Insane video game adaptations of famous movies

Everyone who's ever played a video game has had a run-in with the dreaded "licensed movie game." They're generally cranked out pretty quickly and bear little resemblance to the films they're based on, much to the disappointment of their eager players. Movie-based games are pretty hit-or-miss … but mostly miss. Here are a few of the strangest, most off-kilter video game adaptations of popular films ever tossed our willing way.

Friday the 13th (1989, NES)

It makes sense to start out with a classic game, one that almost defines the failure of the movie game genre. Friday the 13th — wisely seen as one of the worst games ever created — is a strange spin-off of the franchise that redefined hockey masks. By 1989, Jason had already appeared in eight movies, but since the game employs a general "terror at summer camp" theme, this game could easily be based on any one of the films. In the game, you play as one of six camp counselors fighting against hordes of werewolves and zombies, which is already so distant from the franchise that it's almost shameful.

The entire thing falls apart when you have to fight Jason's mother's floating Medusa head in a cave and steal her vestigial sweatshirt. It's frustratingly difficult, the villain is interchangeable with any generic serial killer, and it gave kids everywhere nightmares … but only about other bad Nintendo games.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Atari)

Maybe we lied about Friday the 13th being the definition of awful movie games, because E.T. was so bad, Atari literally had to bury thousands of copies in the desert just to get rid of them. The game was such a colossal flop, industry experts often point to it when discussing the video game crash of 1983. Instead of playing the role of Elliott trying to rescue or protect E.T., or something sensible like that, you instead play the alien itself, slowly shambling around a forest full of pits, FBI agents, and scientists. While the scientists will abduct you, all the FBI guys want is your candy. Eventually you stumble to your ship and get off this godforsaken planet, just barely escaping the release of "Yah Mo B There." We've all seen E.T., and know full well none of it involved intentionally falling in dozens of huge holes to find parts of a telephone. That'd make for a terrible movie, and made for a worse game.

Super Star Wars (1992, SNES)

Despite being an official LucasArts game, Super Star Wars ended up being a strange mash of a whole lot of Star Wars concepts, all crammed violently into one cartridge like a frozen Luke into a tauntaun. You begin the game as Luke, but everything immediately takes a hard turn when you start fighting scorpions and a strange Sarlacc Pit monster, in just the first few minutes of the game. Luke then finds C-3PO stranded in the desert, and the pair must rescue R2-D2 from the evil Jawas, who are no longer a scavenger race, but violent desert marauders. It's all alternate-reality insanity from there, but the strangest fight is between Chewbacca and what seems to be the Ed-209 from Robocop on board the Death Star. Super Star Wars ended up being a hugely challenging game that abandoned the plot of A New Hope for no good reason … but it's still a little but fun to play. A little, anyway

Home Alone (1991, NES/SNES/Sega)

Released a year after the movie of the same name, Home Alone unsurprisingly never got a sane video game. Worse, it's not as though the game had one version with three terrible ports to different systems, because each system embraced their own level of ridiculousness. In the NES version of the game, Kevin has to run around a house for twenty minutes (no more and no less) avoiding the Wet Bandits, creating an endurance match the likes of which would challenge ol' mullet-top Billy Mitchell himself. In the SNES version, Kevin has to hide all of the family's random bags of cash and dozens of pets in a basement safe, while some cartoon bandits wander aimlessly around the house. The whole thing concludes with a fight against a human-sized rat, just like in the movie. Finally, in the Sega game, Kevin has to defend an entire neighborhood of houses, some of which are populated by ghosts and killer robots. Also just like in the movie.

Austin Powers: Welcome to My Underground Lair! (2000, GBC)

In the year 2000, the Internet already hosted plenty of movie tie-in websites that enhanced the overall experience of the film in question. The Space Jam website (still running strong for some reason) had been up since 1996, so movie websites weren't some crazy, futuristic concept. Welcome to My Underground Lair! offers all of the marginally-related, low-value content of a substandard movie tie-in site, but also makes you pay for it. It's supposed to be a Game Boy simulation of a computer in Dr. Evil's base, but it's not too clear if it's his own computer, or just a standard-issue box of junk.

The cartridge includes a bunch of awful minigames, and best of all, a calculator, just in case you have math homework to do and have no access to one of the thousand more sensible options out there. It's a bit of an affront that Rockstar Games would actually want people to pay for this, but if you're that much of an Austin Powers fan, maybe you deserve it.

Jaws (1987, NES)

Remember that scene in Jaws where they fly a plane to drop a whole bunch of bombs on some pesky jellyfish? How about the part where every single creature in the ocean is terrible and out to destroy humans, except for delicious, live-giving crabs? Technically, the Jaws video game is based on the third Jaws sequel, Jaws: The Revenge – you know, the one where the lady starts having psychic shark feelings? Even with four thrillers to work with, Jaws manages to get everything about the modern Moby Dick franchise wrong, from top to bottom. As a game about destroying all sea life with bombs and spears, it's okay … but slapping the Jaws name on it is like calling a banana a boomerang. You can throw it, but it's not going to do what you think, and you're just going to end up sad.

Fight Club (2004, PS2/Xbox)

Spoiler alert: the film Fight Club wasn't really all about fighting. At best, fighting was tangential to the psychological thriller's main plot, but like someone who writes an entire book report based on a book's cover, VU Games made a fairly generic game about fighting. While they attempted to innovate in some areas, including permanent fighter damage and slow-mo x-ray violence, the whole thing just ended up being about boring 30-somethings slapping each other around in weird rooms. It's the equivalent of making a video game out of Fried Green Tomatoes where you literally have to harvest and fry green tomatoes. Don't try to attach it to a license — just call it Farm to Tableville or something.