Games of Summer: Goin’ to the Movies Edition

Welcome back to Games of Summer. When I launched this column last year, I focused on singular releases that I felt were worth playing again. However, this year, I thought I would do something a little bit different, focusing on a weekly theme and some games that relate to it.

Since we're getting into the thick of the summer movie season (with last week's release of Iron Man 3), I thought I would take a look back at some classic movie-to-game adaptations. I'm aiming more for the "old-school" titles from the 80's and early 90's, so you won't see favorites like Spider-Man 2 and GoldenEye 007. But there are still some quality choices here. Enjoy!

Vs. The Goonies (Arcade/Famicom)


In 1985, Richard Donner and Steven Spielberg made a childhood gem with The Goonies, a movie that's still a classic nearly 30 years later. Likewise, Konami made a great game that captured that very spirit: a side-scrolling action game where you kick large mice and thugs while collecting diamonds, blowing up doors with bombs, and picking up handy weapons, like the slingshot, to move into the next area. Sadly, the game never got a home release here in the U.S., though it did find its way to the Famicom overseas. It shouldn't be too hard to find a ROM, or, better yet, an arcade version. Like Cyndi Lauper says, "It's good enough for me!"

Batman (NES)


Man, did Sunsoft know what it was doing or what? At a time when most movie-to-game adaptations were mere cash-ins with no real value to them (Total Recall comes to mind), the publisher set the standard with an exceptional Batman game. Though it was short (you could beat it in about 45 minutes or so), it was a good time, with plenty of wall-jumping, Batarang-throwing and challenging bosses to keep you busy on your NES. Since that time, Batman went on to better things in the 16-bit era, including Konami's Batman Returns and The Adventures of Batman and Robin. And you thought the Dark Knight only got good with Batman: Arkham Asylum

Tron (Arcade/Xbox Live Arcade)


Tron! Heck yeah! What better way to celebrate a wondrous film based inside a video game world than release a video game based on said world? In Bally/Midway's arcade classic, you'll engage in Light Cycle duels, battle it out in tanks, and shoot your way to the master core while fending off a horde of cybernetic spiders. And best of all, you could decide which order to tackle the stages in. The arcade game is more common than you might think, but you can also download the game on Xbox Live for a mere five bucks. Be sure to check out Discs of Tron as well if you get a chance.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Arcade/SNES/Genesis)


"It's Judgment Day!" 1991 was a special time at the movies, as we were introduced to the might of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his return to the role of the Terminator. But other elements made Judgment Day worth watching, including the T-1000, a shape-shifting menace that seemed unstoppable. Somehow, Midway was able to convey this excitement into shooter form with a strong arcade adaptation of Terminator 2, featuring actors and situations from the film, as well as some new surprises. It became a hit overnight, leading Acclaim to work on not-so-bad home versions – though, if you need to choose one, we suggest going with the Genesis and picking up a Menacer peripheral in the process. Anything less should make you say, "No way, Jose!"

Disney's Aladdin (Genesis/SNES)


Finally, we have an interesting Twitter war that broke out a few weeks ago, with people insisting that the SNES version of Disney's Aladdin (produced by Capcom) was better than the Genesis version (made by Sega) and vice versa. But the truth is, they're both good games in their own special way. The Genesis version is the standout, featuring actual Disney animation and great gameplay, concocted by Earthworm Jim's David Perry and his team. Likewise, the SNES version had its own special charms, including a terrific cinematic score, great level design and Capcom-style visuals. If I had to choose only one, I'd say Sega… but thankfully, this is one of those situations where I can have both.

See you next week for another Games of Summer!