There was a time, back in a much simpler era, when every blockbuster film went hand-in-hand with a video game. And 99% of these games would be just the worst.
This seems to have simmered down in recent years (still waiting for that Age of Ultron rhythm game for the DS), but that stills leaves an entire genre of hastily cobbled-together games released alongside films just to rake in a bit of extra cash...and sometimes, it's like the developers weren't entirely aware that there was a movie.
Here are just a few changes that made playing the games of the movie a very different experience…
STAR WARS III: REVENGE OF THE SITH
The Game: A typical sci-fi adventure romp, mostly featuring Anakin and Obi-Wan as you slice your way through legions of disposable droids, all the while listening to banter so awful it may as well have been written by George Lucas himself. It was fun, in a ‘look at me trash billions of robots with my magic powers’ sort of way, although the writing was questionable and the levels were padded to the point of controller-chucking frustration.
And when you fight Mace Windu, he hits you with witty, in-character zings such as “Is this a joke?!” and “C’mere…there’s something I wanna show you.”
Jedi Master indeed.
The Changes: Oh so many.
For example, Anakin now has a multi-staged battle with Mace Windu where he beats him outright, stabs him through the chest and kicks him through the window. Cut to the movie scene of a distraught Anakin stumbling back and declaring “What have I done?”, as if he hadn’t just spent the last fifteen minutes gleefully getting his murder on.
However, the biggest change comes in the form of something left out of the game. You may remember Padme. Y’know, as played by some no-name actress whose name escapes me.
Yeah, she’s gone. The Revenge of the Sith game goes to great lengths to remove her from the plot, because who’d want to play a game with a girl in it? Girls are icky, am I right? You might notice that this removes Anakin’s entire motivation for everything he does. Instead of trying to save the love of his life from death, Darth Vader’s fall to the dark side is reduced to a shrug and swift kick to Mace Windu’s sternum.
Movie Anakin might not have been the most, uh…layered character, but at least we’re given a few bumbling scenes between him and Padme that confirm that they’re at least a little bit fond of each other.
Meanwhile, game Anakin just flips the ‘evulz’ switch in his head and turns into a child-murdering, card-carrying villain, with lines so hammy they'd make Hayden Christensen cringe.
TRANSFORMERS: THE GAME
The Game: You’d think there was enough action in the first Transformers movie to justify a faithful game adaptation. Sure, throw in a vague reason for there being disposable mooks everywhere, but other than that, it’s all set. You’ve got your bosses all lined up, unique skills for every playable character, and it’s even pretty easy to throw in a couple of palette swaps so you can play as the bad guys and watch them exterminate all the characters you know and love from the film. And no, you can’t kill Shia Lebeouf.
The Changes: The plot of the game is essentially the movie plot if it was repeated via Chinese whispers over a really terrible walkie-talkie connection. You’ll be happy to know that the humans are eclipsed almost entirely, leaving Sam and Mikaela as talking background props and eliminating the military (and John Turturro, thankfully).
However, the biggest change lies in stuff blowing up. As in, there’s a ton more of it than even Michael Bay could’ve dreamed up, at least until Age of Extinction. The Autobots in the film are notably delicate while they clomp around in the human world, only wrecking things by accident. The game says ‘screw finesse’ and has the Autobots trashing their surroundings, sometimes as a required part of the mission. So essentially, the game forces you to save the human world by laying waste to everything in sight.
Sure, if you’re playing as an Autobot and you decide to go all Mad Max on your surroundings, there’s a counter at the top of the screen that depletes …but what happens when it hits rock bottom?
Nothing. Not even a slap on the wrist. Morality is a lie, kids! Now WRECK THE PLACE.
The Game: The various mediums of Fight Club do the opposite of glamorizing the fights. They’re brutal affairs, and the movie uses them to mock the human condition and how we constantly strive for illusory success. The makers of the very loosely adapted Fight Club console game apparently decided ‘less of that, more SPIN KICKS’.
As a fighting game, Fight Club isn’t awful. You play as one of many generic characters as you jab and kick your way through a bunch of other generic characters in an attempt to be the one with the least crippling injuries. There’s even a mode that lets you accumulate injuries over time, forcing you into retirement once your controller options become ‘press X to drink through straw’.
The Changes: Yes, there is a story mode in this game, and doesn’t make a scrap of sense. You play as the imaginatively named ‘Hero’ as you attempt to rupture enough vital organs to become Tyler Durden’s right-hand man. If you’ve seen the film, or know enough through pop culture osmosis to know the ending, you can probably sense a problem here.
Here’s a spoiler: Tyler Durden isn’t real. This game is trying to be an official licensed product, soap motif and all, so there’s no reason to expect this is anything less than true. The problem is, the movie only works because we’re viewing it through the unnamed narrator’s eyes. He’s created this impossibly confident alter-ego to make up for his crippling inadequacy/parental issues/failed love life/loneliness/desire for bromance (it’s been a while since I saw it). As you’d expect, he’s the only one who can see Tyler. If we take this as fact, main character Hero turns into a manipulative jerk, just playing along with narrator’s imaginary friend delusion for…giggles? Fun and profit?
It’s either that, or this is a terrifying alternate take on the story in which the narrator has pulled Tyler into the real world through some dark sorcery gone horribly wrong. That would explain why Tyler looks like an unholy hybrid of Johnny Cage and Frankie Muniz.
ENTER THE MATRIX
The Game: Enter the Matrix isn’t going down in any history books, but it really wasn’t all that bad. The combat was fun, the guns were plenty and there was a nifty feature that let you enter bullet-time and lay the smackdown on pretty much anyone who wasn’t an Agent (and run up walls. There was lots of that). Heck, with the right combo you could cartwheel while blowing away your enemies with a machine gun. Sure, it’d be far more practical to just duck and run, but where’s your sense of adventure?
There were even scenes shot specifically for the game, with all the original actors, making it feel like it was really part of the Matrix universe. That is, the Matrix universe after the first film, when everyone was beginning to realise that the Wachowskis were just making it up as they went along. But still.
The Changes: Unlike the rest of the entries in this article, Enter the Matrix is completely faithful to the plot of the films. And that’s kind of the problem, because it wasn’t IN the films; the ridiculous change is in the movie plot.
All the events of the game happened off-screen at roughly the time of Matrix: Sequelitis (known in some circles as Reloaded), and therefore the game tells the story we didn’t get to see. Included is one of the final missions, which has Niobe and Ghost infiltrate the power plant and blow it up. Too bad if you were expecting to see how this played out in Reloaded, because all we see is the explosion. That’s right, suckers: if you want the whole story, you have to give the Wachowskis MORE money! And the gameplay version won’t be nearly as cool as if they just filmed it and stuck it in the movie!
The game also answers a few key questions from the series proper, such as why the Oracle now looks completely different (Merovingian something something deletion something). Unfortunately, that little snippet doesn’t exist outside this fairly average game that the casual series viewer might not even know exists.
Oddly enough, the directors of the game seemed to go to great lengths to remove Neo from the plot, and he’s the only major character not playable in the hidden multiplayer mode. This would later be corrected with Matrix: Path of Neo…but really, when you have to note in the title that ‘yes, this game does actually let you play as the uber-powerful main character’, you should know you screwed up.
The Game: This might be cheating. The makers of the game version of The Room no more set out to create a faithful product than Tommy Wiseau set out to make an actual film that a human person could watch and appreciate. Still, the game sticks to the plot surprisingly well. The player controls Johnny in thrilling missions such as ‘buying clothes’ and ‘being a banker’. Experience all the twists and turns of having coffee with friends, playing endless games of football and ultimately sitting through what feels like hours of absolutely nothing. Just like the movie!
The Changes: The plot threads left dangling by The Room are infamous, such as an off-hand reference to breast cancer, and whether or not Johnny is actually a body-snatching alien attempting to learn the quaint ways of humans. The jury’s out on that first one, but Johnny’s origins are finally explained to those intrepid players who manage to battle their way through his mundane life. As we suspected all along, Johnny isn’t just a simple banker. Nope: he’s an alien inhabiting a human body! Of course!
This explains pretty much everything about Tommy Wiseau, but the game delves deeper into the insanity. If you’ve ever wondered what Mark (of ‘oh hai Mark!’ fame) does for a living, or what exactly happened to Peter the psychologist, this is where you’ll find your answers. Just bear in mind that half the answers are ‘an alien did it’, and the other half is ‘more spoons’.