With the announcement that Netflix is bringing us a new “Carmen Sandiego” animated television series based on the popular series of PC games, it seems a brave new world could be upon us where our favorite video games could be turned in quality television programs.
As is no surprise to gamers, video games have been bringing us interesting stories, characters and worlds for decades, many of which would make for great television shows. With this in mind, CBR brings you its picks of classic PC games that deserve to be given new life as a Netflix show. All items in the list are classic PC games that have been selected for their popularity, storytelling and strength of concept.
15. DAY OF THE TENTACLE
The sequel to “Maniac Mansion,” “Day of the Tentacle” is a beloved point and click adventure game from Lucas Arts. Like other point and click games to come out of Lucas Arts — such as the “Monkey Island” series and “Sam and Max Hit the Road” — the game had a fairly wacky and unhinged sense of humour. For starters, the game featured an evil purple tentacle as its antagonist and included time travel by way of the “Cron-o-John” — a time machine made out of a toilet!
“Maniac Mansion” did have a television show based-off it that ran from 1990 to 1993; however, the television series was only loosely based on the game and ended before “Day of the Tentacle” was released, so it was never able to bring that story to the screen. With its strong sense of humor and irreverent sensibility, “Day of the Tentacle” would no doubt be a hit as a Netflix animated series.
14. ODDWORLD: ABE’S ODDYSEE
“Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee” was the first entry in the popular “Oddworld” series of games. The side-scrolling puzzle-platformer mixed a dystopian science fiction setting with a strong sense of dark comedy and crude humor. In the game, you play a Modokon named Abe, who is an employee of the food company “RuptureFarms.” After finding out the company plans to turn all of its Modokon employees — and by employees, we do mean slaves — into a new fast-food treat called “Modokon Pops,” Abe goes on a quest to save his downtrodden people.
With its strong visual sensibility and world building, “Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee” would do well as an animated or live action series. Whether it be through its existing science fiction shows — like “Stranger Things” and “Sense 8” — or its superhero shows — like “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” — Netflix has built itself a reputation for creating quality genre television. We would be over the moon to see “Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee” join the ranks as one of the streaming service’s genre shows.
As well as being punishingly hard, the two dimensional adventure game “Loom” brought us an original and intriguing fantasy world. In the game, you play the awkwardly named Bobin Threadbare, a member of the magical “Guild of Weavers.” Like other members of the guild, Bobbin can alter the world around him by playing magical tunes — known as “Drafts” — on his Distaff.
Not only would a “Loom” television series make for an intriguing and highly original fantasy show, it would also help fill in a gap in Netflix’s roster of shows; while the streaming service has plenty of other genre shows, it is severely lacking when it comes to fantasy. With “Game of Thrones” about to enter its penultimate season, a new fantasy show could rise and fill the gaping whole left by the show’s impending departure. Maybe, just maybe, that show could be “Loom.” If nothing else, given Bobbin’s hooded appearance, he would be relatively easy to cast!
12. THEME HOSPITAL
Cult classic hospital simulator, “Theme Hospital,” brought together the skill and strategy of a business simulator as well as a strong comedic sensibility to create a unique and highly enjoyable gaming experience. The game put you in the shoes of a hospital manager tasked with operating and expanding various struggling hospitals. Rather than being dry and clinical, the game was a whole bunch of fun and saw you treating an array of wacky diseases like invisibility, third degree sideburns, haryitis, jellyitis and bloaty head.
The game’s kooky and sometimes dark sense of humor would make it the perfect fit for a Netflix animated series. Through shows like “Bojack Horseman,” Netflix has already shown that it is unafraid to take on more abstract and darker animated projects. Although the game was without a strong story-line, its tone as well as its roster of hilarious fictitious diseases are the perfect story fodder.
11. X COM: UFO DEFENSE
The original “X-Com: UFO Defense” was a brutally hard strategy game. The game saw you take control of the titular X-Com — a research and military operation that was mankind’s last defense against a rising alien threat. Since the original 1994 game, the series has been rebooted but has kept the core premise of allowing you to take control of X-Com and mount mankind’s last stand against a mysterious extraterrestrial threat. It’s an intoxicating premise, one that would make it perfect for a live-action adaption on Netflix.
