back to article The CURSE of WHO: WHY has there never been a decent videogame with the Doctor?

Doctor Who has not done well as part of the videogame industry. There have been a fair number of professionally-made games based on the series, but few with the BBC’s official blessing and of them an even smaller number that were actually worth playing for any length of time. "Good" in this context doesn’t necessarily mean …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah But.....

    The Dr Who pinball table was a classic.

    1. PipV

      Re: Ah But.....

      Not too shabby on the PC emulation either. But not as good as the real pinball game.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Destiny Of The Doctors

    Destiny Of The Doctors was a TERRIBLE game. The only good thing about it was the video sequences starring Anthony Ainley as the Master. The game itself was woeful and was coded by idiots.

    On the hardware of the day it ran terribly. Ended up getting a refund as it was basically unplayable and crashed a lot on hardware that ran Quake perfectly well.

    As for Dalek Attack, Your Sinclair put it perfectly when they described it as a game where "the Doctor shoots people with his famous laser gun". Just a generic platformer with Doctor Who bolted on and five quid added to the price.

  3. Gio Ciampa

    I'm surprised...

    ...that Auntie hasn't released a cash-in title for The Day Of The Doctor...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Undoubtedly Dr Who is popular, but still this does not remove the fact that it is a B rate program... which will generate B rate funding for games. This is through no fault of its own, but probably budget constraints. Also its has only recently got real international attention.

  5. EddieD

    Dr Who fans

    I don't think that they're really gamers - my brother who has lived and breathed Dr Who since William Hartnell has never played a game in his life, his older daughter, addicted to the new Who, doesn't touch games either.

    And besides, you'd have to have a genius of a designer to make something worthy of the Time Lord - as your reviewer has said, no game has ever been worth the name Dr Who, in the last 30 years or so.

    Maybe one will come along, but I won't hold my breath.

  6. Anonymous Coward 101

    "WHY has there never been a decent videogame with the Doctor?"

    Because they are cheap shit licensed by the BBC for £££, just like most games associated with films.

  7. Wize

    Why there are no good Dr Who games.

    Most games involve some kind of violence. Even the early ones shooting space invaders or pacman munching ghosts.

    The Doctor is a non-violent individual (ok, back in the black and white days he wanted to bash a caveman's head in with a rock, but he has changed a lot since) who doesn't like guns. So it is hard to shoe-horn him in to the standard game plots. Even firing crystals out his sonic screw driver counts as it being a gun of sorts.

    Though I'm surprised there have not been some Dalek/Cyberman themed games.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Why there are no good Dr Who games.

      [4 Wize] "Most games involve some kind of violence"

      <nods>. So why didn't the BBC go and ask the team that made Riven to do something similar themed for Dr Who and using the Tardis to hop from world to world instead of a thinly disguised Amber Tarot mechanic?

      The shine is off Myst <insert number and subtitle>, but the world-shifting idea works just as well if you sub "Tardis" for "Book of Atrus".

      These guys are past masters at making non violent games, some of which have more than a touch of darkness and the creeps in them.

      1. chris lively

        Re: Why there are no good Dr Who games.

        This was at the forefront of my mind as well. A Myst style game would have been perfect.

        Even now they could hook up with Lego to make a cool Lego game. My kids love the various ones ( except LoTR - too violent ). Assembling the key of time is kind of a perfect meme for them

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why there are no good Dr Who games.

      Not just b&w - I was watching a Jon Pertwee story the other week in which he quite happily shot a humanoid living creature dead (and then cheered on the Brigadier when he shot another one).

  8. Samuel Penn

    Mines of Terror

    I played Mines of Terror on the BBC, and thought it was actually a pretty good game. IIRC, you could program Splinx with a set of commands to go and run tasks for you, which was a crucial way to get around some of the threats and actually worked quite well. It was one of the few games I actually played to completion.

  9. Michael 28

    Not sure about the Dr Who games...

    .... a certain lack of "Kill-Power" for a quake clone, methinks.

    two additional points.. a little off-topic though.

