Every generation will look back at the past and ask “what where they thinking?” Especially, with the effort behind the production whether it’s very little or helluva lot. For the 80s, 90s and some of the 00s merchandising was a big money over to the point everything had toys, video games, lunch boxes or shoes. Though, the video game version of a tv show was fun at times as people wanted to be in on the action others were “head scratchers”. This isn’t a list or a countdown but merely a reflection of some TV shows dabbled in video game adaptations; the good, the bad and the ugly ones. It’s not the series that seals it fate but the development and direction of the game and weird enough for example Game of Thrones has several titles that falls under all three of these descriptions.
Cash grabs and quick additions to make money off of a show is an insult to both the television audience and video game audience that they would invest in an inferior product. Of course, there is a market for everything there hence the smaller budget of these games but before IOS and Androids were available platforms, moderate or low budget games went to PC or consoles only to make moderate sales.
Home Improvement moved from the silly sitcom that it was known for and became a platformer with Tim Allen jumping around with a nail gun and flamethrower. Aside, from animated tv shows you have to give Tool Time credit for venturing into the video game realm where others hadn’t, especially during the 90s. That’s an example of catering to the audience who may have heard of the how or were following it enough to play a game.
The Sopranos was a hit show that had a mature audience and with games like GTA being a runaway success you’d think THQ would try to go in that direction, it’s a no-brainer since TellTale hadn’t really hit the scene, but instead of a GTA clone they went the opposite direction and did it poorly. Almost every gameplay and graphical issue persisted that wasn’t game-breaking the only saving grace is the cast from the showing up to reprise their roles…
These are merely examples of a pool of shovelware based off of TV shows not just budget constraints but poor communication developing titles or no direction. Which is a shame because it only brings down value of the franchise.
The Bad fall under games that have strong factors in some aspects but a terrible at other spots. Usually, it’s gameplay due to budget constraints but hiring the cast from the show or similar writers help sell the game anyway. Once stated by someone on the Pixel8Bit podcast, “you can be an excellent actor but a terrible voice actor”, he was referring to Prison Break: The Conspiracy based off the show Prison Break. Hailed for it’s graphics and twisting storyline but the gameplay and voice acting were the weakest point. Close to a perfect execution but didn’t stick the landing.
The Desperate Housewives video game went a similar route. It’s ingenious to make a Sims-like PC adaption of what Wikipedia calls “an American soap opera mystery comedy-drama television series” but simple enough you customize a family of three then begin with an isometric view of your home where you can move your characters about and interact with NPCs to follow the storyline. Sims is a game of sassy drama and hijinks and the Desperate Housewives tries to recreate it but due to the budget of the game software issues and rudimentary gameplay held it back. Where the previous two had weaker gameplay and poor everything else or bugs.
Dark Angel went the other route. Though, level design hindered the game along with stealth mechanics that felt more like chance than skill the details, voice acting and combat won brownie points but didn’t save the title overall.
You see a lot shows based off of animated series from kids cartoon shows to raunchy older content it’s easy to grasp an audience where the majority already play video games. Where The Sopranos: Road to Respect failed is where The Game of Thrones flourished, as mentioned earlier but for the Good, Telltale already had a formula for combing gameplay with an emotional narrative and knocked it out of the park with their own take on the series. As a matter of fact, Telltale adapted other shows like CSI, Law & Order and Wallace & Gromit using a point and click narrative.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds was a mid-budgeted game by Eurocom that had great gameplay along with graphics and acting. It had praised reviews especially for a series people weren’t expecting after previous entries from other developers. Just to name a few games but these titles are well made with the right studio.
While movie adaptations are very common the realm of TV edge in every now and then. Usually someone will be gutsy enough to try and adapt a show but if the first attempt doesn’t work out it’ll be one and done. On the other hand, long running series such as The Simpsons or South Park gives more opportunities for more games since the shows still has an interest even if one game doesn’t work out. Things have slowed down a bit regarding adaptions for consoles the smaller budgets games have seen renown success on the mobile market. Quick and cost-effective to make and with users that’ll make a return on the investment. Where Desperate Housewives stumbled with a Sims-like game they’ve seen success with a mobile game instead but one of these days we’ll get a fun Cobra Kai game for PC or consoles.