The Problem with Licensed Games
aka: Trading Card Lame

"Say it with me, The Cheat: Licensed videogames are never good."

The problem is that Licensed Games tend to be mediocre at best. But why? There are two ways to sell games: Quality of game, and reputation of name. Most games that sell fall into at least one of the two categories. Video and Card Game developers could take some time to develop an original property made with care for the end product and the idea of developing a brand new franchise.

Or, they can just buy up the name of something everyone already knows. A much easier way to make money is to make mediocre games based on licenses — a TV show, or a movie, or a comic book, or a work of literature, or anything really (and we mean anything note ). These games don't require nearly as much effort to make, since they're pretty much counting on the people buying them because of familiarity.

This is most obvious in Video Games, but it also applies to Board Games and Trading Card Games. Pinball games tend to avert this, as it's very hard (but not impossible) to screw up pinball. The situation varies in the Tabletop RPG world; some licensed games are pretty poor, but many are okay and some are famously good. It helps that the writers are often dedicated borderline fanboys who are in the business for love (it's not likely to be for the money), and who know the subject-matter inside out.

Of course, the ability of licensed games to sell on name alone is a major reason for their poor quality, but it's hardly the only one. Developers are often pressured by movie studio execs to have the game ready for release alongside the movie (which, in the studio execs' eyes, practically equates these games to tie-in action figures, lunchboxes, and other low-grade merchandise), which can shorten development time. Stretching the plot of a 100 minute movie into a twenty hour game can lead to a lot of filler material or serious diversions from the movie's plot. Licensed games also attempt to emulate the most popular genres at the time in an effort to maintain appeal — side-scrollers and Fighting Games were popular in the 1990s and more recently, Grand Theft Auto clones and shooters are common as well. Sometimes they will be a confusing mesh of gameplay genres as the developers attempt to figure out just what their license could be used for to fill up enough game time to push it out the door, and that's assuming the product isn't chock full of Game Breaking Bugs because of the short Q/A window. Perhaps worst of all, many licensed games are made by people with little (if any) knowledge of the franchise they are licensing. So games based on these franchises tend to completely miss what made the franchises popular to begin with. Thus, many licensed games are designed in a manner that has nothing to do with the plot or general style of the franchise (for example, The Riddler, instead of giving Batman riddles, might just blast him with a rifle throughout the entire boss fight).

And despite what one might expect with a title based on a lucrative property, there is often ironically less money available than usual for a company to spend making a licensed game; a significant amount of the funding that would normally be channeled into the title's actual development is instead used up before development just to buy the license in the first place. Also, a bad non-licensed game might be cancelled or delayed. A game that has a license lined up for it is either obligated to release in a specific time frame, or the publishers will decide to shove it out the door for an easy buck from fans of the license; another reason why so many licensed games are contenders for worst game ever, period.

Another thing to note is that back in the 1980's plenty of product licensees in the US did not know what to expect from the video game industry and who would be the most appropriate to give a license to, so they did the sensible thing and grabbed a telephone book to search for the first game development studio that showed up on the pages. The video game corporations Atari, Activision, Accolade, Acclaim and Absolute Entertainment (summed up in chronological order for ease) had given themselves their own brand names exactly for this reason. It is only as of the late 90's, with a very recognizable AAA video game development industry, that this trend was put to a halt.

Of course, movies based on video games don't tend to go over well either, for much of the same reasons. It's a kind of cross-media Porting Disaster.

A related trope is the phenomenon, prior to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, wherein many non-videogame companies had a Gaming division.

There are exceptions, of course. A pretty good chunk of these were either released years after the source material or were based on a franchise that had been running for years, thus relieving the time pressure often inherent in licensed games. This Trope is so widespread, it's probably easier to list only egregious examples. Exceptions should be listed on their own page. See Spiritual Licensee for a way some games go around this, intentionally or not. Quite often, this Trope is a result of a product being Christmas Rushed.


Examples are listed by the medium they are based on.

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  • Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool and Chester Cheetah: Wild Wild Quest are two of the sorriest 16-bit Mascot with Attitude platformers. The snack food mascot may be Totally Radical, but he doesn't seem like the fastest animal on land in either game.
  • For a short time, Burger King had three Xbox/Xbox 360 games that starred their namesake King character. Gameplay was simplistic and boring, the graphics were totally underwhelming for the platform and reviews ranged from bad to awful. Their only redeeming quality was that they were $4 and the main character was Creepy Burger King Mask Guy which puts them dangerously close to So Bad, It's Good territory. (The game Sneak King involved sneaking up on hungry people and forcing them to eat Burger King food.) With these in mind, they sold millions and became cult classics for many gamers.
    • The graphics are somewhat justified by the fact that they were playable on both the Xbox 360 and the original Xbox, with the game made to take advantage of the 360's backwards compatibility. It doesn't explain the texture pop-ins that sometimes look worse than a PS1 game at times.
    • Sneak King plays much like a kid-friendly version of Manhunt or Assassin's Creed. Think about that for a second.
  • A somewhat ironic example: Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson is certainly no stranger to licenced merchandise, and video games based on their bikes are no exception. While the Sega-produced arcade games L.A. Riders and King of the Road were released to more or less positive reception, the ones for home consoles and PC are largely viewed as bargain bin fodder. As to why Japanese developers were able to adapt the H-D franchise better than studios from the very country where the Motor Company originated, or elsewhere, is quite a mystery.
    • One such example is the Wii game Harley-Davidson: Road Trip. You play the role of a motorjournalist for HOG Magazine (based on the real-world publication of the same name), and are given a series of assignments on a motorbike by the company. The game was largely panned as a mere cash-in, with mediocre graphics, poorly-conceived gameplay elements and a hidden object-esque photography mode where you get off your bike and take pictures of random objects of all things, which have practically nothing to do with Harleys. There is also a free ride mode where players can cruise on a given track, but you'd be better off riding a motorbike in Real Life due to the lack of interesting scenery.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The game based on the classic anime motion picture based on AKIRA for the Amiga is notably bad, often considered one of the worst for the system. Why? It's a side-scrolling action game where you play as either Tetsuo or Kaneda, in at least four levels of extreme difficulty and unfairness. The idea of a difficulty curve is thrown out with the first level, a motorbike racing stage somewhat like the infamously difficult level 3 of Battletoads but with more random obstacle placement and the added challenge of constantly needing to pick up fuel cans; the publisher supposedly had to give out passwords for reviewers to clear it. The third level has keycards to collect, and while you don't need them all to reach the end of the level, if you don't get all of them anyway, you will be trapped and unable to complete the level. The fourth level can't be completed at all because of poor play testing; one of the platforms is placed too far away for you to jump on. It apparently even drove its developers, ICE Software of the United Kingdom, crazy.
  • The PC88 version of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind game (see the horror here) is so bad that it makes E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on the Atari 2600 look like DuckTales on the NES; The PC-6001 & MSX versions of said games are more playable but the PC-6001 was not made for gaming and what Konami, Hal Laboratory and Compile were dishing out for the MSX were far better then this; Why bother with this game when there are so much better games for the MSX coming out from said companies.
    • It also helps that Hayao Miyazaki hates video games as well, even before said games were made and going back to his days at Telecom Animation Film back in 1978, before Nausicaa came out. This game, suffice to say, did little to convince him that video game adaptations of his films were worth the extra effort.
  • Kinnikuman: Muscle Tag Match, one of the earliest anime licensed games released for the Famicom/NES. The anime hadn't been released outside Japan, but the toyline had been distributed as M.U.S.C.L.E., which gave Bandai an excuse to export this pathetic excuse for a wrestling game under that name. The eight characters all share the same basic moves and differ mostly in how ugly their sprites were. Despite all of this the game sold 1 million copies in Japan and therefore lead to the flood of bad Famicom games based on anime and toys. It also has a place in NES history since it was the second third-party release for the NES.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Spirit Detective for the GBA was abysmally boring in addition to sporting graphics that made the characters only distinguishable by their hair and outfits.
  • From the Gundam franchise:
    • Some of the Non-Banpresto Mobile Suit Gundam games are pretty mediocre. Operation Troy did so poorly in its native soil that it became a No Export for You; Crossfire was poorly received by American reviewers for being slow-moving, ugly, and for not having online multiplayer; and there are some Gundam games that are plain unmentionable due to how bad they are.
    • The franchise has also had two CCGs in its time. At the height of its popularity in the West, Bandai made Gundam MS War, which died quickly due to poorly thought-out mechanics and limited scope (only really covering the original series and Wing). A few years later they tried again, this time taking the pre-existing (not to mention better-designed and much more successful) Japanese game Gundam War and translating the cards into English. Unfortunately, by that point the franchise was on its last legs in the West and Bandai just didn't care, releasing cards with terrible translations and Engrish, eventually pulling support after only two expansion sets despite the fact that the game had a cult following.
  • Usually, the Super Robot Wars franchise is a great crossover adapting many Humongous Mecha series. But the ball was dropped hard for Super Robot Wars K. Between flaws like the malfunctioning Partner Battle system, poor story writing and a main character that fans hardly like, it's no wonder that this game is considered the worst entry.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • DragonBall, a 1986 video game, based on the Dragon Ball anime and manga, which was adapted into Dragon Power in the United States, was for the most part, downright agonizing. A health system that gradually decreased was the least of the game's problems. The game would sometimes have some of the worst Guide Dang It moments, such as trying to get Oolong to drop an Interchangeable Key in Stage 2. You have to hit him enough times whilst he's flying around. If you take too long, he'll hide under a different house.
    • There was a Dragon Ball Z set in the Ani-Mahem trading card game. Unfortunately, it was rather overpowered compared to other sets in the game, and may have contributed to its eventual failure.
    • Score Entertainment made a Dragon Ball Z game - and later a compatible Dragon Ball GT game, but it suffered from balance issues as it tried to reflect the story too closely — they faithfully replicated the source material's utterly out-of-control Power Creep. Characters were helplessly, hopelessly outgunned as soon as the next set came out.
  • Dragon Ball Z for Kinect was very poorly received due to repetitive gameplay, little content, no real story, no multiplayer, and of course the stigma of only being able to be played with Kinect controls.
  • The first Legacy of Goku was the first in the GBA's trilogy of Zelda-clones. On the plus side it has pretty good graphics, but that's otherwise it. The game suffers many repetitive fetch quests, horrible AI, terrible collision detection that often keeps you from landing an attack on an enemy no matter how close you are, and a broken combat system where Goku dies in three hits no matter how strong he gets, forcing you to use the Solar Flare ability to stun them, land a punch, run away, and do it all over again until they fall, which unsurprisingly isn't that exciting. Thankfully, Legacy of Goku II and Buu's Fury improved on its faults and fit more in the other trope.
  • Characters of Ranma ˝ appear in half a dozen Street Fighter clones and one JRPG. The fighting games are So Okay, It's Average at best, but the RPG doesn't make it even that high. It offers absolutely nothing new to players who aren't fans of the anime or manga, just the same old railroading between Adventure Towns, Level Grinding and half of your team being The Load. Fans enjoy the few Shout Outs to the original, but much potential is wasted. There's only 2 puzzles that involve characters' transformation abilities. Their unique fighting styles (and potential for side quests to learn new techniques) are largely ignored in favour of standard "buying new armour and weapons in each new town". Those who expect a few good pictures for cutscenes would be disappointed too. But there's a lot of in-jokes only the programming team understands.
  • The Famicom Hokuto no Ken game by Shoei System. This was Shoei System's debut title and man does it show. The graphics and sound effects look like they came straight out of an atari 5200 and the action is extremely repetitive and boring. To top it all off if you fail to enter the door where the kid appears in the first level the game will just wrap around forever and become one of the few cases where Unwinnable by Design can be taken literally. It made for such an agonizing experience that Chrontendo ended up giving it the #5 spot on his list of the top 10 worst NES/Famicom games from 1983 to 1987, right after Transformers: Convoy no Nazo.
  • Bats and Terry by Use is a platformer based on an anime. Normally most licensed platformers would be too average to warrant a spot on the list, but the ridiculous amount of Idiot Programming make it something to be reckoned with. Like the fact that when an enemy dies the explosion moves along with the scroll or the fact that blocks that you have to jump on are easily confusable with elements for the background. It is no wonder that all of those reasons contributed to its #7 spot on chrontendo's top 10 worst NES/Famicom games, with him even showing a clip where he defeated a boss by touching it with his sprite.
  • Initial D Mountain Vengeance has abysmal gameplay, graphics that make Nintendo 64 games look like PS4 exclusives, and there are only 2 songs in the whole game. Running in the 90s and the Initial D Tokyopop Dub Opening Song, Initialize. 99% of the time it will only play the latter so expect Initialiiiize. Initial Drive. Custoooomize. Initial Dream. Eneeergize. Initial Drift Initaliiiize Initial D to be burned into your min-You're representing man! This is cool and a 1/2! I'll be pulling for you bro.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman games:
  • The Uncanny X-Men for the NES, published by LJN Toys and developed by some mercifully unknown company. The six available player characters were mostly blotchy Palette Swaps of each other, and the characters that used melee attacks had no animation for them. Computer-controlled characters had Artificial Stupidity. The level design, sound effects and music were like a bad nightmare. Those few players who made it through most of this poorly designed, Nintendo Hard game were in for a nasty surprise: a secret code was required to unlock the last level. This code was hidden within the fine print on the cartridge, and even that was missing a crucial button. To uncover this last button, the player had to kill an arbitrary amount of a certain kind of enemy on each stage.
  • Wolverine on the NES, by LJN, was a Nintendo Hard side scrolling platformer where Wolverine's claws could be activated by pressing the select button. It was more effective not to attack with them out, since hitting an enemy with the claws out would reduce Wolverine's health.
  • The Silver Surfer Video Game for the NES. The game controls well, has decent graphics and incredible music. However, it found it's position here due to the severe Badass Decay of the titular character (The Silver Surfer is a One-Hit-Point Wonder), combined with the absolutely unforgiving and sometimes downright unfair difficulty, really diminishes the fun factor.
  • Most of the Marvel Comics licensed games published by LJN had their issues, though much of that was on the various developers they used. By the time they started putting out respectable games such as Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage, LJN was on its last legs as a brand, and Marvel eventually took its licenses to other companies.
  • The PS2 version of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is borderline unplayable. It's got graphics on par with an early PlayStation 1 game, next to no voice acting, no actual ending, and just bad 2D fighting mechanics.

