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The 6 Best And 6 Worst Doctor Who Video Games

Despite the fact that "Doctor Who" is one of the UK's most popular and successful shows, inspiring a whole host of additional novels, comics, audio dramas, and toys, there's been a distinct lack of video games based on the franchise. In some ways, the lack of great "Doctor Who" games isn't all that surprising. The Doctor is a pacifist by nature, someone who would rather outthink their opponents rather than beat them in a straight fight. This makes the character somewhat unsuited for traditional action games.

Still, the sci-fi setting of the series ,along with the time travel mechanics and famous villains like the Daleks, should make the series a good bet for other types of games that focus on storytelling and puzzles more than fast-paced gameplay. There have been some good examples of developers doing just that, but for every good "Doctor Who" game, there are at least two terrible ones. Here's a rundown of the Doctor's highs and lows in the universe of video gaming.

WORST: Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth

The Matt Smith era of "Doctor Who" saw an eclectic mix of games that have varied in quality. One of those that fans might do best to avoid is "Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth." In many ways, the game is not quite as bad as some of the worst offenders when it comes to the classic BBC franchise, but it's the fact that it gets some things right that somehow makes the rest feel all the more disappointing. After all, from the outside, this game has plenty of going for it. It features voice acting from stars Smith and Karen Gillan. It was even written by Oli Smith, a figure who has written for the series across novels, games, and audio dramas (per BBC).

Developed by Asylum Entertainment, "Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth" was released on the Nintendo DS in 2010 and, according to Digital Spy, was part of a £10 million deal between Nintendo and the BBC to secure the rights to the sci-fi show. In a story that features classic enemies such as the Daleks and Silurians, players have to help humanity flee from Earth. Much of the action focuses on solving logic puzzles and walking around chatting with other characters.

In a contemporary review, Good Game was critical of the way that the game seemingly does little to take advantage of the fact that it is based on "Doctor Who," while Metro pointed out that it was little more than a "Professor Layton" clone. Ultimately, it's just underwhelming.

BEST: Dalek Attack

Although the "Doctor Who" television show went on an indefinite hiatus for more than a decade starting in 1989, that didn't mean that there wasn't other material making its way into fan's hands. Along with numerous audio plays and novels, there were some solid video games released during that time. One of these was the 1992 platformer "Dalek Attack."

Created by Alternative Software for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amiga, and several other systems, it is set in the year 2254 and sees the Doctor take on his old foes the Daleks. With the evil race having taken over much of the universe, the Time Lords send the Doctor to Earth in order to put a stop to their efforts once and for all. Along the way, the hero will visit London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, and the Dalek home planet Skaro. The game takes the form of a shoot 'em up like "Contra," just with the Doctor blasting his enemies using his trusty Sonic Screwdriver.

Reviews for the game were largely positive and it has garnered a reputation as one of the better "Doctor Who" games. Despite some criticism for its outdated visuals and repetitive gameplay, Amiga Reviews called it "an absolute must for all 'Doctor Who' fans."

WORST: Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror

"Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror" came to the BBC Micro, and later the Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64, in 1985. Taking control of the Sixth Doctor (played by Colin Baker in the television series), players have to battle against the Master. The villain has stolen a Time Lord device known as the Time Instant Replay Unit (TIRU), giving him the power to edit events in a particular timeline. Along with his robotic cat Splinx, the Doctor eventually manages to navigate through the mines of Rijar and stop the Master's production of Heatonite, which is needed to power the TIRU.

The game is largely based on the 1985 release "Castle Quest" and even began life as a sequel to that game before being switched to take place in the world of "Doctor Who" (via Stairway to Hell). "Castle Quest" was widely praised upon release and considered to be one of the best BBC Micro games, but "Doctor Who and the Mines of Terror" was not quite as acclaimed as its predecessor.

Every Game Going criticized the game's presentation and performance, with the reviewer saying they were "disappointed by the poor graphics, minimal sound, jerky scrolling, lack of speed, [and an] exasperating amount of irrelevant waffle in the instruction book." Some critics did enjoy the game, however. Game Base 64 noted the similarities between it and "Castle Quest," finding the imitation to not be all that bad.

BEST: Doctor Who: The Edge of Time

Developed by Maze Theory, 2019's "Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time" is a virtual reality game available across a number of platforms, including PlayStation VR and Oculus. The game features some huge enemies from the newer series, such as the Weeping Angels, along with two brand-new evil foces. Jodie Whittaker voices the Thirteenth Doctor as players take control of a rookie companion who is tasked with collecting several crystals to help stop a virus infecting reality.

Like many other VR games, the gameplay is mainly based on solving puzzles as you move around various spaces and interact with objects and the environment. This slower pace is better suited for the franchise, focusing less on the action and more on the story and atmosphere building. It also allows the game to have some truly frightening moments, including some surprising jump scares.

