The Most Interesting Video Game Crossovers of All Time

Without a doubt, the leading sector in the entertainment industry is gaming. Over the last decade, platforms like Twitch and YouTube have helped launch eSports into the stratosphere. Not only are millions today gaming actively on PC, consoles, and mobile devices, but they’re also watching live eSports like traditional sports leagues.

Still, the idea of mixing video games with pop culture isn’t new. In fact, even during the early days of console gaming in the 1990s, there was a clear crossover between film, music, sports, and gaming—and even fashion, in some instances. In other words, a hit in one sector could lead to another.

This is particularly true for video games, as hit TV, film, and musicals are able to reach even more fans as games. The same is true in vice versa, with dozens of top video games now seeing rehashes on Netflix, Paramount+, and HBO. As the trend of turning video games into TV and film hits takes off, let’s move in the other direction, looking back at some of the biggest pop culture characters and stories that either failed or succeeded when re-released as games.

The Best in the Biz: Slots

Although not usually grouped under traditional video games, slots are the most popular casino title in the world. In fact, with the proliferation of the casino industry in the online environment, you’ll find that they offer dozens and dozens of slots. Many have pop culture themes and stories, which help attract players.

There are tons of examples, from Ellen DeGeneres-themed slots to action-adventure hits like Jurassic World (more on this below). The latter seems to be a very popular theme, as other hits like Jumanji and Game of Thrones have also gained steam in recent years. However, it’s true that pop culture slots run the gambit, from The Price Is Right to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

The Fan Favorite: GoldenEye 007

Let’s get a little more specific. While slots cover a huge range of pop culture themes, one of the greatest releases of all time was released for Nintendo 64 back in 1997. This hit stands out for a few reasons. First, it was one of the very first first-person shooter games, which transported players straight into the shoes of the main character.

Second, the game drew on the hit release of GoldenEye, in which Pierce Brosnan embodied James Bond. It let players participate in that world in a more real way than ever before. Third, and maybe most important, Nintendo’s release allowed up to four players to tackle a deathmatch mode, which was unprecedented at the time.

The Flop: Fight Club

If the first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about it, then the first rule about the 2004 PlayStation release of ‘Fight Club might be to pretend it doesn’t exist. Despite piggybacking on one of the greatest pop culture phenomena of the 90s, this release quickly flopped. Players and critics alike found little to like in the game’s fighting mechanics, while its graphics were also considered a huge letdown.

The Golden Whale: PUBG: Battlegrounds

The world’s second-most-played mobile game is PUBG Mobile, which is the mobile port of the PUBG: Battlegrounds PC and console release. Today, it’s regarded as one of the top hits in the eSports industry, with mobile, console, and PC leagues worldwide. However, few people realize where the project came from. 

It’s the brainchild of an avid gamer named Brendan Greene and a blockbuster Japanese film titled Battle Royale (2000). The film closely mirrors the game’s setup, pitting anonymous individuals against one another in a death-match scenario. The film was praised by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, who said it was the best film he’d seen in two decades back in 2009.

The Cult Classic: Shaq-Fu

Not all pop culture-inspired video games need to be austere. In fact, some originally flop and then find a second life as a cult hit. This is certainly the case with Shaq Fu, a release for Sega Genesis back in 1994. The title took the worst elements of fighting games, then rebranded them slightly with Shaquille O’Neal as its main hero. The result is what many hailed as one of the worst video games ever released. Despite this, it remained popular enough with gamers that there was a second release in 2018, titled Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn.

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