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The Problem with Licensed Games

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"From a bygone era of gaming where every major movie release had to have a shoddily-produced video game tie-in to generate extra hype. An era where the movie cast was contractually obligated to mutter their lines as the same character with a sleazy corporate executive named Todd breathing down their neck in the recording booth. And they clearly only did it for a paycheck and didn't want to be there because they thought gaming was a cultural dead end for storytelling. An era where a movie studio would tell a development staff to rush out a game as fast as possible to coincide with the movie release, not understanding that game development is a painstaking and laborious process that requires finesse and years of careful crafting to pull off correctly. 'Nope, get it done in eight months or we'll sue!' Which resulted in many of gaming's most forgettable and sometimes most embarrassing moments."

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. So... video and card game developers could take some time to develop an original property made with care, imagination and the ultimate goal of developing a brand new franchise. Or, they could just buy into an already-popular property via licensing — permission to build a game around a TV show, or a movie, or a comic book, or a work of literature, or anything really (and we mean anything note ).

Given the built-in customer interest and sales potential in a licensed property, there's considerably less incentive for developers to make an actually good game. 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. Sometimes the diversions are not the fault of the developer, but rather down to the game being based on a draft or early version of the property, only for the final product to radically depart from the initial concept - a character heavily featured in the game can be cut entirely or a major concept is removed or changed due to poor audience tests. This can happen late enough so there is no time to alter the game to more closely match the finished property.


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.

As of The New '10s, the video games version of this phenomenon has largely (though not completely) faded away. The first reason is that the economics of game development made licensed games less viable: as video games were established as a multi-billion dollar industry, media and sport licensors caught on and greatly increased the cost necessary to get a license. This made getting niche and unproven licenses unviable and, along with the rise of cost of retail video game development, restricted the profitable licenses worth acquiring to only the biggest video game publishers or the licensors themselves, with companies such as Warner Bros. investing heavily into video game publishing and treating video games of their properties just as seriously as any other component of the Expanded Universe. The other factor is that, quite simply, consumers eventually caught on to the poor quality of licensed games and stopped buying them. This, combined with the death of the worst offenders of this trope such as Acclaim and THQ (which itself stated its desire to move away from bad kids licensed games before its bankruptcy), means licensed games are far less numerous in recent times and are more likely to either be bigger-budget Mobile Phone Games or tentpole productions not tied to any specific release, averting the development issues that made most licensed games bad. "Traditional" rushed cash-ins still exist, but they're nowhere near as common as they used to be.

Another reason for their decline is the fact that video games have increasingly been seen as a narrative medium in their own right. A game that's just a straight adaptation of a film won't have a compelling story since you've probably already seen the movie and know what to expect. Mind you, a game based on a comic book can still tell an original story, but if it's based on a movie or TV show, its only chance of being taken seriously is if it's a prequel, inter-quel, or tells some kind of side-story parellel to the one on the big screen, though it can still fall victim to other problems listed here.

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 - up to and including Quaker Oats - 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.

