8 Of The Most Frustratingly Bad Media Tie-in Video Games Ever

8 Of The Most Frustratingly Bad Media Tie-in Video Games Ever

Ever bought a game that ties into one of your favourite fantasy, scifi, or comic book tales, only to play it and find out it is total crap? Unfortunately, licensed games are historically bad, leaving a lot of fans in this same situation. You probably already know about 1982’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and 1999’s Superman 64, so these two stinkers are omitted. Here are eight more of the absolute worst ones.

1. Uncanny X-Men for the Nintendo Entertainment System

The defunct video game publisher LJN loved one thing – green paper. Almost all of their video games revolved around existing properties, with 1988’s Uncanny X-Men one of their most awaited projects to date.

Uncanny X-Men allowed players to take on the roles of several different X-Men — Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, Cyclops, and Iceman, an idea unheard of in the early days of console gaming.

Once popped into the NES, the game faltered on nearly every level, with the game flaunting unnecessarily difficult gameplay and programming errors . Where LJN’s Uncanny X-Men gained the ire of many a fan is the nigh impossible final level, a level which required the player to input a series of commands written on the outside of the cartridge itself to proceed.

2. Game of Thrones for PS3, Xbox 360, and PS3

Running high on the adrenaline rush of the end of Game of Thrones Season Two, Atlus released Game of Thrones for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in May of 2012.

The Action RPG features voices from two supporting characters from the HBO series, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo) and Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), along with a brief vocal cameo by George R.R. Martin.

The instalment in the franchise started the player off a member Night’s Watch, but presentation is murky, with the graphics looking like something out of a prior generation of game. The controls and combat are difficult, leaving little for the game to stand on other than story. Sadly, the game falls short and comes off as little more as licensed cash grab.

3. Shadowrun for the PC and Xbox 360

The Shadowrun series is responsible for two of the great unheralded classics of early 1990s gaming — a set of completely different games for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis that expertly mixed the Shadowrun pen and paper role playing game franchise’s mix of mix of cyberpunk and fantasy genres.

Microsoft acquired the video game rights to the Shadowrun series and did the unthinkable — the company turned it into a Halo-style first person shooter that ties into the 2012 Mayan Calendar debacle.

To make things worse, 2007’s Shadowrun lacked a single-player campaign, choosing to concentrate on multiplayer shooter experience via Xbox Live. The blend of magic and cybernetics failed to catch the eye of players, with the dedicated servers for the PC shut down in February 2008, a little over six months after release of the game.

4. Discworld for the PC, Mac, & PlayStation

Based on Terry Pratchett’s classic series, Discworld stars Rincewind, who is voiced by Monty Python’s Eric Idle. Discworld succeeded in presenting a high quality story and grabbing a slew of great voice actors.

Discworld falters due to a high difficultly level and extremely difficult controls necessitating the use of a mouse and squinting your eyes in the PlayStation version. Easily the “best worst” game on the list, Discworld could have been a generation defining game if developer Psygnosis spent a little more time tweaking the title.

5. X-Men: Ravages of Apocalypse for the PC

Not so much a bad game, but a casualty of ambition. X-Men: Ravages of Apocalypse originally began as a fan-created mod for Quake, X-Men: Quake. The first-person shooter makes the player a minion of Magneto and pits him or her against clones of the X-Men created by Apocalypse.

In time, Zero Gravity Games sought licensing from Marvel in 1997 to sell an amped up version of the game, X-Men: Ravages of Apocalypse. Marvel gave the small developer a December deadline for release, leading to a flawed, artificially difficult game where robot clones of Joe Madureira-era Psylocke, Wolverine, and Rogue (with really polygonal bad hair) attack the player in unending waves.

6. Rogue Trooper: The Quartz Zone Massacre for the Wii

Based on one of the greatest characters from the UK comic 2000AD, this 2009 port of a 2006 PS2 game with a much shorter name.

The game unfortunately suffers from complicated controls involving Nintendo’s WiiMote and Nunchuck along with drab graphics; graphics that particularly suffer in the move from the Playstation 2 to the Wii.

The game does do a good job of integrating key parts of the comic series, like the use of biochip technology to keep Rogue’s dead buddies Gunnar, Bagman, and Helm with him at all time, but this isn’t enough to make the game a winner. If you do come across the game, you are not totally out of luck, as the Wii edition is rather rare.

7. The Lawnmower Man for the Super Nintendo & Sega Genesis

Based on the 1992 movie that is not really, but sort of based on a Stephen King story that appeared in Night Shift, Lawnmower Man is an interesting property to adapt into a video game in the early 1990s, a time when kids still dominated the game-playing audience.

In an fantastic case of franchise shoehorning, game developer THQ took the storyline of the movie and turned it into a side-scrolling shooting game similar to Contra. The PC version is a completely different game, holding closer to the storyline of the movie and featuring some interesting visuals during the virtual reality sections.

8. Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi for the PlayStation

I was “that guy” who pre-ordered Masters of Teras Kasi and picked it up opening night. A fighting game for the PlayStation in the style of Tekken, Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi sounds like a dream. Boba Fett versus Chewbacca fighting in a squared circle? Hell yes!

MoTK introduced Arden Lyn, an assassin and Teras Kasi expert who gathers Luke, Leia, Han, and more for a martial arts tournament. This is where I should have pulled out. While ambitious in concept, Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi failed in execution thanks to unbalanced characters.

Want to see Han Solo fist fight a lightsaber wielding Darth Vader? No, no, no — this should never happen. I don’t want Han to die. But thanks to lightsabers being as dangerous as wiffle ball bats, this forbidden battle can happen in Masters of Teras Kasi.

Top image is a screen cap from the movie The Lawnmower Man by New Line Cinema.


  • I used to like the lawnmower man as a film when i was a kid and remember playing the game and wondering wtf was going on haha

    • That was the most early-90s game ever. Didn’t the player collect CDs around the world in place of the classic platformer’s fruit or gems?

  • The combat in Game of Thrones had a steep difficulty curve about halfway through with one or two particularly bad fights where you were underpowered and outnumbered (not to mention that there was high end armour and weaponry in the game they clearly expected you to be using that was unfortunately so ludicrously overpriced that you could never ever afford it) but once you figured out a few tricks and remembered to liberally use wildfire and healing potions, it wasn’t that bad.
    I also thought the story was very nicely done, really provided an authentic Game of Thrones experience. The graphics and animation quality were pretty outdated for 2012 and the voice acting was all over the place (it was like the voice actors playing the protagonists were very inexperienced at the start and got better towards the end) but it was worth checking out at least as a timekiller under Telltale started working on Iron from Ice, which I still haven’t finished.

  • A really good one was Gremlins 2 on the NES. Gizmo fighting the big bad bosses was too good. I also liked the Legend of Korra game out recently, that wasn’t too bad.

    But in tune with this discussion:

    TMNT Tournament Fighters

    Batman Forever

    Jurassic Park 2 (the sidescroller).

    Virtual Bart

    There’s a few!

    • I had Batman Forever on the Snes, and as a kid I’d only get one or two games per year so I forced myself to like that game!

  • Oh man I was sucked into Stitch Experiment 626 on the PS2 – regretted that about 20 mins after I bought it too

  • Rogue Trooper is a great game on PC (often on sale on Steam, also available on GOG)
    I picked up the Wii version sometime later for the splitscreen co-op, but unfortunately what looks nice and sharp on PC doesn’t scale down well to the Wii’s resolution and it does look really muddy in that version 🙁

    Shadowrun always annoyed me because it might have had potential – yes it was light on content and broke from the RPG roots of the source material, but if it had decent support on PC and wasn’t crippled by GFWL and fake DX10 requirements it could have made a nice sci-fi alternative to Counterstrike… unfortunately MS opted to limit its availability from the demographic more likely to play it at the time

  • What was wrong with Discworld? I didn’t even know it had a PlayStation port, but I remember really enjoying the DOS version when I was younger. It didn’t seem any more difficult than your average adventure game of the time.

  • I never understood the connection between the Lawnmower Man short story by Stephen King and the film. The short story is about a man who eats grass as a kind of literal lawnmower man. I haven’t read that story for well over 15 years but I’m still quite certain is has NOTHING to do with anything in the film aside from there being a lawnmower and a man in both.

    PS. I may have enjoyed the Lawnmower Man game on SNES and even the one on PC… guilty pleasures..

  • Discworld? and you tried to use the ps2 version when it came out in the UK and Australia ages before that on pc, it was a poorly ported game, but the game itself was fine on the intended platform (pc)

    I notice you didn’t include Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure here, that was horrible. Or quantum Break, or Zork (books originally), what about Ringworld, that was interestingly good, as was dark crystal.

  • I’ve got the SNES version of the Lawnmower game. I absolutely love it. Very hard, but has some excellent music.

  • I’ve got you all beat. Michael Jackson – Moonwalker on the Commodore 64. I remember spending the summer with my uncle trying to get past the first stage while repeatedly hearing the same 10 second intro to Bad over and over again. My own private hell.

  • Came in here prepared to defend Discworld with a passion, but seems people have already done it for me.

    That game holds a major special place in my heart, it got me into the books in the first place funnily enough.

  • I think Ravages of the Apocalypse was the first game I ever bought myself, payment of which included a large quantity of pennies, much to the disgust of the mean old bastard that ran the board/videogame shop. I was hugely into X-Men at the time due to the 90s cartoon. I remember it being pretty good. Multiplayer you could play as one of the X-Men and use your powers to attack opponents.

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