15 Horror Film Video Game Adaptions
Being a huge video game fan, I’ve often marveled at how developers adapt films into immersive, entertaining and exciting games. It can’t be easy taking a complex character driven film and turning it into a compelling video game? And yet, every year, that’s just what developers do, even in the horror genre. Over the last 30 odd years, there have been many attempts at turning our favourite films into video game adaptions. Some are good, some are terrible, but they all call upon their source material to create something the fans can really get their teeth into. Here are 15 Horror Film Video Game Adaptions.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1989) – NES
Family friendly Nintendo loved horror during it’s NES years, such is evident by the creation of a video based on not so kid friendly Nightmare on Elms Street series. Here you play as a teenager trying to gather the bones of Freddy Kruger, so you can bury them and put Freddy to rest, a little like the plot of Dream Warriors. The game was a side-scroller where you would take on zombies, cats and skeletons, whilst avoiding falling asleep. Taking a nap would drop you into an alternate dream world where you would have to wake yourself up with cups of coffee and boom boxes. At the end of each stage you’d face a boss battle with Freddy and gain a piece of bone.
The original concept for the game would have seen the player controlling Freddy, as he tried to stop the teens from gather his bones, but an earlier controversy with a Texas Chainsaw Massacre game, gave the developers the heebie-jeebies and they changed the concept to be more friendly, with a stop the bad guy theme.
Halloween (1983) – Atari
In 1983, Wizard Video released a video game based on the 1978 slasher film, Halloween. Playing as Laurie Strode, the aim is to protect children from Michael Myers, who had managed to get inside the house. You just had to find the kid and escort him/her into the furthers room. This whole kid killing part is a little weird, considering that Michael barely even saw any kids, let alone attack them. Interestingly, if the kids do get caught by Myers, nothing happens, you only ever lose a life when he touches Laurie (along with her head). So, I guess even video game Michael Myers had second thoughts about child homicide. The games graphics are fairly odd, being a mixture of solid pastel tones walls and floors, and the only music is an 8 bit rendition of the Halloween theme, which plays when Myers enters a room. If you weren’t crazy before you started playing this, you will be after.
For a more genuine Halloween game, look no further than the Behaviour Interactive’s epic horror game, Dead by Daylight, which feature Michael Myers as one of the games Killers. Playing as Michael you can stalk survivors to build up your “Evil Within”, before eventually gaining the ability to down the pesky players with one hit of your large knife.
Terminator (1991) – DOS
Out of all the films on this list, the Terminator franchise has one of the largest amounts of game adaptions, with over 30 different games produced. From arcade games to a game boy adaption, those pesky cyborgs have popped up on just about every console imaginable. Having to pull just one title out of the hat, I’ve gone with the first ever game adaption of the Terminator, produced in 1990 for DOS.
The Terminator Is a very early sandbox game, where you took control of either future resistance fighter Reece, or the unstoppable Terminator as you try to be the first to reach Sarah Conor. If you ever played games such as Total Eclipse or Freescape , it’s developed in a similar way, with the games taking place in a point of view camera, which moves through a 3D world. The game is set in a digital rendition of nearly 60 square miles of central Los Angeles, dropping you in with no weapons or supplies. It’s an amazing game that allows you to roam freely around the city, stealing cars and robbing stores. Although this Sounds a little like a GTA game, it plays very differently. Obviously, the early 3D graphics restrict much of what you can see in any one screen, but the freedom and clever deployment make the Terminator a great adaption of an amazing film.
Child’s Play – Chucky: Slash & Dash – Mobile
Considering how strong fan popularity had been for the Child’s Play series, after seven films, the only video game adaption we have ever had is a cheap money grabbing endless runner. Coming at the height of mobile game popularity, Chucky: Slash & Dash saw you play as Chucky, as he ran through factories, warehouses and catwalks, all inspired by Child’s Play 2’s climax. Apart from avoiding forklifts, acid pools and other obstacles, Chucky can also eliminate security guards patrolling the factory using his classic knife or other weapons that you can collect and win through out the game. Not the game we hoped for, but hopefully not the last.
Predator 2 (1992) – Genesis / Master System / Game Gear
The predator films have seen many different games released over the years, starting back in 1987 with a side scrolling shooter that came out on the C64 and ZX Spectrum. With lush green graphics and the ever parallax scrolling scenery, it was a cool little number. But it was the 1990 Predator 2 video game that really did a great job. Releasing on the Sega Genesis, Master System and Game Gear. Playing like the popular Smash TV, you roamed the map as Lieutenant Michael R. Harrigan, fighting off gangs and saving police officers, before the predator’s laser site made it’s way over them and blasted them into gory (16) bits. The game followed the films story line and each map was a representation of a scene from the film. It was a fun game, with plenty to do and collect and lots of graphic violence rarely seen in early video games. Whilst it was rather repetitive, I remember having lost of fun running around and shooting at bad guys and picking up Predator weapons to help me through the game.
