With the release of Tom Holland’s Uncharted comes the imminent release of yet another rush in Hollywood to mine the video game industry for IP to adapt to the screen. While we’ve discussed the issues with these attempts in the past at length, it hasn’t stopped studios from trying, to the point where 2022 will see the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Illumination’s Super Mario Movie, plus television adaptations of Cuphead, Halo, Cyberpunk and then, according to a recent interview with Deadline, The Last of Us on its way in 2023 with many more to come. Whether we like it or not, adaptations of our beloved interactive medium continue to roll out. We’ve made a list of our 16 favorite moments in video game history that we think will make the greatest scenes when adapted to film.
Halo Reach – Lone Wolf (The Fall of Reach)
All of Halo Reach’s story builds up to this. You know it’s coming and still nothing prepares you for Noble Six’s lone last stand against the Covenants forces. The rest of the noble team is gone, civilians evacuated. The enemy is about to turn the planet to glass, but a Spartan never backs down from a fight so all they can do is survive as long as possible. The red fog and dust becomes hard to see through. Nobel Six takes on waves upon waves of the enemy. Sangheili Elites, Unggoy and storming in Wraith tanks. The silence is deafening when Nobel Six finally falls after an exhaustive effort, their visor cracks under the force of the elites. The final thrusts of effort are from the perspective of their visor on the ground, elites swarming them until they’re overwhelmed. [Evan Griffin]
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – Snake vs The Boss
“The one who inherits the title of Boss will face an existence of endless battle.”
For Kojima, the visual simplicity and thematic clarity of this sequence is a noteworthy refinement of his best as a visual director. The conclusion of Snake Eater builds stakes: The Boss’ defection, her lost child, her disillusionment and passion already clarified long before, and Snake’s own disillusionment already laid bare thematically. Even though an audience knows he succeeds and continues down the path to become the villainous Big Boss, the meaning in this moment, a confrontation between master and apprentice, is enough to convey its meaning. The battle is is set against the cloud of doom and war, not just in the meaning of their need to fight to the death. By doing so with a time limit and impending bombardment allow for a simple exchange of fists and knives to be given more gravitas than most. Combined with the visually succinct field of white grass lilies that perfectly camouflage The Boss’ wetsuit, and their fantastical painting of the color red when Snake pulls the last trigger, this ultimate boss battle could one day make for one of the most iconic images in genre film history if in the right hands. [Evan Griffin]
God of War 3 – Gaia (climb to Olympus)
Kratos, the protagonist of the God of War series, is a born action movie star. With a limited array of weapons and uncontrollable anger, he has single handedly killed gods and demigods who have wronged him. After taking down multiple gods in the first two games, being sent to hell, escaping, and going up against the mighty Zeus, Kratos enlists the help of the titans and leads them in an all-out war against the remaining gods on Mount Olympus. The entire beginning of God of War 3 is one of the most action-packed and intense portions of not only the series, but of any game at the time. Zeus is watching from above and unleashes his fellow gods like Poseidon, Hermes, Hercules, and Hades to fend off Kratos and the massive titans who are climbing their way up Mount Olympus. The gameplay, which takes place on the bodies of the titans as Kratos struggles to hang on while fighting off the swarms of enemies. Each mini boss battle with the gods is intense and satisfying as you almost feel the rage of Kratos flowing through you. In a weird way, this whole sequence is like a version of the movie The Raid but on a godly scale. [Tyler Carlsen]
Super Metroid – Samus Aran Does A Speedrun / Shinespark
If Metroid games are inherently designed for players to trek off the beaten path and take risky routes through Planet Zebes to get the job done faster, so too can Samus Aran.
The greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy, Samus is nimble, powerful and lightning quick, and she knows the planet on which she grew up like the back of her hand. Chances are, if people are witnessing the events of Metroid 3, audiences are familiar with the locales of Zebes as well, and it also means Samus has returned to the planet with vengeance and urgency to retrieve the infant Metroid hatchling from the clutches of the space pirates.
Here, in a moment of desperation, and perhaps even defection from the galactic federation, is a filmmakers opportunity to show audiences just how quickly Samus Aran can get shit done by emulating the skills often only seen in speedruns.
