When it comes to licensing, it has proven that it can be both a gift and a curse. There are plenty of terrific licensed adaptations of movies, TV shows and toys that have been great, as evidenced most recently by LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. However, it isn’t always fun. Sometimes, in the rush to find new ways to market certain properties, the idea of faithfulness to the original material or even an adherence to quality tends to take a back seat. Here are four times that licensed video games offered some interesting, and perhaps even cautionary, tales.
Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit
That’s right, they made a video game based on the 1990s sitcom that launched Tim Allen into the spotlight while also making Jonathan Taylor Thomas a household name. Insert confused Tim Allen grunt in here. The ’90s were a weird time and just about everything and anything received a video game version, but this one takes the cake. Tim “The Toolman” Taylor is sent on a mission to find his lost tools. OK, that sounds fine. However, PC Mag reminds us that, along the way, he was forced to deal with a host of bad guys that included dinosaurs and mummies. We don’t remember any of this happening in the TV show.
Now, don’t get us wrong, the idea of making a game based on Roman gladiatorial battles is not necessarily a bad idea. There are actually plenty of great, combat-based games about gladiators out there like Ryse: Son of Rome. However, one developer went for the gold and adapted Ridley Scott’s Academy Award-winning epic into a slot-based casual title for the online platform on Gala Casino, complete with many of the characters from the movie. Gamers can gamble with the lives of some of the greatest luminaries of Rome including Maximus, Lucilla, and Senator Gracchus. The thing with this one, though, is that it’s accurate and plays well for what it is. Really, we just never thought Gladiator would be used this way!
Remember this one? If you do then you probably had an awesome childhood. Basically, it’s what happens when the game-engine from iconic FPS Doom is used for a surprisingly non-violent shooter that replaces much of the game with Chex cereal-themed branding. You shoot slimed-themed aliens with a teleporter (so there’s no actual killing) and you protect yourself with armor designed to look like Chex. The thing is, the game actually plays well thanks to the time-tested Doom engine and The Mary Sue let us know that you can actually find the game and play online for free. The title was previously only available on CD in specially marked boxes of Chex cereal.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the ’90s were really weird. The branding and mascot craze was unleashed and every product was trying to corner the youth market through video games. That even went for “the Uncola” itself, 7 Up. That’s right, the crisp and refreshing lemon-lime beverage had a game made for the red spot that adorns its packaging. Only, this spot has attitude, as noted by his dark sunglasses and hi-top sneakers. The game is a standard 16-bit platformer in which you run and jump your way across the beach, trying your best to avoid hermit crabs and other enemies. It’s not all bad, though, and Paste Magazine placed the game at No. 2 in its list of “The Best Video Game Beaches.”
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Nerd Stash. An avid gamer since I could walk and can be found in Ashland, KY, where he hopes to find inspiration and uniqueness in life by meeting awesome people, development friendships with companies, and become more nerdy.