5 Awful Tie-In Videogames

And How To Make Them Better
by Jason Iannone


Not everything can be a videogame, they say. Not every aspect of pop-culture can be interactive, they say. Who are “they”? Unimaginative quitters, that’s who.

Sadly, imagination can fail us at times. Videogame companies have tried to turn everything under the sun into a game: the 7-Up Spot, the Domino’s Pizza Noid, some fat Italian plumber with a mushroom fetish.  All crashing failures.

But they don’t have to be. Even the stupidest ideas can be salvaged, as long as the developer is willing to take a creative risk. And, because we’re such charitable souls, we’ll offer up some free examples. Below are all real games, based on real products, that bombed real bad. After racking our brains for up to three minutes apiece, we’ve come up with new ways these games could’ve played out. Our hope is that budding developers will read, take heed, and grow a set when translating a random franchise into a silly button-masher.

Olsen Twins Sweet 16: Licensed To Drive

What We Got:

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen just got their license and are driving around on a lazy Sunday morning, despite being filthy rotten stinking rich celebutantes who can just hire drivers to take them everywhere. Navigate the roads and, run the occasional errand for Mom and Dad and, well, that’s basically it.

What Could’ve Been:

Basically, if it’s not responsible driving, this game won’t let you do it. Every time we made a mistake, some a-hole cop would show up, literally out of nowhere, and write us a ticket. No matter how hard we tried, we could not make the Olsens drive off the road. And if turning this cutesy little drivers-ed class into a Burnout clone doesn’t scream “wasted potential”, then what does? Sure, the “goal” is to teach these girls responsibility on the road, but it would’ve been much more interesting to recklessly careen them into a neighbor’s toolshed.

Or, how about an entire mission based on chasing after a series of terrified squirrels? Those critters are quick; if you can turn and weave fast enough to make a few of them into pancakes, you’re a damn good driver. Maybe not a good person, but we’re dealing with the Olsens, so that’s hardly an issue.

As far as Ninja Cop goes: instead of just having him show up, ticket you, and then leave, why couldn’t he chase you? Don’t even try to claim that making Michelle 1 & 2 evade the police, while crashing into anything and everything that dares cross their path, wouldn’t make your day in every conceivable way. Especially if you can pick up hostages along the way and threaten their lives if the po-po don’t back off. There’s no shortage of possible victims; the Olsens are constantly being asked to give this person a lift, or to pick that person up from school. This is a very trusting town, to make a sixteen-year-old girl the town valet, but that’s OK.  Trusting = exploitable.

Hell’s Kitchen

What We Got:

An odd restaurant sim where you, as the only cook scheduled that day, must prepare half a dozen dishes at once, and then slap on the bowtie and assume the role of the only waiter scheduled that day. Guess you’re not allowed to make customers walk to the kitchen if they wanna eat. All the while, Gordon Ramsey, the most evil man to prepare food since Chef Boyardee, either curses or praises you. He does the latter quite reluctantly, we must assume.

What Could’ve Been:

What’s most depressing here is that not one, but TWO wonderful angles were completely neglected. For starters, who wouldn’t want to be Gordon Ramsey? Having the ability to endlessly badger your hapless wannabe chefs, screaming at them until they burst into tears and lock themselves in the meat freezer as a safe alternative, sounds downright cathartic.

Plus, with today’s console technology, you can use the microphone to create your own verbal abuse and send it over the airwaves. The game’s AI would judge the viciousness of your tone and words, and you would score points accordingly.

Alternately, you could play as the wannabe chef, and do what every single one of them has wanted to do for years: track down Ramsey and attack him with various kitchen methods while he criticizes your technique. Fed up with Ramsey’s bullying antics and know-it-all demeanor, you would track him down wherever he might hide, following clues, and picking up various weaponry along the way. Once you find him, try to inflict as much damage as possible before he runs off, forcing you to find him again and attack some more. Eventually, his life bar will be depleted, and you can perform one of hundreds, maybe even THOUSANDS, of gruesome fatalities on his mortally wounded ass.

Basically, it would be Carmen Sandiego, only with Punisher-style vigilante justice in place of boring ol’ procedures of due process.

Home Improvement

What We Got:

The fact that we got this game at all is amazing on its own. It’s Home Improvement, for God’s sake. To the designers’ credit, even they didn’t think Tim Allen (sorry, Taylor) grunting like a hyena who’s choking on a piece of carrion, and damn near losing his wife every two minutes because he’s a total meathead, would make for a decent game. No, this game involves a very special tool that has gone missing, forcing Taylor to wander around nearby movie sets (that are conveniently teeming with enemies for whatever reason) in search of it.

In the end, you learn that Al and the kids hid the damn tool as a practical joke. This joke, by the way, put their father’s life in severe jeopardy, since those hostile enemies and giant robots that tried to kill him were very, very real. Sadly, there was no bonus stage where you toss those ungrateful brats into the a pit of rabid wolves, and then take your wife to bed to try creating a better family.

What Could’ve Been:

If you’re actually gonna base a video game on a tepid family sitcom, you might as well go nuts. How about a hostile alien invasion, led by the floating head of Wilson, who is revealed to have been an extraterrestrial spy the entire time? Tim, for his part, doesn’t bother with his stupid tools this time, and gets himself a damn gun. Tim Taylor actually using his brain for something; talk about creative license.

