The Best and Worst Games Based on TV Shows

Updated: Feb 2

Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures
Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures

We have all seen games based on films. For better-or-worse, we have probably played some of them too. Unfortunately, many of them turn out to be terrible shovelware.

Except for GoldenEye 007, that game was an influential masterpiece.

But what about games based on TV shows? Many would argue (myself included) that TV has taken over from Hollywood in the quality stakes. Would this make a game based on a TV show better than a game based on a movie? Let’s find out by looking at some of the best and worst examples.

(NB – Telltale’s The Walking Dead doesn’t count as it was based on the original comic book series, not the TV show.)

The Simpsons Franchise

The Simpsons were first unveiled to the world as a segment on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. It went on to become its own phenomenally successful show, and the rest is history.

Its long-lasting influence cannot be overstated. If The Simpsons had never aired then we may never have seen the plethora of adult-orientated animated shows that came after it - Many of which appear later in this article.

Such a successful franchise was bound to create spin-offs, and this included video games.

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants

First up we have The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants. This 1991 side-scrolling platform game was released on many 8-bit and 16-bit platforms. It was widely panned by critics and gamers alike, who described it as both difficult and boring. I got it by default as it was bundled with my Amiga A500+.

I was very impressed with its intro sequence, but decidedly underwhelmed by the game itself. The Amiga version had the best intro, whilst the Mega Drive / Genesis version arguably had the best gameplay, although that wasn’t saying much.

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants - Amiga Intro

Wooooo graphics!

Video by retroisland

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants - Genesis/Mega Drive Gameplay

Booooo gameplay!

Video by NintendoComplete

This was soon followed by the much improved The Simpsons the Arcade Game, a side-scrolling brawler from 1991. This was a genuinely fun little romp through the mean(ish) streets of Springfield with an innovative team attack mechanic. If you ever wanted to carry out common assault with a skipping rope or weaponize a vacuum cleaner then this is the game for you.

The Simpsons Arcade

This game swallowed most of my pocket money when I was a kid. Happy times.

Video by arronmunroe

Simpsons Wrestling

There were many many The Simpsons tie ins after that. And many of them were far from impressive. The PS1 game Simpsons Wrestling scored a woeful 41.21% on Game Rankings and a measly 32/100 on Metacritic.

Simpsons Wrestling

I suspect watching it is more fun than playing it…

Video by SinrothGaming

The Simpsons: Road Rage

2001 saw the blatant Crazy Taxi rip-off The Simpsons: Road Rage. So obvious was its Crazy Taxi ‘influence’ that Sega (owners of the Crazy Taxi I.P.) filed a lawsuit against the companies behind Road Rage. (Fox Interactive, Electronic Arts, and Radical Entertainment.) Apparently, it was settled privately for an undisclosed amount.

Crazy Taxi on SEGA Dreamcast

Humm… to tip or not to tip?…

Video by Vidiot Gaming

The Simpsons: Road Rage

Nope, can’t see a resemblance. It’s totally legit

Video by legomariofanatic

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

2003 saw the release of another open-world (mostly) driving game, The Simpsons: Hit & Run. This was arguably the best Simpsons game. It was essentially a kiddie-friendly Simpsons-themed Grand Theft Auto III with more doughnuts and fewer *ahem* 'ladies of the night'. Great!

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

I remember this being quite difficult for a kid’s game, with punishingly tight time limits. But perhaps I just suck at driving.

Video by Gamer Max Channel

Simpsons Tapped Out

From the best Simpsons game to the worst - Simpsons Tapped Out. This predatory cash-grab excuse for a ‘game’ epitomizes all that is wrong with freemium gaming.

Simpsons Tapped Out

Great intro, shame about the game

Video by Pryszard Android iOS Gameplays

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Franchise

The pizza-loving ‘heroes in a half-shell’ were another late 80’s to early ‘90s phenomenon, and they too spawned several video games.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The first game of note was the punishingly difficult Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES. Not having owned an NES as a child I was spared its frustrating and rage-quit inducing gameplay. However, it appears that almost everyone who has played it mentions how brutally difficult parts of it are, that water level especially. Therefore, I’m deferring to those with greater experience than I.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – NES

That water level though…

Video by NintendoComplete

This was followed by the much improved (and easier) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade Game. Based on the same hardware as The Simpsons arcade game, this too was a highly enjoyable romp that swallowed many kids’ pocket money.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Arcade

Err, why are the ninja’s exploding?

Video by Al82 Retrogaming Longplays

Family Guy Franchise

AKA – ‘The animated TV show for people who remember other TV shows from the 1980s’. I’m in my 40s now so I am included in its target audience. I have long been a fan of Family Guy and its spin-off shows, American Dad and The Cleveland Show.

Which is why a mobile game that contained all three sounded quite tempting. That game was Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff (FG: TQfS).

Regrettably, it turned out to be a freemium game with all the negative connotations that implies. You can read about my brush with this ‘game’ here.

Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff

Digital addiction…

Video by JTE

Futurama Franchise

One of my all-time favourites shows, partly due to it starring one of my all-time favourite characters - Bender ‘bending’ Rodriguez. It too got the video game treatment.


First up we have the Xbox and PS2 game simply called Futurama. As a game it was middling, however, its cut scenes were praised. Combined they make up a lost episode.

Futurama (Game)

Gameplay. Meh…

Video by ★WishingTikal★

Futurama (Game)

Cutscenes. Funny…

Video by ★WishingTikal★

Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow

Unfortunately, Futurama has also had the freemium mobile game treatment in Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow. I haven’t played it, and I never will.

All I can say then is that it looks slightly more interesting than FG: