Gamers are a highly opinionated lot. We have strong opinions on everything in the gaming industry and we don’t mind sharing them. The problem is that gamers often disagree on EVERYTHING. There are forums full of all out verbal brawls over topics as stupid as “Who would win in a fight: Mega Man or X?”. However, since ye olden days of the NES and Master System, there is one thing almost every gamer will agree on: Licensed games suck. Those games based on a hit movie or TV show that are made for very little money just to put something on the shelves to make a quick buck off the general public. Gamers have suffered through licensed dribble featuring E.T., Roger Rabbit, Superman, and even food franchise mascots like the Domino’s Pizza Noid and the Spot from 7-Up.
However, there are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes, just sometimes, a licensed game stands out as a shining beacon of hope. These are games that are more than just “good for a licensed game.” No, I’m talking about those licensed games that are truly great video game experiences that happen to be based on an existing license. Today, we countdown five of our favorite licensed games.
A video game based on a Disney cartoon about a rich, talking duck and his nephews doesn’t sound like it should be any good, yet DuckTales somehow turned out to be one of the best platformers of its time. The game boasted tight gameplay that demanded precision timing from players. Sure, the bosses were on the easy side, but the level design leading up to those bosses were spot on fabulous. Then you have the music. DuckTales, despite being an 8-Bit game, features some of the best video game music ever. Just watch the above video and tell me the theme to the Moon level isn’t great.
DuckTales was so good that over twenty years later, Capcom and WayForward released a remastered version (Creatively called DuckTales Remastered) for current gen systems. If you are interested, you can always read our review here.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
If you were a kid in the 90’s and had a SNES, you have played this game. This old school, side-scrollin’ beat ’em up captured the essence of the animated series perfectly. Players get to choose their favorite Turtle (or Turtles if playing two player) and set out kicking the Foot Clan right in their backsides. Is the gameplay repetitive? Yes, it is, but so are most beat ’em ups. What makes TMNTIV is how colorful, vibrant, and fun the game is.
TMNTIV feels like you are controlling an actual episode of the animated series, just with slightly blocky visuals. For a 16-Bit game, all the character designs were amazingly well detailed. The music adds to the mood as well with sounds that feel as though they were ripped straight from the show. However, it is the little touches of humor that make TMNTIV so lovable. Like throwing the Foot Soldiers “through” the television screen, or seeing a “X-ray” of the Turtles when they are electrocuted. Sometimes, it is the small things that make a game memorable.
Just like DuckTales before it, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time got a “remastered” version for current-gen consoles, but the less said about that one the better.
GoldenEye 007 had to make the list. It is not only a LEGENDARY licensed game, but it is one of the most important games ever made. GoldenEye 007 was the game that proved first-person shooters could work on consoles. The graphics are hard to look at now, and the controls are a little stiff by today’s standards, but Goldeneye’s impact cannot be denied. There are plenty of retro gamers that still hook up their old Nintendo 64’s, grab three friends, and play some 4-player split-screen multiplayer.
There is really so much that can be said, but it doesn’t really need to be. GoldenEye 007 is, despite it’s technical limitations, an amazing game respected by all that is still played by hundreds to this very day. Even if you never had the chance to play it, the next time you play Call of Duty or some other modern FPS, give a small tip-of-the-hat to this licensed title and say “Thank you.”