Over the years, and numerous generations, the licensed video game – based on an existing intellectual property – has become synonymous with a sub-par experience. But, today, we celebrate the exceptions to the rule and give you the 5 best licensed video games we’ve seen thus far…
5 – The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Before the Protoype series, Radical Entertainment made their name in the licensed video game space – working on titles like Scarface: The World Is Yours, The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and a little gem called The Simpsons: Hit & Run.
A third-person, semi-sandbox title, The Simpsons: Hit & Run felt like a modest interpretation of what Grand Theft Auto: Springfield would be. Across the game’s 7 levels, players could take charge of all their favourite Simpsons characters – from Homer to Apu – in primarily driving focused missions.
Though missions were repetitive and principally fetch-based, tight driving controls and tonnes of charm made Hit & Run an absolute must have for fans of the show. There were so many little touches, easter eggs and unlockables that made The Simpsons: Hit & Run a lesson in licensed games done the right way.
4 – Disney’s Aladdin
Back in my day (he says in best old man voice), licensed video games didn’t come fitted with the stigma that they have now and made for a number of very good platformers – and Disney’s Aladdin was one of the very best.
Developed by Virgin Games, in collaboration with then powerhouse Sega, Aladdin top-loaded into Mega Drive’s in late 1993 – eventually coming to SNES a year later. Players took control of the titular street urchin, running and jumping through the streets and rooftops of Agrabah, the Cave of Wonders and more before a final showdown with Jafar in the Grand Vizier’s palace.
Great controls, a pretty art-style and awesome music inspired by the movie (Bah-dah-dah!) saw Disney’s Aladdin awarded Best Genesis Game of 1993 by Electronic Gaming Monthly – and for good reason, too.
3 – Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man has had a fairer shake than most pre-existing characters when making the jump (or swing) into video games, with some decent ventures on PlayStation. But it wasn’t until 2004, when the movie tie-in Spider-Man 2 landed on PS2, Xbox and Gamecube, that the webhead realised his full, digital potential.
Brought to gamers by Treyarch, Spider-Man 2 unleashed gamers on an unsuspecting open-world New York city with innovative (and totally thrilling) three-dimensional webslinging and plenty to do. Climbing to the peak of the Empire State Building before leaping off was a particular highlight.
Side quests were shallow (damn kids couldn’t keep a hold of their balloons) and the combat was a bit ham-fisted but swinging around the Big Apple saving the day made you feel like a real superhero, in a real city.