FRIDAY FUN: WEIRD VIDEO GAME ADAPTATIONS

25 October 2013

By Rob Cox

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I was tempted to just compile a list of the very worst video game to film adaptations for this bit of Friday Fun, but I quickly realised - with a heavy heart - that any such list would essentially resemble a chronological recounting of Uwe Boll's career to date. So I dropped it faster than Lowtax went down.

Instead I'm going to look at something vastly less predictable: 5 unusual video game adaptations that you may have missed (but which, in some cases, are well worth checking out). Thusly, friends...

1. The Great Gatsby 

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Released in time for the big screen adaptation earlier this year (but unaffiliated), The Great Gatsby's 8-bit NES treatment is a joy to behold. As Nick Carraway employing Odd Job's flying killer hat, you battle through various stages representing scenes from the novel, on the hunt for the elusive Gatsby and taking down waiters and hobos along the way (sure, why not?), all played out against a soundtrack of jaunty 1920s chiptunes. It's well worth your time. Incidentally, there's also another adaptation commissioned by Slate magazine that, by using that famous final line ('So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past') as the object of the game (you have to row against the waves), reaches uncomfortable post-Rock levels of emotional-literary resonance.    

2. Game of Thrones


Inspired by the TVthis is another jaunty 8-bit version of a beloved IP. Playing as a variety of super-deformed anime style characters from the series and set against some recognizable scenes - look at how cute that mini version of The Wall is! - it's an enjoyable platformer from an uber-fan, and seemingly untroubled by HBO's legal department to boot. It's free to play on PC right now.

3.  Neighbours

neighbours-1992-impulzeOh, BBC. You do some things, don't you? Like this. A Neighbours video game. A Neighbours video game! Proving once again that there's nothing that more deftly recreates the sun-kissed calm of a Melbourne suburb than playing a dodgy Commodore 64 skateboarding sim in your damp little British bedroom. But, listen: it featured Bouncer. So we're all gravy. It's worth noting that British counterpart Eastenders: The Video Game features a segment tasking players with how quickly they can make Dot Cotton hammer a twenty deck of B&H Gold. 

4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Given the lead character's transformation from genuinely nasty horror villain to pantomime kiddie's character, I can totally understand the merch-centric Nightmare on Elm Street game, although that doesn't make it any less crap. Ditto Friday the 13th. And, hell, the game based on John Carpenter's Halloween at least strives to recreate the some of the creeping terror of the film (tries and fails). But The Texas Chain Saw Massacre? As a game? In which you play AS Leatherface? Chopping up co-eds for points? I mean, I don't know, guys. Shouldn't we at least talk about it first?

5.  Desert Bus

OK, not strictly an adaptation of an existing IP but rather of a bus route (stay with me...), I had to include this because it is hands down one of the finest things this world has ever created. Technically, shock-magicians Penn & Teller created it, as part of their unreleased Sega CD collection of games, and the Desert Bus mini-game (a virtual recreation of the 8 hour bus trip from Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas in real time), was specifically designed as a riposte to the violent video game debate raging in 1995. Penn & Teller's brilliant idea was to build a game that did exactly as the pro-censorship campaigners asked, thereby sealing in history the single most boring artifact humanity has ever produced (Thorpe Park notwithstanding). Although never published, Desert Bus has become something of a cultural icon through online shareware and an annual - and rather lovely - charity fundraiser marathon, Desert Bus for Hope.

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