The Games that Weren’t: Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting

May 9, 2012

Like every good Nintendo fanboy, I awaited every bit of information about Nintendo’s next console like I’d just been tested after a week in Tijuana. Then one morning it was there: the reveal video for the Nintendo Wii. I loved the GameCube and couldn’t wait to see how Nintendo would fulfill all the promises made in that video. I’m still waiting.

What It Was: A game based on the popular television show hosted by painter Bob Ross.

What Happened: After little to no information about the project being released other than its title, the game was canceled.

Why We Wanted It: Bob Ross represented a less cynical and optimistic time for broadcast media and our country as a whole.

When Nintendo first told us about the Wii, it had a lot of ideas about what to do with this revolutionary new technology. None of the things presented included crappy, cheap shovelware and worse versions of games from other consoles. Nintendo promised to revolutionize gaming through motion controls. We were going to have epic swordfights, really feel like we were holding a gun and traversing a warzone, and (most interesting to me) the remote would serve as a great learning tool. All I’ve learned from the Wii is there are a lot of people willing to pay money for absolute garbage, and that I suck at even fake bowling.

One of the edu-taining games scheduled for release on the Wii (and its handheld counterpart, the DS) was Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting. Little info was ever released about the title. We weren’t even sure if it was actually canceled by its developer AGFRAG Entertainment Group until it just never came out. But it’s a shame, because a Bob Ross video game is a great idea!

Just like the show, the object of the game would obviously be to learn how to paint but using the Wii’s remote or DS’s stylus to mimic an actual paintbrush. And also like the show, you’d be learning how to create generic crap that you could find in a mall, but it’s more about the man than the paintings. Bob Ross’s demeanor was the perfect antidote to the extreme ’90s. Every day, viewers would tune into his show to hear his soothing voice tell us about the happy little trees and mountains. After his death (shortly before this game’s announcement), an educational video game would be the perfect way to carry on his legacy.

There could even have been some kind of Pokemon Snap-esque promotion to let players print out their artwork for display. And the game would no doubt lead to many people taking the next step and buying real paint and canvasses. Bob Ross: The Joy of Painting getting canned is a severe missed opportunity for this last generation of games. But maybe with the Wii U’s new capabilities, we’ll see the project revived. But one would need to have the optimism and zen-like nature of Bob Ross himself to hope for that. Until then, Mario Paint and a SNES mouse will have to do.