Does anyone else miss the old days of movie tie-in games? I sure do. There’s something incredibly enjoyable about watching a global brand shamelessly cash-in on its own recognition by making a tie-in game to their latest film that really gets my nostalgia going. Maybe that’s because I played The Warriors on PS2 too much, but whatever. Coney Island for life, he said, sitting in a bedroom in the North West of England.
While I enjoy a good movie tie-in as much as the next person, the real enjoyment comes from watching an official tie-in take the franchise’s canon and just shitting all over it. And I mean everywhere. It’s the type of crap you’re washing out of the fabric for weeks. Fortunately, there’s more than enough instances of bed-defacing for us to fashion a new listicle for you. Here’s 10 instances of movie tie-in games that absolutely went off the deep end.
1. Iron Man 3
Depending on who you ask, the Iron Man 3 film already crapped all over the comic book source material anyway, as noted D-Tier villain Aldritch Killian revealed himself to be The Mandarin, while “The Madarin” was actually a British actor called Trevor Slattery, played beautifully by Ben Kingsley. The twist wasn’t for everyone, but the official game that came out as the film launched took things one step further.
An endless runner mobile game, Iron Man 3 sees Stark continuing his crusade against A.I.M., only to find out that A.I.M. is being run by C-Tier villain and straight up weirdo MODOK. In a further twist, MODOK is actually revealed to be the consciousness of Killain uploaded into a new form. To recap, a C-Tier villain is actually a D-Tier villain, creating an L-Tier villain as a result. Yes, I multiplied C and D, if you want me to show my working.
2. World War Z
In a classic case of striking while the iron is frozen solid, Saber Interactive recently released a World War Z game, based on the 2013 film, itself “based” on the 2006 novel by Max Brooks. While the film actually has very little to do with the book, the game takes a bit of inspiration from the original written word, focusing on how different groups across the world try to deal with the zombie hordes.
Of course, this game wouldn’t be here if it didn’t go absolutely weird at a certain point, and that point comes during the Israel episode. Players spend three missions trying to secure a military weapon that could turn the tide of the war against the zombies. At the end of the episode, you find out the weapon in question is basically a gigantic space laser, the kind some ultra villain would use in a comic book. If those weapons exist, how is the fight against the undead even a war?
3. The Matrix: Path of Neo
This one stings particularly badly because the Wachowskis actually wrote and endorsed this insanity. The Matrix: Path of Neo put the journey of The One into your hands, with some new additions thrown in. Some of it was good, like the extra training simulations that featured plenty of gaming homages, or the ability to actually choose the red or blue pill.
Unfortunately, Path of Neo also added a lot of crap. One late game moment has The Merovingian trap Neo in some fifth dimension labyrinth, forced to fight humanoid ants for no reason, but the creme de la crap is the ending. After beating Smith in the game’s climax, all the Smith clones form together like Voltron to create a giant mecha Smith, and it’s as dumb as it sounds. It even has the Wachowskis talking it up beforehand in a weird fourth wall break that feels like a fever dream made real.
Billed as an epilogue to the 2012 film of the same name, The Amazing Spider-Man takes place a few months after the events of the movie. Oscorp, those nasty little villains, are continuing the cross species research started by Dr Connors; research that then leads to a viral outbreak. Now there’s human hybrids running around New York causing a ruckus.
To make matters worse, Oscorp’s new director Alistair Smythe has decided to tackle this little situation by unleashing a killer robot army on the city. Smythe is a bit of dick. So, between a growing number of mutants, an over zealous ruler of a killer robot army and also Dr Connors is running around too, things are a bit dicey for your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. It’s a bonkers plot, and one that promptly gets swept under the rug and never mentioned again in any form of continuity.
5. Scarface: The World Is Yours
Scarface: The World Is Yours goes off the deep end very suddenly, in a way only a franchise about a coke-addicted drug baron with a propensity for violence can. At the climax of the film, Tony Montana is attacked by Sosa’s men, gets riddled with bullets and falls to his death in a fountain that proclaims “The World Is Yours”.
The game says “sod all that” and completely rewrites the ending of the game so that Tony Montana barely survives, living to fight another day, and that’s within the first 10 minutes of the game’s opening. The rest of the game sees Tony rise to power once again, starting another druglord empire while his former boss Sosa tries to bring him down. Ricky Gervais also makes a brief cameo, which seems just as weird as anything else on this list.
