It’s justifiable to say that video games have storylines that are as good as any Hollywood movie, but when studios try to transform them into actual cinema, they usually suck. But there’s another class of video game movie that gets it right, because they’re made by people who actually know video games: the fans. In this feature, we’ll spotlight ten of the best video game fan films ever lensed.
How do you earn massive cred for your "Sonic The Hedgehog" fan film? You track down Jaleel White (aka Steve Urkel) who did the voice for the '90s Sonic cartoon and get him to reprise his role, for one thing. Blue Core Studios is one of the hardest-working groups in the fan film universe, and their 18-minute take on Sega’s speedy blue hedgehog is ridiculous. The group put in hundreds of hours of work to create the project, which was intended as a spec audition to convince Sega to let them do a full feature.
Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy
Hideo Kojima’s "Metal Gear Solid" series is one of the most complex and fully-realized universes in all of video games, so it’s not surprising that it’s inspired several fan films. Easily the best-realized comes from Italian fan studio Hive Division. Director Giacomo Talamini also stars as Solid Snake in a new adventure that takes place around the same time as "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty." Snake joins a mysterious organization known as Philanthropy, chartered to stop the spread of the destructive Metal Gear robots around the world.
Portal: No Escape
Few games have captivated the imagination quite as much as "Portal," Valve’s witty puzzler about a woman trapped in a complex of testing areas with nothing but a gun that bends the fabric of spacetime to help her. Director Dan Trachtenberg released "No Escape," an incredible short film set within the "Portal" universe, in 2011. The video racked up a million views in a single day and instantly made him a filmmaker to watch. In 2013, it was announced that New Line Cinema had selected him to direct the big-screen adaptation of award-winning comic "Y: The Last Man."
Modern Warfare: Frozen Crossing
The gritty realism of Activision’s "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" series has pushed first-person shooters into a new realm of cinematic excellence, so it’s not surprising that the franchise has inspired fans to create dramatic works in the game’s universe. "Frozen Crossing" is an exceptional fan film that follows a pair of commandos as they raid a hostile base. The whole thing feels right, a testament to director Freddie Wong’s love of the series. Amazingly enough, this whole thing cost just $209 to make!
Street Fighter: Legacy
Hollywood tried to make a "Street Fighter" movie back in the '90s, only to come out with one of the corniest spectacles ever committed to celluloid. The professionals lost track of the heart and soul of the classic fighting franchise: it’s all about two warriors squaring off, face to face, with no distractions. "Street Fighter: Legacy" captures that perfectly in just a little over three minutes. Series rivals Ryu and Ken meet once more to throw fireballs, launch uppercuts and finally determine who the true master of Shotokan karate is.
Shot entirely in Birmingham, Alabama, director Brian Curtain’s live-action reenactment of Sony’s first-person shooter franchise ups the ante for awesomeness. "Killzone Intercept" is 14 minutes of pitch-perfect evocation of the war against the Helghast. Unlike many fan directors, Curtain actually got some support from Guerilla Games, the game’s creators. They provided him with sound effects and concept art to base his project on, but it was his ingenuity and hard work that made it so good. The entire project took him over two years to complete.
Fallout: Nuka Break
The post-apocalyptic world of the "Fallout" games is rich with dark humor, and the fan film specialists at Wayside Creations captured it perfectly in "Nuka Break," their grimly hilarious fan film. Nuka Cola is the beverage of choice after the bombs drop, and the fan film tells the tale of a vault dweller who leaves behind his safe haven to rustle up a cool, refreshing can. Needless to say, things don’t go very smoothly for him and his companions on their soda journey.
Pac-Man: The Movie
How is it even possible to create an entire movie based on something as simple as "Pac-Man?" Director James Farr found a hilarious way in 2012. Codenamed “Project Yellow Sphere,” the six-minute "Pac-Man" trailer posits the eternally hungry yellow ball as a secret government experiment, nanomachine-sized to hunt down and consume unwanted materials. The film is an incredibly clever and well-filmed mixture of CGI and live action that looks totally professional. The amount of personality that Farr and his crew were able to give the game’s characters is amazing.
The Legend of Zelda (1987)
Some of the best fan films are the ones that don’t slavishly imitate their source material but rather do something new. A perfect example is "The Legend of Zelda (1987)," which takes Nintendo’s adventure classic and transforms it into a note-perfect evocation of a John Hughes teen movie. Link is a teenage slacker, Zelda the girl he wins over, and there's even an appearance by the ultra-annoying Tingle to bring it all home. Even more bonus points are given for shooting the whole thing on crappy '80s video stock.