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Five Video Games That Should Receive Film Adaptations

Video games have made their way into the hearts of fans for decades. Five video games in particular deserve a film adaptation.

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The divide between video games and cinema has been narrowing since game developers started using cinematic storytelling to convey a riveting tale. With the dawn of the most recent console generation (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) and the perpetual advancement of PC hardware (powerful processors, graphics cards, etc.), that gap has shifted even closer.

Unfortunately, the history of video games translated into feature films has been a bleak one at best, as most film adaptations of video game worlds, characters, and overall stories tend to stray too far from their original concepts and iterations fans love. However, there are some gems in the heap, glistening in the darkness—such as Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft—and while those gems are not without their flaws, they do keep hope alive for the potential of other video game film adaptations.

Thus, the following list suggests five video games that should be made into feature films.

5) Night in the Woods

Video game Night in the Woods

Night in the Woods is a single-player adventure game developed by Infinite Fall and published by Finji. The game places a compelling emphasis on storytelling, exploration, and world building, allowing players to learn more about the world through interaction with non-essential NPCs. However, the title’s handling of psychological themes is what permits it to stand out.

According to fellow Goomba Stomp author, Katharine Booth, Night in the Woods “does a great job setting up an intriguing premise without revealing [or] explaining everything at once—thus driving the player’s curiosity to progress through the game. This [also holds true] for the player-controlled [character] (Mae)—why did she suddenly drop out of college and return home? There are hints that ‘something happened,’ and hints about possible mental illness on Mae’s part, but [gamers] play through the game and bit-by-bit the story unfolds. This… gets interesting with Mae’s surreal nightmare scenes.”

With the popularity of thrillers akin to American Psycho, The Machinist, Black Swan, Memento, and more, a cinematic adaptation of Night in the Woods could blend the world building elements of the game with the critical implications of psychological concepts. Thus, a film adaptation could take beloved, albeit niche, video games and convey the conflicts of collegiate young adults as they struggle to make sense of the world around them.

4) Metroid

The Metroid franchise of video games debuted in 1986 and features fast-paced combat with futuristic technology in a science fiction environment. Samus Aran, the franchise’s main protagonist, wears the famed Power Suit and uses a wide range of weapons to combat her enemies, often complemented by her agility and acrobatic stunts to keep her foes guessing while she gains the upper hand.

Science fiction rivets vast audiences, gripping them with intellectual concepts and expanding upon them to the point of requiring the suspension of disbelief. However, putting that disbelief on hold allows viewers (gamers) to immerse themselves in the action-packed frenzies offered by sci-fi films and video games.

The Metroid universe is ripe for exploration, with endless opportunities to provide captivating narratives through intriguing characters and intense action scenes. Seeing such an iconic franchise adapted to the big screen would see its loyal following flock to theaters (or their couch due to streaming services) to witness the glory of devastation unleashed by Samus. As she puts her famous Power Suit through its paces while protecting the universe from the sinister evil-doers who would seek to provoke chaos, Metroid’s fearless protagonist would be a welcome cure for boredom.

3) Metal Gear

Metal Gear artwork

Metal Gear is a franchise that has held stealth and action fans in its riveting but merciless grip since its debut in 1987. The franchise is most well-known for introducing gamers to Snake (Solid Snake, Naked Snake, etc.)—later known by his code name, Big Boss—a stoic operative who has mastered the arts of subterfuge, sabotage, and lethality.

As a series, the Metal Gear video games are famous for combining stealth gameplay with action-packed sequences, encouraging players to remain undetected while also knowing how to fight their way out of tight spots, often requiring both skills in equal measure. From lung-depleting moments of clandestine practices to jaw-dropping explosions, Metal Gear is a ripe opportunity for the film industry to portray Snake on the big screen.

A Metal Gear fan film titled Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy was produced in 2009 by a team of Italian students and filmmakers. The film was well-received by fans and Hideo Kojima, who is quoted thusly: “It’s awesome. I felt like crying for their love towards Metal Gear. It’s also a well-made movie. I can’t wait to see the next part.” Despite the relative success of the non-profit film, a more traditional cinematic experience in the Metal Gear universe would be an exciting gift to franchise loyalists.

