11th Jan, 2008
Games based on licensed IPs are the unpleasant body odour of gaming. No-one really likes them, but they're inexorably tied to the medium and just keep coming back no matter what we do to get rid of them. As crap as most of these games are though, the licenses they're based on usually make sense. Big movies, popular, action-packed TV shows and successful sports stars are all perfect subjects to stick on a box in order to persuade the unsuspecting buyer to pick it up. It's a system that works, and many a piece of digital yak poop has topped the charts as a result.
Every so often though, the licensing guys just seem to lose the plot. In amongst the sensible tie-ins, we've seen more than a few that have loudly set off our WTF alarm over the years. Some are based on unpopular or out of date IPs, some are obscure to the point of the surreal, and others are classic cases of a publisher buying the license to a big name property without ever giving a second's thought to whether the material would translate to videogame in any sane or logical way. Over the next nine pages you'll find some of our favourite examples from the land of the unmarketable, so click on and prepare to raise those eyebrows.
Smarties: Meltdown | PS2 | Europress | 2006
“Hey guys, I’ve got an awesome idea for a new platformer! I just wish I could think of a way to make sure that it sells. It’s going to be such a good game that it deserves to be seen by everyone, and I’d hate for a single person to miss out. *sigh*”
“How about a license?”
“Golly! What an idea! Right, now which character can we affliliate it with so that people just need to play it? We need the right combination of cool looks, slick abilities, audience wish-fulfillment and big name branding. Any ideas guys? Guys?”
“How about Smarties. You know. The small pieces of sugar-coated chocolate that are only known in Europe. They’re super cool. Everyone wants to be a Smartie.”
“I WANT TO BE A SMARTIE!”
“Put the knife down Geoff…”
But not only did no-one but resident crack-fiend Geoff want to be a Smartie, it wasn’t actually a good game at all. In fact it was shit. Very shit. OPS2 Magazine 1/10 shit.
When your main selling points are a centimetre-tall lump of chocolate as a hero and the voice-acting talents of Dave Benson Phillips, just cancel the whole project, kill yourself and spare your family the shame. Useful tip for life there kids.