From one screen to another: bringing video games to the small screen

The Last of Us has everyone talking, but it’s not the first game-turn-TV-show that deserves our attention. 

From one screen to another: bringing video games to the small screen

Video games have evolved into a powerful medium of storytelling. They’ve often been popular sources of TV and film adaptations and allow fans to see their favourite characters in a fresh light. While there have been many failed attempts, there are those creative projects that have transcended beyond the realm of gaming. Adaptations of video games to film and TV have become increasingly more common over the last ten years. With HBO Max’s The Last of Us, big budget, high production being the most recent game-turn-TV-show that has everyone talking. 

In that spirit, here is a list of my top 5 favourite game adaptations to date.

5.  CyberPunk: Edgerunners

Gloriously stylish and seeped in beautiful visuals, Edgerunners is a show that starts with a slow pace as you're introduced to the dystopian world of Night City. Night City is where dangerous gangs flirt with cyber psychosis as they continually seek to upgrade and evolve their blistering array of cybernetics. 

While violent, brutal and filled to the brim with sex and nudity, this story follows a boy named David as he’s forced to join a gang to survive the dangers of Night City. The show is surprisingly heartfelt and tugs at your heartstrings in all the right ways. For those who love anime and eye-popping visuals, this one’s for you.

4. Sonic

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie got off to a rough start. But it’s not how you start but how you finish. A CGI image of Sonic was revealed before the film's release, which had the fans in an uproar over the quality of the unfinished form of everyone’s favourite hedgehog. The filmmakers returned to the drawing board and redesigned Sonic into a far more recognisable and aesthetically pleasing character, much to the appreciation of long-time fans.

The movie centres on sonic as he is on the run from the nefarious Dr Eggman, played by the excellent Jim Carrey. Sonic hides on earth and becomes friends with Tom Marsden’s character Tom Wachowski. As they pair Dr Eggman and his evil schemes, they learn about the importance of friendship and teamwork in this heartwarming and family-friendly movie that will have you reaching for your old Sega console. 

3. Castlevania

Vampires. Monsters and magic. What’s not to love? Castlevania is an animated show developed by Powerhouse Animation based on Konami’s famous Castlevania games. The creator Warren Ellis stated that the show's artistic style was heavily influenced by Ayami Kojima’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Following the adventures of Trevor Belmont, the last of a bloodline of monster hunters, he is the last hope of Wallachia (what is now Romania) as they endure the terrifying and unstoppable demon hoard that Dracula has unleashed upon the world. This show stands out because of the nuance given to its leading villain: Dracula. He’s a character gripped by grief as he mourns the loss of his wife and, as such, is hellbent on seeking revenge. The first episode is one of the greatest introductions to a series I’ve ever seen. Combining visceral action, beautiful aesthetics and a surprisingly emotional story, Castlevania is a show that should be watched by anyone who’s a fan of video games or horror.

 2.  Pokemon

Arguably the most iconic of all video game adaptations, the Pokemon games made by GameFreak have spawned 25 seasons of a TV show that still remain popular today. Following everyone’s favourite Pokemon Trainer, Ash Ketchum, the show follows Ash and his friends as they explore a world steeped in mystery. Ash seeks to become a Pokemon Master by capturing powerful Pokemon and training them to defeat the countless rivals he encounters. The troublesome trio of Team Rocket seek to capture Pikachu and are a long-time staple of the series. 

The heartfelt messages within each season about friendship, teamwork, and perseverance and the creative Pokemon designs have made the show stand the test of time. The TV show adaptation has become almost as famous as the video games. Each new rendition of the series is yet another opportunity to bring another generation of gamers into the Pokemon franchise. 

1. Arcane

Based on Riot games League of Legends MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), Arcane took Netflix by storm. With a critically acclaimed first season that followed a host of characters in the fictional cities of Piltover and Zaun, characterised by the haves and the have-nots. The show follows Vi, a courageous yet rebellious criminal, searching for her lost sister Jinx amidst a growing conflict that sees loyalties tested and bloodshed.  

Arcane has an amazing visual style that flourishes with artistic flair and incredible characters, all of which have been brought to life from League of Legends in a way never seen before. It’s a show for everyone, regardless of whether you play League of Legends or not. It was truly a masterpiece in visual design and storytelling that writers will analyse for years to come. Very rarely does something as fresh and exciting as Arcane grace the TV screens anymore, and I greatly look forward to the release of its second season.

Header Image Credit: Ben Griffiths Unsplash


Magellan Dissanayaka

Magellan Dissanayaka

Magellan is a writer and personal trainer by trade. Like all writers, he has a flair for the dramatic and enjoys creative pursuits such as literature, film and games. He studied Counselling and Psychotherapy at university and is currently studying an MA in Novel Writing. When Magellan isn't working on his novel, he's training martial arts, where he's been a practitioner for 10+ years.

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