Monday, October 22, 2007

Licensed titles: The good, the bad, and the terrible

Licensed titles are on the receiving end of many a gamer's insults, and quite often rightfully so. Many games based on TV shows, movies, books or whatever are often little more than cash-grabs, quality be damned. However, every once in a while, a truly decent and sometimes even worthwhile licensed title will come along. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, as I go over Licensed titles: The good, the bad, and the terrible.

The Good

Despite popular belief, there is such a thing as a genuinely good licensed title. Look through any review archive and you're sure to stumble across one or two such games with ratings in the neighborhood of 9/10. Here are two licensed titles that I believe deserve a spot in the "Good" category.

If you've been reading One Duck's Opinion for a while, you likely remember my review of The Godfather: Blackhand Edition. Based on the amazing Godfather movie released in 1972, Blackhand Edition is an adventure set in on the streets of New York in the year 1945. You play as one of the many faceless henchmen working for the Corleone crime family. Along with fulfilling missions and tasks presented in the movie and book, your main task is to eventually take over all of New York in the name of the Corleone family, and, one day, become don of the entire city.

If it wasn't the storyline of this game that made it worthwhile, then it was the controls. Instead of merely pressing buttons to beat the crap out of rival mobsters, Blackhand Edition allowed you to take the fight into your own hands using the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii remote. Swing the controller sideways to punch the enemy in the side, and thrust it forward to plant one right in the face. Grab a man by the collar of his jacket and toss him about by letting go while thrusting the Wii remote and Nunchuk simultaneously. You can even strangle a man to death by making a circular motion with both hands to simulate grabbing his throat, then wiggle the controllers to wrestle him to the ground. The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is one hell of a game, especially for a licensed title.

Now on to our next piece of software. Yes, it's a Spongebob game. Wipe the foam from your mouth, then continue reading. So, I like Spongebob, is it a crime? Anyways, I played a Battle For Bikini Bottom demo on my cousin's XBox, and it was pretty fun. About a year or so later, I saw it sitting on a shelf in my local video rental shop, so I grabbed it for a week. Hey, what the heck, it was seven bucks.

So then, Battle for Bikini Bottom accomplishes many things that you would probably assume impossible for a licensed title. Most surprising is the fact that it's incredibly fun. The premise is that the evil entrepreneur Plankton built a machine that constantly spits out robots. The Duplicatotron 3000, as the machine is called, stops obeying Plankton and begins making rebellious robots that are beyond his control. And who better to save the day than Spongebob Squarepants?

Battle for Bikini Bottom is nothing revolutionary or ground-breaking. It's a basic little platformer that manages to be quite entertaining. All standard platformer standbys are present: Jumping, running, attacking, etc. Battle for Bikini Bottom also allows players to take control of Patrick Star and Sandy Cheeks in addition to the game's titular sponge. Each character has one or two unique skills, which helps shake things up a bit. Also recognizable from the smash-hit TV show are the supporting characters (Most of which have their original voice-actors), the familiar locales (From the Krusty Krab to Rock Bottom, it's all here) and the same clever humour. The familiar gameplay, amazing voice acting, hilarious jokes and cartoony animation all come together to make one heck of a game. Sure, it won't win any prizes for originality or anything like that, but it's a fun game, plain and simple.

The Bad

And here we have the most common category of licensed titles, "The Bad". Look at any game shelf in any electronics department, and you'll easily find more than ten titles that would be a perfect fit here. A "Bad" game is something that should be ignored when seen, but still has a few redeeming qualities to it. It's the kind of game that can be somewhat enjoyed, but hardly worth retail price. Here is one such example of a "Bad" licensed title.

(First of all, let me apologize for how small this picture is. It's honestly the best one I could find!) Aladdin for the Game Boy is based on the Disney film of the same name. The movie was witty, action-packed, and had a great story behind it. The game, however, was bland, slow-paced and featured only shreds of narrative. You played as Aladdin (Of course), fighting your way through Agrabah streets and across rooftops for some reason. Instead of using that big old machete at your side, you can merely throw apples at your opponents. Yeah, apples. At some random point in the first or second level (It changes, I swear!), you gain the use of your sword, but it's actually no better than the apples. Except for the fact that the machete doesn't really rely on any ammo, you'd really be better off pelting royal guards with a sack of Granny Smiths. After all, at least the apples have range!

A tougher decision than you'd think, really.

Okay, fruits VS swords aside, there's not that much to this game worth talking about. Besides the tiny bits of storyline, the Aladdin sprites and the digitized tune of "A Whole New World" playing in the background, there's really no reason for this to even be an Aladdin title. The use of license is very poor, and it's nearly impossible to make out what you're looking at due to how thin the lines are.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm only talking about the Game Boy version here. All other versions of this game that I've played were great, especially the one on the SEGA Genesis. But comparing this tripe to that amazing piece of software is like comparing apples and mache-, er, oranges.

The Terrible

And here we have the lowest of lows, "The Terrible". These are the games that should be burned on sight. Actually, burning them would be bad, because then their crappiness would permeate our atmosphere and mess up the planet even worse than it already is. There is nothing at all good about any "Terrible" game. Nothing. At. All. These titles are among the worst on Earth. I wonder where they rank on Krypton, the home planet of the following game's star character...

Yes, I think we ALL saw this one coming. E.T. on the Atari 2600? Ha! That's a ten out of ten compared to this piece of crap! Superman 64 is almost definitely the worst game ever created. Thankfully, I have never had the displeasure of "playing" this "game". If I had, I can guarantee you I would have burned my hands off by now. I've suffered through watching many clips and reviews of this steaming pile of Kryptonian crap. I think my pain is only surpassed by those poor souls who've actually laid their hands on this vile botch of game design.

Before we go on to how terrible Superman 64 was, let's look at how great it COULD have been. Just imagine, playing as the strongest man on Earth. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, outrun speeding locomotives and all that jazz. The possibilities are endless! Tossing buildings, crushing machinery, vaporizing enemies with laser vision... Superman is really the dream character for a video game!

Now, forget all the amazing things I just said, as Superman 64 has none of it. Instead of displaying your amazing feats of strength, your instead forced to beat up thugs, bash up cars and fly through rings. Yes, much of Superman 64 is spent flying through "mazes" of rings set up by your arch-enemy, Lex Luthor. Apparently, if you don't fly through these rings, your friends will die or something. I really don't even care. This "game" is hardly worth the wear and tear on my keyboard. I think I can actually feel my fingertips melting.

Superman 64 was a terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE piece of work, and I hope to never hear of it again. Someone give me a block of Kryptonite, it's time to put this abomination out of it's misery.

Licensed titles have great potential for good, but even greater potential to be bad. It all depends on what happens behind the scenes. Don't let games like Superman 64 and E.T. cloud your judgment, there are good licensed titles out there such as The Godfather: Blackhand Edition and Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom. Sometimes your just gotta look a little harder and squint through the darkness, but they do exist.

The Duck Has Spoken.

1 comment:

Jordan said...

E.T. was f-ed in the a.