Note: Examples are listed by the medium of the source material or license the game is 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's simplistic and boring, the graphics are totally underwhelming for the platform and reviews ranged from bad to awful. Their only redeeming quality is that they were $4 and the main character is Creepy Burger King Mask Guy, which puts them dangerously close to So Bad, It's Good territory. (The game Sneak King involves 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 are 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 licensed 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, that's 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 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.
  • Smarties Meltdown for the PlayStation 2 is a 2006 platformer by Europress and Koch Media based on the British chocolate candy (not to be confused with the American fruit tablet candy of the same name) that are comparable to America's M&Ms. The entire game takes place in a Smarties factory in space, which leads to a lack of variety in level environments. The entire game just feels tacky and cheaply made, with the actual levels being frustrating to navigate due to not being designed around the game's tank controls (an already long-obsolete control scheme for a platformer by 2006). The music is minimalistic, there's a generic story about saving your friends from a Mad Scientist, a sudden last level jump in difficulty if one makes it that far, and a short and unsatisfying ending where the credits don't even roll. Also the game's interface is written with Comic Sans. This alone makes it feel like most of the budget went to the publisher gaining the Smarties license and hiring Dave Benson Phillips (a 1990s British children's presenter most recognizable for Get Your Own Back, who at the time of 2006 was not very relevant to the public) to voice the game's main protagonist, Big Blue.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The game based on the classic anime motion picture AKIRA for the Amiga is 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 Famicom version isn't much better, as it's a Trial-and-Error Gameplay option-choosing game disguised as an adventure game, where you must choose the movie's exact actions.
  • 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 are. Despite all of this the game sold 1 million copies in Japan and therefore lead to a 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.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: Spirit Detective for the GBA is abysmally boring in addition to sporting graphics that make 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 never left; 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.
    • Gundam 0079: The War for Earth is historically interesting (an FMV game made by a US-based developer with Western actors, with its original English dub making it obvious that this was before certain terms and pronunciations were solidified), but is something of a chore to actually play; there's also the issue of the acting in the English dub ranging from passable (mostly White Base) to dubious (Zeon), and Char's actor not being the best fit visually.
    • 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 obviously didn't care anymore, 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.
    • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: Hot Scramble for the Nintendo Entertainment System is one of Bandai's first infamous licensed games, that alternates chaotic FPS stages and repetitive maze platforming levels. The sad thing is that it was developed by Masanobu Endoh of Xevious and The Tower of Druaga, who left Namco to develop it and fell into a heavy case of Executive Meddling.
    • The G-Saviour video game for PlayStation 2 already suffers from being based in a Fanon Discontinuity film, but the game itself is excessively short and simple (you can't do much more than walk, shoot or slide) in addition of having a lazy plot which has almost no relation to the film itself. Otherwise, gamers and critics liked it better than the movie.
    • Playstation's Mobile Suit Gundam: The One Year War is an attempt to faithfully recreate the Mobile Suit Gundam anime in a single game, unlike the Journey to Jaburo and Encounters in Space duology. The biggest problem is that the game itself gives the player absolutely nothing to do other than faithfully reproducing the show (mostly) from the main character Amuro's perspective.
    • While the other games based on the Cosmic Era range from legitimately enjoyable (Alliance VS ZAFT series, GBA's SEED Destiny, BATTLE DESTINY) to average, the first eponymous Gundam SEED game for Playstation 2 is a true stinker, a side-scrolling game with fighting game command inputs that seems outdated to be a Playstation 2 game and doesn't even cover the whole show.
    • Likewise, Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Gundam Meisters reuses the engine from Encounters in Space and Never Ending Tomorrow, themselves decent games, and simplifies the engine to create an incredibly monotonous game where the player doesn't do much else than hack and slash trough incredibly easy enemies.
    • Playstation 3's Mobile Suit Gundam Side Stories tried to gather every previous video game-exclusive story into a single game. Needless to say, the final result is little more than a rehash of Battle Operation with vague rehashes of the mentioned stories, done with the same generic gameplay that makes some of their Gameplay and Story Segregation stories to lose appeal.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball: Shenron no Nazo, a 1986 video game based on the Dragon Ball anime and manga and adapted into Dragon Power in the United States, is for the most part downright agonizing. A health system that gradually decreases is the least of the game's problems. The game sometimes has some of the worst Guide Dang It! moments, such as trying to get Oolong to drop an Interchangeable Antimatter 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-Mayhem trading card game. Unfortunately, it's 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 suffers from balance issues as it tries 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.
    • After the end of the series, Score started over with a similar yet completely incompatible game, while immediately abandoning all support for the previous one. Critics reluctantly admitted it was a better game, but everybody was so burned by the company that the new game completely failed.
    • While Ultimate Battle 22 had a great soundtrack, it fell short on so many other areas; the graphics are terrible looking and lazily put, especially in the PS1, the gameplay's shoddy AI is noticeable, and the gameplay's just as shoddy. To make matters worse, the U.S version feels even more like a disaster; the loading screens feel longer, music loops feel unnatural, and the cutscenes for special moves were removed (except for the announcer during tournament mode... without being re-dubbed {or even subtitled} and with longer pauses in between his sentences, for some reason). For these reasons, it should've stayed in Japan rather than shipped to the U.S.
    • Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout suffered from almost all the same problems from 22 (in a few cases it's even worse); while the graphics are (for the time) pretty good, the gameplay's very shoddy, what with the controller responding at the wrong time (assuming that it even responds at all), the camera's uncooperative, and the moves felt repetitive and lack variety. There's also the voice acting in the American version, which feels so unsalvageable; not even Steve Blum's portrayal as Goku feels tolerable.
    • 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 Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku kicked off 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 (on top of enemies having insane reaction times, very frequently hitting you the instant you get close enough to attack), 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 enemies, 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 improve on its faults and fit more in the other trope.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Taiketsu is a Street Fighter-style fighting game with terrible pseudo-3D graphics, little variation between characters, a lack of any semblance of a plot, and shallow attempts to integrate the franchise's Pummel Duels and transformations,note  built on an engine that can barely handle the gameplay without bugging. At the very least, the game's music is pleasant.
  • Beyblade:
    • There's two separate trading card games, one for Bakuten Shoot Beyblade and the other for Metal Fight Beyblade. Neither are particular good for trading card games and one is left to wonder what fans of a high action franchise like Beyblade could see in a slow card game.
    • Bakuten Shoot Beyblade has fifteen video games to its name, which leaves it no surprise there are both good and bad games. The bad ones are the ones that try to digitally emulate the thrill of beyblading and nothing beyond that. They're essentially Fighting Games with at best barely any moves and a worst no control at all beyond the initial shot. There are no or no interesting unlockables, a minimal roster, and all the art present is stock art.
  • Characters of Ranma ½ 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 will be disappointed too. But there's a lot of in-jokes only the programming team understands.
  • Toei Animation once got themselves into the video game publishing business in Japan, but never published anything of note aside from a series of terrible Hokuto no Ken video games throughout most of the The '80s and The '90s. Despite their terrible reception in Japan, they somehow managed to churn out eight of them in Japan.
    • The first Hokuto no Ken game for the Famicom is a substandard single-plane Beat 'em Up with graphics that look like they came straight out of an Atari 5200 and an obtuse power-up system that involves picking up floating words from certain enemies after they explode. It's generally (but incorrectly) regarded to be Unwinnable by Design due to how the first level just loops itself in infinity if you continue walking left. That's because in order to actually proceed through the game, you must stand in front of certain doors and press Up+A+B at the same time (good luck figuring that out without looking it up). 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. While the sequel, Hokuto no Ken 2, suffers from some of the same fundamental flaws (now you're required to press A+B+Right to enter doors), it was enough of a considerable improvement for Taxan to pick it over the first game for a US release.
    • After the two side-scrolling action games on the Famicom, Toei took a stab on the RPG genre with Hokuto no Ken 3. At first glance, the game seems like a bog-standard JRPG from the era, with the main gimmick being that it's first game that tries to adapt the whole manga all way up to the Kaioh saga. However the game simplifies the story to such a ridiculous extent, with key moments from the manga being changed or just downright omitted. The most egregious being the Souther arc. Instead of giving him a difficult dungeon to rule over or a dramatic pre-battle speech, he just appears wandering in front of his pyramid as an average NPC.
  • 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.
  • The first two entries in the Eldoran Series, Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh and Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbaruger, got two Game Boy games with abysmal ratings.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's Capcom games were consistently good, but not most of the Jojo games by other developers. Super Nintendo's Stardust Crusaders adaptation is regarded as a So Bad, It's Good game in Japan, thanks to the even more nonsensical plot and Character Derailment that totally ignores the original manga. The Phantom Blood adaptation on the Playstation 2, however, is a partially-censored slavish adaptation with far more cutscenes than action and bad, repetitive gameplay with an unbalanced difficulty level (the bullies - the first enemies in the game, mind you - are stronger than the final boss Dio itself).
  • While most of the Speed Racer anime games veer close enough to this trope, the Playstation game might be the laziest of them all. The Daytona USA-like gameplay is average at best (even ripping a track straight from Daytona) and the main vehicle keeps its gadgets (although most of them are useless), but the complete lack of Wacky Racing, anime cars / music or any semblance to a story makes it a dull experience.
    • There was also Speed Racer in My Most Dangerous Adventures for the Super Nintendo a few years earlier, which was a hybrid racing-platforming game. While somewhat ambitious for featuring irregular terrain (other contemporary racing games like F-Zero and Super Mario Kart had flat tracks), this came at the cost of performance, as the racing segments barely ran at a choppy 15 FPS (with frame drops), ironic for a game based on a show about a super-powered car. However, the platforming segments are even worse, featuring unresponsive controls, terrible combat, poor colision detection, and questionable level design.
  • Kakugo no Susume's Playstation game has been ranked by Famitsu as the worst fighting game for the system,note  to the point that the manga's author derided it.
  • Majokko Daisakusen is a Playstation crossover game featuring Toei's early Magical Girl shows (and Cutey Honey), but it's a Dolled-Up Installment port of The Unholy War. Not only does the game recycle a bunch of enemies of the original game with no context, but most of the featured franchises have no violent confrontations to begin with.
  • Anmitsu-Hime (re-skinned in America as Alex Kidd: High-Tech World) for the Sega Mark III (Sega Master System in western territories) was a video game based on the anime of the same name, which itself was based on the manga of the same name. While somewhat innovative for the time for featuring an in-game clock (that albeit only existed to impose an eight-hour time limit on the player), the game itself has mind-numbingly boring gameplay that basically amounts to an extended Fetch Quest, an ear-grating soundtrack, frustrating platforming segments where you die in one hit, instant death traps during the Castle segment of the game that undo all of your progress if you fall for them,note  and cryptic puzzles. For example, one puzzle has you figuring out how to obtain a pass to get through a checkpoint gate. There's a book that you can buy that teaches you how to print your own pass and a printing press that you can also buy, but those are actually useless if you missed the window of time to use them. In reality, you need to pray at the shrine 108 times (which, unless this is some sort of reference to the show, is never made readily apparent to the player at any point) until the shrine kannushi comes out and gives you a pass. But beware, as if you have either the "How to Print a Pass" book or a pistol (that you can just pick up off the ground in one of the houses) in your inventory, the guard arrests you. You can't drop either of them either, so you might as well reset the game if you pick them up by accident.
    • When it was released in America as Alex Kidd: High Tech World, it marked the beginning of the end for the franchise, as Alex would be phased out and replaced with the much more universally beloved Sonic the Hedgehog as Sega's mascot only two years later.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • With The Avengers in Galactic Storm, Data East decided to make an Avengers Fighting Game without most of the series' recognizable heroes. The only playable A-lister was Captain America, with the rest of the roster consisting of Black Knight, Crystal, Thunderstrike, and a bunch of obscure Kree villains. Bizarrely, they did include some better known Avengers like Iron Man and Thor...but only as Assist Characters. The clunky CGI models, stilted animation, repetitive music and limited voice work didn't help matters, nor did the fact that Marvel Super Heroes dropped the same year, with a much more recognizable cast of heroes like Spider-Man and the Hulk.
    • To a lesser extent, the 2020 Marvel's Avengers suffered a similar situation as a result as reviews and critics complained about the exploitative microtransactions, lack of enemy variety and an extremely grindy system that resulted in financial underperformance of the game as Square Enix reported 6.5 billion in losses from disappointing sales.
  • The idea behind Justice League Task Force wasn't a bad one, but a mixture of bland graphics, Limited Animation, clunky gameplay, unresponsive controls and a roster of only nine characters (three of which are bosses) made for a completely underwhelming cash-in. The fact that it was only released for the SNES and Genesis also meant it lacked the flashiness of the games it was either copying or trying to compete with.
  • While not a terrible game per se, Spawn: Armageddon for the GameCube, PS2, and Xbox is a painfully mediocre brawler even with Todd Mc Farlane himself handling direction. The game has a laughably small amount of combos, a large variety of weapons that barely feel any different from one another, frustrating level design, enemies that are either cheap or don't put up a fight at all, and combat that shamelessly apes the Devil May Cry series without any of the depth and style that makes it one of the best in the genre. It says something about its underwhelming quality that we haven't seen another Spawn game since then.
  • The Buck Rogers tabletop RPG by TSR was doomed from the start. To begin with, the game was made by decree of Lorraine Williams, the head of TSR at the time who also just happened to own the Buck Rogers IP (and thus hoped to make money from both ends of the deal). She pulled top writers from Forgotten Realms to make an RPG that nobody except her really wanted, and doing that with her usual management style (which included a ban on playtesting, and a mandate to shove product out the door as fast as possible in large quantities) meant that the game had no hope of being a good RPG. Even with Williams' promotion, only a couple of game supplements made it out the door. On the other hand, the video games that she pushed into the Gold Box series averted this, as SSI was much better-managed than TSR and could put the time and effort into making a quality game; the two video games that came out of the partnership are still fondly remembered.
  • Atari were infamous in their Infogrames era for their licensed video games based on several Franco-Belgian comics. The Smurfs, Asterix, Tintin, Spirou and Lucky Luke were among the series that received video game adaptations, all of which were incredibly hard for the wrong reasons.
  • Dick Tracy on the NES is a good example of how not to balance a video game. To start with its many issues, it is incredibly Nintendo Hard, and it is guaranteed to cause several game overs. While it has a Password Save - it only keeps track of what case the player starts at. Any clues or weapons obtained after a game over will have to be collected again. The game also has no idea whether it's following the movie or not, such as using characters' likeliness from the film but not the story proper. There are a lot of Demonic Spiders and Goddamned Bats during the overhead and side-scrolling segments, many of which pose a threat to Dick Tracy himself. Platforming is extremely suspect, especially during the pier levels where Tracy's Super Drowning Skills come into play. You also have to interrogate suspects to see if they're involved with the crime or not, and you can't back out once you talk to them. There's also a lot of Railroading involved - even if you collect the last clue that says the suspect did it first, you must have every clue beforehand. Then the last case throws a curveball at the player: after finding the final clue that tells the player they need to arrest Big Boy Caprice, the game doesn't tell you where he is (he's at the Club Ritz) or why Pruneface is there as one of the six suspects in the first place when he doesn't appear at all. At least the graphics and soundtrack are good, but that is what keeps this game from truly being bad.

