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special >> that's so awful

written by Shaun McCracken

One of the easiest ways to make money is to create a game off of a license; be it a movie tie-in, a TV show, a comic book, or something based on a character or celebrity. Sometimes, these games are pretty good. Take a look at GoldenEye 007, Spider-Man 2, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and X-Men Legends. Even though these games are meant to sell with a product, they still manage to be good. But in the gaming industry, when it comes to games based upon licenses, you tend to get more bad than good, sometimes even downright awful. That's where we come in! This is the countdown of the 23 (just an arbitrary number) worst games based upon licenses. These are games that were either rushed for a film or holiday, strayed far from the resource material, or just plain ass-sucked through sloppy development. Pull your tray in the upright position, because we're about to dive in to the pile of licensed shame, and this trip doesn't take American Express.

23 - The Simpsons: Road Rage (CUBE, PS2, XBOX)

Many licensed games are just half-hearted attempts to rip-off a popular game franchise, and games based around The Simpsons™ property really seem to run this philosophy into the ground. While there was critical success from Hit And Run, which was a Grand Theft Auto clone, the same can't be said for Road Rage. Road Rage came out a year after Sega's Crazy Taxi hit the Dreamcast, and while it tries to resemble Taxi's design, it's far from enjoyable when you actually play it. It's basically picking up people and dropping them off, with no bonuses for special manuvers or speed. If you try to clone your game off of a successful game's design, at least do it all the way.

22 - American Idol (PS2, XBOX)

FOX's "karaoke-reality-Ford And Coca Cola Infomercial" show is one of the most successful and most watched television programs within the last few years. So it's inevitable that something this popular would get it's own videogame, and it did. But to quote Simon Cowell, this game is "absolutely appauling", in the fact that you DON'T sing at all. Konami has managed to create a series of singing games in the form of the Karaoke Revolution franchise, so why are we given a game based upon a singing competition show that doesn't allow you to sing, but rather press a sequence of buttons? If you wanted to play a music game where you press buttons, for god sakes, play the superior Amplitude rather than this cash-in. McCracken OUT! .

21 - Street Fighter: The Movie (SAT, PS1)

This is a little unusual, because this is a game based upon a movie, that's based upon a game. You really have to wonder why they even botherd to create this game, because wouldn't a game version of this movie be ALL THE PREVIOUS GAMES CAPCOM CREATED BEFORE THE FILM? It's an uneccesary and inferior cash-in of the movie, even if you can manipulate a digitized Kylie Minouge in a tight Cammy outfit.

20 - Catwoman (CUBE, PS2, XBOX)

I'll admit it, I really didn't think the movie was all that bad. Sure, it's not as great as SpiderMan or the X-Men films, but Catwoman has a camp-like quality that's kind of fun to watch. As for the game, it's not as fun as the movie. While EA's game wasn't truly awful, it really wasn't that much fun. The beginning stage is difficult to negotiate, because half of the environments have a pre-rendered-like camera set that doesn't let you see all the action. The closest game Catwoman attempts to rip-off is the Prince Of Persia franchise by UbiSoft, and like I've said before, the rip-off is half-assed. The Catwoman character can be a good basis for a game, but someone needs to develop something other than a movie tie-in.

19 - Blade II (PS2, XBOX)

Another character that you would think would have a good game based around it is Blade, but alas, once again, we're given a mediocre product because it's a movie tie-in. The action is repetitive, the environments lack variation, and the attack system is flawed. Aside from the game's own problems, Blade II never really feels like you're playing moments from the film. This game sucks, and not in a good way.

18 - Tomorrow Never Dies (PS1)

I think almost everybody agrees that Tomorrow Never Dies is the worst 007 game published by EA. Two years after GoldenEye for the N64 was released, Tomorrow Never Dies failed misersably to meet the expectations fans of the previous 007 game. I can't understand why this game turned out so bad, either. It was released two years after the film was released (although is was released close to the film opening of "The World Is Not Enough" in 1999), so there shouldn't have been the typical rush that other movie tie-ins see. But, it was a stinker. The perspective changed from first to third-person (which only worked well in Everything Or Nothing), the stages were bland, the game was ugly, there was a lack of multiplayer support, and it was short. Hopefully we'll never see the 007 license get this bad again, although it's now in Activision's hands now...

17 - Home Improvement (SNES)

Here's another game that the public really wasn't clamouring for. Released by the now-defunct Absolute Entertainment, Home Improvment is and embarassingly dumb platform game based upon the sitcom starring Tim Allen. Home Improvement, the game, really doesn't have much in common with the episodes of Home Improvement, the show. It's an uneccesary cash-in on the show's popularity, and I bet anyone who bought this game were pretty pissed. The game is a platformer that somewhat feels like Sonic The Hedgehog (at least when bolts come spewing out of Tim when he hits an enemy), but it's really not fun. The goal is to find parts of a Binford tool with Tim's name on it, and you have to slog your way through themed studio sets to find them. There are more offenses here than in Tim Allen's criminal record.

16 - Die Hard Trilogy (SAT, PS1)

The Die Hard trilogy of films are a solid set of action thrillers, but combining all three films into game form was a terrible idea. Die Hard Trilogy, the game, really comes off as three different minigames: a crappy third person shooter (Die Hard), a crappy light gun game (Die Hard 2), and a crappy driving game (Die Hard With A Vengance). Not one of the three games are executed well. Die Hard has slow controls and a terrible camera, Die Hard 2 is just not fun or interesting to play, and Die Hard With A Vengance suffers from some sloppy controls and collision problems. You would think that at least one of the three games here could be redeeming of the trilogy, but it didn't. Somehow, this game sort of has a small fan base, but I think it's just utter crap.

15 - Charlie's Angels (CUBE)

I wanted to hope that a game based upon Charlies Angels would be decent. Seriously, I think a game based upon the series could be good. Alas, the only known game based upon the license is a pretty bad one. While the game uses the likeness and characters based upon the two films starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore, the game really has nothing to do with the movies. It's given a very stupid plot (someone is stealing monuments? how?), it's stripped down to a basic beat-em-up style of game, and it's not that great-looking, either. Apparently it only made it onto the Gamecube in the U.S. (it may be on the PS2 in other countries), and it flopped big time. This is kind of a rare miss for UbiSoft, because this generation they've released some solid games including Splinter Cell, Beyond Good And Evil and Prince Of Persia.

14 - Home Alone (NES)

The huge holiday hit of 1990 recieved a very bad game based upon it. I can't see how fun running around a house from burglars can be, but the developers really didn't try here. This game is about as fun as being shot in the testicles with a BB-gun from Macaully Culkin, while having to watch the terrible thrid and fourth itterations of the film series.

13 - Austin Powers : Welcome To My Underground Lair (GBC)

One of the very few games based upon New Line Cinema's comedy franchise, Underground Lair really isn't much of a game, but more of a jumbled PDA that cashes in on the film's name. It's a pointless release, and I can't undertand why no developer has created a game that's similar to the likes of No One Lives Forever using the Austin Powers license. No, I guess the only games you game make for it are broken PDAs, pinball and trivia. Underground Lair is the Diet Coke of crappy, "just one calorie", not crappy enough

12 - Bad Boys: Miami Takedown (CUBE, PS2, XBOX)

Considered to be one fo the worst games to be relased across all platforms in 2004, Bad Boys: Miami Takedown is based upon the characters of the film in a very bad action game. While this is another property that could possibly have a decent game built around it, leave it up to lazy and cheap development to deliver something really bad. I know this is a budget title, but would it really hurt to try to make an entertaining game ?

11 - Last Action Hero (SNES)

Do you like one-sided unfair gameplay? Then do I have the game for you! Last Action Hero is a terrible adaptation of a decent action-comedy, that almost felt like a dare by the developers to see if you could even pass the first stage. Your abillites are basically punch, jump and kick. Why the hell you're not afforded the abillity to block is beyond me, because that would have made the game so much easier to play. Also, how can Arnold Schwarzenegger fall victim to a bat-wielding asshole? HE'S ARNOLD F**KING SCHWARZENEGGER, he should be able to take down anyone. That's how they showed him in the film, but in the game he's almost defenseless. Like Steven Spielberg, games based upon things Schwarzenegger seem to be pretty bad.

10 - Friday The 13th (NES)

Who in the right mind thought that the Friday The 13th film franchise would be a good basis for a videogame. IT ISN'T! The survial horror genre hasn't even been concieved when this game came out, and could you really pull one off on the NES? Like Total Recall, this is another R-rated film that has made it's way onto a console that was skewed towards a younger demographic, so you have to wonder who had the foresight to create this game to begin with. This one can go to hell along with Jason.

9 - South Park (N64, PS1)

Could you honestly expect a good game based upon the South Park franchise? While the show has gotten better and funnier within each season, the games that have been based upon the franchise have "sucked balls". South Park was based upon the Turok engine by Iguana and Acclaim, but where the Turok games were fairly good in terms of gameplay, the opposite can be said for South Park. The first few stages of the game consist of nothing more than throwing dodgeballs at turkeys from point-A to point-B. Gee, how fun. As Cartman would say, "screw you guys, I'm going home". Hey, do you think if we kill this game, it will crap it's pants?

8 - South Park : Chef's Luv Shack (N64, DC, PS1)

Right to another South Park title, this one basically rips off the beloved You Don't Know Jack franchise. Sure, you think it would be a bit tough to screw up a trivia game, but those masterminds at Acclaim managed to do it. The questions repeat often (although if you answer wrong, the right answer is never revealed), the writing never reaches the bitting wit of the Jack series, and the presentation is seriously flawed and boring. It's definitley worse than the first person "shooter" that was released months prior, but that isn't saying much. Acclaim really didn't know jack when it came to trivia.

