5. The Flintstones: The Movie
Perhaps this one seems like it shouldn't be on this list. After all, The Flintstones: The Movie was a successful family picture, and there are a gazillion video games based on family pictures. And by all accounts, this game wasn't anything too remarkable to play.
But the thing is, this is a game that was based on a movie, that was based on a TV cartoon, that was based on The Honeymooners. If that's not enough to scramble your brains, consider this: in 2000 there was a prequel to this movie, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, and in 2002 Zombie Studios produced a game for the European market that was based on that prequel. So, it was a game that was based on a movie that was a prequel to a movie that was based on a TV cartoon that was based on The Honeymooners.
According to Wikipedia, there have been 15 Flintstones video games, 11 spin-off TV series, 20 combined movies, TV movies and specials, and 10 varieties of Flintstones breakfast cereals. Recently there have been several attempts to revive the franchise, including a Seth MacFarlane TV series and a WWE tie-in movie. (Yes, you read that right.) Here's hoping that none of these comes to pass... if one more Flintstones thing ever happens, the sheer weight of all the Flinstones stuff on the planet might just reach a tipping point that causes the entire Earth to implode into a black hole of cheap animation and rock-related puns.
This clip features a European gentleman playing The Flintstones: The Movie as he comments in his charmingly eccentric English. Good time of day, everyone!
4. The Rocky Interactive Horror Show Game
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a pretty clear message, succinctly expressed in 5 words sung by a homicidal yet crazy-cool transvestite from outer space: "Don't dream it, be it." Cast off your repression! Live your life! Dress weird, stay out late, and get into mischief!
So in a way, a Rocky Horror video game that lets you stay safely locked away in your lonely basement, pushing buttons and having pretend sexy fun-times, is really kind of a betrayal of everything Richard O'Brien's cult smash stands for. But that hasn't stopped game makers from trying to somehow replicate the film's perverse charms on two separate occasions.
In 1985 CRL Group PLC created a Rocky Horror game for the Commodore 64, Commodore 128, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. It was, to be kind, pretty crappy. This was 1985 after all, and a vaguely Susan Sarandon-shaped stick figure dancing to a MIDI version of "Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me" was about the sexiest thing that you could hope for.
1999's The Rocky Interactive Horror Show Game was much more interesting. The game itself was, like its predecessor, pretty crappy, But it did offer a few must-see goodies for Rocky Horror fanatics, like horror great Christopher Lee as the narrator. Check out this clip of Lee explaining how to do the Time Warp.
No matter how lousy the rest of the game was, that clip alone justifies whatever you paid for it..
3. Manos: The Hands of Fate
Movies can be bad in many different ways. But no movie is bad like Manos: The Hands of Fate is bad. It's not even fun-bad, à la Ed Wood. It is punishingly, bafflingly bad, so horrible in every particular that you can't imagine how anybody ever thought it was a good idea to film it, let alone release it. Every single thing in this movie is just wrong. It is incoherently scripted, woefully acted, incompetently filmed...
In other words, it was the perfect movie for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys to rip on, and they did just that in one of the show's finest episodes. (Sample riff from Joel Hodgson: "Every frame of this movie looks like someone's last known photo.")
Joel and the 'bots gave Manos a new life, spawning a cult following for this awful, awful movie that eventually led to FreakZone Games producing an iOS and Windows game adaptation in 2012. You get Torgo and his weird knees, the boozy, constantly making-out couple and more, all in retro-looking 8-bit form.
This clip starts off with a lot of Mario-esque jumping and blooping and bleeping, but it should start looking more familiar to Manos fans around the 1:50 mark.
Reviews for the game were rather blah, with ScrewAttack giving it 6.5 out of 10 and crabbing that it was too easy and too short. But hey, if a Manos: The Hands of Fate game manages to be even slightly entertaining without the constant heckling of a sleepy-eyed Midwestern dude and his snarky robots pals, it's already kicked the movie's ass.
2. Little Nicky
Adam Sandler makes a lot of very stupid movies. Most of those movies are big hits, but some of them are bombs. Critics generally despise all of them, pretty much equally.
But 2000's Little Nicky stands apart, a goofy supernatural stoner comedy that totally tanked with the public while also sending critics into unprecedented, almost orgasmic paroxysms of hate. ("Sandler deserves to be damned to the pits of hell for this witless masturbatory comedy." - Charles Taylor, Salon.com. That's right, a critic for a major website actually wished Sandler would go to hell for making this movie.)
Sandler starred as the Hitler-haired, weird-talking son of Satan, and the unlikely and unwelcome Game Boy Color adaptation follows him through 14 platforming levels and 5 mini-games.
The game, like the movie, features copious and shameless plugs for Church's chicken. When Nicky needs to make a long jump, he'll stop and gobble up some Church's drumstick's for a burst of strength. It also features Kevin Nealon's "demon guy with boobs on his head" character. Dante's Inferno, this ain't.
The game hit stores a month after the film's release, long after anybody anywhere gave half a crap about Little Nicky. The game's reviews were surprisingly not-terrible, although IGN's critic dismissed it by saying "there is nothing here you haven't seen before," suggesting that IGN's critics have played more games featuring boob-headed demons than I have.
1. Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!
This game more than earns its #1 spot on our list, because it is not simply unlikely... it is mind-shreddingly insane.
If a video game based on the 1990s Tim Allen sitcom Home Improvement was going to happen for some reason, what would you expect that it to be? Yeah, it's hard to think of anything... and the folks at Absolute Entertainment were apparently just as stumped when they got to work on the game in 1994. So instead of trying to make a game that had anything whatsoever to do with the show, they set a little Tim Taylor avatar loose with a chainsaw and had him fight dinosaurs, robots and mummies that spit acid. (Tim's catchphrase "MORE POWER!" takes on a whole new meaning here, because if his chainsaw runs low on power he faces a serious risk of getting his face melted off by mummy acid.)
The game's cover features a generic PR shot of Tim Allen and the creepy beard guy from the show, and the game starts off rationally enough, in a recognizable version of Home Improvement's sitcom reality. Tim and Beardy are hosting Tool Time, and they're about to unveil a new line of Binford power tools. But then it turns out that the tools have gone missing! So far, so boring...
But then Tim goes wandering out onto the studio lot to search for the tools, and that's when the game loses its brains. The backlot "sets" that he visits don't look like sets at all. The designers clearly did not give one single damn about this job, so they just dropped Tim Allen into your standard 1994 fantasy video game platform levels, full of standard 1994 video game monsters like little purple pterodactyls that fly around and drop eggs on your head. The game treats it like the most natural thing in the world for Allen to suddenly be jumping around like Pitfall Harry, firing a nail gun at mummies. He even has a grappling hook he uses to swing between platforms, a gadget I'm pretty sure we never saw him whip out on Tool Time.
In the video below, we watch as a gentleman plays the game for a very, very long time and offers his own low-energy commentary.
Confused by it all? The callous and arguably insane game makers laugh at your confusion! The game does not come with an instruction manual. Instead, the game starts with a screen that says "Real men don't need instructions."
I always hated Home Improvement far more than such a mediocre show probably deserved, but I definitely would've been a regular watcher if Tim Allen spent less time gabbing with that weird neighbor guy who always hid behind the fence, and more time battling homicidal androids and velociraptors.
Previously by Greg Stacy: