With HBOs adaptation of The Last of Us, and the success of Arcane, Cyberpunk Edgerunners, and the Sonic movies, I feel like we can finally say the curse of video game adaptations is over. Its been a long time coming, and it made me think, what other video games could be awesome television if done right? I firmly believe TV is the preferable format for adapting video games because of the longer running time. So other than a few exceptions which will be noted, TV is going to be the assumed form of adaptation for this list.
I know its been over a year since I last updated this blog, I never meant for it to be that long, but life happens. My friend and co-host on The Player's Club Jim Dietz passed away, which is why Gil and I have not released a new episode since the last one. We are still discussing what to do. But it feels strange without Jim. He was a great dude, and had one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever known. I've also been writing my second novel, and when I'm writing a book, all my energy goes into that. I do have a couple old posts that I wrote and never got around to posting, those will go up later today. I sincerely hope to have more content in the future.
A few thoughts on The Last of Us before we get into the list. It was an excellent adaptation of one of my favorite games, and other than the pacing in two episodes, all I have are mostly nitpicks. Pedro Pascal was fantastic as Joel. I will confess I was not initially sold on Bella Ramsey as Ellie, and episodes 1 and 2 didn't assuage those fears. However by episode 4 (Ellie and Pascal are barely in episode 3), she'd won me over. Episodes 6 and 8 in particular see her giving what should be an award winning performance. It even had some cameos from the actors from the game, including the VA's for Joel and Ellie. Total score, 9/10.
And now we come to what other games would make killer TV, provided its done right, which means being helmed by people who love and respect the source material, and having at least one of the people who worked on the original game involved.
Mass Effect - Out of all potential adaptations, this is the one I want to see the most, and done right, this could be the next big science fiction TV show. Map out five to six seasons from the get go and follow that plan. The story itself doesn't need a ton of changes, mostly it would come down to deciding which of the various decisions and paths this version of Shepard would make. I know my suggestion would be male soldier Shepard with Liara as his love interest. Liara isn't actually my favorite romance, but, her's is objectively the best one. And don't kill Wrex in season one. Season one should adapt the first game and the hunt for Saren and learning the truth about the Reapers. Seasons two and three is the suicide mission and the recruitment for it. Seasons four and five would be the reaper war. This also gives the writer's a chance to have a better ending. Hell, hire me to do it, I've got some ideas.
Ghost of Tsushima - Supposedly this is going to be made into a movie, that's a mistake. It should be one season of ten episodes where the idea of the Samurai gets deconstructed as Jin has to use harsher and more dishonorable tactics to fight the Mongol Invaders. Again Hollywood, call me.
Dead Space - Isaac Clarke's fight for survival on a dying ship as he fights to maintain his sanity. While this needs plenty of blood and gore, don't rely too much on jump scares. Instead play off the isolation of space, like the original Alien. I'd also play up the psychological horror aspects of it with Isaac slowly losing his sanity, realizing he's losing his sanity, and trying desperately to maintain it.
BioShock - Do this as a five to six episode mini-series as Jack fights for survival in the underwater city of Rapture. The visuals of Rapture, plasmids and the Big Daddys could be incredible. At its heart this should be an action/adventure show, but lean into the survival and psychological horror elements of it more than the game does. Don't adapt 2 or Infinite. I personally like BioShock 2, but it's a polarizing game. Infinite would be a third rail in today's political/cultural climate, and it would probably be a better idea to not attempt it. Plus it has a Studio Gainex level mindscrew of an ending.
Infamous - Superheroes. Easy enough.
Life is Strange - Adapt the first game with flashbacks to the prequel Before the Storm. Eight or nine episodes and out.
Days Gone - This would admittedly be similar to The Last of Us, but it's more of an exploration of dealing with grief, as well as holding onto hope. Personally I felt this was a very underrated game that would work really well with five to six episodes.
Horizon Zero Dawn - Robot dinosaurs, do I really need to say anything else? Set one thousand years after the world ended, the first game has a good mystery around how the world ended, why robots are everywhere, and who Aloy's (the protagonist) parents are. Nine to ten episodes for season one. Season two would probably be a bit more challenging as I felt the story for the second game went off the rails in the third act. Again, call me.
Sifu - This I think might actually work better as a film. A student of Kung Fu tracks down the man who killed his master, and also has to take out his four accomplices along the way. Make it a throwback to 1970s Hong Kong Kung Fu movies. But, should it be adapted for TV, do five, forty minute episodes. Episodes one through four end with a one-on-one fight with the lieutenants, and the final episode is the final showdown with the man who killed the student's master. Thirty of those forty minutes should be pure action.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun - Adapting a strategy game? I know, just hear me out. This one actually has a good story, following a team of five agents who work for the Shogunate in Edo era Japan. They end up uncovering a conspiracy plot against the Shogunate. The characters consist of a Samurai, a Shinobi, an assassin, a thief, and an old man with a rifle. You can't tell me that wouldn't be good television. Intrigue, sword fights, romance! Eight to ten episodes. Just call it Blades of the Shogun, or Shadow Blades of the Shogun, something like that.
Fallout - Supposedly this is being developed as a show by Amazon. I don't know what they're going to do. I'd say adapt the story of either Fallout, Fallout 2, or New Vegas, and keep the darkly comedic tone.
God of War - This is also being adapted by Amazon. My understanding is that it will be adapting the 2018 game and its sequel. Personally I'd start with the original game, which could work really well as an action film.
Metroid - If they're making a movie out of Super Mario Bros. They can make one out of Metroid. And it should be a movie, because as much as I love the games, they aren't exactly lore heavy.
Mulligans - As it stands, there have been several terrible adaptations of beloved video games. In fact, most of them are terrible. However, there are a few that I think deserve a second shot.
Prince of Persia - Three seasons, adapt the Sands of Time trilogy. And this time hire a Persian actor to play the Prince OF PERSIA. And hire an Indian actress to play Farah, because you know, she's the Princess of India.
Uncharted - This is going to need to wait about ten to fifteen years because of the awful film from last year. But do four seasons and lean into the Indiana Jones action/adventure aspects of it.
Halo - No. Here's a dirty little secret, Halo only has one good game, the first one.