From video games to TV adaptations

Sally Dobie

The release of Netflix’s “The Witcher” was a truly special day for fans of the series. Aside from the initially confusing timeline, the series was a real triumph that managed to stay true to aspects of both the game and the original books by Andrzej Sapkowski.

Not only was the TV adaptation well-received by the general public, but it was also a huge relief for gamers. Films and shows based on games have had mixed success in the past. It’s difficult to create linear stories from a source material that, more often than not, can change direction depending on the actions of the players.

It’s no wonder then, that only some adaptations of games really succeed. Not only would you need an extraordinary budget and imagination to re-create the game, but also a lot of patience and confidence.

An example of an adaptation that didn’t work out so well in recent memory would obviously be the infamous first draft of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie. 

The first theatrical versions of our loveable blue game character were all cartoon, which worked in his favour. His latest CGI update was no less than horrifying. So horrifying, in fact, that after the online uproar he was completely redesigned and the release date for the movie was pushed back. 

Another questionable example might be the “Silent Hill” movie, which although had many elements from the combined series of games, was lacking the depth of the original game’s plot and the characters weren’t quite as enthralling.

The movie adaptation as a standalone horror movie was pretty good, and honestly, for the time of its release (2006) the effects and the scares weren’t half bad. But the main problem, is when compared to the source material it just doesn’t measure up. 

Then there are movies like “Resident Evil”, whose main character Alice does not exist at all within the game world, but the franchise features cameos from the games at odd moments throughout the series.

If adaptations are done right, like with “The Witcher”, a huge profit can be made. The two “Tomb Raider” movies have had huge success, both with the wider public and fans of the games. In fairness, there were a lot of “Tomb Raider” games over the years to draw inspiration from.

There is also another set of game movies that are more inspired by games than attempted carbon copies. Movies such as “Mortal Kombat” achieved some success, despite not really having a game plot to follow. 

The 1995 film was inspired by the arcade fighter game, and despite sharing the name and some of the characters, that’s about where the similarities end. Also not a flawless formula, thinking back on the movie version of “Dead or Alive”.

Despite most of the movies and shows mentioned above having relative success in their own right, there are some movies based on games that deserve to be completely forgotten. Take for example the 1993 “Super Mario Bros.” movie. Don’t remember that? Probably for the best.

Sally Dobie

Image Credit: Netflix