Because you demanded it, “Rent-A-Hero” is finally becoming a movie! Yeah, we were fairly surprised to hear that a little-remembered video game from 1991 — that was never released outside of Japan — was in the works as a feature film. The original game followed a young man who ended up with armor that gave him super strength instead of the pizza he actually ordered. When the company who developed the armor wants him to pay for it, he decides to play hero (for hire) to help people in his city and be able to pay for the suit. The film version will take an Uber-inspired direction in terms of the hero-for-hire angle. Even with the modern update, we looked in the mirror, fixed our hair and said, “Really? That game?”
Like its 16-bit counterpart the Super Nintendo, the Sega Gensis is one of those all-time classic video consoles that launched dozens of classic franchises. Where’s the Hollywood love for “ToeJam & Earl”? Or “Mutant League Football”! There’s so many games, with bigger followings and potentially better premises for a movies, that could be adapted form the Genesis’ decade-long run. CBR decided to be constructive with our puzzlement over the choice to make “Rent-A-Hero” into a movie and spotlight the classic video games that should have definitely gotten the big screen treatment by now.
11. ToeJam & Earl
We’re going, to be honest here: there’s probably no way in today’s world that “ToeJam & Earl” could exist. The 1991 classic, featuring two aliens and a slightly unhealthy amount of cultural appropriation, would be met with raised eyebrows and some very reasonable concerns and criticisms. But that doesn’t mean the game wasn’t fun and innovative. It was, and many who played it still have fond memories. So much so that more than $500,000 was raised on Kickstarter just so that there can be the fourth edition for those that grew up loving these characters. The love for the game that still exists, and the fact that “ToeJam & Earl” was trying to be a parody and not a mean spirited slandering gives it an opportunity for redemption. And a film is just the thing to do that.
Think about it: The Mandarin in “Iron Man 3” and Vibe on CW’s “The Flash” were both characters that were questionably offensive in the comics. But in the hands of a skilled writer and director like Shane Black with The Mandarin, and intentionally(?) cheesy dialogue and a likable actor in Carlos Valdes, both characters broke through their objectionable past and became vital cogs in their respective properties. In the right hands, “ToeJam & Earl” could make for an excellent vehicle to send up the music industry. As long as the film steers away from the easy Justin Bieber jokes, we know we’d line up to see it.
10. Sewer Shark
Now, the odds are pretty good that if you’re reading a list post about Sega Genesis games that should have been made into movies by now, you’re aware of “Sewer Shark.” But if anyone is new here, allow us to explain: “Sewer Shark” was a game packaged with the Sega CD expansion, meaning that if you were foolish enough like some CBR contributors to purchase a Sega CD, you spent an awful amount of time playing this game. If you don’t know what the Sega CD is, just think of these two words: “Unnecessary” and “Expensive.” Congratulations. Now you’re all caught up. But as easy as it may be to make fun of the Sega CD, it’s worth noting that there were great games that came with it, “Sewer Shark” included. Featuring a cast of colorful characters, some awful acting in the numerous cut scenes, and a robot buddy that would make you regret everything bad you’ve ever said about Larry the Cable Guy, out of all the games on this list, “Sewer Shark” is the most deserving of the movie treatment.
For one, “Sewer Shark” is technically already a movie that just has a game stuck in it. The biggest problem with the Sega CD — besides, you know, the price tag, the lack of games, the fact that you had to figure out how to plug two giant AC adapters into the wall and pray that you didn’t set your house on fire — was that the developers went hog wild with full motion video. This was done to the detriment of the actual gameplay. By allowing “Sewer Shark” to be its dumb, goofy self, we’re allowing the game to become what it was always meant to be: A silly B-movie that SyFy would be proud to air alongside its “Sharknado” franchise.
9. Golden Axe
Do you like “Game of Thrones”? Of course you do. Of course! What kind of monster would you be if you didn’t? An ugly one that probably lives under a bridge, that’s what! But you’re not a monster, nor do you live under a bridge. You’re smart, beautiful, and reading our excellent entertainment publication in your leisure time, and for that we thank you. So, of course, you’re familiar with “Game of Thrones,” either through the hit HBO television show or from the annoyingly stalled out book series. (Someday, we will get Book Six. Some day…) Now imagine playing as Jon Snow in a side-scrolling action game, except Jon Snow is wearing as much clothing as the women on “Game of Thrones” often do, and you can’t move in three dimensions because that was hard to do in 1989. That’s “Golden Axe.” Now ask yourself the question everyone at CBR has been asking: “Why is this not already a movie?!”
Well, they’re working on it. In 2014 Sega announced that their intentions to adapt many of their games, “Golden Axe” included, into a feature film with Universal Studios. So how we got “Rent-A-Hero” before “Golden Axe” is crazy when you think about it. Because it’s a hop skip and a jump to pitching a “Golden Axe” film to fans of both “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (we’re just going to pretend those “Hobbit” films don’t exist) and “Game of Thrones.” Here, watch, we’ll do the pitch right now: “Golden Axe” is a film where hot, half-naked people beat up wizards and dragons for an 90 minutes. Also, there’s a dog.” See? Sold!
8. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Yes. “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” appeared on both the Genesis and the Super Nintendo, which was utter blasphemy at the time. But like “Mortal Kombat 2,” which also did the multiplatform thing, “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” was uncensored on the Genesis, meaning the correct version of the game was only available to those who praised at the altar of the Genesis and its weird three-button controller. (RIP, three-button controller. We all wanted “Street Fighter 2” so bad that you were shuffled off to an early grave, alone and unloved.) Unfortunately, “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” turned out to be a sleeper hit that only in recent years has gotten the recognition and attention it deserves. That could explain why the game hasn’t been adapted into a film, but in a world where “The Walking Dead” can be one of the biggest shows on television, it seems foolish to think that nobody’s stopped and tried to make this cult classic into a film.
With a wicked sense of humor and interesting twist on horror movie tropes, “Zombies Ate My Neighbors” could easily find a home next to “Warm Bodies” and “Shaun of the Dead” as sendups of the zombie horror genre. Considering that Disney now owns the property through its purchase of Lucasfilm (and subsequently LucasArts), the studio has a ready-made asset that they can plug into their movie machine, just in time for an upcoming Halloween or two. It seems silly not to already have this film floating around, ready, willing, and able to be played every October. Hey, if “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is a classic for the sentimental crowd, then a “Zombies Eat My Neighbors” film could be one for those who want to celebrate their favorite holiday in a slightly more gruesome fashion.
7. Castlevania: Bloodlines
OK. Real talk: We wanted to write “Castlevania” for every single entry, but most of you reading this are well aware that “Castlevania” has outlived not only the Sega Genesis but also the Sega that many of us remember as a company. But you might not be aware of just how different “Castlevania: Bloodlines” is from a story standpoint from the rest of the series, to say nothing of how great the game is on its own merits. Although the Belmonts and Dracula are loosely involved, “Bloodlines” follows the adventure of Quincey Morris’ son. “Who?!” Quincey Morris is a character from “Dracula” who is notable because he’s the only hero character that dies at the end of the book. (No. That doesn’t require a spoiler warning. The book came out in 1898. Relax.) What does matter, and makes the story so impressive, is Dracula’s niece revealed as the person responsible for World War I. Now that is a villain made for a movie.
In recent memory, there’s been a bunch of attempts at making “Castlevania” into a movie, with the guy who does the… let’s call them less than stellar… “Resident Evil” movies circling the project. (Seriously. How are there like seven “Resident Evil” films and not one “Castlevania” movie?) James Wan was also interested at one point, and Adi Shankar is reportedly working on an animated series. So far, though, no one has been successful translating the series to the screen, but we think if it ever happens, to give the franchise the best possible chance for success, they need to tap the storyline from this Genesis classic.
6. Road Rash
Before “Mad Max: Fury Road” was a thing, we had “Road Rash.” A violent street racing series where the goal was to win your race by any means necessary — up to and including using a cattle prod and nunchucks to take out the competition. So, you know, something the whole family can enjoy. Just imagine sitting down to play this game with your grandmother, and then having to explain to her why that “nice dirt bike driver” had to use a giant stick to beat the other driver to death instead of signaling for a left. Because of moments exactly like that one, the first “Road Rash” was a classic. So much so that it spawned numerous sequels including a forthcoming “spiritual successor” called “Road Redemption” funded through a Kickstarter campaign.
And since we all witnessed the glory that is “Mad Max: Fury Road,” imagine what a “Road Rash” movie might look like is a simple thing. Like “Mad Max” you don’t need any coherent plot, just a lot of impressive practical effects, a lead character that grunts and maybe says three things in the whole movie, and lots and lots of explosions. Come to think of it; we believe that we just described all of the “Fast and the Furious” movies before The Rock showed up in them. Hey, is The Rock available to do a “Road Rash” movie?
5. Mutant League Football
Imagine for a minute that everyone was OK with football players suffering traumatic head injuries and continued to give the NFL their money through stupidly expensive premium cable packages, tax payer dollars for stadiums the team could pay for on their own, merchandise and ticket sales, and by supporting the sponsors who support the league. Not hard to imagine, right? Now take that world to its logical conclusion, throw in a little Armageddon, and you have “Mutant League Football.” A football game without peer and one of those most fun sports games to ever be made. When was the last time the referee called a penalty in Madden for members of the other team crying? Hasn’t happened yet, you know why? Because “Mutant League Football” is a far superior football video game.
Now, this may surprise you, but “Mutant League Football” has crossed media platforms and ran as an animated series for a couple of years back in the early ’90s. It’s called “Mutant League,” and the intro to the show is probably one of the most ’90s things you can imagine. Considering we have “Ballers” on HBO, which provides us with the rare treat of a show about sports and athletes that’s actually entertaining, bringing “Mutant League Football” back as a film should be a simple matter of using “Ballers” as the template, and making it just 30 times more crazy. (And yes, we’re aware that The Rock is referenced in not one but two items on this list. Can you blame us? He’s in everything these days.)