    Film — Animation 
  • Bebe's Kids wasn't a good movie to begin with, but its SNES licensed game, developed by Radical Entertainment, is one of the worst to found on that system. Wretched controls, hideous graphics, dull music, unintelligent yet tough enemies, a two-minute timer... and that's just the first level. It doesn't get better from there.
  • The Polar Express, a multi-platform adventure game based on the hit movie. The graphics are okay for the time, nothing phenomenal and they don't reach Uncanny Valley like the film. The gameplay features various Unexpected Genre Changes, though they're poorly played out. The voice acting for some of the characters isn't so great either. The worst part of the game has to be the timespan; it can be beaten within a few hours or less, one sitting and it makes you feel you're missing out.
  • Shrek is infamous for horrible licensed games. Swedish gaming magazine LEVEL once gave a Shrek game 4/10 and noted that it was surprisingly good for a Shrek game. And yes, there are multiple racing games (because when you think "Shrek" you think "racing", right?) one of which is a blatant Mario Kart rip-off. The worst part about that particular game is that every time a racer passes you, they go "Haha!" And the same "Haha!" sound is used for [every single character.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The NES adaptation of Alienł comes this close to averting this trope, and it's by LJN of all companies. It has great music, decent graphics, and is loyal enough to the source material by NES standards that it could have been great... had they not swapped the jump and shoot controls (B jumps) and given you a ridiculously low time limit to beat each stage. The SNES and Genesis/Megadrive (which the NES game is a stripped-down version of) releases are examples of No Problem with Licensed Games.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 is essentially the Trope Maker. It was produced for no other reason than to quickly cash in on the success of the 1982 movie, and was hurried through production in a matter of weeks (the average 2600 game would have a development time of between five and six months) to be on the shelves for the Christmas shopping season. Its gameplay consists entirely of E.T. falling into pits in order to search for pieces of his space telephone. Although it sold very well, Atari made the mistake of producing more cartridges than systems in existence hoping it would become a system seller — as such, it contributed to Atari's profit losses and (although there were lots of games way worse at the time) made such a contribution to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 that it got a reputation as one of the "worst games in history". More information, or experience the horror yourself.
  • Ghostbusters games:
    • The NES version of Ghostbusters, which was simultaneously released for the Atari 2600 without any change in gameplay.
    • Atari and Terminal Reality's 2009 revival is considered such a great use of the license that many — including Dan Aykroyd himself — consider it the film series' canonical third movie. Its sequel, 2011's Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, is much less so, with the most obvious strike against it being the absence of the original Ghostbusters team - leaving the day to be saved by a group of fresh-faced rookies who aren't quite as charming. Also working against Sanctum are its overuse of Copy And Paste Environments, AI partners who do more to harm than help, and the general monotony of gameplay (get trapped in a room, fight a bunch of color-coded ghosts, move on to next room, rinse, repeat).
    • The 2016 reboot was given a video game adaptation long after games based on then-upcoming summer movies were no longer popular with developers, and the reason for the latter shows. Like Sanctum of Slime the gameplay is monotonous, the controls are unresponsive, the levels are far too large, the upgrade system is poorly implemented, and again the characters from the film are replaced with rookies. Surprisingly, it didn't directly have a hand in the demise of its developer FireForge Games, which filed for bankruptcy just three days after the game's release after being embroiled in several prior lawsuits.
  • Back to the Future games:
    • Back To The Future (1989) for the NES was for most of its stages a Vertical Scrolling Shooter with Marty as a One-Hit-Point Wonder who races against a time limit down the streets of Hill Valley on foot and a hard-to-control skateboard and collects clocks while avoiding or throwing bowling balls at swarms of bees, hula-hoop girls and people walking back and forth holding invisible sheets of glass. The music in these stages, a practically unrecognizable remix of "The Power of Love", is as repetitious and awful as the gameplay. The three indoor stages don't provide much relief, the first being a disgustingly Nintendo Hard shooter where Marty must hold Lou's Café against an onslaught of 99 merciless bullies. Perhaps the best thing to be said about this game is that its Excuse Plot follows the movie in very Broad Strokes.
    • Its sequel, Back To The Future Part II & III note  was made by the same company (Beam Software) and released by the same publisher (LJN) and still isn't that good. It has you return a lot of Plot Coupons to their appropriate time period in the second part. The only problem is that Marty is again a One-Hit-Point Wonder. What makes this worse is that you had to play Part II in one sitting. You're bound to run into your clone while returning, which also kills you in one hit. Part III is much shorter and has you do the same, but less Plot Coupons needed to finish the game. The music, at least, was pretty good, although it was often drowned out by the obnoxious sound effects.
    • Even the pinball game couldn't avoid this trope — instead of doing anything interesting with time travel, time paradoxes, hoverboards, or getting the DeLorean up to 88 MPH, Data East Pinball slapped BTTF artwork on a generic pinball table loaded with Spelling Bonuses, threw in a few songs from Huey Lewis and the News and ZZ Top, then cashed the checks. No wonder Michael J. Fox refused to license his likeliness for the game.
  • Star Wars games:
    • The Japan-exclusive 1987 Star Wars game by Namco stars Luke Skywalker as a One-Hit-Point Wonder whose in-game sprite has black hair. There are levels requiring precise jumping in between spikes of instant death, and the Nintendo Hardness is aggravated by Luke's lightsaber having poor hit detection. This game's real notoriety, however, is not based on difficulty but because it plays fast and loose with the Star Wars canon. Before leaving Tatooine, there is a Boss Battle against Darth Vader... who turns into a giant scorpion after one hit. This sort of thing happens on every level, including several worlds that don't figure in the original movie. And speaking of worlds, there's also the fact that you'll also have to rescue your allies (who are all on Tatooine when they all meet in the film): Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, Chewbacca (who's on Hoth of all places), and Han Solo (who's already on Yavin IV) of all people - making you realize it's YOU who's flying the Millenium Falcon between worlds!
    • The PlayStation and PC adaption of The Phantom Menace is below average, even compared to the film it's based on, which is considered one of the most disappointing movies ever made. Excellent audio (which is the common strong point of Star Wars anyway) and fairly looking full 3D graphics aside, the decent level design is doomed by unfitting puzzle/adventure levels tacked on breaking the pace, awkward controls, horrible camera placement, buggy coding, imbalanced weapons and seriously-flawed dueling mechanic can totally ruin your experience halfway through, and that's not even getting into the fact that the story (the biggest flaw of the film) is completely unaltered.
    • Attack of the Clones on Game Boy Advance is a very phoned-in and poor licensed game. The pre-rendered graphics and animations are smooth and there are 3D flying sections which are impressive for GBA, but the controls are stiff, lightsaber moves are laughably limited and the 2D level design is tepid at best. Most of the game is simply walk from left to right, occasionally jump on a platform, hit enemy with lightsaber until it dies, etc., with nearly every area in the game feeling like a slightly shuffled skin-swap of the area before. Revenge of the Sith on GBA was released a few years later and was far more appealing, well-made and fun to play, giving Attack of the Clones no excuse.
    • The Rogue Squadron games are considered to be among the best Star Wars games out there, but when you try to crop the gameplay to fit on a GBA cart you get 2003's Flight of the Falcon. Whilst certainly an ambitious attempt to give the GBA a flight sim/dogfight game (and to be fair, the music is actually pretty decent) the fact is that the graphics were not only blotchy and pixelated, but they dragged the game's speed to a chugging crawl. Add to that repetitive over-long levels and poor controls and you end up with a complete mess.
    • Obi-Wan, one of the Xbox's launch titles, told Ben's story before and during The Phantom Menace. Probably helped by production turmoils (it was supposed to be on the PC, a Spiritual Successor to Jedi Knight), the game had a good battle system (with Force powers and using one of the analog sticks to handle the lightsaber) being brought down by bad camera, poor graphics and level design, and repetitive combat.
    • While much of the poor reaction to Kinect Star Wars was likely a case of Hype Backlash — both Microsoft and LucasArts had been hyping it up as the Killer App for the Kinect, when in fact it was a pretty run-of-the-mill collection of minigames — it ultimately fell down for the same reason as far too many other Kinect games, namely the erratic and often unresponsive controls. On top of that, the minigames themselves were either okayish but had been done better elsewhere (the space combat and podracing parts), or just plain offensive to the Star Wars name (the infamous dancing minigame, which ironically enough was probably the one which controlled the best).
  • A variety of games based on Bram Stoker's Dracula were released for various platforms. None of these were particularly good, but the SNES/Genesis version stands out as a disappointment: it's an action platformer with annoying combat mechanics, boring level design, a laughable attempt at presenting a story, and the inexplicable requirement in some levels of contacting an old guy who imagines weapons in thought bubbles. It's remembered more fondly at Travellers Tales, since it was the first game they developed that sold well; some of their later Licensed Games would set a higher standard.
  • The Three Stooges got their own multi-platform videogame in the late 80's. It does a fine job of capturing the right tone for a Stooges game and has loads of nods to many of their famous short films and actual voice clips from the guys, but the mini-games that make up its core gameplay have very clunky controls and the difficulty curve is surprisingly tough because of the reaction speed needed to master them. It remained enough of a Cult Classic to get an Updated Re-release for the Game Boy Advance and Playstation many years later.
    • There was also an arcade game put out by Gottlieb in 1984, which lacked the variety and charm of the later release and had rather bland gameplay.
  • The Home Alone video game series that THQ made in 1991 and 1992. The first one on the NES is completely awful, thanks to unresponsive controls, and your reward for beating the game in the twenty minutes? The same bad ending you get for losing. Even worse is its sequel, Lost in New York, which ranges from unredeemably terrible (Game Boy and NES) to So Bad, It's Good (Super NES). The NES and Game Boy versions feature terrible play control, below average graphics, Fake Difficulty, and also its weird assortment of enemies, including a vacuum out to kill Kevin.
    • There's also the game made in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, only released in Europe. On top of its lackluster gameplay, it's also notable for having no connection to the films whatsoever aside from the brand name — there's a kid alone at home, and he's trying to fend off burglars, and that's literally it. No Macauley Culkin, no Christmas trappings (the game appears to take place during the summer), nothing to suggest anything to do with any films in the series — even the dreaded sequels — aside from the movie's logo being used prominently. Also, the art style is very mediocre. It was, of course, published by Blast! Entertainment.
  • Last Action Hero had its video game adaption released in 1993. The NES version was easily one of the worst versions. Dull, lifeless graphics, irritating music and Mooks that never stop coming are some of the main problems this game has.
  • The Lawnmower Man had two different licensed games, one for the SNES, Genesis (not Sega CD), and Game Boy, the other for DOS and Sega CD. The latter one was a Full Motion Video game with extreme cases of both Gameplay Roulette and Fake Difficulty. Also, for no good reason, the limitations of the Genesis color palette (which degraded the quality of the pre-rendered 3D graphics) were present in the DOS version, despite the fact that it used the MCGA video mode (2^24 colors total, 2^8 on screen at once).
  • Platoon had an officially licensed game 1987 by Ocean. It was plagued by clunky controls, confusing level design, an unfair lack of continues, and just all around cumbersome gameplay. If they wanted to recreate the feeling of struggling to survive out in the Vietnam jungles, well, they certainly nailed it.
  • Terminator games:
    • The NES game based on The Terminator has awful sound, stiff controls, and ugly graphics. The first level is the ONLY level you have a gun and grenades (Unlike, well, EVERY other version.), as soon as you get to the past you have nothing but your fists (you can kick too, but whats the point?).
    • The SNES Terminator game could use some mention too, the levels are brutally long (the 2nd level is INSANE) Sound Effects tend to drown out all two of the music tracks in the game, and it was just cruelly difficult.
    • In the Game Boy version: You had only one life and no continues. The sequence where you have to reprogram the T-800 was also hard with a strict time limit and two mistakes results in a Nonstandard Game Over. As with the Super NES Terminator game, it was also Nintendo Hard.
    • There was a PC game of Terminator 2: Judgment Day in early 90s, each level of which was based on an action scene from the film. Some of those scenes don't translate well; for example, the first level consisted entirely of holding off the T-1000 with a shotgun. To make matters worse, there was only one save point per level.
    • The SNES and Genesis versions weren't a significant improvement. They're not offensively terrible, but they are very slowly-paced and loaded with Fake Difficulty from unavoidable attacks and enemies who move faster than you do. The only two things they have going for them is the rather cool main BGM (unfortunately tempered by it being one of the only music tracks in the game), and the fact that the T-800's sprite bears an amusing resemblance to Hank Hill in a biker outfit.
    • Terminator Salvation. While it has decent graphics, great music, and a decent combat system that feels more than a little familiar, in general it's pretty lousy. Sure, the combat's decent — it's just a shame that the battles are so damned repetitive and generally feature the same two enemies: annoying flying robots, and spider-like robots that require flanking to defeat. To flank them effectively, it's best to have your partner keep their attention while you come around back and finish them. Too bad the AI's fairly terrible, and while the game does have a co-op option, it's not online enabled — so if you don't have anybody to play with and don't have Xbox Live, you're pretty much screwed. Oh, and it's very short, but considering how you'll spend those 4-5 hours fighting the same annoying enemies over and over again, that's probably a positive thing. Unsurprisingly, Salvation was one of the factors behind developer GRIN's shutdown...and it was their only game that can be considered a definite flop. note 
    • Bethesda Softworks has produced five games based on the Terminator franchise. These are their only games that have bombed.
  • Total Recall (1990), published by Acclaim and developed by Interplay for the NES, frustrated many players early into the game with a movie theater showing the game's credits and Inescapable Ambushes in alleys by midgets wearing purple jumpsuits. The rest of the game bears more relation to the movie (it includes the X-ray scanner and the subway shootout), but it's mostly a mediocre Beat 'em Up with bad hit detection and a lot of cheap hits.
  • Toys: Let The Toy Wars Begin, made for the SNES and Genesis by Absolute Entertainment in 1993 as a tie-in to the Robin Williams film of the same name from the previous year. It's not like the makers of the game had to do much to improve the plot - the film was a goofy story about a toy designer fighting to get back his father's ailing company from the hands of a military general who plans to weaponize children's toys, and it flopped critically and commercially at the box office. The resulting game was a dismal top-down shooter with a whopping four stages, wherein the player commanded a limited amount of toys against an unlimited stream of AI enemies from the opposing general's side. The game was mercilessly panned - Gamepro and several other publications blasted the game for many missed opportunities, the lack of a two-player mode, terrible visuals (even by SNES standards) and one of the least-relevant adaptations of a film ever made.
  • One game that many people don't realize was intended to be a licensed game was Acclaim's Warlock, created for the SNES and Genesis two years after the second movie of the same title was released. It included gems like bad collision detection, enemies that would spawn with no warning and had little to no pattern to them, a mechanic that kills you if you fall from a height that's anywhere higher than the height of the playable character, wonky player movements (like the protagonist crouching automatically when firing forward), and having only a single life to get through the game unless you die with a specific item in your inventory (although there was a password system, thankfully) meant the game was particularly putrid. Its only saving grace was an item use exploit that effectively made you invincible and harmful to the touch during the item's effect. One SNES magazine writer said that he was worried about his ability to give an objective review of the game, as star Julian Sands was his cousin. Then he started playing the game, and was relieved to find that it was so bad he could tear into it mercilessly.
  • Wayne's World games:
    • The 16-bit version of Waynes World is possibly one of the most loathed, least playable 16-bit games ever. Bad collision detection, hideous sprites and atrociously digitized voices (especially in the Sega version) are just part of the problem with this. Mainly considered only worthwhile to mock. Read this review for more details.
    • Its NES counterpart fared no better. It was developed by the oft-mentioned Radical Entertainment, who also developed the first Terminator and Rocky and Bullwinkle video games for the NES a year before. Released in November of 1993, it even uses the same engine as both games. You play as either Wayne or Garth (depending on what level you're on). Depending on who you're playing as, your only attacks are either a laser gun (Garth) or a clunky, unreliable kick (Wayne). The game suffers from repetitive music, bland graphics and repetitive backgrounds and unimaginative enemies. Like both games, your only reward is A Winner Is You screen. Excellent!
  • Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge. As if being based on the abysmal Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings wasn't bad enough, developer BAP Interactive thought it was a brilliant idea to set the game in a metaphysical netherworld completely unrelated to the movies, where you were forced to wander through repetitive corridors and view clips from the movie in order to obtain items, and endure pointless crystal collecting segments every time you killed an enemy. Even something as mundane as replenishing health and ammo was needlessly convoluted. Not helping matters was the fact the game gave no clues on what you were supposed to be doing, which meant that the poor sod who bought this game would end up either blindly experimenting with items if that particular copy came with the manual or aimlessly wandering around in a futile search for an exit if it didn't (and there's a significant chance it didn't if it was bought second-hand). And worst of all, you could be punished for taking items you weren't supposed to take with you by having your entire inventory cleared out without ever knowing which item it was you shouldn't have brought along.
  • It's not that the developers of Jurassic Park: Trespasser didn't try. In fact, the game had numerous innovative aspects going for itself (real-time physics, procedurally generated animations, an experimental no heads-up-display approach where players had to look down at a tattoo on the player character's breast to see their health and the play character counts the number of bullets in her weapon aloud, artificially intelligent dinosaurs) and was a genuinely ambitious project that was to leave its mark on the industry for years... but the publishers wanted the game to come out on time, and the game was already infamous for numerous delays, so many of its supposedly defining features were either severely cut down or left completely unfinished. The game was heavily panned upon its release for its numerous glitches and its impossibly steep system requirements (owing to its huge outdoor environments, which was completely uncalled for at the time), and by the time the game was patched and most users' computers were finally good enough to run the game fluidly, the damage had already been done and the game was quickly forgotten after many a gamer's focus shifted to the fantastic Half-Life and the phenomenally awful Daikatana, and in the end the game's attempt at a groundbreaking physics engine was a tremendous inspiration during the development of Half-Life 2. note 
  • The Street Fighter movie had a particularly bad video game adaptation, which doesn't seem all that out-of-the-ordinary until you realize that the movie was itself an adaptation of the most influential Fighting Game ever made, Street Fighter II. The home version for the PS and Saturn were relatively decent by comparison, but the arcade version was really that bad.
    • The most egregious problem with this particular licensed game is that they had a cheap, easy method to make a decent game. Take Street Fighter II, change the graphics, release. Instead the developers seemed Genre Blind and tried to develop a brand new fighting system, only to be foiled by the limited development time and budget they should have expected had they been more Genre Savvy.
      • Indeed, this ended up being Capcom's approach when it came time to port (read: completely revamp) the game for the console release as the console game (subtitled "Real Battle on Film") was built using a modified Super Street Fighter II Turbo engine with digitized sprites of the actors instead of their own art.
    • The guy primarily responsible for it later came to the Internet, apologized, and left a post-mortem account that's well worth the read. Updated link to the story post.
  • One of the final games for the Atari Jaguar was an arcade style basketball game based on the film White Men Can't Jump. Not only did it come out more than three years after the movie (which was already a pretty strange choice for a licensed video game to begin with), it was also a total trainwreck of a game. White Men Can't Jump suffered from poor graphics, a ridiculous set of rules, a wonky camera, none of the movie's characters (meaning the license is completely pointless), and poor ball physics.
  • The Starship Troopers MMO had space battles instead of marine-bug battles. This was because it was actually just a version of the Silent Death computer game (also developed by Mythic) with different graphics. In spite of the cost-cutting, it still came out a year after the movie.
  • The Catwoman game (based on the movie) was so bad that a Warner Bros. executive threatened to impose punishments into all future property licenses such that if the video game didn't get sufficiently positive reviews, the company would have to pay a fine for damaging WB's property. The irony of a WB executive complaining about another studio damaging their property is highlighted when you realize the game under discussion was the tie-in to the execrable Catwoman movie.
  • Dirty Dancing had a licensed PC game which was released nearly 15 years after the film was made, containing almost no music from the movie, almost no connection to its plot, and gameplay consisting entirely of mostly unplayably buggy minigames, the most functional of which is just a ripoff of Bejeweled. (For those interested, here's the Spoony One's take on the game.)
  • There was a particularly crappy video game adaptation of Fight Club, released in 2004. Perhaps worse is that there are people who actually believe the movie was based on the video game.
    • The main difference is that you're meant to win in the game. And the game rewards you for it. The game based on a nihilistic view of the human race and the human success instinct REWARDS YOU FOR WINNING. So, that's Misaimed Fandom, and the game is a blatant attempt at taking commercial advantage from a film that was deeply critical of the consumerist culture.
    • Notably, it also includes Fred Durst as a playable character. Whether the game is cursed further by his presence or somewhat redeemed by the ability to break all his limbs is up to the player.
  • Enter the Matrix was a brave but ultimately doomed attempt to make a game that actually tied in with its parent title, in this case The Matrix Reloaded. It had footage shot especially for it during the shoot of The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, and explained several critical plot points in the former film. Unfortunately, this failed for two reasons — firstly, the game just wasn't very good. It wasn't awful by any means, but the imbalanced difficulty and horribly designed game engine made it annoying to play. Secondly, what many viewers felt should have been the big action sequence of Reloaded, namely the power plant takeover, was barely even mentioned in the film because it had been reserved for the game, which pissed off quite a few people and contributed to the impression that Enter the Matrix was just an excuse for the Wachowskis to get even more money out of their fans. The game did at least get some praise for the nifty hacking minigame that was included, but mostly just contributed to the Hype Backlash that the franchise was starting to suffer from.
  • The PC game Torrente (based on the Spanish cop movie spoof Torrente: The Stupid Arm of the Law) is a mediocre Third-Person Shooter whose only unique point is that the protagonist is a fat, bald, dimwitted sluggard.
  • For the 2012 Battleship movie, they of course released a tie-in game. Is it based on the classic turn-based original? Maybe naval combat like the last game to bear the name? Nope, it's a First-Person Shooter, and not a very good one to boot. There are a few naval combat segments, but those are pulled off rather poorly too. The Wii/DS/3DS version was closer to the original, being a Turn-Based Strategy strictly focused on naval warfare, and was only slightly better for it.
  • Harry Potter film-based games:
    • The adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Incredibly unimpressive graphics, horrible Gears of War-like gameplay, no freedom at all during missions and really poor story-telling. Part 2 pushed it one step further by being both underachieving and awfully short.
    • There was a cheap movie cash-in DS game based on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Aside from the three Triwizard challenges, the other levels ranged from plausible to perplexing. For example, one of the longest levels involved chasing the golden egg through the sewer system for no other reason than because Harry couldn't keep a good grip on it.
    • The games based on the first (mediocre and considered only for kids), fifth (divisive, with many feeling they had dipped after three serviceable games) and sixth (widely considered a disappointment, particularly as with more time to work as the film got delayed EA still didn't do anything to spice up the game) are considered examples too.
    • Harry Potter for Kinect, a collection of motion controlled video games based on important scenes from the movie saga. Think this one has a fighting chance because it wasn't rushed to come out alongside a movie? Think again, it still sucks.
  • Awesome as the Iron Man films are, the next-gen adaptations of them are shockingly bad. The first game was riddled with poor controls, horrendous graphics, bugs that could force you to restart, bad hit detection, and placed you on maps where there was literally nowhere you weren't under constant fire from respawning enemies, even though Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. The second game cleaned things up somewhat and threw in War Machine as second player, but it wasn't much better than mediocre. How did they take a game where you fly through the air in an invincible power suit at the speed of sound while blasting terrorists with missiles from ten thousand feet and make it bad???
  • Spider-Man film-based games:
    • Spider-Man 3: Graphics were bad (well, for the time they were) and collision detection was about non-existent, so you got to watch cookie-cutter cutouts of citizens walk through ambulances. Audio was unbearable, as Spider-Man had many catchphrases but repeated them nonstop, and they weren't even that funny. Citizens also sometimes switched voices when you interacted with them. Story was broken to little bits and the game was artificially lengthened with a billion terrible side-quests and various missions (though the one to "Retrieve the Delicious Fruit Pies" was an amusing Call Back to the Hostess cake ads). If anything, it also owes its mediocrity to Sequelitis, as the other Spider-Man games before and after are genuinely good. Also, it features Kari Wahlgren as Mary Jane Watson. This should be good right? Wrong. SWING HIGHER! SWING HIGHER!
  • Transformers film-games:
    • Transformers: The Video Game (the one of the 2007 live-action movie) wasn't merely bad (a 15-foot robot could get stuck on a broken tree branch), it was inexorably boring. Most of the game involved driving to your next destination within a time limit with a car that handles like an ice-cream van in an Alaskan winter without snow-chains. Oh, and kicking things until they explode. And the graphics were pretty mediocre, too.
    • The plot for the game was bad beyond belief as well, as hilariously noted by (who else?) TFWiki.net in their article here:
      It can be surmised that the writers for the game had not seen the script for the movie. Or been allowed on the same continent as it.
    • The video game based on Dark of the Moon (which is more or less a prequel/sidestory of the movie) was developed by the same folks behind the well-received Transformers: War for Cybertron, and yet it got hit with some less than average review scores. The main issue? On the Wii and 3DS at least, it's a Transformers game where you don't transform.
  • Avatar's game (by Ubisoft) is visually amazing, but lacking in many of the final details of the film, likely due to being released before it. Some of these are minor things, while others are...not. It's by no means the very worst as licensed games go, but still has a storyline that both makes no sense and in places openly contradicts canon, suffers from some very bad voice acting and mistakes with the Na'vi language, as well as inexplicably low-quality models and textures for the Na'vi which really stand out against the rest.
  • The PlayStation adaptation of The Lost World: Jurassic Park received praise on two fronts: one, pretty cool dinosaur graphics. Two, it featured one of gaming's earliest original orchestral scores. Everything else was slammed: sloppy, repetitive game play, difficult controls, incredible difficulty of certain levels, and most annoyingly, the fact that, despite having 30 levels, you couldn't ever save.
  • Batman Begins is far better than most games on here and also had some very innovative and interesting ideas for a Licensed Game, primarily using fear as an element and a great emphasis on stealth, with obvious influence taken from both Metal Gear and Splinter Cell. Unfortunately the execution did not quite hit the mark and it is generally seen as a mediocre game. The biggest problem is that that the game constantly held the player's hand, intentionally leading them on the correct path to sneak by an enemy, use something to scare them, and then beat the startled enemy up. It'd be understandable if it was done just for the tutorial, but that's what the entire game was like. However, on the up side the elements from this game did go on to greatly inspire the Batman: Arkham Series, one of the biggest aversions of this trope imaginable.
    • Batman Forever for its various consoles is considered to be one of the worst Batman games ever. The game was developed by Acclaim, a company that was mostly known for producing games of dubious quality. The game had extremely awkward controls, gadgets that didn't work, terrible level design, and having fiendishly Nintendo Hard difficulty due to you having only 5 lives (which gets shared between both players in a 2 player game) and being forced to restart at the beginning of the game if you got a game over. Depending on which console you play the game for, the game may end up being nigh-unplayable.
  • James Bond
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines has been panned by the vast majority of critics and a large amount of players as well, with complaints about graphical errors, terrible AI, a lack of genuine tension, and unlikable characters. The dev team has been trying to make amends with patches to fix the graphics errors and AI, and bring the game closer to what it was supposed to be judging from the trailers.
  • There's an Army of Darkness card game. There was something seriously wrong with it, as it was way too easy to win without really doing anything. It doesn't help that the instructions are written the way Ash talks.
  • Decipher released a Massive Multiplayer Crossover CCG called Fight Klub based on one-on-one fights between famous movie characters. Jigsaw versus Hannibal Lecter, Mr. Blond versus Ash, John Rambo versus RoboCop, Chev Chelios versus Scott McCoy, Tank Girl versus Sil, and more. How could this be anything but awesome? Complicated rules obfuscating simplistic gameplay, online-only distribution, and pyramid-scheme-style enticement bonuses, that's how.
  • The Super NES Platform Game of the famous 1939 Wizard of Oz film adaptation had a lot of problems. It was released in November 1993, featuring: clunky controls and doesn't even follow the movie at all and the demo features Dorothy falling into a Bottomless Pit during the Attract Mode. It is also infamous in having a chock full of Fake Difficulty from blind falls, a severe case of Hitbox Dissonance, (from both enemies and platforms) and no Mercy Invincibility. What makes this even worse is that there separate lives for each of the characters. The river level has you cross it over with some of the worst jump precisions in video games. Either you'll make the jump or somehow fall into the river and drown despite clearly landing on the platform. And that's only scratching the surface. The Angry Video Game Nerd makes the game's overwhelming myriad of horrible bugs and design flaws startlingly apparent in his review of the game.
  • Titus Interactive's RoboCop for the PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and PC. The graphics are bland and distracting, the gameplay is repetitive and slow-paced, and the voice-acting is abysmal (with RoboCop actively taking joy in killing criminals). Lack of variety, long levels, RoboCop's slow movement speed, the ease of dying spontaneously from an errant explosion, and inability to save during a level makes for a painfully boring first-person shooter.
  • Rambo (based on the 2014 film) is this trope taken Up to Eleven. Instead of some Wide Open Sandbox game, a third person Gears of War clone, or even just a generic lazy as hell first person shooter, it is a $40 rail-shooter on PC and console that can be completed in only two hours with lazily implemented QTE in between the rail-shooter sections. The trailer and Steam previews outright lie by either showing trailer scenes that suggested FPS gameplay or made the game seem larger than it really is. The soundtrack is boring, cheap and repetitive, the perks are laughably pointless and last of all, the final level has a massive Difficulty Spike, probably due to a lack of playtesting, as you will be forced to spend the entire level taking potshots against the enormous storm of lead thats being hurled your way and the "boss" of the level an attack helicopter along with everyone else on the screen. All you're armed with is an AK-47 and whatever perks you happened to pick up. If you sat through the rest of this game you'd most likely quit here.
  • While the 2005 King Kong game averts this trope on the consoles, the DS one does not. It's a First-Person shooter where you can almost go through the entire game barely killing anything. Top it with bugs that cause Jack to fall out of the level, bad hit detection, graphics that make the characters look hideous, and the game's short length meaning it can be beaten in less than a few hours. Even the parts where you get to play as King Kong (which is the best-looking part of this game), you have very little involvement in, since it just resorts to spamming the same 2 buttons.
  • Gods and Generals (by Stellar Stone, "developers" of the infamous Big Rigs that came out in 2003). It was a Civil War-themed FPS based on the 4½ hour long Ted Turner-financed Epic Movie of the same name, riddled with bugs, sloppy gameplay, horribly outdated graphics for the time, and to top it off, terrible AI and more bugs to top it off.
  • Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure for the Nintendo Gamecube. The game is a Minigame Game where you play as a random kid in the eponymous theme park trying to get on the rides based on Universal's famous movie franchises. The game is saddled with extremely monotonous and boring gameplay. In order to get on any of the attractions and rides in the park, you don't do anything reasonable like trying to get tickets, no. You have to run around the park picking up garbage, and there's a lot of it. Navigation around the park is difficult as the camera doesn't follow your character, and you're given no map, so it's very easy to get lost. To make matters worse, the minigame attractions themselves are very brief, one-note, have bad controls, a bad camera, or contain all of the four problems, making the excruciating, convoluted effort to get access to them not even worth it. The Angry Video Game Nerd looks at the game here.
  • The NES game based on Top Gun was quite boring, with complete lack of music during the stages, out-of-place refueling sections, landing sequences that are hard to pull off even if you know how to do it, and inaccurate portrayal of aerial dogfights. However, the sequel averts this trope by fixing all of these problems.
  • Beverly Hills Cop somehow ended up being turned into a PS2 first-person shooter in 2006. The first warning sign is that the game is on a CD. Once you start playing the game itself, is quickly becomes apparent how it takes up so little space: For starters, there is no voice-acted dialogue and no music during gameplay. Speaking of gameplay, the first level of the game starts with a forced stealth section where it seems like whether you get seen has nothing to do with being in the line of sight of enemies. Once you get to actual shooting, it doesn't get any better. There are plenty of glitches both with the graphics and programming. To top things off, apparently the developer did not get the rights for Eddie Murphy's likeness or the iconic theme tune, so both are replaced with something that only bears a slight resemblance to the source.
    • And even before that, the release on PC, Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64 was already bashed for being just a bunch of mediocre minigames threw together in haste. In the case of the PC version tho, Porting Disaster was added to the mix (terrible EGA graphics and the music sounds like someone strangling an ice cream truck). And this release came out in 1990, 6 years after the first movie! By then PCs have had the option of getting better music from add-ons like the AdLib, Creative Game Blaster, or even the original Sound Blaster. Additionally, VGA graphics cards which allowed for much better graphics were starting to catch on.
  • The SNES Time Cop game released by Cryo Interactive in 1995 is a sloppy action platformer starring a goofy digitized facsimile of Jean-Claude Van Damme through five stages as he struggles with delayed controls, useless moves, cheap hits, slow and stupid-looking enemies, glitches, and poorly-executed Unexpected Gameplay Change (the "best" one being a shmup sequence where you control a large submarine that takes up an eight of the screen). Its redeeming factors is that it's broken and inept in a funny way and its bizarelly-catchy soundtrack by David Cage.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs games:
    • Animorphs: Shattered Reality for the PlayStation is a classic example. Horrific controls, crappy graphics, annoying and downright weird sound, no sense of storyline whatsoever, and the main gimmick only being used in specific (rare) instances in-game; these things make baby Andalites cry. This is not made any better by the fact that the game looks like a re-skinned Crash Bandicoot. Even the animations look almost exactly like Crash's, and the Wumpa fruit has been changed to "A" coins.
  • The Shannara video game adaptation. For RP elements it wasn't too awful, just badly cliched, but the gameplay mechanics — especially the combat engine — sucked horribly.
  • The NES Where's Waldo? game (released by THQ in 1992), owing to the severe graphical limitations of the system, was barely playable (as all the people in the crowds are identical stick figures, and thanks to palette limitations, Wally/Waldo himself isn't always wearing the same colors!) and has none of the visual fun that made the books memorable.
  • Extreme Sports with The Berenstain Bears would have been passable as an NES game but it came out in late 2000 for Gameboy Color. Every event in the game is pretty much the same, a downward course with marred controls, only made different by the graphics like boating, skateboarding, or snowboarding. The game has no background music and sound effect taken directly from an Atari 2600. If you do manage to beat the game it won't take long, only about ten minutes.

