Game adaptations of popular TV shows have been a consistently hit-and-miss presence throughout the medium’s existence. When the creators succeed, however, it can bring fans a new appreciation for their favorite shows and allow them to engage directly with its world in a way that isn’t possible through just watching. Here we take a look at some of the best games based on popular TV shows.
The Simpsons Hit & Run
The Simpsons in microcosm represent the inconsistent quality of video game tie-ins with a number of critically panned games. ‘Hit & Run’ however was an unqualified success and despite being released in 2003 still retains a cult following. The game lovingly recreated the family’s hometown of Springfield for players to explore and also allowed them to play as each of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and even Maggie. It emulated the chaotic fun of open-world games like Grand Theft Auto without the gory violence and replaced it with its signature comedic wit. The driving mechanics, in particular, are fantastic fun – ‘Eat my dust, dust eaters!’
Game shows may not seem likely candidates for game adaptations but there have been several successful iterations. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, for example, sold over a million copies when it was released on Playstation in 1999. Following its success, video game versions of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune has also been created. Other virtual platforms have muscled in on the fun, too, with bingo games online including offerings like Deal or No Deal. The use of familiar environs for bingo, like the set of popular TV shows, are used to create a more immersive experience for players and allow them to enjoy their favorite shows in a new way.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Stick of Truth, a role-playing game set in the 2D world of South Park, faithfully recreates the town and its denizens whilst maintaining its unique humor and style. The game was written by show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, so it should be no surprise that the adaptation is immensely funny and could easily be viewed as an interactive episode of the show itself. The game is based around the kids of South Park taking part in a mass fantasy game of wizards and warriors, satirizing series’ like Elder Scrolls and The Witcher.
The Walking Dead: The Game
Telltale Games’ ‘The Walking Dead: The Game’ is perhaps the benchmark for game adaptations of TV shows. The game series has been released episodically amongst which are some of the most critically-acclaimed survival-horror games of all time. The games follow convicted criminal Lee Everett and his redemption story following his rescue of a girl named Clementine and their subsequent search for her parents. The series has been showered with praise for the emotional impact of its narrative storytelling, whilst also providing its players with engaging puzzles and thrilling action sequences.
The narrative progression of the gaming medium has allowed them to emulate the storytelling impact of TV shows to a greater degree. Indeed, the TV industry is in fact developing shows like The Witcher from the success of its original video game format. The Walking Dead games in particular show the two mediums are becoming more compatible and the future appears to be bright, as we look to the next generation of consoles, for the quality of gaming and TV tie-ins.