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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Why most video game adaptations don’t work (And why some do) By: Holden Kodish (BIG H)


Hey y’all. Bit more casual Holden, coming at you with my opinions. But, as we all know, opinions are like assholes, we all have one, and most of them stink. So if you disagree with mine, comment, and tell me why!

Anyway, preamble aside, I want to talk about video games. More specifically, video game adaptions. In the next few months, two of my favorite game series are getting adaptions, those being Borderlands, and Fallout. Now, I haven’t seen these yet, just the trailers, but they’ve given me something to think about. Why did I get excited about the Fallout show, but am still nervous about Borderlands? I think it’s do to one thing, reliance on source material.

Now, Borderlands has always been one of my favorite series. As soon as I could play rated M games (at 18, thanks Dad) it was the first one I checked out. Well, Borderlands 2 was the first one, but you get what I mean. And I recently replayed it and still had just as much fun the 10th time as I did the first time. Whether that’s due to the writing, the gameplay, or the ability to shoot a bunch of mentally ill people, I’m not sure, but it all just works. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing Fallout since 4 was released. I remember trying to figure out with a friend where our school would be on the map. Turns out, it was over a vault. One where the vault dwellers were incredibly overworked (a bit of irony? Nah, probably just coincidence). But both franchises have a deep place in my heart.

Alright, enough of me talking about how I’ve wasted my life, and instead, let me talk about how I plan to waste my money! So, the Borderlands movie. Oh, the Borderlands movie. The movie appears to be doing some weird adaptation of both the first and second games (mostly the first, but we’ll touch on that later). Meanwhile, Fallout is being set in Hollywood, apparently making a new story set in the Fallout universe (They even referred to it as a non-playable Fallout 5). Now, these haven’t come out yet, but I feel confident in saying that of the two, Fallout will be the better one. In fact, I have heavy doubts about the quality of Borderlands.

Now, why do I not think Borderlands will be good? Thanks for asking! Well, as I mentioned before, they’re using a lot of the first game to write the plot. If you’ve played Borderlands 1, you know that, of all the games, it has the weakest plot. It’s not bad, just a bit boring. And they’ve decided to throw two characters from the second game, Tiny Tina and Krieg the Psycho, into this movie as characters. In return, we lose out on the Bird-Man Mordecai, and the third-best Character in the franchise (1 is Zane, 2 is Mr. Torgue, fight me nerds) Brick. Now already, I’m a bit hurt. You got rid of my boy for Krieg. I say that, and then remember I like Krieg. But, here’s the thing. I don’t think anyone is cast right. As in, they are all way older than I picture they should be in their first movie. These are vault hunters, people going up against dangerous outlaws, wildlife, and the occasional interdimensional monster (as one does). They should be young, both explaining their athletic prowess and giving you more room to grow this as a franchise. But I don’t think any of that will be an issue for fans. No, I think the problem will be that it sticks too close to the original story. Video games are, primarily, a user-driven experience. It allows us to play our own way, and make decisions however we want. Imagine if someone took that game you were playing, and said “Nope, you have to play it this way, and this way only”. That’s what a bad adaptation looks like.

Now, on the other side, you don’t want it to be completely baseless in its story. The Super Mario Movie (The one from the 80s) has a lot of faults, but one of them was that the writers and directors had never actually played Mario, and just did what they thought was cool. These franchises are important to people and clearly are liked for certain reasons.

This brings me to Fallout. Fallout is exactly what I hoped for when I saw the trailer. 50’s Americana mixed with post-apocalypse. But, they didn’t say “Hey remember Fallout 4, what if it was a movie?” No, instead, it seems that they’re creating their own little story in the Fallout universe, something that fleshes out and expands the concepts of said world. This means that we, as an audience, have no expectations of events, but we do have expectations of tone. The writers can make whatever they want to happen (Within Reason! No magic please. Save that for Elder Scrolls: The TikTok show) and as long as it fits that vibe, most fans will think it’s fine. Want proof? Look at Sonic 2. Both Tails and Knuckles were introduced, but neither required you to be a fan of the Sonic games to get. And, they took the speed and charm of Sonic and worked it into a movie that’s a unique story, while fitting the tone of the games.

While it’s easy to adapt a game beat for beat, it’s not what fans want. We want to see this world through a new lens, one we couldn’t get from the game while feeling like a game. Hopefully, I’m wrong about Borderlands, and it turns out to be great. I’m even more hopeful that Fallout is great too. But, what’s really important, what this whole thing has been building to is this: If they don’t shoot that 8-year-old girl in Sonic 3, I will be asking for a refund. Maria better gets executed. Shoot that bitch

So what do you think? Does my opinion stink? Will Borderlands and Fallout be good? Will they smoke that Maria pack? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. And until next time, “I don’t have a catchphrase yet”!

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