    Live Action TV 
  • Game Shows: It's often feast or famine, and for those that are famine:
    • Catch Phrase, which was released mainly in the UK, for multiple reasons. Averted for the recent apps; it makes much more sense to play Catch Phrase on one's phone than in box game form.
    • High Rollers: The original 1975 box game issued by E.S. Lowe (a Milton-Bradley subsidiary), all because of the poor question writing that, according to Matt Ottinger's Game Show Home Game Page, had questions that didn't even make sense (e.g, "What is to gossip?" Answer: reach) or were hopelessly vague (e.g., "Who was a famous Olympic star?" Answer: Owens). After getting complaints, a new version was immediately issued and contained a question booklet with someone that knew what they were doing ... mostly true-false questions or multiple choice that the show came to be known for. The dice-rolling portion of the game was faithful to the rules in use at the time (simply the Big Numbers bonus game, rather than the more famous setup of three columns of three numbers each scattered randomly on the board).
    • The Hollywood Squares: Many of the board game adaptations have been prone to this, in large part due to this really being a 12-person game — nine people to be "celebrities," a person acting as host and then two contestants. Many other quirks have been identified through the years: Meager amount of questions (each with a predetermined "bluff" answer and a correct answer) and awkward rules for the 1967-1968 home versions issued by Watkins-Strathmore; the lack of correct answers for a good share of questions in the 1974 Ideal version (particularly galling for now-obscure and forgotten news/current events and pop culture questions and trick questions; ergo, those questions only had incorrect "bluff" answers); and more awkward rules for the 1980 and 1986 Milton Bradley adaptations. Only the 1999 version by Parker Bros. got it close to being correct.
      • Video game adaptation have also been prone to this, especially the 2010 video game, which is no surprise considering that repeat offender Ludia developed it. However, the 1988 NES game (by GameTek) is said to have played reasonably well.
    • Match Game:
      • Very much averted with the original 1960s version. This was a game that could be played over and over again, with simple fill-in-the-blank questions (similar to the 1970s version's Super Match end game) to timeless questions such as "Name a popular/type of (whatever)" question. The rules even suggested that for some questions that tended to get the same responses, the host could (at his discretion) ask contestants to give an answer to a specific question other than the popular/obvious/cliched answer (examples: "Name a foreign car other than Volkswagen," "Name a boys' name starting with the letter 'B' other than Bill or Bob," "Name a muffin other than English," etc.).
      • Very much in place with the 1970s adaptations. Like The Hollywood Squares, this is a game that really requires more than just an emcee and two players. All of the questions (four per game, two per round, just like on TV) had predetermined answers from the six "panelists" (all fictional celebrities) printed in a game booklet, which critics said made the front game a pointless, boring exercise, and Matt Ottinger's website on home board games suggested that to make this game work, they needed to find "celebrities" ... and that even with fewer than six people on the panel, it was much more fun having real people write their responses and then have the players compare their own responses. The first part of the "Super Match" was more-or-less simple interaction with the emcee, which played OK, but the trope went back into effect for the Head-to-head portion of the game; the player had to pick a "celebrity" and won if his answer matched that printed next to the name of the "celebrity"'s name; again, this part of the game really worked only between two actual people, and not trying to guess what the question writers at Milton-Bradley said a fictional celebrity would say.
    • The Price Is Right:
      • Board games: The first two 1970s adaptations (issued in 1973 and 1974) replaced the Contestant's Row one-bid game with a complicated "Strategy Game." The pricing games themselves were fairly similar to the TV show; the 1976 edition replaced the "Strategy Game" with the Contestant's Row game. The 1999 Endless Games adaptation had some new prizes for the late 1990s, but forgot to inflate the prices of cars (ergo, all of the cars were prices from the mid-1980s, with one car worth less than $5,000(!) ... in 1999!); the game was otherwise faithful to the show.
      • Video game adaptations: The GameTek version, published for Commodore 64 and MS-DOS in 1990 and Commodore Amiga in 1991, was a critical disaster, with many wondering if the game designers had ever watched the program. Major faults included games and prizes being associated at random (for example, Card Game was likely to be played for a $600 appliance rather than a car) and execution of several of the games.
    • Pyramid: The front game played fairly similarly to the front game of the TV show, other than the fact that all eight words in a given category note  were visible to the clue giver at the same time (perhaps allowing him discretion insofar as choosing which words to play first). The big difference, and one that drew strong criticism, was the end game, which played just like a regular round on TV. Matt Ottinger, in his online review of board games, wrote that there was a suggestion that one of the powers-that-be feared there was a finite supply of Winner's Circle categories possible (which, to be fair, is plausible, as the show repeated many categories through the years) and that a savvy contestant-to-be could use the home game as a study guide note .
    • Deal or No Deal. If you don't want to follow this video out of fear of the Cluster F-Bomb, then just lots and lots of clicking on briefcases.
  • Averted with the board game — it was simply a matter of shuffling the cards, laying them on a table, picking the cases as spelled out in the rules, deciding on banker's offers (which the rules stated could be determined at the host's discretion) and so forth.
  • An early-1980s game based on the British Series Grange Hill. The target demographic quickly discovered that Real Life offered the same gameplay options with vastly better graphics. The game's also noteworthy for having one of the most ludicrous Nonstandard Game Over scenarios in any game: You can "die" by accepting a packet of drugs from a pusher. YouTube reviewer Stuart Ashen featured Grange Hill in his list of the quickest game overs, and said that the fastest way to die is to walk back home and prepare to get scolded by your mother.
    Ashen: Gonch's mother really does look like she's going to kill him. Look at her! She looks like a cross between an Egyptian mummy and a praying mantis!
  • Kamen Rider games:
  • Jim Henson's Muppet Adventure: Chaos at the Carnival was a minigame collection released for the NES in 1990, though the minigames all seem like early 1980s knockoffs with their amateurish graphics and shallow, repetitive gameplay often made worse by bad controls and hit detection.
  • There was a Nickelodeon Guts game for the SNES. However, it suffered from repetitive gameplay (Basic Training and Tornado Run were one and the same, but obviously given different names), annoying music, and the fact that the Aggro Crag, the final event, was just a glorified Basic Training level. Also, you had to get a certain amount of points in the firstplayer mode, there were more girls (6) than boys (2) when you chose your player, and there was no Mike O'Malley! Moira "Mo" Quirk (Mike's co-host), on the other hand, was there.
  • One notable crappy Power Rangers game is the Nintendo 64 version of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue. The cutscenes were done in a comic style, which might be good... if they weren't drawn really, really, crappily. The gameplay and graphics weren't anything special either - British magazine N64 compared it to "constipated puppet men jerking around LEGO cities".
    • It also had the misfortune to be released at a time when the Power Rangers franchise was Deader Than Disco, at least in the UK, which couldn't have helped.
    • While the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers games released for the SNES, Genesis, and Game Gear belong on the other list, the Game Boy adaptation was not so good. The Game Boy version suffered from poor graphics, poor use of the Super Game Boy color palette (the main color was the color of your chosen ranger), and the fact that using your weapon drains a bit of health. The fact that the game has only five levels didn't help matters.
      • The Sega CD version didn't fare much better. Though they used video from actual episodes, the whole game was a sequence of quick-time events, where you press the indicated direction or button, but the scenes were the same whether you succeeded or failed. It also has Easy-Mode Mockery, where you have to play on hard to see all the levels (the first episode and the 5-part Green With Evil storyline), but hard mode doesn't show you what you need to press or when.
  • At the height of its popularity, Home Improvement, of all shows, got a video game adaptation for the Super NES, entitled "Power Tool Pursuit!".note  Since building stuff, grunting, and arguing with Jill over missing the playoffs wouldn't be very conductive to a platformer, Tim Taylor instead has adventures across several other television sets to recover his stolen tools. Said TV sets are huge, confusing, badly-designed labyrinths filled with numerous real death traps and deadly animatronics like sword-wielding knights and dinosaurs that breathe fire(!). To add insult to the injury of frustrating, lackluster and repetitive gameplay, the game includes a booklet without any information in it aside from the repeated insistence that "Real men don't need instructions." It seems more likely that an actual manual was left out because if they really wanted to be helpful to players, the only directions in it would be to remove the Home Improvement cartridge from the console and replace it with a better game.
  • Star Trek:
    • Some of the elder statesmen out there might remember a tabletop tactical fleet game called Star Fleet Battles. Complex even by comparison of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, but balanced out over years and years of play to create a strong thinking-man's starship wargame. It even had a "turn sequence" which set out in detail which step was to follow which — basically writing the subroutine for the players. Now, what happened when somebody finally figured out you could put something like Star Fleet Battles out as a computer RPG and wash your hands of all the pencil-based bookkeeping? Starfleet Command, that's what happened. Missing several core races in the original release (for rights reasons), horribly buggy at the best of times, sometimes could not even install on your computer without the game crashing the machine as it was transferring files.
    • Then there's Star Trek Pinball, a video pinball game universally panned for wantonly slapping Trek artwork on three annoyingly bad pinball games filled with grainy graphics, unrealistic physics, frequent crashes, and an advertised-but-absent LAN multiplayer feature. It is widely believed that the game was rushed as an attempt by Interplay to raise money due to problems during development of the unreleased Star Trek: The Secret of Vulcan's Fury.
    • Star Trek New Worlds, a dreadful clunker of a ground-based RTS featuring fuzzy graphics, ludicrously complicated resource management (You Require More Vespene Gas? How about five fucking flavours of it or you can't build anything?), and wonky AI. The only thing the game has going for it is the fantastic soundtrack.
    • Star Trek: Shattered Universe may well be the single worst game to bear the Star Trek license. It has the admittedly very cool concept of exploring the Mirror Universe during the TOS movie era, but this concept drowns in a mess of glitches, Fake Difficulty, bad controls and generally poor gameplay. Adding insult to injury, this was the last game from the period when Trek games were being regularly produced — largely due to Star Trek: Nemesis being a Box Office Bomb and Star Trek: Enterprise getting cancelled — making it a very sour note for the game franchise to go out on.
    • Star Trek Online launched in a very incomplete state due to a ridiculously Troubled Production: the original studio, Perpetual, never got anywhere and eventually lost the license. Cryptic Studios elected to start over from scratch using the engine from their superhero RPG Champions Online, but because of contract terms had to do four or five years of work in a year-and-a-half. As a result, while the background literature was pretty good, the end-game content was severely lacking, the Starfleet single-player campaign was repetitive and uninspired, and the Klingons didn't even get a storyline mode—you couldn't start a KDF character until you had a level 30 Starfleet character and KDF characters could basically only level at all through PVP. To make matters worse, the game's then-publisher Atari starved the game of investment so they could use the profits to pay off their debts. It wasn't until Perfect World bought Cryptic and restructured the game into a Free To Play microtransaction model that things started to improve, and the game still really didn't hit its stride until the Legacy of Romulus Expansion Pack added playable Romulans and gave the Klingons a full campaign.note  LOR finally brought the game to roughly the state it should have been in when it came out three years earlier.
  • Robot Wars Metal Mayhem for the Game Boy Color was the first game based on the series, and generally considered the worst. The 8-bit handheld wasn't capable of doing the series justice, and it showed: several of the robots looked and played nothing like their in-game counterparts, staple mechanics like flippers and srimechs were non-existent, and battles generally consisted of either ramming into your opponent and holding down A to flail your weapon about, or taking advantage of their poor AI to lure them into an arena hazard. On top of this, the roster mostly consisted of obscure robots that had been knocked out in the heats, including five that had lost in their very first match (two of whom had been beaten in a single hit), while fan-favourites like Razer and Hypno-Disc were overlooked. The controls were terrible (trying to turn too quickly would cause your robot to spin uncontrollably), and the Robot Workshop was so limited that it may as well have not been included.
  • Doctor Who games:
    • Doctor Who: Return to Earth by Asylum Entertainment on the Wii. The gameplay consists, for 90% of the game, of shooting crystals at floating smiley faces with the Sonic Screwdriver (which, on top of being completely nonsensical for Doctor Who, is even more bizarre than the Out of Character Amiga platformer Dalek Attack) and shoddy stealth while dealing with an uncooperative camera and severe framerate lag on some occasions, the graphics look like they came from an upscaled PlayStation 1 game with special effects that make the classic series look like modern Summer blockbusters and a decent dosing of Uncanny Valley animations, the plot's an incoherent excuse to have Cybermen and Daleks in the same story, reducing their in-game intelligences to herp-derping, walls-staring levels in the process, the level designs involve tedious backtracking to fill up on crystals and (in the endgame) messy masses of floating platforms with reckless disregard for in-universe sense and the mandatory ball maze minigames are frustating enough to make you want to toss your Wiimote. The only positives are the Murray Gold soundtrack and the Sonic Screwdriver Wiimote that was released alongside it. The kicker? Nintendo reportedly paid The BBC £10,000,000 for exclusive Doctor Who games, and yet the free note  Adventure Games have far better production values. As the Official Nintendo Magazine in the UK put it, Asylum are "people who hate games, sci-fi, and everything decent about humanity". Ouch.
  • Long before that, there was Destiny Of The Doctors, notable for featuring Anthony Ainley in his final performance as the Master before his death... and not much else. The game puts you in the shoes of "Graak", a blue blob and literal Featureless Protagonist who is tasked with rescuing the seven incarnations of the Doctor who have been captured by the Master; in essence, you're playing as a non-entity while the Doctors themselves are barely even in their own game. The gameplay itself boils down to bobbing up and down the corridors of the TARDIS in first person while avoiding familiar enemies and solving puzzles to reach the Master, but your objectives are unclear, the controls are stiff, the enemies range from braindead to nigh impossible to avoid, and the game's 3D engine constantly has you get hung up on obstacles or even hopelessly stuck. Saving the Doctors involves beating several unintuitive minigames like racing the Master by train/car, solving a maze, or jousting a Sontaran, but the awkward controls and cheap difficulty means you're likely to die the first few times going through them which boots you back to the main menu and forces you to replay large chunks of the game because save points are few and far between. The few saving graces to this game are Anthony Ainley hamming it up in the cutscenes, and the encyclopedia sections that feature clips from the show.
  • Hell's Kitchen received a PC game adaptation that was, while not horrible, decidedly sub-par. Spoony severely disliked it, noting that star Gordon Ramsay looked weird and pretty nearly the entire point of the show was lost — there's no competition factor whatsoever and it's almost impossible to make Ramsay angry unless you're a damn perfectionist who wants gold stars.
  • Lost: Via Domus for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows. It's faithful to the show, and even utilizes the flashback system. The high points are the story, the use of music from the show, and the very realistic environments. The gameplay is slightly reminiscent of 1990s Adventure Games like King's Quest and Monkey Island, only in full 3D. However, the game's overall lousy — you get a gun but only use it a few times throughout the entire game, and there's the recurring (and annoying) fuse-plugging minigame. The actors for Ben, Sun, Desmond, Mikhail, Tom, and Claire lent their voices for the game (mostly because they have only 4-5 quotes for the whole four hours of the game), but the rest of the characters were voiced by stand-ins. For this reason, they often sound a little different than from the show (this hit Locke the worst) and some characters (Jin, Desmond, Tom after he takes his beard off) are horribly Off Model. To top it all, the game is short, and the ending? A Gainax Ending; you get onto a boat and ride off the island...only to see Oceanic 815 break up and crash onto the island, with you waking up on the beach as opposed to the jungle, and your love interest, who was killed shortly before your flight, having been restored to life, albeit bloodied. Also, you could die randomly in the cave sections, which are all built like mazes. It should come as no surprise that the only Let's Play of the game at the time of this writing is actually called "Let's Endure Lost: Via Domus".
  • The Sopranos: Road to Respect has mediocre graphics, lousy game mechanics and has you playing Big Pussy's illegitimate son who gets to beat up a bunch of thugs by button mashing with occasional character from the show cameoing for good measure (including your father's ghost).
  • Then there is Desperate Housewives: The Game. So very bad that most people have not heard of it - but it exists. Basically, the game is The Sims with a story line and some sims which sound absolutely nothing like the DH actresses. The game is known for a glitch which caused it not to be able to play on many laptops and computers. When the game is inserted, the computer screen will simply read FAIL. Still, the game does have a very well written story and does let you interact with many of the DH characters. Video can be viewed here or here for the Lets Play Bad Game Theater version.
  • There is a Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers card game, but its rules tend to make little sense. The designers seem to fail to appreciate that resource systems are more about time than actual resources.
  • There was a little-known game based on Miami Vice by Capstone for DOS (reviewed here) that suffered from terrible controls, convoluted gameplay, and ridiculous bugs. The game was like a puzzle/platformer hybrid controlled entirely by the mouse and spacebar. In the review linked above, the reviewer could not figure out how to pass the second level because there did not appear to be anything to really indicate the goal of the level. That was also when he encountered several strange, albeit unintentionally amusing glitches such as Crockett and Tubbs's sprites becoming cloned and their inexplicable ability to walk across thin air where no platforms were indicated.
  • The CSI NY game wasn't as good as the others in the franchise. It isn't totally awful, but for some reason was mostly puzzles and hidden item stuff as opposed to the more detailed evidence collecting, tests, interviewing. etc. of the other two shows. Plus, the puzzles can frustrate to no end, especially the "draw a line without touching the non matching items" one and the "draw the outline" one for some. Plus,each case was short, and Mac and Stella were the only player characters, as opposed to either all of the team at various points or a original player character like the rest. And fans tend to view it as yet another example of the show getting the short end of the stick.
  • The company that tried to make a Babylon 5 flight simulator game honestly tried to make it a high quality game that faithfully depicted how a StarFury would handle. They took so long trying to get it right that they were still working on it after the series was over, resulting in the project being cancelled.
  • The Adventures of Gilligan's Island, produced by Bandai for the NES in 1989, is generally regarded as one of that console's worst titles, due to its unreliable controls and extremely hard to beat enemies.
    • The Gilligan's Island Pinball is frowned upon by veteran players, who find it unchallenging and unbalanced — the main game objectives are too easy to achieve, and the "Jungle Run" shot allows even moderately-skilled players to rack up several hundred million points in one round. Still, it's fun as long as you don't take it seriously.
  • The Battlestar Galactica game on console should have been a lot better than it was, given that Starlancer co-developers Warthog Games were behind it. Unfortunately, it was something of a letdown; unreasonably difficult with poor controls, and a plot and setting that mixed and matched elements of the original, remake and probably Galactica 1980 into an incoherent mess of an Alternate Continuity despite being sold as a direct prequel to the 2003 series.