Scream 4 – Ghost Face (2011) – Mobile
Considering that the film series ran for 4 films over 15 years, it’s incredible to think that the Scream series has only ever produced one single game. Back when the fourth Scream movie was released in 2011, an official tie-in video game was also dropped on mobile. Mobile games were enjoying a rise in popularity and it seemed the perfect platform for a cheap video game adaption. The Scream 4 video game was put out on both Android and Apple devices and placed you in control of Ghostface as he tried to murder all the teens and avoid the police. Sadly, the game is no longer available, but the good news is that there is another video game being adapted that will pit one killer against a bunch of hormonal teens. It certainly looks like the developers are paying attention to the current trend of asymmetrical online horror titles such as Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th.
The Warlock (1995) – Genesis / SNES
Warlock is a side-scrolling action video game based on the 1989 horror series of the same name. Releasing on the Genesis and Super NES in 1995, you play as a modern-day druid who must travel through time to collect runestones and prevent the destruction of earth at the hands of the Warlock. Looking like David Tennant’s Doctor Who, you start of the game in New England, shooting bats, dogs and zombified people all whilst avoiding random attacks from the Warlock. The game than swiftly sends you on a whirlwind tour of “time”, dropping you off in a cavern below a lake, a wizards castle and the underworld. I’m not quite sure how any of these settings class as being timey whiney, but I’m pretty sure there were no fire-breathing dragons, giant flying eyes or angry gargoyles in the past.
The warlocks game play is heavily repetitive, with a soap, rinse and wash feel to each level. It also barely follows any of the films, apart from the story line that the warlock wants to undo creation and the use of the rune stones from The Armageddon. The warlock is a common presence throughout the game, but he never really feels like a threat, more of a badly aimed supernatural sniper, that keeps popping up to take pot shots at you. The final confrontation with the warlock, where he transforms in to a 12-foot horned devil, is a nice touch. But you can’t inject him with sea water or stab him with sacrificial knives, so that kinda sucks!
Saw and Saw II: Flesh & Blood (2009 & 2010) – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Developed by Zombie Studios and published by Konami, the survival horror video games based on the Saw films were released in 2009 and 2010. The games are a third-person survival horror, where you play as a victim of Jigsaw, taking part of his sick games. There are plenty of puzzles to solve and lost of bloodshed and even better, the films follow events of the film quite well. The first game see’s you play Detective Tapp, from the first movie, whilst the second puts you in the shoes of his son. The games look and feel like an extension of the films, which is certainly a great achievement from Zombie Studios. Sadly, Flesh & Blood failed to make much of an impression on critics and players and this seemingly killed the game francize in its tracks. Game over!
Jigsaw also makes an appearance in the video game Dead by Daylight, where you can play as Amanda Young (AKA The Pig). Here Amanda can place reverse beartraps on downed survivors and force them to search in Jigsaw puzzle boxes to find the keys that open the trap. And yes…heads do pop when the timers go off. Tick tick…..
Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green (2005) – PC, Xbox
There’s not been many games made that are based on George A. Romero’s much-loved zombie franchise, and the one that did, falls a little flat. Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green is a little bit of a mouthful. Once you’ve got over the title, your faced with a first-person shooter with inept combat, bad visuals, and “cripplingly stupid artificial intelligence”. You play as farmer called Jack who suddenly finds his farm over run with zombies. The zombies are not the real threat here, as they are easily picked off, but the games level design and terrible graphics are the hardest hurdle to overcome.
Jaws: unleashed (2006) – PlayStation 2 / Xbox / PC
developed by Appaloosa Interactive and published by Majesco Entertainment, the 2006 action-adventure video game inspired by the 1975 film Jaws asks the question, what’s it like to be a shark? Not any old shark either, but the angry, giant shark from the film. Thrown into an open world, with a host of animals and people to chew on, you can also gain upgrades that give you new abilities and features. The game received mixed reviews, with most people just annoyed at the games glitchy game play and awful camera control problems. For once…the shark (Bruce) was not the problem.
Bram stokers Dracula (1993) – SNES / Genesis
Considering the films drama-based story, developing a game from Bram stokers Dracula was never going to be an easy challenge. Yet, a year after the 1992 film hit cinemas, a game exploded onto all the major consoles at that time. The player controls lawyer Jonathan Harker, hardly the most exciting character to play as, as he does his best Simon Belmont impression, as you fight skeletons, bats and spiders. Each level would end with a boss battle, with various character from the film, and the game ends with a confrontation with a giant armoured Dracula at Carfax Abbey. To say that the game doesn’t follow the films plot is an understatement.
Various versions of the game were produced, with some having different game play, or stories. The most different was a DOS version, that was a first-person perspective game, like Doom or Wolfenstein 3D. In this version, you once again step into Harker’s shoes, but this time you must purify coffins with holy wafers and then face Dracula himself.
The Thing (2002) – PS2 / Xbox / PC
It took 20 years for John Carpenter’s epic alien thriller The Thing, to get a video game, and boy was it worth the wait. The game is third-person shooter survival horror video game developed by Computer Artworks and puts you in the shoes of Captain J.F. Blake, as two teams of U.S. Special Forces investigate U.S. Outpost 31 to find out why they have lost contact.
