When you have a blockbuster Hollywood franchise in your hands, the next logical move is often to expand into video games. This means introducing new characters, expanding on established lore and narrative, and allowing opportunities to deliver the experience to a whole new audience. Since 1980, or sometimes even earlier, the biggest movie franchises have released a lot.
Video games based on popular movie franchises can often be hit or miss, even when the original actors reprise their roles. But they’re always exciting enough to keep us coming back for more, and they’ve delivered gems in the process.
We’ll be reviewing games developed directly from their respective film franchises, rather than games based on broader source material such as Batman, Spider-Man, TMNT, or Lord of the Rings. We’ll also consider arcade games and pinball machines, but leave out those that are still in development.
10 Rocky (including Creed) – 9
Boxing is a popular sports subgenre in video games, so of course the Rocky franchise capitalized on it with a few games even before Punch-Out entered the gaming scene. The first Rocky game was a pinball machine in 1982, followed by the first video game based on Rocky 3 called Rocky Super Action Boxing.
Later Rocky games came to consoles like PS2 and GameCube with improved graphics like 2002’s Rocky, Rocky Legends, Rocky Balboa and the 2016 Rocky mobile game. The continuation of the story with Adonis Creed led to new games like are VR Creed: Rise To Glory and Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions.
9 Top Gun – 12
Despite the 36-year gap in the franchise between the original Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick, there are still more Top Gun video games than the entire Rocky franchise. The first Top Gun game was released alongside Ocean Software’s 1986 film, and later saw a Konami NES version the following year. It was followed by a sequel, The Second Mission, in 1989, and the rest is history.
The early Top Gun games were very basic first-person flight simulators that also offered multiplayer, but later transitioned to third-person dogfights. Although the last officially licensed Top Gun game was Hardlock in 2012, games like Ace Combat and Microsoft Flight Simulator continue to add content from the Top Gun movies.
8 Ghostbusters – 19
Ghostbusters is another iconic movie franchise from the 80s that has had many video games in various genres over the decades, including arcade games and the most recent asymmetric multiplayer game Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. The film franchise itself also saw a Jason Reitman revival with Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Activision’s original Ghostbusters game from 1984 on the NES did a great job of bringing the horror-comedy aesthetic to life in 8-bit fashion. You could even drive the Ecto-1 and the catchy theme song was remixed in 8-bit audio. Ghostbusters has seen a slew of Game Boy games, movie tie-ins with the original cast, remakes, and even a Lego Dimensions expansion.
7 Terminator – 20
Arnold said “I’ll be back” in the Terminator movies, and he did come back in various video game adaptations of the popular 80s sci-fi franchise. The title of the debut actually caused a bit of controversy. The license was obtained by Sunsoft, a developer who chose a different setting and plot from the film, therefore lost it and released it as a remake of Journey to Silius.
Bethesda released the first official Terminator DOS video game in 1991, giving you a first-person POV of the T-800 interface in a 3D-rendered environment. As movies progressed, games began to evolve. There have been several in Judgment Day, Terminator 3 and Redemption, including 2019’s Resistance based on Future Wars. There was even a crossover game with Robocop in 1993 called Robocop Versus The Terminator.
6 Indiana Jones-21
Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones certainly doesn’t see the same recognition in video games compared to its Star Wars property. However, many Indiana Jones video games are still available, with even MachineGames taking the helm in recent years. The earliest is the Atari 2600 game Raiders of the Lost Ark from 1982, which is based on the debut film and feels more ET Atari than Indiana Jones you’d expect.
The 90s and early 2000s saw the arrival of LucasArts games that began as point-and-click adventures with Indy, but later evolved into more modern action-adventure games, culminating in the Lego Indiana Jones saga. Indiana Jones’ influence inspired video games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted, which have truly carried the torch for the franchise ever since.
5 James Bond 007 – 29
Although based on Ian Fleming’s spy novels, the James Bond 007 franchise has ongoing video game releases to coincide with the films and the current Bond actor. What started out as text adventures like Shaken but Not Stirred! and A View To Kill quickly morphed into racing games, top-down action, thrilling third-person action-adventures, and groundbreaking FPSs, notably 1997’s Goldeneye 007.
In fact, Goldeneye 007 is now on modern consoles like Xbox Series X|S and Nintendo Switch. There’s also more Bond in development, including the studio behind Hitman taking on the role, and the last few have featured Daniel Craig as the lead agent. You can play as a version of Craig in Quantum of Solace, Goldeneye 2010, Bloodstone and 007 Legends.
4 Jurassic Park – 36
With the sequels to Jurassic World, Jurassic Park became another big Stephen Spielberg franchise and a franchise with a ton of games. From arcade light-gun shooters to pinball machines to the earliest Sega Genesis titles, Jurassic Park has crossed over into VR, AR, and management simulation games with the Jurassic World Evolution series.
While many of the Jurassic Park games are considered the best, Telltale’s 2011 games, Evolution, Lego Jurassic World, and Sega’s Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition all come out on top. Telltale’s Jurassic Park delivers one of the first narrative-focused episodic adventures, while Lego Jurassic World recaps all the films up to the 2015 sequel in classic Lego style.
3 Alien (including predator) – 38
The Alien and Predator universes have had a steady stream of releases in the past few years alone, such as Fireteam Elite, Predator: Hunting Grounds, and Dark Descent. Among the more notable ones was the survival horror Alien: Isolation from Creative Assembly. Not only is it the only one to achieve the original mood from the 1979 film, but the Xenomorph AI in it has become terrifyingly relentless.
Like most of the other franchises here, the Alien and Predator series have also been featured on mobile devices, such as 2011’s Predators, which teamed up with the Robert Rodriguez film, and Alien: Blackout, the sequel to Isolation. Both have seen movie adaptations along with many types of Alien Vs. Predator games at the end.
2 Star Trek – 100+
In addition to the original series, numerous movies, and spin-off TV shows, Star Trek has spawned an incredible number of games. The latest outing is the branching narrative of 2023 Star Trek: Rebirth from Dramatic Labs, a development team made up of former Telltale developers. In 2017, he also had a VR game with Star Trek: Bridge Crew.
Since it’s such a classic series that aired in the 1960s, the earliest Star Trek video games can be seen in the 1970s. It has since expanded into various game genres such as FPS in Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force, air combat and flight simulations with Klingon Academy, and the video game adaptation of the JJ Abrams film.
1 Star Wars – 100+
To no one’s surprise, Star Wars takes the lead with over 100 games released and more to come. After receiving Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, there’s more with Ubisoft’s Star Wars Outlaws and Quantic Dream’s Star Wars Eclipse. And overall, the Star Wars games were awesome and iconic, rivaling the experiences of the movies and shows.
While there are old Atari Empire Strikes Back games or space simulator games from the 80’s and 90’s, the early 2000’s was really the heyday of Star Wars games. Jedi Academy, Knights of the Old Republic, Battlefront, Republic Commando and many other great titles paved the way for Fallen Order and Survivor.
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