    1. Why has there never been an Indian Dr Who??

    2. While the Games industry has been a, there have been a few Dalek pr0n films. Why has the beeb not capitalised on this?

    my two cents.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why has there never been an Indian Dr Who??

      I'm sure, if they wanted, an Indian TV production company could invent a pseudo DrWho character with a back story similar to the BBC Who to appeal to fans, but different enough to escape legal obstacles. Or even just try for a sanctioned Torchwood-style spin off set in the Indian equivalent of Wales, if they think they could make money with it. A variety of country/culture specific Who-verses might be quite an entertaining thing to see...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Why has there never been an Indian Dr Who??

        "Or even just try for a sanctioned Torchwood-style spin off set in the Indian equivalent of Wales,"

        Torchwood was set up by Queen Victoria who, amongst many other titles, was Empress of India. Naturally a Torchwood Institute was also set up in India.

        At least that was the premise in one of the Torchwood audiobook/radio plays.

  10. Michael Strorm

    Add your Dr Who and Dalek knockoffs here

    Two 8-bit games I once owned featuring somewhat familiar-looking characters. Probably not coincidentally, both are British:-


    Escape from Doomworld (Atari 800):-


    The Lone Raider (Atari 800):-


    Dr Who Adventure (Atari 800):-

    (I never played this one myself (only came across it just now while doing a quick search), but I like how even though it's a magazine type-in listing and obviously of that standard- i.e. not great- someone gave it 9/10!)

  11. Matthew Smith

    Oh, you youngsters

    'Doctor Who'esque was a genre of game in the early 80s. There wasn't a 'Teach yourself BBC Basic' book released that didn't have a variant on it. You had a sprite onscreen that could move up/down/left/right. Scattered randomly across the screen were daleks (Or walking fridges in my version) that homed in on the sprite. When two daleks were in the same square, they were destroyed. Simple stuff, but it got me to the, er, tax-database developer that I am today.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Oh, you youngsters

      @Matt Smith - You're not fooling us with the "Matthew".

      'fess up!

  12. Stevey


    I have a vague memory of some kind of plug-in for doom ( or wolfenstein 3d ? ) which added Doctor Who themed graphics to the game - replaced the gun with a sonic screwdriver, aliens/nazis with daleks etc.

    Those kind of fast-moving arcade-style games fit in better with how the show feels now, rather than 'classic' Who, which seems better suited to a puzzle solving 'myst' style of game.

    Maybe an adventure game to find and unlock the 'lost episodes', with points scored for esoteric Who knowledge would be just the ticket for the older fans?

    1. DiViDeD Silver badge

      Re: Doom?

      " have a vague memory of some kind of plug-in for doom ( or wolfenstein 3d ? ) which added Doctor Who themed graphics to the game "

      You might be remembering the Quake III mod. Basically Quake III with Dr Who skinning. Not one of gaming software's highpoints to be honest

  13. kbb

    What is needed... a Dr Who made by the team that did Monkey Island.

  14. Tom 35 Silver badge

    I don't think it's just a Dr Who thing

    Most games from TV/Movies are junk. A quick hack to cash in on something while it's hot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't think it's just a Dr Who thing

      Ocean used to do a nice line in film tie in's back in the day. Batman The Movie, The Untouchables and The Blues Brothers being particulaly good even if they did all follow the same platform based gameplay.

      And their Robocop game topped the software charts for something absurd like 18 months! A huge selling game they got for peanuts as the movie hadn't been a hit.

  15. twellys

    Other games parodied the Who

    How about Head over Heels with Prince Charles as Davros?

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Other games parodied the Who

      Or the similar character in Ultimate's Alien 8 - the top half an alien mouse thing and the bottom half a dalek bit (like Davros's).

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dr. Who + B7 video game...

    As a long time fan of Terry Nation, I absolutely love Dr Who and B7. I'm an unknown Indie game developer but I have some decent chops. I've spoken to B7media on occasion, but I'm not confident they will ever issue me rights to their franchise. So instead, great ideas rot away maybe. But hey that's business...

    Dr. Who is pretty complicated as a narrative, i.e. making it into a cohesive game. There are so many strands and moving parts. Whereas B7 is much clearer as a vision IMHO....

