The Worst Movie-Based Games Ever

Posted by Dave 04 SEPTEMBER 2014
cool stuff funny

As you’ll have seen from some of my previous blog posts, movies and video games have a lot of crossover. Games are trying to be more like films, with exciting cut-scenes that show awesome things happening while you haplessly bash away at buttons in the hope that you’re influencing what’s happening, and films are even trying to be more like games sometimes, with crazy fast action sequences and explosions and whatnot. This hasn’t stopped them frequently being utter drivel, of course: just watch a Transformers film or Battle: Los Angeles to see the scale of video game influence and how it can make a terrible film even worse.


“PEW PEW PEW! Stuff explodes and the robots do awesome things while the camera swings around wildly!”
- an extract from the script for Transformers

Last time’s blog post, on The Best Movie-Based Games Ever, was a difficult one to write. There haven’t really been that many great games based on movies, and any list along those lines inevitably ends up being “GoldenEye, Aladdin, and a few others”. This week’s blog post is going to be difficult to write for the exact opposite reason: games based on films are almost inevitably tired, lazy, rushed, shoddy cash-ins, and choosing just a selection from them is almost an impossibility. Never one to shy away from a challenge, however, I accept the responsibility of listing some of these digital monstrosities.

I’ve already talked about E.T. and its effect on video gaming (i.e. it nearly destroyed the entire industry), and in blog posts such as Eight Unbelievable Game Tie-Ins I’ve also looked at such classics as Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Dirty Dancing. That one still baffles me with its existence, but then so does Justin Bieber, so perhaps I’m just doomed to never know what’s going on. Today we’ll be looking exclusively at movie-based games like those, but only those which are so bad that you want to pull your own face off, rather than expose it to their lack of quality.

I’ll also be taking regular breaks to swear a lot, lie down and cry, as I re-traumatise myself over so many of the games I’ve tried to forget.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Independence Day (PlayStation, PC, Sega Saturn, 1997)

Independence Day was a terrible movie, but at least it was fun. It almost seemed knowing in its heavy-handed attempts at pathos, cliché-ridden action scenes and abysmal dialogue, leaving the movie as the sort of thing that can be at least semi-enjoyed on a Sunday when it comes on ITV9 or Film4 + 6, and you can’t be bothered to find the remote. The same can not be said for the game, sadly.

Independence Day

Reasoning that a game based on a popular movie would sell at least a few copies due to the name alone, Canadian studio Radical Entertainment decided to try and recreate the exciting dogfighting scenes between humans in their planes and aliens in their flying saucers. They failed spectacularly, of course.

Gameplay involves flying your plane around mission areas that range from Tokyo and the Grand Canyon to the inside of the alien mothership, trying to shoot down enemies and then destroy the primary alien weapon before it destroys the Eiffel Tower or whatever landmarks are around. Unfortunately, it never varies from this, meaning you do the same things over and over again with no increase in difficulty, and making every level feel the same. Fly around, shoot things, repeat. It’s dismayingly easy and barely provides any enjoyment beyond the first five minutes. It does feature Will Smith’s voice, but then so does the hit single Boom! Shake the Room, and that can be finished in less than four minutes.

Overall, Independence Day isn’t a terrible atrocity of a game (we’ll get to those in a minute), it’s just a perfect example of a movie-based game made by people that simply didn’t care about anything, beyond getting it onto shelves and making some money.

Work continues on an Independence Day sequel, currently slated for release in July 2016. Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum are signed on to reprise their roles, but Will Smith won’t be in it because he demanded a $50 million dollar salary. Coincidentally enough, that’s the exact amount you’d need to pay me to play Charlie’s Angels again.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (NES, 1989)

The NES (Nintendo Entertainment System, for those of you who are confused by TLA) was a hotbed of movie-based games, many of which were awful, and many of which were made by LJN Toys, which is not a coincidence. LJN frequently churned out awful, awful games, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of their worse efforts.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

The movie starring Bob Hoskins (gawd rest his soul) was a masterpiece of animation, and a fun comedy to boot; it didn’t especially lend itself to the action of a video game, but in the 80s that really wasn’t a relevant concern and so development went ahead. The game has you wandering around trying to collect items and talk to characters from the film, but makes little sense and is simply abysmal to control. Driving sections should take you from one location to another, but end up as an exercise in frustration and controller robustness (as you lob it across the room while screaming).

