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25 Classic NES Games Based on Horror and Sci-Fi Movies


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by Xtreme HD IPTV

It was morning in America again. The ‘80s and early ’90s, Reagan and Bush, cut-off shorts, video stores, bicycles, horror movies galore, and Nintendo. Our parents had to be reminded by the television; it’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your children are? We were on Elm Street, watching Freddy Krueger slam dunk a girl’s face into a television screen. And any Friday night, you could pick up a pizza and rent some games, and thanks to the deus ex machina, the Nintendo Entertainment System, you could experience defeat at the hands or teeth of Jason Voorhees or Bruce (the great white in Jaws) again and again, because you certainly were not going to win – ever.

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Horror and sci-fi were in a second Golden Age in the era of the VHS rental, and it bled over into 8-bit games in a time when video games were thought to be for kids and long before the industry figured out horror games could be frightening in ways other than just savaging the player with no mercy. The NES was king of the world of games, and it was stocked with horror and sci-fi titles, both original and based on movies. Of those based on horror and sci-fi movies, we have catalogued 25 below. Some of these are based on family-friendly movies, and some were real horror franchises with a capital R.

25 Jaws (1975)

jaws

Jaws

Release Date
June 18, 1975

Rating
PG-13

Jaws is one of the scariest movies ever made. It programmed a (renewed) fear of the deep water into America and the world. The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, is adapted from the novel by Peter Benchley. The small tourist destination of Amity Island suffers several shark attacks from a great white that has taken to preying on people. The police chief, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider), and oceanographer, Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), go out on the ocean with the fisherman, Quint (Robert Shaw), to hunt for the shark and kill it. Three sequels were made, but none recaptured the suspense of the original.

Jaws Was Impossible to Beat and Had an Incredible Body Count

Jaws was released on the NES in November of 1987. This was the first horror movie to land on the NES, and its success is to blame for the trend of horror movies and Nintendo’s 8-bit system. Jaws racked up the highest body count of any NES horror monster because it was confounding to play and nigh impossible for most children to beat. Most ‘80s kids hardly made it past the first screen.

In Jaws, you drive a little boat around a map, select a location, and dive into the water, in single-screen levels, to take your chances at encountering Bruce or just getting killed by his smaller cousins. You just get eaten over and over, and your parents hear you scream in horror every 10 minutes from the other end of the house. This was one of those games that you rented knowing you were doomed to fail. This formula of impossibly hard game design and lack of explanation would carry over into other horror games.

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24 Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Release Date
May 25, 1977

Rating
PG

George Lucas’ sci-fi epic revolutionized special effects and gave birth to the modern blockbuster. Of all of the franchises on this list, there is none bigger than Star Wars, which has an empire of merchandising, sequels, prequels, and spin-off shows. Set in another galaxy in a past age, an evil empire has replaced the galactic republic and built a world-destroying super weapon, called the Death Star. Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) of Alderaan is captured by the imperials and Darth Vader, and taken aboard the Death Star, which is used to destroy her home world. Meanwhile, she has hidden the plans to destroy the battle station in a droid, R2-D2, who has escaped with another droid, C-3PO, where they come into the possession of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). R2-D2 wanders off in search of the Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke and C-3PO track him down. When the imperials track the droids to the home of his uncle and his wife and kill them, Luke joins Ob-Wan on his quest to help the princess.

A Metroid-Style Side-Scroller

There were two Star Wars games on the NES based on A New Hope. The first was released in December of 1987 and took the player to various planets with Metroid-like stages. Between side-scrolling stages, there are first-person space levels in which you shoot tie fighters with the Millennium Falcon’s guns.

The second game based on A New Hope, like the 1987 game, was only titled, Star Wars, but this re-do is much more advanced and true to the settings of the movie. The first half is set entirely on Tatooine. The second half is mostly set on the Death Star. After you escape the Death Star in the Falcon, you have a couple of first-person space levels, and then it changes to a top-down stage for the Death Star trench run.

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Related: 10 Ghosts from The Real Ghostbusters Cartoon We’d Love to See in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

23 Ghostbusters (1984)

ghostbusters

ghostbusters

Release Date
June 8, 1984

Rating
PG

Ghostbusters is a horror comedy, set in the New York in the early ‘80s, in a world, similar to the horror movies it is spoofing, where ghosts are real. Three college professors, Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) are booted from their jobs and go into business to capture ghosts. They hire a secretary, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), and a fourth Ghostbuster, Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), who is a blue-collar worker, and the Ghostbusters become successful entrepreneurs. Their first customer, Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), becomes possessed by a demon in the final act and opens an interdimensional gate with her neighbor (Rick Moranis) on the roof of their apartment building, allowing the demigod, Gozer, to come to Earth in the form of a 200-foot-tall marshmallow man.

