Literature's Greatest Video Games


Written by Barney Cox
07 Sunday 07th October 2012


Arm Joe

Do you hear the people sing, singing a song of angry men? With the much-anticipated Les Miserables film adaptation fast approaching, what better way to re-engage with Victor Hugo’s classic novel than, umm, beating the living daylights out of a digitalised Javert? Introducing Arm Joe, a Japanese Street-Fighter-inspired fighting game based on the laugh-a-minute musical adaptation of Hugo’s uplifting tome. Encounter all your favourite characters, from Cossette, Marius, the physical embodiment of ‘Justice’ and… a robotic Jean Valjean who can, logically, fire missiles out of his metallic arms. 


The Great Gatsby

Another book-to-film adaptation lurking just around the proverbial corner is Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby. In 1990, the Great American Classic novel was given the pixel-treatement for the now-defunct NES, and was recently made available in full on the web. Huzzah! Remember what you loved most about Fitzgerald’s much-beloved novel and play as protagonist Nick Carraway, throwing your little hat/lethal weapon at flapper girls in a desperate attempt to find Gatsby and the ever-illusive American dream. 


Bible Adventures

From developer Wisdom Tree comes Bible Adventures, a side-scrolling NES game released in 1991, based on The Old Testament. As Noah, you’ll gracefully jump around a 2-bit forest rounding up a variety of pixellated beasts. Alternatively, you can play as Jochebed as she struggles to get past Egyptian guards (and jumping scarab beetles, obviously) in order to lovingly dump her son, Moses, into the Nile. Thirteen years has since passed and we’re still hoping for a sequel. Imagine how fun it would be very nearly sacrificing your first-born, massacring as many Midianites as possible (except for the virgins, duh), and summoning two bears to systematically eat the children who dare to tease you about your bald-spot. Hours of fun for all the family!


Cthulu Saves the World

Cthulhu: an ancient, amoral and colossal deity who currently sleeps somewhere underneath the South Pacific Ocean, but shall one day rise again, turn everybody insane and end civilization as we know it. Luckily for all humanity, he is (we hope) an invention of iconic 1920's cosmic-horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. From indie developer Zeboyd Games comes the retro, tongue-in-cheek release Cthulhu Saves the World. The deity has awoken only to find his powers robbed by a strange magician (we hate it when that happens!), and the only way to get them back is to save the world. Rescue humanity in order to destroy it!


Megaman: Christmas Carol

We don’t want to send you all into a frenzy of panic-induced present-purchasing, but Christmas is only three months away. Prepare in advance by downloading onto your computer the Megaman: Christmas Carol games for a much-needed injection of that ole’ Festive Spirit™. The retro and slightly bonkers series has been made by Sprites Inc., and sees Megaman battling the many spirits of Dickens' original novel including some new ones, like, um, a robot Santa! Not only that, you'll be able to wield a veritable arsenal of Christmas armaments, including that most festive of weapons: the dreaded candy cane.


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Granted, all games listed so far have not exactly adhered rigidly to the plot-points of their literary predecessors. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, however, proves that a game does not have to deviate from its source material in order to be entertaining. Devotedly sticking to Mark Twain’s original novel, the game brings to life some of the best bits of the canonical work, such as Tom fighting off monkeys in the Dark Forest, lifting a curse from a haunted house, and battling a terrifying giant octopus. (Disclaimer: We have not actually read the novel).


Waiting for Godot

And lastly, proving that existentialist drama does make for riveting gameplay, check out the really rather funny adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s bleak play Waiting for Godot. Hint: it involves a lot of waiting.


Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.