10 Classic Movies That Could Make Great Video Games (+ 3 Overdue Remakes)

Tough as it is to find movies that have not been made into video games, they do exist, and some of the films on the list might be hard to believe.
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When I started researching this article, I knew it would be a challenge. I did not, at first, realize just how great the challenge would be. But when a couple of hours on Google revealed that even Ben Hur (Charlton Heston, 1959) had been made into a chariot racing game released on the PS 2 in Europe in 2003 and Captain Blood (Errol Flynn, 1935) is a title by the gaming company 1C, I began to understand the Herculean nature of the task ahead of me (as in Hercules, released by Disney for Playstation). 

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Not to be daunted, I plowed ahead, and after a few more hours on Google I managed to put together a solid list of ten classic titles that have yet to be made into video games as far as I can tell, along with a few that haven’t been released since the days of the Commodore 64 and are long overdue for a remake. I’m proud to say the list is genuinely eclectic, with a little something for everyone. (If you know of a video game for one of these titles that I missed, by all means mention it in the comments!)

My 10 Classic Movies That Would Make Great Games

So with no further ado, here they are in purely alphabetical order, my ten classic films that would make great video games:

  1. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Eellen Barkin, 1984 – “Adventurer/surgeon/rock musician Buckaroo Banzai and his band of men, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, take on evil alien invaders from the 8th dimension.” I have to note here that this one was released… sort of… but in a form that most modern gamers would not even recognize as gaming.
  2. The African Queen: Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, 1951- “In Africa during WW1, a gin-swilling riverboat owner/captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.” Humphrey Bogart, secret missions, and enemy warships… what’s not to like?
  3. Akira:  Mitsuo IwataNozomu Sasaki 1988 – An anime film in which “[a] secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psionic psychopath that only two kids and a group of psionics can stop.” Although various elements of the film have technically made it into video games that were released on now-ancient systems, they have been widely condemned as just horribad, and the full movie has never been translated into game form as far as I could track down.
  4. Highlander: Christopher Lambert, 1986 – “An immortal Scottish swordsman must confront the last of his immortal opponent, a murderous, brutal barbarian who lusts for the fabled ‘Prize’.” This one was going to be made for XBox, but the title was cancelled. The movie just begs for a PC-based MMORPG that starts out every day with a massive free-for-all battle and ends every day with a single winner. After all, there can be only one…
  5. The Last Dragon: Taimak, Vanity, 1985 – “A young man searches for the ‘master’ to obtain the final level of martial arts mastery known as the glow. Along the way he must fight an evil martial arts expert and an rescue a beautiful singer from an obsessed music promoter.” I have no idea how this title has been overlooked.
  6. The Magnificent Seven: Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, 1960 – “An oppressed Mexican peasant village assembles seven gunfighters to help defend their homes.” Yes, the film is based on Seven Samurai, which was released in video game form on PS2. But The Magnificent Seven is not, itself, a video game, unless you count the slot game version, which I emphatically do not.
  7. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi: Orson Welles, 1975 – “A young mongoose protects his human family from two murderous cobras.” This film was released as a TV short film rather than as a feature-length movie, but IMDb lists it so I counted it. I could not find any significant game version of the film, and I think it would make a fantastic kids’ title.
  8. Romancing the Stone: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, 1984 – “A romance writer sets off to Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister, and soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous adventure.” This film was released just before the beginning of the video game era. It’s over-ripe for some game developer to pick it up and recreate it for the 21st century gaming community.
  9. Three Amigos: Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, 1986 – “Three unemployed actors accept an invitation to a Mexican village to replay their bandit fighter roles, unaware that it is the real thing.” This comedic parody of the Seven Samurai / Magnificent Seven tradition is the kind of action/adventure/comedy that just never gets old.
  10. Toxic Avenger: Andree Maranda, Mitch Cohen, 1984 – “Tromaville has a monstrous new hero. The Toxic Avenger is born when mop boy Melvin Junko falls into a vat of toxic waste. Now evildoers will have a lot to lose.” A ridiculous cult classic, this film was the inspiration for the Toxic Crusaders animated series, which was turned into a video game of sorts, but the film itself has not been.

And 3 That Are Long Overdue for Remakes

As promised in the title, my searches also turned up a few extra titles that would make great modern video games despite having been attempted some decades ago by the earliest efforts of game designers. These are, this time in chronological order:

  1. Treasure Island: Bobby Driscoll, Robert Newton, Basil Sydney, 1950 – “Young Jim Hawkins is caught up with the pirate Long John Silver in search of the buried treasure of the buccaneer Captain Flint, in this adaptation of the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.” This was released as a video game for the Commodore 64 and was released again as a Muppet version in 1996, but gaming has come a long way in the last 30 years. I’d love to see a modern remake of this classic story.
  2. Swiss Family Robinson: John Mills, Dorothy McGuire, James MacArthur, 1960 – “A family in route to New Guinea is shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island. They are forced to remain on the island because of the damage to the ship and the pirates that are roaming the islands. They create a home on the island (centering around a huge tree house) and explore the island and its wildlife. Plenty of adventure ensues as the family deals with issues of survival and pirates, and the brothers must learn how to live on the island with an uncertain future.” Released for the Commodore 64 and the Apple II, this adventure story of living in a tree house and fighting pirates deserves a 21st century gaming rendition.
  3. Big Trouble in Little China: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, 1986 – “An All-American trucker gets dragged into a centuries-old mystical battle in Chinatown.” This one was released for the Commodore 64 in 1986, the same year as the film. But the abilities of the consoles available at the time just didn’t cut it compared to the epic visuals and game play that would be possible today to really bring this title to life. If you build it, I’ll buy it. That’s a promise.


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Ask Erin
app developer, author, rancher, gamer, (and occasional lawyer)