7 - Aquaman : Fight For Atlantis (CUBE, XBOX)

Deep in the ocean, no-one can hear you scream. Also, no-one will know this game exists. A craptacular game based upon a license no-one asked for, Aquaman is a mundane boring pile of drivel that does nothing interesting or special. It's funny that this game was even made to begin with, because it's not like people were looking for a game based upon the Aquaman franchise. Don't ask, don't sell.

6 - The Simpsons : Skateboarding (PS2)

Most of the games based upon The Simpsons property are less than great. Then you have this one, which is truly terrible. Once again, trying to rip-off a franchise, this time it's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, The Simpsons Skateboarding is another half-assed (word of the day, I guess) game that plays like crap, and looks like crap, too. I guess it's hard to come up with an original concept when you have a license to work with, because the majority of games seem to be clones and rip-offs of other popular games. This one just happens to be one of the worst.

5 - Superman 64 (N64)

Superman 64 was a black eye for the comic book franchise, and it's puzzling to see why this game turned out so bad (although I think Titus having something to do with this is one clue). There was no film created and the game was released in the spring season, so really, there was never a time crunch. I guess then it had to be the developers, who did a half-assed attempt at bringing the comic book character into a boring, uneccessary adventure on the N64. Atari had a little luck in trying to revive the franchise in 2003 with a game that recieved an okay reception, but there's always that bad taste of crap in your mouth because of this bomb.

4 - Back To The Future (NES)

I love the Back To The Future trilogy. I consider it to be the best film trilogy of all time. But the very first game based upon the film that appeared on the NES is truly awful. I want to get into the DeLorean and go back to when they started developing this game, so I can kick each person who worked on the game in the balls. Hey buttheads, what you created here really isn't a game, but rather a something that's on autopilot that lacks a point. Is it possible that the only decent game to come from the work of Steven Spielberg is Jurassic Park for the SNES (even of which has it's critics)? Doc Brown did say we would "see some serious shit", and did we ever.

3 - Where's Waldo (NES)

There's a little special place in hell for Where's Waldo on the NES. At a time when THQ released horrible licensed-based games in the late 80's to early 90's, Where's Waldo stands as one of their worst. The game was ugly, and lacked the color depth of the books due to the NES's archtecture. But honestly, that's not the worst of it. The game is extremely boring and stupid, where you basically move a cursor around and press the A-button where you think Waldo is. And it goes on like this untill you launch his smiling ass to the moon. This was just a stupid idea, and once again, a cash-in on something popular at the time. I don't know where Waldo is, but I bet it doesn't smell to good.

2 - Total Recall (NES)

Considered to be one of the worst videogames of all time, Total Recall for the NES really takes the cake when it comes to licensed crap. Now don't get me wrong, if under the right developer in todays gaming industry, Total Recall could be a decent game. But who in the right mind thought of basing a game off of an R-rated film on a system that was primairly played by children (remember that in the NES era, there really wasn't a market for mature games)? Not only was this a stupid idea, but a badly executed one as well. The game really didn't resemble the film, and it played terribly. This is a game that had a serious lack of thought and execution, but of course, this is a game that came from Acclaim, and we know what happened to them 13 years later (to their credit, they had a good run on the N64, and some good releases in this current generation). More craft and care went into that paper mache third boob from the movie than the developers put into this game.

1 - E.T. (ATARI 2600)

Oh how we all remember how this one went down. E.T. has all the trappings of a crappy licensed game: it had a short development cycle (6 months), it was irrelevent to the source material (although that's tough to do on the Atari 2600), it was rushed for the holiday season, it's gameplay was terrible and it wasn't fun to play. But E.T. is "public loafer # 1" on this list for the fact that Atari actually manufactured more E.T. cartridges than consoles that were in households. What idiot thought of that brainchild? As you can imagine, the game sold terribly, and Atari was left with a ridiculous surplus of E.T. cartridges. What do you do with them? Bury them in a New Mexico desert where nobody will ever speak of them again. But Atari couldn't wash their hands from this disaster. E.T. was the beginning of what would lead to the videogame crash of 1983, and left Atari in a position where they could never recover themselves from (although if they had distrubted the NES for Nintendo instead of throwing a hissy-fit, perhaps things could have been different).

Oh snap, the list is over! Well, I hope you enjoyed our little rendezvous into the pile of crappy licensed entertainment. I know I probably missed a few games, and there will be even more crappy licensed products in the future. Hey, that's what sequels are for! We'll get back up and do this whole thing over again, because you never know if the upcoming Family Guy game will be "freakin' sweet", or play exactally how Christina Aguilera smells.