With Hideo Kojima having expressed interest in wanting to make movies coupled with the opening of Kojima Productions to make the interactive, cinematic experience that is Death Stranding, and Metal Gear enthusiasts may yet receive the film adaptation they desire. Fortunately, Sony Interactive Entertainment—alongside Hideo Kojima and Arad Productions—has been working on a Metal Gear film since 2012, with Jay Basu writing the screenplay and Jordan Vogt-Roberts taking on the role of director. As of December 2019, the screenplay’s draft has been completed, but no cast members have been announced.

2) Gears of War

Video game Gears of War artwork

With unending gore accompanied by thrilling chases, gut-wrenching explosions, a near-constant hail of bullets, limb-severing chainsaw guns known as Lancers, and emotional roller coasters, Gears of War forced its way into Xbox players’ hearts in 2006. Following the combative exploits of Marcus Fenix and other COG soldiers, Gears of War takes players on a captivating warpath as they battle their way through hordes of mutant bugs during their quest to save humanity from extinction.

The video games’ savagery has a place in the hearts of fans who can’t get enough of the action genre. Gears of War is a prime series to capture the brutality of war as it splashes it on the big screen with enough suspension of disbelief to solidify its position in the realm of fiction.

During the journey, viewers will have to join their protagonists on emotional journeys as they learn to cope with the loss of beloved characters, and persevere towards their goals lest the human race fall victim to a ruthless adversary that wants nothing more than to see its prey’s annihilation.

Also, chainsaw guns.

1) God of War

Video game God of War artwork

One of a few titles that take Greek Mythology and blow it up in a video game world with sufficient authenticity and heart-pounding violence, God of War has been lauded with praise since its inception on the PlayStation 2 in 2005. With gods and goddesses, their armed servants, and mythical creatures sprinkled throughout, the franchise does a splendid job of giving life to the fantastical elements of Greek lore that has captivated historians for centuries.

The series follows Kratos, a Spartan warrior and servant of the God of War, Ares. After being tricked by Ares into killing his own family, Kratos embarks on a vengeful quest to annihilate him and the rest of the Olympian gods, culminating in Kratos assuming the God of War mantle before being cast out by Zeus, only to hunt down the father of Olympus himself.

As a series, God of War has everything: love, hate, blood, gore, vengeance, despair, hope, and redemption. The cast of characters and world showcase the complexities and beauties of Greek Mythology in a respectable fashion, despite taking some creative liberties along the way.

Seeing the franchise adapted into a film would be a boon for Sony, provided the company does the world they’ve created justice and stays true to the games’ and characters’ core. While a film adaptation was technically announced in 2005 and has received a finished screenplay with a budget of USD $150 million, as of December 2019, the film has no director, cast, or release date.

A graduate of Bellarmine University and a certificate holder from the Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning’s Author Academy, Dylan is a fantasy author, video game journalist, and film production enthusiast. Currently, Dylan is working on a fantasy series reminiscent of Lord of the Rings mixed with The Elder Scrolls. Additionally, he is delving deeper into the video game industry and is in the pre-production process of a horror-thriller film for which he authored the screenplay.

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‘Atelier Ryza’ Warms the Heart No Matter the Season

Atelier Ryza excels at creating a sense of warmth and familiarity, and could be just what you need during the winter months.

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atelier ryza

The Atelier series is something of a unicorn in the JRPG genre. It isn’t known for its world-ending calamities or continent-spanning journeys; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The small-town feel and more intimate storytelling of Atelier games has made them some of the most consistently cozy experiences in gaming, and Ryza is no exception. No matter if it’s this winter or next, here’s why Atelier Ryza is the perfect type of RPG to warm your heart this winter.

Ryza starting her alchemy journey.

Like a Warm Blanket

Unlike protagonists from other entries in the franchise, Reisalin Stout (or Ryza for short) has never stepped foot in an atelier or even heard of alchemy at the start of her game. Instead, she’s just a fun-loving and mischevious girl from the country who spends her days in search of adventure with her childhood pals Lent and Tao. It’s this thrill-seeking that eventually leads the trio to meet a mysterious wandering alchemist and learn the tricks of the trade.

The entirety of Atelier Ryza takes place during summer, and it’s clear that the visual design team at Gust had a field day with this theme. In-game mornings are brought to life through warm reds, yellows, and oranges, while the bright summer sun beams down incessantly in the afternoon and gives way to cool evenings flooded by shades of blue and the soft glow of lanterns. Ryza’s visual prowess is perhaps most noticeable in the lighting on its character models, which are often given a warm glow dependent on the time of day.

