For some reason, many of us have been staying home recently. Something to do with us all being anti-social or something, I haven’t really been paying attention to the news.
Whatever the reason, there’s a chance you may be at a loose end when it comes to keeping yourself entertained, and you may have found yourself spending your evenings taking part in that new national pastime: scrolling endlessly through Netflix’s menus and never choosing anything to watch.
Part of this is because the app versions of Netflix never really let you properly browse the full catalogue: often you have to specifically search for something by name to find it. But who’s got the time to investigate the catalogue and find all the good stuff?
HELLO THERE, FRIEND.
Yer man Scullion has put together a list of 40 movies and shows on Netflix UK related to video games. I haven’t seen them all and therefore can’t vouch for their quality, and some are clearly aimed at children: then again, some of us have children, and most of us are kids at heart anyway.
Hopefully this list (in alphabetical order) will give you some inspiration so the next time you’re on Netflix you can just search for any of them by name and get stuck into some game-related goodness.
1) The Adventures of Super Mario Bros 3 (1990)
The second animated series based on Super Mario Bros (the first being the Super Mario Bros Super Show), this is obviously based on the third NES game. There are some creative differences here (such as all the Koopalings having completely different names) but it’s still a great bit of early ’90s Saturday morning cartoon fun.
2) Angry Birds (2013)
Also known as Angry Birds Toons, this set of 104 animated shorts should keep the kids entertained. Assuming you have kids who were into Angry Birds seven years ago and somehow still enjoy playing it today, that is.
3) The Angry Birds Movie (2016)
On the off-chance that the cartoons don’t fill your Angry Birds appetite, there’s also the animated movie starring Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Danny McBride. Reviews were mixed, but the positive ones said it did a surprisingly good job of teaching kids about anger, which may be useful if they’re going to be locked indoors for a while.
4) Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)
Not based on any specific video games as such, Bandersnatch is instead about the UK home computer era of the mid ’80s and tells the story of a young lad trying to develop a hit game while dealing with all the pressures that come with it. Even more interestingly, it’s an interactive show, which means you choose what happens next, with a bunch of different endings. Even even more interestingly, it’s loosely based on an actual cancelled game, as I covered in depth here.
5) Castlevania (2017)
A Netflix exclusive, this animated series retells the story of the NES game Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. It’s generally well-loved, which is why no fewer than three seasons currently exist. That should be plenty to sink your teeth into. Because it’s got vampires in it. And they sink their teeth into people. Look, I’m not sure how much more I can explain that very clever and original reference.
6) Doom (2005)
Doom Eternal is out this week, so what better time to celebrate than watching the Doom movie, which is also 95% action and 5% plot? If you’re expecting an Oscar contender you should probably look as far away as possible, but an early role for The Rock and the absolutely ridiculous FPS sequence near the end make it a good laugh for pure cheese factor alone.
7) Dragon Quest: Your Story (2019)
Produced by legendary Japanese studio Toho, this CG anime is based on the events of Super Famicom (and later DS) game Dragon Quest V. Unlike most anime, the voice actors recorded their lines first and then the mouths were animated to match them, making for more impressive facial animations than you get in the majority of Japanese animation.
8) Game Over (2019)
Trigger warnings here (sexual assault): maybe not one if you’re looking for a cheery family-friendly romp, Game Over is an Indian psychological thriller about a woman who’s in a wheelchair and lives a secluded life due to her post-truamatic stress following a rape. Her solace is the world of video games: she’s a talented game designer, and that gives her the drive to keep going. Unfortunately, she becomes the target of a serial killer, who breaks into her home and gives her three ‘lives’, video game style, to survive. This is a critically acclaimed film but with a ruddy big 18 rating and plenty of horrible stuff going on it’s a deeply unsettling one. There are three versions of the film on Netflix: each scene was shot back-to-back in both the Tamil and Telugu languages, so go with either of those. The Hindi version is just a dubbed version of the Telugu one.
9) Granblue Fantasy: The Animation (2017)
The Granblue Fantasy RPG was originally released in 2014 for Android, iOS and web browsers and was notable for reuniting Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and Final Fantasy V, VI and IX art director Hideo Minaba. This anime series also includes Uematsu’s music and is based on the events of the game. It was considered good enough to warrant a second season in Japan but you only get the first one on Netflix.
10) Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (2012)
Originally released as five 15-minute web episodes leading up to the release of Halo 4, Unto Dawn was later re-edited into a single 90-minute extended version. That’s the version you get on Netflix, and it’s worth a watch, but don’t expect a Hollywood blockbuster: it was considered high-budget for a web series, but low-budget for a movie.
11) Halo Legends (2010)
A two-hour anthology consisting of seven separate animated shorts set in the Halo universe (similar to the Matrix-themed compilation The Animatrix). The stories were created by a bunch of different Japanese animation houses and curated by Shinji Aramaki, the creator and director of Appleseed. Worth a look, if only to see how Japanese studios handle a western property.