    Music 
  • KISS Pinball for the PC and PlayStation consisted of two pinball boards which were utterly undistinguished aside from the graphical styling and a few voice clips. The soundtrack was made of generic rock riffs and contained no KISS songs. The PlayStation version also suffered from nauseous camera panning.
  • Spice World, based on the Spice Girls. It's a Minigame Game padded with interviews with the girls, and there's only about three of the minigames, and it has an uninspired ending. If you want to experience it for yourself, click here.
  • Revolution X, featuring Aerosmith is a mixed case. It makes for a rather decent, albeit Nintendo Hard (especially if you're playing alone) light gun arcade (making it essentially So Okay, It's Average), but the home conversions for Genesis and SNES are nothing short of awful, with severely downgraded graphics, limited continues (thus ratcheting up the difficulty in getting to the end) and the music looping indefinitely to the point of annoying the hell out of the player. And worse yet, the SNES and Genesis version could offer Super Scope & Menacer support (it's still a rail shooter, after all), but nope.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Famicom game A Week of Garfield starts going wrong with its Excuse Plot, where Garfield wants to save Odie (whose sprite looks half his size) despite not caring about him in the comic strip except to abuse him. In actual gameplay, it's a side-scrolling platformer with ugly graphics and primitive level design. Beating a level requires jumping around randomly to make a key appear. Difficulty comes mainly from having to face enemies like spiders with a pathetic kick attack and no Mercy Invincibility, extra lives or continues.
  • Popeye Saves the Earth is often considered as the worst modern-day Pinball game ever made, and with good reason. The Popeye characters are shoehorned into an Anvilicious Green Aesop Excuse Plot (Popeye saves endangered critters from Bluto the corporate polluter, really), while the game is a clunky affair where half of the table is blocked by the giant white toilet-shaped hull of Popeye's boat. It wasn't any better for Williams Electronics, as the game required customized tooling which raised its price, and the company got threatened with lawsuits when they tried to use a minimum orders clause to force distributors to buy machines they didn't want. About the only good thing you can say for the game is that it keeps small kids entertained with an unoffensive theme.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • While most of THQ's wrestling games based on WWE tend to be well regarded, two of their attempts to branch into different genres were not so lucky. First there was Betrayal, a Game Boy Color Beat 'em Up panned for "idiot AI" among other things. Then there was Crush Hour for the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox, which was essentially a poor man's Twisted Metal whose only redeeming feature was the Narmtastic commentary provided by Jim Ross ("TWISTY ROCKETS!").
  • WCW: Backstage Assault, built on the already questionable Mayhem engine, removes any semblance of wrestling and just goes for a clunky backstage brawler.
  • Hulk Hogan's Main Event for the Xbox 360, which fails to take advantage of the Kinect capabilities as promised. Unlike the other wrestling games listed here, this isn't a product based on a wrestling company, although it does promote Hulk Hogan's former role in TNA.
  • WWF WrestleMania for the NES was the first WWF-licensed game, and it was easily the worst. The entire game consisted almost entirely of punches and kicks. The only grappling hold (in a wrestling game) was a body slam. On top of that, the controls were just awkward and unresponsive, making the simple act of pinning the opponent difficult. The quality of the game (or lack thereof) can't even be blamed on system limitations, as decent wrestling games did exist on the NES (Nintendo Pro Wrestling and Tecmo World Wrestling come to mind).

    Sports 
  • The later entries in the EA Sports NASCAR series suffered this, especially the two 7th generation entries, '08 and '09. Both were noted for mediocre gameplay, muddy graphics and buggy netcode that occasionally crashed online races, and '09 even went so far as to remove the manufacturer logos from the cars, basically rendering it an inaccurate visual representation of the sport. At least one review called the series "The Casey Mears of EA Tiburon".note  Sales collapsed hard across all platforms, and EA dumped the license after shoving a Wii-exclusive kart racer out the door in early 2009. No one can agree whether the new Activision/Eutechnyx NASCAR series is a victim of this or not.
    • To elaborate on the situation with the Activision era games, NASCAR: The Game 2011 and NASCAR The Game: Inside Line (the latter was re-released for the PC market on July 24, 2013 through Steam as NASCAR: The Game 2013) were each riddled with dozens of problems and so difficult that even some Sprint Cup drivers had trouble playing them. Because of these issues, Activision ended up losing their contract to Deep Silver when it came time to start development on NASCAR '14. However, Eutechnyx remained the developer, and reviews indicate that, while vast improvements were made, they're still a long way from resolving the game's issues.
  • Mostly averted with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games until Ride & Shred, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 pretty much takes the cake of skateboarding dissapointment. For starters, the game weighs 4.6 GB, while the day-one patch is larger, being 7.7 GB. But that was only the beginning. The game frequently crashes, has a lot of glitches, half of which can break the game, lack of the actual Create-A-Skater mode, poor online capabilities, bland maps and lots of the exact same challenges, save for different objects. The fact that the contract between Activision & Tony Hawk to make games ends this year doesn't help in the slightest. You can watch the review here.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons games:
    • Heroes of the Lance is an excellent contender for "worst Dungeons & Dragons game ever". If the drab graphics, clunky controls, repetitive music and rotten hit detection don't turn you off, maybe the fact that the game has a nasty Unwinnable condition will do it for you (as described there). Don't suffer through it alone.
    • Even worse was Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor (not to be confused with the Gold Box game simply titled Pool of Radiance, which averts this trope). Aside from horrible balance issues and a thoroughly dull campaign, it had one spectacularly awful bug—if you installed the game to anything other than the default filepath then tried to uninstall it... kiss the entire contents of your hard drive goodbye!
  • Released to much fanfare and to-do, the Xbox 360 game Shadowrun was widely panned as So Okay, It's Average. It captured very, very little of the essence of the setting and was a fairly dull online shooter. The PC port was even worse, for all the reasons already listed, as well as requiring Windows Vista (at a time where it was still incredibly expensive and ridiculously buggy) to even install it.
  • Spell Fire, a hastily put together CCG based on Dungeons & Dragons and mostly reused art, created by TSR to cash in on the Magic fad while it lasted. Three years later, TSR went bankrupt and was bought by WOTC, the creators of Magic... but not before being reduced to using photos of TSR employees in extremely crude costumes as card "art."
  • Steve Jackson Games' Illuminati New World Order was a collectible version of their previous classic Illuminati. Unfortunately, they borrowed many mechanics and cards from the non-collectible version without thinking about how deckbuilding would allow them to be exploited, and most games of INWO were immediately won by whichever player went first.
  • Games Workshop has had many truly horrible licensed games put out based on its various properties. This is because GW has in the mid 2010's made its license much more available, usually getting a piece of the pie rather than a flat fee. This has resulted in some great games from studios that usually couldn't afford this license to some garbage that should have never seen the light of day.
    • Warhammer 40,000 Storm Of Vengeance is usually hailed as So Bad, It's Horrible as a five-lane game with no humor and no charm and a slapped on Warhammer 40,000 theme.
    • Warhammer 40,000 Regicide is chess with Warhammer 40,000 pieces and a couple of game modes which add randomness and hit points and so on to chess.
    • Dawn of War: Soulstorm is not this trope even though it was very much hated; its production was troubled for other reasons. The Dawn of War series has generally been well-received with Soulstorm being the black sheep of the family.

