Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Fallout Models the Ideal Video Game Adaptation

Share This Post

In 1993, Mario, everyone’s favorite Italian plumber, made his big screen debut in Super Mario Bros. The release of this first-ever live-action, feature-length video game adaptation kicked off the tie-in media trend, with most entries being derided as B-movie shlock. 

Fast-forward three decades later, and video game adaptations are not only competing with superhero films for box office supremacy but are beginning to gain critical acclaim. Last year, the post-apocalyptic HBO show The Last of Us racked up eight Emmy awards, demonstrating that video game adaptations could be taken seriously as prestige dramas.

While many fans welcome the new-found respect that video game adaptations have received, others worry about an overly serious tonal shift taking place. Amazon Prime’s recent breakout hit TV show Fallout presents a model for how video game adaptations can deliver high-quality, character-driven storytelling without losing their sense of fun.

Fallout TV Show
Well-Crafted Worlds

The Fallout series takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Following a nuclear exchange that devastated the Earth in 2077, survivors took shelter in bunkers known as the Vaults. Over 200 years later, Lucy, a plucky resident of Vault 33, takes to the surface in search of her father. 

The production team must have had a blast designing the disaster-ridden, retro-futuristic world of Fallout. The Vaults have a clean, metallic look evoking a 1950s imagining of a high-tech age. By contrast, the town of Filly, one of the first places Lucy explores, looks like it was cobbled together from junk and debris. 

Beyond its impressive use of expansive and immersive sets, Fallout is jam packed with easter eggs, ranging from Nuka Cola bottles to a Red Rocket gas station. Gamers will enjoy spotting all of the lore-accurate weapons and gear filling each shot.

Humor & Horror 

A unique aspect of Fallout is how it approaches terrifying situations with both a sense of humor and realism. This blend of seemingly contradictory vibes comes together in a satisfying way. 

During the show’s run, Lucy finds herself cutting a man’s head off with a chainsaw, nearly disemboweled by a robot, and being used as bait for a salamander-like creature called a Gulper. All of these situations are horrifying on their face and yet somehow they are played for laughs.

Even the most outlandish concepts like the Brotherhood of Steel’s gigantic metal knights or a talking brain-in-a-vat remain grounded. Part of what makes Fallout so funny is how earnestly the world’s characters respond to the most over-the-top scenarios and bizarre creatures.

Expanding the Lore 

One of the most difficult parts about adaptation is deciding how closely to stick to the source material. Fallout excels in this area, staying loyal to the video games’ aesthetic, tone, and major events, while forging new narrative ground and adding depth and context to older parts of the canon. 

A great example of reimaging canon comes from the Fallout franchises’ Vault Boy mascot, who famously poses with a thumbs up. A favorite fan theory speculated that the thumbs up represented a method to determine the distance of a nuclear blast.

The Fallout show turns this one debunked theory into canon. Cooper Howard, an actor known for playing cowboy characters, shows the thumbs up method to his daughter. It is even implied that Howard served as the inspiration for Vault Boy after starring in Vault-Tec advertisements.

Bringing Newcomers & Fans Together

With over 65 million viewers and great reviews, Fallout is set to return for a second season. The show managed to bring a complex environment to life. Newcomers have flocked to the game series, and the diehard crowd has been thrilled with the results. 

Creators should take note of this popular and critical success. Fallout offers an engaging mix that could serve as a litmus test for future video game adaptations. 

Images Courtesy of Amazon Prime

Have strong thoughts about this piece you need to share? Or maybe there’s something else on your mind
you’re wanting to talk about with fellow Fandomentals? Head on over to our Community server to join in
the conversation!

Latest Posts

Jonathan Hickman And Greg Capullo Team Up For Bloody New Prestige Series Wolverine: Revenge

The Best There Is by The Best There Is! Jonathan Hickman and Greg Capullo team up this August in WOLVERINE: REVENGE The five-issue prestige limited series will also be available in blood-soaked RED BAND EDITIONS.

Become the Oracle of Theros Using the New Magic: The Gathering Oracle Deck

It’s May 21st, which means you can now add...

Legendary Iron Fist Creators Alyssa Wong, Chris Claremont, David Aja, And More Return For 50th Anniversary Special

This August, celebrate 50 years of the Immortal Protector of K’un-Lun in IRON FIST 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL #1!

Skybound Announces New Invincible Licenses For Board Games, Dice, And Other Collectibles

Skybound Entertainment Announces Strategic Licensing Deals That Take Invincible from Screen to Shelf

Why Vecna is the Ultimate Dead by Daylight Killer

Vecna's addition as a Dead by Daylight killer recognizes DnD's 50-year history by making him a perfect addition to the murderous affairs of the Fog itself.

‘Thelma the Unicorn’ is too Autotuned

I don’t know quite how to feel about Thelma the...