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 411mania » Games » Columns

The 8 Ball 02.18.14: Top 8 Bad Licensed Games
Posted by Marc Morrison on 02.18.2014

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week the topic is about bad games based on licenses. From movies, to tv shows, comics, even D&D, they all can fit under this umbrella. For every Arkham game or Chronicles of Riddick, there are 10 other bad games to match. My only criteria for this list was actually on games that I've played. E.T. is god awful, to be sure, but I've never touched it (thankfully). With that being said, let's begin:

8. Ghostbusters

I didn't really hate the Ghostbusters game but it didn't feel magical like it should have. They got all the voice actors sure, but Murray sounded bored by the whole affair. Plus, having Alyssa Milano try and voice a museum curator/anthropologist who is also hot for Venkman, is completely laughable on its premise. Ghostbusters did (and still kind of does) look pretty solid from a design perspective, but it's just not a fun game to play. Constantly getting knocked down when you have no sense of your health, as a million ghost swarm you is no one's idea of fun. It was a noble effort, something every other Ghostbusters game lacked, but it still didn't make it a good game.

7. Jurassic Park

Speaking of "slightly noble failures" we come to Jurassic Park. I can understand Telltale's desire to make a Jurassic Park adventure game, but they made two critical errors. The first was that it was gameplay lifted from Heavy Rain, which wasn't especially great in the first place. Throwing those control systems in a game that requires split-second timing isn't a good idea. The second was basing the entire game around the stupid shaving cream can Nedry had, having the lead character be someone from the movie who was in it for oh, 10 seconds, and lastly by having one of the most unlikable characters (Nima) as another lead. No good Telltale.

6. Lego Batman 2

I feel bad about this one because Liana actually grabbed it for me when I was feeling sick as a get well present. I can usually find something to like in these Lego games, and while this one had some great voice acting and jokes, that was about it. Actually getting around the game was a nightmare since the map system wasn't thought out in the slightest. When you did get to the open world, there were 12 icons on the radar, and the game didn't tell you what any meant, except that the Bat-symbol one was for the next story mission. Vehicle combat was actually worse than normal, finding characters to unlock was annoying, etc. I even had the game glitch out on me (PC version) when I was exploring with Superman and Batman. I was flying with Superman around the city and switched to Batman. Apparently, Batman was following on a leash but was far behind. I warped into a big Green House looking building with a lot of enemies, but nothing else. I checked online and that building was supposed to be the area where you fight Poison Ivy but because I didn't hit an environmental trigger the boss battle would not start. That's where I stopped playing the game. Thankfully the Lego Movie game, and Lego Marvel (in particular) helped wash away some of this game's taint.

5. Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi

I actually borrowed this game from a friend and used it more as an audio CD/soundtrack of Star Wars then actually playing it in my PS1. The game had horrible graphics, no story, a bad fighting system and a deeply unbalanced roster. Basically if you picked Boba Fett (who had a hover move), you were untouchable by almost every other character, except Vader. If you chose Vader, you could break the game entirely, due to his Saber-throw special move that could wreck the other person's life bar, and a lightning attack that could stun the enemy. Also, there is a Tusken Raider named "Hoar" (Whore) in the game, so that's quite special.

4. Captain Planet (NES)

Growing up, I actually was a pretty big fan of the cartoon, and this was at a time when renting video games was the norm. So I dutifully rented the Captain Planet game one weekend and had no idea what was going on it. The game has two parts, the first where you're flying the Geo-Cruiser around in a terrible 2D shooter. It's one hit kill, and you shoot enemies/obstacles with the various Planeteer powers, which you cycle by pressing Select. The other part involves you flying Captain Planet around himself, where he does stuff with the same powers (and still pressing Select to cycle them) in really badly made levels. I don't think I actually ever made it passed the first Geo-Cruiser level, it was just so terrible to play, that I was actually glad to have returned it to the video store.

3. Home Improvement

How does one make a game out of a family friendly sitcom on ABC that involves a tool show, a wizened old neighbor, and the trials & tribulations of three boys growing up in the household? By giving the main character a nail gun and telling you to fight dinosaurs with it! This might actually be one of the most baffling games in existence. Who actually thought it was a good idea? Aside from this ludicrous idea, the platforming is bad, the weapons are dumb (a chainsaw that fires off energy pulses) and bad level design. If they were going to make a game about Home Improvement, at least make it about Al Borland. Al was, is, and will always remain cool.

2. Superman 64

Superman Returns gets a lot of flak for being a terrible game, but that's not entirely true. At least, in broad strokes, it is functional, and flying around was somewhat satisfying. Superman 64 is a mess of a broken game, marred by technical limitations (the Kryptonite fog of doom!), horrendous controls, a flying system where you only flew through rings, and severe limits on your powers. I played this game for about 15 minutes back in the day, before giving up on it, when a mission had me trying to pick up a car, but Superman just wouldn't do it. Given Superman's power set, it may actually be impossible to do a video game built around him, and that's fine. With Superman Returns, they tried and somewhat failed. With Superman 64, they didn't even try.

1. Bebe's Kids

I'm keeping this one short, becase frankly, Bebe's Kids might be one of the worst goddamn video games I've ever played. Thee is nthing redeemable about it. It looks like garbage, the music is repetitive, the game speed is about 40% slower than what it should be, etc. etc. etc. There is an ever present time that counts down to keep you moving, but by the 3rd level you won't want to. It is just awful, and nothing more needs to be said.

The Better Half with Liana K


My 8 Most Irritating Licensed Video Games

This was an interesting list for me, because I don't play a lot of tie-in games. The ones I do play rapidly get blocked from my mind, in a way to protect it from being infected by awful video games. I remember there being a lot of terrible tie-in games at one point, but I've been pretty good at avoiding them once I determined that all licensed games are likely to suck. But then licenses started exploiting my kryptonite: nerd stuff. The problem with nerd stuff being cool right now is that the amount of crap produced as nerd bait is rising. These eight games are ones that fooled me, and therefore I hate them.

8: Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance

I tried so hard to like this game, but without Bioware being involved, the whole thing felt empty and dull. The Forgotten Realms are good because they're cheeky in their treatment of Tolkienesque fantasy, and without the snark, there's absolutely nothing to recommend a game made under that license. Unlike other games on this list, I actually finished Dark Alliance, so by comparison I suppose it wasn't that bad. Still, it's definitely in "this is why we can't have nice things" territory, due to it completely wrecking everything that made the Baldur's Gate franchise good by employing false conceptions of what was required of a PS2 game.

7: Kinect Star Wars

I had high hopes for Kinect Star Wars. The demo where you play as a Rancor was freaking awesome! But the actual game contained... dancing. Dancing! I'm sorry, unless I'm going to be a member of the Max Rebo band, or I'm taking part in an Ewok celebration, dancing is not something I associate with Star Wars. It's not that I'm opposed to dance games. I actually quite like them. But it doesn't work here, and that, combined with the limitations of the original Kinect being on full display in all the jedi stuff, create an experience that makes us feel like, once again, George Lucas was spitting in the faces of his fans. I mean look! Han Solo is popping and locking in this video! I have a bad feeling about this.

Furthermore, as someone who has played Just Dance 3 in a Storm Trooper outfit, I can say with certainty that Storm Troopers cannot move the way they are in this video:

That is just "do not" territory. There isn't even do, never mind try. Can Yoda please smack down whoever decided to put cheezy parody songs in a Star Wars game? Did no one learn from the "Life Day" special with Wookies in the kitchen?!

6: Disney's Stitch: Experiment 626

It's games like this that made me so glad that the house of the mouse created Disney Infinity instead of continuing to put out out crappy games each time a movie comes out. The Experiment 626 game didn't make Stitch nearly enough of a little bastard, and what was an opportunity for some really fantastic, edgy humor for kids ended up being bland, boring, and oddly disturbing whenever Stitch got himself electrocuted. And Jumba just looks scary. Like seriously, what kind of bad drugs is he doing to have pupils that small?!

