10 Inexplicable Games Based on Pop Culture


When you hit on a pop culture phenomenon, it’s not surprising that you may want to capitalize on it however you can. Just look at the toys, video games, and even a forthcoming spinoff for The Walking Dead. Of course sometimes these attempts at milking the cash cow make a little less sense, and a lot less money. These are the times when we’re forced to wonder just who in the hell thought these pop culture tie-ins would ever be a good idea in the first place.

10. Fight Club Video Game


The movie Fight Club is based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, and became a cultural phenomenon when it was released in 1999. Fight Club the game was released five years later, and from what we can tell was based on the vague recollections of a moviegoer who totally missed the point and just remembered seeing people hit each other a lot. If you enjoyed the complexity of the film or the book, and the focus on deeper messages, you’re pretty much out of luck.

Instead, the Fight Club video game jettisons the actual point of the original story in favor of creating a standard fighting game along the lines of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. But good news! There actually is a story mode in which you can create your own fighter and eventually “win” Fight Club, unlocking Fred Durst as a playable character. Really, that seems like the fittingly disappointing “trophy” you deserve if you bother to play this game enough to get that far.

9. Big Brother Board Game


There have been a lot of games based on reality television shows, both of the board and video game variety. Some of them make at least a modicum of sense, because they’re based on shows that are actually about competitions. American Idol asks you to sing karaoke, for instance, which seems like a logical progression for a video game based on that particular series. And then, there’s the Big Brother board game.

Look, there’s an alternate world in which a Big Brother video game might actually work if you basically take The Sims and increase the debauchery and degradation. But who in his right mind could have thought a board game based on a reality show in which people sit around doing nothing all day would make for a compellingly fun time? The purpose of the game is to be the last house guest, with cards dictating conflicts, and votes taken to boot people from the game. This is the one game in which you really do hope to be the first person “evicted”.

8. Escape From New York Board Game


If you’ve never seen the classic film Escape From New York, well, bookmark this page and immediately watch it, and then come right back. The John Carpenter movie stars Kurt Russell as the absurdly awesome Snake Plissken, a disgraced war hero sent into the island prison of Manhattan to rescue the president after Air Force One is shot down by the convicts. The rest of the movie plays out as Snake tries to find and save the president before his 24 hours are up and he’s left to die.

That sounds like an awesome premise for a video game, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t play an Arkham City-style game starring Snake? Unfortunately, we’ve never been lucky enough to get that, and have had to settle for a terrible 1981 board game that follows the same plot as the film in the most boring way possible. Nothing screams iconic ’80s action like the slow pace of a board game in which you gradually gather evidence cards to try to locate a hostage.

7. Congo Board Game


Do you remember the movie Congo? Probably not, we’re guessing. The film came out in 1995, and was expected to be a big moneymaker since it was based on a Michael Crichton novel and released shortly after the monumental success of Jurassic Park. The film starred Laura Linney, Tim Curry, Ernie Hudson, a cameo from Bruce Campbell, and a weird talking gorilla. Needless to say, it was a massive disappointment and these days people tend to remember it only for Delroy Lindo’s line about sesame cakes.

But since it came out on the heels of Jurassic Park, people were getting the marketing machine fired up early, leading to Congo: The Movie, the board game. The game follows the same basic premise of the movie, only instead of searching for a lost expedition, you’re searching for a lost city and priceless diamond. In a way, that actually makes it play out like a prequel to the movie, since the film and book are about a rescue mission to find the missing members of the original trek into the jungle. Let’s be honest, though: the only fun you’re going to have with Congo, either the game of the movie, is creating a drinking game and laughing about how ridiculous the whole thing is.

6. Home Improvement Video Game


Remember that episode of Home Improvement when Tim “The Toolman” Taylor had to fight a dinosaur with an energy hurtling chainsaw? Or what about that time he ditched his wife and kids and went adventuring with his trusty blowtorch on a mission to take down some robots? No? Oh, right, that’s because those concepts are freaking insane, and lead us to believe that whoever decided to include them in a video game based on the family sitcom must have been on some extremely potent drugs.

Home Improvement, after all, starred Tim Allen as a fairly inept handyman who somehow finagled his own television show called “Tool Time.” Somehow this became translated into a Super Nintendo game in which Tim must battle his way through a series of increasingly ludicrous enemies in order to retrieve some tools. Fortunately, no other gaming abominations ever sprang forth from family television, right?

