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The Six Worst Video Games Based on Movies

Like it or not, video games based on movies are incredibly popular. No matter how bad the game, it’ll sell like poorly-rendered hotcakes so long as you put a movie star on the cover. As a result, we the gamers are left with products that completely ignore or pervert their source material; games whose stories make no literal sense; games that just plain should not exist. When it comes to the following abominations, tread carefully — lest your fond memories of classic movies be tarnished forever.

E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982)
Everything you’ve heard is true. Based on Steven Spielberg’s classic, the E.T. video game was made in only six weeks (the developers had that long to design and release the game before losing the rights to it). Yes, the beginning of the game drops E.T. into a hole from which you cannot possibly escape. Yes, there are thousands of unsold copies in a New Mexican landfill. We’re talking about a game that indirectly helped cause the video game crash of 1983 and prompted retailers to demand return programs from game publishers. It’s really, truly, that bad.

Star Wars (1987)
In this Namco-developed Nintendo game based loosely on the first Star Wars (with elements of the subsequent two included as well), Darth Vader is a scorpion. I don’t mean that the designers made a scorpion the final boss fight instead of Darth Vader. I mean that in the game, you meet Darth Vader, you watch him turn into a scorpion in front of your eyes, and then you kill the Vader-scorpion. That happens. I’m sure it was George Lucas’ idea, too.

Seven Samurai 20XX (2004)
Imagine everything that was good about Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai: The complex characters. The brisk, even pacing. The steadfast dedication to recreating the Edo period of Japanese history. Now add robots and jump the story two thousand years into the future and you’ve got Seven Samurai 20XX. Even ignoring the fact that the game was an awful, button-mashing beat-’em-up, literally nothing links it to the source material apart from the name, the fact that there are seven main characters, and the fact that Akira Kurosawa’s money-grubbing son managed to make a profit by prostituting his father’s old movies.

Taxi Driver (2005)
The video game adaptation of Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece was canceled in the summer of 2005, but the premise alone is enough to warrant its place on this list. Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro) is an unstable, borderline psychotic murderer. In other words, not exactly an ideal video game hero. Nevertheless, Taxi Driver: The Video Game would have seen Travis’ ex-girlfriend Betsy shot down by the mob, sending Travis on a heroic quest to avenge her death and punish the baddies. Did the genius developers even see the movie before pitching this?

Scarface (2006)
Scarface-video-game-125.jpg What would you say is the most iconic moment in Brian de Palma’s Scarface? The ending where Tony is blown in half with a double-barreled shotgun, right? Not according to Scarface: The World is Yours video game sequel. Here you get to play through the ending of the movie, but Tony doesn’t die. The entire theme of the movie is reversed so that Tony can go on an epic revenge quest to kill Sosa and avenge Manny and Gina (even though, uh, Tony was the one who killed them). The game is actually pretty fun in its own twisted way — Tony has a “balls” meter that fills every time he taunts his enemies — but from a canon perspective, it’s just plain wrong.

Reservoir Dogs (2006)
Narratively, Reservoir Dogs is actually one of the more faithful games on: it basically retells the events of the movie while adding some extra levels depicting events that the characters only hint at (most notably, the diamond heist itself). Where it goes wrong, however, is in its bizarrely over-the-top gameplay. Remember the scene where Mr. Blonde cuts a guy’s ear off? Each of the gangsters has their own signature attack, so you can relive that moment every five minutes. With a body count numbering in the thousands, it’s easy to forget the game was ever based on a believable, dialogue-heavy crime flick.


Anthony Burch is the features editor for and the co-writer and director of the video series Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? He recently completed Runner, his first art game.

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