A Primitive Top-Down Shooter

The Ghostbusters franchise saw three NES releases, each one very different from the other. The first was developed by Activision and ported to the NES in October of 1988 from the PC (originally released in 1984). It is primitive, mixing top-down driving stages and single-frame stages where you capture ghosts. The graphics are flat and reflect a different time before the NES. The final boss battle with Gozer resembles a boss fight screen from the first The Legend of Zelda, with stationary enemies shooting fireballs at you (an impossible number of fireballs).

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22 RoboCop (1987)

Robocop

RoboCop

Release Date
July 17, 1987

Rating
R

RoboCop is known for its satirical, hyper-violent portrayal of American corporatism. A corporation, OCP, takes private control of the crime-plagued Detroit’s police force and attempts to create robots to police the city. Peter Weller plays Alex Murphy, a cop who is killed on duty and resurrected as a cyborg to serve as a programmable police officer with perfect aim and no conscious. Through the course of the film, RoboCop recovers his memories of his wife and son, and he uncovers connections between the corporation that made him, OCP, and the men who killed Murphy. RoboCop received two sequels and a cartoon show, and in 2014, a remake was released but was rejected by fans because it changed the character designs too much and lacked the practical effects magic that made the robots feel real.

A Fun Shooter Side-Scroller

Released in November of 1988, the RoboCop game is a side-scroller in which you shoot or punch goons that run at you or stick their head out a window to shoot at you. RoboCop picks up two other guns in addition to his pistol, which has infinite ammo, and the player is able to aim up and at diagonals, which might sound like nothing at all, but this was a different age. The graphics are fair for a NES game in 1988. Every kid who rented RoboCop had one thought in mind, and that was fighting the ED-209, the robot-t-rex with machine guns.

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21 Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla stands over a ruined city with a jet in its hand
Toho

In the original 1954 Godzilla, a 164-foot tall dragon with radioactive breath, created by American nuclear tests in the Pacific, comes ashore in Japan and destroys Tokyo. For the next twenty years, Toho released a flood of sequels with other monsters before sending the radioactive dragon on vacation for a decade. He then returned triumphantly with a direct sequel to the original movie, Godzilla 1985, relaunching the franchise for another near-20-year stretch before again becoming oversaturated and put back on ice for a second decade-long break. Godzilla returned again in 2014’s American remake, while Toho produced the strangest version of Godzilla ever, Shin Godzilla, which never saw a sequel. Toho instead turned toward crafting a remake, and has seen their greatest success to date with the release of Godzilla Minus One.

About the Game

The first Godzilla game on NES, Godzilla: Monster of Monsters, was released December 1988. The player moved Godzilla and Mothra across a grid map of stages, with the stages set in space and playing like a side-scroller shooter. The player would battle other giant monsters in a single-screen fight with a black screen. The game was clunky and difficult, but there was only one deciding factor when it came to renting it – you saw that you play as Godzilla on the back of the box, and that was the beginning and end of all debate as to what game you wanted to rent for the night. It was, unfortunately, a grinder of a shooter, with the player fighting a bunch of guns on the ground instead of monsters in the actual stages.

The second game, Godzilla 2: War of Monsters was released February 1992, and it was a turn-based strategy game with RPG-style battle screens. Any kid that mistakenly rented this was in for the greatest disappointment on the whole list. The game plays out entirely on maps, like a board game, with the player moving around tanks and planes to try to intercept the monsters. When you intercept a monster, you jump to an RPG battle with stationary sprites. The misery of discovering this was what you wasted your rental on left a life-long scar that educated a generation of ‘90s kids about investing your money wisely.

