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The Top Ten Worst Movie-Based Video Games

25 September 2005 by Gnoll One Comment

In case your attention span is too short to remember it, a few weeks ago I posted a list of the ten best video games based on movies. The list was quite subjective and probably pissed a lot of people off, but it needed a companion piece to really set it off.

For that reason, I’ve decided to write about the inverse. Now that you know the best movie-based games ever made, it’s time to behold the other end of the spectrum. These are the ten most abhorrent, disgusting, useless piles of crap that ever came from the Hollywood merchandise machine and into an interactive format.

Like the last list, this does not really cover ‘next gen’ games. I’m an old school gamer at heart, so I will bash classic games, just as I praised them in the last article. Power up your console and dig in.


(Super Nintendo, 1992)

This game is in no way, shape, or form ‘Excellent’.

Generally, the worst games based on the movies wind up having nothing at all to do with the movie they’re based on. Sure, that’s not the only criteria, but it tends to be more likely to happen with a bad game than a good game. The Super Nintendo adaptation of Wayne’s World, based on the movie, which is in turn based on the Saturday Night Live skit, has nothing to do with any of its previous media forms. Sure, they could have made a game that roughly paralleled the movie, but why do that when you can make a game that involves Wayne and Garth being sucked into a computer game and Garth being kidnapped by evil bagpipe monsters that can be killed with notes from Wayne’s guitar? And no, I haven’t made a bit of that up. The game is rendered with digitized images from the film, and its soundtrack relies heavily on familiar sound bites. Unfortunately, this was an early SNES game, so the technology wasn’t really at the level to make that viable. But even without the crappy sound and graphics, this game is a dark hole of suck. But did you really need me to tell you that, after that description above?


(Arcade, 1995)

Fanboys, behold! Digitized Kylie Minogue!

Okay. For a moment, let’s travel into the minds of the folks at Capcom. The gaming giant was riding high in the early 1990’s with the success of its Street Fighter gaming system, specifically Street Fighter II: Turbo. These games were known for their Japanese-designed animation, which was beautifully exaggerated and cartoony. It was sort of the antithesis to the other major gaming franchise at the time, Mortal Kombat, which relied on digitized, realistic violence. In 1995, a movie based on the Street Fighter franchise hit theaters, starring Belgian Jean Claude Van Damme as American hero Guile. The movie was, as you’d probably expect, ripped to shreds by critics. But that didn’t stop Capcom from releasing a game based on the movie that was based on a game. Rendering the faces of the film’s actors with generic stunt bodies, and crudely animating them into a fighting platform with piss-poor gameplay. Basically, they took everything that people loved about Street Fighter, removed it, and replaced it with a second-rate version of Mortal Kombat, but without the hyper-extreme violence. It was no surprise that this is widely regarded as the least successful game in the franchise’s history.


(Super Nintendo, 1992)

What any of this has to do with ‘a mission from God’ is beyond me.

The Blues Brothers is an icon in the world of cinema. Based on a series of Saturday Night Live skits, (I’m starting to see a trend here) it became an instant classic. Sadly, John Belushi, one half of the original pair, died of an overdose in 1982. Still, that didn’t stop his partner Dan Aykroyd from whoring out the Blues’ likenesses to whoever would buy it in the 1990’s. Still a few years before the abyssmal Blues Brothers 2000 hit theaters, the Super NES system got a ridiculous game that was based rather loosely on the property. In fact, the only thing that really tied it to the movie was the name and a slight resemblance to the characitures of Jake and Elwood represented in the game. Of course, if you go by those representations, you’d think John Belushi was about 4’9″ when he was alive. The game itself was a simple side-scroller that involved the Brothers collecting and tossing records at cartoony bad guys in front a background complete with giant mushrooms. Not a bit of it made any sense, and was usually ripped from the console and tossed across the room within minutes of being fired up.


(Nintendo Entertainment System, 1989)

Are those guys playing patty cake?