After Tim plows through the aliens, and just before he reaches Wilson’s Head, he encounters a traitor, a human who has turned on his own kind in exchange for protection from the invasion.  This, naturally, would be Al. Sick of being the guy from Tool Time who gets no attention, despite never endangering the lives of everybody around him due to macho bravado and utter carelessness, he would revel in the opportunity to end Taylor once and for all. Luckily for our hero, he has a gun, would find it quite easy to destroy Evil Al, who apparently had no family, friends, hobbies, goals, dreams, or life outside of being the guy with the beard on some local-access DIY show.

Hannah Montana: The Movie: The Game

What We Got:

It’s tough to make a game based on a movie, where the product of Billy Ray’s achy breaky loins has to choose between pop stardom and an anonymous life on the farm. It’s even harder when she inevitably chooses both, since making tough life choices isn’t necessary if you’re famous and pretty.

The designers, to their credit, got around this roadblock in the most ingenious manner possible: they didn’t even try. You just alternate between button-mashing as Miley horseback rides and frog jumps, and button-mashing as Hannah puts on a concert. That is, of course, when you’re not busy reading the game’s cumbersome title, which takes longer to finish than the game itself.

What Could’ve Been:

Hannah Montana does not make a good game. Mobile advertising says that Miley herself, however, absolutely would. In Saints Row: Miley Cyrus Expansion Pack, you guide Miley though a typical day, with points awarded depending on the life decisions you have her make: few points for acting like a typical pop star, and many points for building her into an unstoppable rock star. Say a paparazzo appears and tries to take your picture but whacks your mom with his camera; how do you react? You would receive no points for ignoring him, a few points for yelling at him to go away, more points for attacking him with the nearest blunt object, and maximum points for following him back to the TMZ offices and lighting the whole building on fire.

Time for a haircut? Negative points for a conservative trim, a few points for an exotic dye job, extra points for cutting it comically short, mega points for doing that weird cockatoo thing she ended up sporting in real life, and ultra points for shaving it in the shape of herself flashing and flipping off everyone who passes by.

Going to a party? It’d be an automatic game over if you sip soda all night and leave at 10 PM. Minimal points would be awarded for having a couple beers, and then crashing on the couch afterwards. More points are given out if you experiment with synthetic weed or…we don’t know, synthetic heroin? Is that a thing yet? It’s a video game; we can make it a thing for the sake of the story.

Finally, for all the points plus infinity, recruit Miley’s Dad to be the cocaine table. Sure, it’d be awkward, but we like to think he’d do anything for his little girl. When you beat the game, the end movie jumps forward twenty years to a coveted spot on the revived VH1 Behind The Music.

Playboy: The Mansion

What We Got:

Bikinis. Just tons and tons of bikinis. In this game, you build the Playboy Empire from scratch, throw lavish parties, and shoot pictorials of all your lovely Bunnies…in bikinis. The video above includes a scene where some kid flips through an issue of Playboy, opens up the centerfold, and the Playboy Of The Month is…bikini-clad. A girl comes out of the bushes with a guy she just finished sexing up, and guess what? Bikini! This wasn’t Playboy: The Game; it was Maxim: The Game.

What Could’ve Been:

Look, we’re not idiots here. We get why the girls are bikini-clad; it’s an M-rated game, and nudity is not allowed. If they wanted to show breasts, they’d have to slap it with an AO rating, and you’re more likely to see bags of crack on Gamestop shelves than you would an AO game.

So no sex and nudity, fine. But they still could’ve given us something more entertaining than this. How about a game about someone who REALLY matters to Playboy? We don’t mean Hugh Hefner, but rather one of the many drunken frat boys who dream of crashing the Mansion and slobbering all over the Bunnies. You would play as one of those guys, stealthily avoiding guards and security cameras as you try to meet Miss July, sneak into Hefner’s bedroom and puke all over his satin sheets, or slip onstage during a show and blend in with the sexy backup dancers (you’re drunk, remember).

The possibilities are endless, provided you stay one step ahead of the armed-to-the-teeth guards, and their armed-with-incredibly-sharp-teeth dogs. If you do run into them, they’re not going to be in a partying mood, and you’re screwed. The Mansion, amazingly, doesn’t have sophisticated weaponry lying around for any old schmuck to pick up and use. So you can TRY to fend off security with a broken beer bottle, or a garden hose, or a fistful of used condoms, but good luck getting anywhere. Solid Snake, surrounded by a dozen soldiers and armed only with his cigarette lighter, would stand a better chance of survival than you would.

For the finale, you would infiltrate a huge party, sneak past everybody, find Hef, and plant a gigantic drunken kiss on him. You’re thanking him for all those years of pre-Internet entertainment he’s provided but, naturally, he won’t see it that way. Neither will the guards, who will immediately give chase. It’s your job to escape unscathed, run off screaming into the night, and post anonymously on Reddit about your awesome night, and how Hef and the chicks totally dug you and your crazy-cool antics.

2368459 coldplay comic book 412 5 Awful Tie In Videogames

Coldplay meets The Pit Of Wolves, anybody?

Jason Iannone is a humorist and editor for hire. He can currently be found at Cracked and TopTenz, as well as the usual social media thises and thats.

richard karn kevin wintergetty images entertainmentgetty 5 Awful Tie In Videogames

We all love Al, but that plaid jacket/Hawaiian shirt combo? Not so much, Mr. Karn.

Jason previously told highly paid professionals how to do their jobs with Songs That Would Make Awesome Comic Books, and gave you even more Richard Karn goodness in Six Pop Culture Staples Only Idiots Think Are Cursed.

More from Jason Iannone

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