There are two major options when it comes to designing a videogame:
1: Let’s write an engaging, original, dramatic story, and combine it with sleek and smooth gameplay that will both challenge and titillate the player, and make them want to replay the resulting classic over and over again, to uncover the bevy of secrets we so expertly hid throughout each and every level.
2. HERE’S A THING THAT THING IS COOL WE MAKE CRAP GAME WITH THING IN IT BOOM DONE TIME TO EAT.
Option 2 explains why, throughout gaming history, tons upon tons of boring, horrific, and horrifically boring games have been unleashed upon us, with their only justification being “b-but guys! Austin Powers is in this one! Yeah … baby? Guys? Guyyyyyys …”
It’s happened so often, we’re frankly more surprised when it doesn’t happen. In the past, we’ve discussed various franchises that never received the awful game treatment they so deserved. But we only focused on the ’80s that time; as it turns out, developers of the ’90s missed plenty of boats as well. Such as:
8. Budweiser Frogs
Hey, why not? They gave the 7-Up Spot a game, and that guy literally looks like a pimple. A game featuring a bunch of frogs – actual animals that many people find cute and delicious – would have done decent numbers.
Of course, there’d be the issue of what these frogs endorsed: beer. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s not a whole lot you can do when advertising booze, aside from holding the bottle and grinning like a madman. You can’t drink it, because that would cause impressionable children everywhere to become raging alcoholics the second they see one sip touch one set of lips. Despite not having lips themselves, what could three amphibians, known for croaking out the beer’s name and not much else, hope to do?
The answer, as always: Video Game Logic. That crap’ll save your skin every time. In this case, have all your pod buddies become poisoned by generic beer (yes, we know alcohol is already poison. This is, like, octuple poison, OK?) and mutate into vicious monsters. Pick a frog and hop from stage to stage, spraying the enemies with Budweiser and returning them to normal. Again, these monsters will have their mouths shut the entire time, so no budding lush in the audience would get any ideas.
The end boss would be the beermaster who unleashed the poison brew in the first place; if the idea of three tiny frogs kicking the ass of a fully-grown man with the power of mediocre beer doesn’t excite you, then you’re more dead inside than any washed-up celebrity forced to work retail to make ends meet.
An alternative game idea would be one where you get to torture and murder the WAZZUP guys, in thousands of humiliating brutal, gory, and utterly hilarious ways. No plot, just straight-up murder. It would still be selling today.
7. Vanilla Ice
Yep, just Vanilla Ice. We never needed a game centered strictly around his movie, Cool As Ice, since that would’ve reminded us the movie existed, thereby triggering years of intensive, expensive therapy.
But Ice himself? That would’ve made tons of cake; remember, for a short while, people worshiped this guy. It wouldn’t have been a simple make-music game either, like they did with Kriss Kross and a couple other bands that weren’t Kriss Kross. This would be an adventure, based on real life … kind of.
See, the business of being Vanilla Ice was 10% performing, and 90% lying about his life to make him seem more badass than he actually was. His movie, his fake autobiography, his interviews – everything was designed to maintain the image of Ice as a tough street-kid who came up from the gutter, and was both the innovator of everything and the coolest kid on the block.
His game would have been no different. We’d have played through a totally real side-scrolling adventure, graphically detailing the many trials and tribulations young Robert van Winkle endured on the mean streets of wherever. Can young Robert beat down the local gang, develop the ultra-tight rhyming flow, completely new fashion sense, and totally original dance moves needed to wow the entire planet, while maintaining his hardcore street cred in the process?
Of course he could, cuz he was the bomb-diggity yo, fo sho. Word to your maternal parental unit.
Freakazoid, in case your ’90s nostalgia betrays you, was the alter-ego of a boy named Dexter, who got sucked into cyberspace and became a high-energy superhero with the power to troll others relentlessly. Despite being exactly the kind of hero most Internet geeks would become if they had half a chance, he never got immortalized in his own game.
Blame his big brother. Freakazoid’s partner show in wacky Warner Brother crime, Animaniacs, got a game, and it sucked more than the black hole that will inevitably destroy our entire Solar System. All the surreal potential that that license promised was chucked out the window, in favor of some drivel about collecting pieces of a movie script. It would’ve been more fun to watch the show, while blindfolded, wearing earmuffs, and locked in a closet 500 yards away from the TV.
Freakazoid: The Game likely would’ve followed in Animaniacs’ lofty footsteps. His game could’ve involved something like the Internet raging out of control (moreso than usual,) and turning Freakazoid into Dexter, and then Freakazoid again, totally at random. As both Dexter and Freakazoid, each with their own separate powers, you would have to find the parts necessary to make the Internet work again. Remember, this was the early ’90s; the media thought the Internet worked this way.
So who’s behind this theft of the Internet? Does it matter? Any one of Freakazoid’s foes could have done the deed, and the result would have been the same: empty gamer wallets, and empty gamer hearts. Never a fun combination.
5. The TGIF Lineup
The mere fact that Home Improvement: The Game exists, and at least a few people bought it, should have opened the door for a slew of sitcom-based games. It’s not like you had to follow the show’s plot or anything; Tim Allen battled dinosaurs with a super-powered staple gun, after all.
But what of the other ’90s sitcoms? All 14 trafillion of them could have easily become stupid, pointless games. Or, as an alternative, take all those sitcoms and combine them into one EPIC stupid, pointless game. In this case, a tournament fighter. There’s no way you wouldn’t at least pay attention to a Mortal Kombat rip-off featuring your favorite TGIF stars.
