Ten Fictional Games We Wish Were Real

The games cinephiles want to play.

by | December 8, 2010 | Comments

After a long week on the job, we at RT like to curl up on the couch and play an exciting game of Wrestle Jam. Or perhaps tune in to a gripping Quiddich match on TV. What’s that you say? Those games don’t exist? Well, we wish they did. With TRON: Legacy hitting theaters, we’re compiling a list of fictional video games, board games, and sports from the movies that we wish we could play. You may wonder why we’ve omitted such films as The Running Man and Battle Royale from this list, but there’s a good reason: we may be sick puppies, but we don’t actually wish to watch human beings killing one another on television for our amusement. This is by no means a complete list, so feel free to let us know what fictional movie games you wish you could play in the comments!

Light Cycle battles
From: TRON (1982)

There’s been a few merchandised games for TRON, famously two arcade games that came out in the first few years after the movie’s release, the online adaptation of Space Paranoids, and a PC game called TRON 2.0, which came out in 2003 when it really seemed like the franchise was gone and forgotten. Though TRON: Evolution (out on December 7 for contemporary game systems) might reverse this trend, thus far no game has truly captured the visceral thrill of light cycle combat. Sleek, aerodynamic vehicles, sweet outfits, neon lights, and the open grid to criss-cross and zig-zag around. What’s not to like?

Wrestle Jam
From: The Wrestler (2008)

It’s understandable that Randy “The Ram” Robinson would look back nostalgically on his golden years as a pro wrestling superstar. However, at times Robinson seems trapped in the late 1980s. He rocks out to the likes of Cinderella and Ratt, and when he sits on his couch and picks up a controller, he sticks with the 8-bit games of his heyday. In fact, the Ram is pretty clueless about the ultra-realistic games of the modern era; when he asks a neighborhood kid what the hottest new game is, the Ram stumbles over the title (“Call It Duty 4?“). Wrestle Jam (a fictional game similar to the NES title Pro Wrestling) is more his speed. Despite its garish colors, jerky movements, and repetitive soundtrack, it’s a pixilated reminder that the Ram was once on top of the world. Plus, the 8-bit Ram can deliver his patented “Ram Jam” closing move without worrying about creaky knees or a bum ticker.

From: the Harry Potter series

Not just for injecting FX-heavy action set pieces into the Harry Potter movies, Quidditch is as close to an actual sport as you can get when you’re talking about a game played by fictional characters on flying broomsticks. In fact, enough real-life “Muggle Quidditch” leagues have sprung up over the last decade that college-level tournaments — governed by the International Quidditch Association, natch — aren’t uncommon. Not bad for a game whose ingredients include words like quaffle and bludger, a prize called the Golden Snitch, and the aforementioned broomsticks (not to mention the threat of bodily harm). Of course, real Quidditch seems pretty silly compared to its cinematic counterpart, but its existence speaks to just how strongly J.K. Rowling’s creation has captured the public’s imagination — and just how badly some of us wish we could fly around and beat the tar out of each other.

Whack Bat
From: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

If cricket looks too complicated (and frankly, a bit dull), try and figure out Wes Anderson‘s oddball hybrid of the English gentleman’s game, baseball and hurdles — as played by foxes, beavers and gophers. Actually, as Owen Wilson‘s Coach Skip explains, it’s really quite simple: “There’s three grabbers, three taggers, five twig runners and the player at whack bat. The center player lights a pine cone and chucks it over the basket and the whack batter tries to hit the cedar stick off the cross rock. Then the twig runners dash back and forth until the pine cone burns out and the umpire calls ‘hot box.’ Finally at the end you count up however many score-downs that adds up to and divide that by nine.” Got that? See, easy.

From: Never Say Never Again (1983)

Forget Battleship, this is the game that movie producers should be developing for the big screen. “The game is called Domination,” explains cartoonish supervillain Maximillian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer) to his opponent, James Bond (Sean Connery). “I designed it myself.” In place of Battleship’s dividing field we have a holographic globe of the world which brings up targets for obliteration in the quest for power. “Ve vill be fighting for countries, chosen at random by the machine,” Largo continues. “Whoever hits zem first vis his lazer beam will score points.” And who wouldn’t want to zap entire countries, at least fictionally, while a robot vocoder commentates on the action? We could do without the electric shocks on the joysticks, though.

Poke Battles
From: the Pokemon series

You watched the anime. You bought the Game Boy games. You were even into the Pokemon card game for a bit. (Disclaimer: Rotten Tomatoes is more of a Magic: the Gathering kind of company.) But no matter how much you mix it up, you’re still left fantasizing about being in the arena, calling up little elemental monsters to do your bidding and defeat your opponent. Pokemon may be classified as strictly kids stuff, but, similar to other media like Harry Potter, there’s an undeniable universal appeal. Pokemon speaks to the youthful collector in all of us, and the desire to see our toys come to life and shoot enormous fireballs at each other.

From: BASEketball (1998)

Gather ‘round, young whippersnappers, and let me tell you a story: long ago, there were no Xboxes or PS3s, so when some of us were bored, we’d make up our own games. I myself helped create a sport called Rhubarb, an exceedingly violent combination of football monkey-in-the-middle that could only be played on this one hill in the woods of New Hampshire. The reason you’ve never heard of Rhubarb is that I didn’t have the same foresight to get into the picture business as the Zucker brothers, whose BASEketball was based on a hybrid of baseball and hoops that David Zucker invented in his driveway in the 1970s. Unlike the stodgy, stick-in-the-mud NFL, in which the refs will penalize players 15 yards for taunting, trash talking and grossing out opponents is actively encouraged in the National BASEketball League. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a league that has team names like the Roswell Aliens and the New Jersey Informants. Despite the tepid response from the critics, BASEketball can still put a smile on your face; it’s a movie that celebrates the goofy imaginations of kids with garages full of sporting goods and too much time on their hands.

From: Jumanji (1995)

So you’re probably thinking, who would actually want to play Jumanji?” Who would pursue a round of a board game that asks you to roll dice, move pieces, and then fend off lions, rhinos, torrential water and more natural terrors that spring from its magical center? Well, in our modern wired world where everything is archived and recorded, there’s something to be said about the pure lo-fi chaos Jumanji has to offer. Furthermore, it’s like a trip to the jungle, the mountains, and the ocean all in one — and you don’t even have to leave the house. Of course, whether you even still have a house standing after the game finishes is another story…

From: Star Wars (1977)

Chess has proven its greatness by being around for centuries. And in the late 80s, Interplay developed an animated version for computers that brought the pieces to life. So we’re betting that the circular, holographic version seen in Star Wars (known in-universe as “dejarik”) would probably be pretty nifty to play. Instead of knights and rooks, you get to move miniature monsters around the board, watching them battle each other and gloat over their victories. You can play against droids and aliens, too, although when playing wookies, we recommend a very specific strategy…

The Last Starfighter
From: The Last Starfighter (1984)

During the early ‘80s, some of us dropped enough quarters in arcade machines to pay for a trip on the space shuttle, so it’s only fitting that The Last Starfighter — about an Asteroids-style arcade game that secretly serves as a training simulation for intergalactic fighter pilots — is one of the decade’s cult classics. Of course, by the time Starfighter arrived in theaters in 1984, the first video game craze was starting to wane — but the movie’s story, which takes a lonely teen from his dingy trailer park to the middle of a high-stakes space battle, has the kind of timeless appeal that will always resonate with dissatisfied youth. But don’t take our word for it: ask the folks who wrote the free, fully playable version of the game, downloadable here.