5: X-Men Destiny

I've never found a Marvel video game I've really enjoyed. My favorite part of the Ultimate Alliance games is the trivia. But the thing that is so very disappointing about X-Men Destiny is that it didn't have to be terrible. It was a solid concept. An extremely good idea. But the game fell prey to overselling the novelty of being based on a comic book. When developers get hung up on medium, they tend to lose track of telling a good story... or creating compelling gameplay... or making polished graphics... or consistently good voice acting... or, you know, any of the things that distinguish a video game from a comic book. People who don't really understand comic books seem to think that bad dialogue and hackneyed stories are an intrinsic part of the medium, and there's some truly horrendous dialogue in X-Men Destiny. Furthermore, The Batman Arkham games worked because they had enough familiar components to be accessible. X-Men Destiny strays so far from what people know that it needed two pre-credit sequences to explain what they were doing with the story.

4: Ghostbusters

The Ghostbusters game was well-reviewed, but it didn't work for me. The great banter that was present in the movies was stilted in the games, and it served mostly as a retread of the Ghostbusters' old glory days. I think Ghostbusters deserves original stories, not just a series of references to the original movies. While Sanctum of Slime was apparently flat out bad, I didn't play it, because I wasn't terribly impressed with the game everyone else thought was good. I'm a big Ghostbusters fan, and I just found the whole thing awkward.

3: Superman Returns

Okay, Superman video games are usually bad, but other superman properties are usually good! Superman Returns was not. The Superman Returns video game somehow managed to be more boring and pointless than the movie, and that's saying a lot. At least the game had the sense to add a superpowered villain with Metallo, but the final boss is... a tornado. A TORNADO! Superman can't punch a frikkin' tornado! I get what Bryan Singer was trying to do, making Lois save Superman, but that's the problem: it was a cynical, pandering device instead of being something that made sense in the particular story he was dealing with. Superman Returns is a classic example of a game that doesn't have a reason to exist other than as promotion of a film that was, itself, a pathetic act of hubris.

2: E.T.: The Extraterrestrial

I don't need to write any more about what's wrong with this game. The reasons it is bad are legendary. But listing it as number one would be too easy, and there's one game that annoys me so much, it's time it got its due.

1: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

I absolutely hate this game! Hate it with the passion of a thousand suns! It's completely impenetrable to those who haven't played the other Kingdom Hearts games, but I have played other Kingdom Hearts games, and I still had no flipping clue what was going on! Kingdom Hearts should be more than "beat up Heartless, lather, rinse, repeat". Its gameplay is brainless, so there should be gorgeous environments and cute moments with your favorite Disney characters to make up for that. Making a KH game for the DS ruined all that. I also found the controls so off-putting that after a while I didn't even like touching the DS while Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was on it. I know the game has its fans, and I'm willing to accept that they see things in it that I don't. But for me, it was a complete waste of the Disney license, and just felt like a stall tactic because it's taken Kingdom Hearts 3 so long to finally come out. Not only is this a bad licensed game, it's a bad franchise game, and I'm tired of Kingdom Hearts getting a pass on loose controls because Disney characters are, admittedly, magical.

Complainer's Corner

There are a ton of games that can be in this list. Most licensed (movie or tv) games are bad, that's the general rule, not the exception. This goes double for most of the shovelware garbage released on the NES, SNES, and Genesis at the time. Trying to cull any of those systems would take a very long time, so I won't. Here's a small list of games that didn't make my big list, but this isn't all inclusive in any way shape or form: Enter the Matrix, Independence Day, Ghostbusters (Old), Street Fighter: The movie, E.T., Batman: Arkham Origins, and Shaq-Fu.

The General Roundup

There were a few decent comments from last week that I'll address, as per usual. I never played Warioware but isn't it just like a mini-game collection? I don't think Beat Hazard is weird at all, just a Geometry Wars style game that uses your music for enemy/weapon placement. Super Glove Ball is more insane than Gyromite to me, due to the Glove controller. Deadly Premonition is a weird game that I just kind of forgot about. The PC version didn't inspire a lot of good will with me, even if they have fixed it by now. Finally, I actually am kind of a "RPG guy", but they have to actually be good RPG's. So, I like series/games like Suikoden, Shin Megami Tensei, Shadow Hearts, Vagrant Story, Mega Man X: Command Mission, Planescape: Torment, etc. About the only Final Fantasy game I've actually liked and beaten multiple times was Crisis Core.

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