There was a time when the dreaded video game adaptation was nothing more than a poisoned chalice that cursed all who drank from it. The world has never quite recovered from the likes of Super Mario Bros. (1993) and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), despite an endless array of immortal bad lines (“Mother… you’re alive!… “You bad you will die!”) and memes doing their best to ease the hurt.
However, geekdom has once again turned to video games to quench our desperate need for small-screen scintillation. And in the hallowed tapestries of this medium lie the finest stories just itching to be unlocked.
Thanks to these efforts, we’ve had excellent TV do-overs of the slightly rushed The Last of Us and the gorgeous, every-frame-a-painting Arcane. Additionally, the sensory overload of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners anime was another huge hit.
But with these shows now heading into the sunset until their respective next seasons roll around, what should next receive the TV treatment? Let’s keep our eyes peeled for seven video games that totally deserve to be on the telly.
The nature of the Mass Effect universe and story lends itself perfectly to a big-budget, Game of Thrones-style epic series that blends street-level skirmishes, space politics, and ship battles of planetary proportions.
We join Commander Shepard and the crew of the SSV Normandy as they seek to uncover evidence of an impending galaxy-ending threat known as the Reapers.
However, like GoT, even the smallest actions and decisions have huge consequences. Shepard can’t get the job done alone, so she (Fem-Shep is canon) needs to consider the motivations of not just individuals but entirely different races. And the delicate balance of power and intertwining natures of each race in the galaxy make collaboration difficult and all-out war a genuine possibility.
Notably, both Mass Effect and GoT have (L)egions of fans. Both have tried to stick the landing, with lacklustre results. However, that’s another chance for Shepard and co to have the ending they deserve, which is the Commander settling down on Rannoch with Tali. Go on, change our minds.
Final Fantasy 7
One of the most famous video games of all time and a very topical one too, with a group of eco-terrorists fighting against a mega-conglomerate corporation to save the world.
There’s already been a sequel of sorts to the FFVII story with the confusing but spectacular Advent Children. However, we’re yet to get a direct adaptation of the events of the game with our spiky-haired protagonist Cloud Strife as he joins a ragtag band of heroes determined to stop the seemingly indestructible Sephiroth from destroying the planet.
FFVII is epic in scope too, with a whole lived-in world to explore, an epic magic system courtesy of the planet’s Materia and excellent characters (sit down, Cait Sith). Moreover, its in-game universe is incredibly diverse, with the city of Midgar, the fated town of Nibelheim and the kooky theme park of the Golden Saucer to whet the appetite for a re-envisioning.
Red Dead Redemption
Nothing quite revitalised our love for the classic spaghetti western than 2010’s Red Dead Redemption.
Forced back into a life of gunslinging, the gruff John Marston has to bring former members of his own gang to justice in the newly civilised US frontier. It’s a tale of revenge, the never-ending cycle of violence, and redemption (of course), with a healthy sprinkling of Colt six-shooter action.
Furthermore, Marston’s near 60-mission escapade across four chapters offers plenty of scope for condensing into feature-length episodes. Starting with the capture of his family in exchange for his cooperation, we see John eventually thwarting a bank robbery, taking on an entire military base, and even getting caught up in a Mexican civil war.
As a cautionary tale on the nature of vengeance and how the world can suddenly move on without you, we’re still not over Red Dead’s bittersweet ending.
Command and Conquer
With a storied past spanning 30 years of games, this top-down real-time strategy title immediately had fans flocking to its addictive base-building gameplay and grounded warfare.
The original game was a seemingly simple tale of two warring factions: the allied Global Defense Initiative versus the cultist Brotherhood of Nod. However, it gradually leaned on science fiction elements, building on the menace of the mysterious revolutionary Kane and the gradual contamination of the world by the valuable yet toxic Tiberium.
But how do you adapt such a series? Our money would be around a Band of Brothers-style TV series, showing the perspective of those with boots on the front lines. It would revolve around our grunts as they go from basic rookies to elite soldiers as they operate in various theatres of war across Europe and Africa.
And if the formula gets tired, C&C also has its fair share of spin-offs to draw from, including the more wacky Red Alert, which centres around the rise of Stalin under a Hitler-less world. Even just to see Tim Curry ham it up as the leader of the Red Army.
With the popularity of Vox Machina, HarmonQuest, Stranger Things and other shows that might involve a natural 20 dice roll, Dungeons & Dragons is hot property these days. However, in the late 90s, computer-based D&D titles were practically dead in the water, partly due to the rise of 3D gaming.
Enter a little-known gaming company called BioWare, which released Baldur’s Gate — only their second game — to critical acclaim and success in 1998. Based on an advanced D&D ruleset, the game takes place in a campaign setting known as Forgotten Realms. Players are thrust into a quest to find their foster father’s killer but stumble across a murky political conspiracy amidst an iron crisis.
With a host of characters utilising a unique combination of skillsets, alignments and traits, this is a world that’s rich in lore and magic, much like the Witcher series. And with the impending Baldur’s Gate III likely to reinvigorate love for the IP later this year, it’s time to delve into a vibrant world of sorcery, backstabbing and steel.
Cute, relaxing, and rewarding it may be, Animal Crossing games have always had a main villain, and that big bad’s name is Tom Nook. Devious, unscrupulous and motivated by pure greed, this wily raccoon entraps naive settlers who yearn for an escape from the rat race, only to find themselves signed up for an extended lifetime of servitude.
Yes, before you can say “fixed-rate mortgages,” real estate magnate Nook has the islanders bent over a barrel, demanding bells hand over fist for a slice of home ownership and the incremental house upgrade.
Naturally, the TV adaptation will be a surreal noir thriller — think a blend of Twin Peaks and A Handmaid’s Tale. Here, our protagonist slowly falls into the hands of the cult of Nook and is forced to take part in an indentured lifestyle of fishing, farming and trading to make ends meet. However, they’ll need to tread carefully and learn who to trust, as they slowly plot their escape from this capitalist nightmare. Moral of the story? Never trust a raccoon in a tank top.
Bear with us for this one. Cleaning: people hate doing it, but they sure do love watching it. YouTube and TikTok are full of clips of people armed to the teeth with an arsenal of pressure washers going to town on cars, patios and driveways.
Maybe it’s the slow transformation of muck and grime into that squeaky-clean shine. Or perhaps it’s a form of ASMR, where we love the sights and sounds of high-pressure water slowly but rhythmically blasting away waves of dirt. It’s a satisfying watch for sure (I’ll get to my own dishes later).
So then, how about a Detectorists-esque slow burner sitcom with a ragtag crew operating a PowerWash service? This sandbox-style show, while having heaps of British, awkward humour, has lots of scope to breathe. They could deal with losing contracts, irate customers and rival PowerWash firms. Our heroes could even find themselves cleaning up the messes that traditional gaming protagonists make — all those dead-again zombies in Resident Evil had to go somewhere…