Even if she’d be missing normally essential equipment, the risk of racing against time is greater than the risk of danger. Here we can see her wall jumping, shinesparking, grappling and missile knockback jumping, using all the physics of her body and the planet and her enemies to her advantage, and maybe even taking the risk of tackling enemies in reverse order, taking on Ridley and the extreme heat of Lower Brinstar without her temperature protected Varia Suit.
If handled correctly, this could have the satisfying visual clarity in its action sequences that could stand up against the likes of John Wick. [Evan Griffin]
Mario Kart – Rainbow Road
Dizzying and, at some point, actually slapped with a nausea warning, the track Rainbow Road has long been infamous for those who have played any iteration of Mario Kart. Imagine now this leg of the competition filmed for the big screens, taking aesthetic cues from the likes of Speed Racer or Promare to give the kaleidoscope slopes the deserved amount of scope and acceleration. We can’t truly expect any sort of Mario adaptation to possess any real level of threat or stakes, but we can expect pure spectacle. Our best bet is to hope that, if this stage was to ever make it onto the big screen, that it’s in the hands of someone who knows that fans rushing to the theaters want to see a level they’re familiar with in a way they’ve never seen it before. [Allyson Johnson]
Resident Evil 2 / Resident Evil 2 Remake – Mr. X appears within the Raccoon Police Department
Thriving metropolis Raccoon City has plunged into utter chaos amid the zombie apocalypse. Between the burning buildings and death sweeping the streets, we have the last remnants of law and order standing on its final legs. The Raccoon Police Department seems like a strong fortress on the outside, giving hope to the remaining citizens trying to escape the city. But on the inside, the stench of blood and fired ammunition spreads throughout the destroyed halls; a painful scene of the outbreak that has ravaged the only form of protection.
Depending on the version of Resident Evil 2 (the original or Resident Evil 2 Remake), the journey to escape Raccoon City is only a few short puzzles away. Newbie RPD officer Leon S. Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield have searched the building for a way to extinguish the burning crashed helicopter.
With the flip of a valve, water is pouring from the pipes; any signs of fire and immediate threat eliminated in one fell swoop. All Leon and Claire have to do is cross the wreckage on their way to freedom, but the sound of crushing metal fills the air as the helicopter is thrown to the side, as if it weighing nothing.
Mr. X, in all his stern trench coat wearing glory, sparks fear as he lurches forward. His footsteps echoing throughout the RPD, and the sound of metal clattering with each movement. It’s these sounds that will haunt Claire/Leon and raise the paranoia of fearing Mr. X nearing closer ready to kill. [Justin Carreiro]
Shadow of the Colossus – 13th, Phalanx (Sand Dragon)
Wander is thirteen colossi deep into his quest to revive the woman he loves. He’s fatigued, the power of the demon clawing through him. Now so close to the end, it is clear that maybe the slaying of these titans is of questionable morals. His hair is darker, his eyes more lifeless.
But there sure are fewer things more thrilling than a blistering sandstorm and giant monsters. Phalanx, the largest colossus bears resemblance to few things in the living world, so the fans refer to it as the sand dragon. Wander has to fire at its sacs from on horseback below, but as the beast lowers to the ground its fans skim the surface of the desert, creating tidal waves of dust and sand. Players don’t often get to stand up upon their steed to then jump and grab tight onto a colossus, but against Phalanx it is necessary. Wander climbs its fins as it ascends high into the sky. Like any other battle in the series, Kow Otani’s music explodes into epic awe, and the wind instruments build into a combative and ominous chase, and rightfully so as the dragon barrel rolls in the sky, with nothing for Wander to hang onto but wiry tufts of fur lest he drop hundreds of feet below.
Sony, this is a freebie trailer moment for you. [Evan Griffin]
Resident Evil 4 – Leon swarmed by the chainsaw-wielding villagers
Traveling overseas to Spain for a mission isn’t new to U.S. government agent Leon S. Kennedy. If he can survive the terrors of Raccoon City, a mission to save the President’s kidnapped daughter should be easy. No sight of zombies on the horizon to mess up his plans. But, what he doesn’t know is that a dangerous cult, Los Illuminados, has ravaged the land and infected the villagers with a new bioterrorist threat.
