There are a great many video game adaptations coming to the big screen this year. We’ve already seen Uncharted and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, with Super Mario Bros. and quite possibly The Division on the way. Historically, game-based movies haven’t been very well received, but the recent flurry of the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Rampage, and Tomb Raider have found success on the big screen.
Flipping the script, 2023 also looks to be a year of big-name movies coming into the gamer-verse, in open defiance of the well-known history of poor movie adaptations in gaming. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Thor: God of Thunder, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and the last two Harry Potter titles all point to the notorious struggles. Regardless, these are the releases to look out for if you’re a gamer or a movie-buff, and hopeful of a new life for the sub-genre.
1. Harry Potter Returns to Triple-A gaming
The Harry Potter or “Wizarding World” IP has been a regular feature across gaming since the movies came out, but in the modern space, that has almost entirely come in the form of freemium mobile apps. Now, with an aesthetic distinctly drawn from the movies, but with gameplay that captures the books, as per TechRadar, Hogwarts Legacy is officially coming to consoles and PC in November or December of 2023.
Set in the 1800s, it remains authentic to the existing media of the Wizarding World – the books and movies – but the story itself isn’t one penned by the author, J.K. Rowling. In the game, you play as a late enrollee at Hogwarts, getting to build your own character before learning skills, exploring the open world, and battling troublesome students and mysterious creatures. The spell battles, in particular, look to be one of the big selling points of the game, but also brewing your own potions and tending to magical beasts will also expand your horizons in the iconic setting of witches and wizards.
2. Jim Carrey’s Most Famous Character Arrives
One of the biggest comedic actors of the 90s and 00s, Jim Carrey has many memorable and eccentric characters, but few are quite as big as the pet detective, Ace Ventura. The first film, which came out in 1994, follows Ace Ventura as he unravels a conspiracy at the Miami Dolphins, seeking to find the mascot bottlenose dolphin, Snowflake. In the second flick from one year later, he’s off to Africa to find the whereabouts of a tribe’s sacred white bat, Shikaka.
Now, there’s an official online slot game newly released to the Spanish online casino Lowen Play themed around the popular 90s comedy films. The slot game has a bunch of in-theme features, including the Sneaky Walk, which sees Carrey unsubtly sneak across the game to create wild reels, as well as the lost animal-seeking free games. Made by Playtech, you’ll also be able to summon Ace’s jungle friends to put wild symbols onto the reels. Filled with hilarious titles of the titular character and his antics, it’s certainly a game made for the fans.
3. Returning to The Planet of Pandora
It was always somewhat of an oddity that the highest-grossing film of all time never got a sequel going, but Avatar remains a standalone movie and, after a quick re-release, the 2009 film retained the top spot for the worldwide box office. Since then, The Walt Disney Company has taken over Fox – the company that made Avatar – and has the rights to make more Pandora-set content. As such, there are sequels officially on the way, and there’s a new game coming to follow up on the superb-but-overlooked 2009 release, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game.
This time, gamers will be exploring a completely new story in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, with Ubisoft publishing for PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC. Naturally, it still draws from Cameron’s colossal cinematic creation, but it will be classed as a standalone feature within what’s expected to be a sprawling Avatar universe. You’ll play as one of the Na’vi in a “living and reactive world” that’s filled with alien creatures and the invading force of the RDA. In the footage shown so far, it looks as though you’ll be able to ride and fly some of the creatures from the Avatar movie, like the Banshee and Direhorse.
4. Bust Ghosts with Friends, or be The Ghost
Ghostbusters has been a remarkably active franchise at the box office of late. In 1984, a superb advertising campaign helped to surge Ghostbusters to $296 million worldwide, with the sequel five years later pulling in $216 million. In 2016, we got the remake of the original, and five years later, a sequel to the two 80s flicks landed with Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The more recent additions received drastically different scores and feedback, but still worked Ghostbusters back into the pop-culture conversation. So, with the movies back in the spotlight again – regardless of the reviews – it’s the perfect time to venture into modern gaming.
This year, the franchise is jumping back into gaming, with a rather Phasmophobia-inspired Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. Phasmophobia has become an incredibly popular PC game, inspiring a great many copycat games and titles following a similar demonic-investigation theme. The Ghostbusters game follows a similar theme and setting. You either play in the team of four to find and bust a ghost or play as the ghost to beat the team. The gameplay video so far showcases several bizarre ghosts to track down, capture, and play as if you want to cause some havoc. This new entry to the Ghostbusters franchise is earmarked as a Q4 release for 2023.
This year, unless there are any delays, Harry Potter, Ace Ventura, Avatar, and Ghostbusters will all be coming to gamers across the many platforms of the medium. Given the backing of the projects and the strength of the movies that they’re drawn from, 2023 could go down as one of the few years where movie-based video games were rather good.