Top Fifteen 80’s Movies That Deserve A Video Game

17 Jun


June 17th, 2009-

Woo-hoo! Somewhere, all over geekdom that battle cry is going up. Why? Because this week, the long awaited follow-up to the  classic Ghostbusters series has arrived and it isn’t even a movie (although there is one of those on the way too). No, the only place you can currently find Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston is on a video-game console ; Atari is releasing the game on nearly every system out there including PC.

Though I have yet to get my hands on a copy(that will be remedied soon enough), Ghostbusters: The Video Game combines all the elements that made the originals so much fun; assorted creatures, almost the entire cast back doing voicework and a considerable amount of wit. Now kids of the 80s who used to daydream about being a ghostbuster can try on the proton pack and get down to business. Better than that, all of the characters return just as they were when we left them thanks to the work of talented game artists.

So, in honor of this return to form for a classic from way-back, Cinematropolis brings you the Top 15 movies from the 1980s that would be perfect for a video game resurrection. And yes, back then many of these had their own Nintendo iterations but that barely counts. What we are talking here is a full-fledged, narrative driven game taking the elements we love and marrying them to an original bit of gameplay. Most of these are just wishful thinking, a few little more than jokes, but there are some here that could really amount to something special; one more chance to wander the playground of the cheesetastic 80s. Which ones would you most like to see?


15.  Teen Wolf (1985)- OK, so even back in the 80s this was seen as a bomb by most and little more than a guilty pleasure for everyone else. But, if you get beyond the dopey movie and concentrate on the too-cool premise of a werewolf that plays high school basketball you’ve got the perfect concept for a sports-oriented console game. In fact why stop with just the teen wolf, why not trot out some other well-known fiends and make this the classic monsters version of one of those NBA games with Fox’s wolf heading out from the high school to the big time. Get M.J. to do the voicework and it’s golden.


14. The Blues Brothers- What could be more epic or more perfectly suited for a video game than a mission from God? Seriously, the Blues Brothers are great enough characters, and the basic scenario behind the original film diverse enough that you could have a veritable potpourri of different game styles. Wanna drive through the mall? check. Want to play concerts via Guitar Hero style interactions? Perfect. Akroyd’s already done the voicework gig on Ghostbusters, so Im sure he’d come back. Sans Belushi, do they bring back Goodman’s character from the sequel or grab Jim to stand-in for his bro?


 13. The Last Star Fighter – The ultimate meta-game right? An alien race recruits a kid to fight into an interstellar war by way of an arcade game strategically placed in a trailer park. I loved this movie as a kid, but narratively it was always a bit weak.  Personally, I’d prefer a return to the classic sidescrollers of yesteryear with some updated movement and gameplay. Y’know, something like Gradius or R-Type? Bringing Last Starfighter full circle from game within a movie, to movie within a game feels exactly like something the 8os would be proud of.  


12. Fright Night – It doesnt have the same recognizability of something like Lost Boys but  Fright Night was not only the better movie, it was the one with more pure imagination. This 80s horror take on Rear Window followed the adventures of a monster-nerd and a late night schlock host who battle a vampire together. Though the late Roddy McDowall obviously won’t be available for the voice of Peter Vincent, the ‘Fearless Vampire Killer’  I suggest that any future incarnation consider replacing him with Chris Sarandon, who was the vampire in the original and provided the speaking voice of Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas.  The groovy Richard Edlund critters provide a great jumping off point for artists and animators  and the fact vampires are hot again would help make this one relevant so long after its (minor) heyday.


11. Rambo -Seeing as how Stallone just made this work in live action format, I think it’s the proper time for a full-on game epic that takes us through all of John Rambo’s adventures including some new ones. With the success of the Metal Gear series this will require a little distinguishment, but maybe the key is to throw John into some more relevant real-world scenarios(he went down to Bhurma last time). Or, is that just too touchy? Either way, Rambo deserves an adaptation that does the series justice after its abomination of an NES game, possibly one of the worst things available for that console.  


10.  The Never Ending Story – Taking a classic children’s book adapted into a film about the dwindling power of imagination and then turning it into a video game might seem just a bit wrong-headed but the world of ‘Story’ is so rich that there could be a truly engaging, interactive dynamic created here.Note to any potential developers, ignore the last two movies and draw directly from the novel. The first Story is literally only the first half or so of the book.  More than anything, I just want a chance to pilot Falcor around the edge of The Nothing. Extra points if the game operates on a perpetual loop, rendering it a truly never-ending story.