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Related: Friday the 13th: Why Jason Voorhees May Actually Not Be the Killer in the Slasher Horror Franchise

20 Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th (1980)

Release Date
May 9, 1980

Rating
R

Friday the 13th released in the summer of 1980, combining elements of Italian giallo slashers with American morality folk horror (the man with the hook and the parked couple) and the summer camp experience of North East coasters who lived in the region of the Adirondacks. The first film is a who-dun-it, with multiple kills being shot in the first-person perspective to obscure the identity of the killer. In the end, we learn that the mother of a drowned boy, Pamela Voorhees, is the killer. Pamela is decapitated at the end of the movie, but the franchise would live on, with Jason Voorhees returning to avenge his mother’s death. Friday the 13th is the horror franchise of the ‘80s. It was there at the beginning and the end, with eight entries in the original timeline, before Paramount sold the rights to Jason to New Line, who made Jason Goes to Hell, and the franchise went to hell with him.

You and Your Friends Are Dead. Game Over.

The NES game released in February of 1989, just four months before Paramount’s last Friday the 13th entry, Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. What should have been a great promotional tool to build the reach of the franchise for Part 9, became a funerary tribute to Jason, whose original timeline ended that year. Following Jaws’ themes of vague objectives and a villain that comes back over and over, Friday the 13th achieves its frights through terrorizing children with their imminent failure. You wander around the lake, trying to light the fireplaces in the cabins, picking up weapons to fight Jason, and then running into the goalie-masked killer out of nowhere in any given cabin, where you fling rocks at him in an over the shoulder, Punch-Out style perspective, and get clobbered by Jason as if every level of Punch-Out was Mike Tyson.

Friday the 13th has seen a comeback in recent years, with fans improving the NES game through ROM-hacks, changing the enemies, color schemes, and even adding Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger to different versions. Recently, Doom fans have made a complete first-person version of the game, using the NES sprites to create a 3D adventure which hits us right in the nostalgia button with a machete. Dear Doomers, please make a version with all the ‘80s and ‘90s slasher monsters – Freddy, Chucky, Tiffany, Candyman, the Tall Man, and Michael, and replace Doom-guy’s face with Ash’s.

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19 Predator (1987)

Predator

Predator (Edit)

Release Date
June 12, 1987

Rating
R

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, a private military contractor, who leads a team of elite former military members into the jungles of Central America on a rescue mission. They find a downed helicopter and find the soldiers’ bodies have been skinned and hung up in the trees. The hostages taken by the guerrillas are executed, but Dutch and his men run into something else in the jungle on their way to the location of their pick-up. An alien, with cloaking technology, hunts them and takes their bodies, one at a time.

Predator has spawned novels, comic books, a toyline, five more films, and numerous games on multiple consoles over the last four decades. The first two movies in the franchise stand above the rest for their horror elements. The movies were not just man-hunt movies. There was an emphasis on the treatment of the bodies in the first movies. The alien hunter field-dressed men like animals, taking their skins, hearts, skulls, and sometimes other parts for trophies. The dehumanization and the body horror elevated Predator beyond just a slasher with an alien monster, and it has been singled out as a movie that is potentially read as a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic due to the nearly all-male cast and their sexually-loaded dialogue.

An Indescribable Mess

Released in April of 1989, Predator is almost indescribable. First, there is a section in the jungle that has the player fighting commandos as well as butterflies, scorpions, and aliens that fly across the screen like enemies in Metroid. The game repeatedly switches between Metroid-like stages with black backgrounds and stages called “big mode,” in which you run and gun with a much larger version of the character on a stage with a purple background. This game is crazy bad. Some of the games on this list are so bad they are a riot, but this one is just bad-bad. The final boss is a flying giant predator head.

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18 Back to the Future (1985)

back to the future

Back to the Future

Release Date
July 3, 1985

Rating
PG

Back to the Future is the best time travel movie ever made and the most rewatchable, with something new to discover in the background or about the timeline every viewing. Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels to 1955 in a time machine created from a DeLorean by his elderly friend, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), and he gets stuck without any plutonium to return. In 1955, he runs into his mother and father, and he stops them from becoming romantically involved by accident, and Marty’s only hope to fix the timeline, ensure his birth, and return home is the younger version of Doc Brown.

In the sequel, Doc returns to 1985, scoops up Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue) and takes them to 2015, where old-Biff steals the DeLorean and makes a mess of the timeline. The second film ends with a cliffhanger, with the Delorean being struck by lightning while the Doc is driving it, and stranding Marty in 1955. Doc ends up in the old West in 1885, and he hides the DeLorean for 1955 Marty to use, which he does, and he too gets stuck in 1885 with no gasoline.