Wished Laura would have beaten the snot of Urkel for his years of obsessive stalking, instead of just kinda giving up and marrying him at the end? Want Minkus to rise from his off-screen grave and take revenge on Corey, Topanga, and all the other kids who grew up and became cool without him? Ever felt like criss-crossing universes, and having Mr. Feeney bludgeon that annoying surfer dude from Step By Step for wasting his life by lounging in a van parked in someone else’s backyard? This game would’ve let you do all these things, and more.
And yet nobody dreamt this up until now; the mind boggles. At the very least, we could’ve gotten The Adventures Of Carl Winslow: Police Brutality Edition. You know he had to let out all that anti-Urkel steam somehow.
This sitcom was far too big to be confined to a mere mash-up fighter game; Jerry and the gang deserved their very own adventure. The show’s premise – four people walking around New York City and being losers – honestly lent itself perfectly to a cruddy game adaptation, since you could do pretty much anything with them and it wouldn’t feel out of place. Besides, ten stages of “The Contest” would easily garner them the dreaded AO rating, and nobody wants to deal with that kind of headache.
Plus, it had a built-in villain, something of which most sitcoms could not boast. There’s no way a Seinfeld game wouldn’t feature the Soup Nazi’s ultimate act of revenge. In our mind, he would kidnap George, Elaine, and Kramer, forcing Jerry to run off and save them.
Now, we’re guessing a game where Jerry’s ex-girlfriends all attack him, and you beat them up, wouldn’t make it past the lowest rung on the PR ladder. So he’d just have to go the usual enemies-that-make-no-sense route. What’s the deal with the evil acid-spewing fire hydrants?
Once you reach the Nazi, you’d do battle with him inside a gigantic bowl of soup, jumping from oyster cracker to oyster cracker in an attempt to reach him and hit him until he is dead. Because it’s either that, or he’s revealed to be an actual Nazi, with an army of Stormtroopers at his beck-and-call. Somehow, we’re betting NBC would’ve balked at the idea.
3. The Burger King Kids Club
In case you’ve forgotten them, the BK Kids Club was, well, a club of kids. The blonde-haired Aryan male was the cool popular leader, because Burger King’s version of affirmative action only extended so far as “one background character per minority and that’s it.”
Now, Ronald McDonald got a game. Why the hell did his competition not immediately follow suit? After all, Burger King will purposefully build a store as close to a McDonald’s as physically possible, in the hopes of swaying Big Mac addicts into becoming Whopper Chasers. And yet their cutesy mascots didn’t immediately counter the clown in the digital realm? It’s like they don’t even care about selling burgers.
We picture their game as following in the footsteps of the legendary Friday the 13th, where you play as Aryan Blonde (technically named Kid Vid, if you truly thirst for journalistic accuracy) on a hunt to rescue the rest of his club. A psychotic King has kidnapped them, and you must save them before they’re picked off, one by one. Along the way, you battle the King until either he’s dead, or you find all your friends. Then, you go eat Whoppers, because the game has subliminally hooked you for life. Thanks for playing.
In hindsight, that’s the biggest mistake Burger King made when they finally gave the King his own game a few years back: no subliminal messages about stuffing your face full of BK goodness. Well, that and the King gave us nightmares for months afterward. But mostly the no-subliminal thing.
Leprechaun was a big, scary movie with a big, scary plot. Or a big, stupid one, if you actually watched one of the sequels. The plot is basic enough: an evil leprechaun loses his pot of gold, goes on the hunt for it, and kills anyone in his way. Sounds simple enough, and it really should’ve gotten the bad game treatment at least once. Couldn’t have been any worse than Leprechaun In Space.
Of course, finding a hero would have been hard, because all of the films’ characters are neither recurring nor likable in any way. Therefore, your only real option would be to play as the Leprechaun himself, travelling the world, gathering bits and pieces of your lost treasure, and murdering anybody who tries to get to your treasure before you do. Along the way, you’d battle mercenaries and soldiers, armed with both guns and four-leaf clovers, and you’ll have to dispose of them as well. If too much of your gold is stolen or set on fire before you can get to it, you die.
The best (?) thing about this idea is: they can still do it! There’s going to be a new Leprechaun movie soon, starring WWE’s Hornswoggle, because this series just didn’t get stupid enough when the Leprechaun became a damned gangsta rapper. An entire game where you make Hornswoggle kill everybody? That’s an even better idea than the time they made him a champion!
This is exactly why he should never touch gold again.
1. Beakman’s World
The basic premise of Beakman’s World, while good enough for TV, was apparently never good enough for the gaming world. That makes sense; after all, whatever could be done with a wacky scientist with Don King hair and an air pressure fetish, a quirky girl assistant who may or may not have been too young for our dads to fantasize about, and a guy in a rat suit who was openly described as being “a man in a rat suit?”
Oh, the rat’s disgruntled too, ready to snap at any time over his miserable lot in life. How come that was never used to build up a game plot? The rat kidnaps the quirky assistant, and Beakman has to go rescue her. All of his weapons would be based on science; however, since this was a kid’s show that relied on zaniness, and wasn’t exactly Bill Nye in the knowledge department, all of the science would be variations on crude bottle rockets, and things that go boom due to air pressure.
Oh, you think we’re being repetitive with the air pressure thing? That’s almost all they did on the show, for years and years and years; us joking about it twice in an entry is nothing.
Once you reach the rat, you’d use – you guessed it – AIR PRESSURE to weaken him; once he’s knocked out, you’d stick him in a giant test tube, and rescue your assistant from her prison. Then, as the rat slowly suffocates inside the tube, and dies alone and forgotten, he’ll wish he had air pressure back in his life, simply so he’d have something to breathe in once again.
Damn. That got dark. Maybe it’s for the best we’re not allowed to design games.