The game plays pretty much like any other shooter game with the added feature of a trust/fear systems that plagues NPCs. As you investigate, you discover that the THING could be anyone, and so everyone one you meet is a potential threat. Mistrust and fear can cause NPCs to attack or run from you, adding a cool element to the game.
The story line was great, the action thick and fast and graphics were spot on for this generation of gaming. It honesty felt like a true sequel to the classic horror, with environment, characters and weapons all ripped straight from the film.
Evil Dead (1984 -20XX) – C64 / PlayStation / Dreamcast / PC
There have been several games released, based on Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead series, with even more promised. It started many years back in 1984, where Palace Software created the very first game for the C64. Set in the cabin of the 1981 original, the player controls Ash, and must close cabin windows to prevent monsters from entering, while also killing monsters that are already in the cabin.
Skip a few years later to 2000 and Evil Dead: Hail to the King exploded on to PlayStation, Dreamcast and PC. Once gain controlling Ash, this game used pre-rendered backgrounds and semi-fixed camera angles to create a Resident Evil styled game that was surprisingly atmospheric and fun. The game took place eight years after the events of Army of Darkness and worked like a fourth film in the series. It was tough, dark and full of classic Ash Williams one-liners. There were a couple of sequels and even a new game coming out in 2019-2020, but Hail to the King really managed to do the film series justice.
Alien: isolation (2013) – PS4 / Xbox One
Alien: Isolation is a survival horror game developed by Creative Assembly and one of the many Alien video game adaptions that feel like it’s part of the same universe. There has been a huge history of games based on the Aliens series and there has been some highs and lows.
Back in 1982, Fox Video Games introduced us to our very first Alien game, which was a Pac-Man clone skinned to resemble the 1979 film. The C64 and ZX Spectrum received a better adaption of the original film in 1984, and also an Aliens game in 1987, which was a first person adventure game where you took control of the Colonial Marines.
The big leap was the Alien 3 game that came out in 1992, which was a side-scrolling shooter that put you in control of Ripley on Fiorina ‘Fury’ 161, where you had to fight aliens and save prisoners. It was great fun and the closest we had come to a real Aliens game up until this point.
Over the next couple of decades, there was lots of releases, including arcade games, Nintendo DS titles and even a mobile game, all trying to capture that genie in a bottle, but failing to do so. Aliens: Colonial Marines seemed to promise to be the biggest game yet, coming out on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2013, but terrible graphics, repetitive game play and tons of bugs, saw the game fall flat on its face.
We were all feeling bruised by this 2013 release, so when Alien: Isolation arrived on next gen consoles in 2014, it kind of knocked us all for six. The game focusing on the survival-horror aspects of the original franchise and pits you against a single Alien that hunts you through the game. Playing as Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen, you’ll find your self stealthily moving from room to room, as you avoid the terrifying xenomorph at all costs. It’s creepy, dark and your heart will be in your throat.
Friday the 13th (2017) – PC / Xbox One / PS4
Jason Voorhees has a long history with video games, dating right back to the cassette tape gaming age of the C64. Friday the 13th: The Computer Game was released in 1985, where you played as Gerry King, a man trying to kill Jason and protect his friends. Gerry and his friends could freely walk freely around the camp, and Gerry would have to guess which of his “Friends” was actually Jason in disguise. By hitting the other characters, Jason would eventually be revealed as a man in black, and a few more hits would finish him off. It sounds just as bad as it is. The game has terrible graphics and a short and boring payoff, that could see you finish the game in seconds.
Whilst the first attempt at a video game was a little underwhelming, it’s second was a real knock out. A Friday the 13th game came out 1989 for the NES, which saw you take on a councillor at Camp Crystal Lake. You wandering around the camp, lighting fire places in order to get better weapons and battling with Jason as he tries to kill the camps residence. It’s a pretty fun game and even includes a secret boss which is the severed head of Pamela Voorhees. Cool Easter egg! Despite the odd colour choice for Jason, here he wears a purple jumpsuit and a blue mask, many people remember this version very fondly, and it’s even been acknowledged in the most recent Friday the 13th Game.
Jason also popped up in Mortal Kombat X, joining the likes of the Predator and Leatherface in an all-out fist fest.
It was in 2017 that Friday the 13th finally got a game that really understood the films. Friday the 13th Game is a survival horror video game developed by IllFonic, that pits up to seven players controlling Camp Crystal Lake counsellors against one player controlling Jason Voorhees. The game includes nine different versions of Jason you can play, including his appearances from the second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth films. Oh, and they even added a purple Jason from the NES game. The game was original kickstarted as a game that was inspired on Friday the 13th, before gaining franchise rights and becoming a full-blown product. This, however, was the games downfall. A recent case against the franchise rights to the Friday film series has stopped all production on the game. Leaving developers and players in a frustrated limbo.
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