Back Then ...
Back in the bad old days, seemingly every movie had a videogame launching right alongside it. The problem was that they were basically all the same. Side scrolling platformers where you usually got to shoot bad guys and run and jump through a dozen levels that sort of resembled scenes from the movie using characters that only barely looked like the actors they were supposed to. You can look back at the SNES/Genesis days and see dozens of games exactly like this. The PSX era was much the same just with prettier graphics. It wasn't until GoldenEye on the N64 that games with movie licenses started getting any kind of respect.
The Current Movie Game Boom
Which brings us to today. Not only are movie games a lot better as a whole than they used to be but some of them are among the best games on the market. No longer are movie games doomed to a formulaic rehashing of the same engine. Now movie games actually have their own identities and, gasp, unique gameplay elements. Developers have also learned that gamers dont necessarily want a frame-by-frame retelling of the same story from the movie. Side stories and seeing things from a different perspective allow games to expand and improve upon what you see in theaters to create a more fully fleshed out storyline and characters that you cant really get in a two hour movie.
Videogames and movies now go hand in hand rather than being separate parts of the same thing. And it isnt just about cashing in on a hot license anymore although that still does happen quite a bit. Movie games are now used to enhance the movie going experience and this new focus makes both the game and the movie better. Occasionally, youll even have a really great videogame version of a horrible movie which really shows you how far movie games have come in terms of quality.
The Bottom Line
In my article on videogame movies here I said that the reason why Hollywood cant do videogames justice is because they try to make a clichéd videogame movie rather than just trying to make a good movie. This is a lesson that videogame developers have already learned. Rather than cranking out the same game with a new skin every time, developers actually try to build a game that is good without the license and then make it great when they work the license into it.
Now when a new movie game is announced gamers can get excited about it rather than cringe. Original IPs are still the lifeblood of the industry, of course, but licensed games have earned their spot on store shelves and in game collections. And the best part is that things should only get better as we move into the next generation of game systems.