The rural forests of Spain have lost all of its color, leaving behind a dry and desolate terrain in its wake. Shades of dark browns fill the land as the trees lay bare from the dead leaves. Some would say it’s autumn, but the vibe has heightened the feeling of death to come.
As Leon encounters his first deadly villager, he figures it’s a random occurrence–just a one-off attacker he had to neutralize. But as the threat looms, his hopes hinge on safety from the nearby village. Unfortunately, that’s when all he breaks loose.
A body burning from the town square, villagers banding together to attack, and a masked attacker wielding a chainsaw. The fear of their relentless hunger to kill, not knowing the cause for their bloody onslaught injects paranoia into everything Leon does. And no building is strong enough from their attacks. Barricading inside a home only saves a few precious moments; Leon has to keep his wits to him and fight back, hoping for any sign of help (or church bell) to save the day. – [Justin Carreiro]
Sonic Adventure 2 – City Escape
The most recent trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 implies that there will be more-inspired wackiness from the Blue Blur and friends, but no amount of Jim Carrey mugging can top the high point of Sonic’s 3D era. From the first notes of slap bass, Sonic Adventure 2’s first stage is the closest Sega’s inaugural mascot has come to combining pure adrenaline with Sonic’s cartoon aesthetic as you slide down streets and skate on hand railings. Yes it’s VERY dated, maybe even being the last remnant of late 90s Xtreme action, but it’s hard not to feel a sense of childish pride when you make Sonic do sick flips off ramps or bounce off stoic G.U.N robots. And that’s all before you have to outrun a giant 18-wheeler. The cherry on top is obviously “Escape From the City,” what would happen if Yellowcard tried sounding like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song’s boundless energy and crunchy guitar riffs perfectly compliment the smooth movement of the level itself. It also proves why Sonic should stay in cartoon form in the movies, because if you have a talking hedgehog that can use a piece of a helicopter to snowboard on gravel, why would you want to ruin that with the physics of reality? [Jon Winkler]
Resident Evil 3 Remake – Jill encountering Nemesis with his rocket launcher
Nemesis is a terrifying force just from his hulking appearance alone. His slow movements and pursuit of S.T.A.R.S. fills the room wherever he goes. With his rocket launcher at his side, all bets are off!
Let’s set the scene for this battle: Raccoon City has crumbled under the weight of the zombie apocalypse. Death and destruction has ravaged the streets; the undead looming behind every corner for their next unsuspecting victim. All Jill Valentine has to do is make her way through the streets back to the subway so she can get out of town. That is until a flaming Nemesis comes barreling down from the sky with a large box–the iconic rocket launcher–ready to kill.
In those fleeting seconds of uncertainty, Jill is left to run away and dodge from Nemesis’ unrelenting rockets. The confined spaces of the alleyways trap Jill in a horror she can’t truly escape from. And with every turn or door, Jill is faced with a new attack from Nemesis, whether it’s a direct shot or the after-effects from a near miss. Like, her running away from a rolling giant head (a building’s decorative piece) that will crush her if she gets close. Jill can fight back to stop her pursuer, take the bioweapon head on, but that will only bide her time until Nemesis comes roaring back.
The best option is to run. Run for safety. Run for weapons. Run for survival. This battle captured the feeling of terror that has its sights set on you with little room to escape. [Justin Carreiro]
Bioshock – Welcome To Rapture
The title card, a rusted art deco sign, running water, crashing waves heard from above from underneath the surface.
Within moments, Jack wakes up from a nap on a plane at night, and suddenly the plane goes out of control, and is thrust into the ocean. He struggles to reach the surface, his face illuminated by a lick of flaming wreckage, the water and horizon pointed orange from the fire. He’s within view of an island, and a lighthouse.
The door to the lighthouse is tall, golden and gaudy. The foyer adorned with golden accents, a pool in the center with a one man submarine. Above it, an overwhelming statue of a sharp dressed man and a red banner across his chest: “No gods or kings. Only Man.”
Jack enters the submarine which locks behind him. It descends into the ocean. First 10 fathoms, then 18. A film reel plays with the voice of Andrew Ryan through tinny speakers, his manifesto: A rejection of the society that governs the world, a proposal of a utopia.
