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The best video games that were transformed into shows or movies

Alvina Wang/BestReviews

'The Last of Us' and other top video game adaptations

In 2023, HBO Max premiered "The Last of Us," a TV series based on the bestselling third-person video game released a decade ago for PlayStation 3. The first episode attracted 4.7 million viewers, making it the streaming service's third-highest debut ever.

While this was great news for HBO Max, it's hardly a first. TV shows and movies based on video games have been around since the last millennium. Some of these video games as movies or TV shows were wildly successful, while others are best left forgotten. Here is a rundown of some of the iconic video games that made the leap to another screen.

Shop this article: Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath KollectionHalo: Infinite and Sonic: Frontiers

What makes a story idea marketable?

Story ideas can come from anywhere at any time. You could think of one while you are in the shower, walking, driving, reading a short story, reading a comic book, playing a video game or even while watching another movie or TV show. To be marketable, however, that story needs to contain a few specific elements. Ideally, it's a high-concept story with a well-defined conflict and relatable or intriguing characters with a satisfying conclusion. Beyond that, TV shows or movies based on a video game must fit cleanly in a genre and have a target audience.

Why Hollywood is interested in TV series and movies that are based on video games

Entertainment is an investment. TV shows and films are made primarily because someone believes they can make money off of them. Popular video games have already cleared many of the most important marketability hurdles. Namely, they have established an audience in a particular genre. In short, the target audience has already spent money on the games — so it's a good bet they will flock to well-made video game movies or become engaged with quality video game TV shows.

Why video games are great source materials for movies and TV shows

Besides the financial elements, such as a built-in audience, video games are uniquely suited for transitioning into film and TV shows for creative reasons. Video games have an established storyline with a specific quest or goal. Players are familiar and sympathetic to the character's plight, especially after having been the character themselves. Also, the style, fashion and other creative details have already been established — a wise creative team won't change a thing, like giving a hedgehog creepy teeth. In short, all the creative elements are there, so making video games into movies and TV series gives a production team a huge head start.

Best video games that became TV shows or movies

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Kollection

While the movies have been uneven, Mortal Kombat games have always been killer. In this outing, you get to play as Sheeva, Fujin, RoboCop, Spawn, Joker and more. There are also all-new iconic fatalities and stages. 

Monster Hunter: Rise

The film starred Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa, who must battle giant creatures with fearsome powers to survive. The game is set in Kamura Village, and players can hunt solo or at a party to earn rewards to become the ultimate hunter. 

Halo: Infinite

The 2022 Halo TV series was a hit. And why wouldn't it be? It was based on the classic first-person shooter game. In the Halo Infinite game, players get to don the armor of the greatest hero to help save humanity. 

Resident Evil: Village

There are so many Resident Evil films and TV shows that it's hard to keep track of the problems that nasty T-virus is causing. In this Resident Evil game, the eighth major installment in the series, players face new challenges, discover familiar faces and have new mysteries to solve. 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

While you might not have ever seen it, there was a TV series that aired way back in the late '80s. With this Zelda game, you can explore Hyrule like never before. Players can live off the land, scavenge weapons, make their own choices and face the consequences. 

Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet Double Pack

While it seems like the "Pokemon" anime series has been on TV forever, the video game actually came out one year before the series started. With these versions, Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet, you can take classes with teachers or embark on an independent study to gain new experiences and find treasure. 

Sonic: Frontiers

Not only has Sonic the Hedgehog inspired several animated shows, but there have also been two huge movies and a third to be released in 2024. In Frontiers, players race across five massive overworld islands that are filled with secrets and new challenges. The open zone platforming allows you to experience the game in a variety of new ways. 

The Last Of Us: Part II

The series started on HBO Max in 2023 and it's a big hit. Part II is a complex emotional story that will have you rethinking the difference between good and evil. Besides new groups of survivors, this game features horrifying evolutions of the infected. 

Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection

The 2022 blockbuster, "Uncharted," starred Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg in a thrilling treasure hunter adventure. This video game collection combines cinematic storytelling with highly immersive sights and sounds. You will feel as if you are living the experience. 

Super Mario 3D World and Bowser's Fury

The sequel to the recent Super Mario Bros. Movie is set to be released in 2024, and excitement for this stalwart from Nintendo endures. To get in the spirit, try this two-pack of popular games: Super Mario 3D World and Bowser's Fury. 

Assassin's Creed Origins

Origins marked a turning point in the Assassin's Creed video game series, with the evolution of the action-adventure stealth game into a riveting open-world RPG. In this installment, you explore Ancient Egypt and set the foundations of the Assassin's Brotherhood. 

Gran Turismo 7

This Gran Turismo game is the ultimate Real Driving Simulator, buoyed by the popularity of the 2023 film. It brings back fan-favorite modes including GT Simulation and Sport Mode. In this open-world game, you can share race strategies, tuning tips, livery designs and more with an international driving community while immersing yourself in automobile culture.

Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted

Although the movie tanked at the box office, this teen video game is massively popular. Players must survive minigames in which they're situated in a security guard's office, where they must withstand attacks from four homicidal animatronics while conserving power. 

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