12) Halo: The Fall of Reach (2015)
Based on a 2001 novel intended to act as a prequel to the first Halo game, The Fall of Reach is a CG animated movie that explains how children were taken from their families and trained to become Spartans. The animations are pretty ropey and it’s far from the greatest thing you’ll watch, but if you still have a Halo-shaped hole in your heart after watching Forward Unto Dawn and Legends this will do the trick. Also, if you actually do have a halo-shaped hole in your heart, call a doctor.
13) Hi Score Girl (2018)
This lovely wee anime is set during the ’90s arcade scene in Japan and tells the story of a young arcade-going lad who realises that the weird quiet girl in his class is actually a ridiculously good gamer. There’s loads of actual game footage and nerdy in-jokes and information in here, making it absolutely worth a watch if you’re interested in retro gaming.
14) Ingress: The Animation (2018)
Before there was Pokemon Go, developer Niantic created Ingress, its first attempt at a GPS-based augmented reality mobile game. This 11-episode anime series should fill you in on the mobile version’s lore, and it’s interesting enough to watch even if you don’t plan on ever trying out the game.
15) The King’s Avatar (2019)
If you’re in it for the long haul and looking for something meaty to binge, here’s a Chinese series consisting of 40 episodes lasting 45 minutes each (that’s 30 hours). It’s based on a novel and animated series and tells the story of a legendary esports gamer who’s forced to retire from his professional team and, getting a job in an internet cafe, tries to work his way back to glory. It’s seen some praise for its special effects and apparently is worth a watch.
16) Kiss Me First (2018)
Originally created for Channel 4 before moving to Netflix, this six-episode drama is about Leila, a lonely 17-year-old who gets hooked on a virtual reality social game and befriends a party girl called Tess, who she becomes friends with in real life. It’s a good series but it’s bloody dark and there are plenty of potentially triggering things like suicide and parental death so it’s worth bearing that in mind.
17) League of Legends Origins (2019)
As much as I know my stuff when it comes to gaming, League of Legends (and the general MOBA scene as a whole) leaves me utterly dumbfounded. If you’re the same, you may want to watch League of Legends Origins – as I too shall be doing – because it’s a documentary that tracks the game’s entire rise from a humble free demo to a multi-million dollar global phenomenon.
18) Life 2.0 (2010)
It’s a little outdated now, but this fascinating documentary takes a look at Second Life, the online virtual world that was launched in 2003 and continues to enjoy a following to this day. The doc takes a look at a number of super-fans of Second Life but also looks at how some of their (first) lives are consumed by it. It’s not the most positive take on it, then, but let’s face it: nobody wants to make a documentary about someone who plays a game, has fun for a bit then logs off.
19) Minecraft Story Mode (2015)
If you’re looking for an actual game to play on Netflix, look no further. This charming little Telltale Games adventure was originally released on consoles and PCs as a full point-and-click game, but was then ‘ported’ to Netflix as an interactive movie. What this essentially means is that, as with Bandersnatch, you occasionally get a bunch of choices to make, which move the story in a different direction. It’s a fun little adventure with strong voice acting, and should keep both kids and adults entertained.
20) Need For Speed (2014)
I went to the UK premiere of this with my wife, and at the end we came out laughing at just how stupid the whole thing was. Basically, if you want to see a brilliantly ridiculous movie about a huge street race that spans the whole of the US, get in amongst it. The critics absolutely slammed it, and rightly so: it’s bad. But it’s also brilliant, and with the likes of Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper and Rami Malek hamming it up – not to mention Michael Keaton blatantly phoning it in with an afternoon’s work – you will piss yourself laughing all the way through it. Definitely a ‘so bad it’s good’ situation.
21) NiNoKuni (2019)
Level-5’s beautiful NiNoKuni RPGs looked like they came straight out of an anime, and its cutscenes were created by Studio Ghibli, so it’s frankly surprising that it took this long for a proper animated movie to arrive. This time it isn’t Ghibli in charge of things but OLM – the Japanese animation studio responsible for all 23 Pokemon movies – and it still looks bloody lovely (and sounds fantastic too: the score was composed by Joe Musashi, best known for a bunch of other Ghibli films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro). If you’re tolerant of subtitles, whack the Japanese dialogue on because the English dub is brutal.
22) No Game No Life (2014)
Originally a Japanese light novel series, No Game No Life tells the story of Sora and Shiro, a brother and sister who are expert gamers (we’re talking board games and everything here). The ‘god of games’ summons them to Disboard, an alternative reality where games are the central focus. The pair decide they want to out-game all 16 species living in Disboard in order to play against the god. It’s a weird one, this, but you do get the full 12-episode series as well as No Game No Life: Zero, the full-length animated movie that wrapped it all up (for now, at least).
23) Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures (2013)
This interesting take on the Pac-Man universe has Packers himself attending a boarding school along with two of his pals, Spiral and Cylindria. Even more shocking is that Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde – the four ghosts from the original arcade game – are on Pac-Man’s side this time. As long as you’re willing to turn a blind eye to this disgusting slur on the Pac-Man canon, there are 52 episodes of harmless fun here (the entire series run) that kids will munch up. DO YOU GET IT BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT PAC-MAN DOES actually hang on, I’ve already done this joke.
24) Pac’s Scary Halloween (2016)
Episodes 49 and 50 of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures are a two-parter called Pac’s Very Scary Halloween. In reality, they’re just a two-part version of this standalone 45-minute feature which was released earlier during the series’ run. This means if you work your way through all 52 episodes you’ll have already seen everything here, but if you otherwise just fancy a single 45-minute special about an evil doctor called Dr Pacenstein switching his mind with Pac-Man – and why wouldn’t you – then munch this one up. DO YOU GET IT BECAU… right, I know.
25) Pixels (2015)
Take an award-winning French short movie about video games taking over New York. Turn it from a two-minute idea into a 106-minute movie. Get the guy who directed the first two Home Alone movies and the first two Harry Potter movies, and make him direct this too. Cast Adam Sandler in the lead rol… hang on. Yes, Pixels is an atrocious movie, nominated for six Golden Raspberry awards, but let’s face it: we all love watching a car crash. Actually, hang on, no we don’t. No, what I mean is, we all want to see a car crash so we can tell people we saw a car crash. That’s it. So watch this one, then go on Twitter and tell everyone how shit it was. Look, it’s worth watching if only to satisfy your morbid curiosity: personally I got a kick out of laughing at how wrong it all is in general.
26) Playing Hard (2018)
We interviewed developer Jason Vandenberghe back in the ONM days, when he was leading Red Steel 2 on the Wii. He struck me as a lovely guy with a brilliant sense of humour and a fantastic beard. After Red Steel 2 he got to start work on his dream project, For Honor, which was eventually released in 2017. Playing Hard is a fascinating documentary focusing on the development of For Honor and the countless pressures that Vandenberghe found himself under. Well worth a watch if you have any interest at all in the development process, even if you don’t particularly have any interest in the game itself.
27) Pokemon the Movie (various)
There’s a bunch of Pokemon stuff on Netflix and I could have made this a fairly Pokemon-heavy list if I wanted to, but that would be boring. So, I’ve lumped the three movies on there into this single entry. First up is 2017’s Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You!, the 20th film in the series and one that’s notable for the scene in which Pikachu speaks English (it makes sense in context… more or less). Then there’s Pokemon the Movie: The Power of Us, the 2018 movie that I nicked a scene from for my Scottish Pokemon video. Finally, there’s Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution, a CGI remake of the very first Pokemon movie which only released in the west (exclusively on Netflix) at the end of February 2020. Fill your Pokéboots.
28) Pokemon the Series (various)
If you’re looking for something a little meatier out of your Netflix Pokemon entertainment, there are two different animated series available too. First is Pokemon the Series: Indigo League, which is basically the first ever series of Pokemon from way back in 1997. There are 52 episodes of that to watch, chubby Pikachu and all. Then there’s Pokemon the Series: Sun & Moon, which is based on the 2016 3DS games of the same name. There are two seasons of this available (91 episodes in total), and a third season is coming on 1 April.
29) Rabbids Invasion (2013)
The French bloody love an animated short series, they do. Given that the Rabbids are a creation of Ubisoft’s Montpellier studio, then (and given that they were doing funny high-pitched gibberish chat before the Minions did it), it was a no-brainer that we’d end up seeing them in CGI cartoons before too long. Sure enough, no fewer than four seasons of animated hijinks have ensued, and Netflix UK has the fourth one available: this consists of 26 episodes of scream-based slapstick.
30) Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
The live-action Resident Evil movies are all madder than a bucket of spanners, but by the time the series reached Afterlife (the fourth film) the whole thing became a mess. The plot’s all over the place and you may think if you haven’t seen the previous three you’ll be confused with this one, but take solace in the fact that even if you have seen them you’ll still be stuck here. Switch your brain off, enjoy the action, have a laugh.
31) Santa Pac’s Merry Berry Day (2016)
Much like Pac’s Scary Halloween was repurposed into just the 49th and 50th episodes of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures stuck together, Santa Pac’s Merry Berry Day is another standalone 45-minute feature that was later split into two and shown as episodes 51 and 39. Once again, then, if you’re planning on watching all 52 episodes of the main series you can skip this because you’ll have seen it all, but if not it’s a fun one-off feature so you might as well munch it up. DO YOU GET IT BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT PAC-MAN <some text missing>
32) Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010)
It may be based on a (fantastic) graphic novel series instead of a specific video game, but Scott Pilgrim is packed to the gills with gaming references, from the way the ‘bosses’ he defeats drop coins, to the references to cult NES games as band names, to the use of the Zelda file select music at one point. A beautiful love letter to games and a fantastic movie in general.
