Licensed games get a pretty bad rap, and many of them deserve it. They’re often plagued by low expectations and thought of as nothing more than cash-ins for movies or television shows.
So when a licensed game came along that didn’t suck the root, well that was a quite the feat. This week I’m going to discuss two licensed games where I feel the creators got it spot on.
#2 Disney’s Aladdin (Genesis/Megadrive)
Thinking back, there were two main categories of licensed games that you could sort of count on to be of higher quality: Star Wars and Disney. (It’s funny now, I suppose, considering those two are in the same bed.) Disney somehow managed to have many quality games based on their franchises, and, in my opinion, none were better than Aladdin on the Genesis.
Combining solid level design and responsive, easy-to-learn controls with levels and music based directly on the film, Virgin Interactive really hit it out of the park with this one. To be fair all the Disney platformers on the Genesis were really good. but I think Aladdin was the best of the bunch.
There was also a version of Aladdin for Super Nintendo, but the levels seemed drawn out and repetitive to me, so I never enjoyed it as much.
#1 Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
Disney showed that it’s not messing around with its characters with Kingdom Hearts, a mash-up of Final Fantasy and classic Disney characters. Taking characters like Peter Pan, Goofy, Tarzan and even Jack Skellington and putting them into a role-playing game? For years I wrote this one off as a bad idea, but when I finally played it, it blew my socks off.
Kingdom Hearts takes you to Disney locations from films like Alice in Wonderland and Hercules and does it with such class and charm that the result is overwhelmingly joyous. I got to see some of my favorite childhood icons rubbing elbows with Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart, and that alone is worth the price of admission. Top that off with a surprisingly deep and enjoyable action-RPG, and you’ve got a uniquely well done concept.
And those are my top two licensed games from Disney. Be sure to come back next time, when I look at my Top Two Actors Who played a Live-Action Mario!