As Oscars night approaches, we pick out some of the rare movie tie-ins that don’t make you want to throw popcorn at your screen
Designed by ex-Atari luminary David Crane (Pitfall, Decathlon), Activision’s wonderful tie-in captured the humour and spirit of the classic comedy. Players set up their own ghostbusting franchises, buying equipment before setting out to capture spooks. With its use of digitised speech and a jaunty reproduction of the film’s soundtrack, it showed that games really could provide an authentic movie experience.
Die Hard Trilogy (1996)
Developed by the UK-based movie tie-in specialist Probe Entertainment, Die Hard Trilogy is three games in one: a third-person action adventure, a light-gun shooter and an arcade driving challenge, each based around consecutive instalments of the film series. Though the visuals were rough, the game perfectly captured the locations, themes and black humour of the movies, providing a real bargain for early PlayStation and Saturn owners.
GoldenEye 007 (1997)
Regarded by many people as the greatest film tie-in of all time, Rare’s first-person shooter masterpiece provides a compelling reproduction of the 17th Bond movie, from the opening dam set-piece to the Severnaya control centre. The signature elements of the 007 experience are also cleverly replicated, from stealth and investigation to high-tech gadgets and thrilling shoot-outs.
The Thing (2002)
Players of this game, which was designed as a sequel to John Carpenter’s brilliant 1982 chiller, control a special forces squad sent to the Antarctic outpost to discover the fate of the original research team. Its lead character, Captain Blake, must recruit AI scientists and soldiers, but their actions and responses to your commands are governed by their fear and trust meters – a clever play on the film’s theme of hyper-paranoia.
Lego Star Wars series (2005-present)
It’s difficult to single out any one instalment in the Lego Star Wars series, so let’s throw them all in. These games work as brilliant puzzle platformers in their own right, but they do equally well at capturing the atmosphere of the Star Wars universe, from exciting battle sequences to in-jokes and thrilling use of the John Williams score.
Robocop 3 (1991)
Created for the Amiga computer by Runcorn-based flight-sim specialist Digital Image Design, Robocop 3 is an early attempt at a true interactive movie, with its 3D visuals producing immersive car chases and futuristic shoot-outs intercut with the film’s familiar TV news reports. A truly prescient title, often shamefully overlooked by those seeking to trace the history of cinematic narrative games.
Disney’s Aladdin (1993)
One of the best-selling Mega Drive titles of all time, this luscious scrolling platformer took the characters and story of the film and applied them to a typically challenging Sega gameplay template. Programmed by Dave Perry of Earthworm Jim fame and with a soundtrack by Tommy Tallarico, it’s pretty much the ultimate expression of early-90s console gaming.
Alien: Isolation (2014)
There have been many excellent Alien games, including the tense 1984 strategy title Alien, the proto-FPS Aliens: The Computer Game by Electric Dreams, and the recent squad-based shooter Aliens: Fireteam Elite. But we’re going with this utterly terrifying take from Creative Assembly, a survival game pitching Ripley’s daughter Amanda against a single AI xenomorph. You spend approximately 90% of your time hiding in a gym locker, which is as it should be.
The Warriors (2005)
A somewhat forgotten diversion from Rockstar, best known, of course, for Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. Featuring voice acting from the original cast and lots of meaty fistfights, it’s a sort of survival brawler set amid the squalor of late-1970s New York, with rival gangs battling over territory and engaging in graffiti art and petty theft. A scrupulously respectful adaptation of the cult movie; if video game tie-ins had a Criterion Collection, this would be in it.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004)
Actor Vin Diesel founded the development studio that created this faithful prequel to the movie Pitch Black. It’s an atmospheric prison escape stealth shooter that perfectly captures the intense, grimy look of the Riddick movies. And naturally Diesel is on hand to provide the wry macho voiceover.