33) Silicon Cowboys (2016)
We’re getting very nerdy here, but I absolutely love this documentary about the history of Compaq and its three founders, who decided to take on IBM when it was completely dominating the home computer market. You may not think a documentary about PC businessmen would be fascinating but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute: the talking heads are almost entirely likeable and there’s loads of archive footage. If you only watch one thing from this list, watch this.
34) Skylanders Academy (2016)
Skylanders may be deader than fidget spinners, but this Netflix-exclusive show should still keep the kids happy. There’s a strong voice cast including the likes of Justin Long (as Spyro), Norm Macdonald, Catherine O’Hara and the legendary Bobcat Goldthwait (of Police Academy fame), and the fact that Crash Bandicoot turns up every now and then is always nice too. There are 38 episodes in total spread over three seasons, so if the kids like it (or, yes, if you do) then there’s a decent amount to watch.
35) Sonic Boom (2014)
The Sonic Boom games were a pile of old arse – well, the last 3DS one was okay – but the animated series is genuinely brilliant, with some very clever writing and plenty of jokes that only adults will get. There were only two seasons and only the first is available here, but that’s still 52 lovely episodes that are short enough (11 minutes each) to not overstay their welcome. You can binge the hell out of these and have a great time.
36) Sonic X (2003)
A brilliant anime series about Sonic and chums accidentally teleporting to Earth (hmmm, sounds familiar). This is where the “gotta go fast” catchphrase originated, but there’s a lot more to Sonic X than that: it’s a genuinely enjoyable series in general. There were 78 episodes in total spread out over three seasons, but only the first two seasons are available on Netflix UK: if you want to see the final 26 episodes you’ll need to jump over to Amazon Prime Video, where season 3 is available as part of the subscription.
37) Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy (2011)
A concise and interesting documentary detailing the life of Steve Jobs and theorising that the Apple co-founder’s success was partly due to a hippy lifestyle. While most of it is essentially praising the guy to high heavens, there’s still a decent amount of negativity, not least from fellow co-founder Steve Wozniak (the alleged brains of the operation) who discusses how Jobs kept him in the dark about his early fortune. An interesting watch, especially when you consider it first aired just two months after his death.
38) Tomb Raider (2018)
Wait, come back, it’s not the Angelina Jolie one (although I quite enjoy that one to be honest). Nope, it’s the generally well-received 2018 movie starring Alicia Vikander, which roughly follows the events of the fantastic 2013 Tomb Raider reboot game. Vikander is a strong Lara, but as in the game she takes one hell of a kicking so if you’re looking for an invincible action heroine you may be best looking elsewhere. In terms of triumph over adversity, though, it’s a good ‘un: and after all, how many video game movies can claim to have an Academy Award winner in the lead role? Sorry, what? Jolie had one when she did the first Tomb Raider? Oh. Never mind then.
39) The Witcher (2019)
They may claim it’s based on the Polish fantasy book series in the trailer (and yes, the plot is based on various stories from said books), but let’s face it: most of us know The Witcher because of the outstanding adventure games, and you can’t tell me that Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Geralt isn’t – visually at least – based on the polygonal version. I still haven’t managed to get around to watch this eight-episode Netflix series yet, but by all accounts it’s Very Good Indeed™ and why would I argue with all accounts? No, really, I’m asking you why.
40) Yo-Kai Watch (2014)
Finally, there’s this anime series based on Level-5’s Pokemon-like ghost-befriending games. Yo-Kai Watch was an absolute smash success in its native Japan but it didn’t quite reach the same heady heights in the west, so it’s not as well-known here. The first season was split into two halves in the US and you only get the first half of Season 1 on Netflix, but that’s still 26 episodes of charming spook-related comedy to watch.
And there you have it: 40 game-related things to watch on Netflix UK.
There are a bunch of gaming shows and movies on Amazon Prime Video too, but it’s much harder to pull together a list there: the problem is that anyone can upload videos to that service, which means there’s an absolute swamp of game walkthroughs and terrible Let’s Play videos that appear any time you search for anything.
That said, if there’s a big enough demand I’ll put together an Amazon Prime Video list too: you’ll just need to wait a bit longer for me to sift through all the shite.
What may be far more immediately useful, however, is a version of this article for Netflix US aimed at my American readers (and non-American ones with VPN access). If you’d like me to get on that you need only say the word.
Until then, stay safe and get watching.
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