It’s not surprising when something is turned into a video game. What is often surprising is the type of game that is made out of a licensed property rather than just going the easy route of a generic platformer or minigame collection or kart racing game. Here are my picks for the five weirdest examples of this. [Note: I deliberately excluded games that feature musicians as I already did a feature focused specifically on games licensed after musical acts.]
#5 – Simpsons Skateboarding
After 10 years of games based on The Simpsons spanning just about every genre imaginable, I can understand that people had to start getting creative with what else was left to do with the license. Some might argue that The Simpsons Wrestling is a more oddball choice, but I feel that a button-mashing pseudo-fighting game isn’t such an off-the-wall type of game for a property with a huge cast of characters (and a fair amount of fisticuffs). However, other than the show’s opening credits and some board-based hijinx by Bart in earlier seasons, The Simpsons has never placed a huge emphasis on the sport of skateboarding – certainly not enough that, when you first heard about this game, your brain said, “Yes, finally! It’s about time they got around to that.”
#4 – Animaniacs: Ten Pin Alley
Bowling games based around The Simpsons and The Flintstones make sense: Those sports play very big roles in those shows, and main characters from both of those shows are huge bowlers. Why they decided to shoehorn the Animaniacs into a dedicated bowling game still baffles me to this day. Had it been some sort of party game collection and bowling was just one event of many, fine. But I can’t quite figure out who thought that the already relatively niche market of people who were willing to pay $50 for a bowling game also had a subset of people that wanted a bowling game based entirely around the Animaniacs that was big enough to justify this game’s existence.
#3 – Hooters Road Trip
I know what you’re thinking: Was there any “legitimate” use of the Hooters restaurant chain in video game form? They could’ve at least gone the Burgetime route and made the game related to food preparation in some way, just with crop-topped waitresses instead of Peter Pepper. Or go the route that Playboy: The Mansion would later go, and have it play similarly to The Sims only focusing just on being in a restaurant. Or they could’ve made a game like Leisure Suit Larry where you have to “romance” various Hooters waitresses. Instead, they decided to take a restaurant chain famous for its breasts and thighs (see what I did there?) and turn it into…a racing game. They could’ve at least thrown a free calendar in with every copy of this trainwreck.
#2 – WWE Crush Hour
Wrestling is already a perfect fit for a video game, and there has been a long tradition of successful and well-liked games based on the “sport.” Sure, the huge personalities of the WWE do have the potential to lend themselves to other types of video game experiences beyond just straight wrestling – a Final Fight-style beat-em-up featuring WWE wrestlers could actually be kind of cool – but I’m not sure that car combat is such an experience. Taking popular bruisers like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Hulk Hogan, and The Undertaker and sticking them into armed vehicles just doesn’t seem to be the best, um, vehicle for the world of the WWE. This type of thing should just be a bonus game in a dedicated WWE game (kind of like “Motor Kombat” in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon).
#1 – Sneak King
Making a Burger King-based racing game, okay fine. There’s an M&Ms racing game, so obviously there’s precedent for that. Making a Burger King-based multiplayer party game, also fine. As I said in my introduction, that’s a pretty common go-to for licenses (there’s a damn Napolean Dynamite minigame collection for PSP, for the love of Pedro). Making a Burger King-based stealth action game, and starring the chain’s creepy mid-00’s mascot? That’s downright bizarre…and downright cool. I don’t care how unpolished the game is, how repetitive it is, or how, well, bad it is, I played way more Sneak King then I care to admit. Something about sneaking around as that crazy King and delivering food to people before they passed out was just fun to me. Don’t judge me!