    Toys 
  • Games based directly on the Transformers toys:
    • The Transformers for the Commodore 64 and Sinclair Spectrum back in the mid-1980s, published by Ocean Software. Memorable incidents include Autobots dying from a fall of any distance, Autobots dying from landing on a slope after flying, Autobots dying from not being pixel-perfectly positioned when switching characters, Autobots dying from the bizarre collision detection, Autobots dying for no apparent reason, Autobots dying... perhaps the game was designed by Decepticons? Except for the fact that the Decepticons were even MORE fragile, as the game inverted the typical 'touch me and you die' game mechanics — any Autobot who was flying or in vehicle mode would instantly kill any Decepticon by ramming them. This meant that Bumblebee, who had ridiculous amounts of shields, was a death machine in car form.

      According to this interview, even the development team thought this particular Transformers game was awful.
    • Transformers: Convoy no Nazo was hardly any better, thanks to having ludicrous amounts of Fake Difficulty — your Autobot could barely take a single hit before dying, and the game had an embarrassing A Winner Is You ending to reward players for their efforts.
    • Somehow, people at Takara thought the game deserved a sequel in the form of Transformers Headmasters. Despite numerous improvements (could take more than one hit before you die, save feature, more than two characters), it was still as bad as Mystery of Convoy and was riddled with errors. All but one of the playable characters shared a sprite, the one who didn't was depicted as the wrong character, etc.
    • Transformers had a weak trading card game primarily based on the live-action movies. It was a "3D Battle-Card Game" that certainly had its flaws: characters were represented as punch-out buildable cards that could either be built as vehicles/animals or out-of-proportion Off Model robots (here's Optimus, for those interested), and the game could easily be played without the card models. Only two sets were released.
  • BIONICLE games:
    • There are many things wrong with Bionicle: The Game, a near-Nintendo Hard action-adventure shooter-platformer mishmash that was released barely finished in 2003. The controls render it almost unplayable, since the view doesn't change to follow the player, so you have to position the camera manually while simultaneously running, jumping, attacking, blocking and sometimes gliding. The camera keeps bumping into things and in some parts even moves from itself, throwing you off course (and off platforms) easily. The game features odd animation and amateurish voice acting, and the visual design is rather ugly, while the gameplay is surprisingly repetitive, despite the varied landscapes you play in. The game tried to superficially follow the story, but only managed to keep one or two key points, so there is no cohesive narrative. Meanwhile, the presentation could not possibly have been any more Narmy — the way the characters spout the cheesiest of clichéd lines while keeping a straight face, and with just how anticlimactic and random the final cutscene is, you would think the game was meant to be a parody, but the punchline never comes... unless you count the final prize for completing the game — a nonsensical outro and another look at the loading screen —, but then, the joke's on you.
      • The port for the Game Boy Advance is not as well-known as the PC and console versions, but that's probably for the better. The controls are terrible and they tried to introduce some sort of camera system, but it's just laughable and doesn't really help you. The targeting system doesn't seem to work most of the time, the graphics are terrible, and the perspective is really butchered. The music is fairly decent, but that's about the only redeeming quality; the game is almost unplayable.
    • The creators of Bionicle Heroes thought the game wouldn't be as fun if it stayed true to the story. So they took a Broad Strokes approach, and rewrote it from scratch, explaining that the evil Piraka have transformed Voya Nui's creatures into random monsters. That was an easy way of making Mooks out of characters who had no business wandering about on the island (though they're still referred to in-game as being not copies, but the real things). Being a LEGO Adaptation Game, the Rule of Funny was expected, but even taking this into account, they made the characters completely unrecognizable. Three of the bosses are characters that have been dead for 1000 years. Another is actually a good guy. The powers are likewise nonsensical. For example, Hewkii, a sportsman who also possessed the Mask of Accuracy (you'd think a Third-Person Shooter would take advantage of this), has a construction ability. The other powers are also random (the Toa of Fire can make plants explode?), and none of the actual mask powers were incorporated into the game. The gameplay itself is tediously monotone: you just walk on a mostly predetermined path (only one character can jump, and you don't have control over even that), shoot mindlessly, and at random intervals open secret areas. That's it. It's also way too damn easy, as you spend more than half of the game in an invincible Golden Super Mode. When you beat the six main bosses, they become playable, but what fun you have with them is lost after a while, because when you acquire the final boss, he overrides them. At least the level design is visually pleasing and creative, the unlockables are kinda fun, and the game has a nice soundtrack. If it didn't trample over the source material so brutally, it would be So Okay, It's Average. Ironic, given the respect with which Traveller's Tales treat the various licenses they've adapted into LEGO.
  • Two of the games from the American Girls Collection for the Nintendo DS, namely Julie Finds a Way and Kit Mystery Challenge were given scathing reviews, mainly due to piss-poor gameplay and controls. The American Girls Premiere game for the PC and Mac was a different story, though.
  • The video game for The Trash Pack was heavily reviled by both fans and reviewers alike for being a high-priced video game that only contained four minigames and a checklist for the first wave of figures.

    Video Games 
  • Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, one of the most infamous examples. See Porting Disaster and that other Wiki for details.
  • In a twist on this trope, Frogger: The Great Quest got a license to make a game about a classic arcade game. While some earlier Frogger remakes were actually surprisingly good, this one attempted to make it into a 3D action platformer and failed miserably. You attacked enemies by spitting at them, and when close enough you used frog-fu (no, we're not making this up, this is the exact terminology the game used). The controls were horrible, the only difficult thing was figuring out what the heck you were supposed to do, there was no replay value unless you wanted to start the whole game over again, and the voice acting was somewhere between bad and the kind of voice that makes you want to take a hammer to your head.
  • Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric (a Recursive Adaptation, since the cartoon it was based on was in turn adapted from the regular Sonic the Hedgehog series) has garnered a number of criticisms since its release:
    • The textures and other graphical effects are subpar, looking more like a PS2 game than one on the Wii U.
    • Its slower pace than most other Sonic games has been routinely compared to the infamous Werehog, with monotonous use of the "Tetherbeam" mechanic to destroy enemies.
    • Some also hated the constant chatter from the heroes during gameplay (especially since the game's attempts at humor tend to fall flat).
    • Perhaps the most damning thing, however, is the slew of bugs and general lack of polish that the game exhibits. Among others:
      • This video quickly went viral for many reasons: the fact that by spin dashing into an NPC triggers a cutscene, Sonic's allies can clip through them, the aforementioned lackluster dialogue and graphics, the fact that an invading battleship makes no noise at all and (despite the characters claiming it's attacking) doing absolutely nothing, and finally the cheery music remaining while said battleship invades.
      • Then there are the gameplay-related ones - for starters, in one section that's shown from a side perspective (i.e. like a 2D sidescroller) the player can inexplicably clip through the back wall by moving into it.
      • Another infamous glitch has the player trying to move against an invisible wall, only for Sonic to grab onto its top as if it were a ledge and then fall through the level endlessly, necessitating a reset.
      • Finally, there's the fact that, when the player is enclosed in a force field and made to fight enemies in order to get out, dying can cause you to respawn outside the force field, with no way to attack enemies and progress.
    • All of this has led to people nicknaming the game "Sonic '06 2" and "Sonic '14". Sega seems to have been aware of its lack of quality, since they've withheld review copies and tried to take down early Let's Play videos.