    Film — Animation 
  • Bébé'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 be 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 among 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, 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. Fairy Tale Freakdown is also a good example, being very easy, having bad controls and the mugshots of the characters trying too hard to emulate a CGI appearance (the game was released on the Game Boy Color). Even more insulting is that the first Shrek game was supposed to show off the hardware capabilities of the Xbox, and was actually supposed to be an original IP before being repurposed into a Shrek game.
  • While its predecessor is the opposite of this trope, its sequel, The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame, isn't. Many of its issues are due to being built off of LEGO Worlds, which includes all the flaws from that game (such as the camera system clipping through the terrain in several parts, for example). The real kicker here though, is that the game does a half-assed job at adapting the story. None of the cutscenes are voiced (or recreations of the scenes from the movie!), with only Lucy narrating everything, and the ending is blatantly unfinished. Many of the side quests drag on for too long, the worlds are uninspired, none of the characters have their own unique abilities, and the Nintendo Switch version of the game has a plethora of performance problems. The result is an Obvious Beta that many fans consider to be the worst LEGO game ever released.
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius had two different game adaptations, both of which (Especially the PlayStation 2 and GameCube versions) were quite dreadful:
    • The first iteration came out for PlayStation 2 and the GameCube that was developed by the same studio as SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman. It was a 3D platformer with a fixed camera angle, poor graphics (and this was released in 2002!!!) (that possibly has the worst looking Jimmy model to date), horrendous controls that can lead to cheap deaths, plenty of glitches to go around, very short with only six levels and it's the same thing over again, very poor grasp of source material that even the PC version does better, and absolutely terrible level design that was not designed around the camera system or even Jimmy's movement at all. There is this one part of the game where you need to jump from a ledge to a platform higher and across from it. The problem is that Jimmy cannot jump high enough to consistently reach it and that to clear the jump, you have to jump up to the platform in a very specific way, and even still you're still not guaranteed to get up there. Another part of the game has the camera positioned in a way where it hides a Bottomless Pit by making the platforms seem connected until it's too late. Also, in the GameCube version, there's apparently a glitch where if you select an option in the pause menu, it will flicker in and out.
    • The other version, developed for PCs while not quite as horrendous as the version above still isn’t good enough to avoid falling into this trope. While it wasn't as frustrating to play, it had very dated (while not as bad as the version above) graphics that would barely stand up next to an early PlayStation game (despite releasing in 2001!), the controls are very slippery (though considering what happened to the PlayStation 2/ GameCube versions it could have been worse), the animation is very limited and eye-gouging (characters look like lifeless puppets and are completely motionless during conversation), the game is very short clocking in at about two hours, the gameplay, while more playable is very dull and uninteresting primarily consisting of one Fetch Quest after another, and it bears very little resemblance to the movie in terms of plot (though still more than what can be said for the PlayStation 2/ GameCube versions). About the only redeeming factor is the original voice cast being present.
  • Coraline received a video game adaptation for the PlayStation 2 and the Wii that went way too far in becoming a Pragmatic Adaptation. The game is more than playable and does a solid job of recreating the source material and even getting some of the voice actors of the movie to reprise their roles. It finds its spot here, however, due to the mediocre graphics and dull gameplay consisting of bland minigames and mission objectives. The story falls short as well since the game can't seem to make up its mind on whether or not it wants to follow the movie or just do its own thing. Chunks of the story are omitted, with heavy Broad Strokes and awkward character dialogue that explains the game's controls, which to some defeats the purpose of the game even more, as one is just better off just sticking to watching the movie. On the higher note, the soundtrack is excellent, and the Game Over screen is very memorable. The Nintendo DS version of the game, however, is a different story.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The NES adaptation of Alien³ 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/Mega Drive (which the NES game is a stripped-down version of) releases are examples of No Problem with Licensed Games.
  • 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. What's particularly odd is that Aliens had been a massive influence on first person shooters for well over a decade; the creators of Colonial Marines could have just copied the original's imitators and been well-received. Many years later, it was discovered that the godawful enemy AI —one of the biggest sticking points in critical reviews— had been the fault of a single typo in the game's code (PROTIP: "tether" is spelled without an A).
  • Dennis the Menace (known simply as Dennis in Europe) recieved a Licensed Game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and Amiga CD32 by Ocean Software in 1993. The plot of the game is that Switchblade Sam has stolen Mr. Wilson's coin collection and kidnapped Margaret and Joey, so Dennis has to find the missing coins, defeat Sam, and rescue his friends. The objective of each stage is to find four coins, but the stages are very big and the coins are often hidden in obscure places, making it easy to lose track of where you are. The game also has a time limit that doesn't reset when you lose a life, and if time runs out, you lose all your lives. The auto-scrolling levels take five minutes to complete, but can take even longer if you mess up and lose a life (which is very easy to do). In the third Sewer level, the bubbles that you need to jump across to complete the level sometimes don't spawn, requiring you to make blind jumps. As for weapons, the most effective ones are the slingshot and the peashooter, but even then, enemies still take many hits to kill. The most useless weapon, though, is the squirt gun, which can stun enemies, but most of the time, doesn't do anything and it takes a few seconds just to stun an enemy. It doesn't even kill the fire enemies in the Boiler Room level. The Angry Video Game Nerd has reviewed the SNES version, saying it's one of the worst SNES games he ever played.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial:
    • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 is essentially the Trope Maker, or at least the Trope Codifier. 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.
    • While not as bad as the Atari game, two E.T games released for the Game Boy Advance, E.T. and the Cosmic Garden, and the 2001 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, weren't that good either. The former is a boring real time game that has you gardening on other planets. It's too easy, very boring, and has awful music. The later game has F.B.I agents who attack E.T by shaking him in a way that makes it look like he's giving them a blowjob, while E.T attacks by running blindly at his enemies.
  • 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 Cut-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 tie-in 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, though it's safe to assume it did nothing to help their situation.
  • 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 likeness 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. What does not help things is that the floaty jumping physics are aggravated by precise platform jumping, meaning you'll either miss the intended jump and fall into the many Bottomless Pits. 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 A New Hope, which this game is very loosely based off of. 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!
    • Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi was LucasArts' attempt at doing a Tekken-style fighting game. The game was originally going to be developed by Capcom, the Japanese company behind hit franchises like Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, but LucasArts instead opted to make it themselves for unknown reasons. LucasArts' lack of experience with fighting games proved to be a huge problem, especially when it came to implementing Game Breaking elements like Force abilities and lightsabers. The end result was a slow, clunky game where characters like Luke and Darth Vader could easily curb stomp everyone else in the cast without much effort. Ironically, Capcom would recycle their unfinished work on the Star Wars fighting game into Star Gladiator, which received better reviews than Masters of Teräs Käsi.
    • The PlayStation and PC adaption of The Phantom Menace is below average. Excellent audio (which is the common strong point of Star Wars anyway) and fair-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 a seriously-flawed dueling mechanic can totally ruin your experience halfway through.
    • 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.
    • Downplayed with Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. The first game was nothing short of a revolutionary role-playing game set an even longer time ago in the same galaxy far far away with a gripping story, sweet presentation and memorable characters. Even though it was made by a different developer, the sequel could have been on the same level, especially with its bold exploration of the grey side of the force. It's just not utilized to its full potential. Executive Meddling abused the production of KOTOR II by way of rushing the release, causing much of the ready content to be left out of the final version. Despite the developers wanting to make a definitive edition later, it wasn't until the fan made Restored Content Mod that fans of the series could see What Could Have Been.
    • 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 due to both Microsoft and LucasArts 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—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 too silly to take seriously (the infamous dancing minigame, which ironically enough was probably the one which controlled the best).
    • While Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) is a reasonably polished big-budget game, during its initial release it became one of the most infamous Star Wars games of all time for its horribly unbalanced and luck-based microtransaction and progression system, which makes the game frustrating, unrewarding and borderline unplayable for many people. More importantly, the gameplay was perceived as monotonous due to lack of variety, and the game's much-hyped story mode is frequently seen as lackluster and formulaic in both plot and mechanics. The result, despite very good graphics and sound design, was So Okay, It's Average reception (65/100 on Metacritic) and a moderate under-performance in EA's expected sales. However, the game did later manage to Win Back the Crowd by regularly releasing new modes and characters free of charge and getting rid of the greedy progression system.
  • 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 Traveller's Tales, since it was the first game they developed that sold well; some of their later Licensed Games would set a higher standard.
  • Similarly, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein had confusing and at times abusingly hard gameplay in a maze-like level layout, with the Monster himself being slightly bipolar: he limps and lurches and yet is able to perform huge jumps!
  • 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 published 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 irredeemably 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 Macaulay 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 Non-Standard 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 3: Rise of the Machines was adapted into a PS2\Xbox game with underwhelming graphics and two game modes: broken and generic first-person shooting, which doesn't even convey well the film plot; and lame one-on-one fighting, usually against the T-X, that easily enters tedious Button Mashing.
    • Terminator 3: War of the Machines, which in spite of the name is unrelated to the movie, was an attempt at Battlefield 1942 in the future war... only it was not fun to play, or polished at all - among the glitches, Gamespot's video review highlighted the unbelievably bad hit detection; the graphics and sound were also unremarkable. Reviews on Terminator 3: The Redemption, which actually averted the trope for once, noted that the subtitle was probably in regards to how bad the previous two T3 games were.
    • 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. (though one got good reviews)
  • 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 problem with Jurassic Park Interactive: it didn't require any discipline to make it. They saw what the film had done and they made it into a collection of bizarre minigames with boringly long load times. They didn't get the actors to reprise their roles, so they get new actors who some people thought looked like "stars of a Jurassic Park porno." They stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as they could, and before they even knew what they had, they patented it, they packaged it, they slapped it on a 3DO disk and now, they're selling it.
  • 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.
    • Alan Noon, the guy primarily responsible for it later came to the Internet, apologized, and left a post-mortem account. Updated link to the story post. To save some time, look for the posts by the user "anoon".
  • 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 (2004) game 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 (2004) 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 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. You'd expect them to use the classic turn-based format or at least naval combat like the last game to bear the name. Instead, it's a First-Person Shooter in a transparent attempt to ride the Call of Duty bandwagon, and a very bad FPS to boot. The graphics are terrible, the enemy AI is too dumb to pose a challenge, there's only five weapons available to the player, the levels are repetitive, and the story is nonexistent. There are a few naval combat segments, but those are pulled off rather poorly too. The whole thing can be completed in four hours or less. 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 7th generation 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 for the time 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!
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could have been a good game, but is held back by far too many glaring flaws to ignore. The game is plagued with bland visuals for its time, an almost completely empty New York City, combat that results in mashing the same button multiple times with no real combos to be found, numerous bugs, a boring story, repetitive side missions, and a Hero/Menace system that had potential, but doesn't work at all like it's supposed to.
  • Transformers film-games:
    • Transformers: The 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?) 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:
    • 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:
  • 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 The Wizard of Oz film adaptation had a lot of problems. Released in November 1993, the game features clunky controls and doesn't follow the movie at all. Absurdly, the game's Attract Mode features Dorothy falling into a Bottomless Pit. It is also infamous for Fake Difficulty from blind falls, a severe case of Hitbox Dissonance from both enemies and platforms alike, and no Mercy Invincibility. Worse, there are 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 you will somehow fall into the river and drown despite clearly landing on the platform. The Angry Video Game Nerd lists the game's overwhelmingly horrible bugs and design flaws 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, weapon sound effects that sound like they were ripped from the internet, 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 Peter Jackson's King Kong 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 ). 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.
  • Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green was a low-budget FPS that opened with a promising corn field level where the surrounding zombies could only be located by their groans and the sound of them pushing through the corn, and then follows it with bland levels and buggy gameplay that made killing incredibly stupid undead people (when the movie is actually about zombies getting smarter!) very unfun.
  • 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 single 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 hastily thrown together. In the case of the PC version, Porting Disaster was added to the mix, offering terrible EGA graphics and music sounding like someone strangling an ice cream truck. Notably, this release came out in 1990, 6 years after the first movie. By then, PCs had better music options 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 eighth of the screen). Its only redeeming qualities are that it's broken and inept in a funny way and features a bizarrely-catchy soundtrack by David Cage.
  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure had a game based on the movies for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was published by LJN and developed by Rocket Science Games, and it was quite frankly, not very good. The game is an overhead adventure game where it is extremely vague and unclear where you are supposed to go next at times. Some NPCs will ask Bill or Ted questions. The player has no indication whether it is the right or wrong answer until they choose it. If you choose the wrong choice in those questions, you go to jail and if you run out of keys for jail, it's game over. Because of the depth issues on the map, Bill or Ted can't even jump over fences or any objects. The controls aren't much better, and the camera can't catch up to Bill or Ted at times, making the game a bigger chore than it should be. Even better, some items are found by jumping at certain points of the map, with no indication that you can get it by jumping. The Angry Video Game Nerd took a good look into the game, and commented that it was not only one of the worst NES games that he had ever played, but the single worst game that LJN — a company whose games he has a legendary disdain for — ever produced.
  • Zathura had a video game adaptation for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox that suffered uninspired stage design, slow and sluggish gameplay, and a lot of Fake Difficulty. Of the two versions, the PS2 iteration is the lesser, with very bad frame rate issues that may give you an eye strain. The Xbox version runs at a solid 60 fps that brings the game up from "hardly tolerable" to "mediocre", but still is far from anything one would want to spend money on.

  • 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.
    • By far the worst of the trifecta had to be the Game Boy Color game, simply titled Animorphs. While Shattered Reality was a straightforward Platform Game and Know the Secret was an Action-Adventure title, Animorphs was a Role-Playing Game that, to put it altogether too mildly, took a great deal of inspiration from the Pokémon games. Boasting a largely-incomprehensible script, bland and forgettable music (criminal in that the music of the previous two titles was one of their few redeeming features), no clue in strategy, lackluster gameplay, a faulty password system in place of a save feature, many Guide Dang It! moments, and a truly horrid bug infestation, it's quite clear that this was the one Animorphs title that truly deserved the label of Shovelware. The game received bad reviews by IGN, though oddly enough, Nintendo Power gave it a 3 out of 5.
    • Animorphs: Know the Secret, while possibly not as offensive as the PlayStation game, was pretty subpar and had trouble being consistent with the books (such as assigning the wrong signature morphs to the wrong characters).
  • 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. The SNES and Sega Genesis game, The Great Waldo Search, is better, but still not that great, being one of the shortest games on either system. Every time you make a menu selection, you get to hear the same low pitched "Where's Waldo" voice sample. Every. Damn. Time.
  • Extreme Sports with The Berenstain Bears would have been passable as an NES game but it came out in late 2000 for Game Boy 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.
  • The NES game based on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has Tom on a mission to save Becky who has been kidnapped by Injun Joe. Sounds somewhat like what might have been in the book? Except on the way, Tom has to go through different levels with pirates, purple gorillas, demons, giant squid, a giant helicarrier airship, and a Loch Ness monster. Does any of this sound like anything from the Mark Twain book? Maybe if Twain was on drugs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game Shows: It's often feast or famine for board game adaptations to play at home, and for those that are famine:
    • Catchphrase, 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, with 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.
    • Jeopardy!:
      • For many years the show suffered from inadequate home game adaptations. The box games produced by Milton Bradley recycled the board from their adaptation of Concentration, resulting in only five categories a game, with one of the spaces in Double Jeopardy having to be reserved for Final. The Pressman adaptations beginning in the mid 1980s inexplicably carried this forward (through as late as 2003!). Tyco/Mattel released a somewhat unusual version in the early 90s, which had all six categories, but were cards placed on stands so as many as six players could participate, each acting as host for their own category; Final Jeopardy was completely absent here. Not only that, Daily Doubles were randomly placed among the categories so you might have as many as six, or none at all. Parker Brothers released an adaptation in 1999 which many feel is the best, having a single gameboard with six categories and a reserved space below the board for Final. The most recent version from Outset Media takes a cue from the Tyco version, having category cards placed into holders mounted to stands, but has the typical three-person play pattern akin to the other versions.
      • For video game adaptations that fall into this category, earlier releases are bogged down by sluggish game play caused by moving between characters when entering responses, especially if the letters, numbers and punctuation marks are all on one row. Later games alleviate this by offering an auto-complete feature that will give different options after entering a few letters. The GameTek ports have notorious Rubber-Band A.I. which will allow computer players to prevent you from running away with the game, and in the older games, having no judges obviously means they'll only accept one particular response: Did your question use "Dr." instead of "Doctor", for instance? Too bad, you lost that one.
    • 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.
    • Name That Tune: Milton Bradley's board-game adaptations came out in the late 1950s, during the original version's run on CBS daytime and primetime. The gameplay itself was not the issue here; this was a rather creative game marrying Bingo to the "name the song" concept; players simply listened to the song (on a record that was included with the game) and if they recognized the title and found it on their Bingo card, they placed a token over the title, and you won if you got five-in-a-row. The trope kicks in, then, is with the songs included. While a number of songs over the two editions are still well-known today – namely, children's, religious, patriotic, folk and traditional, holiday and classical – a large share of the songs were popular music songs (pre rock-era, meaning prior to 1955) and many show tunes that almost nobody younger than their late 70s – short of genuine musical experts – would reasonably be expected to know today. This is, then, a case of time dating a game and making it a major problem with playability.
    • 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(!) 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: With the Milton Bradley versions issued from 1974 to 1981. 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 .
      • All versions from the 1986 Cardinal Games adaptation onward are an aversion of this trope, and play identically to the real show.
    • 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.
  • While most video game adaptions of Wheel of Fortune avert this, a few releases still count. The common denominator tends to be slow gameplay (usually caused by a slow walking animation for Vanna that bogs down the game's pace), a lack of either host, a short game where only three rounds tops are played, or a repetitive databank of puzzles. About half of the GameTek ports qualify.
  • 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 Non-Standard 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:
    • Kamen Rider BLACK: Taiketsu Shadow Moon for the Famicom Disk System was a side-scrolling action platformer with okay graphics, bland stage design, sluggish movement and atrociously bad controls.
    • Kamen Rider ZO had a game for the Sega CD. Just picture the movie given the So Bad, It's Good Godzilla-style dub, then make it playable Dragon's Lair style.
    • While the Kamen Rider / V3 / Kuuga-Kabuto fighting game series has a bunch of entries in the other page, some of them are less lucky. A change of developers (Kaze did Kamen Rider to Agito, and Digifloyd did Ryuki to Kabuto) made the series noticeably worse, with the low points being the shallow Kamen Rider 555 and Kamen Rider Blade games.
    • The Rider Generation series were average beat'em up games on the whole, but with lots of fanservice. However, All Kamen Rider Rider: Revolution inexplicably changed the genre into a Metroidvania game that all but killed the franchise.
    • The The Bike Race budget game is an absolutely broken racing game that disregards any physics. It also ignores the Riders' abilities by putting generic special bike powers.
    • While Genealogy of Justice's story is good for fans, everything else is just plain bad. The Fixed Camera straight out of Resident Evil is slow and bothersome for the awkward beat'em up engine, the puzzles are weak at best and the motorcycle scenes are straight out of Battletoads, with next to no life and the brilliant idea of racing an obstacle-filled lap with the camera on the front of the rider.
    • Kamen Rider Summonride is a critically-panned game, filled with shallow and lazy fanservice with no purpose and impossible to play without buying lots and lots of toys.
  • The Muppets:
    • 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. Versions of this game were released for the Apple II, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS a year earlier, and they are even buggier than the NES version, with the MS-DOS version prone to random softlocking.
    • Jim Henson's The Muppets, released in 1999 for the Game Boy Color doesn't fare much better. The plot of the game is that Kermit and Animal are trying to rescue their friends, who have been taken to various time periods by Dr. Honeydew's time machine. The game suffers from clunky controls, sub-par graphics, horrible music, enemies that take many hits to killnote , and poor level design. Every level is a huge labyrinth, and Kermit and Animal take damage from falling from even the lowest of heights.
  • Narcos: Rise of the Cartels looks promising at a first glance: it boasts pretty good production values and makes the interesting choice to adapt the first season as a XCOM-inspired turn-based tactics game with management aspects. However, as youtuber minimme elaborates, the initial positive impression gives way to mediocrity thanks to the game's litanny of bad design choices, such as the inexplicable decision to let players only move one unit at a time per turn (a major kneecapper in a tactical game), extremely repetitive mission structure, unbalanced units and shallow management gameplay due to the lack of meaningful choice and the fact that player can never run out of money. As an adaption of Narcos, it fails due to none of the original actors reprising their roles and being replaced by bad sound-alikes and that it remakes key scenes of the show as generic shootouts with little to no resemblance to their original context.
  • 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 out of favor, 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), a cheesy bleepy rendition of the iconic "Go Go Power Rangers" theme (and before you blame the system's 8-bit limitations, here's the version for Power Rangers: The Movie on the same system, and here's the Game Gear version), 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.
    • The download-only Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Mega Battle for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One could have easily been a decent side-scrolling Beat 'em Up, but is ruined completely by its abysmal hit detection, unbalanced difficulty, lack of content (the game is only a few hours long, there is no online mode, and all the rangers' combo lists are basically identical), and tedious level design with a severe case of Checkpoint Starvation. Angry Joe completely tears it apart here, and would later name it as the second worst game he played that year.
    • Outside video games, 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.
  • At the height of its popularity, Home Improvement, of all shows, got a video game adaptation for the Super NES, entitled Home Improvement: 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 an Allegedly Free Game 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 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 NCIS video game was very poor and described as "a point and click adventure without the venture".
  • 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 the occasional character from the show cameoing for good measure (including your father's ghost).
  • Of The Shield: The Game one reviewer said that it "has no appeal to anyone who has more than 50 percent of his brain intact. Anyone who isn't in a vegetative state will most likely wish that he were after getting through all 15 levels of the game."
  • Then there is Desperate Housewives: The Game. Basically, the game is The Sims with a story line and voice work which sound absolutely nothing like the DH actresses. The game is known for a glitch which rendered it unplayable 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.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer had two terrible portable games, a painfully shallow and repetitive beat-em-up for the Game Boy Color, and a generic and frustrating side scroller for the Game Boy Advance.
  • 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.
  • America's Next Top Model had two games that were released for the DS and Wii and were basically America's Next Top Model In Name Only. The Wii version in particular suffered from buggy controls, the occasional weird glitch (such as the model's head coming OFF in the final catwalk) and both unoriginal gameplay, flat voice acting and a very cliched boring story. On top of that, once you "win" (quite easy to do), there's one last line you say (which isn't awe-inspiring or anything) and then blank screen. That's it.
  • While there is a lot of games from the Ultra Series in the other page, Ultraman All Star Chronicle is a very mediocre cash-grab RPG.
  • Space Sheriff Spirits, based on the first three entries of the Metal Heroes series, failed on all accounts. While the Space Sheriff Gavan mode is full of stupid gameplay choices, the overly-hyped Crisis Crossover mode reuses characters and animations from the earlier mode and only amounts to a bunch of shallow extra missions.
  • Iron Chef America received a tie-in game called Iron Chef America Supreme Cuisine for the Wii and Nintendo DS in 2008. The show and its concept in of itself sounds like it would lend itself fairly well to a video game, but in execution the game just completely drops the ball. While the gameplay could be far worse, admittedly, (though it could also be a lot more interesting) near about everything else brings the game down. Gone is the elaborate Iron Chef set, replaced mostly by simple countertops and stovetops. Only three actual Iron Chefs (Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto, and Cat Cora) are featured in the game, along with host Mark Dacascos and commentator Alton Brown, and their character models in the game look generic and bland at best, just outright bad at worst. There is also no judging shown in the game at all; once you finish your dish, you are thrown straight to the results screen, and there is little reward for actually winning. On top of that, there is Loads and Loads of Loading and, at least in the Wii version, non-stop commentary from Alton Brown, using his horrendously botched character model that makes him look like a talking spiky-haired potato). In short, the game(s) provide a very watered-down and mediocre experience of the show and make the energetic and exciting show seem like a total snorefest.
  • Big Time Rush: Dance Party for the Nintendo Wii, a rhythm game tie-in to the Nickelodeon TV series Big Time Rush. On one hand, it at least features actual songs from the show. On the other hand, it features a super-basic premise with none of the wacky shenanigans from the show, ugly graphics even for the Wii, UI glitches, the same repeditive dance moves, stiff animation, and ridiculously easy gameplay. You're supposed to dance along to the song ala Just Dance, the problem is that this game can't detect whether or not you're actually doing the dance move correctly so there's nothing stopping you from shaking the Wii Remote to the timing of the song. There's a pointless career mode with No Ending and no reward for finishing.
  • Tweenies: Game Time was released for the PS1 in 2001 by BBC Multimedia. The game is a Mini Game Game, but there are only four mini-games; "Jake's Dot World", "Milo's Space Race", "Bella's Fairytale Castle" and "Fizz's Disco". These mini-games can all be beaten within five minutes. The game's character models are ugly, Max's in particular looking nothing like his TV series counterpart, and the game has tons of loading screens, including one before the screen that asks you whether or not you want to play the same mini-game again. The game's FMVs run at a very low framerate, and sound design is horribly bit-crushed. The game also has two notable glitches; one that makes the game load forever, requiring you to reset it, and another that makes the game stuck on a repeating sound when you choose a mini-game before the Tweenie you play as finishes talking. Caddicarus has an entertaining review of the game.

  • 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.
  • Guitar Hero: Van Halen, unlike the other two band-centric entries of the series, is widely seen as a disappointment and the nadir of the series. A lackluster selection of supporting acts (with only the odd shiny nugget, such as "Painkiller' and "Space Truckin'"), the headliners' selection all but ignoring the Sammy Hagar era, a dearth of extra features meaning that the game could be beaten in one afternoon, and essentially the game being more of the same with a coating of Van Halen - all of these helped cement, once and for all, the perception that Activision saw GH as nothing more than a Cash Cow Franchise, even as it was already losing steam in the wake of the recession. Unsurprisingly it came out early in 2010, the same year the series died its first death.
  • While Vendetta and Fight For NY were warmly regarded, Def Jam: Icon was a mediocre at-best fighting game which had fuck-all to do with its predecessors and was criticized for making changes to a proven formula. Rapstar, meanwhile, was a karaoke game which was divorced from the other Def Jam games. This otherwise forgettable dud was remembered more for the legal troubles it caused, which ended up putting 4mm Games out of business and hindering the development of Skullgirls.
  • The Make My Video quartet (C+C Music Factory, INXS, Kriss Kross, and Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch) are often consider the worst games ever put out for the Sega CD, and some of the worst Full Motion Video games on top of that. Gameplay, such as you can even call it that, amounts to arranging clips of poorly compressed and grainy video for three songs per artist, with no reward outside of sitting through your creation.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield has a string of licensed games that are as lazy as the cat himself.
    • The Famicom game A Week of Garfield starts going wrong with its Excuse Plot, where Garfield somehow wants to save Odie. 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. The array of weapons Garfield can use are limited and innacurate.
    • The Commodore 64's Garfield: Big Fat Hairy Deal is an adventure game. The problem is that it's ripe with Moon Logic Puzzles and Red Herrings, plus it has absolutely no hints for what you have to do. It's even Unwinnable by Mistake if Garfield ends up eating an important item he happens to be carrying around. The graphics are also rather ugly, and the soundtrack consists of one looping track. The Amiga release helps it out a bit, but it's still not a game worth recommending.
    • Garfield had a string of generic platformers between the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, the worst being Garfield: The Search for Pooky. The game's start screen is written in Comic Sans and miscapitalizes the title, which sets the tone perfectly. The cutscene graphics are poorly cropped directly from the comic, ripe with scaling and coloring errors, and the dialogue is awkwardly written. It has to be seen to be believed. The gameplay suffers from weird physics and boring sidescroller levels.
  • 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 inoffensive theme.
  • Snoopy's Silly Sports Spectacular for the Nintendo Entertainment System is a compilation of sports-themed mini-games similar to Track & Field.note  The game only has three characters from the Peanuts franchise; Snoopy, Spike, and Woodstock. Each event has questionable controls, and some events, such as "Pile of Pizza" and "River Jump" are near-impossible to complete as a result. Watch The Angry Video Game Nerd review the game here.note 

    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).

  • While FIFA Soccer games in the late 2010s normally rate with wildly deviant reviews, FIFA 20 Legacy Edition for the Nintendo Switch is nigh-universally panned as nothing more than a reskin of previous games, with the new features of mainline FIFA 20 nowhere in sight. The highest professional Metacritic review is a Spanish site at 65, which the majority giving it sub-50 ratings; IGN in particular gave it a 40 out of 100 and called it a "macrotransaction". As for fan reviews, with the exception of a few devout fans who will give it a 10 out of 10 no matter what, the reviews are almost unanimously negative, and the user Metascore sits at 0.2 out of 10 because of it.
  • 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 disappointment. 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 ended the day it was released doesn't help in the slightest. You can watch the review here. The game stopped the franchise dead in its tracks for several years until a remake compilation of the first two games gave the franchise some shred of dignity back.

    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!
    • Dungeons And Dragons Daggerdale is a So Okay, It's Average Diablo-clone.
    • The Dragonlance MUD was plagued by a number of issues, including being released at a time when MUDs were dying off as a genre. The game's economy would have suffered from runaway hyperinflation if not for the ludicrous rental fees needed for lodging; any time the player logged off the game, they would be charged a thousand gold per hour when the average enemy dropped 5 to 20 gold. Buying a house was counter-productive, since it meant paying more money; after paying an exorbitant amount of gold to get the house, you still had to pay rent, now at a higher rate. Failure to earn enough money before logging off for the night resulted in having random pieces of equipment repossessed to cover the cost, and many a player would log in to find their character completely naked with no weapons or items. All characters had to be approved of by moderators before they could be played, and characters of a given race had to be roleplayed as stereotypical as possible (snarky thief Kender, racist elf, etc.) and any piece of backstory or attempt to break the mold would result in your character being frozen. As in, literally encased in a block of ice as a "soft ban". How long your character was frozen was arbitrary, and only the mod who froze you was allowed to unfreeze you which had to be done manually. Lastly, special events in the game amounted to following the moderators' overpowered max level characters as they did all the work and then handed out participation awards. By the time things started to change, over 90 percent of the player base was gone and the changes were half-hearted attempts at bringing people back in without completely fixing the way the game was managed.
  • 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 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.

  • 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 are even MORE fragile, as the game inverts the typical 'touch me and you die' game mechanics — any Autobot who is flying or in vehicle mode would instantly kill any Decepticon by ramming them. This means that Bumblebee, who has ridiculous amounts of shields, is 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 created to tease the death of Optimus Prime in between the second and third seasons of The Transformers, the cause of which had not been revealed yet in Japan due to the movie's delay. Predictably, it was lazy, rushed, and hardly playable thanks to having ludicrous amounts of Fake Difficulty — Ultra Magnus can take only a single hit before dying. Collecting all seven RODIMUS letters will let you replay the game as Rodimus Prime, who has a different vehicle mode sprite, but is budget-savingly a palette swap of Ultra Magnus in-game and controls identically. Struggle through the same tedious procession of flat, enemy-filled stages twice, and the game has an embarrassing A Winner Is You ending to reward you for your efforts.
    • Somehow, people at Takara thought the game deserved a sequel in the form of Transformers: The★Headmasters. Despite numerous improvements (can take more than one hit before you die, save feature, more than two characters), it's still as bad as Mystery of Convoy and is riddled with errors. All but one of the playable characters share a sprite, the one who doesn't is depicted as the wrong character, etc.
    • Transformers has a weak trading card game primarily based on the live-action movies. It 's a "3D Battle-Card Game" that certainly has its flaws: characters are represented as punch-out buildable cards that can either be built as vehicles/animals or out-of-proportion Off-Model robots (here's Optimus, for those interested), and the game can 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 Game Boy Advance version 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 used the Mask of Life to transform 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 and another one isn’t even a villain. And then there’s Vezon, who seems to act more like the head of the Piraka as opposed to his insane and traitorous character in canon. 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 (Jaller’s upgraded ability is to 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.
  • LEGO generally did well with licensed games, even prior to the Travelers' Tales LEGO Adaptation Game era. Unfortunately, they still produced a few duds along the way:
    • Most of the LEGO games made in the 90s or early 2000s have Cult Classic followings, but LEGO Creator: Knights' Kingdom and Creator: Harry Potter are not among them. Both are built on the same engine and mechanics, and both are equally bad spinoffs of another much better received LEGO game. The UI is quite confusing and unintuitive, both games treat the player like a complete toddler, to the point of including completely mandatory and unskippable tutorials that go on forever, and both have very corny voice acting. The only thing noteworthy about either game is the fact that the latter holds the title of the first (and only) LEGO game from the pre-TT era to be based off both the toy and another existing property.
    • Rock Raiders had a very well-received, if flawed, real-time strategy game on the PC that has a very dedicated cult following and active modding scene to this day. That said, most people would rather forget the PSX iteration was a thing. It completely forewent the RTS oriented gameplay in favor of an action platformer with ugly visuals, bad controls, and almost no original ideas. There is even an Urban Legend of Zelda floating around that Sony's European branch initially declined the game due to its low quality, which would explain why the PAL version of the game that did eventually release was so drastically different from the original NTSC version, though many still argue it's not different enough to save it from this trope.
    • Like the above, LEGO Racers also had a reworked iteration, this time on the Game Boy Color, and it's an eye sore to put it lightly. The game is what can best be described as an Outrun clone, but worse in every single way, including dull and repetitive visuals, very loose and slippery control, and a draw distance so low that it's impossible to see what's coming. The sound design is also painful, with obnoxious sound effects and poorly remixed music from the original console/PC version.
    • LEGO Friends qualifies for two reasons. First, it's In Name Only as it has absolutely nothing to do with LEGO at all, to the point that the characters are all humans. Second, it hits so deep into the Girl-Show Ghetto that even most Barbie merch would blush. While it's understandable that LEGO would take a back seat as it did in the Scala line it was originally based on (it used human dolls over sets that were still built with LEGO, if to a lesser extent than your average set), the game is mostly about a bunch of teenage girls who run their band Tuff Stuff. Most of the game is just stereotypical teenage girly socializing while trying to make music for their band, and is one of the most bizarre choices for a LEGO game adaptation. Unsurprisingly, LEGO never bothered with games based on the girl-oriented product lines afterwards.
  • 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 Frogger games before and after 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. Not to mention the very Unfortunate Implications presented by the story and the unlikability of any of the characters.
  • 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:
    • 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 withheld review copies and tried to take down early Let's Play videos. It wasn't enough to save the game from absolutely flopping and killing off the Sonic Boom subseries before it could truly take off.
  • The Tamagotchi virtual pet toys' first Game Boy adaptation is notorious for how easy killing a Tamagotchi is (even moreso than the Tamagotchi Ocean, which is considered Nintendo Hard) and the frustrating mechanics of the games. Even if you don't neglect it, it might suddenly just decide to die out of nowhere. The entire Game Boy trilogy's death scenes are also infamous for their disturbing ways of playing out, even to some adults.

    Web Animation 
  • Extra Credits discusses this in one episode and explains the roots of this problem. Back when the civilian internet and video game magazines didn't exist, parents purchased games for their children based on franchises their kids liked being on the cover. Because these games would sell regardless, making them became less about making a good game and about cutting corners and production costs whenever possible, resulting in some very shoddy games.
  • RWBY: Grimm Eclipse is criticized for a bland and shallow combat system (Remember: This is a game based off an animated web series that prides itself with its over the top fight scenes), tedious grinding, unfair difficulty and railroading level progression, all taking place in empty and overly-spacious environments. Cases were also made against RWBY Deckbuilding Game (despite its polish, the niche genre and overtly complex system made it not catch on and last only one year) and RWBY: Crystal Match (too casual and shallow).

    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 SuperMarioLogan 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 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 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.
  • Race With Ryan, a Ryan ToysReview Mascot Racer, was criticized for being a $39.99 game with only six tracks, 21 racers that turn out to be 7 racers each with 2 variations, and the annoying photorealistic Ryan who appears on the screen frequently shouting out poor quality voice clips. Otherwise, with its beautifully-designed tracks and good controls, it's a So Okay, It's Average game.
  • Discussed in Kohdok's "The Seven Deadly Sins of TCG Design", which examines the reasons why so many Collectible Card Games fail to catch on. The fifth sin is licensing — like licensed video games, licensed trading card games usually turn out bad. Common issues include games being rushed, Executive Meddling in general, and an over-reliance on gimmicks. Kohdok also states that trading card games based on movies don't work because a single movie doesn't provide enough content to keep a TCG going for years.

