Video game movies and video game cartoons tend to be awful, but what about live action video game TV shows or mini-series or even web series? To be honest, most of them are still awful, but some have managed to become so awful that their campiness has endeared them to us as important pieces of childhood nostalgia. These 10 Coolest Live Action Video Game Shows run the spectrum from honest to goodness work of art to hilarious dial spinner. Whether good or bad, all of these are worth your time.
Originally a fan work, Mortal Kombat: Legacy received a lot of support from the developers since it began releasing around the time that Mortal Kombat 9 first hit store shelves. It takes the story of Mortal Kombat and, somehow, makes it even darker. While multi-colored ninjas and otherworldly martial arts super powers still exists, it portrays characters like Johnny Cage as out of work actors desperate for money, and Sonya Blade as hardened cops that have been chasing down terrorist cells for far too long. Somehow making a dark series even darker gets it on our list of the 10 Coolest Live Action Video Game Shows.
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is, obviously, an adaptation of the Halo series that has fans and critics split. If you check out the series’ IMDB page, you’ll see that fans have rated it an average of 6.8, which isn’t that great. However, it was also nominated for a primetime Emmy! You’d think it would be the other way around, with rabid gaming fans rating it high and critics rating it low. Perhaps there just wasn’t enough teabagging for the Halo fans out there.
Nick Arcade wasn’t a video game adaptation, but it was certainly a live action show about video games. If you were a kid in the '90s, you desperately wanted to be on this show. Being able to play video games to win cool prizes was every kid’s dream! Not only that, but any random kid would be better than the inept contestants on the show. Who can’t get 25 rings in the first stage of Sonic: The Hedgehog?
The live action adaptation of this classic comedy horror adventure game somehow took a turn into sitcom country. Released in Canada in the early '90s, this show actually focused on the crazy villains of Maniac Mansion, as opposed to the heroes. It was popular enough to see a three season run, but never was popular enough to get released in the U.S. We got Canadian shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark? instead. If you can find a few old copies in a bargain bin, give it a shot. It definitely deserves to be on our list of the 10 Coolest Live Action Video Game Shows.
Before Mortal Kombat: Legacy came and showed us how great a darker spin on Mortal Kombat could be, Mortal Kombat: Konquest was the only live action TV show adaptation of the popular fighting game series. However, this was one of those '80s adaptations that took little inspiration from the series other than its title. Who could forget classic Mortal Kombat characters like Vorpax, Shiro, and Omegis.
Street Fighter Korean Version
Mortal Kombat: Konquest barely edged into dial-spinner territory. You know, something that is so bad it becomes good again? The Korean Street Fighter series, however, does more than spin the dial, it rips the dial off and beats you with it. It’s attempting to be a faithful adaptation of the game, but cartoonish caricatures of racial stereotypes along with horrendous special effects and a plot that is hard to follow even when translated make this series just terrible, and thus awesome.
It was surprisingly common to adapt video games into game shows. If you think about it, the competitive nature of the medium does make them a perfect fit. You Don’t Know Jack had all of the humor of its PC counterpart, but unfortunately its immature nature just didn’t resonate with a TV audience. It only ran for six episodes before being replaced with The Wayne Brady Show.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
But this! This is video game game show excellence! Everyone remembers Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, the semi-educational game that had you chasing down a master thief all around the world. Well, the game show made it even better, with a gigantic map to run around, a backstory that was more deep and involved than any of the games, and Rockapella! If you were a child of the '90s, you watched this show for all five years of its awesome run.
Anyone who grew up in the heyday of arcades watched this enormously popular show that ran from 1982 to 1983. For the first time ever, kids could go on a game show and actually win their own stand up arcade machine. Not only was it fun to watch, but you'd see games on the show you had yet to see in your arcade. Oh, Starcade. How we miss you.
The Super Mario Brothers Super Show
Finally we come to the Coolest Live Action Video Game Show, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. This much loved variety show put Captain Lou Albano in the shoes of everyone’s favorite Italian plumber. It basically turned Mario and Luigi’s life into a short sitcom, before they introduced video game themed cartoons, usually also based off the Mario series. To this day, children of the '90s can still remember the lyrics to the Mario rap! “We’re the Mario Brothers, and plumbing’s our game. We’re not like the others who get all the fame! If your sink is in trouble then call us on the double. We’re faster than the others you’ll be hooked on the brothers! UH!” Video game television gold.
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