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Five Gaming Licenses that Missed the Mark

Total Recall NES

Licensing is a staple of gaming. It has been since the Atari 2600 days. Licensing is going nowhere as companies realize they can halfheartedly work on a game, slap a license on it, and expect to at least make back their investment if not a tidy profit to boot. I have collected five licensed games here that completely missed the mark in some way. As a bonus, I mention what they should have gone with for each license.


Let’s start the festivities with Shaq-Fu (Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis). What gamers got when they unexpectedly brought this one home was a fighting game, of all things, starring a basketball player. Now, when I think of Shaquille O’Neal I certainly do not think of a fighting game with him whipping out jumping kicks and attempting stereotypical “ninja” moves.

Honestly, from the get go someone should have stepped up and said “no” to a fighting game starring Shaq. I understand that fighting games were huge at the time (have they cooled yet?) but come on, this is like that WCW Twisted Metal style game that never got past the “farming out to a developer stage”.

Where they went wrong:
I know it is not ideal but Shaq should have stayed in basketball. It is what he is known for, knows well, and his name carries brevity there. Why this license was not used on a basketball game is beyond me.

Keep it simple people.

Next is M&M’s Kart Racing for the Nintendo Wii. This is not the weirdest gaming license I can point at, that honor rests with the California Raisins. M&M’s Kart Racing contains so much “why!?!?” that it makes my head hurt. First, this is a kart racing game starring non-descriptive colored candies. I am not even kidding. The only redeeming quality this release has is that you might be able to use the case for a better game.

Racing around tracks that are full of full stop obstacles just is not fun. Even Wipeout offered something besides frustration, though hitting that wall and coming to a full stop SUCKED. I cannot even pretend that M&M’s Kart Racing is even worth it for fans of the candy – just buy the candy if you like it that much.

Where they went wrong:

Honestly, I see M&M’s candy and I think Bejeweled match three puzzle game. It just fits. From the colored candies to their shape, it all screams match three puzzle game if you are going to waste money licensing the product.

Girl gamers are often forgotten about when games are developed, only getting remembered when it is time to license the latest Disney property. That is what happened with Disney Princess for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance. Fans were handed a 2D side scrolling action platform game starring various Disney princesses as they fend off some rather interesting choices for enemies (can anyone pinpoint the movie placement of the evil tree?).

Now, when I think of Disney movies I think of drama, love, dread, danger, recovery and triumph among other things. I don’t necessarily think of evil trees attacking the princess and having to collect coins within levels. I mean, if you are going to license a set of Disney characters then at least do something interesting with them.

Where they went wrong:

Well, thinking of the ideals of a Disney movie brings memories of playing adventure games like Shadowgate, UnInvited, and Déjà Vu on the Nintendo Entertainment System. This engine would allow for the games to expand on the ideals of overcoming evil, using your noggin to beat obstacles, and living happily ever after.

Continuing the love for the Shadowgate engine with Total Recall. I was one of the unfortunate fans that grabbed this game at release. Man, that was a sucky $44.95 that left my young wallet that day, I tell you what. The Total Recall movie was action, drama, mind screwing, and fun. The game, not so much. Basically, EVERYTHING from the movie was missing from the game (I don’t remember Arnold wandering around sewer looking areas for instance). Arnold holds the distinct honor of being a two-time holder of crap licensed games for the NES as there is a crappy Terminator game too. Total Recall was an action game minus any of the adventure of the movie, not worth your time. At all.

Where they went wrong:

Like I said, I am giving this entry to the Shadowgate engine too. This is the only way I can think of that would allow the developers to properly tie-in the adventure and story elements from the movie. The adventure engine would allow for a lot of the mind screwing moments to be implemented as well. Ah, how much better Total Recall could have been if only they used the right engine.

Grab Total Recall on eBay or Amazon.

WWE Crush Hour by THQ is a missed opportunity in, just slightly, expanding a popular license. For some reason this game was a Twisted Metal game with a WWE license slapped on it. I mean, um, yeah, I guess. I mean, WCW did a monster trucks bout between Giant (now Big Show) and Hulk Hogan on top of a Vegas casino or something at a pay per view once. That is close, right? If you fancied driving a car around driven by wrestlers and doing your best to violently end your opponent’s then well, this is your only option.

Where they went wrong:

Come on, this is a wrestling license. What do wrestlers do? They fight. THQ should have found someone with a good Final Fight style engine and then slapped the WWE license on that. Basically, fix the idea of EA’s WCW Backstage Brawl B.S. game. As far as I know, no one has released a brawler starring wrestlers, I could easily be wrong here so please let me know in the comments.

There you go, five licensed games that got things wrong and how they could have fixed them. Got one I missed? Let me hear it.

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Carl Williams

It is time gaming journalism takes its rightful place as proper sources and not fanboys giving free advertising. If you wish to support writers like Carl please use the links below. https://www.paypal.me/WCW

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