Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Games Based On TV Shows That Actually Don't Suck

While many video games are original creations that feature their own stories and characters, some expand on narratives from other places, such as comic books, movies, and TV shows. In this piece, we're focusing on that last one — TV shows — and how some developers beat the odds and made very good video games based on television source material.


Beat the odds, you say? Yes! It may come as a surprise, but there aren't a whole lot of great video games based on TV universes. For every title that delivers on bringing the TV experience into video game form, there are multiple games like Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit or Lost: Via Domus waiting to cash in on a license without bringing much to the table in the way of fun.

We had to dig deep to find the diamonds in the rough, but rest assured, some do exist. Here are ten video games that truly bring honor to the TV properties they're based on.

Game of Thrones really is a game, and it's fun

Before we lay out an argument for this one, we know what you're thinking: the Game of Thrones TV show borrows from the books written by George R.R. Martin. You're right! We're including it, however, because Telltale's Game of Thrones video game is based on the TV show.


The Game of Thrones Telltale series creates a whole new storyline inside HBO's Game of Thrones universe. It centers around House Forrester, a minor noble house in Westeros best known for its strong ironwood tree groves. The Forresters are House Stark bannermen, and the game itself begins at the tail end of the TV show's "Red Wedding." What's a Red Wedding, you ask? We won't spoil that for you — it's something you have to see for yourself.

Just know that, throughout the course of the six-episode series, Telltale not only manages to flesh out an entire family of background characters from the Game of Thrones world, but does so in a way that interweaves their stories with major characters in the franchise. Mira Forrester serves as a handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell and shares several scenes with Margaery, Tyrion Lannister, and Cersei Lannister (voiced by show actors Natalie Dormer, Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey, respectively). The rest of her family members interact with other notables in the show, as well. It all happens in the margins — almost as though the cameras were off but the GoT world was still spinning — and it makes everything happening within the game feel authentic and canon.


If you're a Game of Thrones fan, this is not one to miss.

The Ninja Turtles had one great cowabunga of a game

There may be nothing more millennial than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When the animated series first hit the airwaves in 1987, these green anthropomorphic reptiles took the world by storm. They soon appeared on toy store shelves as action figures, became the stars of several feature-length films, and yes — even showed up as the protagonists in several video games. And while most of these games weren't much to write home about, there's one title in particular that stands out from the bunch: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time.


Turtles in Time, an arcade game that eventually made its way to the Super Nintendo, was a 2D side-scrolling beat-em-up starring the Turtles. It asked the question: what if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had to fight Shredder and his Foot Clan in both the past and the future to save the world? What would that look like? The answer, as it turned out, was a whole lot of fun. The 16-bit Super Nintendo hardware did more justice to the Turtles than the NES ever could, and the game's fan service — including almost every TMNT villain worth caring about — was top notch. Not only that, up to four friends could hop in on the fun, making Turtles in Time a great game for those early 90s sleepovers.


Do you have an SNES stored in a closet somewhere? Turtles in Time is worth digging it out for.

Dragon Ball Z's fighting game has no filler

Anyone who knows Dragon Ball knows how over the top and sensational the franchise can be. Goofy characters with immense, superhuman powers. Battles somehow crossing a planet's surface in an instant. It's all a bit much, and that's the perfect recipe for a video game — provided that game can capture the feel of the series in a faithful way.


Dragon Ball FighterZ, a fighting game based on the lore of the Dragon Ball anime, does it to an astonishing degree.

Never mind the weird name (though it does make sense, to a point). Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the better attempts at transporting a TV series rich with personality and history into the video game world. Players have over 24 characters to choose from when battling against friends or AI opponents. And there's a fleshed out and substantial story campaign packed in, as well. Frieza, a character in the Dragon Ball universe, plays the role of the main protagonist as both heroes and villains team up against Android 21, a human-turned-android who is hell-bent on devouring warriors.


If you want to see Dragon Ball's art and characters represented truly in a video game, Dragon Ball FighterZ is the game to play.

