Captain Barbosa and Captain LeChuck

Adaptations in all but name

With the breakout success of Helldivers II, I revisited the movie Starship Troopers. Aside from the main premise, shooting bugs on alien worlds, the two properties share quite a few more similarities, parodying the war economy satirising propaganda and “managed democracy” so much so that aside from the name Helldivers II is a perfect game adaptation of the movie (not the original book as Paul Verhoeven famously hated it, inspiring him to satirise it like he had satirised corporate and commercialism in RoboCop). 

This made me think of other times a perfect adaptation was made in all but name, whether by accident or by design. Let’s take a quick look, shall we?

Shot of Silent Hill, Harry stand in an alley

Silent Hill / The Mist and Phantoms

Konami’s answer to Resident Evil, Silent Hill proved that psychological horror was just as if not more effective than science gone wrong as a plot hook, with the eerie silence of the town covered in a fog the perfect setting. 

Although there are two official movies of varying quality, the remake of Stephen King’s The Mist recreates the terror of unknown creatures hiding in the fog, even using the iconic air siren when the Mist rolls in. Although the source of this terror is more of an alien threat than psychological it still hits with its visual design.

Scene from The Mist (2007) survivors try and flee through the fog

On a similar note, the first half of Phantoms also recreates the isolation of an abandoned Midwestern town with sisters visiting their hometown only to find the entire townsfolk missing. When they eventually find some out-of-town lawmen, they hold up in a diner recreating the opening scenes of the original Silent Hill. The Phantoms creature designs also feel like they could have been lifted from the game, it’s just a shame that the film degenerates into a late nineties CGI schlock in the second half.

Scene from Phantoms (1998) a police officers lower body has transformed into tentacles

The Secret of Monkey Island / Pirates of the Caribbean

the opening shot of The Secret of Monkey Island

For years there was a rumour that the first Pirates movie was based on an abandoned Monkey Island movie script with both projects sharing writers, and it’s not difficult to see why. Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann and Captain Barbosa easily parallel Guybrush Threepwood, Governor Marley and Captain Lechuck the treasure of Isla de Muerta is Big Whoop and they even have a cheeky monkey sidekick throughout the movie. However, it came out that the writers weren’t that involved in the Monkey Island project, only coming in shortly before it was shelved. Both IPS do share a common origin in that both the game and the ride are based on the novel On Stranger Tides.

Jack Sparrow and Will Turner duel with swords

SCP Foundation / Control

the front page of the SCP foundation

The SCP Foundation is a community writing project that started in the late ‘00’s. The premise is that the world is filled with strange paranormal artefacts and creatures and it’s the facility’s mission to Secure, Contain and Protect said anomalies from the public perception. Writers can submit entries with containment procedures to be added to the community lore.

Control sees Jesse Faden infiltrate a facility whose duty is to monitor what they call Altered World Events which often revolve around an anomalous artefact which they safely store and research away from the general public. Throughout the game, you can often find reports or artefacts that are irrelevant to the plot but lend themselves to some great world-building and also draw a remarkable amount of similarities between the two even though Remedy claims they hadn’t heard of the SCP archives before.

Jesse inspects and old fridge which has been classed as an Altered World Event in Control

Twin Peaks / Deadly Premonition

Twin Peaks follows FBI agent Dale Cooper arriving in the titular American mountain town to investigate the murder of a local girl.

Agent Cooper stand with the Twin Peaks police department

Deadly Premonition (or Red Seeds Profile in Japan) follows FBI agent Francis York Morgan arriving in the mountain town of Greenvale to investigate the murder of a local girl.

Deadly Premonition shares so much DNA with Twin Peaks it has been dubbed as a love letter to the show. As a fan of both properties I agree, from the fascination both protagonists share with coffee and their unconventional and often wacky investigation techniques, to both towns having a dark supernatural secret and a seedy underbelly to both properties having a slapping soundtrack.

Agent York enjoys a coffee from Deadly Premonition

Ninja Scroll / Ronin Blade

In feudal Japan, a Ronin and a female ninja from an unlikely alliance to stop a gang of supernaturally powered warriors take control of the area and prevent them from stealing a (literal) boatload of gold.

Two Samurai duel in a bamboo forest from Ninja Scroll

Which title was this a description for? Why both of them my good reader!

Both the 1993 Madhouse Anime Ninja Scroll and Konami’s 1999 Ronin Blade (also known as Soul of the Samurai) share many plot points. A crashed shipment of gold, the poisoning of a local village, and each “boss” has its own unique power. 

Perhaps the fact that the game is barely known helped obscure the similarities (it doesn’t appear on Metacritic and barely has a Wikipedia entry) but I remember playing this back in the day and noticing the plot mirroring each property. It has been 20 years, so I had to dig it out of storage to check my memory didn’t betray me, and yep, sure enough. If you can find it, it was still a decent play even though the dialogue/translation has definitely not aged well.

the two heroes stand back to back in Ronin Blade

I’m sure there are many other examples of properties which are perfect adaptations of each other with no apparent connection. If you can think of any be sure to mention them down below.



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