By Rick Warren / Gfn2112
With the success of Castlevania, Netflix has proven that they understand how to get video game adaptations right. For most games, going the route of a series as opposed to a movie makes sense; it allows for character development and world-building that couldn't happen in the length of movie. Additionally, going the animated route like Castlevania allows for action and characters that can be more accurate to the games (plus it helps with budget constraints). The same voice actors from the games can fill their roles again, and the people behind the source material can have bigger roles. Following parts of this formula is why Castlevania succeeded. With a Netflix series for both Assassin's Creed and The Witcher on the way, the age of good video game adaptations may finally be here.
With that in mind, let's look at the 5 video games Netflix should try to adapt next!
5.) Kingdom Hearts
Yep, I know what you're thinking: "this would never happen". To be fair, that's 100% true. Getting Square to cooperate and dealing with all the rights to the many Disney characters (and characters original to KH) would be a nightmare for Netflix. The budget would be insane and it would take years to make, with animators having to work with an abundance of different animation styles. On top of that, if this show were to ever happen it's almost guaranteed to appear on Disney's new streaming service. To sum things up: there is no chance this ever gets made. Still, it's always fun to dream!
What a Kingdom Hearts series would allow is the elimination of a barrier that gets in the way of many people who want to jump into the series: the convoluted story. The bits and pieces of the overarching plot that I do know are great, and I'm sure the games I have yet to play that attempt to fill in the gaps are just as strong. With games exclusive to different consoles (home and portable), it was impossible for me to experience the full story without spending a ridiculous amount of money. While that problem has been solved with the collections, I still have plenty of friends who remain uninterested in Kingdom Hearts because of it. The animated series could deliver everything, across multiple seasons, in a linear way that makes sense to the viewer. It would be a huge challenge to get right, but I'd love to see this series get made.
Next up is pick #4; a series known for its demon-slaying action and duel-wielding protagonist...
4.) Devil May Cry
I've always enjoyed the Devil May Cry games. I never fell in love with them like many gamers did, but I had fun playing through them once and appreciated them for what they were trying to be. It's probably because of this that I was indifferent to Dante's redesign in the reboot, and it's probably my favorite game in the series. Aside from the controversial change of the lead character's design, the game itself improved upon the same thing that made the original series great: awesome action and fun weapons.
When thinking about Netflix's Castlevania, this is one game series that would make perfect sense to do in the same way. The show had no probably delivering gory Castlevania action that truly represented its video game predecessor. Iconic weapons were shown in all their glory, and the characters were nearly the same as they were in the games. That is exactly what I'd like to see from Devil May Cry. Not just Ebony and Ivory, but Dante's full arsenal of weaponry. Make a version of Dante that is like the original, and give us fight scenes that are as cool as something we'd play in the games. As I said earlier, I'm far from a diehard DMC fan. While this wouldn't be my most anticipated series if it were to be announced, it might just be the best choice for giving us something like Castlevania
Here comes the next option, and it's a series known for its crude humor and great shoot-and-loot gameplay...
I've always loved the Borderlands series. The original game was one of my very first experiences with online co-op, and I loved learning things with players that I was meeting for the first time. The cell-shaded art style worked better for this game than it had for any other, giving the world of Pandora charm and personality. Borderlands also had one of my favorite gaming expansions ever with The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. I played this game so much, as the fun side quests and great loot made the average-at-best main story acceptable. Thankfully, when Borderlands 2 rolled around, that issue was gone. The story was one of the strongest points due to the sequel's phenomenal villain, Handsome Jack. I played Borderlands 2 for even longer, finding every awesome Easter egg and doing everything there was to do. It ultimately became one of my favorite games of all time. That said, I think my love for the series is why the announcement of a live action movie bothers me so much.
Obviously, live action video game movies have never been good. My dislike for Borderlands being one of them isn't because I'm afraid of a mediocre movie, though (I'm fully expecting it). Instead, I hate the idea of it because it means losing the Borderlands art style that makes the series unique. It bothered me hearing Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford say that the art style has limited the audience of Borderlands. It hasn't. Like many fans, I love it, and I honestly don't think I'd have nearly as much of an interest in the games if they looked realistic. It would be removing the one thing that makes the characters so recognizable, and Borderlands would be just like any other post-apocalyptic shooter. The crude and slapstick humor that Borderlands players love wouldn't work (and would become even more annoying for those who dislike it). Games like Borderlands, Persona, Ori and the Blind Forest and many others work so well because they look so different from most games. I'd hate to see the gaming industry take a full turn towards realism; I enjoy the balance between realistic looking games and wild art styles that can't be seen elsewhere. Therefore, I'd rather see Borderlands as an animated Netflix series. They can keep the same artistic style as the games and they don't have to worry about finding a real life Handsome Jack. Making the change from a movie to a series will avoid a huge amount of fan outcry and disappointment before it happens. A Borderlands movie is simply a bad idea, but a series can be done right.
