How Will ‘Stranger Things: The Game’ Fare Versus Other Adaptations?

The 2019 E3 gaming conference threw up something of a surprise as Netflix revealed that a game based on their hit show Stranger Things was due to come out later this year. The release of the game will coincide with the release of the third season of the series, upon which the storyline of the game will be based. It was introduced on stage by creators The Duffer Brothers, who confessed their passion for the retro 16-bit era and eagerness that a game based on their masterpiece be created.

Netflix has teamed up with game developers Bonus XP to produce the RPG, will be available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC, with a Mac version also in the works. There is also talk of a ‘streamlined’ manifestation of the game for mobile devices, as the producers acknowledge a recent surge in the popularity of mobile gaming.

There is bound to be interest in this title simply due to the overwhelming success of the Stranger Things TV series. The idea of a retro game from the 16-bit era based on a series that takes its title music and many of its symbols and tropes from that same moment in history is certainly appealing. As an Action-Adventure RPG, it will definitely suit the Nintendo Switch library, which has soared in popularity since committing to championing retro games from indie developers.

But should we trust the formula of basing games on popular series? How many other successful programmes have made it into gamers hearts after such an adaptation?

A quick recap

Stranger Things season two ended to much aplomb as the four kids from Hawkins, Indiana, saved the world once more from being destroyed by a mysterious giant spider. With the help of Eleven, Steve (the bully from the first series), Nancy, Hopper and newcomer Max, the friends investigate Will’s odd connection with The Upside Down, while trying to avoid the attention of the US military personnel attempting to harness the phenomena.

Netflix’s plans

The popular streaming service holds a clear interest in entering the gaming market and making the most of its extensive library of original content. Netflix is also set to release another game based on Dark Crystal – a series that will soon be available to watch on the streaming service. There was also a pointed reference to futuristic VR gaming in one of the latest episodes (‘Striking Vipers’) of the Netflix Original series Black Mirror.

‘Choosing what to watch on Netflix’ – Source: Pixabay

They are making a clear statement of their intent to use the solid storylining and mythology of these series as the material on which to base a video game. Certainly, having the release dates coincide allows viewers to both watch the series and play it, so that they complement one or the other – gamers will want to binge-watch and binge-watchers will want to play. Moreover, releasing a mobile game will make Stranger Things accessible from more places than ever before, as well as allowing viewers to pause the show to play the next section of the game with another device. Netflix made clear in their E3 Coliseum appearance that there would be a liaison between the writers who contribute so much to series like Stranger Things and the developers of the video game, so we can assume any game will be faithfully reimagined, with a commitment to maintaining the integrity and popularity of the franchise.

Future game adaptations

Any good idea for a game, series or movie adaptation is usually jumped upon by developers in this day and age, with remakes and reimaginings garnering more attention than original ideas. Netflix may look to other shows in its library in the future should adaptations of Stranger Things and Dark Crystal work out. Online casinos operators like 888casino have already taken advantage of popular titles such as Netflix’s Narcos. They also feature a choice of slot games based on film franchises like The Goonies and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. Isolating popular franchises is a great way to appeal to gamers in crowded marketplaces like online slots.

Grimm, American Gods and the upcoming Lord of the Rings series on Amazon might make great new franchises for adaptations into console, PC or mobile games.

Sci-Fi movie games

Science fiction pieces like Stranger Things are popular choices for game developers, as reimagining their graphics or gameplay features and harnessing suspense present a unique challenge. But while some classic series like The X-Files, to which Stranger Things can very easily be compared, did not transfer so well to the games console, science fiction fantasy films like Alien and Star Wars spawned more successful games with their own sequels and spinoffs. In terms of series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s fourth iteration went over well when released, while Telltale Game’s recent Game of Thrones’ adaptations have also had a positive response.

Some sci-fi fantasy games are so successful that big budget movies are made in their image, rather than the other way around. The best examples of these – Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia and Doom, show that while big-budget special effects look impressive at the movies, the transition between film and game screenplay is not always an easy one. Keeping close to the formula of the original is always a safe bet, as the Assassin’s Creed filmmakers will surely testify after taking on a game that had won more than 50 E3 accolades. It is likely to be the same case with Netflix’s TV series. However, while living up to an excellent original is one thing, expanding the franchise is quite another.

Superhero movie-based games seem to do the best, with Spiderman and Batman games selling well and the much-anticipated Marvel’s Avengers on the way in 2020. Stranger Things game developers might take more encouragement from the successful series of Harry Potter games based on the bestselling movies and books, which also featured young protagonists.

Stranger Things: The Game is due for release later this year and is bound to be met with a storm of enthusiasm by fans of the series. Gamers who may have become disillusioned from the franchise due to the long wait for the release may be more tempted to give the series another chance, while avid watchers may be eager to get all they can out of the show while it lasts.

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