Thematically Fine, but Weird Gameplay

The first game released in September of 1989. The sequels were combined into one game, Back to the Future Part II & III, and released in 1990. The first title is arcade-like, with the player running or skateboarding up vertical scrolling levels set in the streets of Hill Valley, collecting clocks and dodging obstacles. In the final level, you trade the skateboard for the DeLorean as you race to the cable at 88mph and zap back to 1985. You would think the second game would advance things a little more, but it makes the first look like an arcade masterwork. Doc drops Marty off at the beginning of the game in an alternate, ruined version of the Mushroom Kingdom. Nothing says good ol’ 2015 like spiked turtles and warp pipes. This one misses the mark worse than any game on this list.

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Related: Resident Evil: Where Should a Movie Reboot Start?

17 Sweet Home (1989)

Lady Mamiya played by Machiko Watanabe in 1989 Japanese horror movie Sweet Home
Toho

Sweet Home is a Japanese horror movie set in a haunted mansion with a five-person news crew that travels to the home and tries to clean up the frescoes on the walls, painted by the former owner, to photograph them for a story. When one of the crew members disturbs a shrine on the property, the curse/ghost is released. The house is haunted by a woman who unknowingly lit the furnace of the home when her child was playing in it. The child was killed, and the woman went mad, kidnapping children from the village and burning them to death in her furnace.

The Inspiration for Resident Evil

Sweet Home is most famous for the parts that Resident Evil took inspiration from – it is set in a haunted mansion, you fight zombies, and there are first-person cut-scenes when you open doors. The game, released in December of 1989, is set in the isometric perspective and is a party-based RPG with first-person battle screens. The player is tasked with photographing fresco paintings, as in the movie. This is the biggest game of all of these movie-based games. The playthrough below is over four hours long.

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16 Batman (1989)

batman

Batman (1989)

Release Date
June 23, 1989

Rating
PG-13

Tim Burton’s Batman, played by Michael Keaton, reshaped the image of Batman and the narrative structure of superhero movies. The masks in all subsequent adaptations of the Dark Knight have followed the lead of the mask design in the original film, and most have likewise been black. Burton’s Batman drew on darker comics of the ‘80s, creating a borderline horror movie with noir lighting and art deco set design. The setting is timeless – with modern technology and ‘40s aesthetics. Burton altered the origin of Batman, pinning the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents on Joker (Jack Nicholson).

The death of his parents weighs heavily on this Batman. He studies the face of Joker on video loop in his batcave. He is slightly awkward and distant in his attempt to have a romantic relationship with journalist, Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger). He is isolated, and there is greater emphasis in Burton’s film on the stress on Bruce that is created by his divided life. Warner Brothers felt Burton’s film was too dark, but in the decades that have followed, all of DC’s best comic book movies have been dark/serious: The Dark Knight, Watchmen, Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, and Joker.

The Best Movie Game on the List

We come to the best balance on the list. Awesome movie and awesome game. Released in December of 1989, Batman is unquestionably the best movie game of the whole list. The music, animations, sprites, controls, and level design are all top-shelf. The only thing missing is the grappling gun. There are three weapons: a gun, a Batarang, and a discus. Batman’s defining move in the game is the wall jump, which is used extensively for its platforming puzzles. The last two levels are among the most challenging platforming stages, besides Gremlins 2 (still to come), that were ever faced on the NES. Each level ends with a boss fight, and in addition to the Joker, three of the boss characters are from the comics: Killer Moth, Electrocutioner, and Firebug.

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15 Ghostbusters 2 (1989)

ghostbusters 2

Ghostbusters 2

Release Date
June 16, 1989

Director
Ivan Reitman

Rating
PG

After the first Ghostbusters, a cartoon was produced, The Real Ghostbusters, which became a hit and had a toyline. A live-action sequel was in demand, and in 1989, we got Ghostbusters 2. The sequel was guilty of being a little too absorbed in being an adventure film when it should have been more focused on comedy. The team reunites and discovers a river of slime beneath Manhattan. Winston, Egon, and Ray go down into abandoned subway tunnels to look for the river, but when they find it and try to measure its depth, Winston is pulled in, and Egon and Ray jump in after him. The three Ghostbusters are carried to the museum where Dana Barrett is now working and where the haunted painting of Vigo the Carpathian resides. In the end, Vigo attempts to exit his painting and enter the infant child of Dana.