Of all the "Doctor Who" games that have been made, "Doctor Who: The Edge of Time" is perhaps the most impressive from a visual standpoint. Metro noted that "the graphics are really quite impressive, in both their variety and level of detail." Den of Geek was also impressed with the way it makes players feel like an actual companion, even if the game doesn't meet the standard set by the very best VR games.

WORST: Doctor Who: Worlds in Time

A "Doctor Who" MMO might sound like a good idea in theory, but the execution of "Doctor Who: Worlds in Time" certainly left a lot to be desired. Developed by Grey Havens, the multiplayer game launched in 2012 and saw players completing a series of mini-game challenges set by the Doctor. In total, there were six types of mini-games, including things like lockpicking, repairing, and hacking, which had to be completed to advance the story and unlock more locations.

Perhaps the biggest drawback in "Doctor Who: Worlds in Time" was the fact that it was built in Adobe Flash. This severely limited the overall experience, as the platform has some notable restrictions on things like performance and 3D rendering (via Adobe Press). In that sense, the fact that the game looked and played as well as it did was impressive, but that didn't take away from the game's many real issues.

Most of the gameplay focused on solving puzzles, but there was little in the way of story or interesting action. As noted by Gamezebo, there were also some confusing microtransactions that weren't entirely clear or helpful. Wired was also disappointed by the lack of appearances from the Doctor himself — a glaring omission, considering that is what people will be expecting from a "Doctor Who" game. Then, without any explanation as to why, the developer revealed that the game was being shut down less than two years after it had launched.

BEST: Top Trumps: Doctor Who

Some of the best "Doctor Who" games have been ones that take a novel approach rather than sticking with stale or overcrowded genres. 2008's "Top Trumps: Doctor Who" is a great example of that. Based on the popular card game "Top Trumps," this game was released by Eidos Interactive for the Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation 2, and Wii. It was also the first "Doctor Who" game in more than a decade, finally following the 1997 title "Destiny of the Doctors."

As with the real-life card game, the gameplay focuses on players attempting to win all of the cards in their opponent's hands. Decks are made up of various characters, items, and events from the television show, each with their own specific statistics that can be compared across all cards. The aim is to choose a stat that you believe will beat whatever the opponent has in their hand at that time.

Though it built off the momentum of the revival series' successful first three seasons, "Top Trumps: Doctor Who" didn't exactly set the world on fire when it made its way into gamer's hands. Still, it received several positive reviews from outlets such as Eurogamer, with the site's review noting that the "presentation is of a high quality, there's enough data to please fans of the TV show and they haven't mucked about with the classic Top Trumps gameplay."

WORST: Doctor Who and The Warlord

When the BBC partnered with Acorn Computers in the 1980s to release a series of microcomputers with the aim of promoting computer literacy and skills (per The Guardian), it opened up further opportunities for the corporation to release games based on its own IP. One of the first was "Doctor Who and the Warlord," a text-based adventure game designed by writer and producer Graham Williams. He had previously worked on the "Doctor Who" television series, producing episodes during Tom Baker's era.

The story takes place on the planet Quantain, with an unknown Doctor and companion arriving on the war-ravaged planet to try and find an old friend known as King Varangar. Separated from the hero during a brief battle, it's up to you to try and locate him again and get back to the mission at hand.

The main issue with "Doctor Who and the Warlord" is that it has a rather mediocre story. That's a pretty big problem for a text-adventure game, where the quality largely depends on the narrative being gripping enough to captivate the player in the absence of any graphics or intricate gameplay. Fans have also complained about the easy puzzles that offered little challenge. According to Den of Geek, this is another game with a distinct lack of the Doctor himself, making the game lack the biggest draw to a "Doctor Who" game. However, some reviews were more positive and praised the RPG elements.

BEST: Lego Dimensions (Doctor Who Level Pack)

Although "Lego Dimensions" is not strictly a "Doctor Who" game, the 2015 release still earns its spot among the best video game adaptations of the sci-fi series. Available across a range of platforms, "Lego Dimensions" follows the same gameplay mechanics from Traveller's Tales's other "Lego" titles, with players controlling figures based on popular fictional characters to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and collect various items.

The main difference with this release is that it allows fans to expand the base experience with Level Packs based on a variety of other franchises, including "The Simpsons," "Ghostbusters," and "Back to the Future." The "Doctor Who Level Pack" introduces a stage called "The Dalek Extermination of Earth," which is presented as if it is an episode of the show. Davros, the creator of the Daleks, has put in place a trap to try and defeat the Doctor by invading Earth with his army.