    Western Animation 
  • Video game-wise, Arthur is mostly known for the faithful and colorful Living Books adaptations. There's a reason nobody talks about the other ones:
    • Arthur's Absolutely Fun Day! for the Game Boy Color is a Minigame Game. The music is horrible and often emits high-pitched notes, 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. The main goal is to win 16 minigames, and there are only 10, so you will have to play them multiple times in a row.
    • 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 humor 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, hardly effective ways of attackingnote , 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.
  • Cartoon Network Battle Crashers has a cool concept (characters from some of Cartoon Network's more modern shows in a Beat 'em Up) that's hampered by what appears to be a lack of care or effort put into anything. The characters look and move more like soulless robots with none of the personality that makes them who they are, there are no voice clips and only the most average, generic sound effects and music, backed off with some of the most boring gameplay of any beat-'em-up out there, which is not helped at all by the painfully obvious and egregious Fake Longevity that involves playing the same levels over and over again with no increase in difficulty in order to advance in the game. But the most damning thing about the game is the sheer lack of care put into representing the series: Steven Universe has Steven attack by blowing bubbles (despite only using them for protection or transport in the show), a map to Beach City is required at one point (despite Steven living there and thus already knowing the layout), and the Boss Battle of that world is against, of all things, Frybo, a possessed fast food mascot costume who appeared in one episode and was swiftly killed off, instead of any of the recurring and more threatening villains already present, giving off the impression that the developers only drew material from the first few episodes of the first season of the show.
  • Chaotic: Shadow Warriors is a trainwreck compared to the actual online card game. Taking a page from the show, you only play as Tom, never seeing any of the other main humans (outside of cutscenes in the DS version at least). Your selection of creatures compared to the card game is a measily 40 or so, and it heavily favors using Overworlders over any other tribe, essentially defeating the purpose of the" actual" game. The gameplay went for a similar RPG approach as Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom, but executed far worse.
  • 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: Bart's Nightmare boasts decent graphics and sound, and some creative level concepts. Unfortunately, it's brought down by overly finicky controls, and difficulty that ranges from somewhat unfair to absurdly Nintendo Hard — and that's without taking into account a couple of levels which fall into outright Luck-Based Mission territory due to poor design. And the scariest thing about this particular nightmare? Even with all these flaws, it's still near-unanimously considered the best Simpsons console game prior to the PS2 era.
    • The Simpsons Wrestling was released for the PlayStation in 2001. It had unbalanced gameplay, Artificial Stupidity and shoddy cel-shaded graphics, even for a late-gen PS1 game. You're unable to block your opponents' attacks, and the controls were also poor. Ned Flanders is an SNK Boss due to his attacks being overpowered and you have to pin him four times to win. The only good thing going for it is the surprisingly good music and the voice acting. Unfortunately, the characters tend to repeat their lines a lot.
    • 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 two years later.
    • The Simpsons: Bart and the Beanstalk has almost nothing to do with The Simpsons, featuring only Bart, Homer, Marge, and Mr. Burns as characters. The platforming physics feel inaccurate, the levels aren't interesting or fun, the music is absolutely awful, and it plays its Beanstalk Episode completely straight.
    • The Simpsons: Escape from Camp Deadly is similar to Bart and the Beanstalk: a Game Boy game starring Bart that suffers from bad physics and severe Screen Crunch. This one is at least slightly better because it has more Simpsons characters, and the food fight set piece is kind of fun, but it's still not something you would ever want to play for legitimate entertainment.
    • 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."
  • Up until South Park: The Stick of Truth, which featured heavy input from the writers and played like a multi-part episode of the series, you could pick any South Park game and be disappointed.
    • South Park Rally was a forgettable, confusing Mario Kart clone and Chef's Luv Shack was a bizarre game show with questions that made no sense if you weren't American.
    • 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 and PlayStation versions of the South Park FPS were horribly buggy and had performance issues, which is part of the reason why they were 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 divisive 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.
    • The Xbox Live Arcade games Let's Go Tower Defense Play! and Tenorman's Revenge. The former was a dull tower-defense game with a thin storyline, the latter was scorned for being a dull platformer with a story stretched too thin for a video game.
    • Crawfish Interactive and Acclaim planned a game for the Game Boy Color in 1998, but was cancelled due to Trey Parker and Matt Stone believing that a South Park game wouldn't fit a handheld mostly owned by kids. The game itself is a tedious puzzle-solving game, with "bosses" that can only be described as "reach the platform to defeat the boss".
  • 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.
  • A borderline case with Futurama: The Game, which while not a terrible game, is an uninspired Third-Person Shooter, merely So Okay, It's Average by most fans' standards. The graphics do look rather nice and the character designs translate well into 3D, and 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 has a surprisingly better track record than most when it comes to licensed games, which can be seen on the other page. That said, not all of them have been winners:
    • 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).
    • SuperSponge on the original PlayStation and GBA. The spritework isn't that bad but it also looks very underwhelming in the PSX version. The controls are also slippery, making platforming a pain, and the admittedly catchy music is often drowned out by the obnoxious sound effects.
    • 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. Fortunately, this was fixed in the GameCube release. Unfortunately, the game is still bogged down with poor graphics, boring gameplay, a disappointing ending, and one song that plays throughout the entire game until you switch costumes, a far cry from what the video game series would later put out. The game would serve as a Creator Killer for developers BigSky Interactive, who've only developed this and the previously mentioned Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius video game.
    • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is often cited as a licensed game done right. The Gameboy Advance version? Not so much. With the GBA being, well, the GBA, the game needed to be scaled down into a 2D platformer. That wouldn't be bad on its own if it weren't for the expansive, labyrinth-like levels that are easy to get lost in and take forever to complete, wonky physics, requiring the player to take leaps of faith to progress, and robot enemies that can't hurt you. Thankfully, WayForward Technologies would take the reigns from this point and the GBA games would get much better.
      • The PC version of the game deserves special mention. While the GBA version at least tried to resemble the console version despite its limitations, the PC version is an In Name Only Minigame Game. It suffers from painfully easy minigames, almost no hints whatsoever, the plot being extremely watered down, and the voice acting being worse than the console versions. Overall, the PC version is considered to be the worst version of the game by many players.
    • While it's no Battle for Bikini Bottom, Sponge Bob Square Pants Creature From The Krusty Krab is a great game in its own right and has gained a cult following over the years. The Nintendo DS version has decidedly not, and for a good reason. Once again, it was scaled down into a 2D platformer. However, for whatever reason, WayForward decided to force touch-screen controls on the game, and it does not work at all. It's a puzzle platformer where you use the touch-screen to do everything, including move your character with no option to use the D-Pad and face buttons instead. Unfortunately the controls are slow and unresponsive, making for a frustrating experience.
      • The PC version, also known as Nighty Nightmare, is considered even worse than the port of SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, and with very good reason. While the PC port of Battle for Bikini Bottom was a letdown, this was the turning point for fans of the SpongeBob PC games and wound up being the last physical SpongeBob video game to be released on PC until SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom Rehydrated. The problems with this port include a watered-down plot that takes away all the charm and heart of the console and even GBA version, horrible graphics, cheaply done cutscenes that usually consist of shoddy 3D models or still images, an extremely short length, and generic gameplay with little variety (and what variety there is is usually boring or outright unpleasant).
    • 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.
    • SpongeBob SquigglePants for the Wii had the unfortunate gimmick of requiring an expensive, interactive tablet that has since been discontinued. It's a ripoff of the WarioWare series, even directly stealing some microgames. SquigglePants also misses the point of what makes WarioWare fun, relying solely on Difficulty by Acceleration (no difficulty levels for the microgames, no boss battles, and no way to earn back lives). While the game's concept of using different art styles is interesting, most of it is modified stock art.
  • 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.
  • Looney Tunes games generally belong on the other list, but that doesn't mean that the series and its spin-offs are immune to having stinkers like these:
    • Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor, despite very obviously trying to ape Elite Beat Agents, still manages to be a complete and total snooze-fest thanks to the dumbed-down game mechanics sapping any and all challenge out of the game.
    • 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 nonexistent, save for a pleasant remix of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" (the memorable tune that usually played during the assembly line scenes in the old shorts) that plays during the penultimate level, characters that are all functionally identical, poorly-designed enemies including a massively disappointing and somewhat buggy Final Boss, 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.
    • While the Sega Genesis and Master System versions of Taz-Mania are considered good, or at least passable, the Game Gear version is an atrocious wreck. The graphics are hideous and the controls are sluggish and awkward, which only adds to the Fake Difficulty that's already present.note  The only boss in the game is a serious case of Guide Dang It!,note  and the sound and music ...well, just have a listen for yourself.
  • 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. This is pretty messed up considering the fact that Konami's Warner Bros. adaptations from the 90's were generally well-received.
  • 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.
    • Made worse by Hasbro C&D'ing the excellent fangame My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic around that time. Some fans speculate that the reason is, it was making the official game look bad in comparison!
  • 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 with 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.
    • The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the NES was considered by most an uber-example of Nintendo Hard, while the follow-up arcade games (especially the first one) and their console adaptations are considered classics of the Beat 'em Up genre. Later adaptations of the various 2000 series' are a mixed bag at best.
    • 2013's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is considered especially grievous, with confusing controls and buggy gameplay (and an Art Shift given to the Turtles away from the 2012 series it's based on).
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2013) fared slightly better (they at least looked like their TV counterparts), but was cited with its own bugs and simplistic gameplay (due to being designed for smaller children).
    • Data East's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pinball machine is considered playable but dull, a generic game that doesn't take advantage of the license much. Thankfully, Stern's 2020 game is considered to be much better.
  • Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON'T KNOW! is an unremarkable dungeon crawler that gets few of the elements of other games in its genre right and is even worse on the 3DS than on consoles, 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.
  • 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), there have still been plenty of stinkers:
    • Nickelodeon Party Blast was one of the very first ones, and it 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.
    • While the first three games in the Nicktoons Unite! series were largely surprisingly decent affairs and serious Cult Classics as mentioned above, there's no such love for the final installment Globs of Doom, which seemed to lack the actual effort that was put into the previous games in terms of the gameplay (generic, monotonous, and too easy), graphics (the characters look Off-Model at best and outright hideous at worst), and story (the Nicktoon characters besides SpongeBob are pretty much an afterthought and the mainstay Fairly OddParents! characters like Timmy Turner are inexplicably missing). On top of that, the game was far more bug-ridden than any of the previous games, including one severe save-corrupting bug. The developers dropped the ball so badly that it outright killed the Nicktoons Unite series and no Nickelodeon crossover games on dedicated video game consoles have been platforming adventures since.
