Licensed franchises on Nintendo systems


Jun 1, 2015
Thoughts on games that are produced for Nintendo consoles, but aren't from the Nintendo franchises, eg. Disney games, games based on movies or TV shows etc...

I've yet to find one worth playing, my son has just spent £6 on a secondhand Cars game for his DS and it is ridiculously bad!

What are people's thoughts? Ever found one that has transitioned well? Or do you think that games should be left specifically for the companies such as Nintendo to nurture and produce?
Arkham City, Fantasy Life and Bravely Default are cool. Its nice to find something fun that isn't Mario or Zelda, sometimes. But yes there are stinkers. What about Infinity? Have you tried that? Its pretty fun for kids and grownups
The general consensus is that licensed games tend to be among the video game industry's worst offerings. (A sentiment that can be extended beyond video games to movie novelizations, comics, etc as well.) And there are certainly a plethora of infamous, classic examples that absolutely support that generally accepted narrative: Atari's E.T., Superman 64, Shaq Fu, Home Improvement, Home Alone, The Adam's Family: Fester's Quest, Top Gun, AD&D: Heroes of the Lance, X-Men, Silver Surfer, Barbie, Wayne's World, The Terminator, Hudson Hawk, Gilligan's Island, The Three Stooges, Ghostbusters, etc, etc, etc.

However, there are also plenty of exceptions to that rule; there are indeed licensed video games that are actually quite good!

On that score, Star Wars often comes to mind as a film franchise that routinely yields fantastic video game adaptations--and I in fact consider many of the Star Wars video games to be superior to the films themselves! For Nintendo in particular, I would recommend the SNES' Super Star Wars series.

Video games based upon comic book heroes are also pretty hit-and-miss, and there are indeed many terrible games featuring Superman, Spiderman, the X-Men, etc. However, there are notable exceptions here as well. In particular, I consider the modern Arkham series to be among the best video games ever produced--they truly put the player into the role of Batman and feature fantastic, realistic graphics and voice acting. (Ditto for the 2009 Ghostbusters video game, which I consider to be akin to a third Ghostbusters film.) While most Spiderman games are rather poor, the SNES' Maximum Carnage is a great nineties beat em up game. (Maximum Carnage is an exception to the rule that Spiderman games aren't very good and moreover is also an exception to the rule that LJN games aren't very good!) People tend to be split as to whether the NES' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a good game, but most people consider the numerous follow ups to be great arcade style beat em ups--especially Turtles in Time. (I'm still waiting on a decent Superman game though--what is it about that character that doesn't translate into great games? It seems like a no brainer to me!)

Note the genres of the above counter-examples as well. Action packed science fiction and comic book heroics are precisely the sort of franchise genres that could and should easily translate into at-least-decent-if-not-great video games, and on that score it's surprising that so many end up being total clunkers! Conversely, who would ever expect a halfway decent video game adaptation of cheesy sitcoms like Gilligan's Island or Home Improvement, a comedic film like Wayne's World, a mundane doll like Barbie, etc? In those cases, the task of making a halfway decent video game based upon those properties is almost inevitable doomed to failure!

All in all, being a licensed game doesn't preclude a game from being decent-if-not-great--but it is a red flag given the history of licensed video games. Test out such games as rentals, or at a friend's house, etc before buying them.
The same thoughts could be said of other video games (like a Nintendo-Esque game) being developed for say the Xbox One or the PS4. It's always a "Red flag" until you research it/watch videos/or just go into the game blind. This definitely doesn't mean the red flag always turns out to be horrible; in fact there are bunches of pleasant games that cross-platformed.

Like Aboleth said, being a licensed game doesn't preclude a game from being decent-if-not-great. It just comes with research - play it beforehand. Play it at a friends - just see video on it before you drop an investment.
It also occurs to me that the misses versus hits track record is arguably even worse for the reverse case: movies, TV series, comics, etc based upon video games!

However, as with the above licensed video games forward case, being adapted from a franchise from another medium (including video games) doesn't necessarily mean that it'll be terrible (only that there's a more-often-than not precedent for certain media that could be taken as a red flag).
I have never been able to find a good one. The sad thing is that they make these kinds of games all the time. I think that it's just because the video game is going to be different than the movie or TV show that you are watching. I've seen games for The Walking Dead for instance, I haven't played them but they just don't look good. They don't seem like they would be worth the buy, and for the most part they just seem like they are different from the TV. I'm sure if they made it more like the TV show, then it would have been more popular.
Like I said, you just have to be wary of what you get yourself into. It could be a bomb way before you even think of buying it. This era of Smartphone use? Just whip out your phone, and look up the title and read some reviews/watch some youtube videos even in the store, if you can. If not, do it at home before you leave to go the store - but don't buy things on a whim unless you have cash to spend.
Licensed games certainly have a terrible reputation, but this very thread is rife with counter-examples of licensed games that were actually quite good.

As such, it's a bit hasty to write off a game just because it's a licensed property.

Like Shimus says, we just need to perform a wee bit of research to ensure that we're informed consumers before spending our hard-earned money on buying new games.

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