Theoretically, you eventually collect all the items and face off against Judge Doom, except he’s almost impossible to beat and you’ll probably have already broken down into a gibbering heap by that point anyway. It’s a well-known fact that LJN games were primarily used as torture by the US Army, at least before the invention of One Direction.

Interestingly, one part of the game requires you to call a real-life phone number to get hints on how to proceed. This number is no longer in use by the hint line, and in fact now connects you to a late-night chat line. Thus, if played today, you can experience a Nintendo game about cartoon characters advising children to phone a sex hotline. What a world we live in.

Jaws Unleashed (PS2, Xbox, Windows, 2006)

With a little imagination, Jaws could be an exciting game, if slightly limited in scope. You’d control a team of shark hunters, tensely searching the sea for deadly sharks in difficult conditions, fighting to stay afloat and keep the oceans safe. The developers of this game decided to ignore that interesting and potentially terrifying premise and have you play as the shark instead.

Jaws Unleashed

That’s right, you play as the evil shark, tasked with eating people. Sometimes the people are on boats, or docks, or just swimming in the water. You have to eat them all. I suppose there’s a poetic simplicity to it, at least.

As you progress through the game, you can upgrade your shark (sadly not with “frickin’ laser beams” though), giving it more speed, accuracy or hunger. You can bite people, smash them with your tail, or even jump out of the water and belly flop onto things to destroy them. There are also treasure chests to find and open, because as we all know, the primary concern of a shark is the acquisition of material wealth.

The main issue I have with Jaws Unleashed is that while it wasn’t completely awful, and tried to do something new, it certainly didn’t need the Jaws name on it. It could have instead been called “Shark Attack”, or even “GRRR Bitey Bitey Shark” and it would have been just the same. Instead, it’s yet another cynical cash-grab video game, and there’s nothing new about that.

Iron Man (PS2, PS3, PSP, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, Windows, 2008)

I had intended to include Iron Man on this list as an indicator that movie-based rubbish is still being churned out today, and then I realised that Iron Man came out in 2008 and that was six years ago at the time of writing.

Iron Man

Well, as you can probably work out from the line I used there about it being movie-based rubbish, Iron Man is a boring, generic and uninspired shooting game, with frustrating controls, mediocre graphics and an uninteresting story. It’s a shame, as the first Iron Man movie was quite enjoyable, but as so often happens, a video game is rushed out to tie-in with the cinema release, with compromised quality and no real reason for its existence other than, once again, making money.

Iron Man got critically panned across all versions, but that didn’t stop people from buying it because they liked the movie. This is the problem with video games sometimes: people don’t bother to find out whether it’s good or not, they just buy it anyway. With a cinema ticket or a DVD this can cost £10, which can be an acceptable loss, but video games often cost four times that much so people really should do their research first. Sorry, I’m starting to sound like your dad now. Let’s watch Many A True Nerd treat the game with the reverence it deserves:

I suppose some kudos can be awarded to the game for getting Robert Downey, Jr. to reprise his role as Tony Stark, and I’m sure he took the role out of respect for the character and a desire to preserve the integrity and characterisation of the franchise, and not because he needed a new wing for his mansion.

Street Fighter: The Movie (Arcade, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, 1995)

We’re hitting a new low point with this one. Not just a game of a film, this is a game of a film of a game, diluting the source material in an attempt to produce a homeopathy-style placebo effect, with not even the memory of the original substance remaining.

Street Fighter

For those of you who were still blissfully unaware, Street Fighter II was indeed adapted into a movie in 1994, starring the irrepressible Jean-Claude Van Damme, with a memorable appearance by Kylie Minogue. At some point it must have been decided by games studios that all movies should have games based on them whenever possible, and the fact that this movie already had a tie-in game by default was deemed irrelevant, so Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game went ahead.

