Best games based on TV series
Unlike film, television has a good recent history of videogame adaptations
It's no secret that films don't translate well into games. Apart from a handful of exceptions there's something about the big screen that resolutely defies adaptation. Perhaps because of its episodic nature, TV has had more success in recent years. With the recent release of The Walking Dead: Michonne, a standalone miniseries based on one of the show's most popular characters, we take a look at some of the better games based on TV series.
The Walking Dead (2012–)
Developer Telltale Games hit the jackpot at the very start of this long-running series, which now features two five-episode 'seasons' and two miniseries (400 Days and Michonne). Although primarily based on the comic book series (which it cleverly resembles), the game occasionally nods towards its TV heritage and takes much inspiration from its forebear's dramatic staging. It succeeds thanks to great writing and performances, which ensure that every tough decision (usually made with just a few seconds' grace) results in a gut-wrenching lull where you're forced to impotently consider what you could have done differently. Kudos, too, for the complex lead characters you control who, in the majority of episodes, happen to be African-American.
Game of Thrones (2014–)
Following the same format as The Walking Dead (perhaps a little too closely), Telltale's other big TV adaptation links more directly with its TV show. Regular cast members, including Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow), lend their likenesses and vocal talents to the tale of House Forrester following the infamous Red Wedding. Although it focuses mainly on tertiary characters to avoid impinging the TV series' machinations, it closely mirrors its inspiration with its use of sudden graphic violence and shocking deaths.
South Park: The Stick of Truth (2014)
An RPG based on a two-decade-old cartoon series, this shouldn't work half as well as it does. Whereas games based on other cartoons (usually The Simpsons) tend to awkwardly integrate a third dimension to open up their worlds for exploration, The Stick of Truth looks and sounds exactly like the TV show it's based on. With a genuinely hilarious script written by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and a wonderfully detailed world to explore, this is a game that will even appeal to non-fans of the show.
Batman: Arkham City (2011)
Much like The Walking Dead, the Batman series takes its cues from the original comic books, but it uses a pool of voice talent sourced from the DC Animated Universe TV series, including wonderful work from Kevin Conroy as the Caped Crusader and Mark Hamill as the Joker. The slightly inferior prequel, Arkham Asylum, laid the groundwork which this game polished to near-perfection. It never gets dull traversing the shadowy landscape using Batman's cape and grapnel gun, and the balletic combat mechanics require real skill to master.
Honourable mention – 24: The Game (2006)
Set between seasons one and two, 24: The Game employs considerable talent from the TV show, including the principal cast, writer Duppy Demetrius and composer Sean Callery. It was a brave attempt to turn the action-packed show into a game but its efforts were significantly hampered by the constraints of the PlayStation 2 hardware at the time. Its core mechanics include cumbersome shooting, unresponsive driving and an interrogation minigame that features Jack Bauer awkwardly failing to understand the basic principle of 'good cop/bad cop'. A noble failure, it at least gets the look and sound of the TV show spot-on.