Why Can't We Have A Good Doctor Who Game?

Doctor Who has been running for fifty years this year, and throughout time for something like 900 years according to series chronology. He's seen off Daleks, Cybermen, Nestenes, Draconians and even the terrible Zodin. You know the one thing he's never been able to defeat? The curse of terrible Doctor Who video games.

The history of Doctor Who is long and scattered, but one thing has remained constant; whenever there's a new Doctor Who video game being hyped, you can bet on it being ordinary at best — and sometimes even that requires careful recalibration of what you consider ordinary to actually be.

It feels like I've been waiting for a new Doctor Who game for a very long time. This makes me very, very sad; I can remember as a much younger Alex salivating over the box for Doctor Who: The Mines Of Terror. The only problem there? The only retail copy I ever saw brand new was for the C64… and we had an Amstrad CPC 6128. Then again, if I had scored a copy, I would have ended up with… this

Things didn't get better later on, with titles like Dalek Attack

Or Destiny Of The Doctors. I've still got the press release for Destiny Of The Doctors somewhere. Printed on actual paper, which shows how long ago that was. At least the filmed bits with Anthony Ainley hamming it up were fun, I guess

Things went very quiet after that right up until the new series, which has given us, variously, an awful Wii game, an awful DS game, an ordinary PSN game, a boring Top Trumps game, ordinary iOS game and some passable adventure games for PC and Mac. The Adventure games are nicely scripted and scored, but they're not the most challenging of things.

Why, when you've got fifty years worth of foes, and all of time and space to play with, is it so hard to get a good Doctor Who game?

Yeah, I was never likely to be editor at Kotaku and not do at least one Doctor Who story. Some things should just be seen as natural.


Comments

    All the BBC needs to do is get someone like Telltale onto it and they'd be golden.

    Yet they keep handing their Doctor Who licence to seemingly unknown and inexperienced development studios. I don't get it. Doctor Who is their biggest international licence, yet it's like they don't WANT to have any good games.

      OMGYES. A Telltale Doctor Who game. YESYESYESYES. This neeeeds to happen.

        well. while i wont quite go that rampant i will say that to me is the best idea. episodic, character driven, involved... each season could be a new doctor too?

      telltale...doctor who...together?...the synaps in my brain just fired so quickly with ideas that my head exploded and then regenerated!

    There was a Doctor Who pinball machine that was quite excellent. Does that count?

      Yes it does. Time streams. Best pinball ever. You can select from the first 7 doctors for different bonuses. It has a three tier rising platform. Hidden 'Dr moo ' - tom baker cow! The whomobile is in there. A video game in the display panel. Awesome stuff - I own one =-O. Best purchase ever.

        Seconded. It's excellent, and I'd love to own one.

        But I'm going to put it in "exception that proves the rule" category. I'm allowed one :)

        I also didn't mention the BBC Micro game -- but then I've never even seen a boxed copy of that, and only really knew about it at the time through DWM.

          Yeah. I remember seeing the ad in cvg? - I've never played it. All the new Dr who games are shocking. Particularly the ps3 one. There are the basics of a good game there but ends up being crap. The worst thing is that the game doesn't really finish. To be continued...

    Some people 'get' Doctor Who, other's don't. Video games obviously fit into the latter categaory.

    I think the hardest part of any Doctor Who game is the fact that The Doctor doesn't "fight" alot of the time and because of this, outsmarting your enemy doesn't really translate into gameplay. The Eternity Clock was average and became a platformer really with some puzzles. Adventure games are probably the only way Doctor Who could be a viable game. I would love to see Telltale take a crack at it :)

    I think part of the fun of the Doctor would being able to see him respond to a situation instead of controlling him. Long story short ... I want a game where you play as the companions, alongside the Doctor

    never been fused on the Who games...It just doesn't fit the character...It's like playing Tomb Raider with no guns,..it just doesn't work! The Pinball looked pretty good, and i have the monopoly...The Eternity Clock isn't bad and didn't mind it, some of the puzzles are challenging, but tbbh i think that's as good of a who game your going to get.

    As i said, it just doesn't fit the character to have a game. The TellTale style of game is the only way i can see any reasonable game being made to fit his character. Thier Back to the Future isn't bad and i would almost throw them in the basket of "Too Hard To Make A Game", but they seemed to do it ok.

    As a huge Doctor Who dork I would love a decent game. Those adventure games they released a year or two ago were pretty average but probably the best they've managed so far.

    But the show doesn't really suit many gameplay genres apart from a point and click adventure.

    He rarely uses a weapon, he can fight but isn't known for it, it's mostly talking and running. Hell maybe they could make a racing game where he and his companions are just running through corridors being chased by things.

    I would suggest a early Zelda or Ultima type adventure game would be perfect. The Tardis would be like a portal between different worlds, meeting different enemies, and perhaps using companions to help the Doctor on these different levels.

    Did anyone ever play 'Dr. What?', the 'definately not a Doctor Who game no matter what you might think' ?

    This just came from Doctor Octoroc. I suggest theBBC use it as a template:

    http://www.doctoroctoroc.com/16-bit-doctor-who-2011.php

    Last edited 17/01/13 7:10 pm

    All they have to do is combine The 3rd person gameplay from Return To Earth with the graphics and puzzles of the Eternity clock and put a good story to it. Maybe put it on the wii u and use the gamepad.

    they need a massive sandbox multiworld dr.Who game :D

    Amusingly, the makers of Dalek Attack tried to sue the games mag Amiga Power for giving it such a low score. Here's a recap of events from an AP journalist's blog:

    Alternative's PR bod Roger Hulley broke the news the company was busily programming the official Doctor Who licence. It was so good, he continued, it had already received scores of 90%+ from the Doctor Who fanzines. Doc fans were lining up to buy Amigas to play it.
     
    Doctor Who: Dalek Attack duly turned up and was reviewed in AP22. It was a platform game where the Doctor shot people with his famous laser gun. It got 28%.
     
    Springing into action, Alternative's lawyers issued a writ citing the rave reviews given by the Doctor Who fanzines ("It's the best video game ever," said one) and describing AP's score as "needlessly low."
     
    By now, of course, we were idly marking our lawsuits, and even by the poor standards of the competition, Alternative's was risibly weak and riddled with factual inaccuracies such as accusing AP's review of being riddled with factual inaccuracies.
     
    We were therefore surprised when it succeeded, forcing us to pulp all unsold AP22s. No, only joking.
     
    Unusually, however, this did not stop Alternative from talking to us. Instead they bided their time, on the surface appearing willing to put the silly episode behind them and continue permitting their Amiga games to be seen in the world's biggest-selling Amiga games mag while in fact plotting an elaborate revenge. At exactly the optimum moment, perhaps years after we'd forgotten the Doctor Who incident, they'd strike with maximum effect and we'd look such fools.
     
    At last, 33 issues on, the moment was right. Using as an excuse the "flippant tone of the preview" (that is, some jokes about one of the characters), Alternative at the last possible moment reneged on their pledge to send us a copy of their prestigious, highly-anticipated, much-hyped licence, Thomas The Tank Engine Pinball.
     
    Needless to say, we looked such fools, then bought one down the shops. It was amazingly terrible, but received a generous 17% because in the greengrocer's next door we'd found satsumas were back in season. Hurrah!

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