Not a Lego Brick in sight...
There are lots of things we love that aren't videogames. but should they be videogames? Maybe... Here lies our Top Ten games based on non-video game IP's.
The list is brought to you by the various individuals above and the opinions of those are held by the writers mentioned.
10 Ghost in the Shell (PS1)
This is an interesting one. Clearly Ghost in the Shell has a dedicated following and is one of the highly influential anime releases of the last couple of decades and has the following to boot. The game decides to focus on an area which isn’t wholly explored in the anime, the fuchikoma 1 man tank come crab come spider hybrids which the team uses to patrol and enforce the city. What you’re left with is a fast paced action shooter where your vehicle has the capability to climb walls and strafe around at lightning speed. Initially a bit twitchy you soon become familiar with the controls and whilst the game is short but packed with a few set pieces which allow for repeated play. It’s one of those games which after some initiation is just quite satisfying to play. Throw in some FMV animated cut scenes produced by the original development company and it’s a tidy, underappreciated package.
Did you know – The game was developed by Exact, the same company who produced the Jumping Flash series which is obvious if you’ve played both…
9 South Park The Stick of Truth (Various)
Now this would feature much higher on the list had there not been soooo much drivel to sieve through before a decent game finally reared it’s beautiful, poorly animated head. South Park has been around over 20 years and games have been being released since the N64 in just about every genre imaginable; FPS, Racing, Party, but it’s the RPG where it finally found it’s true home. Another one of those few magical titles which manages to expand upon the lore of the series and be a solid game too. It’s a testament to the details put in that pretty much everyone I know spent a couple of hours exploring the town rather than play the main story at the very beginning. Carrying the authentic look and original voice cast along with a script put together by Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves, the result is a product which actually ends up feeling like a season of the show itself. Shame it took 18 years…
8 Metro 2033 (Various)
2005 saw the release of this grim, post nuclear apocalyptic book in Russia. You don’t need to know too much about history to realise why it would strike such a tone there following the years of fear and nuclear posturing with America following the second world war. The story sees a hardened group of people trying to survive in the metro/underground train tunnels beneath Moscow. It makes for a great setting for an otherwise average first person shooter. This is a game where the setting really does lift the game above it’s mechanics. I also think it doesn’t take too much imagination to see why stories relating to “what happens after the bomb” are still relevant today. The games have been remastered and re-released in a moderately priced bundle pack for the PS4.
7 The Witcher Series (Various)
Based on a series of short stories originally published in a SciFi and fantasy magazine (remember those?) in the 80s, Andrzej Sapkowski’s Geralt of Rivia had to go through a critically panned movie and equally overlooked TV show in it’s native Poland before finding an acclaimed home in the gaming world. In a genre flush with “high fantasy”, what I like about the Witcher is it’s gritty, down to earth feel. Geralt is not looking to become king, save the world or any other lofty aspirations. He is a man with a job to do, kill stuff for gold. And kill stuff for gold he does, marvellously I might add. It helps the games are some of the finest examples of action RPGs and so the rich lore here only adds to the offering. If you haven’t yet, please check out our Witcher 3 review.
6 Transformers (PS2)
This one may have slipped by a few. Released back in 2004, Transformers were largely absent from the public eye (to save a google the first Michael Bay movie came out in 2007) and the game is based on the series of the time; Transformers Armada. The PS2 was entering its twilight and everyone was now used to what the machine was capable of. The next generation of consoled had begun to be rumoured but wasn’t quite here. Out of nowhere drops a game simply titled “Transformers”, not description or subtitle required. What would you expect this game to do? Run around as Optimus Prime, transforming in an open world environment whilst battling Decepticons? Yes you would and it does just that. Throw in the TV show voice cast (Aramada’s) and some of the best visuals on the console (at the time it felt like the next gen had come early) and you’re left with a corker of a game which is true to the source material and also a decent challenge. Definitely one to look up if you’re a fan of the original series before Hollywood got their hands on it.
5 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)
Games with multiple story paths and good/bad lead character decisions are common place these days and Bioware is still at the forefront of this genre. But, back in 2003 with the release of KOTOR, this was a relatively new and exciting prospect. Add to this the fact that the decisions you were making were in the Star Wars universe then KOTOR was a firm fan and critic favourite from release and is still warmly remembered today. To me KOTOR felt like the closest you could get to an offline MMORPG. The ability to play both the combat and the behind the scenes diplomacy allowed me depth I don’t remember having in other games at that time. It’s also laudable that Bioware were actually given a choice between writing KOTOR or releasing a movie tie in to attack of the clones, a game which would of surely been an easy sell with the release of the movie, and chose the KOTOR setting due to wanting to create their own lore.
