Weekend Hot Topic: The next big video game TV adaptations


Mass Effect – TV’s next big epic? (pic: EA)

After the success of The Last Of Us, readers discuss the games they’d like to see turned into a TV show, from Mass Effect to Soulcalibur.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was inspired by reader DM58 and included both animated and live action productions, while also asking readers to suggest specific actors and directors for their dream project.

There were plenty of good ideas, with Mass Effect coming up a lot, but many readers worried about the amount of money needed for an accurate adaption, whether the game was sci-fi or not.

Rockstar TV
To me the obvious choice is Grand Theft Auto. Make it a big budget, long-running TV show and you can get in all kinds of big name actors and directors and it doesn’t matter if they only do a few episodes each, as I imagine it as being more like an anthology anyway. Maybe focusing on a different city each season.

I’m sure Rockstar has been inundated with movie offers ever since GTA 3 but TV shows have got so good, and so big budget, now that I can imagine they might finally be tempted. To me a film doesn’t make any sense, because what could you do that would sum up GTA in just two hours or so? A multi-season TV show would work much better, whether it was adapting the stories of the games or not (I’d advise a mix of new and old).

My more leftfield choice would be The Legend Zelda but I would imagine Nintendo is already thinking about an animated version if the Super Mario Bros. movie is successful. I’d hope it would be something more serious though. It doesn’t have to be Game of Thrones but it shouldn’t be a comedy either.
Grant

Too expensive
Given what’s happened with The Last Of Us I will be shocked if those rumours about Amazon making a Mass Effect series don’t turn out to be true. They have just bought the rights to Tomb Raider, so maybe it’ll go to someone else but it does seem the most obvious next pick.

The problem is how big a budget it’s going to need. At the end of the day The Last Of Us is a bunch of fairly cheap actors wandering around some busted up buildings but Mass Effect is going to need a mountain of CGI before you even start to worry about the actors, including the ones made up to look like aliens.

Actually, thinking about it, I don’t see it happening. It’d have to have a much bigger budget than any of the Star Wars shows and I can’t see any company going for that. Maybe a movie series is the only way to go.
Megadon

Not half bad
I’m still surprised that no one has made a show based on Life Is Strange yet, considering it doesn’t need that many special effects and you could easily carry on the story of Max and Chloe if you wanted to.

Here’s an idea though, how about Half-Life? I don’t actually think it’d be that expensive, not any more than something like The Last Of Us, and it would be a way to actually finish the story, which otherwise I don’t see Valve ever getting around to.

Get Bryan Cranston on board, before he gets too old, and you’re ready to go. Cut out the trip to the alien dimension and you could actually improve/streamline the story and finally let us know what happened at the end.
Gustav

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Top calibre TV
Souuuuuul! Caliburrrrrrr! Yes. That is my answer. An anime in the style of Castlevania, I think. In fact, if you go way back to the first game on the Dreamcast, there were some fairly nice pieces of art that suggested to me that an anime series already existed back in 1999/2000. This image, in particular, of Ivy and Siegfried brooding together made me think it.

Even in an anime, I feel that Ivy’s second outfit from her debut is much nicer. She could wear the dominatrix gear in someone’s sex dream, maybe Seong Mina’s for extra comedy value. But more seriously, a serialised format is the better way to go with most games. It would give themes, world building, and characters much more room to breathe.

And Soulcalibur has a lot of potential, especially among fighting games. A cursed sword that can corrupt your soul, the One Ring-style; a great cast – for the most part, there is some dead weight, don’t get me wrong; and a real, historical setting! We could have Ivy be one of Queen Elizabeth I’s spies, while Raphael’s backstory mentions the horrific, sectarian wars of the period. Xianghua would have been a bodyguard to Zhu Yijun, the Wanli Emperor as he was called. The possibilities are enormous.

It is strange that Sonic has had three decent or half-decent cartoons now, isn’t it? The very dark Sat-AM one, Sonic Boom, and now Prime. TV must be the hedgehog’s natural habitat.

And, if a Soulcalibur series were to be successful, Namco might even give us another game! The soul still burns!
DMR

Soulcalibur anime image

Soulcalibur – why hasn’t there been an anime before? (pic: Bandai Namco)

Disco lives
When I saw what this weekend’s Hot Topic was going to be, it was genuinely spooky… one might even say it gave me Shivers. Only the day before, I finished my first playthrough of the frequently mind-bending Disco Elysium. As the credits rolled, I honestly wondered to myself if it would even be possible to adapt Harry Du Bois and Kim Kitsuragi’s unconventional murder investigation into any kind of coherent, watchable show. Well, initially I thought, film but very quickly realised that to stand a chance you’d need the time and space of a series to allow the slow burn, deeply layered, and complex story to breathe and reveal itself in a way that could do it any kind of justice.

