Just because an idea is successful in one entertainment medium, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in another. Need proof? Look no further than some of the misguided game releases made off the back of successful TV shows.
So it begs the question, just why do these shows get remade in video game form? Put simply – it sells. Developers are fully aware that fanatics of popular television shows are likely to pick up something that adds extra context and variety to their favorite show’s premise.
Sadly though, many of these attempts are not adapted cohesively enough to please gamers. Graphics, gameplay, and story are what matters most to players, and only the story aspect tends to be fully fleshed out. Of course, there are exceptions…
Games like The Simpsons: Hit & Run and The Walking Dead proved that TV shows could be made into quality games (in the right hands). With that said, these are certainly in the minority. Because as you will see on this list, catering to TV show fans, as well as the gaming community is one of the trickiest feats to pull off. Sadly, these fifteen titles failed miserably in almost every way in their attempts to merge the two formats.
15 Dark Angel
You’d think any excuse to see Jessica Alba would be much welcomed, however, after ten minutes with Dark Angel, you’ll quickly regret having that train of thought.
There’s nothing quite as frustrating as a game that poorly incorporates stealth and by this token, Dark Angel is up there with the worst offenders. The system is fundamentally flawed due to the fact that enemies won’t even react if they spot you and the camera angles are incredibly obstructive. Along with this are some downright ugly visuals, storytelling that makes the show seem like Shakespeare, and illogical level designs.
Maybe if you can’t get enough of the TV show, there might be something to enjoy in its authentic presentation. From a gameplay standpoint, however, Dark Angel is anything but angelic.
14 Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!
Owners of the Super Nintendo were treated to this little gaming turkey in 1994, the completely baffling game adaptation of the popular sitcom Home Improvement. Even more mystifying is the fact that it was a platforming game, which just doesn’t connect with the show in any way.
You could improve your home exponentially by not letting this game within 100 miles of it. The music alone is enough to infuriate even the most patient gamer and the less said about the sheer lack of originality the better.
Now, it’s not all completely terrible. Some of the platforming is passable and the graphics aren’t too shabby. Seriously though, who was asking for this game to be made? Feels more like cheap bucks pursuit in all honesty.
13 Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm
Ever played Deadliest Catch: Alaskan Storm? If not, we’re here to tell you why you never should. Game developers Liquid Dragon Studios attempted to reel in gamers and fans of the show with one of the most boring titles of the last generation of consoles.
You’ll start to feel stir crazy after just ten long boring minutes of gameplay, which, for fans of the show, is the complete antithesis of the exciting television show. This snooze fest is underpinned by some poorly implemented ideas, exhibiting a product that was clearly rushed at every step of the way.
It represents everything that you don’t want in a game – choppy framerate, tedious gameplay, shoddy visuals and finicky controls, all adding up to make a game that is more tortuous than it is fun.
It’s usually tough to criticize a game that was released when gaming was much more limited in its capabilities, but in the case of ALF, those criticisms are entirely justified.
On top of the fact that it’s basically just a carbon copy of E.T., there’s also a real lack of merit in almost every department of the game. Your goal is to collect spaceship parts, all while avoiding those pesky F.B.I. agents. As frustrating as that can be, the worst mechanics of the game are saved for the bikers who speed at you with reckless abandon. Surely they’re easy to avoid though? Well no, considering that you’re given a split second to dodge them. Oh, and the music is ear-bleedingly bad.
We can all get past a lack of graphical quality, but there’s no excusing the infuriating unfairness that cripples every aspect of ALF’s gameplay.
11 Lost: Via Domus
Released in 2008 at the height of the show’s popularity, Lost: Via Domus is one of those games that does one thing right and a plethora of things wrong. Basically, what we have is a game that’s as mystifying as its TV counterpart.
In Lost: Via Domus, players take the role of Elliott Maslow, a photojournalist who is trying to recover his memory after a devastating place crash. Sound familiar? While the narrative is well woven into the show’s otherworldly mystique, the game suffers from extremely linear gameplay and gobsmackingly limited replay value. A few hours and you’re done, ensuring that if this one is lost in your games collection, you’ll probably not care.
Despite some nice touches, like a few of the show’s actors providing voiceovers and admirable close to the source storytelling, Lost: Via Domus is yet another example of a show transitioning to gaming in quite a cash grab way.
10 Desperate Housewives: The Game
Now I know I’m probably not the target audience for this title, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that its gameplay is utterly lifeless. Released in 2006 for the PC, Desperate Housewives: The Game is a desperate attempt at recreating The Sims.
That’s if you are even able to run the game. Issues arose with players not able to get the game booted up, or the lucky ones as I call them. Because if you did manage to get it working, you were subjected to insultingly simplistic gameplay, not to mention poor performance rates and problems with crashing.
Despite a fairly well-written narrative and multiple endings, there’s really not much reason to subject yourself to it. Shameful product placement ploys only serve to sully this drab life simulator even more.
9 American Idol
Let’s face it, this was never going to be good. But American Idol managed to outdo its own tepid expectations. Why, I hear you ask? Well how about taking the singing component and resigning it to the face buttons.
Yes, that’s right. The premise with which the whole game is based around is made redundant due to the fact that you’re basically just tapping to the beat. Imagine PaRappa the Rapper without the style and substance, and you’re close to just how abominable American Idol is.
Even more infuriating is having to listen to the judges’ ridicule you, when really, the criticism should be directed solely at this turgid mess. With games like SingStar actually allowing you to sing, you’d either have to be a huge Clay Aiken fan or a sadist to get any enjoyment here. It’s a no from me Simon.