Although the game’s story would need some reworking to be engaging in an episodic format, “X-Com: UFO Defense’s” universe and rich lore are ripe for the picking. Perhaps the most challenging element of creating a television series based on “X-Com: UFO Defense” would be creating a cast of complex, interesting and diverse characters, as the game is populated by generic soldiers devoid of much personality.
10. AGE OF EMPIRES
Although it may not seem like an obvious fit, historical real time strategy series “Age of Empires” has the potential to be a great Netflix series. The game saw you take control of one of 12 civilizations — each with its own strengths and weaknesses — and spanned the stone age right up until the rise of the Roman Empire. Its sequel — “Age of Empires II”– covered the dark ages, middle ages and medieval periods.
Without the burden of being bound to a specific time period or characters, an “Age of Empires” Netflix series could be huge and sprawling in its scope, with the ability to tell all sorts of interesting stories from different periods in human history. With this in mind, it becomes obvious that “Age of Empires” would make a great Netflix anthology series. The game’s historical bent would also gel well with the streaming service, which already makes historical dramas such as “Marco Polo” and “The Crown.”
9. COMMAND AND CONQUER
Real time strategy game, “Command and Conquer,” was first released in 1995 to critical acclaim and commercial success. The game was set in an alternative history where two factions — the Global Defense Initiative (GDI) and the Brotherhood of Nod — battled it out for control of Europe and Africa.
“Command and Conquer” — and most of the games in the series that followed it — utilized full motion video. The original game’s full motion video used the game developers as actors while later instalments in the series, particularly “Command and Conquer: Red Alert,” hired well known actors like George Takei and Tim Curry. Although the gameplay was always fairly serious, these full motion video cut scenes were not and were often deliberately over-the top and low budget in appearance. With “Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Return” making waves on Netflix, it is clear that a lower-budget sensibility combined with humor has a place on the streaming service. Perhaps this means there is a place for a “Command and Conquer” series?
Blizzard’s frantic top-down role playing game, “Diablo,” is as rich with story as it is with blood splatter. Set in a world caught in the crossfire between heaven and hell, “Diablo” saw you take the role of an unknown hero as you set forth to free the land from the demonic reign of the demon Diablo. The game combined elements of fantasy role playing games with horror to create an addictive and engaging gaming experience.
“Diablo’s” unique and rich fantasy setting could be adapted to create a fantasy horror mini-series for Netflix. Although the show would need a protagonist who is more engaging than the game’s blank slate of a playable hero, all the ingredients are there for a great show. Throw in the fact that the game has a huge fan following who would no doubt follow the franchise onto Netflix, and you may have a new hit series on your hands.
7. HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC
The “Heroes of Might and Magic” series was a role-playing game unlike any other. Although the turn-based strategy game did put you in control of heroes who had abilities that could be trained and levelled up, “Heroes of Might and Magic’s” main focus was on upgrading bases and recruiting a diverse roster of fantasy creatures to fight for you. The game had an addictive “Pokemon” quality to the game-play, all backed up with a rich fantasy setting.
With shows like “Game of Thrones” proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that well executed fantasy shows can appeal to a mass audience, it is clear that in the right hands, “Heroes of Might and Magic” could be a real hit. Although the series’ fantasy setting is quite eclectic — featuring creatures like unicorns, skeletons, lizardmen and everything in between — it could be streamlined to create a focused and very human show.
6. DUNGEON KEEPER
Real time strategy game “Dungeon Keeper” put you in charge of a fantasy dungeon. The game inverted popular fantasy tropes by making the player the bad guy, forced to protect their dungeon from waves of heroes intent on stealing their gold and killing their minions. “Dungeon Keeper” was created by legendary game developer Peter Molyneux and shares the DNA of his previous so-called “god games.” The game gave you a lofty view over your subterranean kingdom and allowed you to pick up and place minions with your mouse.
Although it may not be epic fantasy material, “Dungeon Keeper’s” interesting premise and quirky sense of humor — a staple of most of Molyneux’s games — means it would make for a solid animated series on Netflix. Like a lot of the entries on this list, “Dungeon Keeper” would require a bit of tweaking and the addition of a main character in order to work as a series, but the core concept is so strong and well fleshed out that we have no doubt the game is a rich mine of stories.
