Why the hell did you license that?

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 pickit up. It's a system that works, and many a piece of digital yak poop has topped the charts as a result.

Every so oftenthough, 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 Some are based on unpopular or out of date IPs, some are obscure to the point of the surreal, and others are classic cases of a publisher buyingthe license to a big name property without ever giving a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 findsome 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.”

“Errm, Geoff?”


“Put the knife down Geoff…”

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.