    Web Original 
  • A very rare and ironic in-universe example occurs in Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 5: 8-Bit is Enough.
    Strong Bad: Say it with me, The Cheat: Licensed video games are never good.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is a downplayed version of this trope, since its presentation is legitimately good (the graphics and music are top-notch, and the essence of the Nerd himself comes across well), but the sheer difficulty turned some people off from it, as well as the fact that the game follows some of the game design conventions the Nerd absolutely hates (though not without irony).
  • In-universe example with Charleyyy and Friends: The Video Game, from the Super Mario Logan episode, "Bowser's Video Game". The game's atmosphere and humor are very accurate to the show it's based on. However, despite being advertised as an M rated game, it surprisingly lacks a lot of the advertised adult content. In addition, the game suffers from unresponsive controls, Charleyyy loses health from ridiculous things such as not having any mail in his mailbox and not having any gas in his car, there are tons of loading screens, and, as proven by Bowser Junior, the game can be beaten in ten minutes, complete with an A Winner Is You ending.
  • While most official (or officially-approved in the case of the games in htfgames.com) Happy Tree Friends games tend to be So Okay, It's Average due to being plain arcade games or just one of those "generic" Flash games, the absolute low point when it comes to the games is probably Happy Tree Friends: False Alarm for the Xbox and PC. Before the smartphone games, it was the only major release (the older mobile games are rather obscure), and it's the only one to be released for a console, at that. Graphically, it stays true to the show... but perhaps too much. The mostly-solid bright colors look unpleasant, the Happy Tree Friends' 3D models look plain (what with the stiff, flat face whose expression only changes when he/she gets certain injuries), and the blood and gore graphics might as well not "gory"-looking at all. Gameplay-wise, it's just an uninspired Lemmings lookalike minus the behavior-changers (you can only either freeze, thaw out, scare off, or burn the Happy Tree Friends) but with more Artificial Stupidity. While every level has environment-based gimmicks and traps, they all still feel the same. Also, the game's rather short (at around 2 hours quickest), it doesn't make use of all HTF characters (not counting the episode that comes with the game and the Xbox achievements' pictures, only 8 out of 20 (Lammy and Mr. Pickels didn't exist yet) main characters are in-game) and the special episode it promises is already readily-watchable on YouTube in its entirety
  • The Irate Gamer Game completely plays this straight. A platformer for mobile devices with really bad controls even by those standards, dull levels, minimal enemies, pointless ladders (you can't go up), and overall lazy design. It was revealed that it was a reskin of a different mobile game that sells its assets to potential game makers and despite being hyped for years, looks like it was made in a week. The only upside was the art for the comic book-style cutscenes. The game only lasted 3 months on the iOS App Store before getting pulled. Irate Gamer himself made a (now deleted) glowing video about it, comparing it to Angry Birds. Years later he realized he was scammed.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur's Absolutely Fun Day for the Game Boy Color is the one glaring example in the franchise's long line of normally well made licensed games. The music is horrible and beepy (and often emits high-pitched notes that upset people with sensitive hearing and dogs), the graphics are lazy and look badly drawn (you control a disembodied head of Arthur's in a circle in the map screen!) and the games are boring and repetitive if not downright frustrating.
    • Also not very good is Arthur: Ready to Race! for Playstation. The game is supposed to be namely a downhill racer, but the races are mediocre at best since they are very easy and are only played by one player, and can't be lost unless the player truly tries. Most of the rest of the game is running around Elwood City to finish small jobs for other people, simply so Arthur can raise the money to buy the parts to build a better cart. This is all in the form of redundant mini games that are also impossible to lose. The player can also visit familiar locales such as the Sugar Bowl, which are home only to flat mannequin characters standing behind a counter. Build the new car, race it, repeat once more, and the game is over in almost an hour. That is if anyone can stand playing it for that long when the characters have voices that are low-quality and not by the same voice actors as the series and none of the same personalities are there. There is also a multiplayer mode for up to four players if they really want to take turns playing just the racing levels.
    • The episode "Arthur Sells Out" featured a rare in-universe example. Arthur and Buster try to raise money to buy a video game called Dark Bunny: Revenge of the Moomies, based on one of their favorite TV shows. They end up not buying the game, but Muffy buys the game for $35.95. It turns out that the game is a complete ripoff, featuring flat, outdated graphics and boring gameplay, and the player character isn't even Dark Bunny. The game apparently results in a Game Over after playing it for barely a minute. Muffy decides to throw the game in the garbage.
  • The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends for the NES was a video game based on a 1960s cartoon. It was released on other systems, but the most infamous one was the NES version, released in December 1992 by THQ and Radical Entertainment. It features Fake Difficulty in Demonic Spiders, very stiff and unresponsive controls, no Mercy Invincibility, subpar graphics for a late NES game, and the droning and annoying music in the background that loops every 20 seconds or so. You get a YOU WIN!! screen as your reward for beating this wretched game.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head for the SNES is an uninspired platformer that's Nintendo Hard on even the easiest difficulty, largely in part due to a multitude of cheap shots and unavoidable enemies, has gameplay that consists almost entirely of "go right and don't die", and the plot is stupid even by the show's standards. To add insult to injury, Beavis and Butt-Head in: Virtual Stupidity for the PC is, by and large, the opposite of this trope.
    • The Sega Genesis Beavis and Butt-Head game has shades of this. On one hand, the game's visuals and humour are perfectly in line with the show's, it's filled with many references to episodes, and it manages to avoid the most Guide Dang It aspects of many adventure games. On the other hand, it's a relentlessly difficult game, due to Everything Trying to Kill You, an immediate Game Over if either Beavis or Butt-Head's health runs out, and the difficulty of actually regaining health. While the game has a password system, the passwords do not save your collected inventory...but do save your remaining health, which can even result in an Unwinnable by Mistake situation if you don't have enough health just to get more health.
  • Eek! The Cat for SNES is a miserable platformer. Instead of simply moving Eek! through the various levels, Eek! has to safely guide an NPC to the exit by kicking or pushing him or her out of harm's way. This is frustrating, as the NPC constantly walks forward. Combined with miserable controls, the game is jam-packed with Fake Difficulty. Additionally, the Eek! game features some of the darkest, dingiest graphics on the platform, and possibly ever. To add insult to injury, it's a mere Dolled-Up Installment of an Amiga game called Sleepwalker, with only one original level up its sleeve. But hey, what else do you expect from the developers of Cheesy (yes, that Cheesy)?
  • Highlander: The Last of the MacLeods, based on Highlander: The Animated Series, was a 3D Action-Adventure game vaguely resembling Alone in the Dark released for the unpopular, technically unreliable Atari Jaguar CD add-on. The player character, made of all too few polygons, animates like walking through quicksand and controls as if drunk. The camera changes angles constantly and isn't too clever about not obscuring the player or enemies. The combat has bad hit detection and Mooks who can force you into a Cycle of Hurting if you let them get in their melee range. There are a lot of items which can't be used except for the one puzzle they were intended to solve and otherwise just clutter up the inventory.
  • The Simpsons games:
    • The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants and The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World were Nintendo Hard platformers with annoying controls that lead to a lot of Fake Difficulty and mediocre graphics. To spare explanation, check out the Angry Video Game Nerd's review of the games.
    • The Simpsons: Bartman Meets Radioactive Man for the NES was filled with abysmal collision detection and barely-functional fighting controls. Bartman's punches were horribly slow and did next to nothing, even if he hit an enemy. Levels were long and insufferably boring with no variety in them whatsoever. The only thing people are willing to defend about the game is the music.
    • The Simpsons Wrestling was released for the PlayStation in 2001. It had bad gameplay and graphics, but surprisingly good music.
    • The Simpsons Skateboarding was released for the PlayStation 2. It was a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater clone with terrible gameplay, odd blocky graphics, very limited moveset, and poor controls. It also has the oddity of a skating contest where the prize is a mere $99 and some annoyance in Kent Brockman's constant commentary. It is widely considered to be the worst Simpsons game ever.
    • The Simpsons: Road Rage was an otherwise not-offensively-bad driving game that was completely ruined by Loads and Loads of Loading. We're talking one minute long load screens followed by 15 second tasks. And that's before we bring in Sega suing Fox over allegations of Road Rage being a rip-off of Crazy Taxi. Never mind that the game was largely overshadowed by The Simpsons: Hit & Run, a Wide Open Sandbox which was out at around the same time.
    • This trope is parodied in universe when Milhouse decides to play an arcade adaptation of Water World. Depositing ten dollars in quarters, he notes "This had better be worth it." He simply moves the joystick to the right, making the Mariner take one step across the screen, at which point the game announces "Game Over, please deposit forty quarters."
  • Pick any 5th generation console South Park game. South Park Rally was a forgettable, confusing Mario Kart clone, Chef's Luv Shack was a bizarre game show with questions that made no sense if you weren't American, and the South Park FPS has been accurately described as "the Mr. Hankey of FPS games: A turd of a game who comes to people who don't read game reviews". It got 8% from PC Gamer magazine in the UK and a 30/100 from a Finnish games magazine which also sourced the previous quote.

    The PC version of the South Park FPS was horribly buggy and had performance issues, which is part of the reason why it was reviewed so badly by most. The N64 version was generally rated much better, although that's not saying much (Game Stats gives it an average of 5.9/10 from the major sites). At the very least, it had the good fortune of being built on the Turok engine, so most of the bugs had been ironed out beforehand.
    • SEGA made a pinball machine themed on South Park as well that was a flop with both operators and players. After some operators took some heat for allowing a machine themed on a TV-MA license to be played where children are often present, many operators decided to not buy them or return them outright. The players, meanwhile, slammed the game for its unbalanced scoring, bare-bones gameplay, and lack of challenge. This machine ultimately took SEGA out of the pinball business for good. That being said, the South Park pinball machine did prove a hit among fans of the show, as it integrates the theme very well and is filled with references to the show. It thus has a Love It or Hate It status, lining up largely with those who watch the show and enjoy it and those who do not—even the most persnickety of pinball fans seem to like the machine if they are also South Park fans.
  • On the surface, MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch sounds like something tailor-made for an addictive brawler. Annoying celebrities beating the snot out of each other until one of them finally lays down and dies, with a slathering of gratuitous violence and bloodshed on top? It made for an awesome show, so why shouldn't it work? Unfortunately, it came with an incredibly small roster, a short story mode that could be beaten in two hours or less, a create-a-character mode more shallow than the celebrities that it was skewering, and crappy controls, condemning it to the bargain bin.
  • Futurama: The Game, while not a terrible game, is an uninspired Third-Person Shooter, merely So Okay, It's Average by most fans' standards. While the graphics do look rather nice and the character designs translate well into 3D, its main saving grace is its hilarious story, which was penned by the actual writers and performed by the voice actors of the show. Not only does it manage to lampshade a few aspects of the show, but it makes fun of a few video game clichés as well. Luckily, all of the cutscenes (and some filmed gameplay) were strung together and released as an unofficial episode, which is available as a special feature on the second film release, The Beast With a Billion Backs.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Legend of the Lost Spatula, published by THQ in 2001, is sort of an odd case; the graphics are decent for a Game Boy Color game, the music is really nice, and there are plenty of Continuity Nods throughout. It has the potential to be a good game, but is almost completely wrecked by unintuitive jump physics and a bizarre camera system that makes it impossible to see what's immediately above or beneath you, and even then there are only four unique enemy behavior patterns (discounting bosses).
    • While on the subject of SpongeBob, the PS2 version of Revenge of the Flying Dutchman had a serious Game-Breaking Bug that would freeze the game when attempting to load a new area, thus making it impossible to play. Fortuntately, this was fixed in the GameCube release.
    • Plankton's Robotic Revenge could have been a good sequel to Battle for Bikini Bottom, but its flaws - simplistic gameplay and combat, limited enemy roster, and an uninspired story - are far too noticeable for even the most hardened fans of the show to squeeze out any enjoyment from the game.
  • The Teen Titans game, called simply Teen Titans, is a lame excuse for a game that consists of an extremely generic plot, lazy, glitch-filled graphics and an extremely disappointing ending. Pretty much every major villain from the series is randomly running rampant and the Teen Titans have to go stop them. You can choose the difficulty level, but there's no noticeable difference between them besides the too good Pong level, and there are these two levels that are dang near impossible anyway! It's not the worst licensed game ever, but it sure has its problems.
    • It wouldn't be that bad if it had actually been made with 2D animation instead of the ugly 3D it got, and Raven's cloak is the wrong color. The free flash games on Cartoon Network's website look better than the game's graphics.
    • The one good thing it had going for it was that the entire voice cast of the actual show was onboard. But even that is kind of depressing if you stop to think about it too much.
    • And speaking of Raven, there's a major flaw in the game's cover art: her cape is missing. It's also worth mentioning that one of Cyborg's fingers, specifically the one that's right above Robin's hair, is slightly cut off. Take a look!
  • Looney Tunes games:
    • Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor was a boring music game for the DS with little to no replayability or fun.
    • Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal could've been a decent Ratchet & Clank clone if it wasn't marred by bland visuals, music that ranges from mediocre to nonexistant, save for a pleasant remix of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" (the theme you've definitely heard during the assembly line scenes in the old shorts) that plays during the penultimate level, bad enemies (the final boss is colossal before you fight it but shrinks down to less than half as large during the actual fight, can bug out causing the music to not play and you can beat it in one or two minutes), and an Excuse Plot with a less than satisfying ending.
    • Bugs Bunny's Birthday Ball was a pinball machine rushed through development for managerial reasons, and it shows. Nearly half of the playfield is taken up by a nearly-useless "Chicken Coop," the lopsided scoring makes the game feel random, and a "Surprise Package" gimmick means a player can suddenly have his score randomly exchanged with another player's. It's considered a horribly wasteful use of the license.
  • Férias Frustradas do Pica-Pau (translates into Woody Woodpecker's Frustrated Vacation), released by Tec Toy in Brazil in 1995, is an atrocious game for the Sega Genesis and Sega Master System, both for its sloppy design and for being extremely hard for all the wrong reasons. The levels are poorly designed (sometimes blatantly copy and pasted) and absolutely relentless in enemy placement, but the real issue is the very stiff controls combined with some of the worst hit detection you'll ever find in a game—nine times out of ten, you'll get hurt by the enemies and boss fights more than you can dish it out on them with your nearly useless, short range peck attack. The graphics are abysmal and look like they were drawn in MS Paint, and the sound work is lazy and annoying (for example, the sound of Woody Woodpecker's laugh plays every time he grabs any item). Oh, and the Hard Mode makes the experience even more miserable, since Woody has no Mercy Invincibility in it.
  • The Wii adaptation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It's a Minigame Game, but the big problem is that there are only four of them. Altogether it takes 15 minutes to beat the game, and it's a disc-based game rather than a downloadable title. Sadly, the Loading Screen is the best part.
  • The Xiaolin Showdown game for the PS2 and Xbox (the DS version was surprisingly decent). It suffers from boring and repetitious gameplay, mucky graphics, extremely short length, you cannot die at all, and Dojo doesn't even have his original voice actor. As one reviewer said, you can beat a level just by standing in a corner and letting the AI players eliminate all the enemies for you. The only redeeming thing about the game was the Showdown mini-games, but even those were boring and lacking.
  • The 2012 My Little Pony game is a freemium game made for smartphones. The problem with this game? You have to pay to win it legitimately. - and there's a lot. It's not otherwise a terrible game and it does have its fans, plus it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be in its regard, but it still requires ridiculous amounts of grinding to complete without paying.
  • Family Guy has a rough history when it comes to video games. The 2006 game simply called Family Guy: Video Game! suffered from braindead AI, uninspired levels and gameplay mechanics, and was just simply boring. The browser MMO had a mediocre reception from players and was shut down before even going out of beta. 2012's Back to the Multiverse, did considerably better, many reviewers stating to have enjoyed the game's comedy and writing, but subpar shooting mechanics put it into So Okay, It's Average territory for many. Then there was Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, which is ultimately nothing more than a transparent knock-off of The Simpsons: Tapped Out, and not a particularly good one at that; the microtransactions are far more frequent and obnoxious, for one thing.
  • Daria had a game called Daria's Inferno. It was if anything So Okay, It's Average. It does feature some of the show's silly wit as Daria has a nightmare of all her annoyances... but it quickly gets just as annoying for the player, since the game requires you to use an item on the Daria characters walking around so they don't irritate her. Unfortunately in the early stages, they spawn at least ten of them per room, and the penultimate level only has Helen and Quinn appear saying the exact same things. While funny, ("Daria, could you hide your brain? You're making Quinn feel left out.") it's only funny the first few times.. and they appear for a few brief seconds and do so repeatedly.
  • The Tom and Jerry SNES game is just another bland platformer, where the player, as Jerry, plays through a series of stages, running around until he hits the end of each stage and fights Tom. Along the way, he can pick up peas that he can use to throw at his enemies. The music is composed of nothing but random beeps. The game's multiplayer aspect is no better; to quote a YouTube commentator:
    So, lemme get this straight, both players, not even playing at the same time, have to complete the level, and if one dies they switch.
  • The NES game based on The Incredible Crash Dummies, where your character's on a runaway unicycle for some reason, your only weapon does nothing but freeze enemies for a second, and it's possible to have your head knocked off thereby reversing all your controls, is usually regarded as one of the more frustrating licensed games on the system. The Game Boy one, which instead of being a action-platformer is made up of quirky minigames of the dummies working as stunt doubles or quality control at a munitions plant, tends to be regarded a bit more favorably.
    • There is a far worse evil: the version of the game on the SNES and Genesis. With bad music and sound effects on both platforms, there's also a hit point system where you lose your limbs when you take a hit, which can make it harder to do certain platforming bits. Add floaty jumping mechanics and uninspired level design and you get a game that is worthy of the status of being part of the reason why LJN was killed in 1995. This game was developed by some hacks called Gray Matter. The NES and Game Boy versions (developed by Software Creations) are mediocre at worst, okay at best, but the SNES and Genesis versions are just plain bad.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games in general are a mixed bag.
  • Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! is a generic, tedious dungeon crawler that gets none of the elements of other games in its genre right, yet the game is canon to the show and reveals Princess Bubblegum's "parents" and real age. Its main saving grace would have to be its presentation and loyalty to its source material. They've apparently learned from this, as its successor Secret of the Nameless Kingdom has gotten a kinder (but still not fantastic) reception.
  • Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8-Bit Land tried to be a fun little homage to classic 8-bit games, but unfortunately the game was rushed to store shelves and is plagued with problems such as bad level design and glitches.
  • Parodied (and possibly played straight) with Rick and Morty's Rushed Licensed Adventure, a Flash point-and-click game that deliberately employs Moon Logic Puzzles (such as using a trampoline to stop deadly lasers). Of course, all of this is lampshaded repeatedly... which leads to the biggest problem people have with the game: its Medium Awareness gets irritating quickly. (Other than that, it's generally considered a perfectly functional game, however.)
  • Interviews about the development of Young Justice: Legacy talked about this trope a lot. Little Orbit, the company developing the game, worked closely with the showrunners to ground the game in the show's timeline. It takes place four years after the first season and a year before the second, and it depicts events the show's second season only hinted at, such as Aqualad learning his father is Black Manta and the death of Aquagirl. On the other hand, the game was delayed more than once, finally being released well after the show's cancellation. The graphics looked about ten years out of date, the actual gameplay is clumsy, and the 3DS port was turn-based combat, instead of real time like the others. Most fans that bothered with it agree that the story and the voice acting is right up there with the rest of the franchise, but the actual game itself is lacking.
  • While most of the Nickelodeon crossover games are considered cult classics (especially the Nicktoons Unite series), Nickelodeon Party Blast, one of the very first ones, was near unanimously considered a complete and utter joke. The graphics were very bland and ugly; looking about on par with a Nintendo 64 game. (And this was a game released on the Gamecube and the Xbox.) The gameplay itself was lambasted for its terrible controls and just being boring, and the less said about the sound effects and music, the better. The icing on the cake was that the game was developed by Data Design Interactive, the same company that would later become infamous for their many crummy shovelware games for the Wii.
  • Though it wasn't necessarily a bad game, The Fairly Oddparents: Breakin' Da Rules received mixed reviews from critics (IGN in particular gave it a score of 5.0), though its Playstation 2 version received a score of 73%.