Wrestling is only real when it's polygonal

If you believe the top-rope elbows, drop kicks, and chair shots found in World Wrestling Entertainment are anything more than theater, well — we hate it break it to you, but it's all scripted. We know: we were crushed, too. Now that you're armed with this knowledge, however, and can view professional wrestling less as a sporting event and more as an athletic television drama, you can better appreciate the video game that best captures the WWE experience.


To us, it's WWF: No Mercy for the Nintendo 64.

Back before it became World Wrestling Entertainment, the WWE was the WWF, which stood for World Wrestling Federation. And back in those days, the WWF's video games were not made by 2K Games but, instead, were developed by a studio called AKI and published by THQ.

AKI wrestling titles were a mix of strategy and all-out fun, and that didn't change with No Mercy. The developer had handled the WCW franchise prior to being tapped for WWF WrestleMania 2000No Mercy's predecessor, and those games were always looked upon fondly by both critics and wrestling fans. AKI brought the same flavor to No Mercy, boasting a huge roster of favorite WWF superstars, complete with authentic entrances, theme music, and finishing moves. And No Mercy's create-a-wrestler feature was expansive and, dare we say, ahead of its time.


The now-WWE has annualized its wrestling games, with 2K Games putting out a new one every single year. None hold a candle to No Mercy, the peak of professional wrestling in video game form.

DuckTales had one of its best adventures in sprites

The game DuckTales draws directly from the animated Disney series that ran from 1987 to 1990, and brings most of the show's characters to life throughout the course of its campaign. Wealthy waterfowl Scrooge McDuck serves as the title's main protagonist, and true to the cartoon's universe, Scrooge teams up with his nephews — Huey, Dewie, and Louie — as he battles foes in an attempt to accumulate treasure and add on to his already-vast fortune.


In the NES era — the period in which DuckTales was released — cartoons seemed to be a favorite choice when it came time to turn a licensed property into a video game. The 8-bit graphics pumped out by the original Nintendo Entertainment System could deliver a more faithful representative of a cartoon than, say, a live-action TV show. What set DuckTales apart from the horde of other licensed games on the NES, however, was fact that it was actually good. It was an action-platformer that not only faithfully recreated the DuckTales universe, but introduced gameplay elements still used by video games to this day. Example: Shovel Knight's use of his shovel as a sort of pogo stick is probably a direct homage to Scrooge McDuck's use of his cane for the same purpose.


DuckTales was so good, and is so revered in video game history, that the game received an HD remaster in 2013.

You can join the bridge of the USS Enterprise

The journey of the Star Trek series is long and storied, from its debut in 1966 all the way to its modern day film iterations. It's tough to think about the history of television and not count William Shatner's Captain Kirk as a formative piece of it, or, decades later, not include Patrick Stewart's Captain Picard as a fixture of his own television era. Star Trek, like many massively popular television properties, has seen its universe explored a million and one ways, so it's no surprise Star Trek video games have been created to expand the franchise outward.


Star Trek: Bridge Crew offers an experience not many other games can lay claim to. It doesn't simply build a story and treat the player as a puppeteer, of sorts, leading a character through gameplay and narrative. Bridge Crew is a virtual reality experience, which means gamers actually become part of the game. It's a dream come true for those who've ever wished they could find themselves aboard a spacecraft, working alongside a crew of fellow Starfleet officers as you all travel the cosmos in search of a new place to call home.

Bridge Crew was — rather quietly — considered one of the best games released in 2017. If you're a Star Trek fan (and if you have the VR hardware required), it's a title you should definitely check out.


Springfield invites you for one great game

The Simpsons have been showing up in homes for the better part of three decades, becoming an ingrained part of American pop culture and society by pumping out 29 seasons of content and becoming the country's longest-running sitcom ever. With such staying power, you wouldn't be out of line to assume that lots of off-shoot properties have been created using the Simpsons brand, and video games are definitely part of the equation. The first Simpsons video game didn't take long to appear, arriving in early 1991 to somewhat mixed reviews. Way back when, fans of the series couldn't have possibly predicted that, not only would The Simpsons still be around in 2003 — 12 years later — but it wouldn't be until that point that a game came along and truly did the franchise justice.


