Rare/LJN/The Geffen Film Company
Most video game adaptations make some sort of sense. Like a game based on a kids’ movie, or a popular action franchise, or something like that. Hell, in the 1980s, they made pretty much anything into a video game just to see what stuck.
But there are some movie-based video games that don’t make sense under any circumstance. Even ones from the anything-goes 80s. Trying to figure out how some of these went bizarrely from the big screen to console is like staring into the eye of madness. Someone, somewhere, said, “Yes, we should totally make a video game out of…”
It’s weird enough that Beetlejuice got a cheesy cartoon adaptation, but the video game is something else all together. Released for the NES, it is, naturally, a side-scroller (such was the language of video games in that day) where you play as Beetlejuice. You know, the antagonist. All the post-Beetlejuice stuff seemed to forget that he was the bad guy.
You basically run around various locales, stomping bugs and turning into various forms (all of which cost quite a lot of in-game money) in order to run off Otho again and again. That’s right, Otho is apparently the only other character that made it into the game. Probably for the best.
11. Austin Powers
The Austin Powers trilogy was well beyond the “let’s make everything into a video game!” era. There is no excuse here. And yet there is Austin Powers: Welcome to My Underground Lair! (Punctuation theirs.) This Game Boy Color game had you fiddling around on Dr. Evil’s computer, which had five minigames, all of which were simply ripoffs of other games. (Dr. Evil didn’t strike anyone as a hardcore gamer, did he?) It apparently also came complete with a bunch of junk background information on the film and the people involved in its creation. What fun.
10. The Blair Witch Project
Look, I am an unabashed lover of The Blair Witch Project, but I can’t even come close to understanding why they made three separate video games based on it. The games, which are third person action-adventure games, each take place in a separate time period related to the movie’s legends.
Although they do give some interesting background in the weirdly expansive mythos that the creators gave the film (for example, you find out through the games that the three filmmakers actually slipped into a weird otherworld a la Silent Hill that the local Native Americans knew about… or something), they’re super terrible games and I don’t know who thought they’d be a good idea.
9. From Dusk Till Dawn
From Dusk Till Dawn was never meant to be a serious film. It’s B-horror trash, and it knows it. I won’t deny that it’s a fun movie, but a strong basis for a video game it is not. And yet there is a From Dusk Till Dawn video game. A first-person shooter, no less, where you play as Seth Gecko who escapes from a prison filled with vampires just before he’s going to be executed.
Since it was made in 2001, the graphics are laughable by modern standards. Unfortunately, everything else was laughable about it even in 2001.
You’re probably thinking, “Hey, Jumanji would make a great video game. Just take the board game, and make that!” That would be the smart thing to do, and it is what they did with the PS2 game that came out several years after the movie. (It was a dumb, cheap shovelware game, though, so don’t expect great things.)
But we’re talking about the PC game, which came out in 1996, alongside the movie. Instead of playing a crazy board game, you play disheveled Robin Williams through a bunch of terrible minigames based on scenes from the movie. Apparently even the publisher knew this game was a weird idea, because extremely few copies were made. It’s relatively rare these days.
7. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
As much as people like to make fun of Keanu Reeves in it (this was before he did serious films), Bram Stoker’s Dracula is not a bad adaptation of the famous novel. It’s actually one of the more faithful ones, believe it or not. What is not at all faithful, to the film or to the book, is the video game adaptation.
In the completely unnecessary side-scroller, you play Jonathan Harker (who is absent for most of the book), who is trying to fight his way out of Dracula’s castle. He’s also inexplicably aided by Van Helsing, who didn’t meet Harker until 2/3 of the way through the original story. Luckily, there’s a much better adaptation of Dracula as a video game. It’s called Castlevania.
6. Little Nicky
Hey, speaking of side-scrolling games dealing with the forces of evil, there’s the Little Nicky game for Game Boy Color. If you’re wondering if it’s worse than the movie, logically the answer would be “that’s impossible because nothing is worse than Little Nicky.” Yet, paradoxically, it is demonstrably worse and yet isn’t because it’s not as terrible as actually watching Little Nicky. But it does have voice clips from Little Nicky, so really it’s kind of a wash, I suppose.
5. Wayne’s World
Let us continue with SNL alum movies that inspired video games by looking at the sheer awkwardness that is a Wayne’s World video game. Someone genuinely thought that was a good idea. Someone was very wrong. Ironically, the game starts with Wayne and Garth talking about sucky video games (complete with horribly distorted clips from the movie) right before diving headlong into their own. You play as Wayne (Garth is not playable) with a big, dumb 16-bit Mike Meyers face. It is the stuff of nightmares. Actually, it looks like a parody of a video game based on Wayne and Garth that they would have made fun of in the actual movie. So, meta?
4. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
If you saw Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and thought to yourself, “Man, this would make an amazing video game,” then you’re probably the person who decided that there should be not one, but two Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure video games. The first, for PC, is a straight re-telling of the films, but as an adventure game, the kind where you have an inventory and have to solve nonsensical puzzles to progress. I suppose there are worse ideas for a video game… like the NES version that followed a year later.
This one was, instead, an isometric perspective action game that takes place after the first movie, but is basically the same shit all over again. Who knows why.
Speaking of video games that were essentially just unnecessary sequels, there’s the Saw video game, which went widely unnoticed. The game, which was meant to play sort of like a Silent Hill installment, features the return of Danny Glover’s Detective Tapp, whom Jigsaw saves between the first and second movies and leaves in an abandoned asylum filled with traps. Your objective is to run around and disarm the traps, fight off people who are trying to kill you (for various flimsy reasons), and discover Jigsaw’s origins… but since the game came out in 2009, right around the same time as Saw V, that part’s not particularly special.
2. Around the World in 80 Days
“Jackie Chan and Jules Verne? Sign me up!” said no one, ever. And yet we got a stupid movie out of it anyway. Worse, we got an incredibly stupid and ugly Game Boy Advance game out of it. The game, yet another side-scroller, is kind of a Prince of Persia-esque deal where you guide Jackie Chan around the streets of various cities, except you do it in a world where everything looks horrible. I suspect that it’s what Dr. Weir saw at the end of Event Horizon when he decided to blind himself.
1. White Men Can’t Jump
Only released for the Atari Jaguar console (which itself was an extremely poor seller and Atari’s last attempt at a console), White Men Can’t Jump is the absolute weirdest movie licensed game to ever exist. Namely because it has nothing at all to do with the movie. It’s just a shitty NBA Jam clone with a bunch of made-up characters.
Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes appear nowhere in the game, nor are they mentioned. Why on earth would you buy the license for a movie that wasn’t very good to begin with (it was essentially the punchline to a non-existent joke) three years after it came out and without the film’s stars?
I can only assume they bought the rights at some 20th Century Fox fire sale. They’re probably still in the bottom of some long-fired Atari exec’s desk right now. Or buried at the bottom of a landfill.