?Blessed be the IP license holders, for they hold the keys to all sorts of crap we didn’t know we needed to play as video games. They’re the keepers who have enabled the rise of licensed games — dreck and treasures based on TV shows or movies — that continues to this day with Telltale’s episodic Law & Order: Legacies games. There have been other Law & Order games in the past, and they’re all veritable paragons of the kind of fun you can have with a videogame (yes, that’s sarcasm there), but actually, it’s part of a larger tradition: TV shows that seemingly shouldn’t be able to be made into a game, but still somehow were. Buckle your seatbelts, boyos and lady-boyos, this is gonna be a funky ride. That is, unless you think Alf was just crying to be made into a Sega game.
18) Friends: The One With All the Trivia
Yes, they turned Friends into a game. Well, calling it a game is a bit generous, because as the subtitle suggests, this is merely a revolving door of heavily compressed video clips from the show followed by screens that ask “what happens next?” If you think Chandler stuffs Monica’s hair in her mouth, for example, press “X.” This does not sound like trivia; it sounds like a disturbing self-evaluation of your own existence.
17) Beavis and Butt-Head
The question isn’t how MTV’s most infamous pair of scapegoats became a pair of protagonists in a videogame. It’s how did they get turned into a pair of protagonists in a series of games? From 1994 to 1998, eight different games about the guys who start fires and watch music videos were released, though the earlier ones were markedly more ambitious. Virtual Stupidity on the PC, for example, is a surprisingly fun adventure game about the boys trying to join Todd’s gang and be cool. The last game out, 1998’s Bunghole In One is a golf game. Hey, teenagers play golf, right?
16) Deadliest Catch
The Discovery Channel documentary series is about real-life crab fishermen doing their lucrative but dangerous job aboard vessels in the Bering Sea. But that Herculean task has, in both games its spawned, audaciously been turned into lame Flash-style games, like crab-basketball against a goal-tending swinging crane. Really.
15) Mr. Bean
The stumbling Brit with a speech impediment has to journey through 12 levels (with exciting themes like “the sewers,” “a hedge maze,” and “outside”) to rescue his beloved Teddy. This probably isn’t what Shigeru Miyamoto had in mind when he invented the platformer.
14) Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer
You know the best way to practice walking your dog? Not by going outside, but by firing up your DS or PC and simulating the experience while poor little Sparky’s bladder explodes. Tragically, you really shouldn’t clean it up until Millan teaches you how, and that level is only in the expansion pack, Urine Trouble! Sorry, Sparky.
Everyone’s favorite also-ran orange feline has been in two games, but it’s the most recent one, 2010’s Heathcliff: The Fast and the Furriest that’s really remarkable for being so canon. Consider this synopsis found from the internet: “classic cartoon cat Heathcliff must kart race to free his girlfriend Sonja from Aliens.” Remember all the Aliens? Well, they’re all here!
12) Gilligan’s Island
Yes, this existed. Yes, it was horrible. No, you don’t get to control Gilligan. Yes, you control the Skipper, who must endure Gilligan’s awful AI, which makes him love falling in holes and wishing for a magical mountain of ice cream. Yes, this existed.
11) Miami Vice
Just another symptom of the wanton cocaine abuse that went on during the ’80s. Not to be confused with the 2006 remake, the 1986 Commodore 64 game actually was a forerunner to Grand Theft Auto’s earliest entries, featuring overhead shooting and driving. The back cover also has a pull quote, apparently from the console itself saying this is “everything you want in a game.” Yup. Cocaine is funny stuff.
All the implausible plot points and ludicrous characters don’t seem so far-fetched after this game was released. In The Dallas Quest you’re a detective called into South Fork to uncover a map. Instead, you can choose to eat apples, die from rat bites, or make a monkey smoke — all hallmarks of the long-running series.
Lupus is more fun.
8) Cory in the House
If you’ve never seen this marvelous Disney Channel Original Sitcom?, you might think it’s a show about a child-terrorist attacking the White House staff with projectile pancakes. Make of that what you will.
There were two games based on this water-cooler brain-hurter — Lost: Via Domus and the cleverly titled Lost: The Game — and both of their endings contradict the series’ ending, which somehow only adds to its allure and mystique. No, this show didn’t waste anyone’s time at all.
6) Dukes of Hazzard
In 1984, kids old enough to watch Dukes but not buy videogames grew up thinking they had missed out on something really special with this Colecovision game. If it isn’t evident from the screenshot above, which shows a paved road and not a dirt one, this game is just a crummy racing sim and nothing more. Now those Duke boys just don’t know what they got theirselves into!
There were six games based on this cat-craving Muppet-reject’s escapades, but as is often the case with these, the first one was the weirdest. To wit, Alf: The First Adventure on the Apple II and C64 was basically a reskinned Pac-Man, where you instead play as Alf’s disembodied head and try to avoid Willie Tanner’s… disembodied head. Not to be confused with the Atari game Saboteur, which was reskinned to become an A-Team game where you control Mr. T’s head… but that’s a little more plausible to be made into a game than Alf.
4) Murder, She Wrote
The strangest thing about this being turned into a game is that it actually isn’t all that bad. It’s a hunt-and-peck hidden-object scavenger-type game that has you looking for peace symbols, hamburgers, and missing vowels. It’s also like the most family-friendly acid trip you’ll ever play with your grandma. Make her say, “Hamburger, she clicked!,” every time you click on a hamburger. Then do a shot.
3) The Sopranos
This is like Grand Theft Auto for people who think GTA is too cerebral. Or that it doesn’t have enough Italian stereotypes in it. Abbondanza!
2) Desperate Housewives
All the fun of being a housewife, without doing any of the work. Also you get to betray all your virtual friends and air their most personal secrets. Congratulations, you wasted your life.
1) The King of Queens
Okay, so this wasn’t an officially released game. But it oughta be. Some very enterprising Kevin James aficionado cranked out this GTA mod that puts all your favorite King of Queens characters into the game. In King Of Queens: The Game: Doug Heffernan’s Nightmare Deliveries, Doug drives around a giant truck to eat “brown donuts,” stare at waiting rooms filled with ninjas, and… wait. What was that sound? Oh, it was your ever-loving mind erupting through your brainpan into the stratosphere. Sorry about the mess.