I got a tricky question via email.
Generally when a motion picture movie gets picked up by publishers to be made into a video game or vice versa, the overall gameplay or quality is just poor excluding some movie games out there. Gamers just already get the notion that when a movie game comes out it is going to be bad. Maybe it’s the gameplay or the storyline that just destroys the game. Are there any ways that this can change? Are movies just not meant to be made into video games?
First I would like to argue if games using movie brands (or vice versa) are really that bad – in general. In fact… as I start to think about this, it seems that there’s lots of rubbish games and movies transitions. But, I think there’s actually many games using movie brands that are really good.
I like how they’ve done several Marvel games (well, they are originally based on comics… and then movies and games, but still) that are fun to play. Hulk and Spider Man for PC were good. In Hulk you can smash pretty much everything and Spider Man can use fancy moves and move on ceilings – these really fit well in the theme.
I also like Battle for Middle Earth (not the sequel 2, but the good ol’ number 1). The feeling of orcs attacking, Gandalf doing fancy stuff and Gimli using axe is there. Although… that movie is again based on literature. There’s also poor games using LOTR brand, but you can find good ones as well.
Maybe movies and games that are based on some existing world have more background material which have more potential to make the games interesting. I really want to see established brands as games, and I’m sure there’s room for that.
Ruining the gameplay
It’s true that developers can “ruin” the gameplay. I hated the camera in Spider Man game (and it really affected the gaming experience) and in some games they make things really easy (which also can ruin the gameplay). Some games are very simple hack’n'slash skinned with some brand, which might be not so interesting to everybody.
I don’t know if there’s magic potion that would solve this problem. When game developers are allowed to “take chances” and make things little different, we can see new shining stars. Meanwhile, we just have to hope for the best and make sure we indies produce innovative games.
Perhaps upcoming Halo will be successful as a movie – if they solve contract problems. Who knows.