My History With Licensed Games and Why I Grew Up Loving Them

I played a lot of games when I was growing up, and a lot them were licensed games. And to be honest, I was quite fond of most of them, even the sucky ones.

Licensed games are surely an interesting breed of video games, taking a established cartoon, tv show, or any other form of entertainment and making it into a video game. Most of the times it doesn’t work out and the finished product is a steaming pile of turd. But nonetheless, there were quite a few I enjoyed growing up.

I grew up with the good ol’ Playstation 1 and 2, so of course there would’ve been a lot of licensed games to go around on the systems because they were everywhere, in millions of homes across the world. Publishers such as Activision thought this would be the greatest way to make money.

There were Spiderman games, Spongebob games, and tons and tons of Lego games. And I loved almost all of them. Even thinking about the Spiderman games and especially Spongebob: The Battle For Bikini Bottom bring back heartfelt memories that make me feel good.

I remember playing Spider-Man 1, 2, and 3 all the time, especially 2. I loved Spider-Man and I loved the movies, and I loved video games, so it was a win-win-win for me. I remember in Spider-Man 2 beating the shit out of Rhino and soaring through New York City delivering pizza to people that don’t deserve Spider-Man flying through the sky on a time limit delivering them pizza. The Spider-Man games were fun and I would just sit there for hours playing with my cousin getting past one really tough mission or trying to beat this one crummy boss that had too much health and overpowered moves, and I enjoyed every minute of playing those games.

I remember being four years old and loving everything about The Hulk for some reason. I had a Hulk Comforter, Hulk pillows, Hulk action figures, and of course, Hulk games. I played Hulk, and The Incredible Hulk. Hulk was fairly difficult and I could never get past one part of the game, but The Incredible Hulk was awesome! Tearing down buildings and fighting giant robots as a huge green guy, it all brings back good memories.

One of my favorite cartoons when I was younger was Spongebob Squarepants, so of course I had to have Spongebob video games. I remember having both Spongebob Squarepants: Battle For Bikini Bottom and Spongebob Squarepants: The Movie, which were both great in my eyes, although I preferred Battle For Bikini Bottom. They were both fun games that really captured the essence of Spongebob Squarepants; mindless stupidity. That’s certainly not a bad thing, because that’s why I loved the cartoon and why I enjoyed the games. I didn’t have too think to much, and as a huge RPG player (even then, when I couldn’t read) thinking was my forte, so it was cool to just shut off my brain and play a Spongebob game with the facial expression of Patrick’s “doy” across my face.

Anybody still remember Neopets? Anybody actually still play Neopets? I don’t, but I remember when I did, and I had fun. Now this is stretching a bit, but Neopets is an online flash game, not a console game or even a directly a PC game. But there was a PS2 RPG game back in the day that took place in the world of Neopets, called Neopets: The Darkest Faerie. It is actually a really good game that is extremely underrated. You have really nice 3D graphics, an enjoyable story, a good progression system, and it was an open-world title. I don’t remember too much about the game, except that starting the game out as a farmer boy, and then becoming a Squire, and then becoming a Knight enthralled me. That and it had an arena where you fight progressively harder enemies and earn money and experience. I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved an arena in an RPG. If you have some money, and a ps2, I would honestly recommend giving this game a go.

Nowadays, licensed games are usually regarded as crap and whenever a licensed game is mentioned you’ll most likely hear someone else or yourself saying “It’s probably garbage.” But in all honestly, some of these licensed games that I’ve mentioned are some of my favorite games, and I enjoyed playing them as a kid. Now we have games such as The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us that drive artistic creativity in the industry and licensed games just simply don’t anymore. And It kind of saddens me, because games like Battle For Bikini Bottom and The Darkest Faerie were quite original in their concept and they were both great games in their own right. Although the Batman Arkham series is great, there aren’t many other licensed properties that are translated well into games any more, like the newer Amazing Spider-Man games. I’m just hoping that someday, licensed games will rise up and become awesome again, and that I’ll soon be able to play a game made from one of my favorite cartoons.

 Kyle Inman is a writer for The Game Bolt, he loves RPGs and all video games alike, unless they’re trash, in which he shames them and moves on with his life. You can check him out at Twitter where he rambles about video games and geeky things.

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