Nine ’80s Franchises That Never Got (even a Crappy) Videogame but Should Have
If anybody says it’s impossible to make a video game out of something, feel free to throw them into a giant furnace, as they clearly have no imagination, and therefore nothing to offer the world. Anything under the sun can be tweaked to offer us at least a few levels of side-scrolling filler. It might not be good per se, but enough people will blindly buy it due to recognizing someone on the cover, so pesky junk like “quality” should not matter one iota.
We’ve been “blessed” with games based on, among others, the 7-Up Spot, The Olsen Twins, Ronald McDonald, and Home Improvement. At this point, we’re shocked if a franchise doesn’t have a pointless game attached to it. And unbelievably, quite a few don’t, even though they easily could have. Guess what we’re yakking about today?
For the sake of organization, we’re only focusing on ’80s franchises this go-round. We’ll hit the other decades some other time, if you’re all really good (or bad, depending on how you look at things.)
9. Crocodile Dundee
Imagine our shock when we found out not a single Crocodile Dundee game exists. You’ve got a big Australian bushwhacker who wrestles crocodiles and bears, always brandishing a knife almost as long as his arm, and they chose to adapt Wayne’s World and Bebe’s Kids instead? Pretty sure neither Bebe nor Wayne used a knife, though Wayne’s friend Garth always came across like he skinned small animals in his basement, when the cameras weren’t around. That could’ve been good for a game or two.
But Dundee showed off his knife to everyone, and pretty much kicked everyone’s ass for two straight films (Third movie? Never heard of it.) His game could’ve borrowed the Friday The 13th model, and just had Dundee wander around like a lost puppy, knifing evil kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies along the way. This would all take place in New York, by the way, even though that makes no sense at all. Luckily, Video Game Logic dictates that all things are possible, especially when the game in question is all things horrible.
When your woman gets in trouble, as she is apt to do a lot because apparently that’s all they’re good for in the gaming world, you wander around some more until you find her, knife the drug dealer who’s out to rape and murder her, and then get back to aimlessly wandering. After a few hundred rounds, NYC will get the point and stop attacking your woman. Your reward? A single black screen notifying you that you won, naturally. But it will call you “mate” when doing so, which should quell your fears that nobody put any effort into this title whatsoever.
8. Pound Puppies
In the interest of full disclosure (because we know SOMEBODY out there is ignoring their loved ones in favor of fact-checking our bullshit,) there IS a Pound Puppy game … kind of. It’s some silly Flash game based on the NEW Pound Puppies, who don’t look anything like the 80’s Puppies. Those guys never got a game, and it makes zero sense.
Remember how Moonwalker turned Michael Jackson into a video game? Why couldn’t they have done that again, only with dogs in place of fey pop stars, and other dogs in place of dozens of kidnapped children who all looked the same? Your hero could walk around and jump on the heads of evil cats and walking bones, while you make “bonehead” jokes, laugh uproariously, and then wonder why you haven’t had a friend in over 25 years.
Save all the dogs, and then fight the boss, who would probably be a giant cat most of the time. Then it’s off to the big baddie at the end … a bigGER cat, maybe? Not a whole lot we can do with domesticated dogs, sadly. Who was the villain in the Pound Puppies movie? He wanted to collect a magical bone that would let him rule the world or something. That sounds plenty evil. Go fight him.
7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Stealth games are not a recent innovation; they’ve been around since the early 80’s, long before that Solid Snake guy made it cool to not shoot your enemies full of holes. So why didn’t anybody realize Ferris Bueller’s stealth potential, and make a game exploiting it?
The setup was right there. Instead of one principal and one sister looking for Bueller, they easily could’ve added a whole army of truant officers and pissed-off women. They would be patrolling all of Chicago in search of Bueller, and it’d be your job to keep out of their sights. The parade, Wrigley Field, restaurants, museums – all of which would be filled to the gills with spies, and you’d have to avoid every single one. Get caught, and it’s detention for a year.
Even if the game sucked, it’d still be a better idea than following the movie, which painted Bueller as some kind of slacker demigod, who could do whatever he wanted, get away with anything, see his asinine schemes play out perfectly, and never risk any real danger. A bunch of kindergartners, staging a cheap haunted house in the school gym, with the lights on, could have created more suspense. Barney’s game had more conflict, and his only goal was to walk around and hug kids. That’s not a comparison you should strive for, in case you were wondering.
6. Muppet Babies
There are Muppet games aplenty, but nothing for the Muppet Babies, unless you count these preschool computer games that teach shapes and colors to kids whose parents are too lazy to do it themselves.
Luckily for you, we DON’T count them, and are slightly miffed that the consoles missed out on one of the easiest premises in history. The Babies were all about their make-believe worlds, right? Well, make them come alive, and suck the Babies into them! Because what sells better than unsupervised infants in mortal danger, right?
They could even have had it make Video Game Sense, where one of Baby Bunsen’s inventions go awry, causing these imaginary worlds to become real. Hey, we said Video Game Sense, not Real World Sense, so deal with it.
The setup could’ve been like the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, where you play as four or five Babies, each with one life, as you attempt to escape the many Make-Believe worlds that Bunsen accidentally created. When all the Muppets die, then the game is over. And then you would sit back and realize you just contributed to pixelated infanticide, all because you couldn’t time Baby Piggy’s karate kick just right. You monster.
5. Jem And The Holograms
Jem And The Holograms was basically Hannah Montana with a slightly more logical premise. A record executive owns magical earrings that can create holographic illusions, making her look like a rock star, which she totally becomes. A rival exec is out to buy Jem out, and it’s up to her and her band of fellow glam rockers (none of whom require holograms to look the part) to stop them. See? Makes perfect sense.
