Live action adaptations of video games are usually pretty dire. The original Street Fighter film is a fine example of a the motion picture industry getting it wrong and even recent, modern adaptations like Doom and Max Payne are lacking in both style and substance.
I’ve always felt that this type of animated film is aimed at the enthusiast rather than the average movie goer. Widespread theatrical releases are rare, and as such releases are easy to miss. Often these versions take their respective franchises in new directions, some impacting the story and others offering an entirely different take on events so far.
Today we’ll be looking at some of the biggest animated releases so far. Don’t forget to add your own favourites and opinions in the comments, at the end of the article.
The Dead Space games are blood-soaked interactive nightmares chock-full of gore, frights and an eerie, nerve-wracking atmosphere. A total of two animated movies have been produced, with 2008’s Downfall somewhat succeeding in capturing some of the dread and terror the franchise is known for.
Aftermath is definitely the weaker of the two films, utilising a technique seen in films such as Batman: Gotham Knight whereby different studios contribute to the same production. Unlike Gotham Knight where each film was a separate short story, Aftermath keeps the narrative going despite the radically changing styles that sometimes don’t quite gel.
Resident Evil: Degeneration & Damnation
Degeneration is probably the best Resident Evil film to date, and while that’s not really saying much, the film feels like the enjoyable zombie romp the other productions should have been. The art style is true to the Japanese feel of the original games, though don’t expect the dialogue to be anything other than cheesy fluff.
Aiming for a Japanese release in October 2012 is the upcoming Resident Evil: Damnation (also known as Biohazard: Damnation). With a particularly promising looking trailer and the same set of voice actors from the previous film, this one is probably worth watching if you’re obsessed with brains or Japanese survival horror games!
An experimental series of animated shorts, Halo Legends calls on seven of Japan’s finest anime directors and studios to expand the Halo universe with their own take on Master Chief, Cortana and the UNSC.
The studios involved have worked on some of the best regarded anime feature length films ever made, with big names like Production I.G and Studio 4C in the mix. It’s different, but worth a watch if you’re a fan of the series. Because the official trailer is remarkably vague, I’ve included a fan made trailer here which shows off the varying styles far more effectively.
Utilising the same technique seen in Dead Space: Aftermath, this animated follow up to 2010’s console action adventure lets six different directors have their way with the same story. The film is a veritable bloodbath with a flagrant disregard for clothed females, so if this kind of thing does it for you then you’ll probably enjoy it.
Easily the best Street Fighter film adaptation out there, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie reared its head before the live action atrocity and was based entirely on the game of the same name. If you’re a Street Fighter fan then there’s one movie you should watch above all of the others, and it’s this one.
Street Fighter: Alpha & Alpha Generations
Unfortunately neither of these are particularly special films, though they do remain true to the (Zero/Alpha) series of games and thus might interest fans of the series. It shouldn’t need to be said that it stands head and shoulders above the live action Street Fighter films, though probably won’t appeal unless you’re fond of either the games or anime in general.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within & VII: Advent Children
It would be a crime to finish this list without mentioning the Final Fantasy films, even the first one which cost Square $137 million and according to IMDB only recovered $85 million worldwide. It remains a good film, however and is unmissable if you’re one of those obsessive Final Fantasy types.
Advent Children is often heralded as the Final Fantasy film that fans wanted all along, and according to the enthusiasts it’s must-see stuff. The story takes place shortly after FF: VII, and it really helps if you’ve played (and obsessed over) the game before watching it.
Bonus: Films Made From Video Games
The following are cutscenes taken from video games and arranged into a narrative. Be sure to play the games first if you don’t want anything spoiled!
Red Dead Redemption: The Man From Blackwater
Red Dead Redemption is in my mind the best open world game Rockstar have ever come up with, and here’s the main story arranged into a half-hour long short film for your enjoyment.
Shenmue: The Movie
Possibly the most underrated game ever released, Shenmue II on the Xbox came with this movie to fill players in on the saga so far. Keep your eyes peeled over the next few months as the franchise is supposedly heading for Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network in HD (though there’s still, as yet, no sign of Shenmue III).
Metroid: Other M
Metroid: Other M saw Samus Aran return to a side-scrolling gameplay style that worked well for the Nintendo Wii. It also contained some beautiful cutscenes and tons of story. Here’s two hours worth of Metroid goodness in case you can’t be bothered playing through it.
Live action films based on games are often watered down for the larger audience and lacking in what made the game so special in the first place, but these animated efforts at least offer something extra to fans of the genre. If you have any favourite animated (or otherwise) films based on games, then don’t forget to add them in the comments below!