It’s only in recent years that video games have really taken the lead over cinema. There’s a real sense of innovation and smart story telling coming through that’s indicative of a creative format truly coming of age. Although, as far as Hollywood is concerned, only the big game franchises are actually worth cinematic adaptation – which inevitably results in average to poor executions. Flip the coin, however, and look at how good Sci-Fi cinema has influenced games and you find a very different level of appreciation.

Speedball 2, the 1990 sequel to the Bitmap Brothers early future sports game is a very obvious homage to Howard Jewison’s 1975 film Rollerball. Strip out all the corporate control and politics from film, and you’re left with a fast and physical escalation of your team through the sport’s global ranks.

Looking to the bigger franchises, Alien has spawned a slew of games over the years since its 1979 debut. Sadly, a lot of these iterations have been unremarkable. That said, there’s been a lot of praise for Creative Assembly’s survival horror Alien Isolation but, here at Drozbot, Alien 3 on the Sega GameGear is still the one to beat.

Star Wars and Star Trek both follow suit regarding just how many games there are out there, but finding quality in among this blanket output is tricky. Have we here on Drozbot played any great games from these genre giants? Star Wars Battlefront, maybe…?

Returning to the less homegonised outliers, The Strugatksy Brother’s book Roadside Picnic became a very ponderous film in the hands of Andrei Tarkovsky in 1979. Both of which then acted as a launch point for GSC’s Stakler game series. While true to the alien zone notion of the origin novel, titles in the series have had a mixed reception. Whereas the same principle of our inability to comprehend the truly alien, still finds fertile film output in the guise of Alex Garland’s Annhilation (2018).

Pitch Black (2000) is also a worthy addition to the list. Coming out of a low-budget left-field and kick-starting Vin Diesel’s big screen career, it then went on to become one of the best film to game crossovers ever with Starbreeze’s The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.

Finally, extraterrestrial linguistics have bought about some of the oddest examples of game adaptation. Not really explored in film until Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016), it was originally tackled as a game concept in 1988 with ERE Informatique’s Captain Blood As with the translation mechanics of, say, No Man’s Sky, this game saw you creating an icon driven lexicon to help you on your quest. Jump forward to today and we find Inkle Studios revisiting the linguistic detective work with Heaven’s Vault.

There are a host of other titles out there that have taken some of the most influential Sci-Fi films and turned them into great games. While we’ve certainly done an injustice to many by not calling them out here, hopefully the kind of quality Hollywood engenders in game designers might one day be replicated back in Tinsel Town. Then again, perhaps a media that runs to hours upon hours of entertainment will always struggle being encapsulated into film. Here’s hoping Netflix bootstraps the already Half Life-esque Cloverfield universe into a full-blown mini series.

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