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Worst Video Games Based on TV Shows

What happens when game developers try to capture the magic of popular TV shows? Spoiler alert: it's rarely good.

Can anyone tell me why video games based on TV shows keep getting made?

Over the years, we’ve seen some pretty bad ones. I am not really sure what happens when game developers try to create games based on existing shows. You would think it would be pretty simple, considering characters and storylines already exist. All you have to do is translate it to a playable game format, right?

Perhaps they spend too much on the rights, or maybe they think they can phone it in since shows already have fan bases. Whatever the problem is, I think game developers should stay away from TV series.

Don’t believe me? I have a pretty lengthy list of games based on TV shows that prove my point here. While there are surely some exceptions out there, there are just so many bad ones! So, buckle up – these video games are bad enough they might be worth a play, if only for the laughs.

Related: Voice Actors Who Brought Your Favorite Video Games to Life

The Sopranos: Road to Respect

A mob war is brewing. Oh, no, not if you’re playing The Sopranos: Road to Respect. This is just a bland and boring video game with the Sopranos name slapped on it. It desperately wants to be The Godfather or maybe Grand Theft Auto, but it’s just clunky controls, plenty of technical issues, and repetitive gameplay that can be completed in a few hours.

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

There are plenty of zombie games (and even Walking Dead games) that nail it, but The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct isn’t one of them. Even the absurd zombie spoof Goat Simulator GoatZ is exponentially better-made than this. Every character behaves exactly the same, it’s extremely buggy, and the story is basically non-existent.

Game of Thrones

Before 2014’s Game of Thrones, a video game from Telltale Games, came 2012’s game of the same name. This Game of Thrones was an action role-playing game that suffered from mediocre gameplay, low-quality graphics, and lame storytelling. Luckily the Telltale version came along and we all forgot about this one.

Alias

Fans of the TV series Alias might find some appeal here, as the game is made to tie directly into the show. It’s set between episodes 19 and 20 of season 2, and it features the voices of the show’s cast. In terms of a playable video game, though, there aren’t many other redeeming qualities. Everything’s pretty mediocre, and it’s not interesting enough to hold your interest for more than an hour or two. Might as well just watch the show.

Duck Dynasty

If you have ever wondered why on earth a reality show was made about a bunch of rich guys pretending to be rednecks, I’ll do you one better. There is also a video game about a reality show about a bunch of rich guys pretending to be rednecks. The graphics were already outdated when the game dropped in 2014, and the background never stops rendering. It is boringly simple, it’s riddled with bugs and glitches, and the voice acting is worse than the entire TV series put together.

Prison Break: The Conspiracy

Do you love outdated graphics, incoherent storytelling, and repetitive gameplay? If not, don’t bother playing Prison Break: The Conspiracy, because that’s all you will find. It fails to deliver a sliver of stealth, and feels like someone just made a game to capitalize on the popularity of Prison Break at the time.

The Simpsons Wrestling

I already included The Simpsons Wrestling in my list of worst video games ever, so clearly it also qualifies for this list, too. The too-simplistic gameplay means there’s really no skill involved, just mashing a bunch of buttons to hit the other character. That, paired with really awful animation, and you’re looking at a game that won’t keep you entertained for more than a couple of rounds.

Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know How!

I’d rather explore anything other than Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know How! I’m pretty sure the developers “don’t know how” to make an interesting game. You won’t find anything interesting at all – no cool enemies, side quests, or even good loot. It just feels very bland and repetitive, which doesn’t vibe with the TV show at all.

Lost: Via Domus

The TV series Lost was wildly popular, but it turns out that the writers were making up the story as they went along. That’s pretty impressive, considering they kept people tuning in for six seasons. Perhaps they should have hired some of those same writers for the video game, Lost: Via Domus. The uninteresting game was basically walking around the island’s jungle while talking to poorly-voiced characters.

Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!

If you’re curious about how good Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit! was, the game has been all but forgotten – so much so that it doesn’t even exist on Metacritic. It’s fine as a side-scrolling game, but “fine” is about where it ends. The game certainly isn’t challenging enough to hold anyone’s interest, as Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor collects tools and hardware through four worlds. At least developers had a sense of humor, replacing an actual instruction manual with a piece of paper that said “Real men don’t need instructions.”

House M.D.

As a huge fan of House, you could probably imagine my disappointment in the video game adaptation, House M.D. The premise of stepping into Dr. House’s shoes to unravel medical mysteries at Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital should have been infinitely more enthralling. Instead, it’s a mere five cases that you solve with simple puzzles.

Deadliest Catch: Sea of Chaos

The TV series Deadliest Catch was so darn interesting because it followed fishermen braving the terrifying elements in one of the most dangerous (and exciting) professions in the world. Unfortunately, that real-life intensity just doesn’t translate into a video game format. Instead, throwing crabs in a bucket, fixing part of a boat, and organizing said crabs feels less like an adventure, and more like chores.

BattleBots: Beyond the BattleBox

Ask any of your nerdy friends if they like the show Battlebots, and it’s very likely you’ll get a big “YES.” And who wouldn’t want to get in on the action and play for themselves?! Unfortunately, playing BattleBots: Beyond the BattleBox just doesn’t capture the excitement. Maybe if you could create your own robot to battle, it might be a very different story.

24: The Game

While the TV series 24 basically revitalized Kiefer Sutherland’s career, the video game did not do him any favors. 24: The Game really had everything working in its favor: it used the show’s actors’ likenesses and voices, and a script and music score from the show’s production team. But somehow, the game failed to translate the same magic as the show. Perhaps they spent too much on licensing, and not enough on development. The game was criticized for bad controls, awkward camera angles, and “off” visuals.

American Idol

The TV show American Idol has been incredibly popular, becoming a pop-culture staple and launching the careers of many artists. The same can not be said for its video game counterpart of the same name. While the game ses footage from the show’s second season, that’s about all it has in common with the show it was based on. You’ll find more dancing than in the real show, and it’s uninspired and limited.

Superman: The New Superman Adventures

There are a lot of Superman games out there, but Superman: The New Superman Adventures was based on the popular and successful Superman: The Animated Series. While there was plenty of great material to pull from, the game ended up falling flat. Critics slammed it for repetitive gameplay, poor graphics, technical flaws, and more. Mostly, you just spend the whole game flying around to collect floating rings.

Deadliest Warrior: The Game

The idea behind the TV series Deadliest Warrior was pretty cool, at least to a historical nerd like myself. Tests were performed, based on information concerning historical warriors and their weapons, to determine which of them would win in a fight – and then there was a dramatization of the hypothetical battle. Those battles were the premises of Deadliest Warrior: The Game. While sales exceeded expectations back in 2010, the game itself was criticized for lacking depth and strategy. It will disappoint anyone used to traditional fighting games.

Man vs. Wild

Remember how disappointed you felt when you learned Man vs. Wild was super fake, with pretend situations and Bear Grylls staying in hotels after the cameras stopped rolling for the night? You’ll find that same disappointment when playing the Man vs. Wild video game based on the TV series.

South Park

If you forgot the video game South Park existed, you’re not alone. No, I’m not talking about South Park: The Stick of Truth. I’m talking about the other game that was released in the late ‘90s for Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and PC. Once you get past the first few South Park-themed laughs, you realize it’s just a sub-par first-person shooter.