The gamification of visual media is nothing new. And despite success stories being few and far between, companies continue to excavate the goldmines that are successful TV and movie IPs by turning them into video games on every platform. Which unfortunately leaves us open to the tragedies of half-baked attempts to capitalize on this money-spinning industry.
So with mobile gaming being one of the most lucrative gaming platforms, it’s no surprise that we can find a veritable mountain of app games based on TV shows. Luckily for us, when it comes to TV show app games – they’re (mostly) not half bad.
Moreover, there are a few standout examples of app games based on TV shows that no true fan of any given series would ever want to miss out on. Luckily for you, we’ve listed the eight best down below.
We start this list off with a major throwback. Whilst the Desperate Housewives is far from the oldest TV series on this list, it did come off air a decade ago. But the TV show app game spinoff continues the legacy of this comedy drama series with aplomb.
For the youths out there, ABC’s Desperate Housewives followed the overly dramatic lives of some suburban women whose prim and proper facade belies their cloak-and-dagger nature. Mystery abounds on Wisteria Lane – and Desperate Housewives: The Game affords us the opportunity to get muddled up in it ourselves.
Desperate Housewives: The Game was first released in 2017, speaking to the longevity of the series that ended five years beforehand. Players build relationships, dress up and decorate and help solve a murder. Standard suburban fare for urban-based app gamers looking for an escape.
Family Guy The Quest For Stuff
It seems today all we see is violence in movies and sex on TV, and now, thanks to The Quest For Stuff, they’re also on our mobile screens. The risqué Family Guy show is somewhere between South Park and Simpsons in its spiciness – with its comparisons to the latter even spawning a crossover episode that was pretty good, actually. Don’t @ me.
It’s no surprise, then, that The Quest For Stuff – despite its title giving RPG vibes – follows pretty much the same city-building formula as its yellower cohort. The story kicks off (quite literally) with Peter Griffin and his archnemesis, Ernie the Giant Chicken duking it out with such vigor that Quahog is razed and must, therefore, be rebuilt.
As far as app games based on TV shows go, this one is sure to delight fans of the original series. It brings everyone’s favorite characters (and Meg) to the mobile screen complete with new jokes from the original writers.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out
We couldn’t mention one without mentioning the other. We’d say it’s not a competition, but it kind of is. At least, between Jam City and EA. Because while we can sit here and argue that The Simpsons: Tapped Out wins that competition in every measurable way, the stark truth is that the real winner is Fox. Hooray for them?
Tapped Out is one of the most popular app games based on TV shows, if not the most popular. Which stands to reason given the worldwide phenomenon that is its source material. What’s more is that the app game doesn’t need to suffer the same sluggish fall from grace as its source material, as it can rely handily on its addictive city-building gameplay loop.
And when we say addictive, we mean addictive. It is ‘life-ruiningly fun’, after all.
The Rick and Morty Pokémon parody we never knew we needed. Pocket Mortys reimagines the Pokémon core video game series in true Rick and Morty fashion, running roughshod over the beloved monster-collecting franchise by turning the cute and colorful pocket monsters into multiversal Mortys ranging from the banal to the bizarre.
As is the case with Pokémon, players must collect, train and battle their Mortys against both A.I. and IRL players. Hot Morty, Multi Morty, Geriatric Morty and…Morty are just some of the 200 different wild Mortys that players can collect as they explore myriad worlds as Rick Sanchez, Morty’s supergenius and morally bankrupt grandfather. And fans will no doubt rejoice in hearing the voices of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmond reprising their roles.
Super Brawl Universe
Super Brawl Universe is a must-have for Nickelodeon fans, or anyone who ever wanted to punch Spongebob Squarepants in the face. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the ability to watch your favorite childhood cartoon characters whale on one another is pure, no holds barred entertainment. And we’re here for it.
Super Brawl Universe is part of the Nickelodeon Super Brawl video game series that began as a browser-based game on Nick.com. The game has seen multiple iterations since then, most recently manifesting in the console-based All-Star Brawl that has been warmly received by fans.
In this gloriously slapstick fighting game, you can harness the powers of your favorite Nickelodeon stars that you never knew they had and face-off against other players to settle the age-old question of ‘who would win in a fight: Raphael or Angelica?’
Reigns: Game of Thrones
Yes, you are probably sick of seeing those Game of Thrones browser game ads everywhere – but rest assured that’s not this one. There are a lot of GoT games, and they certainly range in overall quality. But Reigns: Game of Thrones takes the beloved consequential decision-making mechanics and bases a whole game around that.
It was born from Reigns a well-established strategy game series from developer Nerial that puts players in charge of their own medieval kingdom. By accepting or rejecting suggestions from various advisors, players decide the fate of their kingdom and themselves.
Reigns: Game of Thrones, then, is basically the exact same game, but Game of Thrones style. It sees players sit atop the coveted yet uncomfortable iron throne as Cersei Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, or Sansa Stark. And depending on the players’ affinity for the character they’re playing, they can try to stave off a horrible death at the hands of their riotous subjects. But remember: All men must die.
South Park: Phone Destroyer
South Park: Phone Destroyer isn’t a city-building app game that tasks players with rebuilding South Park, which already sets it apart from its animated adult comedy brethren. But it is a top-tier TV show app game on top of that, helping to prove once again that the South Park creators have a knack for turning their IP into solid video games.
Phone Destroyer combines real-time strategy battles with collectible card game mechanics. It sees players going toe-to-toe in PvP wielding the powers of their favorite South Park characters with plenty of fanservice in addition to some game-exclusive features. Its mechanics are reminiscent of Clash Royale, which is a formula that Blizzard are also emulating with their anticipated upcoming app game.
One of the standout features, however, is how it approaches the subject of in-app purchases. Three fourth wall breaking ‘endings’ will see the South Park kids either lament the player’s frugality, reminisce over ‘the old days’ of a pay-to-play model, or have Kyle refer the player to seeing someone about mobile game addiction if they find themselves viewing the ‘A Lot of Money Spent’ ending. Fair play, Matt & Trey.
Stranger Things: 1984
Stranger Things: The Game is a TV show app game that has a unique story behind it. That it is a TV app game that deserves the critical acclaim and awards nominations it received is one thing. But the fact that it was developed by BonusXP in less than a year, and with nobody but their friends and family to act as game testers is testament to the talents of the team behind it.
Stranger Things: The Game plays on the nostalgia of anybody who gamed their way through the 80s and 90s. Adopting SNES-like graphics and Legend of Zelda-like gameplay, it acts as a Stranger Things 1.5 sequel to the first series, and rewarded players with a clip from Season 2 before it was even released.
That is definitely part of the reason the game was downloaded 3 million times in the first week. But the fact that it is a stellar retro game in its own right also deserves a lot of credit.
With Netflix beginning to blur the line between TV and gaming, we can only expect to see more app games based on TV shows in the future. And if these TV show app games are anything to go by, that can only be a good thing.
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