It’s a well-worn cliché -- video games based on movies are going to suck. Hard. There’s a good reason for that. History is, in fact, littered with the debris of bad adaptations. Old-school gamers will remember the Atari days when a blob-like E.T. wandered aimlessly in the pursuit of candy or the PlayStation 2 era where games based on "The Matrix" featured characters with faces even more blank than Keanu Reeves' on the silver screen.
But aside from the obvious stinkers (Sega’s “Iron Man” anyone?) movie-based games have actually improved slightly in the last few years. While you consider whether or not to pick up this summer’s batch of movie games -- “Captain America,” “Thor,” “Green Lantern” and others -- here’s a list of the best and worst in movie tie-ins in gaming history.
Best Movie Games
Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64): 1997
Yep, it’s true. There was a day when Nintendo systems had the best first-person shooters. Laugh all you want, but if you now spend a lot of time racking up headshots in Call of Duty or Battlefield or the countless other multiplayer modes in FPS’s these days, thank your lucky stars for “Goldeneye 007.”
The campaign -- where you controlled a cyber version of the movie’s Pierce Brosnan was fine -- but the four-player split screen mode launched the game into legendary status and helped make consoles safe for multiplayer deathmatches. If you went to college in the ’90s, there’s a good chance you know Goldeneye etiquette like trying not to screenpeek and never picking Oddjob. That guy was, like, totally cheap, dude.
The Warriors (PS2, Xbox, PSP): 2005
The Double Dragon for a new generation, this street-brawler was based on the surreal 1979 gang-warfare movie “The Warriors” and brought new meaning to Luther's famous cry of “WARRIORS, COME OUT AND PLAY!” The subtlety and moralizing that would become part of Rockstar’s later games is missing.
Instead, “The Warriors” is mostly about brawling and inflicting pain onto rival gangs with some added property damage and the ability to spray graffiti onto environments. Adding to the fun -- much of the voice acting was provided by the original cast, and the story was actually a prequel to the events of the movie.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox, PC): 2003
The question we’ve always wondered: Why did George Lucas make the boring, piss-poor prequels to his much beloved Star Wars movies when there was a story like the one in Knights of the Old Republic laying around.
The tale, which involves the tale of Darth Malak and a former apprentice and contains a surprise ending, is better than all but one of the Star Wars movies and some of the characters (even hilarious assassin robot HK-47) show more humanity than Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen combined in the prequels.
Worst Movie Games
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (Sega Genesis, Arcade): 1990
While it might now sound like an elaborate joke brainstormed by Jay Leno, a game based on Michael Jackson's campy feature film actually existed. In it, gamers controlled Smooth Criminal-era MJ with the mission of saving kidnapped children from three-piece suit wearing gangsters through the power of dance. Oh, and you could occasionally change into a giant Michael Jackson robot and shoot lasers from your arms. Who’s bad? That’s right, this is a game.
Fight Club (PS2 and Xbox): 2004
Taking the unfortunate award for the game with the most realistic jiggling man-boobs, this punch-less movie-game brawler gets low marks for the decision to incorporate Meat Loaf's “Bob” character into the game. As if we have always dreamed of controlling a 300-pound middle-aged guy with a glandular problem in video game form.
Street Fighter: The Movie (Sega Saturn and PlayStation): 1995
Possibly the only thing worse than a game based on a movie is a game based on a movie based on a game. At least that’s the case with "Street Fighter: The Movie", an adaptation of the laughably bad action movie. The controls, graphics and moves are all bottom of the barrel, though the fact that it’s the only game to feature a digitized Jean Claude Van Damme should count for something. Still, it’s a game that deserves a swift Dragon Punch to the face.
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