    Specific Companies 
  • Disney usually has a solid track record when it comes to licensed games, which can be seen on the other page. Unfortunately, not all of their games are winners:
    • Paperinik New Adventures is regarded as one of the best comics ever created in Italy and one of the best Disney comics in general. The videogame based on it, however? They cut all the 30+ years of history the character had, only introduced a handful of the loved new characters and made repetitive stages and boring boss battles. It's a shame that this is what most people outside of Europe think about when they think "Paperinik".
    • Ariel: The Little Mermaid was developed for the Sega Genesis, and so could offer fancier graphics than Capcom's NES game The Little Mermaid, which was better in almost every other way. It also tried for greater complexity of gameplay, but ended up forcing the player to swim around labyrinthine levels with unresponsive controls and terrible collision detection hunting for Baleful Polymorphed friends to shoot musical notes at; these musical notes are also a very weak primary attack. Flounder and Sebastian can be summoned, but don't really help much. After slowly putting down Final Boss Ursula, the ending consists mainly of a "Congratulations!" screen.
    • Wreck-It Ralph is possibly the most successful video game movie out there. The video game adaptation, however, has been criticized for its subpar graphics, being short (it has only 18 levels), repetitive (the levels all feel the same), easy (there is no penalty for death) and having a ton of wasted potential. Basically, the video game movie is amazing, while the video game of the movie is terrible.
    • Alice in Wonderland, the video game adaptation of Tim Burton's 2010 film, was a decided letdown to fans of the movie. Many of the battles are unintuitive, and the player doesn't even play as Alice — rather, as five residents of Underland (though they do fortunately consist of fan-favorites such as the Mad Hatter), who have to make their way through the entire map while preventing Alice from being captured. It's not horrible, but it's extremely disappointing.
    • Gargoyles for the Sega Genesis looks rather nice, at least in the first couple of levels, and Goliath is very mobile, but the combat is atrocious; attacks never seen to deal a consistent amount of damage, with fights either ending in half a second or turning into long-protracted affairs. Goliath's grab attack is Awesome, but Impractical since the hit detection on it is terrible and most enemies you can grab will just start meleeing you the instant you get into range to use it. On top of that, the difficulty curve is extremely steep, capped off with having only one continue and no passwords.
    • Darkwing Duck had a stellar NES licensed game published and developed by Capcom, mainly because it used a modified version of Mega Man 5's game engine. The game developed by Interactive Designs for the Turbo-Grafx 16, on the other hand, is vastly inferior. It suffers from a lot of problems, such as stiff and sluggish controls which only serve to make the platforming parts even harder, boring music, unfair difficultynote , and only four bosses (Tuskernini, Megavolt, Moliarty, and Steelbeak; the NES version at least let you fight the other members of the Fearsome Four).
    • Gravity Falls: Legend of the Gnome Gemulets for the Nintendo 3DS. While its spritework, dialogue, and characterization are well-done and show-accurate, thanks to Alex Hirsch overseeing the project, the game suffers from incredibly monotonous gameplay, music that sounds more fitting for a western, boring boss battles that are blatant rehashes/reskins of one another, and the game itself being far too easy. Also, the game is very low on the creepiness factor, and this is Gravity Falls we're talking about.
    • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: Tipton Trouble is dull, repetitive, and lazily put together. In the words of Cole Sprouse, "The best way to beat that game is to eject and physically destroy it."
  • Acclaim and LJN Toys (which merged in 1990) were really, really bad for this during the 8- and 16-bit days. Acclaim didn't learn its lesson and continued to produce crap until its eventual bankruptcy (and limited revival as a distributor of Korean MMORPGs). LJN and Acclaim were so bad at this that they received extreme scorn as The Angry Video Game Nerd's most hated game companies.
    • Subverted with Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage for the SNES which had good controls, and good music, and was actually all around decent. When the Nerd declared it So Okay, It's Average, then discovered it was made by LJN, it totally blew his mind and made him suffer a breakdown: "IT'S NOT SHIT! IT'S NOOOOOOOOOOT SHIIIIIIIIIIT!!!"
    • Acclaim subverted this with games such as Turok and Shadow Man, which were genuinely good games — but they were too little, too late to help the company, and while Shadow Man received good critical reception, it failed to be a success in stores and became more of a cult hit, despite getting a sequel.
  • Similarly, a lot of THQ's input from the early 1990s consisted of crappy licensed projects, with such gems as Home Alone, Where's Waldo? and Wayne's World under their belts.
  • Brash Entertainment did nothing but these games, with their Alvin and the Chipmunks and Jumper tie-ins receiving some of the absolute lowest scores of the 7th generation. Naturally, the studio was quickly shut down 18 months after being formed. note 
  • Ludia is quickly developing a reputation among game show fans for developing and releasing the worst game show adaptations for video game consoles (specifically Wii) in decades. Seriously, has anyone at the company ever watched these programs?
    • Press Your Luck 2010 was an inexcusable shell of the popular game show, with computer opponents that don't know how many months are in a year, glitchy sounds and graphics, a boring and repetitive emcee, and a Big Board that was easily exploitable thanks to it only rotating between three screens (yes, you too could be like Michael Larson).
    • Family Feud Decades was a grand idea to celebrate the show's 35th Anniversary, but wasn't without its share of missteps. While the four sets all look great, the Louie Anderson theme/cues are used no matter which era you pick. You only have 20 seconds to input answers, and you can only use the Wiimote to do so...an unforgiving, clunky setup that you can't change. The predictive text also helps break it; if your answer doesn't show up after two letters, 9 times out of 10 it's not on the board.
    • Family Feud 2012 is even worse. It uses a set that looks only superficially like the current one, music that only vaguely resembles the theme tune and doesn't even play at the right times, an obnoxious stereotypical-game-show-host-type guy, and has some of the worst graphics Ludia's ever done. There's large periods of silence while the ugly characters (though at least you can use your Miis) perform overy-long and repetitive actions. They couldn't even get the show's graphics or sound effects right, and the reveal in Fast Money is done in completely the wrong way. At least the 2010 version was passable.
    • The $1,000,000 Pyramid managed to do an even worse job — idiotic computer AI, extremely-slow gameplay, and a massively broken payout structure (the Million is awarded for every Winner's Circle victory, which is done by way of the front-game format). The biggest mistake was using the classic 1982-91 logo style with the Donny Osmond version, and pre-release screenshots clearly showed the Osmond logo on-set! Naturally, the fanbase wondered what the hell Sony had been inhaling.
    • Their 2010 Hollywood Squares game did a fine enough job replicating the set and format of Bergeron's final season, but that's where the good stuff ends. Tom Bergeron's voice acting shows zero enthusiasm. There's only four actual celebrities in the entire game; the rest are generic people who don't tell a single joke. The questions they ask are really easy, and the bluffs are often head-slappingly stupid (J Lo's real name is Tom Hanks?!). The only unlockable rewards are wardrobe items...which you won't even get to see most of the game, since your contestant avatar is rarely shown. It says something when the NES game from 1988 is a more faithful and fun adaptation!
    • The home versions of The Price Is Right were passable, if cheap (the Big Wheel skewed heavily in favor of computer players for some reason). While the first version was released in 2008, the graphics and music heavily suggest it was two years late.
    • The Price Is Right Decades was supposed to be essentially a love letter to the fans, but turned out to be mediocre — pricing games are still played for cash, the Carey-era theme is used in all years, Hurdles is completely botched (rather than the three hurdles being sets of two products where you must guess which is lower than the Hurdler's price, it's a higher/lower game), and the Showcase Showdown is even worse (you have to beat a preset "leader", and are forced to go again if you tie on the first spin).
    • Worst of all, many very superior fan-made renditions were yanked off the internet by cease-and-desist orders so these abominations could be released. The fanbase, who had been consulted by Ludia about the PYL game and provided more than enough resources to let it surpass Curt King's unofficial PC rendition, became very disgusted at Fremantle Media...which didn't exactly have a good reputation with them as it was.
  • Just pick any film made between 1988 and 1993, and there's a good chance Ocean Software made a side scrolling platformer (possibly with extra top-down levels) out of it...regardless of how suitable the subject matter was.
    • Noteworthy examples would be their take on the Addams Family movies and animated series. At least on the SNES, the results were actually worth checking out. The first Addams Family game was a pretty enjoyable and clever platformer and Addams Family Values was interpreted as, no joke, a parody of the Legend of Zelda games. Fester's Quest on the NES is similar in scope and play, and is just so damned bizarre (and thus, really, perfectly in-tone with the Addams franchise) that it's worth a look, though that was a Sunsoft production more than an Ocean one.
  • Pack-in-Video developed a good chunk of video games based on either movies or TV shows in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Some were either otherwise average or just bad. Some of those games include Knight Rider, Friday the 13th, Predator, Rambo, and Die Hard...all of which were released on the NES, published by either LJN or Acclaim (although Die Hard was published by Activision).
  • Radical Entertainment was responsible for quite a number of bad licensed games in their early years; the aforementioned Terminator for the NES was their first game, no less. It makes one wonder how the hell they went from dreck like Bebe's Kids to great games like [PROTOTYPE].
  • Anything made by DSI Software is guaranteed to be garbage. March of the Penguins and M&Ms Kart Racing are a couple examples.
    • Every character in the latter game speaks in the same male voice, even Green. This should speak volumes about how much effort was put into it.
    • It's worth noting that the DS port of M&Ms Kart Racing was, however, a passable if uninspired racing game that was much less buggy and had no voice acting.
  • Blast! Entertainment Ltd. was a short-lived studio (it lived from 2006 - 2009) that published nothing but those types of games. All of them were so bad that no one with a clear mind would ever buy their games.
    • Their most infamous title is Little Britain: The Video Game for the PS2, which was nominated by various UK critics for being the worst licensed game ever made at the time of its release. The same critics also noted that it was the worst game they ever played on that system.
    • They also made the PS2 version of Home Alone.
  • Data East Pinball was a repeat offender of this trope when they first started getting into Licensed Games in The '80s and early Nineties; the strategy was to spend lots of money buying Pinball rights to then-popular themes, then apply them to whatever pinball game was in development at the time. While the tables themselves ranged from "So Okay, It's Average" to "Guilty Pleasure", they were also often considered a waste of the license (see Back to the Future, above). To be fair, this situation improved over time, with games like Tales from the Crypt and Jurassic Park ranked among the best games from The '90s.
  • ISCO is a contract developer to run away from really fast (being the contract developer hired to make the above Transformers: Convoy no Nazo). The reason they get their own section is because all of their games tend to have the same problems, which are ugly graphics, bad sound effects, awful controls and lack of playability. They are so horrible that after playing their games you will probaby never look at LJN the same way ever again.

Alternative Title(s): Movie Video Games Suck, The Problem With Licensed Videogames, The Trouble With Licensed Games, Trading Card Lame

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheProblemWithLicensedGames?from=Main.TradingCardLame