8 The Dukes of Hazzard II: Daisy Dukes It Out
Oh dear. Did we really need a sequel to the first Dukes of Hazzard game? Apparently so, and unsurprisingly, it’s even worse.
Okay, so the cutscene intro is hilariously creepy, but there’s not much past that. Throughout the game’s 18 missions, you’ll run errands and compete in time trials, and that’s about the level of variety on display. You’ll quickly find that there’s been no change at all from its shoddy predecessor, from the ugly visuals to the downright dull missions – everything that should have been given a makeover simply wasn’t. Mind-numbingly poor music and unreliable controls round out this forgettable project.
The creators of The Dukes games must live by a new philosophy – if it’s broke, still don’t fix it. Forget Dukes of Hazzard, this whole game is one huge hazard. Avoid at all cost!
7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King
Buffy fans and Game Boy Advance players were surely buzzing for this exclusive game from the successful vampire slaying TV series. However, the developers stuck a dagger in the game’s own heart with a control layout that boggles the senses.
Released in 2003, it tries to be Streets of Rage while only supplying the rage element. You’ll realize just how poor this game is as soon as you begin, with a scant tutorial that barely touches on the fundamental controls needed. You’ll spend a lot of time flailing around, trying to connect with punches but to no avail. Outside of the combat, the platforming sections are really poorly implemented, due to the unpredictable jumping success rate. All in all, everything just feels shoddily stitched together.
The Game Boy Advance was a great handheld gaming device, which compounds just how bad this title is compared to some of its greater achievements. Castlevania anyone?
6 The Shield
As one of the most popular crime shows of the current century, it’s probably no surprise that The Shield was poached for a gaming conversion. However, its release was dogged by a lengthy development time and a serious case of identity crisis. Sadly, it shows.
The only thing you’ll be shielding are your eyes whenever the game boots up. Retina burning graphics, clunky and counter-intuitive controls, and glitch-heavy gameplay just increase the frustration as you plod through the game’s thoroughly repetitive missions.
Even if you loved the show, you’ll likely be disappointed by just how lacking in style and panache the game is compared to its TV counterpart. As far as TV show tie-ins go, The Shield is up there with the very worst examples.
5 Pimp My Ride
In this tie-in to the popular show Pimp My Ride, players are tasked with roaming ‘pimp city’ in an attempt to pimp out a multitude of vehicles. Word of warning though: if for some reason you planned on getting the game for the PSP, you’ll find a title infinitely worse than on the other platforms.
Besides specific platform versions, this game is just nauseating in every way. From the hollow premise to the shocking framerate – Pimp My Ride is one of those games that fails to meet any of the standards that apply to most modern video games. You will encounter glitches, crashes, and bugs no matter what console you’re playing on, and with the depressing amount of terrible mini-games attached to its core, you’ll probably not want to reboot it if said crashes occur.
It won’t be long until you’re trying to pimp this one out to anyone that’s brave enough take it from you.
4 The Sopranos: Road to Respect
Another TV series that was given its own gaming adaptation was The Sopranos. As one of the best shows of all-time, you’d think that maybe the game could deliver at least some of the goods.
Well unfortunately, that’s not the case. The game simply boils down to beating scores of thugs by repeatedly hitting the punch button. Fun… But it gets worse. The world that you ‘explore’ in Road to Respect is so linear that it might as well not even be in the game. Missions feel disjointed, the graphics are sub-par at best, and it lacks the sharp wit synonymous with the show.
In other words, this licensed game is horribly shallow. The only road you’ll be taking after spending time with this sorry excuse for a game is to the thrift shop.
3 Prison Break: The Conspiracy
You know that when a game switches developers on multiple occasions, it’s probably not going to be very good. Case and point – Prison Break: The Conspiracy.
Following the events of the show, the game puts players in control of Tom Paxton, an undercover agent who must infiltrate the prison and investigate the two protagonists from the show. So yeah, don’t go thinking you’ll be playing as Scofield or Lincoln. That’s the least of the issues here though. The plot is already known if you’re a fan of the show, which really strips the nail-biting aspects away, leaving you with the godawful gameplay.
Combat is stiff, stealth sections are stale, quests are repetitive, and the graphics are uninspired. There’s no conspiracy here – the game just sucks.
2 Doctor Who: Return to Earth
We’re really getting down to the worst now, with a game that is so bad, you’ll wish you could enter a time machine and go back to before you started playing it.
Yes, it’s Doctor Who: Return to Earth. While there have been many games released under the Doctor Who umbrella, none are as devoid of merit as that of the Wii exclusive Return to Earth. The graphics are like a PS1 game, the A.I. is infuriating, and the gameplay is so awful, you’ll wonder how this got past any form of quality control. Simply put, you’ll spend all of your time collecting crystals. Such variety… Any positives? It was given a limited release, meaning you could be one of the lucky ones who managed to miss it. Jealous!
The games on this list are terrible, but Return to Earth lowers the bar so low, it almost deserves its own sub-section. Don’t return to earth – return to a game that’s actually playable instead.
1 Celebrity Deathmatch
Let’s start off by saying that the MTV show Celebrity Deathmatch was awesome. Now, with the praise out of the way, let’s get onto why the game is such a steaming pile of garbage.
Almost every facet of it is sluggish, from the repetitive fights to the bare game modes – it’s like the makers of it didn’t even have faith in it. Sure, it’s cool to see some of the faces from the show make appearances, but even that can’t suppress the frustration felt from the hollow gameplay. After 15 minutes of playtime, you’ll be ready to call it quits on this gaming turkey.
You’ll feel like the game’s fatalities have been committed on you by the end, making this probably the worst game that’s ever been adapted from a TV show.