4 Alice Madness Returns - (Various)
As everyone is probably already aware, American McGee's Alice and it's sequel; Alice The Madness Returns are both based on Lewis Carol's 1865 novel; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as well as its sequel; Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Much like every iteration of this classic fairytale, you will find familiar characters such as The Mad Hatter, The Cheshire Cat, The March Hare, The Queen of Hearts The Caterpillar and more; albeit appearing a lot creepier this time around. Whilst playing this dark fantasy RPG you will find yourself slashing away at foes, shrinking yourself down to half of your normal size in order to solve puzzles and uncovering the mystery behind Alice's traumatic childhood. This game can be a little glitchy at times but it still stands as one of my favourite games of all time, in fact after years and years of fans pining for a new installment to the franchise; game developer American McGee is starting to gather the attention and support needed to pitch a new game to EA, so fingers crossed for more of Alice's adventures in wonderland soon!
3 The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)
Zombies have been popular for a decade now and there are plenty of IP’s which use them as a primary focus. The Walking Dead (the comics and TV show) stands out amongst the crowd due to the fact it focus’ on the living rather than the dead. There have been failed attempts at games on the series which focused too much on action but Tell Tales take on the label has resonated really well. Focusing on dialogue and stories taking place in the same universe as the comic series (not the TV show) it manages to create its own cast of memorable characters and put them in situations that actually grow the brand by padding out what’s happening away from Rick’s troupe. Spawning numerous sequels and spin-offs each has its own choices made by the player (although these are limited in scope) which can make each journey semi-unique. At the time of writing a fourth and final season has been announced which hopefully means that we’ll also see a worthwhile conclusion to their saga.
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade)
Anyone who visited an arcade in the late 80’s or early 90’s is likely to have come across this one. Arcade brawlers are commonplace but the technology of the time was also in just the right place to be able to manage to transfer the feel of a popular cartoon into a 4 player scrolling fighter with more enemies and weapons flying around screen than you could shake Donatello’s Bo at.
It just manages to tick all the boxes between being a solid game whilst keeping the authenticity scale way up; - 4 playable characters, Endless, faceless enemies to fight en masse, recognisable supporting cast and bosses, familiar backdrops, the IP was just screaming out to be made into a videogame and Konami (yes that Konami) did a fantastic job of bringing it all together. One of the highlights of my youth.
There were always debates as to which character was the best. Looking back they were all basically the same but Mikey and Donnie win simply because they shared the centre of the cabinet…ain’t nobody ever playing solo as Raphael…
1 Castle of Illusion ft Mickey Mouse (Sega Megadrive/Genesis)
Released in 1990 by Sega, this game is said to have been one of the driving forces growing the popularity of the Megadrive even before Sonic came along. It’s easy to see why it would have mass appeal as few characters are more iconic in the world than Disney’s Mickey Mouse. What sets this apart from it’s contemporaries for me, is that the game actually holds up on it’s own. It’s a solid side scrolling platformer for it’s time and not a cash grab rushed through development ET style. This game was a mainstay with me an my friends playing “levels and lives” even once more powerful consoles were on the market. A true retro gem.
You’re not doing it right…
Akira Psychoball (PS2)
So you’ve picked up the license to the most critically acclaimed Manga’s of all time and the PS2 is in it’s heyday…what do you do with that? You’d realistically expect a third person adventure maybe? Or some sort of racer using the bikes to race through a futuristic cityscape? Maybe even a combination of the two into the foray of a GTA-esque adventure?
What do you get? A pinball table..or 3 to be precise. I’ve never really understood pinball games on PC or consoles as I’ve always found the attraction to be watching the physics in real life rather than simulated (but then I’ve never understood simulated roulette or fruit machines for the same reason). It’s probably for the best in reality, I can’t imagine they could have done it justice in everyone’s eyes (even now) so take a safe bet with a mediocre pinball sim instead…
We know we’ve missed some favourites. The Arkham series, Shadow of Mordor jump to mind and there’s plenty more. What do you think should have made the list and do you agree with the order? Email, Comment or Message us in any which way you like and we’ll delight in responding.