Tracing its roots from Japan and the USA, arcade gaming influenced several parts of the world, especially in the ’80s and ’90s, offering cult favorites like Donkey Kong, Sonic, and Pac-Man. However, the direct and indirect film adaptations of arcade games have unfortunately had a mixed track record.
Films like Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros disappointed fans of the original games while others like Mortal Kombat just turned out to be guilty pleasures. Last year’s Sonic The Hedgehog did offer some redemption, opening to favorable responses amongst audiences and critics alike. Apart from the aforementioned feature films, a few notable documentaries have also come out in the last few years touching upon the influence of such games.
Uwe Boll is the undisputed maestro of bad video game films, with House of The Dead falling under ‘so bad that it’s good’ territory. Inspired from the Sega arcade game of the same name, Boll’s film turned out to be a campy take on an otherwise hauntingly gruesome zombie game.
The shoot-em-up game’s legacy might have been overshadowed by the PlayStation release of Resident Evil but it still remains an arcade classic. The film, on the other hand, can still incite some unintentional laughs if watched without much thought.
Imagine a Mario movie in which Mario is afraid of jumping over high objects! This is how the disastrous Super Mario Bros film adaptation can be summed up. Starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as the duo of Mario and Luigi, the film takes its over-the-top premise a little too seriously resulting in a wasted opportunity.
However, over the years, it has still found better reception than other bad video game films. Some credits need to go to the filmmakers for their attempt to set the characters against a suburban setting (with some nods to The Wizard of Oz) rather than blatantly aping the arcade gameplay.
Even though Namco Bandai’s Tekken revolutionized several consoles in the PlayStation range, the first-ever Tekken was introduced for arcades in 1994. It’s hand-to-hand combat and diverse mythos drew praise among fans of other fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.
A film of the same name attempted to tell protagonist Jin Kazama’s story against the backdrop of a fighting tournament. The plot had potential but Tekken ended up being another substandard fighting-game film, partly because the formula had already been tested (with unsatisfactory results) by Mortal Kombat and DOA: Dead or Alive before.