Skywalker in those fleeting moments, and it's a memory that'll rekindle wistful memories for gamers of a certain age.

4. Spider-Man 2 - 2004 - Playstation 2

There are many games out there in which you play a superhero, but not that many that make you feel like one. Despite playing the Man of Steel in "Superman 64", for instance, you feel more like you're trying to coax a leotard-clad tractor around a maze of invisible walls –- and it's hard to feel like Batman when a stab from a hoodlum strips you of a precious life.

The first "Spider-Man" game went some way to achieving this, but it was only in the Doc Ock-starring sequel that they mastered it. It's been nigh-on perfected now in "Spider-Man: Miles Morales", but it's hard to convey how much the freedom of movement made this 2004 license a joy to play. It was empowering, swooping through the streets with precision before dive-bombing a group of unsuspecting ne'er-do-wells. The controls were intuitive and responsive, and controlling the dexterous do-gooder felt like second nature.

Coupled with a free-world mechanic that made the game play like Grand Theft: Arachnid and a boss fight versus Mysterio that ranks as one of gaming's greatest and most unexpected moments, you can't go far wrong.

3. Batman - 1989 - Amiga 500

There has been no shortage of Batman games –- and indeed, games just based on the Tim Burton 1989 film –- but the Amiga version stood out amongst the crowd, at a time when the Commodore personal computer was in its heyday. Splitting the plot of the Michael Keaton starring movie across five levels, this excellent game featured platform sections, driving games featuring the Batmobile and Batwing, and a mid-game puzzler in which Batman attempts to crack the combination of products that comprise the Joker's deadly Smilex gas.

The platform and driving sections would be excellent games in their own right and still impress today, and it's another example of Ocean Software effectively milking the very best out of a licensed property. It's sadly missing the iconic Danny Elfman theme, but it's a small gripe about one of the best Batman games we'd get until Rocksteady released "Batman: Arkham Asylum" two decades later.

2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure - 1989 - PC

Lucasarts, the videogame subsidiary of Lucasfilm, would later go on to corner the market in point-and-click graphic adventures with the likes of "Loom", "Grim Fandango" and the "Monkey Island" series, but this was only their third such type of game -– simultaneously released with a generic action game based on the same movie, for those who prefer their adventures in archaeology somewhat less cerebral.

The game followed the events of the film, expanding (and altering) certain elements to avoid giving those who had seen the movie any particular advantage, and the trademark wit and derring-do adventuring of the film series turned out to be a perfect fit for the game. It's a great-looking game even by today's standards, bristling with charm and detail and permitting multiple paths to the same goal — which lent the title a replayability often missing from this particular genre.

The Fedora-clad historian would go on to star in another point-and-click adventure three years later, but in an original story not based on an existing movie –- "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis."

1. Goldeneye - 1997 - Nintendo 64

The one title guaranteed to make gamers of a certain age nostalgic and misty-eyed, this first-person shooter still stands up today as one of the greatest games ever made. The single-player campaign was solid and varied, taking the player (as Bond) through the events of Pierce Brosnan's debut as the martini-swilling superspy, but it was the split-screen multiplayer that set the gaming world alight.

Huddled around a single N64 console and a single television set, four players could play as Bond, or choice iconic villains from his lengthy cinematic history. Let loose in an arena loosely based around one of the campaign levels, a frenzied shootout would unfold –- until only one player stood victorious. Friendships would be broken, N64 controllers would be thrown at the walls in frustration –- and one innocuous grey tiny cartridge would also be responsible for months of entertainment, and in this particular writer's case, inadequate revision for exams.

Anything would go in these battle royales, and there were no rules. Other than the fact that the Klobb submachine gun was useless, and anybody choosing to play as razor-edged bowler-hatted Oddjob was effectively cheating.