is out with a sub-20% Tomatometer, continuing the rotten curse of daring to turn a video game into a movie. Meanwhile, it’s been a few days since the debut of Assassin’s Creed: The Motion Picture A New Frontier, the 3rd season of TellTale’s generally acclaimed Walking Dead graphic adventures series. Game adaptations of TV and pop culture are no longer automatically deemed foregone embarrassments, but it’s been a long and bottomless pit-marred road getting here. To prove our point, we present the 15 most questionable movie and TV video game adaptations ever, the ones that were baffling even during the design document stage — if they even had one!
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Atari 2600)
In translating a movie into video game action, maybe something could’ve been made out of
E.T.‘s dirt bike scenes (Atari’s own showed biking is fraught
with neighborhood peril), but the game instead tasks you the drudgery of assembling phones and avoiding the
open shallow graves that apparently dot the California landscape. Atari infamously gave a single
programmer six weeks to create this game to meet the Christmas rush; its mass overproduction paved
the way for the 1983 industry crash, giving rise to the persistent legend that
thousands Paperboy E.T. cartridges were buried in a New Mexico landfill. (Myth: confirmed.)
M*A*S*H (1983, Atari 2600)
Probe 1-bit pink bodies for shrapnel and, in keeping with the show’s life-affirming outlook, blast
Korean aircraft with mobile artillery. Suicide is painless, this game…arguable.
The Dallas Quest (1984, Apple IIe)
Traditionally speaking, the adventures of oil scumbag J.R. Ewing may not be ripe stuff to turn into
a video game. How many points do you get when you threaten Sue Ellen? Is a story cliffhanger a 1up
or a continue? Luckily at this time, the burgeoning graphic adventure genre was widening
storytelling vistas in gaming, moving the medium away from slaying aliens and dodging flaming
barrels. Suddenly, rifling through J.R.’s underwear drawer for clues became the bleeding edge in
The Rocky Horror Show Computer Game (1985, Commodore 64)
Welcome to casa de Frank N. Furter, where our violent staff will tear off your clothing at
the slightest brush, and a single chiptune of “The Time Warp” plays on repeat over the PA in every
room. Should you find all the pieces to destroy Frank’s Medusa Transducer, your stay ends and you
win the coveted prize of doing anything else.
The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island (1990, NES)
The game’s title suggests you’ll be playing as the island itself, ramming into ocean cruisers or
acting as a landing strip for Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. Instead, you’re the skipper, whose sprite
suggests the walking he’s doing in this game is the most exercise he’s gotten in years. And that’s
what this game is about: walking, with a time limit. Your partner-in-boredom is NPC Gilligan, the
guy who couldn’t read a compass, now tasked with following you via alternating his feet one in front
of the other. Good luck. Not even the Harlem Globetrotters can save you now.
Wayne’s World (1993, NES)
This makes no sense. Why are walking saxophones attacking Wayne? Why do ninjas live in Rob Lowe’s
apartment? Where is the GRATUITOUS SEX SCENE?! It’s like people only do things because they get
paid, and that’s just really sad.
Bebe’s Kids (1994, SNES)
While there’s appeal in children inflicting bodily harm upon grown-ups (the Home Alone game
is like some sort of Dungeon Keeper Jr.), it’s taken to a disturbing extreme in this
adaptation of the animated Bebe’s Kids movie. Based on the late comedian Reginald Hudlin’s
experience with his girlfriend’s kids, you play as one of two Bebe’s babes, wailing on adults and
dogs because everybody’s at the same theme park (and not an InGen death trap, a regular one). What
kind of future millennials behavior is that?
Home Improvement (1994, SNES)
You are Tim Taylor: secret Binford Group illuminati agent here to brainwash the masses with simian
grunts and chiseled suburban machismo. Your main platform is DIY repair show Tool Time, and
now the time has come to go backstage and clear out the dinosaurs, giant scorpions,
aliens, and teamsters hanging around the soundstages. Is this what networks could afford when 100 million
people were watching every night?
Blues Brothers 2000 (2000, Nintendo 64)
A Banjo-Kazooie clone (minus the Kazooie) from the makers of Superman 64. Remember
not everything needs a video game adaptation, just like not every movie needs a sequel 18 years
Little Nicky (2000, Game Boy Color)
You wouldn’t think so, but moderate care went into making this game, with its clever level design,
minigame selection, and intact raunchy lines. Perfect while sitting backseat during family
countryside drives in the diesel buggy or whatever people drove back then. An Adam Sandler game
better than the movie? Must be the work of the Devil!
Desperate Housewives: The Game (2006, PC)
Like The Sims, except everything looks awful and you can’t build a swimming pool with no
ladder to end the misery. The goal to bang anything that moves remains the same.
The Office (2007, PC)
Kudos to the developers for making a game that accurately simulates the mind-numbing, soul-crushing,
micromanaged-til-it-hurts monotony of working in a real office. We await the fun version in the
Grey’s Anatomy (2009, Wii)
A game where you must navigate and put up with other people’s emotions, while flicking and swiping
through medical operation segments well beneath your talent. Soon to be re-packaged for VR as the
Stephen Strange Shithead Simulator.
Mean Girls (2009, Nintendo DS)
The rights to Mean Girls must’ve fallen between Paramount’s couch cushions, explaining why
the game didn’t come out ’til five years after the movie played. Lindsay Lohan doesn’t appear on the
box cover because starring in I Know Who Killed Me carries a certain
je ne sais quoi over lowly video game appearances. So much, in fact, that the game was
never released in America, robbing us Yankee plebs of other Europe-exiled artworks like Johnny
Depp’s , or The Brave .
Saw (2009, PS3 & X360)
The fact that there’s an audience for a movie-licensed torture simulator says more about you than the people who made the game. Because it isn’t life on the edge without a bear trap on your head.