When it comes to video games crossing over into other mediums, the results have been mixed at best. For example, video games and comics tend to work well. Video games and movies tend to not. However, one of the more overlooked combinations that may actually be more effective than you think involves video games and television. Historically speaking, games tend to make some pretty successful TV shows.
Consider the classic Saturday morning cartoons, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and The Legend of Zelda, or the Pac-Man cartoon that ran around the same time. Cheesy as they are, they were still beloved at the time. Additionally, Sonic has had not just one cartoon, but five (one of which is still ongoing). There have been popular shows based on Kirby, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe and Rabbids over the years. Two more video game properties, Mega Man and Halo, are set to come to television as well. Of course, this is all before you mention the most successful video game show of them all — Pokémon — which has been going for 20 years and counting.
Recently, an anime show based on Castlevania was released on Netflix. This got me thinking about a few other games that may work as Netflix shows. That's why I've compiled a list of seven games that I think have such potential.
Keep in mind that these are just a few of my personal ideas. If there's another video game or franchise you believe could make the jump to #Netflix, feel free to let me know in the comments. Who knows? Maybe I'll cover them in a sequel post one day.
8. Max Payne
Barring the fact that the film adaptation didn't pan out very well, many can agree that Max Payne has excellent cinematic potential. Clearly, another movie is out of the question, but perhaps such a tragic, noir-type tale would be an ideal candidate for a Netflix show. Max Payne tells the story of a police officer whose wife and infant daughter were murdered in his home. From there, and across three games, you see his fall from grace for the sake of vengeance, as well as his attempt at finding new life and purpose beyond the tragedy that would define him forever.
One of the reasons I think this is a great idea for Netflix is that it could, in theory, be stylistically similar to another show currently on the service — Daredevil. Seeing how flawlessly Netflix was able to accomplish one noir-based property, I believe the studio has what it takes to do the same for Max Payne. Such a show would last about three seasons — one for each game in the series — unless Netflix plans to drag it out or start improvising (which it probably shouldn't).
7. Grand Theft Auto
Yet another Rockstar property, I believe GTA has a decent shot at making a good TV show as well. Granted, it could be argued that adapting the GTA series into a non-playable medium is a terrible idea, since most of the fun comes from the open-world, sandbox gameplay. That's a fair point, and such an idea would really have to be really clever in trying to adapt such a series in a way that doesn't beg for actual control from the audience. A solution I would propose is to adapt some of the side quests and optional scenarios into the show as dedicated episodes. Tell an overarching story, of course, but don't be afraid to go off the beaten path every so often with a situation-of-the-day format.
Now, this is a storied franchise spanning a good 15 games across a very wide timeline. So, you have a ton of material to work with, and clearly you wouldn't even have to cover it all. Lord knows some of the games in the series have main stories longer than life itself, so go nuts.
Let's switch gears from our talks of murder, crime and tragedy to something lighter. As far as Nintendo properties go, Pikmin may not be your choice for a TV adaptation; however, unlike almost any other game series on this list, Pikmin is the only one that has already proven itself for such a task.
Some may recall Pikmin Short Movies from three years ago, which was a collection of three shorts released on the Nintendo eShop to coincide with the release of Pikmin 3. I actually bought and reviewed the collection, and thought it was adorable. Now, imagine that on a slightly bigger scale, and I think it would make a great addition to Netflix's animated lineup.
5. The Legend Of Zelda
Of all of Nintendo's properties, I think this is among the most requested for a cinematic adaptation such as on TV. In fact, there already was one in the 1980s, though it was a bit, well, we can do better!
Some would argue the series could make a better movie series, but this isn't a bad option either. The wonderful thing about Zelda is that there are a number of ways you can adapt it. It can be live-action or animated. It can take place in just one game's universe (for example, a strictly Breath of the Wild show) or change things up every season with a new game in the series, with each Link passing the baton to the next. Pokémon does a similar thing in the anime to account for new games. I personally prefer the idea of an animated show that changes Links every so often, adapting a style and tone similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender.
4. The Last Of Us
Yes, I am aware that a The Last of Us movie is currently in pre-production. At the time of its announcement, I was hooked on the idea. The movie treatment on paper makes sense, because the game already has a cinematic feel and interesting dynamic between a surrogate father and surrogate daughter. I like that idea, and wish the production luck getting off the ground (if and when it gets out of development hell). Though, the more I think about it, the more I believe the show would work better on TV.
The Last of Us is fairly episodic, being separated by seasons summer through spring, which makes the transition pretty natural. In fact, I think the show would benefit from a Gilmore Girls format, where four, long episodes are separated by seasons. The story in itself is brilliant, and has the unique quality of instantly grabbing everyone's attention.
Plus, there are a lot of characters and side plots along Joel and Ellie's journey to the Fireflies, all of which could be fully developed this way. Basically, as long as they avoid the trap of mimicking The Walking Dead, I think we'll have a great short series on our hands.
3. Conker's Bad Fur Day
Remember Conker's Bad Fur Day? That N64 game by Rare about the drunken, foul-mouthed squirrel who fights a giant shit monster? Yeah, that game! If handled right, I can see it as an awesome adult cartoon. Granted, this character hasn't been seen in a while (at least not in his own game), and modern audiences may be a bit unfamiliar with him. On the other hand, if you're not old enough to remember Conker, you're probably too young for such a cartoon anyway.
To my knowledge, Netflix doesn't really have a contender in the adult cartoon category beyond Family Guy. Perhaps Conker could be Netflix's answer to shows like The Simpsons, Archer, South Park, etc.
2. Crash Bandicoot
I must say that I'm stunned this didn't already happen in the '90s or 2000s. I mean, there was a time where Crash was huge. He was the unofficial Sony mascot at one point, so how does Mario get three shows, Sonic get five, but Crash didn't get one?
Crash has a pretty good setup for a show. The jungle-themed locations and atmosphere would certainly serve to set it apart from other cartoons. His rogues gallery is pretty massive, too, and the character of Crash would certainly sell. He's crazy, has that mumble-speak, and has a good slapstick quality about him. I think this idea can work, though I'd argue this show would have a bit more of a Cartoon Network/Nickelodeon vibe.
1. Heavy Rain
A staple of the PS3 library, Heavy Rain was an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure game that placed gamers in stressful, difficult, split-second decisions that would irreversibly effect the story. It may not be the only, or even first, game to employ such a concept, but it is one of the most well-known and well-received. With its cinematic visuals, I believe the time has finally come where this game could actually be adapted faithfully.
Before this year, I would've thrown such an idea out the window, but Netflix is finally introducing a potential game-changer in television with the upcoming Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale. This will be the first Netflix show to allow viewers to pick their own scenarios for Puss to follow, thus changing the outcome of the series. It premieres June 20, and if it's actually successful, who knows what other non-kids shows could utilize this method of storytelling in the future. Maybe an already established property like Heavy Rain would be a great demonstration.
What other games could be turned into good TV shows, whether on Netflix or otherwise. Let me know in the comments below so we can discuss them together!