The series was fairly popular, and yet not one tie-in game was released. It could’ve been done, and you wouldn’t even have to cheat by turning it into some pointless song-and-dance game, like the Hannah Montana people did. Instead, have the bad guy learn Jem’s secret identity, via his new hologram-detecting machine (don’t ask; it’s less painful that way.) He then brainwashes the rest of her band, via his newfound powers of hypnosis (again, DO NOT ASK,) into thinking she’s about to replace them. As Jem, you must fight them off one-by-one, and finally defeat the evil exec, all with the power of your Jem Dazzle Gun (just to be on the safe side, never ask questions about anything ever again.)
The reunited band would then close out the game with a concert, because nothing sounds better than actual music remixed as 8-bit boops and beeps. Bonus points if they get lazy and only play a single riff, over and over again. That way you can rock out for seconds upon seconds and then, if you like, you may rock out for seconds more.
4. Ernest P. Worrell
This genius has been around since 1981, and nobody ever thought to make him a video game. A bumbling redneck, who managed to piss off everyone around him and was all but impervious to pain, was ignored in favor of letting us control the Domino’s Noid. Because if there’s one thing kids need to be reminded of through blatant advertising, it’s that pizza is good.
An Ernest game would likely continue the Wayne’s World and 7-Up tradition of taking a character without a real central conflict, and shoehorning him into one. The ever-tormented Vern would finally snap, having had it up to here with Ernest’s shit. He would then send an army of ninjas and robots and other random enemies to destroy him; luckily, he had robots and ninjas in his basement, just waiting to be used for something. Ernest must fight them off, as well as his brainwashed family members (Video Game Logic also dictates that brainwashing is easier to pull than handwashing,) culminating in a showdown with the now-evil Vern.
Amazingly, nobody would have had to invent a cockamamie weapon for Ernest to yield, since he has one already built-in; thanks to his failed electrocution in Ernest Goes To Jail, he can shoot lightning from his fingers, like the world’s stupidest Sith Lord. Yes, he can actually do that, which is why he works as a janitor at the beginning of every movie. Fingertip lightning bolts, bah! How could anyone make money with such a worthless skill?
3. The Lost Boys
The idea of playing an atrocious game based on a horror movie is not new at all. Jason and Freddy got games, after all, and so did Jekyll and Hyde. And yet the poor Lost Boys have been ignored to this day. They could’ve made a tie-in game within nanoseconds of the film’s release, simply by doing what Back To The Future did. Remember how fun it was, running up the street and crashing into everything, with no real control over your character, hoping to make it to the end before the world’s fastest clock expired? We’d totally be up for another round of that!
In the Lost Boys case, your character has been bitten, and is on his way to becoming a full-fledged vampire. Despite current youth literature attempting to convince us otherwise, it’s no fun at all being a vampire. Unlike Robert Pattinson, they don’t skip off sparkling into the night with the one they love. More likely, they end up like Jack Bauer; impaled and dead.
You probably wouldn’t want that so, in a Lost Boys game, you would need to find and kill all the head vampires in time; if you don’t, then full vampire you become. And worry you not; the timer would be as speedy as humanly possible, and you would get to crash into absolutely everything on your way to the vampire’s lair. After all, if you’re gonna make a game, you gotta go all out.
2. The Cosby Show
They pulled off a Home Improvement game, so why not Bill Cosby? Obviously, some liberties would need to be taken with the storyline, since it’s a fucking sitcom and all. With Improvement, they had Tim Allen running around various evil movie studios, in search of a special tool that had gone missing. A Cosby Show game would require something just as silly, because a game about the day-to-day-life of being a father and husband would go nowhere. Unless there were ample cutscenes featuring The Coz making stupid faces, which would be worth the $60 on their own.
In the show, Cosby was a doctor. So there’s your theme; somebody has stolen all of his medical instruments, and you have to get them back in time for normal business hours. Scour the entire city, which is suddenly loaded with random animals and people who want you dead. Fight them off with your magical Ugly Cosby Sweater Of Doom (or packs of Jell-O pudding, whichever’s more believable,) and go toe-to-toe with the evil master thief.
Who might that be though? Cosby didn’t exactly have mortal enemies in the show … so … um … aliens? Sure, why not? Aliens that want Dr. Cliff Huxtable to go out of business, so all of humanity gets sick and dies, allowing them to effortlessly invade and conquer the world. Luckily, Bill Cosby plays the only doctor on planet Earth; otherwise, this plan would’ve been just plain stupid.
Of all the missed opportunities that we would’ve scooped up by the bazillions, regardless of how botched the actual product was, this one is perhaps the most glaring. If you’re a pop-culture geek, there’s a 99% chance you adore Weird Al Yankovic. The remaining 1% were traumatized by an accordion squeezing onto their heads when they were babies, so you can’t blame them too much.
For once, you’d barely have to deviate from the movie at all. Al is in danger of losing his beloved television station and, through a series of mini-games based on the wacky shows he and his friends create, you attempt to raise enough money to buy the station for yourself. The set-up would likely do what The Three Stooges did, and have all the TV shows be mini-games that you successfully complete in order to garner higher ratings and, therefore, more money.
And if the Stooges could technically do it, so could Al. We can totally see ourselves controlling Al in a rubber Rambo suit, shooting enemy soldiers until they literally explode. Or a stage devoted to Stanley Spadowski running around and shooting as many children with the Fire Hose as humanly possible. Shit, you could even include “Raul’s Wild Kingdom,” where your goal is to toss all the small creatures out the window, garnering extra points if any of them bounce. Not only would this idea have worked, it’d be educational too. Children everywhere would learn that, no matter what you do, and no matter what others might say, animals do not bounce.