Dungeons and Dragons is cool and all, but what about video games?
Stranger Things season 1 drew heavily on Dungeons and Dragons for inspiration. With season 2 just around the corner (and the Duffer brothers talking about seasons 3 and 4), we’re speculating about what other games the series could draw inspiration from.
The ’80s was the heyday of video games, drawing kids to arcades in droves. The trailer for Stranger Things 2 showed us that Dustin, Will, Lucas, and Mike find themselves at an arcade to play games.
So which ’80s video games might provide inspiration for the future seasons of Stranger Things? Here’s a few we think might do the trick.
‘Stranger Things’ season 1 recap
Last week, Netflix released a video game-themed recap of Stranger Things season 1 called “Level Up”, which makes us think our theories about video games as inspiration might just be on to something. Watch the video, then read on to see which video games we think might inspire future seasons of the series.
Stranger Things has already tapped into Dragon’s Lair as inspiration. Dustin plays Dragon’s Lair at the arcade in the trailer for Stranger Things 2 while Lucas, Will, and Mike cheer him on. The trailer shows him losing the game, as the dragon engulfs the protagonist in flames.
Dragon’s Lair was first introduced into arcades in 1983. Players took on the role of Dirk the Daring and attempted to rescue Princess Daphne from an evil dragon. The game had excellent graphics for the time, but limited game play.
To increase the game’s difficulty, levels were mixed up. For every game, the order of the levels would change, some levels would be played more than once, and some levels would even be mirrored.
From what we know about Stranger Things 2, doesn’t that sound familiar? A daring knight trying to help a girl in danger? Familiar places turned around? Sounds like Mike, Eleven, and the Upside Down to me. I think we’ll see these themes play out in Stranger Things 2 — and beyond. Maybe we’ll even get a dragon in season 3. Who knows!
‘The Evil Dead’
Inspired by the 1981 movie of the same name, The Evil Dead video game came out in 1984. Game play takes place in the cabin featured in the film. Players must defeat the monsters in the cabin, as well as close windows to prevent more monsters from entering.
Barricading a house in order to defeat monsters? Starting to sound familiar? All I can picture is Jonathan and Nancy setting traps for the demogorgon and Jonathan wielding that nail-studded bat.
In order to maintain energy in The Evil Dead video game, players must also continually pick up new weapons. If Stranger Things takes a cue from The Evil Dead video game, we’ll hopefully get to see more homemade weapons and more monster traps in the coming seasons.
This may be my little shipper heart at work, but I’m also hoping that a barricaded cabin features Nancy and Jonathan. They do make an excellent monster-fighting duo!
The ’80s saw a lot of space-themed video games, especially ones where the player shoots creatures attacking from above. Phoenix was one of those games, but it had something unique to offer. It was one of the first arcade games with a “boss.”
The original Phoenix game was released in 1980. The game consisted of five levels. The first four levels had multiple alien birds the player had to shoot and destroy. In the last level, players faced the Phoenix mothership. Players needed to create a hole in the ship in order to get a clear shot at the alien inside.
I think we can expect Stranger Things to get stranger by the season. The monster lurking in the sky in the Stranger Things 2 trailer already looks more formidable than the demogorgon from season 1. If Stranger Things draws inspiration from ‘80s video games like Phoenix, the monsters will keep getting bigger and scarier with every season.
The hole players must create in Phoenix to destroy the final monster could provide inspiration for Stranger Things as well. What kind of hole must Mike and the gang create to get to the Upside Down, then escape it? What kind of other problems might that create for them? What monsters might it unleash?
Forbidden Forest is another one of those ’80s shooter games, but instead of taking place in outer space, this one takes place on Earth. This detail alone reminds me of Stranger Things, taking place somewhere familiar enough, but plagued by mysterious creatures.
The original game was released in 1983. In it, players had to use a bow and arrows to shoot the various monsters. It had typical forest spiders, bees, and snakes. It also had some more monstrous creatures like mutated frogs, dragons, and even a demogorgon.
A sequel to the game called Beyond the Forbidden Forest was released in 1985. This version had monsters too, including a hydra. In this version of the game, players only faced the more difficult monsters like the hydra and demogorgon after defeating enough creatures to pass into the underworld.
If we get far enough into the mythology of Stranger Things, might we see a completely different world? The Upside Down is creepy, but it still has grounding elements of Hawkins. If future seasons of Stranger Things draw on video games and their sequels like Forbidden Forest, we might start to enter alien territory.
They could also draw inspiration from the monsters in Forbidden Forest. If Dragon’s Lair doesn’t inspire the inclusion of a dragon, this game might. A hydra would also make an excellent monster for a future season.
There are plenty more ’80s video games the Duffer brothers can turn to for inspiration including Ghost Manor, Defender, and Wizard of Wor. Even Alien, the movie companion of which inspired one of the posters for Stranger Things 2, could provide some ideas. The four listed here have just enough common ground with Stranger Things season 1 to give a spring board for the future.
Who knows? Maybe Stranger Things 3 and Stranger Things 4 will surprise us with monsters we never expected and ’80s references drawn from other sources. The only way to find out is to watch it happen!