The Ten Worst Licensed Video Games

Mike Bell takes us through his selection of the ten worst licensed games, from basketball stars fighting against mummies to stand-ins stranded on a desert island.

Lost: Via Domus

Lost, the massive TV hit starring Matthew Fox and company stranded on a mysterious desert island, was inevitably going to get developers interested in milking a video game out of it. But, fans or otherwise, we can all agree that Lost: Via Domus was a near unplayable abomination. A terrible plot accompanied this action advenutre’s awful visuals; if the camera angles didn’t stop you from seeing where you going, chances were that you were stuck in a rock or to a tree like a limpet. Then there was the terrible voice acting, featuring stand-ins to cover for members of the cast that knew better than to participate in this mess.

Lord of the Rings: Conquest 

Developer Pandemic knew better than anyone the potential of a game advertised as “Star Wars: Battlefront meets Lord of the Rings”, but this action game turned out to be nothing more than a letdown to fans worldwide. Its campaign came in at just under five hours, and was so repetitive that it offered minimal replay value. The multiplayer, the core of a Battlefront-esque game, was laughable, not forgetting deserted just a month after release. The game’s AI offered the funniest flaw, with enemies tending to walk off cliffs like lemmings. Understandable, really.

Guitar Hero: Band Name

Whether you sit on the Guitar Hero or Rock Band side of the fence, there’s no debate about how ridiculous the Guitar Hero spin-offs are. They were just clones of the main versions of the game sprinkled with new character models, some songs by the eponymous bands and a handful of others from other bands apparently related to them (bit embarrassing when placed next to the love and care put into The Beatles: Rock Band – Ed). In short, they should have been released as downloadable content.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 

The game may have been based on Spielberg’s masterpiece, but in truth the only things barely relevant to the movie were some sprites that consisted of but a few pixels. Simply put, the game amounted to little more than Pac-Man with E.T. sprites. Still, that didn’t stop millions of gamers playing it in the 80s.

Beowulf: The Game 

The movie, an adaption itself of Robort Zemeckis poem of the same name, garnered an interest amongst critics and the public alike thanks to its superb CGI animation, but of course with any movie comes a terrible video game. Beowulf definitely lived up to expectations, with incredibly rough combat for a hack-and-slash game, useless camera angles and a plot that took players away from important events through a tirade of useless, monotonous tasks.

Superman 64

There was definitely nothing super about the Nintendo 64 spin-off of Superman and its monotonous gameplay mixed with a bunch of unresponsive flying controls. If you were lucky enough to never have played this game, here’s a summary: you fly through a garish, devastatingly blocky city avoiding "kryptonite fog" and hoping you weren’t caught in one of the games many bugs. Yes. That’s it. It’s unsurprising, then, that this game won the title of "The Worst Superhero Game of all Time" in the Guinness Book of World Records Gamer’s Edition.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I know what you’re thinking: it’s a Disney movie: expect a Disney game. Except Disney studios are now a successful part of the gaming industry, having produced great titles like off-road racer Pure and movie tie-in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow. However, when given the task of producing Prince Caspian, they choose to put out a hack-and-slash game with an awful character selection system, a nonsensical narrative, and level design so dull to make you wish you were still playing E.T. One of the very worst.

Ghostbusters (NES)

When you need a Ghostbusters video game made, who you gonna call? Not Activision! The Ghostbusters NES titles brought shame on the franchise. They were made in an incredibly short amount of time and used engines from other games that had already been released or were in-development like Cars Wars. The developers didn’t even take the time to proofread this famous atrocity found upon completing the first game, the product of it being ported for American audiences by a Japanese developer: "Conglaturation !!! You have completed a great game. And prooved the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes !"

Batman: Dark Tomorrow

Following on from the previous entry, it seems you can’t be a superhero without having an awful video game made about you. Batman suffered from this fact of life in the 2003 title Batman: Dark Tomorrow. The game was befouled by disastrous camera angles, tedious, recurring mission structures, and a plot line that failed to capture any of the license’s complexity. When the only positive thing to say about a game is that the cut scenes were enjoy- make that slightly enjoyable, then you know you’re in trouble.

Shaq Fu

If you were lucky enough to miss this game then here’s a quick summary: professional basketball star Shaquille O’Neil is heading to a charity basketball game. However, along his journey he ‘accidentally’ stumbles into a kung-fu dojo (as you do) from which he then ends up in another dimension where he has to save a young boy by the name of Nezu – and I thought my job was hard. If you managed to tolerate this brawler’s nonsensical storyline then you had to suffer the injustice of not receiving credit for punches you made and being swarmed by hoards of evil mummy-men. The moral, of course, is to never attend a charity sports game. Ever. 

Author: Mike Bell