9. Poltergeist- Haunted house games are still big and more than a few of them have clearly lifted some of their best bits from films like Poltergeist. Lets be done though with the herky jerky, strobe-light camera simulations and sadistic storylines with extra gore puddles. Transforming Poltergeist into a video game could be great fun; capturing the Spielbergian nature of the haunting, telling a brand new story and maybe, just maybe, bringing back Zelda Rubinstein as Tangina(yes, Im pretending Poltergeist 3 never happened). I welcome any game that might appropriately capture the bug-nuttiness of the film’s final half hour or just about anything that happened in Poltergeist 2; demonic tequila worm anyone?


8. The Goonies- Another victim of crappy NES adaptation, Goonies is perfectly suited to become a video game. It has atmospheric settings, the ability to generate any number of further adventures, characters that most players would gladly follow and it can pick right back up with their youth and take place in the 80s. No need for all the current nonsense about a grown-up Goonies movie. Move beyond the Fratellis and the pirate ship and start brainstorming a bigger adventure. The best part of this is the opportunity to switch control between the various goonies, and maybe Sloth too. In fact, how about a Wii add-on where players can recreate the Chunk dance?


7. Mad Max: The Road Warrior –No need to rehash the others in this series. Lets see something new. The apocalyptic world presented in Miller’s wonderful action films is primed and ready for a video game. If this was done right, Grand Theft Auto eat your heart out! And why stop at excellent vehicular devestation; expand the story and throw in some Thunderdome. Two men enter, one man leaves! It might even be fun to have Mad Mel growling on the soundtrack as long as he doesn’t want to also direct.


6. Labyrinth – This could not only cash-in on the considerable nostalgia surrounding the original but it would create another opportunity for fans to get lost in the world of Jim Henson. Sell it as a puzzle game and get Brian Froud back for the designs of the creatures. This has serious potential to be an amazing game and it would cure the problem the film had of seeming  more like a collection of challenges than a movie. Intriguing stuff like the knight and knave riddle sequences and eclectic set pieces like The Bog of Eternal Stench would work pretty darn well in a game.  Lets get some more original Bowie songs while we are at!


5. Back to the Future – Michael J. Fox again. Back to the Future seems like it would render endless possibilities for a game. Whether walking through humorous recreations of the past, or taking the plot threads of the original trilogy and beginning a new set of stories within the BTTF universe, a new adventure with Marty and the Doc is potentially more alluring and profitable than Ghostbusters. Afterall, the Ghostbusters don’t get to travel through time. Fox would probably do this too, and Lloyd–well, what else would Lloyd be doing?


4. Time Bandits – Time travel again, but this time with a film that doesn’t seem like it would lend itself to a video game format, let alone be profitable as one. But with games becoming more cinematic all the time and the flexibility that creators have growing, I’d love to see how Terry Gilliam would fare in such an environment. Might he find video games easier to navigate than film? Also, with the template of stealing objects out of time, the game could have some serious fun with the historical representations, much like the film did. We got Napoleon last time, how about someone skewer Atilla in the next verson? I love Gilliam’swork, and if Terry were ever to revisit this world, I think a video game approach is the perfect way to do it.


3. The Abyss – James Cameron is such a techno-nut that I bet he could be talked into this one. And why not? With all of his other franchises smoldering, and a big new epic on the way, why not expand and explore on the world of the Abyss and the movie’s open ending where the aliens have brought their ships to the surface. One could only hope that a project like this would include a strong sci-fi story and plenty of underwater sub simulations. By centering the game play on aquatic environs designers could make the gameplay singularly strong and then navigate their way through the more intricate science fiction bits that Cameron left lying around at the end of the first. Visually, the alien civilization could be great fun to explore and understand. They did almost wipe out the human race afterall, and apparently have elemental control of water.  The film, a terrific hard sci-fi story, ended just as it was suggesting to us the nature of its extra-terrestrials. There’s more to tell and an interactive format is the perfect place to tell it.


2. Big Trouble in Little China – This could be huge. Really. Huge. Call in John Carpenter and get Kurt Russell ( it would have to be Kurt) and quicker than you can say “Yes sir, the check is in the mail” a new gaming franchise is born. You wouldn’t even need to make this Chinatown centric, just bring back Jack. But, for my money, there are enough thrilling adventures and potentially cool stories to be told within that setting and mythology that it would be a shame to waste it. Get some writers who can inject humor and wit and give us a parade of great beasties and super-powered warriors and then give us a chance to prove just what we would do “when when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake.” Yea, we can take it.


