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When TV Show-To-Video Game Adaptations Work

by Dave Elliott

Like any adaptation out there, be it a video game based on a movie or a film based on a book, there are a number of things that can easily go wrong and create a flat-out disaster. Most of the time, this is true whenever a movie or TV show tries to take the idea of a video game and run with it. The end result is typically a sloppy mess that should have never been green-lighted in the first place… yes, we’re looking at you, Super Mario Bros. (aka one of the most poorly rated films on Rotten Tomatoes.)

Sometimes, however, the studios involved get it right. While this is a rare occurrence, it gets even more infrequent when looking at games based on TV shows. Still, there are some notable instances where it worked, and I’ve decided to highlight them and explain how they are so well executed. You may find a common theme among them, and I’ll leave what that is up to you. Let’s get to it!

The Walking Dead Game

Really, we had to start with The Walking Dead. Geektown Awards Game of the Year 2012 Winner, and one of the most emotive gaming experiences in recent times. Okay, it’s arguably a game based on a comic book, but without the TV show, I doubt there would have been quite as much interest in the game. The game sees you take control of Lee, and escaped convict who’s being transferred to prison, when the cop car he’s riding in crashes off the road as the zombie apocalypse hits Georgia. After Lee escapes, he meets Clem, and the father/daughter relationship they forge gives the game an emotional soul rarely seen in video gaming. Season 1 & 2

The Simpsons: Hit And Run


Released in 2003 on PS2, XBox, Game Cube and Windows, this was The Simpsons meets GTA 3. Taking control of various members of the Simpson family, you made your way around a excellent version of Springfield trying to find Bart, who appears to have been kidnapped by aliens. Also they never made a sequel, if you’re still after some Simpson’s based gaming, The Simpsons: Tapped Out on tablet/mobile devices is worth a look, and it’s free (so long as you avoid forking out for additional doughnuts to buy goodies faster!)

Deal Or No Deal

Making a show like Deal Or No Deal into a game sounds kind of dumb, right? Like, what’s really the point to the show other than trying to figure out how much money is in a suitcase? Well, the team at Betfair made it a bit more difficult and intriguing by combining it with the old-school game of bingo. And it makes a lot of sense, because the idea behind both games is pretty similar—you’re taking a risk to win a certain amount of money. It’s in combining the two games, however, that the experience is more compelling and fun overall.


Stepping back a little further in time, the video game adaptation of popular animated series (with a toe-tappingly awesome theme tune) DuckTales first appeared on the Nintendo. When it was released back in 1989, the game was one of the console’s best offerings at the time – a sentiment which remains true even today. In fact, a revamped version of the game was released just last year. What’s most telling about DuckTales: Remastered is the fact that it just looks a lot better than the original, proving that the game clearly did something right. That’s driven home by the praise from critics, with Nintendojo going so far as calling it a “must-own game” if you liked the original.


Are there any video games based on TV shows that you love and believe were well executed? Let me know in the comments!

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