A Guide to Movie-Based Video Games, 1982-2000 by Christopher Carton Review

During its infancy, and throughout the next two to three decades, gaming both borrowed from and assisted its peer, the movie industry. In those days, it seemed like absolutely every big movie received its own video game adaptation, which allowed fans to extend their time in said universes by bringing the stories and worlds home with them. Furthermore, releasing a video game tie-in alongside a blockbuster film was just good business sense, because — especially when rushed or given poor development budgets — they could bring in a lot of additional money for all concerned. Therein resided one of the main problems with these things: while some were good (like Super Star Wars, Goldeneye, Aladdin and The World is Not Enough), the genre itself was notoriously flawed due to low budgets and rushed development periods; so much so that it became a joke. People looked down on movie-based video games because of this, and often avoided them, which is one of the reasons they started to die out over a decade ago. However, I personally played and completed quite a few of them.

In this summer’s A Guide to Movie-Based Video Games, 1982-2000, author Christopher Carton chronicles almost two decades’ worth of licensed and movie-based games. This includes, but is not limited to, all of the many James Bond games that released during that time, the plethora of Star Wars titles that hit both arcades and home consoles, and everything to do with the likes of Disney. For folks like me, who grew up during this era and rented a lot of movie-based games, it’s a trip down memory lane. One filled with lots of nostalgia for better days and times.

The more than 300 video games listed within this guide range from arcade units to console games for PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Each one has its own entry and blurb, with the latter generally just being a paragraph describing what the game was like and how it played. Some even have screenshots attached, but nowhere close to all of the games do. However, when it came time to talk about the iconic releases, like 1997’s Goldeneye 007, more space was reserved for a lengthier blurb and added information. Don’t expect much more from this book, though, because its title tells you exactly what it is: a guide.

There’s little in the way of emotion, opinion or creativity found within here, which is okay, but it leaves the book feeling like more of a basic encyclopedia than anything else. Nothing about it really stands out, outside of the sheer number of games that are mentioned within. This is both good and bad. For starters, it allows its core goal to be achieved, because the result is a pretty in-depth guide of movie-based games from 1982-2000. However, on the other hand, there’s little else to it, which makes you wonder what people will buy it for. With the Internet at our disposal, how will this book stand out as a need in 2023? As interesting and well researched as it is, who will buy it? That’s an issue that I believe Christopher Carton and his book will come across.

For the most part, A Guide to Movie-Based Video Games, 1982-2000 is a pretty well written encyclopedia of licensed games from that era. However, in the early, pre-publication version I received parts were missing. By that I mean that it seemed like the odd blurb was missing, leaving a few games with titles and only that. Surely this has been addressed prior to print, though.

If you’re someone who grew up playing licensed and movie games on your Atari, Nintendo consoles/handhelds, SEGA devices, PCs or PlayStations then you will likely find this guide of interest. However, most of the provided information is readily available on the Internet. Given that this book is listed at $71.99 (Canadian dollars) on Amazon, I find it hard to really recommend. It’s fine, but it doesn’t stand out.

This review is based on a copy of the book that we were provided with. Thank you to NetGalley, Pen & Sword and White Owl. Receiving a free, early copy did not sway our opinion.

A Guide to Movie-Based Video Games, 1982-2000 by Christopher Carton Review
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