Recalling Destiny of the Doctors

With the impending release of The Eternity Clock, regular contributor Mez Burdett recalls another big Doctor Who video game release, Destiny of the Doctors

It was simply the best thing you could think of in 1997 if you were a fan of Doctor Who. A computer game that was set primarily inside the TARDIS, featuring the first seven Doctors, the Master and a whole host of enemies including Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Silurians, Seas Devils, Autons, Ice Warriors and….Quarks.

There was newly recorded material from Anthony Ainley, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. It was magical and something that had never been attempted before. Destiny of the Doctors was only £29.99 on the PC and it seemed at the time like it was going to change the way people looked at computer games and Doctor Who.

There was only one problem…it wasn’t very good at all.

Don’t get me wrong, the spirit and passion is evident. The developers clearly had the best of intentions and there was a thrill like no other to be gained from roaming around the TARDIS corridors evading the marauding monsters and then activating, actually activating, the TARDIS console and zooming off into time and space. Take that, Dalek Attack!

There is also the fighting urge to complete tasks so that you can see more wonderful clips of the Master, as seen below:

But the bizarre health meter (you seemed to lose life by simply walking around), the uneven combat system (you could simply walk away from enemies and they would soon be fading into the background noise of the familiar TARDIS hum) and the fact that the game didn’t seem to acknowledge events from the 1996 TV movie and therefore forgot all about Doctor number eight meant that the game itself was an odd one to play.

However, roaming the Master’s TARDIS, contacting the Brigadier for help on your mission, accessing the TARDIS databanks for information on the Doctor’s adventures and planting a stick of Dalekanium onto a Dalek and then watching it blow were all too much of a treat to not play this game.

This was a brave and unashamed game that made no apologies and kept a fair few Doctor Who fans happy for quite a while. It’s a labour of love, as the Candyman once said, in a time when Doctor Who was very much thought of as a “dead show”. The developers were brave and the actors were willing and enthusiastic. Plus, you could take the dialogue from the game and use it on your PC as a start up/shut down sound bite. How many times my poor old mum and dad heard the third Doctor uttering “I think things should be heating up nicely now” as I logged on to Windows 95, I don’t care to remember.

But it brings on a wave of nostalgia like no other, so thank you Destiny of the Doctors for doing what some people do as well-trying hard, not giving up and giving some very good memories in the process.

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  1. Gavin Noble says:

    I concur – the game itself was awful but was at the same time strangely addictive. Anthony Ainley gave probably his best performance as The Master and the ending involving the materialisation of Doctors 1-7 was nice. There was the TARDIS database to look through, which was quite good and probably more fun than the game itself.

  2. Ned says:

    no. wrong. It was just plain awful.

    The problem was the BBC decided rather than offer out a license, they would make in in-house. If you want a good TV programme making, the BBC are your people. If you want a shed building, though, you go to a shed builder. If you want beer brewing, you go to a brewer. You want a computer game developing, you go to a professional, experienced computer game developer. You don’t suddenly decide to commission your colleagues to do it.

    It stinks. It is unplayable. Take away the “brand” and you’d be left with nothing. A turd is still a turd, even if you put a Doctor Who logo on it.

  3. Ian O'Brien says:

    I used to play it, still got it I think. Used to make me rather nauseous. Loved the Master links 🙂

  4. TonyS says:

    I still have it somewhere. I could never complete it. The most I managed was to free 6 out of the 7 Doctors and then I’d run out of energy. It got very frustrating. Yet curiously addictive.

  5. Mugen Pharoah says:

    Great article for a very overlooked corner of the Doctor Who world. This game was a huge deal for me back in the day, and I did actually complete it. Technically lacking in many ways the game had a strange charm, and despite its oddities it was a lot of fun. earthshock Cybermen with Tenth Planet voices? “TOTAL DE-STRUCTION!”.

    And they managed to get Tom Baker involved where others had failed – the voice work and video work on this really lifted it.

    Sadly it won’t play the Master vids in modern Windows, which is a pooper, but there is a complete gameplay (with vids) vid on Youtube.

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