The NES managed to only land one game on the ten best movie-based games list, but it sure does do its part in occupying exactly half of the worst list. I’m not sure why such a landmark gaming system yielded so much crap in the realm of movie-based games, but it produced a whole slew of stinkers, including this update of the Michael J. Fox movie of the same name. Unlike many other games on the bad end of the spectrum, this game actually follows the plot of the game for the most part. You’re Marty, and you’re stuck in 1955. You’ve got to find your way home. You have to escape Biff and his buddies, get your mom and dad together, and find your way back to the future. That’s all fine and good, but the gameplay sucks. Every level is practically identical, the controls are horribly unresponsive, and the only real challenge involved is you trying to keep your attention span from running out while playing. To top it off, the graphics and sound are absolutely horrible. The animation looks like something from the Atari 2600 era, and the sound is no better. The entire game has one music track, and it runs from the title screen all the way to the final stage. This might have been acceptable for an NES game had it been one of the earlier games for the system, but this was 1989. Needless to say, this game is not recommended.


(Nintendo Entertainment System, 1991)

Where’s John Candy when you need him?

As I mentioned before, the original Nintendo Entertainment System had its share of stinkers in the realm of movie-based games. A lot of that probably had to do with the fact that just about any movie that could wound up getting its own game. Did Home Alone really need an interactive version? I mean, was this something that people the world over were clamoring for? The movie was a huge hit and all that, but what could possibly be converted into a video game? All the movie really involves is a kid warding off potential robbers by setting goofy traps. Coincidentally, that’s all the game involves as well. You play as Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin in the film but looking nothing like him here, and you collect traps and set them to try and thwart the digital likenesses of Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci. Hilarity is supposed to ensue. Unfortunately, the lack of quality graphics, animation, gameplay, sound, and general fun quotient keep that from happening. By the standards of other games released for the NES in this time period, Home Alone sucks the bottom of the proverbial barrel.


(Nintendo Entertainment System, 1986)

It’s Samwise! And Giant Rats!

Now, I’ll probably catch a lot of hell for listing this one here. Poking around the internet, I seem to find generally positive reviews for this game nowadays. And considering that I haven’t played it in nearly two decades, I might be very wrong in my assessment. But The Goonies will always hold a special place in my colon for eternity because of the memories I will always retain from my first (and only) time playing it. You see, back in the mid-to-late eighties, there was a new market that popped up: game rentals. Previously, the media rental market was pretty much limited to video cassettes, while the game market was basically a buyer-only ordeal. Someone got the bright idea of renting out games for the NES and competing Sega Master System, and a whole new market was born. As soon as I heard about this phenomenon, I begged my parents to let me rent a game. After a little bit of prodding, they hauled me to the local video shack where I eventually chose my first NES rental: The Goonies. I was excited about it, but that was quickly quelled. The graphics and gameplay just seemed miles behind stuff like Zelda and Mario. And while I don’t remember a whole lot of the game to this day, it’ll always stick out in my mind as a piece of flaming poo, all because of what I thought of it one day when I was twelve years old.


(Nintendo Entertainment System, 1987)

Wax on, fuck off.

When I said the NES had the market cornered on bad movie-based games, I meant it. And quite often, those games were the product of LJN, who produced Back to the Future as well. LJN was pretty notorious for turning out clunkers to begin with, but many of those were movie-based. The Karate Kid (based on the movies starring Ralph Macchio and not the one with two-time Academy Award Winner Hilary Swank) was one of the company’s worst, and was just a bizarre game to begin with. Like many games on this list, this had practically nothing to do with the movie it was based on. That is, at least, after the first stage. The game starts off with a karate tournament much like the one at the end of the first film. The crane kick is no feat to master here, though. Simply repeatedly pressing your ‘B’ button will do the trick in the game. After that, the game turns in to generic side-scroller that pretty much follows the formula of Nintendo’s Kung Fu: fight bad guys using the same old move over and over and over and over again. Eventually, if you’re bothered to get that far, you meet up with a boss character named Chozen. I don’t think I ever got that far. The graphics are okay for its time, but just about everything else about this game blows.


