[I remember licensed games being the bane of my existence when I was younger. It was like the glut of shovelware that plagues us nowadays, including Early Access games. I couldn’t look past a shelf without seeing some movie tie-in game. Since then, they’ve made a quiet comeback when I wasn’t looking. ~Marcel]
When I was a kid in the early aughts, licensed games were a dime a dozen. Many fondly remember Chronicles of Riddick on the OG Xbox, Spider-Man 2 on PS2, and perhaps the best James Bond game ever in Agent Under Fire. Still, most were garbage, and I can only assume parents bought these games in droves because they were often budget priced and required zero research.
I avoided most of these games by being a picky asshole kid who wrote very specific Christmas lists, though I did somehow end up playing a copy of Dark Angel on the PS2. I still have a strong sense of nostalgia when I think of Dark Angel, though I remember absolutely nothing about it. Based on some cursory googling, it somehow wasn’t a masterpiece.
Perhaps it’s just my perspective speaking, but I feel like licensed games sort of died out at the beginning of the current generation. There were a ton of them on the 360, most of which I know about solely due to their achievement-hunting potential. Yet on the Xbox One and PS4, there’s comparatively little.
Somehow Frozen didn’t get a game, outside of a mobile match 3 port. Toy Story, a franchise with a long history of licensed software, didn’t release a game alongside movie number four. I feel like nary a decade ago, if a movie like Moana came out without a game at its side it would be a notable absence.
Now, in the year of our lord 2019, licensed games are making a comeback, but it’s a fucking strange one.