4. Streets of Rage
Like “Golden Axe” and our following entry, “Streets of Rage” was a side scrolling beat ’em up, but arguably, way more popular than the other two games on this list. “Streets of Rage” had it all, a great soundtrack, a fun multiplayer mode, and an endless supply of colorful rogues to beat up. There was also a big bad at the end with an obnoxious laugh, because back in the early ’90s that was a thing all of the final bosses were supposed to have. Sadly, there hasn’t been any new additions to the “Streets of Rage” series since the Genesis went the way of the grandmother we used to play “Road Rash” with. But that doesn’t mean the game was any less entertaining, and it’s still fondly remembered to this day, with the second installment of the series often popping up on best of lists and other cheap attempts at nostalgia. (No judgment.)
“Streets of Rage” could easily be a franchise with the right studio. Three heroes rise to take back the streets from a tyrannical crime boss? Sure. Why not? But how’s this for progress: At the time, Blaze, one of the playable heroes in the game, was one of the first female video game heroes. Although things weren’t exactly perfect back then (Blaze was meant to appeal to teenage boys, not girls interested in gaming), a film franchise with Blaze as the lead hero could be compelling and unique in the crime fighting genre. All you need to do is look over to “Jessica Jones” on Netflix for what a “Streets of Rage” film could be like, and the way we see it? That looks pretty great indeed.
3. Altered Beast
Ah. One of the best games available for the original Genesis, pre-Sega CD that seemingly no one remembers. The odds are good that if you bought a Genesis when it first came out, you had “Altered Beast” as one of the games that came with the system. But when the other game packed with the system is “Sonic,” and “Sonic” was in all the TV commercials and advertisements, as well as the company mascot, you can be forgiven for not remembering that “Altered Beast” was there too. And, arguably that “Altered Beast” was the better game since “Sonic” didn’t get good until its second and third installment. Like “Golden Axe” and “Streets of Rage,” there was a flood of games like “Altered Beast” in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but none of them involved being sent on a mission from Zeus himself and turning into a giant monster to beat the crap out of your enemies. None of them.
And that’s why “Altered Beast” is perfect for a film. The story is excellent. A Roman soldier dies, gets tasked by Zeus to rescue Athena, and returns to life with the ability to take the form of all sorts of different monsters? Think of that amazing man-bear from the Russian “Guardians” trailer and the (moving) picture gets even clearer. As Stan Lee is famous for saying, “‘Nuff said.”
2. Jungle Strike
Sometimes you just need to blow things up. Of course, those things are three dimensional, and not part of a criminal endeavor, sure, but still, the desire is there. And so we have “Jungle Strike.” An incredibly fun game where you play a lone soldier taking on a bunch of terrorist hell bent on nuking America. Now stop for a second and ask yourself, “When was this game made?” If you thought it was any time recently, you would be wrong. “Jungle Strike” hit the Genesis in 1993, and was a follow-up to its widely successful predecessor “Desert Strike.” For sure, there were (and are) some concerns about the story and its content, which can be summed up with that not safe for work song from “Team America” that you can find on the internet in a matter of seconds. But if we’re just talking about the gameplay, you have to go pretty far to find a game that wasn’t more enjoyable for the Genesis that didn’t involve a fighting game or side-scroller.
Now, we know what you’re thinking, and we’re thinking it too: “Jungle Strike” has Michael Bay written all over it, and we couldn’t agree more. Explosions? Check? Jingoistic overtones? Check. The United States Military? Check! So one has to wonder why this game hasn’t been made into a movie. But here’s something to consider: If it can be proven that movies based on video games can be consistently good (“consistently” being the key word) we’ll see more companies dust off their IP and sell it to the highest bidder. Once that happens, as long as Michael Bay is around to terrorize our eyeballs with white noise for two hours, “Jungle Strike” has the opportunity of being made into a film.
1. Phantasy Star
Like “Castlevania,” Phantasy Star has also outlived both the platform and the company’s hardware division that spawned it. If you couldn’t play “Final Fantasy,” and nobody could say that who didn’t have a Super Nintendo until “Final Fantasy VII” came out for the PlayStation, you played “Phantasy Star.” Fondly remembered and criminally underappreciated, for many “Phantasy Star” was the RPG game of its time. Notably “Phantasy Star IV,” the final chapter of the initial series, which has also consistently appeared on “Best of” lists involving games made for the Genesis. If you were to do a search for “Phantasy Star IV,” you’d find no shortage of effusive praise from virtually every single video game media outlet.
The fact that the game is often considered one of the best RPGs of all-time, let alone one of the best Genesis games of all-time should be reason enough for it to have received the film treatment already. Given Hollywood’s efforts to find properties that they can continue to churn out sequels for a year after year, there’s no game better suited for the task than “Phantasy Star IV” and the larger Phantasy Star series. While other picks on this list would make for a fun, standalone films, if we’re looking at this list from the viewpoint of your typical MBA-type running a Hollywood studio, “Phantasy Star” is the surefire winner.
What Sega Genesis game would you like to see become a movie next? Let us know in the comments!
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