A few weeks ago, I counted down the Top 10 best games based on licensed properties. I think it’s pretty clear that good games based on existing properties are a rarity, and most tend to be less than stellar. However, many licenses seem ripe for excellent video game adaptations, it just seems more often than not development schedules, budgets, and publisher or license holder demands get in the way. The following ten properties are ones that I think could make great games, assuming external factors don’t get in the way and good developers are given the freedom to make the game. Now, in order to qualify for this list, the property can’t have already had any great games made, so things like Batman, Star Wars, and Dungeons and Dragons will not be appearing on this list. Many of the properties on this list have in fact had games in the past, though none of them have reached the full potential of the series they were based on.
Heroes was a television show that ran from 2006-2010 about seemingly ordinary individuals that realized they had super powers. At the height of the show’s popularity, during the outstanding first season, there was talk of a game being made, but as the quality began to drop significantly with subsequent seasons and fans left the show in droves, the game was canceled. Even though it’s been a while since the show was on the air, I still the think the premise of the show would make for a good game, even if it is now likely to never happen. My ideal game based on Heroes would be a role playing game where you play as a created character that has just discovered their power, which you would be able to choose. The game could take place concurrently with the show, though tell an original story, obviously running into characters from the show and seeing events from a different perspective.
9. The Bourne Trilogy
There was a Bourne game released this generation, The Bourne Conspiracy, though it received a mixed reception. I think an ideal Bourne game would be something like Alpha Protocol, where the game is all about being a spy, not just some generic action game starring Jason Bourne. The Bourne movies are just as much about him getting out of situations using his wit and mind, not just shaky cam fights and chase scenes. If a game could capture the feeling of being Bourne, all aspects of him, and not get too combat focused, I think The Bourne series could make a great video game.
8. I Am Legend
This generation, there have been a ton of post apocalypse and zombie game, and while I Am Legend doesn’t quite have typical zombies, it’s close enough. Even still, I think the premise could make for a great game. The game could follow the movie directly, or follow other characters in the city during the events of the film. It could be a survival game with a focus on survival. The day would be spent exploring, searching for supplies, and looking fortifying your base to survive the night. In fact, the upcoming The Last of Us actually appears to be taking some inspiration from I Am Legend, and that is only one of the many reasons why it looks really cool.
7. Game of Thrones
There was already a Game of Thrones strategy game that received awful reviews, and there is also an upcoming role playing game. Hopefully the RPG will turn out better than the strategy game, because this series is perfect for an RPG adaptation. Obviously, being a fantasy property, it only seems natural to make a role playing game, but it is the ways the show (and books) differ from typical high fantasy that make it so compelling. While there are plenty of large scale battles and such, this isn’t a typical sword and sorcery fantasy series, with the real focus being politics and intrigue. A game that really makes this aspect of Game of Thrones a priority, rather than simply being another dungeon crawling, loot focused, save the world fantasy game, could really stand out.
Inception has unique and creative concept, it could literally go anywhere in video game form. I think a re-telling of the film would be a huge mistake for a game, but rather playing as a different “dream agent” could be really cool. Each mission could be an assignment in someone’s mind, with varying goals. Some missions you may be the one controlling the dream, while others you simply along for the ride, but in any situation, pretty much anything can happen. It would make for some really interesting level design when your entire reality could warp and change at a moments notice.
24 was a (mostly) great show, and aside from very poorly received game last generation, it hasn’t made any sort of impact in the video game space, though the show is perfect for one. I think the idea of game that takes place in real time could be awesome, and while most modern games don’t get anywhere near the 24 hour mark in terms of length, that is a number that is not unheard of, so with some time and a decent budget, a 24 game could be awesome. The key would be realize that it can’t be all combat. As with Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer is more than just a combat specialist, he excels at a variety of things. The game could have some L.A. Noire style investigations and interrogations, with third person shooting segments thrown in as well. Though obviously the interrogations would have to go several steps further than L.A. Noire, Jack Baur is a man that is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
I still find it hard to believe that there has never been a great Superman game. Out of everything on this list, Superman has had by far the most games made, but the franchise has yet to have that truly great game. Even Batman had some good games back on the NES before the Arkham games this generation, but even the best Superman games can only be described as “not terrible”. I think the main challenge comes with the fact that Superman is nearly invincible, so making a challenging game becomes more difficult. The answer to this problem lies in the source material. The essence of the character is not simply defined by his powers, it is his unwavering desire to do good, his struggle fitting in the world as an outsider, and juggling his life as both Clark Kent and Superman. So many super hero games forget that there are two aspects the characters. Even the awesome Arkham games mostly ignore the fact that Batman is also Bruce Wayne. That dichotomy is one of my favorite aspects of the superhero genre, and I’d love to see a game really embrace it. How about a game where you play as Clark Kent half the time. It may sound odd, but how about half the game is a dialogue driven adventure game with dialogue trees, investigating stories alongside Lois Lane as Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent, while the other part of the game you are flying around and stopping criminals as Superman.
3. Avatar: The Last Airbender
Yes, I am aware that Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated show primarily aimed at kids that aired on Nickelodeon, but what can I say, I love it. In my mind, it is without a doubt the best animated show of all time, and could make an excellent game. Now, there have been games in this series, but they were bad games that most people played for the easy 1000 gamerscore. I think an action game or action RPG where you play as a created character could be awesome. You wouldn’t be the Avatar, instead you could choose your combat style. You could be one of the four types of benders, or a hand to hand or weapon specialist. The Avatar universe is so well realized, that just an original story starring new characters set within it could be an awesome. They could also go the route of a re-telling of the show, and I think that could be good as well. There are plenty of iconic battles over the course of the 60 episodes, and it would be pretty easy to translate into a game. Also, yes I have been watching The Legend of Korra, and it too, is fantastic.
2. Battlestar Galactica
Up until the last 10 episodes or so, Battlestar Galactica was one of my favorite science fiction series ever. Terrible ending aside, Battlestar Galactica could make an awesome game. I have two real ideal games set in the series. The first would be a space combat game where you play as a Viper pilot. You could take part in the dozens of space battles that take place over course of the series, and in-between missions would tell the story, which could be an original story based on your character inter-cut with the broad story of the series, told in a similar manner to the Wing Commander games. Going in a different direction, I think a shooter set during the first Cylon war could be pretty cool. The game could tell an entirely original story, maybe even starring a young Adama.
1. Stargate SG-1/Atlantis
Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis are my two favorite science fiction television series, and there are just so many possibilities for games set within this universe (but not Stargate Universe, that sucked). With over a dozen years of material to choose from (10 of SG-1, 5 of SGA, and 2 movies), a game could be set pretty much anywhere. I think the best option for a game would be a squad based third person shooter where you play as an SG team, whether that be new team of characters, SG-1, or Sheppard’s team. A good game would vary your enemies, some missions you would be fighting Jaffa still loyal to the Go’auld, some mission you would be fighting replicators, others Wraith. There is just so much material and so many characters, that there is just so much potential for a game. Unfortunately, with no Stargate show on the air currently, the window of opportunity for this to happen may have passed, but anything can happen. But really, no SG-U game please, I hate that show.