Remember how last year's writer's strike was going to doom our favorite television shows? Well, here we are a year later and the prime-time dramas are hotter than ever. Recent episodes of Lost, Battlestar Galactica and even 24 have kept viewers on the edge of their seats, and I hear that there are even a few sorry souls hopeful that Heroes will return to its former glory. There's no doubt about it, TV shows are hot right now.
And there's not only hot on the television machine, they are also hot on the video game consoles. Lately there have been a number of popular shows brought to the home console, including CSI, Kim Possible and Iron Chef America. And that's not all; companies are already lining up games for Hell's Kitchen, Grey's Anatomy and Heroes. With more established characters and longer story arcs, television makes a lot of sense for the video game industry.
However, not every game based on a television show makes sense. While I can understand a game based on Lost, I have a hard time understanding why anybody would something based on Grey's Anatomy. Unfortunately the last twenty years have been littered with terrible examples of pointless TV games. To help refresh your memory we thought it would be fun to take a journey back in time and expose the 10 Most Unnecessary TV Games of All Time!
The Show: It's was a Saturday Night Live sketch that featured a couple of losers (played by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey) who become local celebrities thanks to their low-budget public access TV show. Each episode would
center around the boys interviewing local newsmakers, ranking women and pawning over a much younger Madonna. Due to the popularity of the SNL sketches, Wayne's World was adapted for the big screen. Schwing!
The Game: When Paramount Pictures announced that they were going to turn the Saturday Night Live sketch into a feature-length movie I had some doubts, but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. When THQ announced that they were developing games based on the Saturday Night Live sketch I was equally skeptical ... and for good reason. Unlike the movie of the same name, Wayne's World was a horrific video game that should never have been. Loosely (and boy do I mean it) based on the fake TV show, Wayne's World has you run around a traditional 2D side scrolling world kill evil creatures with your guitar. You read that right, you shoot out killer sound waves by strumming your guitar. It really is one of the most preposterous scenarios in video game history, and outside of the game's lead character this game share absolutely nothing with the Saturday Night Live skit. THQ should be ashamed to have put the name Wayne's World on this terrible game.
The Show: It's hard to believe that this terrible, terrible animated TV series came from two of this generation's sharpest minds. Family Dog's original episode (a section of CBS's Amazing Stories special) came from the work of Brad Bird (The Iron Giant,
The Incredibles) and Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands). Yet when CBS picked up the show none of the love and care that was found in the first episode translated. We were stuck with a TV show that was clearly written by people who had never owned a dog. CBS would only run two episodes before cancelling the series.
The Game: So let me get this straight, it's a 2D platformer that is based on a TV show that barely made it three episodes? In theory the game could have worked, it was about the everyday life of a dog and the places he goes. So, in one level you'll be slumming around the house, while in another level the entire family goes to the beach. Taken from the dog's perspective the game was actually rather interesting, but was ultimately marred by bad gameplay and any real lack of continuity with the actual TV show. Sadly, like the TV show this game wasn't very funny. There were hints of humor here and there; however there is not a single point in this game where you would laugh out loud. Perhaps that's why the TV show was cancelled after only two episodes?
Desperate Housewives: The Game
The Show: It's the ABC prime-time soap opera about a murder and the lives that it changes. Well,
actually it's about these ridiculously attractive women and all of the weird situations they get themselves into. Not to mention all of the different men, and the cat fighting and the ... well ... is this show really about anything at this point?
The Game: The game uses The Sims template and adds a bunch of sexy content. But don't worry, it's not THAT sexy. Like the show it's based on, the game is surprisingly tame. The biggest problem is that all of the characters are really small, but fans of the show will be disappointed when they realize that most of the characters don't act like their television counterparts. Also annoying is how little the game's "plot" has to do with the TV show's narrative. The biggest problem is that the show's themes and material don't lend themselves well to an interactive medium. There's a reason that General Hospital, As the World Turns and All My Children have never been ported to a game system, and it's because soap operas do not make compelling video games.
The Show: It's the show about the cat-eating space alien who is adopted by a loving middle class family. No really, that was the whole premise. And it managed to last a few years, even with its amazing guy-in-suit special effect technology. The jokes were stale, none of the
cast had good comic timing and the show's writers never missed a chance to steer the ship into melodramatic waters. And did I mention that he liked to eat cats?
The Game: How do you make a compelling game out of a show about a cat-eating alien? Well, you don't. ALF (as in Alien Life Form) is a terrible side-scrolling action game that feels lazy, even by TV video game standards. Part of the problem is that almost none of the memorable supporting cast shows up, and the ones that do don't have much to do with the overall story. Worse yet, nobody acts in a normal fashion in this forced 2D side scroller. There's not one single laugh to be had in this game, and at the end of the day it just feels like the developers were trying to push a solid license into a completely unrelated game. Perhaps there's a reason why this game never made it past the Sega Master System.
South Park: Chef's Luv Shack
The Show: Comedy Central's long-running animated show isn't afraid to offend people. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if in the show's 12 year run they managed to offend every race, religion, sex or body type. Heck, it's not even afraid to take on other cartoons,
such as Family Guy and The Simpsons. And let's not forget that when Matt Stone and Trey Parker teamed up with Blizzard, the World of Warcraft episode became one of the most honored cartoons in television history. You never know what you're going to get with South Park.
The Game: The idea was sound: Take a You Don't Know Jack-style game show, mix in South Park humor, add the voice of Isaac Hayes and port it to every console that would have it. The problem is that making a good game show is harder than it looks. For one thing you need to have a lot of questions, and Chef's Luv Shack is woefully unprepared when it comes to the question department. Another problem is that the questions that are there aren't very good, and even the hardest questions aren't actually that difficult to solve. And did I mention that the game doesn't actually give you the right answer if you mess up? Unlike every other quiz game ever made, Chef's Luv Shack decides to leave the answer a mystery just in case you run into it again. With superior quiz games on the market, South Park: Chef's Luv Shack is definitely one of the most unnecessary TV games of all time.