Because I obviously have nothing better to do with my life, I spent a good chunk of yesterday browsing through the Wikipedia page for “Home Improvement,” Tim Allen’s grunt of a series that ran over 200 episodes. This Saturday, the 17th, is the 20th anniversary of the show’s first episode, “Pilot,” but that wasn’t my favorite Wikipedia-found fact; it was remembering Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!, a video game supposedly based on the series. And by “supposedly based,” I mean it had absolutely NOTHING to do with “Home Improvement.” You don’t even see Wilson Wilson, Jr., and he’s the show’s only good character!
On the next few pages, you’ll find six video games “based” on TV shows, including more about Power Tool Pursuit, where the Tool Man fights dinosaurs. With flamethrowers and nail guns. In jeans.
The Simpsons: Bart vs. The Juggernauts
There are many, many, many video games based on “The Simpsons,” or more accurately, video games that feature Bart Simpson and later, everyone else. The first one, The Simpsons Arcade Game, appeared in 1991, and 24 installments later, 2007’s The Simpsons Game came out on six systems. Many of them have been good-to-very-good (The Simpsons Hit & Run, Virtual Bart, etc.), but there have been some stinkers, too, most notably 1992’s The Simpsons: Bart vs. The Juggernauts. Sure, its “Simpsons”-meets-“American Gladiators”-style gameplay kind of foreshadowed “A Milhouse Divided,” but that episode had a quick joke about Pyro taking away Luann in a giant steel hamster ball; Juggernauts, on the other hand, had Bart fighting Barney (huh?), wasn’t funny, and had nothing to do with the show that was about to air its best episode, “Last Exit to Springfield.” Shoddy “Simpsons”? Now I’ve heard everything.
Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!
“Home Improvement” is one of those middling shows you don’t realize you’ve seen so many episodes of until someone references something specific from it, and you know what they’re talking about. (“Friends,” too.) And yet, in the all episodes of “Home Improvement” I’ve seen over the years, I don’t ever remember Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor fighting dinosaurs and mummies and using a chainsaw to shoot energy waves. All of that must have happened in the eighth season, when I stopped watching. “Home Improvement” is NOT “Home Improvement” without JTT. Not just anyone could inspire a photo-montage set to “My Heart Will Go On.”
ABC Monday Night Football
This video game did feature football, yes, possibly even on Monday night, but what it didn’t have was actual teams. Unlike the Madden, NFL Blitz, and NFL 2K (totally underrated) series, ABC Monday Night Football couldn’t acquire an NFLPA license, so even though Frank Gifford was announcing, he was reacting to the Indianapolis Rays and Miami Sharks (not to be confused with the Al Pacino-coached team from Any Given Sunday). In the screen shot above, notice how the conferences are A-C and N-C, and the NFL logo doesn’t appear once. One more thing: why are the now-moved Los Angeles Raiders abbreviated “AHM”? For Anaheim?
The Sopranos: Road to Respect
Even “Sopranos” creator David Chase, a known Leisure Suit Larry fanatic, said that Road to Respect (released in 2006) had nothing to do with the HBO series. In an interview with MTV, Chase said, “Playing a game and watching a drama are two completely different things. And I certainly never wanted to sell the game on the show or do any cross-pollination…We don’t even talk about New York mobsters. The other people in the game are from Philly.” The game follows Big Pussy’s illegitimate son, Joey LaRocca, who’s trying to make a name for himself, and although Tony & Co. make appearances, they’re not the focus. Road to Respect focuses exclusively on the mob aspect of “The Sopranos,” forgoing any family drama or trenchant insight from Dr. Melfi, which should have made it a blast. But dealing with characters you’ve never heard in a video game based on one of the greatest shows ever felt like a cheat, and the game was frustrating and boring. Also: Goldfrapp and Peaches are on the soundtrack, which… no. Just no.
Video game developers are allowed to have some fun stretching a television show’s source when coming up with ideas of how to make a 22-minute sitcom into a multiple-level game. But ALF: The Video Game went too far. The show is about a fuzzy space-alien trying to blend in with a suburban middle-class white family, the Tanners, while he attempts to make contact with his fellow Melmacs. ALF: The Video Game, meanwhile, had the cat-eating, racist puppet hitting bats with sticks of salami in caves, looking for pirate treasure in nearby lakes, and purchasing swimsuits and ladders at the local Five and Dime. Not even NUGGETS could save ALF. Or planet Melmac. To really satisfy your “ALF” itch, check out the board game and, of course, The Pog.
Wings 2: Aces High
You don’t see Thomas Haden Church even ONCE.