I can’t pretend I uncovered anywhere near all the mysteries and secrets Revachol had to offer me, but as a game world, pixel for pixel, it’s got to be one of the most richly detailed and heavily storied environments I’ve ever seen. Just as a setting for any kind of show, I feel it would positively drip atmosphere and mystique to hook in the viewers. But since so many of the characters I met there really stuck with me after I concluded my investigation, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to see them brought to life in a show somehow too.

From the comically sinister union boss, Evrart and the young daughter of the bookstore owner, forced to perpetually stand in the cold; to the destitute but still dignified old lady eking out an existence in the fishing village; the snooty, yacht-owning company negotiator; and the feral insanity of Cuno and Cunoesse it’s got some of the most distinctive and downright bizarre characters I’ve ever encountered. And that’s not even getting into the myriad of conversations you end up having with your own fractured psyche – each facet a character in its own right – as the twisted tale unfolds.

I think a show chronicling Harry’s struggle to remember his own life, rediscover his purpose and come to terms with his past, whilst simultaneously wrestling with the wide-ranging mysteries of the fractured civilisation he finds himself in could be a genuinely gripping and darkly surreal experience. Obviously, it’s a narrative with a vast array of potential paths though it, so any script would have to omit some of the options, but given the potential of the amnesiac, substance addled, unreliable narrator as a storytelling mechanic I’m sure there would be some leeway to showcase some of the wilder potential outcomes of the investigation.

If the adaptation could also manage to capture the emotional hits of moments like the side quest involving the working class lady outside the bookstore and the self-realisations of Harry finally recalling what drove him to become the unhinged disco animal everyone initially sees him as, I’m sure it could be made to work as a distinctly adults only, mystery-cum-social commentary-cum-dark satire piece.

I can’t decide whether or not I’d rather see it attempted as a live action thing or as an animation (perhaps something akin to A Scanner Darkly, at least technically), but given that the game’s unique art style is all part of the charm I’d like to see that preserved as much as possible, either way.

It’s also tough to say who I think would be capable of successfully helming such an endeavour, as it’s such a unique property, but there’s definitely something about the generally distorted ambience, the depictions of technology and machinery and the overall presentation of politics and bureaucracy that definitely makes me think of Brazil/Time Bandits/Twelve Monkeys style Terry Gilliam.
yourhomeisatrisk

Superior media
Who wants to watch TV when you can play a game instead?

I want to see the Apprentice TV show turned into a weird role-playing game where you have turn-based battles in the boardroom using moves such as ‘deflect accusation’ or ‘bad pun’.
TommyFatFingers

Pretty good stuff
I would like to see the Mass Effect series be made into a TV show or maybe a movie or two. I feel with the serious sci-fi subject matter involved, and with a good director behind it (plus Ryan Gosling as Shepherd or Kirsten Stewart as FemShep), then you could get into a good short episodic series like Rings Of Power with high budget, hour long episodes.

The rich lore involved and the eclectic characters, all with rich backgrounds, sounds like a good sell to me. The Expanse on Amazon Prime is entertaining and can remind you of certain aspects from Mass Effect, with political and military tensions involved. The engaging characters help also. So Mass Effect would, if done correctly, be a popular series.

I always thought that Monkey Island would make a good animated series and would be a blast regarding the humorous dialogue with great voice acting behind them. Maybe the voice artists behind the recent sequel!

Speaking of point ‘n’ click games, I would love to see Beneath A Steel Sky become a TV series, which could be live action, CGI animated, or cel-shaded. The futuristic skylines with the different levels of cityscapes are ideal for episodic intrigue, and if a director like Luc Besson takes on the job, then even better.

I would ask for a Legend Of Zelda film or show but that may be a bit too risky and I think I’ll stick with the games for now. I still have waking nightmares of the nineties Zelda animation. I’ll just stick to the new Willow series on Disney+ for now, as some of the scenery backgrounds and fun characters involved, plus some great action moments and not too dark a fantasy setting, is definitely hitting the right spot with me at the moment.

But with animated Resident Evils, Castlevania, Cyberpunk 2077, and live action Resident Evils, The Last Of Us and The Witcher I am not complaining, as it’s all pretty good stuff in my opinion. If the quality keeps up like this, then long may it continue.
Alucard

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was inspired by reader DM58 and asks what video game would you most like to see turned into a TV show?

Video game movies have seen some improvement in the last few years but it’s TV show The Last Of Us, along with Cyberpunk: Edgerunners and Arcane, that has been the critical breakthrough, so what other games and franchises would you like to see get a similar treatment?

What format what you like it to have in terms of being live action or animated? Are there any particular actors, directors, or writers you’d like to see involved and how many episodes and seasons should the show run for?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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