As the submarine rises from the dark depths, the neon drenched underwater city is revealed. As Ryan’s tape continues, we see a whale swimming between skyscrapers, dozens of massive, glowing signs. A tunnel is seen with damage to its hull, a hulking suit of armor that looks like a modified divers suit, a Big Daddy, lurches about repairing the cracks. Two men chatter on the radio able to be heard, knowing someone has arrived in the city.
When the man prepares to disembark, the room on the other side of the glass is dark, save for a glowing window with starfish attached. A fluorescent light flickers. One of the men from the radio can be seen begging for his life. A woman lurches with a mask and knife in hand, brutally murdering him in the darkness, climbing atop the bathysphere, cutting its cables. The portable radio squawks, calling to Jack “Would you kindly pick up that radio?” [Evan Griffin]
Titanfall 2 – The Fold Weapon
Titanfall 2 is still to this day one of the best single player campaigns of the modern age. The story follows a pilot named Cooper and his Titan mech named BT and the unlikely friendship that they develop after they are suddenly paired together in the middle of a massive conflict. The two fight their way through hostile worlds as they learn to trust each other and how to work as one unit. The final act of the story finds Cooper and BT infiltrating the enemy’s ship to recover the Ark, a power source that would allow the enemy to use a massive super weapon. After getting the Ark, Cooper and BT are captured and BT is destroyed for defending Cooper. But, Cooper is able to move BT’s core into another titan body so that they are able to complete the mission. With the Ark being activated and the super weapon about to fire, BT makes the decision to throw Cooper to safety and sacrifice himself to destroy the weapon. While this entire game would make a fantastic movie, this entire final act would be an intense and heartbreaking sequence. – [Tyler Carlsen]
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: Prologue – Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Fade onto Nathan Drake, his face darkly lit in a train car. He’s in pain and covered in blood, the windows are broken behind him, snow and wind rush in. He winces over a gunshot wound to his abdomen,
“That’s my blood?” he asks, suffering from short term amnesia. “That’s my blood, that’s a lot of my blood…”
He mumbles, unable to help cracking wise. He looks out a window to his side to what looks like a snow covered mountain. He turns his head. He’s looking at a cliff… horizontally. Debris falls toward him, over the benches and out the back of the train car. It’s a long way down. The chair begins breaking beneath him and falls away. He jumps to grab onto another, and slips.
He bounds and grabs the railing of the train car with his bare hands. The train car hands on, swinging. He cautiously maneuvers around to the underside of the train car, free soloing as ice and snow fall toward him, and sheet metal from under him. A railing bends under his weight, swinging him around to the other side of the train. As he reaches the end of the train car, it shifts further to its doom. When he finally reaches the car still laterally up on the cliff, the other begins to fall. All he can do is run, until he has to jump and roll. He’d need to find help, but for a moment, just needs to rest a minute. “How can I not be dead?” He asks himself. [Evan Griffin]
The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess – Link & Zelda vs Ganondorf
Certainly Zelda has always had roots in Nintendo’s staff’s love of film: from Ridley Scott’s Legend to Twin Peaks. The fantasy franchise has its roots in high concept genre filmmaking that isn’t quite so common anymore, perhaps last done so most notably in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy, a series of films that Twilight Princess drew a lot of comparisons to upon its release in 2006. Not just through visual texture but in world building and scale of warfare, Twilight Princess had been the game that saw Link storm Hyrule Castle in the rain with a cast of characters assisting his quest as they helped him take down Lizalfos, Orcs, Darknuts and Stalfos as he ascended Ganon’s tower like so many other times we’d seen before.