    IP licenses are often granted to salesmen with B-team programmers hoping to make a quick buck. Take a look at the history of Formula-1 games for example. That franchise was locked away in dead-end contracts for years. Its very telling. Most of the deals done between the rights holders and the developers never include true believers or lovers of the franchise, i.e. people who are deeply passionate about the stories and ideas. That's a huge product killer right there.

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: Dr. Who + B7 video game...

      Didn't the Liberator feature in the BBC/Electron game "Starship Commander"?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kudos to the Reg...

    Thanks so much for doing this piece on Dr. Who. Not to be harsh, but sometimes Reg game reviews are half-hearted IMHO. But this is like a journey through time all by itself.... Like to see more. Kudos!

  18. Little_Crow

    WHY has there never been a decent videogame with the Doctor?

    Because they haven't let Travellers Tales loose to create a Lego version.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best Doctor Who Game ever

    In my opinion was the one you got by buying Weetabix and then cutting out the "time zone" picture on the back of the packet. When you then cut slots into this card gameboard, you could tuck in the pressout monsters that came in a little packet inside the carton.

    Four zones to collect. Lots of monsters.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the one you got by buying Weetabix and then ...

      go on then ... dig it out of the loft and post us the pictures (or it didn't happen ...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the one you got by buying Weetabix and then ...

        Nothing left in loft after all these years.

        but others have been more fortunate

  20. Spleen

    As others have pointed out, the problem is that Doctor Who is fundamentally non-violent, and unimaginative designers think that computer games have to include laser guns.

    They should make a Doctor Who game along the lines of the Amnesia games. They showed that you can have a good game where the protagonist is unarmed. A Machine For Pigs in particular is very like a Doctor Who episode - you run round an oppressive futuristic building, fleeing hideous monsters, gradually discover the monstrous purpose of the whole thing, and progress by fiddling with / breaking machinery.

    Replace Amnesia's monsters with Daleks, Cybermen or, god forbid, Weeping Angels and I think there's a pretty good game in there. And of course you'd have that 'hide-behind-the-sofa' terror that everyone associates with Doctor Who.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you might be onto something here.

  21. Crisp Silver badge

    What about that game with the sonic screwdriver?

    You know, that one you could get on Linux desktops. Where all the darleks chased you around the screen.

    Someone must know what I'm on about.

    1. Nugry Horace

      Re: What about that game with the sonic screwdriver?

      You're thinking of "Robots" -- there were numerous variants, some where the graphics for the robots were Daleks.

  22. M Gale

    Take a leaf out of Sonic CD's book

    Multiple representations of "present" and "future".

    Put some simple puzzles in that "The Doctor" can solve to change the timeline, put some baddies in that other characters can gratuitiously blast into smithereens, give it a Dead Space 3-style weapon (or screwdriver)-customisation setup, and I think the Beeb could be onto a winner.

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: Take a leaf out of Sonic CD's book

      day of the tentacle style point and click adventure game would work

  23. ThomH Silver badge

    That game Sharaz Jek is playing in Caves of Androzani looks pretty good

    Some sort of side-view real time strategy game, I think, clearly for the BBC Micro.

  24. madhatt3r

    related/similar games

    Roland in time featured phone boxes that'd get you places.

    Highway encounter featured characters that looked quite a bit like them Daleks.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely what we need is a game based on the "great time war". Scope for awesome levels of destruction and minimal constraints on the graphics / characters. No Sontarans, of course.

  26. RealBigAl

    The doctor doesn't shoot stuff (at least not anymore)

    They'd have more joy with a Torchwood game with the Doctor appearing only occasionally.

  27. teebie

    "No, I'm not buying that, it hasn't got a picture of Colin Baker on the front"

    Said no one, ever.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: "No, I'm not buying that, it hasn't got a picture of Colin Baker on the front"

      In fact probably quite the opposite.

      Now if they'd slapped one of Nicola Bryant (Peri, his most "interesting" companion) on it then things might have been somewhat different.

      But I guess we should count blessings that it wasn't Bonnie Langford on there too.

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