The Simpsons: Hit & Run arrived in the Xbox/PS2/GameCube era as an action driving game set in the Simpsons' hometown of Springfield. Critics compared it most to a cartoon-colored version of Grand Theft Auto, and those comparisons were fairly on point. Players could take on missions, race other drivers, run over pedestrians, or hop out of their car and get into melee scuffles on foot. And not unlike GTA, bad behavior in Springfield could land players in hot water with the fuzz — in Hit & Run's case, Chief Wiggum.

As one of the best-received Simpsons games, Hit & Run is ripe for a reboot or remaster. Until then, you'll have to break out an older console to play this one.

Go on down to South Park

When South Park arrived on the scene in 1997, it wasn't clear just how long the cartoon would survive. Its raunchy humor and controversial subject matter made it an easy target for parents and politicians alike, and its rapid production schedule — episodes are written and created within a week — meant that simply making the show could take a toll on its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, over time.


Twenty-one seasons, one movie, and many video games later, South Park is still very much alive and well. But while the TV show is considered a runaway success and the film received rave reviews, South Park's history in video games was never all that impressive.

That is, until South Park: The Stick of Truth came along.

The Stick of Truth is a turn-based RPG hiding under all of the outrageous and grotesque humor fans would expect from the TV show. The game places the player in the role of a new kid in South Park: a kid who, unwittingly, gets caught up in an intense fantasy roleplaying adventure with show characters Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny. But things take several zany twists throughout the tale, and in classic South Park style, the town's many well-known side characters make appearances as the kids wind up taking on greater threats than they ever thought possible.


The Stick of Truth is about as faithful as a licensed property can get, which makes it worth a play for fans of the series.

SpongeBob had a game as weird and wonderful as his square pants

What can you say about SpongeBob SquarePants? He's one of the more strange cartoon characters to come around in quite some time, and ever since he showed up on our television screens in 1999, things haven't quite been the same. This walking, talking sponge lives in — you're free to sing this part — a pineapple under the sea; is best friends with a starfish; and pals around with a squid, a crab, and for some reason, a squirrel who wears a scuba suit in order to breathe underwater. And, like most successful TV shows, he's starred in several video games — but only one is worth talking about.


SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom takes SpongeBob out of the 2D world he's more accustomed to, instead tossing him into a 3D action platformer where he attempts to protect the Krabby Patty's secret recipe from being stolen by Plankton — who, yes, is a plankton. SpongeBob's underwater neighborhood is recreated in a sandbox style for players to explore, and all your favorite TV show characters make appearances at one point or another in the game. It's fan service at its best.

Simply put: Battle for Bikini Bottom is a delight for fans of SpongeBob Squarepants, and perhaps, even those who are getting into the series for the first time. If you're looking for something fun to play, pick it up.


Battlestar Galactica got a new run in video game form

There are two Battlestar Galacticas that exist in terms of television, and depending on your preferences, you may identify with one, with the other, or with both. The series originally appeared in 1978, and, despite a brief two-year run, developed a devoted following. After a healthy amount of off-shoot media expanded on the lore of the Battlestar Galactica universe, the series reemerged nearly 25 years later. This updated BSG (as the fans call it) stayed on the air for around five years.


Now here is what truly speaks to the loyalty of Battlestar Galactica fans: even though the newer series ended in 2009, it managed to retain its cult status long enough for a 2017 video game to come along and knock it out of the park. That game? Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock.

Deadlock is a 3D strategy title based in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica universe, and puts an emphasis on ship battle in the outer reaches of space. Reviewers compared its gameplay elements to those used by strategy series XCOM, but without the grid-based movement limitations imposed by that franchise. But more important than the way Deadlock plays is the way it remains faithful to what made fans love BSG in the first place: the way it brings a sense of "grit" to its science fiction universe through its story, which critics also enjoyed.


If you're a BSG die-hard, Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock should get a spot on your must-play list.