5. Full House Board Game


Oh, lord help us. Yes, thanks to this board game you were given the opportunity to experience “family fun” from the hit TV show Full House, complete with terrible jokes in the form of “Joey Joke Cards” according to the photo above. We’re going to assume that if you have to draw a Joey Joke Card, it’s in response to you doing something borderline criminal and therefore a fitting form of punishment.

The good news is that apparently this board game only takes about 30 minutes to play, so your pain and suffering will be over in the same amount of time it takes to sit through an episode of the show itself. Now, what could the point of this game actually be, you ask? You hop in a car and drive around the neighborhood on a mission to basically kidnap all of the members of the Tanner family and bring them home. Hopefully in order to lock them away in the basement, never to be seen or heard from again.

4. The Office Video Game


One of the recurring themes and biggest sources of comedy for the TV show The Office was the general tedium and boredom that comes from being an office drone, particularly an office drone whose job is dealing with plane, dull, blank paper. Yes, the show developed the relationships of the people on the series and showed what they get up to away from the titular office, and the shenanigans were plentiful, but the general idea was that your day job is probably pretty much just monotonous torture.

Which is why it just makes complete sense that someone would develop a video game based on the day to day activities at Dunder-Mifflin. The game turned your favorite characters into cartoon bobbleheads and had you bounce back and forth from completing actual job-related tasks and pulling small pranks on your coworkers. It’s not surprising that the planned port to actual consoles was scrapped when someone apparently woke up to the fact that no one wants to play a video game about doing menial tasks. Well, unless it’s faux farming on your smartphone, apparently.

3. Home Alone Video Game

Considering it spawned countless terrible sequels and has become a Christmas staple, Home Alone was a smash success and taught the world that sometimes it’s okay to laugh at frightening levels of child neglect. Every kid who saw the film when it came out wanted to be Kevin McAllister, and the good people at video game publisher THQ decided to grant them that wish. Unfortunately, the video game they crapped out was bad enough that we’re willing to blame it at least in part for Macauley Culkin’s rapid fall from the public spotlight.

The plot was slightly different depending on which platform you owned, so let’s focus on the Sega Genesis version since it involved Kevin not only protecting his house from the Wet Bandits but also featured an awful lot of him sledding around the neighborhood and breaking into other people’s houses as well. It’s kind of hilarious that Kevin is worried about protecting the neighborhood from burglars and accomplishes this by burgling the homes of his neighbors, don’t you think?

There was also a Home Alone 2 board game that was basically Mouse Trap, only instead of trying to catch a mouse you’re testing your ability to violently maim a pair of bumbling criminals.

2. Family Ties Board Game


In case you’re a little too young to remember it, Family Ties was a beloved ’80s sitcom that launched Michael J. Fox into stardom before he had a chance to hop in a DeLorean for the first time. It was about a family named the Keatons, which featured a pair of former hippie parents and their children, including oldest son Alex, a staunch teenage Republican. Hijinks and hilarity ensued, along with a very special episode in which a young Tom Hanks plays Alex’s uncle, who gets drunk and smacks his nephew around a little bit. Ah, wacky family fun!

Anyway, it’s not exactly the first show you’d ever think of to turn into a game of any sort, right? What could the plot possibly entail when you’re dealing with a show about a more or less happy, functional, suburban family? Well, if you ever watched the opening credits and wondered how the Keatons got that iconic family portrait taken, you’re in luck: the entire premise of the game is to get the Keatons together to take a photo and pay the photographer. In other words, it’s about as mundane a goal as you’d expect from a show like Family Ties.

1. Project Runway Video Game


A lot of people enjoy the reality competition series Project Runway, and some of them probably even have a reason that isn’t completely ridiculous. We can only assume it’s because they enjoy watching aspiring designers come up with new, creative, and inventive concepts for fashion, or maybe they just enjoy watching Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn being mean to people. Either way, whatever the reason for their enjoyment, it’s probably not the random models who show up to try on the designs.

But don’t tell that to the makers of the Project Runway video game, because the bulk of the game consists of trying to perfect walking the catwalk and striking poses. Yes, you can do a little bit of moderate fashion design, but it’s basically an afterthought in the game. Now if only the game itself had remained an afterthought, to spare us from having to deal with the fact that it actually got made, and some poor sucker probably paid some hard earned money for a copy.

Jeff makes even more dumb jokes on the Twitter machine. Follow him and see for yourself, won’t you?

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