Why do licensed kiddie games suck?

Pixar and its insta-classicssell the games, and THQ just makes them - that's no surprise. It's the same case for most developers and publishers of licensed games.We know that many consumers make game purchases based solely on the franchise a game is based on. According to Lyle, however,that fact isn't agood reasonfor game designlaziness, and ideally, development teams should be driven to celebrate theproperties they've been given to work with.

Above: Ratatouille was a great film, and it appealed to both kids and adults. The game appealed to kids, and wassort ofOK

But there's still a discrepancy. These licensed kid's games sell well, their developers insist that they're passionate about faithfully and skillfully recreating the experience of the movie, but we, as discerning adult gamers,still find very few of them worthy of words like "good" or even "decent." Maybe we're the problem...

…Every article that starts off with ‘I usually hate kid’s games’ or ‘I’m the guy who reviews Madden or Halo but I got stuck with this Pixar title,’ I mean, shame on the editor for assigning it to that guy in the first place, and shame on that guy for actually being someone who takes himself seriously as a journalist.
I worked on the 8-bit port of Prince of Persia to the NES and the Gameboy, and there’s a game that certainly wasn’t built for kids, but you put it on a platform like that and because of its accessibility and because of the quality of the animation… it’s one of those titles that speaks to anybody who loves different forms of entertainment whether it’s the animation, it’s the sense of fluidity, it’s the depth of character, or they just like the twitchy timing puzzles.”

I don’t think we’ve ever started a review with “I usually hate kid’s games,” but I guess that might happen on The Internet. I agree, a review should speak to the audience a game was intended for,but that doesn’t mean we need to talk down to that audience. Should we assume that children won’t notice the same glitches we do, or that they won’t be frustrated by the same gameplay flaws? We don’t criticize kid’s games for being targeted at kids, we criticize them for bad design, and we praise them when they succeed at capturing the essence ofa property while also being fun, engaging experiences.

Regardless of whether I’m attached to the characters or setting, I should still be able to find the experience of playing the game enjoyable. If the only thing that makes the game enjoyable is the license, then why make a game and not another movie or TV show?

Also, if anyone actually wrote “I’m the guy who reviews Madden, but I got stuck with…” at the beginning of a review, we'd laugh him or her outthe office. No really, we’re mean – we laugh at people all the time.

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer