5 Insane Video Games That Almost Ruined Great Franchises

Tie-in video games allow you to play in your favorite fictional realms without having to resort to using your stupid imagination. But for every kick-ass Batman game, there are hundreds of crappy cash-ins just waiting to con you out of your money. However, while some brands will be forever tarnished by their death pit of Atari cartridges, others luckily nixed their games at the last minute to save face and save their fans from having to write lots of hate mail. For example ...

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5
A Cancelled Lord Of The Rings Game Really Nailed The Endless Walking Part Of The Franchise

You can't fault The Lord Of The Rings for not being epic enough, with its sword fights, magic duels, massive siege battles, and elven snowboarding. So it's not surprising that the franchise would eventually dip its hairy Hobbit toes into the waters of gaming. But long before the PlayStation or Xbox tried to capture the glory of the movies, there was almost a The Lord Of The Rings title for the Atari which focused on the less-talked-about part of the fellowship's journey: the long-ass nature walks.

Retroist
Teased by these badass Ringwraiths that appear in the game as eight blue pixels.

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Judging from the canceled game's box art, Atari's The Lord Of The Rings could have been a terrifying battle against the evil Ringwraiths in their pre-Labor-Day outfits. Disappointingly, instead of the white-knuckle brawl Middle Earth fans were hoping for, the game was mainly comprised of monotonous walking. You play Frodo, journeying to Rivendell. That's pretty much it. The only excitement comes in the form of avoidance. There are Ringwraiths to look out for, but they aren't the most dangerous foe Frodo must saunter away from. For reasons unknown to all but the developer and his big bag of LSD, a big part of the game is trying to not get hit in the damn face by errant birds.

Parker Brothers
Which makes this double as a Fabio game, too.

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If there was any honesty in marketing, they would have called it Brisk Evening Stroll: The Game and used the press release to beg for forgiveness. But rather than just admit failure, the makers of the game used the dark magic of weaseling out of it, allegedly informing inquiring customers that the game was merely sold out. Not exactly the most convincing lie, trying to make people think that a bunch of gamers were fighting for the privilege of playing a game that looks like one of Santa's elves wandered into a Hitchcock movie.

4
The First James Bond Video Game Was Going To Take Place Exclusively On A Boxcar

GoldenEye 007 is one of the best games of all time, a first-person shooter that could have only been a more accurate Bond experience if Nintendo had figured out a way for the rumble pack to give you an STD. But Bond almost had a much less suave dalliance in the video game world with a tie-in game for Octopussy, which for some reason decided to simply make Bond run around on a train boxcar.

Parker Brothers
Still better than Die Another Day.

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It was to be imaginatively titled James Bond 007 As Seen In Octopussy. Octopussy has plenty of exciting Bondian moments that easily could have made a great video game: shootouts, car chases, and, of course, dressing up like a sad clown. And while it is true that 007 does fight a guy on top of a circus train, it's not exactly the most iconic element of Octopussy (that would be an elderly Roger Moore slurring the word "p***y" a million times), so why canonize this in one of the first-ever Bond games? The end result looks more like a game about freight-hopping 1920s hobos trying to murder each other over a discarded sandwich than the exploits of a debonair super-spy.

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Despite this, early advertisements were showered with blurbs from positive reviews the game was getting -- by "joke" articles. "It's Bond every step of the way" says the respected journalist from "Rolling Pebble," probably a hint that Parker Brothers weren't expecting actual reviews to do the heavy lifting for them.

Parker Brothers
"The box says 'James Bond,' which clearly makes this a James Bond game that you can play. 5/5 stars."

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Fortunately, the developers were unable to finish the game -- though we'll never know if it was out of sheer incompetence or human decency getting in the way. Parker Brothers quickly replaced the gap with another Bond game, though the fact that it was a vehicle-based shooter clearly shows they hadn't really learned their lesson.

Overall, this last-minute cancellation was a win for Bond, but a loss for all those '80s kids who had to experience the thrills of running across a circus freight car the old-fashioned way.

3
Metallica Thought They Should be More Like Mad Max

Following in the proud tradition of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker and that game where you commit genocide in order to help Aerosmith get a gig, Metallica decided they should have their own video game. Of course, it had to be the most metal of all the cynical musician cash-ins. But since a game in which the band fights a bunch of MP3-stealing internet pirates to the death was presumably off the table, they just came up with some bullshit about the apocalypse.

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
A douchier reboot of Bases Loaded also would have been acceptable.

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Damage Inc. was going to be a game set in a grim Mad Max-esque future where players spend most of their time just driving around listening to heavy metal, because they realized that surviving the end of days is a lot like being a teenager in the suburbs. Not only was the game going to be chock-full of Metallica tunes, but leaked concept art indicates that the band members themselves were going to be denizens of this barren future wasteland. And they were going to be the most hardcore guys in it, naturally. James Hetfield, for example, has two machine guns:

Black Rock Studio
All the better to take down Napster with.

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And Kirk Hammett now drives around in a hearse with a vulture for a best friend:

Black Rock Studio
A fantasy for Metallica, but in all likelihood how Tom Waits actually lives his life.

