Remember The Wizard, Nintendo’s big-screen effort that had more of an air of a marketing campaign for the Power Glove than it did an actual movie? Yeah, we didn’t think you’d remember it because to be fair, it was something that never should have happened. But hey, it was 1989, and terrible movies featuring kids with mullets were the in thing.

Photo by Kyle Nishioka / CC BY
They can only wish they were a part of one of the greatest retro gaming movies of all time.

Since that abysmal effort, things have gotten better, although in some cases, not by much. A few weeks back, it was the worst video game movie adaptations, but today, we’re leaving our movie critic hat at the front door as we take a look at some of the kitschy directorial masterpieces that were surprisingly enjoyable to watch.

Final Fantasy (2001)

Okay, so it’s not quite the live-action flick you were hoping, and some of you may even call into question its place on this list as a retro game but remember that this movie came out in 2001. That’s 17 years ago, people! Wow, it’s time to feel old.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within shocked us all with its sheer brilliance. Yes, it shouldn’t have worked, but for some reason, it did. And don’t lie, we all loved it. The plotline was, of course, predictable, and some of the characters stretched a little too far for the audience’s liking, but all in all, this was a solid effort that took a long time to beat. Some would even go so far as to say it nothing still has.

Tomb Raider (2001)

As one of the all-time classic video games from the 90s, Tomb Raider is one that gamers of a certain age grew up playing. So, when the announcement came that none other than Angelina Jolie would play the lead role in the big-budget 2001 movie adaptation, the gaming population of the world took a collective sharp intake of breath. What the what now?

Photo by Serhey Galyonkin / CC BY
There’ll never be another like her.

It’s safe to say that while the movie was a roaring success (thanks in part to its lead actress), it wasn’t what we expected. Most gamers thought it was going to be one of the worst movies of all time, but Jolie was magnificent as was Daniel Craig. Indeed, it was so good that they rebooted the franchise, but then you know all about that. Right?

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Now, here’s a classic game that no gamer anywhere on the planet thought a producer could make a movie based on, Mortal Kombat. And they were pretty much right about that. Mortal Kombat is another in the Double Dragon-style that is so good because the director and actors didn’t take themselves too seriously when shooting. Overacting was the order of the day, and boy, did the stars of this flick outdo themselves.

Modern-day directors of movies such as Assassin’s Creed would do well to look to the old-time classics and see how video game movies should be made — as tongue-in-cheek, leave-your-sense-of-reality-at-the-door-type movies. And Mortal Kombat is the perfect example.

Street Fighter (1994)

What do you get if you cross Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue and the greatest fighting video game of all time? You get a weird concoction of B-movie fodder that is strangely compelling and impossible to turn off. Like Super Mario Bros., we all waited with bated breath to see how this one would turn out because let’s face it: the video game had no story whatsoever. But despite its troubles, the movie was a massive success.

Director Steven E. de Souza tries too hard to engineer a meaningful plotline, and that’s why it’s so entertaining. Not enough fight scenes though.

The Ones That Got Away

Metal Gear Solid is on its way, and all we can say is wow. But what’s exciting about this is not the movie itself but that director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, is talking about how he would approach a live-action Zelda movie.

We have to see this happen, so we’re begging the gods of video games to make it so. If they can make Sonic the Hedgehog, then for sure, Zelda should be on the cards. No? And to see how they’d do it, how about a movie adaptation of Pac-Man or Pong or even Paperboy? We say this in jest, but the truth is that no video game is untouchable by studios these days. Could we see a big screen adaptation of Tetris? The mind boggles at how they’d manage that one.