It seems bizarre that a bad Street Fighter game could be made now (excluding some of the earliest ones on consoles such as the NES, and some terrible ports of SFII), but in 1995 that’s exactly what happened. The arcade version was an attempt to cash in on the success of Mortal Kombat, copying its digitised graphics and throwing in “interesting” characters such as fighting cyborgs, and was mediocre at best. The semi-related home console version was an exercise in pointlessness, being a port of an earlier Street Fighter game with digitised graphics.

As much as I love video games, I will never fully understand the way in which the industry works. Games like this are only made in order to suck money out of people, and have no justification for their existence. That said, I don’t understand the sort of people who would be gullible enough to buy it, either. Some days I don’t feel like I understand anything at all about the world, and then I read that they’re planning another series of Big Brother and I realise I don’t even want to understand any more.


Back to the Future (NES, 1989)

Back to the Future was one of my favourite films in the 80s. I had a copy videotaped on Betamax (that assertion is deliberately worded so as to confuse my younger readers) which I would religiously watch, in rotation with videos of Star Wars and Tron.

Back to the Future

Then they made this. Thankfully it was unreleased in Europe so I was never exposed to it in my younger days, but rest assured that it’s one of the worst-made, most soulless attempts to make money from an established franchise that ever existed. The music is repetitive and quickly makes your ears wish they could weep, the levels make no sense and bear only the most tangential relation to the movie, and the controls are awful.

Back to the Future is, of course, made by LJN (of Who Framed Roger Rabbit infamy), so it stands to reason that it would be bad. I don’t think anyone was prepared for just how bad it is, however, especially considering that it came out four years after the movie. It wasn’t even rushed to be in shops at the right time, and it was still atrocious. Of course, people bought it purely based on the name, as they do everything, and now I’m making myself sad again, so here’s a video of the Angry Video Game Nerd to make us all feel better. Well, those of us who like prolific and creative swearing, that is.

Back to the Future was such a bad game that Bob Gale, the screenwriter of the movies, has insisted that fans should under no circumstances buy it, calling it “one of the worst games ever”. Allegedly he was ignored by LJN when he offered to give input on development, which I think shows off LJN's impressive dedication to making the game rubbish.

Charlie’s Angels (PS2, GameCube, 2003)

I think it’s a general rule that games based on good movies are probably going to be awful, but games based on bad movies are pretty much guaranteed to be worse than you can imagine.

Charlie's Angels

That being said, I don’t think you can truly imagine how awful Charlie’s Angels is unless you’ve played it, even if you’ve seen the terrible movies. I was planning to list all the bad things about it, but to save time, I’ll just list the good things instead:

  1. You don’t have to play it.
  2. If you do find yourself playing it, you can stop.

Everything about the game itself is a waste of time, not just for players but also for Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, who did voice-over work that makes them sound bored, irritable, drunk and jet-lagged all at the same time. The game is broken and full of bugs, making enemies fall through floors or punch you from the other side of walls, and playing the game mostly consists of slapping the same buttons over and over again until all the enemies are knocked out, or until this soul-crushing piece of software forces you into a coma.

GamesRadar recently published a run-down of the 100 worst games ever made, and Charlie’s Angels made it to number 79 on the list. Even by the low standards set by some of today’s games, Charlie’s Angels still ranks near the bottom.


No wonder they look so unimpressed.

So, we’ve now covered the best and the worst of movie-based games. As I said last time, movies will always be a source of inspiration for shoddy tie-in games, and this week’s selection covers some of the most awful things ever to happen in the lazy, money-hungry echelons of the games industry.

I’m sure I’ve missed out more than a few that people have suffered through, however. If you’re a veteran of gaming you’ll surely have played at least one terrible movie game purely because of its name. Games based on Arnie films from the 80s spring to mind; I’m sure some of you were fooled into buying them. If you’re not too busy having counselling or electroconvulsive therapy, please let me know! You can get in touch with me through the comments below, via Facebook, Twitter, Google +, or email [email protected].

Written By: Dave Morgan

Sign Up To Our VIP Newsletter! Get access to exclusive information, freebies, discounts, gaming guides & much more
Join We would love to update you with exclusive offers, new products and inspiration for having serious fun - and we'll always treat your data with the respect it deserves.