(Super Nintendo, 1992)

The Passion of the Useless Video Game.

Finally, we take a break from the deluge of NES movie-based games to stink up the console world to offer our third worst game of all time: Lethal Weapon. This one takes it a step further, because it’s a game that more or less looks and plays like one of the crappy NES games I mentioned, except that it’s on a system with twice the capabilities. It’s almost as if they programmed this thing for the original NES, but decided to tweak it slightly when they realized that Nintendo had upgraded to a new console. Oddly, a version of the game also came out on the original NES at about the same time, but was actually played slightly differently. Anyway, what makes this game suck so bad, besides the ridiculously primitive technology that brought it into existence? Well, for starters, how about the fact that it’s boring? Not “repetitive after a while” boring, but “where are the obstacles and enemies?” boring. Seriously. Nothing happens in this game. You basically pilot Riggs around shooting the rare villain you encounter. I think you may have to rescue Murtaugh or something, but I can’t really remember. I think I successfully blocked most of this game out of my conscious memory, and I’m all the better for it.


(Nintendo Entertainment System, 1987)

We’re going to need a bigger barf bag.

Ahh, the ugly head of LJN once again rears on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and this one’s a doozy. A man-eater of a doozy, if you will. For some reason, in the mid-to-late eighties, the same company that brought you The Karate Kid and Back to the Future decided to reach back a decade or more to adapt Steven Spielberg’s classic into a kiddie video game. The results, as you can probably suspect, were less than stellar. Bearing no resemblance to the film in question outside of the name and the fact that there was a shark involved somewhere, this game involved a guy riding around on a boat and aimlessly diving into the ocean where he goes collecting shells and killing manta rays and jellyfish who pose no threat unless you’re dumb enough to run into them for no apparent reason. Eventually, you run into the shark, who swims around in a straight line while you hurl depth charges at him. If all of this seems fantastically exciting, then I suggest you seek help immediately. This game is horrid, and offers so little challenge that it can be played through in a matter of minutes.

1. E.T.

(Atari 2600, 1982)

Is this the weird ‘E.T. Meets Dick Tracy in Ancient Greece’ scene they deleted from the film?

Ahh, yes. Here it is. It’s the stuff legends are made of. It’s an example of the worst that Hollywood ever lent to the video game market. It’s a prime example of corporate marketing incompetence. It’s the basis of an urban legend that actually happens to be true. Yes, back in 1982, E.T. was everywhere. One of the biggest movies in history by that point, the title character had lent its likeness to pretty much anything you could think of: lunchboxes, candy, pajamas, bedsheets, toys, cereal…you name it. It seemed only natural that Atari, who had been riding high for several years in the home video game market but was now being challenged by new consoles, would get its grubby hands on this property. The game was rushed into production in order to get it out by Christmas of 1982, and people all over the world lined up to get their hands on what would prove to be the biggest disappointment for millions of children since they found out the true identity of Santa Claus. There’s just no way to describe how disappointing this game was. For starters, though, E.T. was green. Bright, lime green. And apparently, he was on a quest to find the three components of his phone so he could catch a ride home. Along the way, he had to avoid being captured by a scientist and an FBI agent, both of whom apparently lived in Elliot’s back yard. If they caught E.T., they would haul him to their office for no apparent reason other than to scatter his phone pieces about. Approximately 75% of the game involved falling in to randomly placed pits and then craning the lovable little alien’s neck to levitate out of them. And just to make sure all of the proper merchandise was tied in, you could call Elliot to bring you a rejuvenating Reese’s Piece. The game was basically the death blow for the 2600, which had been struggling, and because no other console had really caught on the way Atari’s had, it pretty much killed the video game market until the NES hit homes in 1985. And those looming stories of a New Mexico landfill filled with millions of unsold copies of the E.T. game? They’re true. E.T. was apparently that full of suck.

One Comment »

  • Tom said:

    actually they did use the actual actors for the game. not just the heads.

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