A Solid Sequel Game

The second Ghostbusters game, developed by Activision and released in the US in April of 1990, was a true NES title, with side-scrolling driving stages and side-scrolling shoot-em-up stages. Instead of using proton packs, the Ghostbusters use slime-packs and shoot blobs of green slime. The third game, released in the fall of 1990 in Japan, was developed by HAL and did not release in the US on NES. Titled, The New Ghostbusters II, it was designed like The Legend of Zelda, with an isometric perspective, and although the character sprites are bobble-headed, the graphics and animations are drastically better than the previous two games. The proton beams and ghosts are accurate to the movies and cartoons for the first time.

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Related: These Are the Best Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies, Ranked

14 Total Recall (1990)

total recall

Total Recall

Release Date
June 1, 1990

Rating
R

In Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger is Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who has dreams about Mars and wants to visit the planet, despite civil unrest and violence on the red planet. His wife (Sharon Stone) is not interested in vacationing on Mars, so Quaid goes to a company called Recall, for memory implants. The attempted implants are rejected because Quaid has had his memory wiped, and the fantasy he described for his implants is his actual previous life as a spy. After men try to kill him, Quaid travels to Mars in search of answers, but the reveal is head-spinning and leaves it to the audience to decide if Quaid is dreaming or awake.

Get Your A*s to Mars!

Released in August 1990, Total Recall is pretty simplistic, both graphically and in its action. Arnold Schwarzenegger runs forward and punches or shoots men. No turtles. No frogs. Some house cats do show up later. Your first boss fight is your fake wife, Sharon Stone. It actually follows the movie fairly well. After the fight with Sharon Stone, you go to the subway and go through the x-ray screen. You eventually go to Mars, shoot a bunch more henchmen (and those cats), and in the final level make your way to the reactor control and activate the reactor.

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13 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Release Date
November 16, 1984

Rating
R

Freddy Krueger, played originally by Robert Englund, is as iconic as Dracula. He is an image. He is a fridge magnet, a Halloween costume, and a video game star. The dream demon was introduced in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street in the middle of the ‘80s. In the first film, Krueger targets the children of the parents who killed him, with Nancy Thompson (Heather Langencamp), whose mother took Krueger’s glove and kept it, seemingly the only one to survive.

Five sequels would follow; a retcon from Craven with the meta New Nightmare a decade after the first movie, a clash with Jason Voorhees in Freddy vs. Jason nine years later, and finally an attempted reboot in 2010 that did not stick. Despite the grindhouse quality of Elm Street’s first movie, the series became a huge franchise with kids, and the series slowly descended into slapstick comedy as New Line became aware of the cultural phenomenon they had (and thus all the merchandise, a TV show, and a video game).

One, Two, Freddy’s Coming for You!

In October of 1990, following the success of Friday the 13th for the NES, Freddy joined him in cartridge form. It was seven years after Wes Craven’s original Nightmare, one year after the release of the fifth entry, The Dream Child, and one year before the disastrous Freddy’s Dead, in which Freddy dispatched a teen within a video game nightmare with the help of his own Power Glove. The real-life game is one of those where you are left scratching your head and asking what this has to do with the movie other than Freddy showing up as the boss.

The player walks along a sidewalk, dodging snakes and entering houses and other buildings that are bare-bone Castlevania-style stages with more enemies that make no sense for a Freddy game, like spiders and bats. After a few minutes, your character gets tired, you fall asleep (in the game), and the levels will change to nightmares, the color palette and enemies change.

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Related: A Nightmare on Elm Street: Is the Classic Horror Movie’s Ending Misunderstood?

12 Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Release Date
June 15, 1990

Rating
PG-13

There are a lot of great movies on this list, but Gremlins 2: The New Batch is not one of them. This is one of the most widely reviled sequels that ever was. Gizmo gets captured and taken to a skyscraper that serves as a miniature, self-contained city, with apartments, work offices, a shopping mall, a food court, a television cable station, and a genetics lab. Does not every town have a genetics lab with mad scientists? The lab is where Gizmo ends up, but he escapes, and gets wet and spawns a litter of evil doppelgängers again, who eat after midnight and turn into gremlins.

Several of the gremlins are mutated by DNA-altering formulas from the genetics lab, and we get a spider-gremlin, bat-gremlin, a vegetable gremlin, and more. This is what happens when you write a movie, walking backwards from the goal of making a bunch of mutant gremlins.