The second spot this week will go to a hypothetical adaptation of my favorite Telltale game...
2.) The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us, to this day, is one of the most unique stories I've experienced in a video game. Taking a Noire-like approach to fables, folk tales and horror stories is an idea that should come off as childish and dumb. It doesn't. It works so well that I'm still thinking of this game years later. I loved the characters and the twist the writers put on them. They were nothing like you'd expect them to be based on the stories you remember hearing as a kid. The comic book-like art style was a pleasure to see as well, and made the game even more memorable. I didn't quite know what I was getting into when I started up the game, but I enjoyed every second of it. I'm beyond glad this game was made (and that it's finally getting a second season) and that I took a chance on it. Why would this also make a great Netflix show, though? Well, for an example, we'll have to look at Netflix's upcoming Witcher series.
The Witcher games, particularly 3, were packed with hundreds of hours of content. They also were adaptations of the original Witcher stories from the bestselling series of books. Because of this, the people behind the series not only have the events in the great games to pull from, but a massive series of books as well. It's a never-ending well of great, adaptable content. Not every story needs to be huge; they can have one-off episodes that act like a side quest and tell one of Geralt's minor stories. Because of this, The Witcher is one of the few video game adaptations I'm actually thrilled to see. The series has serious potential, and The Wolf Among Us shares that same potential. This game, too, was adapted from a lengthy series of graphic novels called Fables. The creators of this animated series can also take from the game and the books, plus they'd have no problem incorporating the same great art style. If more people to a look at the Fables/Wolf Among Us universe, I think they'd be as pleasantly surprised as I was. Hopefully this series will be made so that happens.
Last but obviously not least, one of the most successful multiplayer games of all time (and a game that I'm still playing over a year later) ...
Whether you're one of the many Overwatch addicts or one of the people who can't comprehend its popularity, both sides can agree on one thing: the game's animated shorts are phenomenal. These animations are all insanely high quality, focusing on one or two of Overwatch's large roster of popular heroes for ten minutes or less. That roster of heroes, at least for me personally, is why I love the game so much. Not the perfect gameplay or amazing post-launch support, but the heroes that I'm playing as. I love their interactions with each other. I love their designs, their abilities, and their backstories. More than any other game, I've loved looking at fan-made content and cosplay for the characters. The huge diversity of the roster makes them so special. Every race, every country and culture... they're all represented here and done so with such care from Blizzard that you can't help but appreciate them. The great characters are a big part of why Overwatch is a massive success, while games like Battleborn and Lawbreakers are not. I get so excited when a new comic drops every month, and that excitement is only outdone when a new animated short drops. The only downside to them is that they're not consistent like the comics. One short takes Blizzard months to make, and costs them money that they don't have to spend; their game was a success and it doesn't need more animated shorts to sell copies. They're doing them for the people who care about Overwatch. To continue, Blizzard needs the budget and resources to put these shorts out more often. I see no better partner than Netflix.
Why would Blizzard choose to make the animated shorts of Overwatch into a full series? The same reason they still occasionally put out the shorts on their own time: there's a demand for them. If I were to look at the complaint I see most with Overwatch, from those who don't personally play it, it's that there's no single player campaign. Even if I don't think it's necessary myself (the game is entirely designed to be multiplayer, the mechanics would not translate well to solo play), I do understand where they're coming from. People want to see more than just stories about specific characters. They want to see The Fall of Overwatch and all of the other major events alluded to. Still, I don't think forcing out a single player campaign is the way to tell that story. It would require a whole new game built around single player, and with Overwatch being used as an updatable platform, I don't see that happening. What is a possibility, though, is expanding on the beloved animated shorts. With Blizzard's limited resources, it would be impossible to tell the long and deep story The Fall of Overwatch would require. With a Netflix-backed season, full of 30-minute episodes, though? That story and many others can be told perfectly. Blizzard is the best in the business when it comes to making animated shorts for their games. It's time that they expand on that. Collaborating with Netflix will allow them to do so, giving them the ability to put out more shorts more often. They can tell a consistent story across a season, as opposed to only doing one-off character pieces. This really is the ultimate choice for an animated series, as it benefits both Blizzard and Netflix. Fans of Overwatch would rejoice, and it would give those uninterested in the game a reason to care. Hell, it may even inspire them to jump into the world of Overwatch themselves.
That's it, everyone! Hope you enjoyed reading. As always, check out the comments below for an honorable mention and feel free to suggest a Netflix series of your own.
Next week I'll be releasing my fifth top 5, and because of that I wanted to do something special: my top 5 games of all time. See you then! - Rick