We’ve talked at length about how influential Doctor Who has been on the genre over it’s 50+ years, and the terrific legacy of current spin-offs, and the wealth of expanded universe comics and literature, but one planet the Doctor hasn’t been able to conquer is the world of Video Games.Despite seemingly being an absolute can’t miss for video game inspiration, the Doctor’s foray into the gamer’s realm have gone about as well as Colin Baker’s first day in the wardrobe department.
Now to be fair, the new series has ushered in decent contributions to the video game realm, but the classic series offerings were at best, weak and at worst….dung. Here’s 5 forgotten Doctor Who games from the original era.
DOCTOR WHO: THE FIRST ADVENTURE
The Doctor’s first official foray into the Video game sphere came in 1983, released on the long forgotten BBC Micro system, a Commodore 64ish teaching mini-computer. And it was basically a failure…on so many levels. Get it? Levels? Video games?To start with, the name was totally misleading; since it features Peter Davison, Whovians knew from the get go that this wasn’t the Doctor’s real “first” adventure. Adding to the confusion was that Davison quit as the Doctor soon after the game’s release, so his picture no doubt hindered sales. The actual game involved the Doctor going on a predictable quest through time to save the universe and required him traversing four chapters, which were just blatant clones of popular titles. For instance Chapter 1; “Labrynth of Death” saw the Doctor running through a maze evading ghosts. Kind of like, Pac-Man.
The overall quality of the game was slightly embarrasing, which unfortunately, mirrored the state of the TV series at the time. It didn’t sell much and fell off shelves by 1984. Also hurting it’s appeal, and the subsequent Micro games was the availabilty of unoffical, underground Who games that had popped up across the UK and were far more popular among the gaming community. But the First Doctor does hold some value today; there were so few sold it has become a collector’s item. So check your attics.
DOCTOR WHO AND THE WARLORD
The blandness of the Doctor’s First Adventure didn’t dissuade Micro from producing a follow up within a couple of years; next up was Doctor Who and The Warlord.This one was a two part text adventure with the player acting as a companion following the Doctor around an exotic planet populated by androids and gypsys while picking up clues and solving puzzles. Part 2 was accessed via a password. The player is then transported to the Battle of Waterloo to take down Napolean and the titular Warlord, who are BFFs. The game was actually quite elaborate for the time; featuring over 500 locations, but the Who masses just didn’t buy it. Literally. Another one that is difficult to find these days and holds more value as a collector’s item.
DOCTOR WHO AND THE MINES OF TERROR
Fun fact! Mines of Terror got it’s name from Maggie Thatcher’s Union policy.The third entry from Micro was a side scrolling platform based game featuring the 6th Doctor trying to stop the Master from building a Time Replay Unit that would give him total control over time, and like other scrollers of the era featured alot of climbing ladders, jumping over barrels and and avoiding being sued by Donkey Kong. This was one was co-released on Commodore 64, but sadly didn’t have much impact; Mines of Terror was another flop and sales were so poor it plunged Micro Bank into bankruptcy. Part of the reason was the forementioned unoffical games popularity, coupled with the fact it was highly priced at 14.95 (about 42 pounds by today’s standard) The final nail in the coffin for Mines was that the game hit the shelves just as the TV show was put on hiatus. Another tough game to locate, although YouTube does offer a few gameplays
The Doctor vanished from the Gamer’s realm for seven years before reappearing in Dalek Attack, released as a response to fan interest in various forms on Amiga, Commodore 64, PC and Atari. Too bad none of these systems featured a variation of the game that was any good. Although it featured stalwart Who characters like the Brigadier and K9, the game got awful reviews and is generally hated by Whovians who purchased it.The biggest complaint was that the game required the traditonally non-violent Doctor to defend the Earth by blowing the crap out of the Daleks using grenades and lasers. It was if the Doom and Contra developers got hammered and wrote a game with Rambo playing the part of the Doctor. Things were so wrong with this game the developer tried to sue Amiga Power magazine for their unfavourable review. Bad sales, bad concept, bad idea.
DESTINY OF THE DOCTOR
The last game of the old era was probably the best, at least in it’s concept. Destiny of the Doctor, which hard core fans will remember being teased on the VHS release of Survival, featured the Master imprisoning all 7 incarnations of the Doctor in a wild plot to wipe out each regeneration. To rescue him, the player takes on the role of Graak, a psychic jellyfish thing created by the Fourth Doctor.Although it held a bit of charm and deployed 3D graphics, there wasn’t much to look at. And despite all of the actors lending their voices to the game to reprise their roles, it just didn’t attract sales or positive reviews. It’s not even a collector’s item since it is readily available and playable in compatible systems. But it does hold some appeal for Whovians, as it marks the final appearance of Anthony Ainley as the Master and a feature called the TARDIS database, which included access to over 600 clips from the BBC archives, some of which still haven’t been released for public sale.