Good Reflexes Are Needed

This will be our one inversion on the list, where the movie is bogus, but the game is endearing. Released October of 1990, Gremlins 2 at first might make the player ask what is going on with the level design, but if you can suspend your disbelief about the giant tomatoes, holes in the floor, spikes, and other obstacles, the levels are a fun challenge and the controls are crisp. The game is played in the isometric perspective, but focuses heavily on jumping.

Players that had trouble on the NES with platforming and judging the distance of the character’s jumps against moving platforms and enemies, went through a trial by fire in Gremlins 2. The game does not throw any gremlins at you until level 2-2, but once it does, the difficulty skyrockets. You will have to juggle flying gremlins, conveyor belts, gaps, spikes, lava, and spinning morning stars. If you did not beat it when you were eight, you have no chance of doing it now with those middle-aged reflexes.

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11 RoboCop 2 (1990)

Robocop 2

Robocop 2

Release Date
June 22, 1990

Cast
Belinda Bauer , John Glover , Mario Machado , Leeza Gibbons , John Ingle , Tom Noonan

Rating
R

RoboCop 2 deals with a new, very ’90s kind of criminal crisis in Detroit, a plague of drug addiction that is corrupting the population. The drug is a fictional lab compound, called nuke. When a drug lord, named Cain (Tom Noonan), is wounded by RoboCop, his brain is taken by OCP and inserted into a new robot, with the plan being to use nuke to keep him cooperative. The nuke addiction backfires and Cain goes on a killing rampage before RoboCop stops him. As with the first movie, the villain’s design is one of our favorite robots in cinema. The movie ends with an impressive mix of stop-motion and a practical puppet to realize the battle between RoboCop and Cain.

A Step Behind the First Game

Released in April 1991, RoboCop 2 somehow looks worse than the first game. This game is another where it looks like they just dropped the movie character into an entirely unrelated game. The ED-209 is as short as the squashed-looking RoboCop. We do not know what is going on in some of these backgrounds. It is a graphic design mess. The screen is so busy with tiles in some parts that it is nearly seizure-inducing. This is why you need negative space in background art in these 2D games. The only redeeming thing in this whole game is the accurate, massive Cain robot.

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Related: Tim Burton’s 8 Favorite Movies You Should Check Out Next

10 Beetlejuice (1988)

beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

Release Date
March 30, 1988

Director
Tim Burton

Rating
PG

Beetlejuice is a comedy about neighbors moving in that you cannot stand, except the annoying neighbors are moving into your home and you are dead. Beetlejuice remains director Tim Burton’s most fantastical, surreal live-action movie. Adam and Barbara Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) die in a car accident and return home to learn they are dead and trapped in their home. When their home is sold to the Deetz family, Adam and Barbara try and fail to be seen by anyone except the Deetz’s daughter, Lydia (Winona Ryder). Frustrated, the Maitlands contact the poltergeist, Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), for assistance, but deals with devils come with complications. After 36 years, a sequel will finally release in 2024, starring Jenna Ortega as the daughter of Lydia.

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

Three years after the movie, in May of 1991, Rare released a Beetlejuice game, and it is another on the list whose level design and enemies have little to do with the movie. Why is Beetlejuice jumping on clouds and stomping on bugs for points? What is even going on in this game? This is not what you would imagine for a Beetlejuice game. You would think there would be more stages from the ghost world, where you could get away with surreal landscapes and weird ghosts. No. Go dodge scorpions and frogs. We are suspicious Rare just recycled something they were already working on when they acquired this license, and pasted Beetlejuice into it.

After a couple of side-scrolling levels, you get to the Deetz’s house, and the game changes to an isometric perspective, and you roam interior spaces surrounded by black screen, and then you go back to side-scrolling. The worst part is that when you get to the end, there is no boss fight. It just ends when you reach the end of the last level.

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9 The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

empire strikes back

empire strikes back

Release Date
May 20, 1980

Rating
PG

Runtime
124

Star Wars was a phenomenon, but the sequel made it a world-conquering IP. The Empire Strikes Back innocently picks up shortly after the first movie, with the rebels hiding on the ice world of Hoth before splitting up to flee the empire when they discover the base. It seemed like another standalone adventure, continuing the story in episodic style, with Luke Skywalker searching out the master of Obi-Wan to train him to become a Jedi like his father. The movie disarmed audiences, who were just buying a ticket for another popcorn space movie, and with their guard down, it shocked a generation with the revelation of the fate of Luke’s father, which no one saw coming.