The cozy sensibilities of the countryside can be felt elsewhere as well. The farm Ryza’s family lives on aside, the majority of environments are lush with all manner of plant life, dirt roads, and rustic architecture. Menus feature lovely wooden and papercraft finishes that simulate notepads or photos on a desk. Townspeople will even stop Ryza to remark on how much she’s grown and ask about buying some of her father’s crops. Everything just excels at feeling down-to-earth homey.

The titular Atelier Ryza.

An Intimate Take on Storytelling

Kurken Island and the surrounding mainland feel expansive as a whole but intimate in their design. This is partially due to the readily-accessible fast travel system that Atelier Ryza employs; instead of a seamless open world, most players will find themselves jumping from location to location to carry out quests and harvest ingredients for alchemy. However, there’s still strong incentive to explore the nearby town thanks to tons of random side quests and little cutscenes that trigger as players progress through the main story.

It’s an interesting way to tackle world-building. Instead of relying on intricate dialogue like The Outer Worlds or massive cinematic cutscenes like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Atelier Ryza lets players get a feel for its world rather naturally through everyday conversations. These scenes run the gamut from Ryza’s parents yelling at her to help more around the farm to running into and catching up with old friends who’d moved overseas. They’re unobtrusive and brief, but the sheer number of them gradually establishes a cast that feels alive and familiar.

The town drunk and Lent's father, Samuel.

Of course, post-holidays winter is also the season for more somber tales. The relationship between Lent and his alcoholic father is striking in its realistic depiction of how strained some father-son relationships can become.

The narrative escalates subtly: An early cutscene shows Mr. Marslink stumbling onto Ryza’s front lawn thinking it’s his. Then an event triggers where the neighborhood jerks tease Lent about being the son of the town drunk. Lent’s house is a small shack pulled back from the rest of the town, and visiting it triggers one of the few scenes where Ryza can actually talk to Mr. Marslink himself. The situation eventually reveals itself to be so bad that it completely explains why Lent is gung-ho about being out of the house whenever he can.

Though Lent’s general character motivation is wanting to get stronger and protect the town, it’s the heartfelt insights like these that make him much more relatable as a party member. Atelier Ryza features no grand theatrics or endless bits of exposition, but instead favors highlighting interpersonal conversations as Ryza continues to learn more about the people and world around her.

Atelier Ryza

Cozy games rarely get enough credit. Just like the Animal Crossing series or Pokemon: Let’s Go provides players with a warmth that can stave off the harshest of winters, Atelier Ryza succeeds in being the lighthearted, touching JRPG fans wanted. It’s both aesthetically pleasing and heartwarming in the way it builds out its world and cast of characters, and seeing Ryza gradually grow more confident and capable is a joy unto itself. If you’re in need of a blanket until Animal Crossing: New Horizons comes out in March, you can’t go wrong here.

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PAX South 2020 Hands On: ‘The Artful Escape,’ ‘Foregone,’ and ‘Tunic’

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PAX South

This past weekend, PAX South 2020 brought a huge variety of promising indie games to the show floor in San Antonio. Here are just a few of the most remarkable games I got to try, including a hardcore action game, a classic adventure, and an experience that can only be described as dreamlike.

Tunic

Simply put, Tunic is a Zelda game, but foxier. Tunic takes significant inspiration from the classic Zelda formula, complete with an overworld to explore, puzzles to solve, enemies to fight, and a protagonist clad in green. My demo even began by leaving me weaponless and forcing me to venture into a nearby cave in order to discover my first weapon.

Yet there’s nothing wrong with following such a traditional formula. At a time when Nintendo has largely stopped creating new games in the style of its classic Zeldas, it’s left up to other developers to rediscover the magic of the original gameplay style. Based on my time with the game, Tunic achieves exactly that, reimagining the charm of A Link to the Past for the current generation with gorgeous visuals and modern design sensibilities. The biggest difference from its predecessors is its green-clad hero is a fox, and not a Kokiri.

All, that is to say, is that if you’ve ever played a 2D Zelda, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Tunic. It starts by dropping the foxy little player character into a vibrant, sunny overworld, and true to form, your inventory is completely empty and the environment is full of roadblocks to progress. Simple enemies abound, and although its greatest Zelda inspirations lie with those from the 2D era, it also includes an element from the 3D games due to its inclusion of a targeting system in order to lock onto specific opponents. What followed next was a linear, straightforward dungeon that focused on teaching the basics of exploration and item usage. It was extremely simple but hinted at plenty of potential for the full game later.

