Literature-based video games?
June 20, 2006 2:04 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for video games based on literature.

I know about Devil May Cry (Dante), but do you know any video games more directly based on a work of literature, preferrably the classics? This upcoming Beowulf video game looks perfect.
posted by mattbucher to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's Romance of the Three Kingdoms (based on 14th-century Chinese tales of 3rd-century Chinese wars).

Also, American McGee's "Alice" (continuing the Lewis Carroll stories).
posted by mbrubeck at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2006

Below the Root is one classic example. Windham Classics did a bunch of others as well back in the C64 era (Swiss Family Robinson, Alice in Wonderland, and Wizard of Oz), but I'm having trouble finding informative links to them.
posted by wanderingmind at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

There have been quite a few games directly based on the Bible, many of them released by in the 8-bit era by the Wisdom Tree company.

Are comic books literature? Does it matter if the work of literature was a movie before it became a game?
posted by box at 2:21 PM on June 20, 2006

American McGee's Alice

Odyssey: The search for Ulysses

There are others based on books (fantasy, sci-fi, etc.) -- but these are the only 2 that I can think of that might qualify as classics.
posted by TonyRobots at 2:22 PM on June 20, 2006

It sure isn't a 'classic', but Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series got a game back in 1999.
posted by GeekAnimator at 2:25 PM on June 20, 2006

There was a SNES Lord of the Rings (or the Hobbit, I can't remember) game way back before the movies came out.
posted by cellphone at 2:38 PM on June 20, 2006

The Rainbow Six series are based of Tom Clancy novels, and of course there are a bunch of Lord of the Rings games.
posted by Orange Goblin at 2:42 PM on June 20, 2006

Some of the publicity for Genji: Dawn of the Samurai claims that it's based on The Tale of Genji. I can't see it, myself, though a video game with a poetry contest (? Maybe it was an art contest...) would be pretty neat.
posted by Jeanne at 2:49 PM on June 20, 2006

no one mentioned the da vinci code game?
posted by at 2:54 PM on June 20, 2006

Infocom's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is pretty classic.
posted by ori at 2:56 PM on June 20, 2006

Oh, and long the same line, William Gibson's Neuromancer
posted by ori at 2:58 PM on June 20, 2006

I don't have an answer to your question, but if you find a Proust-based video game, please let me know.
posted by jdroth at 2:59 PM on June 20, 2006

Theres a bladerunner game that was quite good. Does a game based on a movie based on a book count?
posted by atom128 at 3:04 PM on June 20, 2006

Armjoe, the fighting game based on Les Miserables. Really. You can play as Robo Valjean.

Moving into less obscure realms, the Suikoden series is loosely based on Water Margin. And most of Koei's games are based on history or literature- the Dynasty Warriors games are also based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and they released a Final Fantasy Tactics-like game called Saiyuki for the original Playstation which was based on Journey to the West.
posted by a louis wain cat at 3:08 PM on June 20, 2006

Dune and Dune II are RTS classics based in Herbert's literary setting.

Eternal Darkness featured a lot of Lovecraftian hoodoo, but I've never read much Lovecraft so I can't speak to the details. (For that matter, Shub Niggurath shows up in the original Quake.)
posted by cortex at 3:08 PM on June 20, 2006

Swiss Family Robinson was pretty rad. I had it as a child -- it was a text-adventure game with graphics. You were ... one of the elder boys, and Franz (the youngest?) followed you everywhere. It was pretty sophisticated; for example, you could you could cut aloe down (there'd be a little chopping sound effect, and then little pieces of aloe would appear on the beach or wherever) and then pick it up and put it on Franz's sunburn (kid seemed to always be sunburned, dunno why). You could get in the rowboat and cruise around in the water. Navigation was your typical N,NE,NW, etc stuff.

I don't know how close it held to the book, because I never read it. I was a big fan of the Disney movie in my youth, and I recall it being pretty darned close to that -- I'm not sure I ever encountered the pirates though (or maybe there was like a timer in which you had to get X tasks done before the pirates came? I dunno).

