Tim Burton is one of the most prolific and stylistic directors to ever pick up a camera. The guy has practically been a pop-culture icon since the days of Beetlejuice, and his career has only thrived. But, as wonderful as his movies are, it’s sad to say that he hasn’t ventured into the realm of videogames.
Unlike fellow directors like George Lucas and James Gunn, Burton has not directed or made any videogames for his fans to experience. Fortunately, multiple games take a few cues and choices from his distinctive style. From eccentric characters to dark and curious artwork, Burton’s influence can certainly be felt throughout the medium.
10 Destroy All Humans
Honestly, how can one look at this game and not think of Mars Attacks? Although it’s probably safe to say players would rather hear Krypto’s Jack-Nicholson-like voice instead of a continuous barrage of “ACK! ACK! ACK!” Either way, there’s a delightfully demented flavor that seems all too familiar. The humor might be darker, the visuals might be different, and the weapons are a tad less cartoony, but the influence from Burton’s sci-fi schlockfest is still there.
9 Flipping Death
Part point-and-click-adventure, part puzzle-platformer, and part ghoulishly goofy Burton production, Flipping Death is a strange hybrid. Essentially, players take up the role of a substitute Grim Reaper trying to help restless spirits in the land of the dead by messing around with the denizens of the mortal realm.
Corpse Bride motifs aside, the story itself is so outlandish and the characters are so over the top that one might mistake the game’s script for a Burton original. It certainly checks a lot of boxes for some of his stop-motion work.
8 Batman Arkham Asylum
Burton will always be one of the best Batman directors—no questions asked—because he knew that Batman was a comic book first and a movie second. So, many incarnations that came after his 1989 version follow his influence remarkably, and Batman: Arkham Asylum is no different.
From the powerful Danny Elfman-esque score to the dark humor of the Joker, Burton’s Batman would definitely feel right at home in this Playstation classic, and that’s not even mentioning Scarecrow’s levels.
7 Alice: Madness Returns
American McGee’s Alice will forever be the gothic-horror-inspired take on Alice In Wonderland, but one can’t help but wonder if its sequel didn’t peek over Burton’s version for inspiration.
Since Burton’s remake of the Disney classic came out a year prior and Madness Returns is a great deal more visually stimulating than its predecessor, diving into brighter colors and more eccentric style choices, it definitely feels like certain bits of burton worked their way in. Homage to another director or copying what was popular? It’s up to the player to decide.
There are definitely some Beetlejuice vibes going on with a splash of Nightmare Before Christmas in MedEvil. The tale of an undead knight as an underdog story? How has that not been a Tim Burton production already?
Joking aside, the game wears its Burton influence on its sleeve. It’s practically one Danny Elfman soundtrack away from completion. From its undead cast to the quirky expressions and humor, it’s perfect for any fan of the director’s work.
5 Don’t Starve
A touch darker than the famous director might go, but Don’t Starve’s sketchy art-style bears the mark of Burton to a certain extent. The woods might not be the ghoulish delight that Burton might employ, but the spooky nature and shadowy background is certainly familiar.
Burton’s dark, vaguely sinister vibe meshes perfectly with this title, and the artwork and character design definitely look like things that would live in his sketchbook.
4 Little Nightmares
Consequently, Little Nightmares bears some hardcore Burton influence with its horror. A small character in a great-big-scary world hiding from deformed human-inspired monsters sounds exactly like something the director would do in one of his darker forrays.
The threats are always visible and grotesque, but the scares are drenched in anticipation more than anything else. The game definitely has an overall dream/nightmare-like quality that never leaves the player.
3 Little Big Planet
Of course, not everything Burton does has been dark and gothic; sometimes all he really needs is an excuse to be witty and weird, and there are few better examples of that than Little Big Planet. Take one look at Sackboy and just try not to compare him to a Tim Burton creation.
The worlds of the game can be weird, dark, funny, adorable, or a strange combination of concepts, and the characters are quirky and wide-eyed. Honestly, we can’t believe he didn’t invent the series himself.
2 Hollow Knight
With its color palette, character design, and bizarre blend of cute and creepy, there’s something very Nightmare Before Christmas about Hollow Knight. The white, skull-like faces of the hero and ally characters, the grim setting and eccentric characters, and curious realms hidden in the world of Hollow Nest definitely carry that Burton vibe. One can’t help but wonder what the Knight, Hornet, and other creatures might look like in a stop-motion style. Maybe Burton could do a film adaptation someday?
1 The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge
Although Burton wasn’t in charge, his characters and world got a full videogame-sequel treatment with Oogie’s Revenge. Perfect for any fan of Burton or The Nightmare Before Christmas, this hack-and-slash title saw Jack return to Halloween Town to discover that no-account Oogie Boogie has returned, along with some vicious new friends.
Everything from the characters to the world design positively drips with Burton’s handiwork. He might not have made it himself, but the creators certainly did their homework.
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