L’anime “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” est l'une des meilleures adaptations de jeu vidéo de ces dernières années, au succès critique et commercial retentissant.

Finally a happy marriage between video games and their adaptations?

For a long time stormy, the relationship between video games and their adaptation to the small and big screen finally seems to go hand in hand… for better or for worse?

Since the first attempt in 1993, video game adaptations seem to have finally found common ground with the original works. A retrospective look at a relationship that, fortunately, has been maintained and improved over time.

I love you, neither do I

It could not be otherwise: the first adaptation of a video game, dating from 1993, was nothing less than a Super Mario Bros. in a live action formula. The mustachioed Italian plumber, who is one of the most famous video game mascots in the world, was going to be played by a flesh and blood actor in the cinema.

The prospect was something to celebrate, but the dream took a different… turn. In complete freedom, with no help from Nintendo and very limited technically, the film was a critical and commercial flop ($39 million in revenue vs. a total cost of $49 million). Apart from some recognizable (but poor quality) costumes, the play had no adaptation except for the name.

The first attempt to marry the video game and the cinema clearly left a lot to be desired.© Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

It could all have ended there, because the goal of a business is ultimately to make money, not lose it. But 1994 and 1995 saw the release of two more iconic franchise adaptations: Street Fighter Y mortal Kombat. If the commercial success this time was there, these two adaptations of very popular fighting games had everything nanar. A cast unknown to the battalion (other than Jean-Claude Van Damme or Christophe Lambert), unconvincing special effects, and understated intrigue have created works we love as much as we hate.

But the award for the worst adaptation is indisputably for a certain Uwe Boll. Counting on taking advantage of names from well-known licenses, the German director (a boxer in his spare time) has made very mediocre films that have no relation to the games from which they are taken. The critical and commercial ruling was obviously final. We can cite in this sad list Alone in the dark, very far Where House of the Dead.

Other directors have fortunately accomplished the feat of faithfully applying cinematic codes to video game titles. This is particularly the case for silent Hillfrom French Christophe Gans (Wolf pact), released in 2006. A true fan of games, the filmmaker knew how to transfer the essence of the Konami license to the big screen. He, too, will soon return to this horrible world that he loves so much with a film adaptation of the legendary silent hill 2.

Over time, the delicate exercise of exporting a video game to the big screen seems to have found a profitable formula. Indeed, these last few years have seen beautiful adaptations flourish, gaining great appreciation from both critics and the public.

Going back to the most famous video game mascots, the two films Sonic the Hedgehog (2020 and 2022) offered the right balance between American-style comedy and a faithful representation of the universe of the speedy blue hedgehog, all with record billing ($321 million for the first film and $402 million for the second).

A project that comes from afar, because the fans had rebelled against the original and more “realistic” appearance of Sonic, so it was modified to achieve the result we know today. The films also owe this success to a solid cast led in particular by Jim Carrey, and some spectacular special effects thanks to the modernization of techniques in this field.

In addition to the movies, it is above all the series adaptations that have been delighting the public lately. Netflix holds sway at this point with two productions that are undoubtedly among the best in its catalogue, or even among the best adaptations of the period. Arcanepulled from League of Legends and animated by the French studio Fortiche, received an Emmy Award and Cyberpunk: Edge Runnerspulled from cyberpunk 2077 and animated by the Japanese studio TRIGGER, it received wide acclaim from critics and audiences. Such a unanimous success that this year’s big Game Awards ceremony added a category especially dedicated to the best video game adaptations, with, unsurprisingly, these two shows competing (in addition to the excellent the cuphead showagain on Netflix).

The fruit of this success stems in particular from the fact that the two series were made in conjunction with the studios behind the original games, Riot Games and CD Projekt RED. A close collaboration that was extremely profitable for both media, since the success ofArcane Y edgerunners led to a great resurgence in the popularity of League of Legends Y cyberpunk 2077. Same observation for The Wizard (however, adapted from the books by Polish novelist Andrzej Sapkowski), still on Netflix, and the fantastic the witcher 3 by CD Project RED. A reciprocal enthusiasm also motivated by the integration in the games of references to their adaptations through downloadable content.

With Cyberpunk: Edge Runners, Arcane it is the most brilliant example of a successful adaptation, which has intrigued many viewers to the point of wanting to try the game from which it is taken.

Of course, there are still some hiccups within this much better overall relationship. The adaptation of monster hunter in 2020 by Paul WS Anderson reflects his work on the franchise resident demon : mediocre. Speaking of resident demonthe movie Welcome to Raccoon City or even the eponymous Netflix series perpetuate the tradition. Obviously, Capcom isn’t as lucky as others when it comes to adaptations of their games. Same observation for the series. aura at Paramount, very disappointing in more ways than one, despite the contribution of 343 Industries.

A happy and lasting relationship over time?

Although still quite hazy, the future for video game adaptations looks bright. Among the most anticipated is the series The last of us on HBO. All the ingredients seem united in any case: a moving game with a plot cut for exercise, a cast starring notably Pedro Pascal (Joel) and Bella Ramsey (Ellie), and a hand in hand between Neil Druckmann, game writer , and Craig Mazin (Chernobyl).

The Serie The last of us It looks like a very promising adaptation.

Under the PlayStation Productions label, Sony is planning other ambitious adaptations of its flagship licenses. Among other things, we hope God of War either destiny (Sony acquired Bungie a few months ago.) Other big names in video games should reach our screens in the more or less distant future, such as mass effect on the Amazon side, as well as fallDirected by Jonathan Nolan. A solid metal gear starring Oscar Isaac is also somewhere in a box and waiting just around the corner.

Of course, the adaptation that attracts the most attention is undoubtedly the animated film. Super Mario Bros.., made in close collaboration with Nintendo and featuring a five-star voice cast including, but not limited to, Chris Pratt and Jack Black. A highly anticipated production, announced -given the reactions around the latest trailer- as the exact opposite of its namesake, the first adaptation of a video game to the big screen released 30 years earlier. Is the circle about to close?

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