Like the other text adventure game I owned (Wishbringer), I never managed to beat it. Then again, I was like 8.
posted by fishfucker at 3:08 PM on June 20, 2006

There have been lots of Sherlock Holmes games. And I know there's a recent And Then There Were None game.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:28 PM on June 20, 2006

Wanderingmind's comment reminded me of the games published by Telarium: Fahrenheit 451, Dragonworld, and Rendezvous with Rama just to name a few.
posted by Janta at 3:30 PM on June 20, 2006

The Dark Eye is based on three of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories.
posted by justkevin at 3:41 PM on June 20, 2006

WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! *ahem* I mean to say that a lot of these are not based on works of literature, people.
May I suggest the wildly bad (and I say this from regrettable experience) Bible Adventures? There's a bunch of Robin Hood and King Arthur video games, too.
posted by boo_radley at 3:47 PM on June 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

I don't have an answer to your question, but if you find a Proust-based video game, please let me know.

Ditto Faulkner.
posted by ChasFile at 4:59 PM on June 20, 2006

The Dynasty Warriors Series is also based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
posted by mealy-mouthed at 6:37 PM on June 20, 2006

Suikoden was mentioned above, and from that series I'd recommend the first one and the sequel. Although they might appear outdated now graphically, I think they're still very good games. It's fun trying to gather all 108 members into your army and seeing your castle grow! (I wouldn't bother playing 3 and 4. The latest one I haven't played yet, so I don't know what's it's like.)
posted by misozaki at 6:54 PM on June 20, 2006

And there are a bunch of James Bond games, including awesome N64 game Goldeneye and, whatsitcalled, the one that lets you flash your Xbox. And there's a Godfather game.
posted by box at 7:30 PM on June 20, 2006

Just remembered a couple of others: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for NES, and, though it's apparently a terrible game, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, also for NES.

I don't have an answer to your question, but if you find a Proust-based video game, please let me know.

I would like to see that kind of thing too, but I'm not quite sure how it would even work. I mean, it's not surprising that things like Beowulf and Journey to the West get made into games, because the subject matter is all stuff that works well for the average video game. They both involve lots of monsters and adventure and fighting. Stuff like Proust and Faulkner, though- short of Zork-style interactive fiction(and anyone who tried to do that almost certainly would not be equal to Proust or Faulkner in their writing skills), how would you even translate that into an entertaining game? Maybe a Sierra/Lucasarts style adventure game would work, but even that seems iffy. Of course, this is assuming you don't just go the complete farce route, Armjoe style, and make, for example, a "The Sound and the Fury" action game with a demonic cyborg Jason Compson as the final boss.

On Suikoden, yeah, I thought 3 was a big disappointment also. I didn't even bother getting 4, which was apparently even worse, but I took a chance on 5 since I heard it was a return to form, and it actually is. I'm playing it now and really enjoying it. It really recaptures the same feel the first two had. Highly recommended if you like the Japanese style of RPG. (I should note, though, that the literary connection with Water Margin is very tenuous- the characters are completely different, and they're set in a fantasy world rather than ancient China. It's mostly the 108 characters thing, as well the fact that the plots tend to revolve around war in a way similar to the novel.)
posted by a louis wain cat at 8:20 PM on June 20, 2006

This IGN article is all about the influence of literature on video games. A lot of the titles already listed are mentioned. Does that God Of War game count? It has a lot of Greek myth stuff in it. And for that matter what about Kid Icarus?
posted by Kronoss at 8:32 PM on June 20, 2006

The Black Cauldron, based on the Disney movie, which was loosely based on the book by Lloyd Alexander.

An odd source for a Disney flick and even odder for a video game. Although it is one of the first PC games I played as a child.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:45 PM on June 20, 2006

I second the comment on Eternal Darkness. Though I dont remember any specific literary links as I played it years ago I know it played through very much like a novel. It was an excellent game, one of the most underrated on the Gamecube.
posted by Gaiwan at 9:56 PM on June 20, 2006

There's a couple of games released by Sierra based upon Raymond E. Feist's Krondor fantasy novels.
posted by dazed_one at 11:44 PM on June 20, 2006

Way back in the day, I dug these games based on Arabian and Greek mythology.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:44 AM on June 21, 2006

Don't forget Hamlet - The Text Adventure.
posted by kyleg at 6:47 PM on June 21, 2006

There's also Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth for some explicitly Lovecraftian gaming. Also, the Alone in the Dark games.

These are mentioned in the IGN article linked above.
posted by hoboynow at 1:19 PM on June 22, 2006

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