Tunic’s gameplay may hearken back to the games of old, but its visual presentation is cutting edge. It features gorgeous polygonal 3D visuals, loaded with striking graphical and lighting effects, making its quaint isometric world truly pop to life. My demo didn’t last very long, but the little bit I played left me excited for Tunic’s eventual release on Xbox One and PC. It could be the brand-new classic Zelda experience that fans like myself have long waited for.

Foregone

Foregone

These days, nearly every other indie game is either a roguelike or a Metroivdvania. Just by looking at Foregone, I immediately assumed that it must be one of the two based on appearances alone. Yet when I shared those assumptions with the developers, Big Blue Bubble, the response in both cases was a resounding, “No.”

Foregone may look like it could be procedurally generated or feature a sprawling interconnected world, but that simply isn’t the case. The developers insisted that every aspect of the game world was intentionally crafted by hand, and it will remain that way in each playthrough. Likewise, although there is some optional backtracking at certain points in the game, Foregone is a largely linear experience, all about going from one point to another and adapting your strategy along the way. In a generation where nonlinearity reigns supreme, such straightforward design is refreshing to see.

If there’s any game that seems like an accurate comparison to Foregone, it would have to be Dark Souls. From the very start of the demo, the world of Foregone is inhabited with fearsome enemies that don’t hold back. If you don’t watch what you’re doing, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and fall under the pressure. Thankfully, there’s a broad assortment of abilities at your disposal, such as a wide area of effect move that can stun enemies within a wide radius, and a powerful shield that can block many attacks. I fell many times during my time with the game, but it never felt unfair. Rather, it merely felt like I wasn’t being smart enough with my own ability usage, and I was encouraged to keep jumping back into the world for just one more run, this time armed with better knowledge of my own abilities and potential strategies.

And it’s a beautiful game too. Rather than featuring the typical pixelated aesthetics often associated with platformers, the world is actually built-in 3D with a pixelated filter applied on top of it. This allows for a uniquely detailed environment and distinctly fluid animations. Foregone looks to be a worthwhile action game that should be worth checking out when it hits early access via the Epic Games Store in February, with a full release on console and PC to follow later this year.

The Artful Escape

Bursting with visual and auditory splendor, The Artful Escape is easily the most surreal game I played at PAX South. The demo may have only lasted about ten minutes, yet those ten minutes were dreamlike, transportation from the crowded convention to a world of color, music, and spirit.

As its name would suggest, The Artful Escape is an otherworldly escape from reality. Its luscious 3D environments are populated with 2D paper cutout characters, its dialogue leans heavily into the mystical (the player character describes his surroundings with phrases like “a Tchaikovsky cannonade” and “a rapid glittering of the eyes”), and its music often neglects strong melodies in favor of broad, ambient background themes. This all combines to create a mystical, almost meditative atmosphere.

It only helps that the platforming gameplay itself is understated, not requiring very much of you but to run forward, leap over a few chasms, or occasionally play your guitar to complete basic rhythm games. This gameplay style may not be the most involved or exciting, but it allows you to focus primarily on the overwhelming aesthetic majesty, marching forward through the world while shredding on your guitar all the while.

This Zenlike feel to the game is punctuated with occasional spectacular moments. At one point, a gargantuan, crystalline krill called the Wonderkrill burst onto the screen and regaled me with mystic dialogue, while at another point, I silently wandered into a herd of strange oxen-like creatures grazing in a barren field as the music began to swell. The demo was filled with such memorable moments, constantly leaving my jaw dropped.

For those who think that games should be entertaining above all else, The Artful Escape might not be so enthralling. Its platforming is extremely basic and its rhythm minigames are shallow at best. For players who think that games can be more than fun, however, The Artful Escape is set to provide an emotional, unforgettable experience, an escape that I can’t wait to endeavor.

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PAX South Hands On: ‘Boyfriend Dungeon’ Wields Weapons of Love

A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend, and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

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Boyfriend Dungeon

In most games, weapons are straightforward objects. Sometimes they can be upgraded or personalized, but at the end of the day, they function as little more than tools for a single purpose: to cut down enemies and make progress in the game. Boyfriend Dungeon, however, proposes a different relationship with your weapons. They’re more than just objects. Instead, they’re eligible bachelors and bachelorettes that are ready to mingle.

Boyfriend Dungeon is a dungeon crawler and dating sim hybrid all about forging an intimate bond with your weapons and, after demoing it at PAX South, this unique mix seems to be paying off.

