Posts Tagged ‘The Hobbit’

The 10 Best Games Based On Books

Books! They’re like films without pictures, or games that are all cutscene. Old people and hipsters really like them, teenagers think they’re like totally lame, and quite frankly we should all read more of them. There are countless games inspired by books – most especially Tolkien, Lovecraft and early Dungeons & Dragon fiction – but surprisingly few games based directly on books. Even fewer good ones.

Perhaps one of the reasons for that is that a game can, in theory, cleave closer to what a book does than a film can – with their length and their word counts, their dozens of characters and in some cases even their own in-game books, they can to some degree do the job of a novel. They don’t need to be based on books – and often they can do so much more, thanks to the great promise of non-linearity. Of course, the real reason for the dearth is that novels are so rarely the massive business a movie is these days. You might get a forlorn Hunger Games tie-in here and there, but suited people in gleaming office blocks just aren’t going to commission an adaptation of the latest Magnus Mills tale, more’s the pity.

I suspect that, over time, we’ll see the non-corporate side of games development increasingly homage the written word, but for now, these ten games (and seven honourable mentions) are, as far as I’m concerned, the best, and most landmark, results of page-to-pixel adaptation to date.

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What Are The Best Game Manuals?

The omnipresence of the Internet, together with the ease of modern control schemes, has all but eradicated the need for game manuals. Who needs a glossy paper booklet when they have Reddit and GameFAQs and YouTube? Who has time to read with such a gluttony of entertainment options available at their fingertips?

But game manuals and owner’s guides aren’t just about information. The best ones can be beautiful: cornucopias of concept art and comic panels, hives of witty one-liners, knots of clever prose intertwined with moments of weird. I want to talk about, if not the best, then at least my favourite manuals – and then I want to know about yours.

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Raised By Screens – Chapter 1: The Hobbit

I’ve written before about the games that ‘made’ me, but really that refers to a specific type of touchstone, the sort of game which informs the games I most enjoy today. There were many others whose formative effects are perhaps less certain, but at the time they seemed boundlessly important to me. They raised me. They helped fire a young imagination into life. They carried me away from problems at school and at home. They are, I suppose, family, and just like family, I don’t necessarily have to think they’re wonderful in order to know that they’re important.

This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to a memoir – dancing through the games I played as a child in the order in which I remember playing them, and focusing on how I remember them rather than what they truly were. There will be errors and there will be interpretations that are simply wrong, because that’s how memory works.

Whirr. Click. Squawk. A tape plays, a screen flickers into life, a memory is born. A first memory of a computer game, of an introduction to what computer games were.

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