The Master System - Doctor Who in Video Games
While you're all playing The Eternity Clock, take a moment to remember Doctor Who's other ventures into games land...
Doctor Who: The First Adventure (1983)
Released for the BBC Micro (what else?), The First Adventure somewhat disappointingly doesn't feature William Hartnell trying to stove in cavemen's skulls with a hefty bit of flint. Instead, it's a compendium of writ-baiting minigames based on existing popular arcade titles (Space Invaders, Pac-Man etc) given a hint of a TARDIS makeover and a poorly-rendered pencil drawing of Davison slapped on the cover, looking like he wants nothing more to do than get back to playing bass guitar for A Flock of Seagulls.
Doctor Who and the Warlord (1985)
A BBC Micro text-only choose-your-own-adventure for an unspecified Doctor. Yeah, don't worry, we're just going to skip to the next one too.
Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror (1985)
The C64 and Amstrad join the ever-dependable Micro, this time as Colin Baker's Doctor waddles about the screen clutching his lapel, jumping over obstacles and avoiding some generic deadly enemies just a pixel shy of attracting Terry Nation's legal team, following his last minute withdrawal of the Daleks. Poorly-conceived (it was originally going to be a different game altogether until the publishers secured the rights) and lacking in imagination, it's just the kind of adequate yet deeply average lab-rat bullshit the era produced in TARDIS-loads.
Dalek Attack (1992)
Multi-format release - including the then flatlining ZX Spectrum - in which you're tasked with taking out the dastardly Skarosians via Seventh Doctor Sylv' (the loading screen for whom looks not unlike a shaved Ron Jeremy). A zippy side-scroller in which you deadify every sentient being on screen seems somewhat at variance with the show's pacifist values but, frankly, we'd rather murder stuff than shout incomprehensible speeches at it. Still, in a year that also saw Super Mario Kart, Sonic 2 and Wolfenstein 3D, Dalek Attack's first level of "Sewer" is a pretty fair reflection of its standing amongst its peers.
Destiny of the Doctors (1997)
A first person puzzler for PC with admirably tolerable production values and a laudable dedication to fanwank. Playing as alien jellyfish Graak, the player squares off against all manner of licensed baddies, which neatly sidesteps the thorny issue of The Doctor's reticent combative nature whilst delivering on the Time Lord goods. Utilising vocal talents of all surviving Doctors, and featuring Anthony Ainley's last turn as the Master (in a performance so camp he probably shat glitterballs when no one was looking), it's fair to say that this is, broadly-speaking, fandom's go-to game. On pure mechanics alone, it's a humdrum and frequently laborious experience, but hey, let's not crap on these lovingly-prepared polygons, eh?
Tardis Tennis (2003)
A BBC browser flash game, in which you get to play as historical figures such as John Lennon and Winston Churchill (what japes!), all of which amounts to little more than a re-skinned novelty version of Pong. A curio created for the promotion of 2003's Wimbledon, the TARDIS element is, naturally, the vehicle that enables the time-travelled players to get to their match. Certainly a good few minutes' waste of office time, plus further thrills are provided by the quick snatch of Claws of Axos incidental music on the selection screen. Still available here
The Last Dalek (2005)
A browser-based minigame on the show's official site, this had the player take over the bronzed badass in a series of fixed camera rooms (in ugly reductive 2.5D), with a plot faintly analogous to that of the original TV episode. A fun and free bit of fluff for the most part, although the clumsy control system was slightly maddening at times. It was the first of many promotional tie-in time-wasters, some of which are downright addictive, and all still available for less than the price of a punch to the ribs over here.
Top Trumps: Doctor Who (2008)
Take everything that's imaginative, creative and thrilling about Doctor Who, neatly pack it away in the Zero Room and you'll end up with this – a stat-based willy wave of a card game. Aspiring to fandom's collective OCD perhaps, but certainly doesn't capture the spirit of time/space adventuring that, you know, the show is all about. Released on the Wii, Nintendo DS and the PS2 (in its past-it years), you could pick up a real Trumps deck for a fraction of the price and "enjoy" without using a single damn kilowatt. And then hurl it straight in the bin.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games (2010)
This is a bit more like it. A UK-only but freely-distributed PC, third person, action adventure game from the developers of the acclaimed OutRun Arcade and Virtua Tennis series. Featuring the voice and mo-capping of Smith and Gillan and script duties by regular Who scribes Phil Ford and James Moran, this is arguably the Beeb's first serious attempt at cracking the games market since Destiny of the Doctors over a decade previously. With enemies such as Daleks and Cybermen, highlighted educational pop-ups and the game's relative simplicity, these episodically-released chunks of immersive Who are understandably aimed at as wide a market as possible, as you might well expect for a kid's show. Whilst it's certainly no Mass Effect, there are far, far worse games out there, and most expect you to fork out for the displeasure of playing them. As such, these come highly recommended to anyone with a few spare GBs on their hard drive and minutes in their diary. Now discontinued for the ticking of The Eternity Clock, but all instalments are still available over at the official site. And no, you can't manipulate the in-game camera to take a ganders up Amy's skirt. Believe us, we've tried.
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