Unless you want to be murdered by zealous fans, your adaptation of a book/movie/etc. had better keep certain things intact. Sure, you can cut a scene here or tweak a character there, but in the end, Harry Potter still has to defeat Voldemort, and Katniss still has to win the Hunger Games. Deviate from the plan, and fans scream bloody murder.
But not when it comes to video games. Video game makers don't give two shits about canon, even if the game is based on an all-time cinema classic. They'd tack on a different ending to the freaking crucifixion if they thought it'd make the level play better, and nobody cares. So, let's take a moment to celebrate some of the most awesome and/or insane liberties games have taken with famous plots ...
6The Empire Strikes Back -- Luke Kicks Vader's Ass (and Isn't His Son)
In the Movie ...
Some of you are too young to remember how goddamn depressing The Empire Strikes Back was when we saw it for the first time. First the Rebels get the shit blown out of their igloo base. Then, despite the fact that Yoda (literally the wisest being in the entire universe) specifically tells him not to, Luke Skywalker zooms across the galaxy to confront Darth Vader in Billy Dee Williams' Colt 45 Sky Fortress and gets about 13 years beaten off of his life.
"What, did an arthritic old man and a midget train you to sword fight? Oh ... right."
Vader chases Luke through the facility, operating his light saber in full-on baseball bat mode and using space magic to throw a bunch of random shit at the young Rebel, until finally cornering Luke at the end of a bridge and chopping his goddamn hand off. Vader then reveals himself to be Luke's supposedly dead Jedi father, to which Luke responds with mewling shrieks of terror-sadness and then leaps into the cavernous pit below. Thanks for coming, kids! The next movie will be out in a few years!
But in the Game ...
When they sat down to make the NES game in the early 1990s, they decided they were going to get rid of all this depressing shit and write the movie Lucas should have made. So, instead of getting tossed around like a child, Luke arrives at Cloud City to greet Darth Vader with a howling explosion of furious ass-whoop. He sprints down the spindly chasm bridge and pummels the Sith Lord like a jazz drummer cracking open a pinata with a pair of nightsticks, until Vader simply collapses under the weight of his own embarrassing failure and falls off the fucking bridge.
He just shit in his robot suit, and now he has to smell it all the way down.
However, the greater departure from the film's storyline comes after Luke beats Vader in 10 seconds like he was late for a meeting. Once Vader is defeated and sent hurtling down the inexplicable sky abyss/twinkling future slide, he delivers this message:
"Next time, Skywalker ... NEXT TIME!"
That's it -- a generic bad guy rant about "meeting again" spat out by Shredder, Skeletor, and countless Scooby-Doo villains over the years, with absolutely no mention of being Luke's father. The most iconic moment of the entire film (and one of the most famous moments in cinema history) is just kind of skipped right over for no discernible reason. To be fair, we understand the omission -- Vader would probably rather divulge that information while looking a bit more dignified and powerful, instead of screaming it over his shoulder while rocketing headfirst down a giant elevator shaft.
5Peter Jackson's King Kong -- Jack and Ann Save Kong
In the Movie ...
No matter which of the Hollywood adaptations of King Kong you're talking about, the story is always a tragedy: The giant ape finds love in the form of a beautiful human woman, then dies and falls off a skyscraper.
Hey, we've all been there.
So, near the end of Peter Jackson's CGI-fest, the titular monkey lord steals heroine Ann Darrow and carries her to the top of the Empire State Building, because he's a monkey and can only think so far ahead. Mustering up what little remains of his dignity after being forced to whimsically scoot on his butt across a frozen pond and make countless pouty sad faces into the camera, Kong makes one final stand against all of the douchebags who kidnapped him from his island kingdom. He fiercely battles wave after wave of fighter planes until he sustains a fatal wound and plunges 102 stories to his death in the crowded streets below, where he is eulogized by Jack Black, because the universe clearly hates him.
"He told me he wanted an all-kazoo version of American Idiot played at his funeral."
But in the Game ...
If you earn enough points playing through the video game Peter Jackson's King Kong, you earn the privilege of playing an alternate final level wherein Jack Driscoll and Ann Darrow manage to save Kong from the final skyscraper shootout and return him to Skull Island, despite the fact that this outcome requires such a monumental suspension of disbelief that they might as well have had Superman swoop in and lob the mutant gorilla back to his homeland like a giant supersonic baseball.
Half of the level has you controlling King Kong as he swats at fighter planes:
While the other half puts you in control of Jack Driscoll as he zips around in a plane, shooting down the other fighter pilots to provide Kong with enough cover to escape.
"Treason is a small price to pay to hit on Naomi Watts!"
Jack literally murders U.S. soldiers trying to protect their country from a rampaging Gorilla Hercules so Kong can haul ass back to the tropics. Somehow, Jack and Ann manage to get him away from the assembled military forces and onto a freighter bound for Skull Island, which is explained by a single shot of a boat pulling out of New York Harbor. How did they find a giant monkey-hauling steamer on such short notice, or get Kong on board without being spotted? How did they plan to make it across the ocean without being run down by the Coast Guard? Don't worry your pretty little head about it.
"Well, gang, we made it! Boy, it's a good thing all of that other stuff happened."
Then, we see Jack and Ann circling the highest peak of Skull Island, which for some reason is Pride Rock, while Kong roars triumphantly to celebrate his total not-deadness.
Presumably to a soundtrack by Elton John.