Over the years, hit television shows have inspired plenty of video games. Sometimes, this makes perfect sense, with the likes of The Walking Dead, The X-Files, Game of Thrones, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer lending themselves nicely to an interactive medium.
On other occasions, though, a series’ success alone demands a game – no matter how illogical it might seem.
So, as a result, we’ve had some pretty weird adaptations. Some of these are charming and nicely-made, while others are so bizarre it’s hard to believe they actually exist.
Like our first pick, for example …
Power Tool Pursuit! (Home Improvement)
A game based on Home Improvement.
Remember this series? It was huge in the 90s, and saw Buzz Lightyear himself, Mr Tim Allen, playing your standard hapless family-man. The character had his own TV series based around home-improvement, Tool Time, which made him slightly more interesting than the average sitcom-lead.
This is prime material for a video game, right? Of course it is. So prime, in fact, that a spin-off was released for the SNES in 1994.
This was the era of the side-scrolling platformer, so Imagineering, Inc. went for the simplest option.
The result? Power Tool Pursuit! This casts players as Tim (the name of Allen’s character, natch) in a quest to retrieve a new line of power tools named after him.
The developers cannily used the idea of filming in a studio nicely here, as Tim works his way through various sets with different themes.
So, if you ever watched Home Improvement and wanted to see Tim shoot dinosaurs and robots with a nail gun, you’re in luck! Power Tool Pursuit! Is a nicely-made game, with great graphics and decent presentation, but the fact that is exists is strange beyond words.
By 2005, ER was crawling towards its conclusion, but still had a few years in the tank. That didn’t stop Legacy Interactive from creating a tie-in game, though.
Still, this is no cheap mess without any direct links to the series – the likes of Noah Wyle and Mekhi Phifer lent their dulcet tones to the game, among others. The structure is basically The Sims, albeit a stripped-down version, with a hint of Theme Hospital thrown in.
Still, anyone looking to play as Goose from Top Gun or Clooney’s Doug Ross will be disappointed. There are no quests based around episodes from the show, and there’s not a huge amount to do, but this was well-made nonetheless.
After all, had this been released in the 90s, chances are it would have been a side-scrolling platformer tasking you with collecting syringes and bandages while taking out monsters invading the hospital.
Actually … that sounds pretty sweet!
At the end of the day, though, ER was never a show that screamed ‘MAKE ME INTO A VIDEO GAME!’ whenever we watched it.
Desperate Housewives was that hugely-popular show starring Teri Hatcher (one of the best Lois Lanes ever) and Eva Longoria, covering the lives of the titular saucy housewives.
Still, like ER and Home Improvement, it’s not a series that seemed an obvious choice for a game tie-in. You watch something like Lost or 24, and they seem ripe for adaptation (sadly, neither of these games turned out too well). The scandalous affairs of middle-class suburbanites?
Not so much.
Anyway, the game is another take on The Sims, and like ER’s adaptation, fails to live up to its inspiration’s quality. You take on the role of an amnesiac housewife who moves to the famous Wisteria Lane with her family, and get to customize her looks.
From there, the game unfolds across 12 episodes, written by one of the show’s scribes. You get to explore locations from the series and interact with its well-known characters, but outside of that? It ticks all the boxes you’d expect of a Sims rip-off, nothing more.
You can’t fault the developers for taking the most logical adaptation route, but were Desperate Housewives fans really gamers? Some were, no doubt, but it’s hard to imagine hordes of them queuing around the block to get their hands on this.
The Dallas Quest
Dallas may have been resurrected in recent years, but it burned brightest in the 80s. So bright, in fact, that it was turned into a game waaaay back in 1984.
This was made for the Commodore 64, but also saw release on Apple and Atari’s computers of the time.
As a text adventure, the game cast you as a private detective on the hunt for a map to a valuable oil field in South America.
If you’ve never played one of these antique text-based games before, you might try to hunt down a video of The Dallas Quest in action. It’ll blow your mind wide open. It’s kind of like the game Tom Hanks plays in Big, only without the awesome magic element.
Still, The Dallas Quest is a must for fans of the series or anyone just looking to immerse themselves in a bizarre experience from yesteryear.
Neighbours is one of the biggest soaps of all time, and was an early gig for many a star. Russell Crowe, Kylie Minogue, Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Guy Pearce, Jesse Spencer, Margot Robbie, and others all did their time on Ramsay Street.
This Australian institution has been broadcast all over the world, including Kenya, the USA, Belgium, and the UK. Back in the 80s and 90s, Neighbours was essential viewing for millions of people, and a video game was inevitable … kind of.
While another Sims knock-off might seem most obvious, that was a little high-concept back in 1991. So, the game instead took the form of a skateboarding title.
No, really! Skating!
You got to explore four different courses, and … well, that’s pretty much it.
This is easily one of the strangest game based on a TV series, and even the most hardcore fan would probably struggle to see this as an essential part of the Neighbours universe.
Wow. We’re not in Texas anymore, people.
Never heard of Grange Hill? Well, unless you’re of a certain age and British, you’re probably scratching your head in confusion right now.
Grange Hill was a huge children’s series in the UK, running from the 1978 right through to 2008. In its 30-year run, it chronicled life at a tough London school (for the most part), and introduced young viewers to various hard-hitting issues.
Without doubt, Grange Hill was an institution for many years. There was even an album of songs, two of which were actually released as singles, not to mention books. Still, this isn’t as weird as the video game, which hit the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum in 1987.
Not only is the game’s very existence bizarre, the strong anti-drug sentiment is equally strange. You play as a student tasked with finding a confiscated personal stereo, and at one point encounter a “shifty man in a leather jacket” who tries to sell you something he shouldn’t.
We can all agree, it’s a weird thing to have in a game based on a TV series aimed at children.
Thought Power Tool Pursuit! was the most uncalled for video-game adaptation on this list?
Nope! Little Britain: The Game gets to claim that dubious honour.
Where to start? Not only had Little Britain well and truly run its course by the time this adaptation came along, it predictably struggles to translate a gross-out sketch show to an interactive medium.
So, we get a selection of mini-games starring the series’ variety of grotesque characters, each as lacklustre as the next. While the show was still big in its native country and others across the globe in 2007, it’s hard to believe a single fan was calling out for a tie-in game.
Sadly, Revolution Studios and Blast! Entertainment Ltd. didn’t listen to this deafening silence. Instead, we got what has to be one of the most bizarre, unappealing, pointless games ever made.
Even if you’re still a fan of Little Britain’s strong early years, it’s hard to justify adding this to your merch collection.
Have you played any of these weird games based on TV shows? Let us know!