Throughout my early gaming days, anything made from a movie, comic book, or otherwise popular franchise outside of gaming was usually a recipe for disaster. However, there has been a recent upswing in quality with titles made with intellectual licenses. Sure, its still not perfect, but licensed games are getting better.
Once again, there has always been a stigma surrounding licensed games, with many companies only taking on these projects to make some easy cash between their own major releases. When a good movie title came along though, it was often celebrated. Examples are Spider-Man 2 on PS2/Gamecube/Xbox and Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay on Xbox/PC. Somewhere in the past couple console generations though, something shifted. Players started loving the emotional stories of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. Batman: Arkham Asylum broke records across the board, solidifying it not only as a great Batman game, but a great game overall. Alien: Isolation scared the pants off of players with its unique approach to the alien’s behavior. This is just to name a few!
Sure, there were some stand out hits back in the day, like Ducktales on the NES, but it seems like now developers are getting to put more time and effort into these intellectual properties. This is not only exciting because we’re getting great games, but also because fans can enjoy what they love in a powerful new way.
Of course with E3 being the major topic in the gaming world at the moment, I have to point out some excellent examples of licensed games that look to have a ton of potential. While these titles could still vary upon release, I feel like these are games that will continue the trend of really taking that license and making something special.
Spider-Man, Insomniac Games (PS4)
Insomniac has always been one of my favorite studios. I spent many years going through the original Spyro trilogy and I continuously revisit the kooky worlds of Ratchet and Clank. When I heard that they were making a Spider-Man game, I was blown away by the mere concept. Judging by the E3 gameplay reveal, it looks like Insomniac nailed Spider-Man‘s movements and combat, focusing more on nimble movements and multiple options to take down the bad dudes. This could be the best Spider-Man game ever conceived and I have the highest hope that it will become just that.
Check out our news on Spider-Man from the E3 floor.
Dragon Ball FighterZ, Arc System Works (PS4, XB1, PC)
I have played almost every Dragon Ball Z game released ever, even some of the older attempts on the PS1 and Super Famicom. As a child I was enamored with the act of ever becoming stronger when facing impossible odds. Goku was a character I looked up to and every time he succeeded, I cheered. As an adult, I’m still a huge of fan of Dragon Ball Z, even though it feels more ridiculous looking back on it. With Dragon Ball Super rekindling my passion for the series though, my heart leaped when I heard that Arc System Works were working on a new DBZ game. The reveal trailer didn’t disappoint, featuring a gorgeous art direction and what looks like incredibly fast action. This could be the first truly competitive Dragon Ball Z game and I couldn’t be more excited.
Check out our news announcement for more Dragon Ball FighterZ action!
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)
When hearing about this concept as a rumor, I laughed and called it the dumbest idea in game design. I’ll be damned if Kingdom Battle doesn’t look fun though! Showed off during Ubisoft’s press event and then more so during the Nintendo Treehouse, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle actually blends the worlds of Mario with the humor of the Rabbids better than I could have imagined. Wrapped inside a clever looking tactical RPG, Kingdom Battle could be a must have title on the Nintendo Switch. I never would have thought Ubisoft of making a Nintendo game and being excited for it before this game; color me impressed.
Star Wars Battlefront II
While the first attempt at bringing back the beloved Battlefront series was lackluster at best, it looks like EA is stepping up their game for the sequel. Battlefront II looks to retain the amazing visuals, while also taking the gameplay up to a whole new level. Star Wars has some of the most potential than almost any other license and acquiring it is a huge deal. This is why poor attempts and cash outs are so frustrating. Hopefully, Battlefront II can prove that there is more value in quality than quantity.
Check out more Battlefront II coverage here.
All four of these games look to be doing amazing things with their respective license acquisitions. In a world where we see the AAA game industry as often more of a business than a creative outlet, these projects are refreshing to see. Hopefully, these titles will see success both financially and critically to further bring the point home that these intellectual properties deserve as much time and energy as anything else.
What are some of your favorite licensed games? Comment below or find us on the Marooners’ Rock Facebook page.