Pushed the NES to its Limits

The NES version of The Empire Strikes Back dropped in December of 1991 and was even more advanced than the second NES Star Wars, with well-animated character sprites and extremely detailed backgrounds for a NES game. The first half is set on Hoth, with the player riding a tauntuan and fighting wampas, and the second half takes you to Dagobah and then Bespin where you fight Darth Vader. Of course, none of these NES Star Wars releases can compare to the Super NES versions, but The Empire Strikes Back pushed the aging system to its limits.

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8 Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Killer Tomatoes Eat France
New World Pictures

Somehow, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes does not only exist, it has three sequels, a cartoon, toys and a video game. The premise was so stupid, kids ate it up. The franchise is about sentient, genetically modified tomatoes that kill people. As the series went on, various individual tomatoes were introduced in the sequels and cartoon with eyes, mouths, and personalities, including a hairy tomato, named Fuzzy, who was not evil (parodying Gizmo from Gremlins).

Missed Opportunities and Low Effort

The NES Attack of the Killer Tomatoes title was released in the US in January 1992, and despite being later in the life of the NES, the game was a simplistic side-scroller in which the player kills tomatoes by jumping on them and squashing them. Some of the levels involve inversion, with the player riding conveyor belts upside down, and the last level is set inside the body of a giant tomato, but little effort was put into the game. The game really missed an opportunity for the player to play as Fuzzy.

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Related: These Are the Best Movies Made From TV Shows

7 The Addams Family (1991)

The Addams Family (1991)

The Addams Family

Release Date
November 22, 1991

Rating
PG-13

The 1960s black-and-white television show, The Addams Family, was brought to life in the ‘90s, setting off a decade-long trend of remaking ‘60s and ‘70s shows into movies, including The Flintstones, The Brady Bunch, Lost in Space, and The Beverly Hillbilies. The Addams Family remains one of our favorites in the TV-to-movie subgenre thanks to its set design, faithful costuming, dark humor and star-filled cast, with Angelica Huston as Morticia, Christina Ricci as Wednesday, and Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester. The story is set off by the return of Gomez’s (Raul Julia) brother, Fester, who is suffering from amnesia, creating doubt for the audience if he is indeed Fester. A sequel, Addams Family Values, was released in 1993, and the franchise was rebooted in 2022 with the Wednesday show on Netflix, starring Jenna Ortega.

A Solid Adaptation for The Addams Family

Released in January of 1992, the NES version of The Addams Family is a simplistic Castlevania-style game set in the home of the Addams family. Playing as Gomez, the player moves from area to area through the overworld stage of the mansion, and you collect money and rescue the family members. The Addams Family theme plays on a loop continuously until it is burned into your ears for eternity.

The enemies at least mostly make sense – you have ghosts, werewolves, skeletons, and other gothic characters. A second game was released in 1989, before the movie-based game, titled, Fester’s Quest. It was based on the original television series. The graphics were isometric, and the player played as Uncle Fester. Fester’s Quest really has nothing to do with The Addams Family. You are just shooting a ray gun at alien bugs.

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6 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

terminator 2

Terminator 2

Release Date
July 3, 1991

Rating
R

Seven years removed from The Terminator, James Cameron had directed three movies with Academy Award nominations. Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Linda Hamilton returned in one of the best sequels ever made. Terminator 2: Judgment Day follows a teenage John Connor, who lives with foster parents after his mother was institutionalized for her stories about time travel and killer robots. In the future, the robots send a liquid metal terminator, a T-1000 (Robert Patrick), back in time to kill John, and future-John sends a T-800 back in time to protect himself and his mother. This time, Schwarzenegger is the hero, and gets to develop a personality, influenced by John’s early ’90s lingo.

Decent, but Better on Next-Gen Systems

Released in February of 1992 on NES, Terminator 2 follows the story of the movie’s plot closely. As the T-800, the player fights a gang in the opening level. In level two, the player flees the T-1000 in an isometric bike chase sequence. After rescuing John Connor, the game returns to side-scrolling action, and the player must rescue Sarah Connor from the mental hospital while the T-1000 again pursues. In level four, you destroy the Cyberdyne Lab by planting charges, and in the final level, you force the T-1000 into the molten metal. The game was released at the tail end of the NES’s life, and a bigger, more graphically advanced version was released on the SNES and Genesis.

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