1. Blade Runner – A no brainer really. Whether creating an adaptation of the original film, or taking Ridley’s world and adding more of the details from Dick’s book( the entire Mercerism plot would be fertile and ironic ground for a video game) there is enormous potential here to continue building that bridge between art and gaming. Consider how influential the film has been, and then look at how rich it is as a story and a universe and then build something that draws on it and adds to it. You’ll need a talented team, but if there is ever going to be another compelling Blade Runner product, it’s probably going to be in the video game department. If Harrison Ford did this, it would be out of this world. And the production designers, not reigned in by the limits of a budget could truly give us “things you people couldn’t believe.” The big question: Narration or no narration?

13 Responses to “Top Fifteen 80’s Movies That Deserve A Video Game”

  1. The Great Fatsby June 17, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    Blade Runner would sure be interesting to translate into a game when you consider what can be done with games these days, but for my money, the top 5 sellers would be Big Trouble in Little China, Mad Max, Rambo, The Last Starfighter and a toss up on Number 5 for either Fright Night or Poltergeist. Probably Fright Night.

    You did bring up one of my favorite games from my childhood, though. The Labyrinth was a mixture text adventure and side scroller. Really wierd combination, I know. The worst level was the last one, where you had to throw crystal balls at Jareth in the crazy stairway zone, you had to type the command and be in the right spot while timing his position just right… and pow! You could blow through the whole game in 30 minutes or less. One of the more wierd word combinations you could use was “Adumbrate Elephant” which would do nothing other than make the background colors flash at the last level.

  2. lee June 18, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    nice one for mentioning Fright Night – a fantastic film, all too often overlooked!

    as for Blade Runner, there was a PC game about 11 or so years ago – sort of a sequel, more of a “recreation”, wasn’t bad at all.

    • Scourge October 15, 2009 at 1:01 am #

      You’re thinking of Konami’s “Snatcher”

  3. Jen B June 22, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    I seriously can not believe that you did not post Gremlins and Beverly Hills Cop! Great post!

  4. moviex June 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    nice stuff i was looking for this thanks for sharing

  5. fandangogroovers July 10, 2009 at 11:19 am #

    What’s going on with the Ghostbusters car? It looks from the image like their Cadillac has turned into a Chrysler 300. I can just imagine the the conversation when they turned up in it:

    Peter: What’s this?
    Ray: What?
    Peter: This car. This stupid car! Where’s the Cadillac?
    [Ray doesn’t answer]
    Peter: The Caddy! Where’s the Caddy?
    Ray: The what?
    Peter: The Cadillac we used to have. Ghostbusters Car
    Ray: I traded it.
    Peter: You traded the Caddy for this?
    Ray: No, for a microphone.
    Peter: A microphone?
    Peter: Okay I can see that. What the hell is this?
    Ray: This was a bargain. I picked it up Chrysler bankruptcy sale: They were practically giving ’em away.

    (Words slightly borrowed from Dan Aykroyd and John Landis!)

  6. Cello September 29, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    Would you mind if I posted this on my movie forum [with credit to you of course] in my top list section:

    ?? Thanks in advance, this is good stuff.

  7. Scourge October 15, 2009 at 1:01 am #

    There was a Blues Brothers NES title. Do your homework.

  8. Nathan Bartlebaugh October 15, 2009 at 7:27 am #

    Actually, not only Blues Brothers had a NES title but also Mad Max, Goonies, Last Starfighter, and Rambo as well.

    Hence, why I wrote in the intro: “And yes, back then many of these had their own Nintendo iterations but that barely counts.”

  9. PWNER October 26, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    yo there is a blade runner game for pc you noob.

  10. Bartleby October 26, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    wow… brilliant observations there. See Lee’s comments above and the ones where I mention I’m suggesting games for new consoles. Unless of course the Blade Runner game was made in the last four years or so. In that case, NOOB away.

  11. JLG December 12, 2009 at 1:42 am #

    Hi there, just stumbled across your blog looking for a picture of Mad Max actually. No joke – I have a very similar post over at my site – – we actually agree on a couple. Check it out!

  12. kmaru April 23, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    I would be all over the Big Trouble game. It is, after all, All in the reflexes

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