5. SID MEYER’S ALPHA CENTAURI
“Sid Meyer’s Alpha Centauri” was a science fiction epic brilliantly distilled into video game form. A spiritual successor to the highly popular “Civilization” series of games, “Alpha Centauri” energized the formula with a futuristic setting and the introduction of sci-fi technologies. As well as seven interesting human factions — which all possessed their own unique and conflicting ideologies — the game also featured two alien factions and a tangled web of intricate science fiction lore.
Unlike a lot of other strategy games on this list, “Alpha Centauri” wouldn’t take too much tweaking to make a great Netflix show. The game already has a complex high-concept story — akin to the works of Stanely Kubric and Arthur C. Clarke — as well as a cast of interesting characters. To say that the “Alpha Centauri” universe is rich with story potential is an understatement; it is absolutely overflowing with story and could easily sustain multiple 13 episode seasons on Netflix.
4. DEUS EX
As any fan of the series will tell you, “Deus Ex” is in dire need of a small screen adaption. Although it has had two next-gen sequels, the original “Deus Ex” came out in 2000 and played as a mix between a science fiction shooter and a stealth game. Although the game put a huge emphasis on player choice and allowing players to solve problems their way — a potential problem when trying to create a linear narrative for a Netflix series — the game also featured rich lore and an interesting setting.
“Deus Ex” is classic cyberpunk and deals with issues surrounding humans and technology, particularly human cybernetic augmentation. With these issues slowly creeping their way into modern life, it is clear that a “Deus Ex” show wouldn’t just be very entertaining, it would also be timely. Sure, it might require a hefty budget to pull off the game’s futuristic setting and nanotech-augmentations, but surely it would be worth it.
Game developer Blizzard has a talent for story, and their 1998 real time strategy game “Starcraft” was no exception. The game featured three playable races: the human “Terran,” the ancient “Protos” and the insect-like “Zerg.” Each of these races had its own huge range of units, its own tactics and its own unique lore. As we have come to expect from Blizzard, the game also featured a complex cast of characters.
Given the game’s epic scope and story, “Starcraft” could easily sustain multiple seasons of a Netflix series; however, the game’s emphasis on the different playable races means it could also make a great set of miniseries, with each miniseries focusing on a different race. Although a live action adaption could be done, “Starcraft” would probably work based as a computer animated series. Not only could this mean Blizzard could animate the series like they did with their excellent “Overwatch” shorts, it would also be the best way to bring the game’s unique visual style to life.
2. KING’S QUEST
It’s about time the legendary “King’s Quest” got the attention it deserved. The long-running, highly popular series first debuted with the graphic adventure game “Kings Quest I” in 1984. In this first “King’s Quest” game, you played as Sir Graham, a young knight tasked with finding three legendary treasures to save his home kingdom of Daventry. As a reward for his efforts, on completion of the quest, Graham is crowned the king of Daventry. The name “King’s Quest” had to come from somewhere, right?
Although the charming puzzle-solving adventure game is certainly not going to be the next “Game of Thrones,” it has the potential to be the next “Dragons: Race to the edge” or “Dinotrux.” The game’s straightforward fantasy setting and Graham’s clean-cut heroics would make it a perfect fit for an all ages animated series. Plus, the game’s many sequels and the recent reboot means “King’s Quest” has plenty of story ideas on offer. Your move Netflix!
1. THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND
“The Secret of Monkey Island” has it all; humor, dark magic, pirates (obviously) and possibly the catchiest theme tune man has ever created! The game first debuted in 1990 and saw you take on the role of Guybrush Threepwood — a lovable loser and self-styled mighty pirate. Through a combination of thievery, skill, humour and sheer luck, Guybrush manages to win the respect of his fellow pirates. Oh, and did we forget to mention all the insult based sword play?
If the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise has taught us anything, it’s that pirates are profitable; like, five blockbuster movies profitable! With all this sweet pirate money floating around, it only seems fair that Netflix wets its beak with a swashbuckling series of its own. What better untapped pirate property is there than “The Secret of Monkey Island!” Although we would love a full series, surely a “Monkey Island” miniseries isn’t too much to ask of the Nextflix gods!
Which old school PC game would you like to see get the Netflix treatment? Let us know in the comments!