OPINION – From the bloody soldiers of Saving Private Ryan to the deserts of Mad Max, to Big Trouble in Little China.
Video games are now increasingly influencing movies and TV series, but the opposite has been true for the last 30 years, with movies having a major impact on video games. After all, video games are still a relatively young art form. Of course, there are obvious cases, such as the Star Wars saga, but there are also some slightly more ‘discreet’ examples that have been just as important for electronic entertainment, but which we have overlooked a little.
Here we take stock of the films that have left a deep mark on the conceptual development of video games and that you may not have known so much about. In some cases, the developers themselves recognised the conceptual impact of the films in question, in other cases they didn’t need to.
1. Saving Private Ryan
The film that changed the language of action games forever, Saving Private Ryan, made landings very much in vogue in war games, starting of course with Medal of Honor Allied Assault, but also including Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty World at War, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and even Call of Duty WWII.
2. Alien: The Eighth Passenger
The most obvious two examples are probably Halo and Metroid, but conceptual references to Alien can be found in System Shock, Soma, Contra, Half-Life, Doom, Duke Nukem, Prey and of course Dead Space, to name but a few.
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
We’ve already mentioned the first part of the series, but the whole Indiana Jones saga was essential to the existence of obvious games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted, but also to games like Prince of Persia, Sonic and The Legend of Zelda. And it even cracked the whip into Castlevania.
4. Big trouble in Little China
This movie was a box office flop, but its visual language – a mix of kung fu, oriental magic and street fighting – probably influenced games like Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, Street Fighter and even Mortal Kombat.
5. Blade Runner
Ridley Scott’s visual interpretation of cyberpunk has clearly resonated in the future history of gaming, with obvious examples being Perfect Dark, Syndicate, Deus Ex, Snatcher, of course Cyberpunk 2077, maybe even Midgar from Final Fantasy VII or the reploids of Mega Man and many more.
Warzone just got an avatar for the character this month, but if you need further evidence of the saga’s impact on video games, there’s Contra, the Ikari Warriors and Metal Slug’s (Allen O’Neil) uncovered torsos and goons, the new Lara Croft’s fighting the elements in Far Cry or Solid Snake’s goons, and you could go on and on.
7. Conan the Barbarian
The list of games licensed by Conan is extensive, but his influence on video games is also significant, although it should be noted that this was much more pronounced at the dawn of the industry, with games such as Rastan Saga, Golden Axe and Barbarian.
8. Enter the Dragon
Bruce Lee’s legendary figure in this film is featured in fighting games such as Marshall Law from Tekken; Fei Long from Street Fighter; Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat; and Jann Lee from Dead or Alive.
9. Mad Max
The post-apocalypse as an entertainment concept is not the monopoly of George Miller’s work, but many of the aesthetic elements of the saga are clearly present in franchises such as Carmageddon, Fallout, Rage, Twisted Metal and Borderlands.
10. The Matrix
Beyond philosophical or cosmetic influences, perhaps the most important contribution of the Matrix to video games was its bullet-time. Not that the Wachowski’s invented the concept, but it’s hard to understand FEAR, Max Payne, Fallout 3, Prince of Persia, Bayonetta or even Red Dead Redemption without this resource.
11. The Rock
We usually have to talk about Michael Bay here, as the Call of Duty Modern Warfare saga would be very different, or perhaps wouldn’t exist, without The Rock and the influence of other Bay films, which had a huge impact on Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3 and the 2019 reboot, Modern Warfare.
12. The Thing
Regardless of its fame or story, The Thing’s practical special effects and mutant creature implementations have clearly influenced games like Resident Evil and Dead Space.