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Despite the fact that it's trying to make middle-aged musicians into supreme badasses, some of the art actually looked pretty cool. Then some footage of the game came out, and yeah, it just looked like if Mad Max took place in present-day Pittsburgh.

Black Rock Studio
"TAKE MY HAND ... OFF TO PENNSYLVANIA LAND!"

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Fortunately, the game was canceled, sparing the band the inevitable cruel barbs from video game critics about the Sandman entering and putting bored gamers to sleep.

2
The WWE Was Going To Make A Game In Which John Cena And Hulk Hogan Fight An Evil Cybernetic Vince McMahon

For those who enjoy the spectacle of wrestling but hate the idea of writhing around a filthy mat with some sweaty dude's arm coiled around your throat, there have been a whole host of video games that let you emulate your favorite violent ballerino. Somewhat ironically, a lot of WWE games are known for their realism, trying to give players the most accurate experience of what it's like pretending to fight while wearing a leotard. It's clearly what their fans want out of a game and not, hypothetically, a dumb over-the-top arcade beat'em up where you have to fight an android middle manager to the death.

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Not long ago, though, there were plans to take WWE games in a wacky new direction. WWE Brawl was to feature the WWE's trademark fights, but taking a folded chair to any preconceived notions you might have about wrestling video games. The game was to feature iconic wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan ...

THQ
Tiptoeing as close as possible to the "Incredible Hulk Hogan" line without being sued.

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... and John Cena, who has sadly been forced to take a second job as a stripper dressed like SWAT team officer.

THQ
With tearaway jorts and chest armor.

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More important than finally turning a bunch of wrestling icons into the Marvel comic book characters they always knew they could be was the storyline. The entire game was to be set in the fictitious Brawl City, where John Cena, Kelly Kelly, Triple H, and others brawl (ohhhh, we get it) their way through town. Their target? An evil organization hellbent on dominating the world. Which evil organization, you might ask? None other than the dastardly, vile World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. and its mad despot, Robo Vince McMahon.

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The game would lay out a secret conspiracy perpetrated by none other than the chairman himself. And because a game where the big boss turns out to be a businessman in his 60s doesn't sound particularly exciting, they gave him a giant-ass mech suit.

THQ
Basically the plot of Iron Man, with the exact same final boss.

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Think about it, the WWE almost released a game in which their boss turned out to be a corrupt cybernetic villain. That would be like Apple making an iPhone game where the objective was to travel back in time and murder baby Steve Jobs. You do have to hand it to the concept artists for figuring out a way to make Vince McMahon look more sinister than usual.

Eventually, the game was shelved, the official reason being that developers Blue Tongue had overreached and had mismanaged it into oblivion. It wasn't because McMahon found out, burst into Blue Tongue studios, and suplexed the lead designer through a fifth-story window.

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He then pulled out a mic and screamed this.

Nope, that didn't happen at all. Please don't kill us, MechMahon.

1
There's An Unfinished Akira Game For The Game Boy

When you think about Akira, the classic cyberpunk anime, you probably think of its mind-bending plot, breathtaking visuals, and all the times Hollywood has tried to make a live-action version with some white dude in the lead.

joblo
Oh no! Who else could ever possibly capture the essence of an Asian teen?

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Though it looks like the perfect candidate, Akira never got the stellar video game adaptation it clearly deserved. But that wasn't for lack of trying. Thankfully, the worst outing yet remained buried for a long time -- until some 8-bit archaeologist unearthed a terrible prototype of an Akira game for the original Game Boy.

The recently discovered Akira game, which was snuffed out in the early stages of development, does try to be as Akira-esque as possible, but just fails horribly. A lot of that can be blamed on the developers trying to port a colorful and complex sci-fi epic to the console equivalent of an Etch A Sketch. This meant that all of those arresting visuals, such as the motorcycle chases --

Toho

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-- were painstakingly reimagined in the Game Boy's palette of regurgitated gray and green vegetables.

Patrick Scott Patterson/YouTube
The grim and gritty Excitebike remake no one asked for.

And then it's pretty much just a side-scroller where you jump around a bizarrely castle-like city, making you wonder if whoever designed the game accidentally sat on the remote and switched over to an episode of Gargoyles without noticing.

Patrick Scott Patterson/YouTube
"KANEDA!"
"XANATOS!"

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And the bear monster thing, a terrifying nightmare hallucination in the movie?

Toho
Here's an example to jog up your PTSD.

There are now dozens of them, and without the lavish details, they're just adorable Goomba-like enemies.

Patrick Scott Patterson/YouTube
Five Nights At Furry's

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And the film's climax, in which one of the characters transforms into a giant disgusting meat monster ...

Toho

Toho

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... became this:

Patrick Scott Patterson/YouTube
Like an Arby's ad pic vs. the actual sandwich.

Not very Neo-Tokyo, battling an anthropomorphic mucous version of Gene Simmons. Though we have to admit, there's nothing more frightening than having to do battle with the tumor we're all secretly afraid is slowly growing in our brains.

Also check out 5 Video Game Adaptations That Missed The Point Of The Movie and 5 More Video Game Adaptations That Missed The Point Of The Movie.

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