Adapting a television show into a video game is no easy task. After all, most series weren't written to fit into a that format, so their general tone can be easily lost in translation. Even when a game does manage to capture the magic of what makes its source material great, critics still don't take it easy on them, and often tear apart the gameplay or graphics. Therefore, most TV show based video games suck one way or another. So as you go through this list, keep that in mind, as while these are games that we consider to be the "best" in the category, they are by no means the best in terms of video games as a whole. Generally speaking, if a television-based video game can either knock out an above average storyline/voice acting combo, or manage to be compelling to play, it's among the greats.
Consoles: NES, Gameboy, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC (remastered version)
Our first game on the list definitely falls in the "compelling to play" category. Arguably, one of the best video games that ever existed was Super Mario Bros. It's a classic game where the controls are simple, and the story is minimal. DuckTales is essentially that game, with Scrooge McDuck in the Mario roll. It's probably the most nostalgic of games based on TV shows, as well. In fact, it is so beloved that it was recently remastered and released under the title of none other than DuckTales: Remastered. Story elements were even added to bulk up the flimsy premise of the original.
The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Consoles: Xbox, PS2, GameCube
This game is still considered by many to be the best "The Simpsons" game ever created, and we'd be inclined to agree. Of course, as it was intended as a parody of the game Grand Theft Auto III, one can't help but compare the two, with The Simpsons: Hit & Run not quite measuring up. But what it perhaps lacked graphically, it more than made up for in humor and voice work, as it was written by members of the show's writing staff and all cast members were on board to provide voices. Fans of the series would obviously enjoy the game much more than those who don't watch, but it has enough fun elements regardless.
Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure
Consoles: Sega Genesis
If DuckTales was the equivalent of Super Mario Bros., then Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure was easily Sonic the Hedgehog (with a little Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World mixed in for good measure). Considered a hidden gem because it was only available on one platform, it's praised as somewhat of a classic. The gameplay was simple and fun, the graphics and backgrounds looked amazing for the time, and it was quite long as far as duration, making it a major value. Of course, as it was a Sega Genesis game, it wasn't really all that heavy on story.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Much like the previously mentioned Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure, the XBox-exclusive Buffy the Vampire Slayer game is not only the best of the brand, but actually received mostly positive reviews from critics. While not exactly praised for its vocal work (Sarah Michelle Gellar didn't voice the titular character), it had a great story taking place between two episodes of the show's third season, and featured gameplay and combat that was considered better than what was featured in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleed, which was released a year later.
Consoles: Xbox, PS2, GameCube
Futurama was released around the same time as The Simpsons: Hit & Run. Seeing as how it wasn't quite as popular as "The Simpsons," nor even on the air anymore by the time the game was released, it didn't get much attention when it came out. While this was somewhat warranted due to the gameplay being subpar, what qualifies it for this list is the fact it was penned by one of the show's main writers, J. Stewart Burns, and meant to serve as an actual episode before the series was cancelled. Luckily, the cutscenes from the game were released as "Futurama: The Lost Adventure" series second film DVD, "The Beast with a Billion Backs," making the game truly one of the biggest fan services of all time.
24: The Game
Speaking of fan services, that is exactly how we would have to qualify 24: The Game. We'll be honest, the gameplay sucks royally, and many people have actually put it on lists of the worst videos games based on TV shows. However, we consider it one of the best due to the fact that while most games based on TV shows essentially serve as an episode of the series, this one serves as an entire season, with the story taking you through an entire 24 hours of the life of Jack Bauer and friends. To a true fan of the show, graphics don't really matter, as story-wise, you are getting way more than you bargained for, as well as all the voice talent of many of the lead cast members, including those who weren't even on the show by the time the game was released.
Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force
Consoles: PS2, Windows, Mac OS, Linux
This game succeeds where many like it fail. What we mean by that is that there are several games based on TV shows such as Lost : Via Domus and Prison Break: The Conspiracy that have you playing as a character that was created strictly for the game, and not from the actual series. While this game does the same, the story and gameplay were much better received, to the point that most consider it to be the best "Star Trek" game there is, along with the sequel. It is also a first-person shooter, which the previously mentioned titles are not. That tends to lend itself to more exciting play, as it does here.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
Consoles: Arcade, NES
Of course, most consider Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time to be the superior TMNT game, but we already covered it before. Plus, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game was the template to that one, not to mention a pioneer of 4-player simultaneous play when it came to the actual arcade versions. As far as we're concerned, that's an awful lot of ambition, especially when it comes to TV show-based games. Even though it's just a button masher, it finds a way to be a million times more entertaining than most other Turtles games have been since.
The Adventures of Batman & Robin
Okay, this one takes some explaining, but put as simply as possible, there is a SNES version and a Sega Genesis version, and the Sega Genesis version will make you want to pull your hair out. While the Sega Genesis version has way better graphics and allows you to play as both Batman and Robin, the SNES version is much more true to the series, with each level based on a specific episode of the series. You can't play as Robin, but the gameplay is much easier, and the weapons you use are more significant to the plot. Overall, it feels the most like the animated series than any other Batman game to date, and is still regarded by some to be the best batman game ever.
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage?!
Consoles: Nintendo 3DS Nintendo DS
The last item on our list is sure to isolate some, but is nevertheless a great TV show-based video game. While those who aren't fans of "Adventure Time" will most likely be lost in the game's humor, it is certainly a fan service to loyal viewers. However, it is not entirely a lost cause to people out of the loop, as the gameplay closely resembles that of old NES and SNES games, particularly Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, which was the one original Zelda game to deviate from the franchise's design, and was never really touched on again. With its hints at nostalgia and beautiful graphics closely resembling the series, it is the perfect counterpart to its source material, and a great way to close out our list.