The best (and worst) games based on 80s movies

James Thornton


I don’t know about you but personally I can’t wait for the release of the new Ghostbusters game. No, seriously, I can’t wait. In fact, to prevent me from going crazy waiting for it to finally come out, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favorite 80s movie-themed-games of all time. Looking at them now you might think they look a bit dated, and you’d be right of course. However, just like the classic films they were based on, they still have that same charm that captured people’s imagination all those years ago (well, the first five do anyway).


As the first video game I ever played, this one still holds very dear memories for me. One of the few early Spectrum releases that’s still worth the loading time, Rambo sees you enter Vietnam as the famous maverick on a one-man mission to destroy every pixelated enemy he encounters. The graphics look ridiculously dated now, but my overriding memory of Rambo was that it had probably the best soundtrack of any Speccy game, incorporating actual music from the film to great effect.


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure

Created in 1989 by LucasFilm, this was the third game to utilize the legendary SCUMM engine, later used in adventures such as Sam and Max and Day of The Tentacle. The aim of the DOS-based game was to help Indy find the Holy Grail by traveling around some of the places that appear in the movie, such as Venice, and the catacombs. The film wasn’t great but, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t one of the greatest point-and-click romps of all time. Download the demo here if you don’t believe me. [More games and videos after the jump]


The Terminator

I remember The Terminator being one of the most polished and ‘grown-up’ games for the Master System, and it certainly captured the style of the movie very well. It will probably be most remembered by having one of the hardest opening levels in history, as you embarked on a seemingly impossible mission to escape the SkyNet labs and go back in time. Although perhaps not quite as immersive, the 1992 multi-platform follow-upT2: Judgement Day was also a big hit with gamers.



Released in the late 80s on the Spectrum on NES, Robocop saw you play the lethal law-enforcer in an enjoyable side-scrolling game. The gameplay suffered a bit from the fact that you couldn’t jump, but the graphics were very impressive for their time, and it proved very popular at the time. I would still much rather play this one than the Robocop Xbox game that came out just a few years ago. In fact, you can still play the orginal NES version of Robocop at 1980 games.



A controversial choice perhaps, because many people hated this one. Being a huge Jacko fan and one of the few people that enjoyed the movie, Moonwalker was rarely far my Master System 2 cartridge slot. I loved the way the variety between the different levels reflecting the schitzophrenic nature of the film. But what really hooked me was the music. One of my fondest memories of my whole gaming career is the start of the first level of this game where MJ flicks the coin into the juke box and Smooth Criminal cranks up. Pure class.


…And the ones that bombed:

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

The best film of all time. The worst game of all time. That’s the general consensus of E.T., a game which was so embarrassingly bad that its developer Atari had to bury its millions of unsold copies in the desert.


Back to the Future

Another tragic waste of a mammoth license, Back to the Future was let down by a combination of difficulty and utter pointlessness. Someone should go back to the future and remake this one.


Friday the Thirteenth

If throwing rocks at people and looking for lighters is your idea of fun then you might have enjoyed this one. Personally, I think this is one of the biggest video game horror stories of the Twentieth Century.


Jaws: Unleashed

Stupidly hard to control and miles away from capturing the sheer terror of the movie, Jaws: Unleashed unsurprisingly failed to make a splash on either the PlayStation 2 or the Xbox.


Total Recall

About as far-removed from a movie as a game can be, this NES game saw a puny version Arnie do battle with an army of midgets in pink jump suits in dark allies. Total Recall? I’d prefer to have my memory of this one completely erased.


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