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The Best & Worst of Pop Culture-Video Game Crossovers

Today, video gaming has become one of the most popular sectors in the entertainment industry. This has led to more than a few hit TV series that are based on popular video games. In the last few years, award-winning blockbuster hits such as The Last of Us, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and Pokémon Detective Pikachu have taken off worldwide.

But this wasn’t always the case for popular video games. In fact, when looking back at the previous three decades of gaming, the crossovers tended to move in the other direction. Hit movies and TV shows, should they become popular enough, would see a video game crossover. 

As we move into a new era of gaming-centric entertainment, let’s review and celebrate some of the best and worst gaming projects to have been inspired by Hollywood and the silver screen. We’re focusing on modern releases and cult classics alike.

Best: Jumanji Slot

Slots are the world’s most popular online casino game. Though these short-form games have less plot and mechanics than the typical video game, they are still hugely popular with players and include plenty of nuance and detail. One of the best movie adaptations in the world of slots is Jumanji, and this title can be found along with other online slots on platforms that excel in the category. Jumanji is hugely popular with fans of both the slots format and the original film release starring Robin Williams. The game includes the starring animals from the film, along with an office setting representing where the titular board game was first played.

Worst: E.T.

This 1982 release has gone down as one of the worst adaptations in film-to-gaming history. So, what went wrong? It turns out that the game was designed by one single programmer… and he was on a time crunch. The result is a confusing game with little to no instructions, terrible graphics, and seemingly no mission for the player to pursue.

Best: Celeb Cameos in GTA

Let’s focus on a franchise that has done a fantastic job of exciting players with pop culture. Grand Theft Auto has been a major hit since its release in the early 2000s. One way that developers have sought to surprise and delight players is by including celebrity cameos. These run the gamut, from Phil Collins playing a soft rock concert to Samuel L. Jackson serving as an officer to actual standup sets from Ricky Gervais.

Worst: Charlie’s Angels

To be fair, Charlie’s Angels had plenty of potential as a video game crossover. First and foremost, the premise itself is exciting and lends itself well to a gaming adventure. Second, the studio had access to the real-life angels from the film hit, including Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz, available for voice acting. So, what went wrong? The graphics were terrible, the plot made little to no sense, and, most egregious of all, the voice acting was torn to shreds by critics.

Best: Norman Reedus in Death Stranding

Though the vocal cameos from Charlie’s Angels didn’t help save the project, that isn’t always the case. Back in 2019, Kojima Studios took a huge risk by signing on famous actor Norman Reedus to fill the head role of the main character in Death Stranding. Reedus offered a fantastic performance that provided depth and emotional complexity and helped the game to earn a nomination for Game of the Year. It’s widely regarded as one of the best game performances ever put on by a film actor.

Worst: The Office PC Game

The concept of turning The Office into a PC game should have set off a few red flags from the start. However, developers went forward with this title—whose main plot focused on ‘surviving and conquering zany workplace scenarios’. Unfortunately, the game barely took off for hardcore The Office fans and was a complete dud for players who couldn’t recognize the inside jokes from the TV series.

Best: GoldenEye 007

Many gamers remember GoldenEye 007, which was based on the most recent James Bond film release GoldenEye in 1995. This game quickly became a hit because it introduced a multiplayer level to FPS titles, known as the split-screen Death Match. Not only did this help steer the future of FPS games, but also introduced a brand-new multiplayer format.

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