Traveller's Tales' "Lego" games are a good match for the "Doctor Who" franchise. Reviews have noted that the game's witty humor, interesting puzzles, and family-friendly gameplay meshing well with that is a family show. It even allows for two people to play together, making it ideal for siblings or parents and children to team up. Tired Old Hack praised the distinctive time-shifting puzzles, as well as the attention to detail when recreating the look of the show.

WORST: Doctor Who: The First Adventure

As its title would imply "Doctor Who: The First Adventure" was the first official "Doctor Who" game ever made. Developed by BBC Software, it was released on the company's BBC Micro computer and featured a story that followed Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor — not that players would know what incarnation of the Doctor it is, due to the fact that the character is represented by a small white dot throughout the game.

What little plot there was centered on a mission to find segments of the Key of Time so that it can be reconstructed and taken to its rightful place at the center of the universe. The game takes place across four different levels, each of which feature a different mini-game or puzzle that players have to complete to advance. Among a number of confusing elements, users get 15 regenerations, despite the fact that Time Lords are only supposed to get 12 in total (via BBC).

For those wanting anything original in terms of gameplay, "Doctor Who: The First Adventure" isn't for you. At its heart, the game simply re-skins four popular arcade games to help them fit in the world of "Doctor Who." As Den of Geek notes, this basically meant that a TARDIS was added somewhere on the screen. The games included slight variations on "Pac-Man," "Frogger," "Galaxian," and "Battleships," but most critics found the graphics crude and the gameplay too familiar (per The Registry).

BEST: Doctor Who: Legacy

"Doctor Who: Legacy" is another example of the franchise thriving in the video game medium by doing something different. At first glance, it appears to be little more than yet another match-three puzzle game, where players have to match colored gems to deal damage to enemies and beat the level. However, this 2013 free-to-play mobile game actually goes a lot deeper than that. It featured multiple story arcs, with new levels added in conjunction with big episodes of the show, as well as a vast array of characters from the history of the franchise to collect.

This is where the RPG elements of "Doctor Who: Legacy" come into play. As users beat levels, they gain access to new incarnations of the Doctor and hundreds of companions. These characters can then be used to form a team that can be upgraded over time to provide more powerful boosts and special abilities.

With addictive gameplay and a comprehensive history of "Doctor Who," Android Central said that "no other game has managed to capture so much of the 'Doctor Who' universe in a single package, with callbacks to both the classic and modern eras." Meanwhile, Kotaku also praised the way the microtransactions are kept to a minimum and how the game never feels like users need to pay to win. Unfortunately, players can no longer try out "Doctor Who: Legacy." Publisher Tiny Rebel Games shut down servers in 2019 when its license with the BBC expired (via Thumbsticks).

WORST: Doctor Who: Return to Earth

As noted previously, the BBC's desire to take advantage of the "Doctor Who" franchise and its enormous success in the late 2000s and early 2010s led to a number of video game releases featuring the Eleventh Doctor played by Matt Smith. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them were just not all that good. "Doctor Who: Return to Earth" was the second of two "Doctor Who" games that arrived on the Nintendo Wii and was produced by Asylum Entertainment, the same studio responsible for "Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth."

Again, it features a voice cast that included "Doctor Who" actors, including Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. The plot revolves around the Doctor and Amy fighting against both the Cybermen and the Daleks as they attempt to steal the Time Axis. Meanwhile, the gameplay is a simple affair, with players taking control of the Doctor to collect crystals scattered throughout levels and stealthily avoiding enemy detection.

"Doctor Who: Return to Earth" was universally panned when it launched in 2010. Screen Rant called it one of the worst games on the Wii, finding fault with the story and the poor graphics that resembled games from decades earlier. Others noted a constant struggle with the camera, making it incredibly difficult to navigate environments and see enemies (via Metro). A review in Official Nintendo Magazine was just as damning, criticizing the dialogue and calling the game "an insult to 'Doctor Who' fans."

BEST: Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins

"Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins" takes the form of a found-phone mystery game that is heavy on story and atmosphere. Developed by Maze Theory, the team behind the virtual reality game "Doctor Who: The Edge of Time," this is essentially a belated sequel to "Blink," one of the scariest episodes of "Doctor Who." The plot is focused on the player discovering the phone of Larry Nightingale and trying to piece together what happened to him. Working with UNIT's Petronella Osgood to uncover the mystery, the unique game also spotlights one of the show's best enemy forces: the Weeping Angels.

Relying almost completely on the story is a risky choice, but "Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins" pulls it off well. It tells an unsettling and mysterious tale that can be genuinely emotional at times (via GameSpew). Players will grow attached to the various characters as they interact with them via the phone (via God is a Geek). Meanwhile, the puzzles that offer the main challenge are not too difficult, but are hard enough to make them interesting. All in all, this is easily the best and most engrossing "Doctor Who" game yet.

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