The Impact of Popular 80s Movies on Video Games

The 80s was a decade known for its colorful and iconic pop culture. From fashion to music to movies, everything had a unique flair during this time. One thing that continued to fascinate everyone was the emergence of video games. With the rise of arcades and home consoles, video games became a staple in entertainment. This decade also marked the start of video game adaptations of popular movies. In this article, we will explore the impact of popular 80s movies on video games.

Why 80s Movies?

The 80s was a time of great change and experimentation in cinema. Movie-makers were exploring new themes and genres, bringing out movies that became instant classics. It wasn’t just about the plot, but also the style and look of the movies that made them so appealing. The mix of neon colors, a focus on futuristic settings, and synthesizer-heavy soundtracks made the 80s a truly unique decade in the movie industry.

These factors made 80s movies perfect candidates for video game adaptations. The unique style and strong characters allowed game developers to create immersive experiences that honored the original movies.

Top 80s Movies and Their Video Game Adaptations


The 1984 supernatural comedy, Ghostbusters, was a smash hit at the box office. It starred Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson as a team of paranormal investigators. The movies’ imaginative take on the supernatural caught the eye of video game developers, and in 1984, the first Ghostbusters video game was released.

The game, developed by Activision, was initially released on the Atari 2600, and it was later ported to Commodore 64, Apple II, and MSX. The game allowed players to roam the streets of New York, catching ghosts, and earning money, which was then used to purchase upgrades for the Ghostbusters’ gear. It was a critical and commercial success and paved the way for more video game adaptations of popular movies.

Back to the Future

One of the most iconic movies of the 80s, Back to the Future, was released in 1985, and it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. The movie starred Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, who travels back in time to meet his parents and accidentally threatens his own existence.

The movie had everything – time travel, futuristic gadgets, and a memorable soundtrack. It was only a matter of time before a video game adaptation came along. In 1989, a Back to the Future game was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The game followed the plot of the movie, and players had to navigate different time periods while avoiding obstacles and enemies. The game received mixed reviews, but it remained popular among fans of the movie.

Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones was another iconic movie franchise of the 80s. The first movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, released in 1981, followed the adventures of Indiana Jones, a swashbuckling archaeologist, as he travels the world in search of ancient artifacts.

The movies’ unique blend of action and adventure made them a perfect candidate for video game adaptations. In 1982, Atari released a game based on the movies called Raiders of the Lost Ark. The game’s graphics were limited due to the hardware limitations of the time, but it still managed to capture the spirit and excitement of the movies. The game required players to navigate a series of obstacles and puzzles while avoiding traps and enemies. It was a commercial success and paved the way for more Indiana Jones games.

From 80s Movies to Modern Gaming

The impact of 80s movies on video games is still felt today. Many popular game franchises of today still draw inspiration from characters and themes that were popularized in the 80s. Games like Grand Theft Auto and Fallout draw heavily from the dystopian and gritty themes that were present in many 80s movies.

However, even though the modern gaming industry has come a long way since the 80s, the retro style and aesthetic of that decade continues to be embraced by developers and gamers alike. This is evidenced by the popularity of games like Shovel Knight and FTL, which use pixel art and chiptune music to recreate the feel of classic 80s games.


The 80s was a decade that saw the rise of video games and the popularity of movies that relied on strong themes, powerful characters, and unique style. These movies provided the perfect inspiration for video game developers, who were able to take these iconic characters and worlds and create immersive interactive experiences. The impact of these movies on gaming can still be felt today, with many modern games drawing inspiration from the movies of the past. As we look back at the 80s, we can appreciate the unique and creative synergy that existed between movies and gaming, and the amazing products that came as a result.