Movies and television shows have always been a reliable source of inspiration for video game developers. The small screen has produced some of the best-loved characters in popular culture, with many game developers getting in on the action to build on existing narratives and worlds that come complete with a ready-made audience. But while video games based on TV shows are certainly nothing new under the sun, which specific TV-themed game titles are considered the best of the best by critics, players and fans?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
Joss Whedon’s iconic and sarcastic take on old vampire cliches may seem like a slightly dated snapshot of the 1990s – early 2000s period today, but it’s difficult to understate just how popular the show was at the time. From high school angst, teenage tears and Tarantino-esque dialogue to the eternal battle between good and evil, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had it all. First released for PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube in 2003, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds is generally regarded by fans as one of the finest offerings from the franchise as a whole. This stylish beat ‘em up video game features an original storyline and all of your favourite characters from the TV show make an appearance, including Buffy, Xander, Spike, Giles and Cordelia.
The Sopranos: Road to Respect
Focusing on the private life, mental health struggles and professional trappings of New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, the ubiquitous HBO vehicle The Sopranos retains a sterling reputation amongst critics and TV connoisseurs. Seeing as The Sopranos regularly comes out on top on lists of the most popular TV series of all time, it’s no surprise that a video game has been incorporated into the franchise. And although The Sopranos: Road to Respect may not have aged too well since its initial release in 2006, there’s no denying that it was a big hit when the TV show was still all the rage. Although the game’s mission-based narrative focuses mainly on the son of fan favourite Pussy Bonpensiero, most of the TV show’s notable characters pop up at one time or another. This means that loyal Sopranos fans can enjoy interacting with Tony, Christopher, Paulie, Silvio and the rest of the DiMeo family / Bada Bing crew all over again.
Scooby Doo! Night of 100 Frights
Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights is perhaps the most popular video game title based on this classic cartoon, of which there have been many over the years. While notable mentions here could include Scooby-Doo! Classic Creep Capers and the original Scooby-Doo video game from 1986, Night of 100 Frights retains its position as a particular favourite amongst video gamers and TV fans alike. First released back in 2002, this third-person action platformer follows Scooby on a quest to find the other members of Mystery Incorporated, who’ve been imprisoned in a spooky haunted mansion. Although it was not very well received by the critics, Night of 100 Frights was a clear favourite amongst the public, going on to become one of the best-selling console games in the first half of the 2000s. Zoinks!
Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series
The Game of Thrones TV show became a part of the cultural zeitgeist that was both as popular as it was controversial. In fact, the results of this interesting research by Top10casinos.com conclude that Game of Thrones simultaneously holds the title for both the best and worst-rated TV episodes of all time! Despite the show’s uneven delivery, its extreme popularity spawned a lucrative franchise including the notable spin-offs House of the Dragon and the upcoming A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Night. There have also been 11 associated video games on the market, including Game of Thrones Ascent and Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming. Of all the video games released off the back of the series, most of the fans seem to concur that the best is Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series (also known as simply Game of Thrones), which was first released in 2014. Fans will feel right at home playing this episodic graphic adventure game, which focuses on the previously unseen House Forrester family and does a great job of conveying the feel and aesthetic of some of the most popular TV episodes.
The Walking Dead: The Game
First hitting television screens back in 2010, The Walking Dead set the standard for post-apocalyptic horror shows as we know them today. Providing an influential and unique take on the well-weathered zombie apocalypse genre, the comic book-inspired show spawned a notable franchise including multiple spin-off series and video games. Of these, The Walking Dead: The Game is considered the finest offering. Developed by the Telltale team, this episodic graphic adventure game was released on multiple platforms including Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Switch. Fans of the show can expect plenty of gory goings-on and action-packed sequences that would not feel out of place on the television screen.
The Simpsons: Hit and Run
When it comes to animated television shows, Matt Groening’s The Simpsons retains gold standard status amongst both critics and viewers alike. The Simpsons franchise is a force to be reckoned with, having produced countless spin-offs and a seemingly never-ending stream of merchandise and video games. In total, there have been 27 Simpsons-inspired video games officially released, with the first being Konami’s 1991 The Simpsons and the most recent to date being Arcade1Up’s The Simpsons Arcade, released in 2021. While the best video game based on the show may be a subject of debate, the general consensus amongst fans of America’s favourite yellow family is that The Simpsons: Hit and Run retains the crown. Released in 2003 and developed by Radical Entertainment, this driving-based action-adventure game features large GTA-style maps and all of your favourite Simpsons characters including Homer, Marge, Mr. Burns and Krusty the Clown.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
This Ubisoft-developed offshoot of the famously irreverent animated comedy show South Park is one of the best examples of a video game grabbing hold of a TV-based world and running with it. Set in the Colorado town of South Park and featuring popular show characters like Cartman, Kyle and Clyde, The Fractured But Whole acts as a direct sequel to the 2014 Obsidian Entertainment-developed title South Park: The Stick of Destiny, which was also extremely popular with the fans. The Fractured But Whole video game was released on a range of platforms including Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It was named as the best role-playing game of the year at the 2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Ben 10: Protector of Earth
Ben 10 is a sci-fi animation series that first debuted in 2005. As of 2023, there have been five movies based on this much-loved TV show, the most recent of which is
the Ben 10 Versus The Universe film. There have also been 12 Ben 10-related video games released as part of the franchise, with the most popular amongst loyal fans arguably being the 2007 offering Ben 10: Protector of Earth. This action-adventure title was released for multiple consoles including the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation Portable. The game had already generated more than 2.5 million sales by 2008 and it remains one of the best-received Ben 10 video games to this day, despite receiving lukewarm reviews at the time of release.
First released in 1992 for now-vintage platforms including MS-DOS, Atari ST and the Commodore 64, this Doctor Who-inspired title is still regarded as one of the finest TV-inspired video games of all time. While the game’s retro aesthetic may seem a little jarring to younger players who may be accustomed to more sophisticated graphics, there’s still plenty to enjoy in Dalek Attack, especially if you’re a Doctor Who enthusiast! The game enables fans to choose between 4 iconic playable Doctors, and encompasses a wide range of levels and locations including London, New York and the mysterious Dalek planet Skaro. Old-school fans of the TV show will also be happy to learn that the leader of the Daleks (Davros) is the final boss in the last level, so you’ll have the chance to put some of that old childhood trauma to bed once and for all! This game proves that oldies can certainly be goodies too. Exterminate!