6. The Godfather
EA’s late PS2 attempt at an open world crime game in a similar vein to genre stalwarts such as Scarface: The World Is Yours, The Godfather takes the plot of the first film and adapts it to fit around a new character, Aldo Trapini; a character that you create. The issue is that the game reads more like a Godfather fan fiction than an actual plot.
It turns out that Aldo Trapini is very influential to the plot of the film. He helps Tom Hagen put the horse’s head in the bed of Jack Woltz, he places the gun in the toilet of a New York restaurant for Michael to kill McCluskey and Sollozzo, he witnesses Sonny being gunned down at the toll booth and he was instrumental in the assassination of the four mob bosses during the baptism of Michael’s son. Oh, and if you 100% the game, you become the Don of New York. Tell me that isn’t pure fan fiction.
So you know how the book and film versions of Fight Club have spawned hundreds of essays, debates, analysis and discussion about the role of masculinity? You know how it was a much smarter narrative than just “manly men punch each other”? Yeah, the game missed that memo, and it has about as much irony and depth as rain on a wedding day. Okay, so I put about as much thought into that line as the developers put into Fight Club.
Instead of following the Narrator/Tyler Durden, you play as an unnamed character recruited into Project Mayhem to, ostensibly, blindly follow orders and try to plunge society into chaos. And that’s what you do, and you’re supposed to be happy with that. And, to top it all off, completing the Story Mode unlocks Fred Durst, which is either a saving grace or further proof that the Fight Club game is an absolute abomination.
8. Hulk (2003)
Despite being one of Marvel’s most popular and enduring characters, The Hulk has never really had the best of luck when it comes to video games. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction was an underrated banger that I will never shut up about, granted, but the 2003 tie-in to Ang Lee’s Hulk was just bad, for multiple story related reasons.
Firstly, Hulk is another one of those epilogue style tie-ins, and it decides to throw villains at the wall to see what sticks. We’re talking Leader, Madman, Ravage, Flux, John Ryker and more. While that’s cluttered enough, the game also arbitrarily decides that in the 8 years between the film and the game, Bruce Banner becomes Solid Snake, able to effectively sneak his way around military installations with ease. Basically, Hulk went off the deep end by trying to convince you that you’d buy a Hulk game to play as Bruce Banner.
9. Peter Jackson’s King Kong
Peter Jackson’s King Kong has a similar issue to Hulk, as it feels like a bait and switch in terms of what you’re actually buying the game for. Considering that the game is called King Kong, and the animal on the front of the box art is King Kong, you’d probably feel a little bit cheated by the fact that you spend two thirds of the game, if not more, playing as Adrian Brody’s Jack as he takes on Skull Island’s various creatures.
While that sounds awful, in reality King Kong is a decent game, though it might have aged horribly in the near 13 years since its release. The reason why it goes off the deep end is because if you score enough points, you can unlock an alternative ending where Jack hops in a plane, shoots down those trying to kill Kong, rescues him and takes him back to Skull Island. No “Goodnight, sweet prince” here, only triumphant Adrian Brody fist pumps.
The beauty of Reservoir Dogs (the film anyway) is that you never actually see the heist that the film is based on, only the preparation and aftermath. The aftermath of the heist gives us more than enough information about how the job went sideways that we don’t need to see what happens. So what did the 2006 game of the same name decide to focus on?
In fairness to the game, they managed to bring back Michael Madsen to play Mr Blonde. It even tried to institute a rating system that discouraged players from going on a rampage, but Reservoir Dogs is guilty of trying to plug a hole in a plot where there isn’t a hole, shamelessly retelling the plot of the film without the style or substance.
Honourable Mention: The Room (2010)
We have to give an honourable mention to this one, considering it’s a fan-game and not an official release, but my god, it’s glorious. You would think it’d be hard for a game that’s based on Tommy Wiseau’s The Room to go further off the deep end than the film itself (along with its production, courtesy of The Disaster Artist), but somehow the 2010 game that appeared on Newgrounds manages it.
Mostly following the plot of the film, but via the perspective of main character Johnny, The Room (2010) is a point and click adventure that ties up a lot of loose plot threads from the film, like disappearing characters and Johnny’s work relationship, but the real kicker is the changed ending. Strap in for this one.
After Johnny’s suicide at the end of the game, where he discovers his partner Lisa cheated on him with his best friend, Johnny is actually revealed to be an alien inhabiting a human body. He returns to his mothership and speaks to his fellow aliens about how he may never understand human nature, before all the aliens turn into a naked Tommy Wiseau and start dancing. Better yet, if you find all 10 collectible spoons, the aliens turn the planet into a giant spoon.