There are two main activities in Boyfriend Dungeon: exploring the loot-filled dungeons (referred to as “The Dunj”) and romancing the human forms of your weapons. There’s been plenty of great dungeon crawlers in recent years, but Boyfriend Dungeon sets itself apart by humanizing its weaponry. This concept may sound strange on paper, but Kitfox games director and lead designer Tanya X. Short is confident that players have long been ready for a game just like this.

“A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend,” and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

“I think the fans of Boyfriend Dungeon have been out there for years, waiting. I remember when I was in university ages ago, I was sure someone would have made a game like this already… but I guess I needed to make it myself!” She adds that “A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend,” and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

Boyfriend Dungeon

My demo with Boyfriend Dungeon began simply enough. After a brief character creation phase where I chose my appearance and my pronouns (he/him, she/her, or they/them), I was dropped into the stylish, top-down hub world of Verona Beach. Here I could explore the town and choose where to date my chosen weapon. I decided to head to the public park to meet Valeria, a swift and slender dagger.

“Today I’m writing dates with a scythe, and that’s beautiful.”

Upon reaching the park, I discovered Valeria in her dagger form. When I picked up the weapon, a beautiful anime-style animation commenced in which she transformed into her human form. What followed was a visual novel-style date sequence complete with detailed character art and plenty of dialogue options to help romance your date.

The dialogue is full of witty, self-aware humor and charm – there were more than a few jokes about axe murderers along with other weapon-related puns, for example. Short herself put plenty of love into the writing. “Writing dates with weapons is a joy I never knew could be part of my job, but here we are. Today I’m writing dates with a scythe, and that’s beautiful.”

Boyfriend Dungeon

I loved my date with Valeria, but she’s not the only potential mate in Boyfriend Dungeon. Rather, there’s a cast of five potential partners in the game, each of them hailing from distinct backgrounds and identities. “When I was coming up with the cast for Boyfriend Dungeon, I tried to imagine as many kinds of people and personalities that I could be attracted to as possible.”

Short drew from her own personal experiences in creating the cast. “I was very lucky to meet my partner many years ago, so I haven’t actually dated many people in my life, but I become fascinated with people I meet very easily, and they can provide inspiration. Whether they’re upbeat and reckless, or brooding and poetic, or gentle and refined…there’re so many kinds of intriguing people out there. And in Boyfriend Dungeon, I hope.”

After building up this bond during dialogue, it was time to put it to the test by exploring the Dunj. Of course, this isn’t the typically dreary dungeon found in most other dungeon crawlers. Instead, it’s an abandoned shopping mall overrun with monsters to slay and loot to discover with your partner weapon.  

Boyfriend Dungeon

Combat is easy to grasp, focusing on alternating between light and heavy attacks and creating simple combos out of them. Just like how the dating content aims to be inclusive for people of different backgrounds, Short hopes for the combat to be accessible for players of different levels of experience as well. “Hopefully the dungeon combat can be approachable enough for less experienced action RPG players, but still have enough challenge for the people that want to find it.”

Based off the demo, Boyfriend Dungeon seems to achieve this goal. I loved learning simpler moves and discovering new combos with them. Movement is fast, fluid, and intuitive, making it a pleasure to explore the Dunj. Succeeding in dungeons will also result in a stronger relationship with your weapons, so it’s in your best interest to perform well during combat. Of course, your weapons don’t simply level up – instead, their love power increases.

An arcade environment

“Our approach has been that the point isn’t the destination — it’s the journey you take, and who you choose to take it with.”

Fighting and dating may seem like two disparate concepts, but in practice, they manage to mesh surprisingly well. “The game is mostly about switching from one [gameplay style] to the other,” Short says, “and it’s nice for pacing, since you often want a breather from the action or get restless if there’s too much reading.”

The overarching story and general experience remain relatively firm throughout the whole game regardless of your decisions, but Short encourages players to enjoy the ride they take with the weapon they choose. “Our approach has been that the point isn’t the destination — it’s the journey you take, and who you choose to take it with.”

In Boyfriend Dungeon, your weapons can wage more than just war. Rather, they can spread love and lead to deeply fulfilling relationships. Boyfriend Dungeon is one of the most refreshing games I played at PAX thanks to its engaging dungeon exploration and combat and its surprisingly positive view of weaponry. That’s the mission of peace that Short had in mind with the game: “It feels like a difficult time in the world right now, but that’s when we most need to find love and compassion. Let’s try our hardest to be kind.”

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