However it is the scope of Links battle in this game that makes it most primed for cinematic retelling. As Ganon’s plans and alliances with the Twili appear most devious, his corruption of Zelda takes on a twisted battle of its own, his rampaging through the castle halls in demon pig form, and perhaps most iconic are the final two battles. Once freed, Zelda rides on horseback with Link, her light arrows piercing through the air across the fields with hazy rust colored storm clouds on the horizon, and Link fending off hordes of orcs. Even still, Ganon has more energy to spare as he and Link finally clash in a man-to-man (rather than man-to-pig) sword battle on foot, and Link is required to use all learned and accumulated skills to survive. A satisfying blow to Ganon’s chest with the Master Sword is sweet relief, but his doom is met by a visitation from his Twili underling Zant, mocking him spiritually and snapping his neck. The image sill haunts fans to this day, and truly seals the deal for a satisfying conclusion to an exhaustive battle and restoration of Midna as the Twilight Princess. [Evan Griffin]
Final Fantasy 7 – Opening Tracking Shot Into Midgar / Aerith / Shinra Train
There are plenty of scenes to translate directly from the first Final Fantasy to make an entry in three-dimensions, and few elements of its attempt to be cinematic are more iconic than its sweeping opening shot, recently getting a nearly perfect iteration in Final Fantasy VII Remake. In this opening sequence, the world is shown as mostly inhabitable rock, the camera following a hawk across a valley, then through rafters, through fog, into the city known as Midgar. The city is alive with people working, surviving, plants hanging on desperately to whatever life they have left while workers pack up battery cells of Materia. When night falls, Midgar glows in its burning of energy, its street lamps flicker and the Shinra reactor in the middle humming away its green ominous light. The green particles that are spawned from the reactor linger in a fade to black, the essence of their glow carries into the transition to Aerith. She kneels at a broken pipe in a dark alley on her own. Her eyes glow its same brilliant green. She takes her flower basket and exits the alley to the street, saving what few flowers she has from being stepped on by passerby pedestrians.
The camera pulls away from her, out further and further until all of Midgar is observable, floating above the ground upon its massive structures, the Shinra tower’s dominant presence at its center.
We cross-cut between a train and a sweeping crane push back into the city. Cloud is riding the top of the train.
As the train pulls into the station, two Shinra agents stand guard.
Avalanche’s crew choke them out quietly, and they beckon their hired mercenary down from atop the train.
Cloud Strife reveals himself with confidence and readies his sword to begin his work. [Evan Griffin]
NieR Automata – Opening Mission
“Everything that lives is designed to end. We are perpetually trapped in a never ending spiral of life and death. Is this a curse? Or some kind of punishment? I often think about the god who blessed us with this cryptic puzzle… and wonder if we’ll ever have the chance to kill him.”
As the monologue fades to clouds, a fighter jet gathers among others in a V formation. They radio to YorHa headquarters. In moments, they are all but one struck down by the relentless machines they’ve been at war with. By the time 2B is alone in her mech, the camera tilts up. Her suit fires full thrusters into the horizon, through the deep caverns of the machine’s factory. When she ejects, we meet her with brisk sword combat and her companion AI pod. Her contentious relationship with the Pod and her peers is immediately apparent through jabs in dialogue.
Her rendezvous with the recon team is interrupted by a goliath machine. She’s quickly rescued by an unassuming support android, 9S. She traverses inside to sabotage the factory but is relentlessly chased throughout, hounded by a hoard of machines, where visual cues hint at their origin and learning processes. While on radio comms, 2B and 9S learn how to work as a team, keeping one another from expressing emotion based on their routines and programming, and insist the machines feel nothing.
Hints of the old world fill in the blanks that this once was a factory used by humans, and this place once was the Earth we know, but the use of these things by machines are suspiciously insisted to have no meaning. When 2B and 9S begin to question their lead, the entire factory unit is revealed to be rebuilt into a goliath. Its scale and reboot capability too much to handle alone, 9S puts himself in the line of fire, and falls atop the goliath unit. 2B uncharacteristically rushed aboard it to rescue him, following the trail of his black box GPS. When they finally begin to show compassion, the machines become overwhelming. 2B seizes control of 9S’ mecha, rushes the goliath, tears its arm free, and crushes it into submission. When they finally reach a moment of reprieve, three more just like the last rise from the harbor. 9S and 2B prepare their countermeasure black box units, catalyzing a reaction that destroys the factory machines and sacrificing their bodies.
A view of Earth from orbit, accompanied by the title card: NieR Automata.
2B wakes up looking out a window down to Earth. She walks down the rounded white hallway of YorHa’s space station, and bumps into 9S, not a scratch on either of them. Her memories were updated online, his was not.
They exchange a salute and pleasantries. She clenches her fist tight as he walks away. [Evan Griffin]