    • While Nickelodeon Kart Racers for the Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch isn't considered to be nearly as heinous as the above (it's at least free of any truly severe glitches), it's still very lacking. By far the worst part about the game is its bafflingly low amount of Nickelodeon licenses used; only including characters, tracks, and music based on SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Rugrats, and Hey Arnold!, a paltry four Nicktoons. By comparison, Nicktoons Racing for the PS1 and PC back in the day had eight shows out of the then 12 Nicktoons represented in 2001 whereas this game chose to represent only four out of the now 30+ Nicktoons in 2018. Not even Nicktoons that were incredibly popular and/or still running at the time the game was released such as The Loud House were included. The gameplay is nothing to write home about either; despite having a number of unique mechanics (such as slime boosts and character-specific power-ups) the game doesn't really do anything that other kart racers like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe weren't already doing, and the track list is padded out with tracks that are merely variations on other ones. Making matters worse is that there is no online multiplayer, no vocal clips from the characters whatsoever, and the music and sound effects are mediocre at best and absolutely grating at worst. All in all, Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a sub-par kart racer that wastes the near endless potential that an eighth-gen Nickelodeon crossover video game could have and just ends up feeling like a demo for its own sequel, Racers 2: Grand Prix, which, while still not getting spectacularly high marks from critics and retaining several of the original game's flaws like no voice acting, was still considered a marked improvement over the first game overall due to adding online multiplayer, new modes, and a good deal more playable characters from 12 Nicktoonsnote  and JoJo Siwa, plus many others through the Pit Crew mechanic.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show has multiple video games based on the show, and most of them fit with this trope:
    • Ren & Stimpy: Fire Dogs is a game that was only released on the SNES. It is based on the episode where the duo disguise themselves as Dalmatians to get into the fire department. It is hampered by poor controls, collection gameplay that is down to luck, frustrating gameplay mechanics and a difficulty spike after the third day on the job. The only saving graces are that the player gets infinite continues and the password system is forgiving. The Angry Video Game Nerd reviewed this game as part of his "Twelve Days of Shitsmas" marathon.
  • Rocko's Modern Life only got one video game on the SNES, Spunky’s Dangerous Day, which was oddly developed while the show was still in production. Although the graphics are colorful and cartoonish and many of the show's characters are present, the game is still very clunky and consists of nothing but escort missions as you keep Spunky out of danger with very poorly programmed AI to make it more difficult. The game also has a very strange password system where you play as Rocko and jump on letters to input them. If you use a speed up power up, you end up jumping on a wrong letter and have to fix it. Your reward for beating the game is an A Winner Is You ending.
  • While Rugrats had some decent licensed titles, it had a lot of stinkers as well. To wit:
    • Rugrats in Paris: The Movie on the N64 & PS1 in 2000 was a mediocre Mini Game Game that didn't even follow the film's plot. Instead, it involved the babies running around an empty EuroReptarLand looking for tickets. The tickets you needed to play the mini games, and there were never enough of them in the park. The games themselves were mostly overly-kiddie carnival attractions like hit 50 targets with pies, do a kart race, and such. To say it was tedious was an understatement. Apparently, you had to collect 100 or so tickets overall to save the Reptar princess or something, but few players got that far.note  There was also a lackluster multiplayer mode. Interestingly, the game was made by Avalanche Software, who went on to make the far better Rugrats: Royal Ransom in 2002.
      • The GBC version,note  made by a different developer, was the same thing, just on a miniscule screen and with awful music. You can imagine how that went down.
    • The Rugrats Movie was a clunky platformer for the GB and GBC in 1998. Not following the movie's plot at all, it involves Tommy marching through levels based loosely on the film's set pieces. Controls were difficult, and a ticking timer made the whole experience a pain. Even short parts where you could play as the other babies and ride in mine carts did little to ease the monotony. The sole good thing to say about this title is its nice colour palette on the GBC.
    • Rugrats: Time Travellers was another clunky platformer for the GBC in 1999. The story involves the babies screwing around with a time machine in a toy storenote  and being whisked away to stereotypical time periods (Egyptian times, prehistoric times, etc). There were so few interesting historical elements used, one wonders why the developers even bothered with a Time Travel plot. Controls were broken, and the ending was extremely unsatisfying. The only saving grace of this game was its colourful graphics.
    • Rugrats: Scavenger Hunt was an incredibly boring Mario Party ripoff on the N64 in 1999. Despite sporting good graphics for the time, minimal loading screens, and the TV series' actors reprising their roles, it featured excruciatingly slow gameplay, a lack of any sort of mini games (ya know, the main reason people even play the Mario Party series?), a total of three game boards, and repetitive voice clips. It's easily one of the worst games on the Nintendo 64.
    • Rugrats: Totally Angelica on the PS1 in 2001 was yet another Mini Game Game. Starring our resident scrappy Angelica in a lame fashion show, it had crappy mini games, no replayability, and was too easy on the hardest difficulty level. The one review of it on the internet is well worth a read.
      • The GBC version from 2000 is a scaled-down version, lacking Mark Mothersbaugh's soundtrack, O.K.-for-2001 3D graphics, and basically anything that made the console version tolerable. Oddly enough, it had a completely different story,note  and was a tad more polished in a few ways, such as including an actual Boss Battle. IGN has a rather entertaining review here.
  • While Taito's games based on The Flintstones for the NES, SNES, Game Boy, and Sega Genesis belong on the other list, the modern Stone Age family has had a few games that aren't necessarily winners:
    • Compared to the Taito games, Grandslam's The Flintstones game for the Sega Master System and 8-bit computers was not so good. The game has four levels, the first of which is perhaps the most frustrating. In it, Wilma wants Fred to paint the whole wall within a time limit, and every so often, Pebbles will stray from her crib and mess the wall up, prompting Fred to bring her back. The wall must be painted perfectly, or Fred will lose a life. The second level involves Fred and Barney getting to the bowling alley before it closes, the third level involves Fred and Barney playing a bowling game, and the fourth level involves Fred rescuing Pebbles from a construction site within a time limit. As for music, the game has a decent 8-bit rendition of the show's theme song. Unfortunately, it is the only song in the game, and it plays throughout the entirety of the game (though the game does provide an option to turn the music off). Your reward for beating the game is an image of Fred holding a certificate and a trophy in front of his family and friends.
    • Many Flintstones games between the Taito games and the Android game The Flintstones: Bring Back Bedrock — which, despite being less spectacular than its predecessors, is seen as a return to form — were disappointments, but The Flintstones: Big Trouble in Bedrock, a joint effort from H2O and Conspiracy, really stands out. Released for the Game Boy Advance at the end of 2001, it suffers from shoddy graphics, wretchedly boring gameplay, extremely long and confusing levels, and a mediocre plot where Fred must save Barney from the game's antagonist, Dr. Sinister. The famous theme song is missing and the cut-scenes resemble poorly edited stills from the show. Wilma and Dino are present, but they just serve as spectators in the first two levels, leaving Gazoo as Fred's only major helper. Additionally, there is no ability to save, meaning if you want to complete the game, you have to do it all in one sitting. The YouTube channel World of Longplays did a 100% run with every last Gazoo token and clam, and even this "gives you nothing as a reward."
  • Family Dog wasn't a particularly memorable prime-time animated series back in 1993, so one must wonder why the show got a video game adaptation for the SNES. In the game, you play as the Binsford family's dog, dodging such enemies as spinning tops, flying books, angry cats, angry guard dogs, bees, snakes, and spiders. Your basic method of attacking them is with a bark that you can run out of. The game is also short, having only three worlds; The Binsford Family House, The Dog Pound, and The Haunted Forest, and can be beaten in under fifteen minutes with precise movements, ending with the dog landing in Billy's arms as he and the rest of the Binsford family stand in front of their house.
  • The 2007 version of George of the Jungle, of all things, got a licensed game, The Search for the Secret, on Wii, PS2, and DS, with bland gameplay, unresponsive controls, and a low framerate. The Wii version in particular had bad motion controls that you needed to play the game.
  • Cosgrove Hall's Count Duckula series had two games for the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC by Alternative Software, neither of which were good and were terrible instead. Alternative also made a version for the Commodore 64, but with bland graphics, annoying and repetitive music, a ten-minute Timed Mission that translates to It's Short, So It Sucks!note , and a lame reward, it fared no better.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • The show received several licensed games, none of which were much better than OK, but by far the worst is the Game Boy Color trilogy: Bad Mojo Jojo, Battle Him, and Paint the Townsville Green, churned out by a no-name company named Sennari Interactive in the early 2000s. All three games are Mission Pack Sequels to each other, only varying based on which character you play as and which stages you go through, and all three share the same flaws: floaty and unresponsive gameplay, tiny, sloppy, amateurish sprites, ugly backgrounds, annoying bitcrushed sound effects, and possibly one of the worst soundtracks in any video game. The Rowdyruff Boys are unlockable through passwords, but there's no point in actually playing as them since they're identical to their corresponding Powerpuff besides the different sprites. Sennari was called back to work on Mojo Jojo-a-Go-Go for the Game Boy Advance; it shifted from a traditional platformer to a side-scrolling shooter, and although a significant improvement in gameplay and sound, it's still a pretty ugly and repetitive game.
    • Also not very good is The Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction, released in 2001 for the PS1 and N64. The plot of the game is that the girls bake a pie which Bubbles adds Chemical X to. The show's Rogues Gallery steals and eats the pie, gaining superpowers, and the girls have to defeat them to knock the Chemical X out. The game is a fighting game, but the girls are far more powerful than the villains, making the game far too easy. Story Mode has individual stories for each girl, with no differences in gameplay aside from which girl you play as. The PS1 version is by no means a good game, but the N64 version is even worse. Console hardware limitations cut out the CGI cutscenes, as well as most of the music present in the PS1 version, leaving the N64 version with only one song that plays throughout the whole game. The N64 version also gives the girls an explosion attack, which eats away at the enemies' health when used in quick succession, making it even easier than the PS1 version.
  • Ben 10 has had several video games based on it released to home consoles, and all of them tend to be regarded as So Okay, It's Average at best. Additionally, one of them is a blatant Mario Kart rip-off, and the very first one was exclusive to the widely-hated HyperScan console.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures received many tie-in games, and while most of the games made by Konami were well-received and captured the spirit of the show well, the vast majority of the games released for the PlayStation were average at best and hot garbage at worst:
    • The nadir is generally regarded to be Plucky's Big Adventure, a 3D adventure game with very poor graphics and animation, confusing puzzles, barely any challenge whatsoever due to a broken inventory system, and a paper-thin story that ends on a very unsatisfying Downer Ending that makes the entire game feel like a waste of time. Also, the game has options for the player to save the game when you quit it, or quit the game without saving, but no option for the player to save and continue.
    • The PS1 port of the PC game Buster and the Beanstalk gets more brownie points for at least having the characters' original voice-actors where possible and animation that emulates the original show well, unlike Plucky's Big Adventure. Unfortunately, the game is severely brought down by much of the challenge of the point-and-click segments from the original game being removed in favor of simply leading the player directly to where they need to go next, instead of letting them figure it out for themselves, and being padded out with tacked-on platforming segments that are shoddily programmed and steeped in Fake Difficulty.
  • The Exo Squad game for the Sega Genesis could be a contender. Despite having a decent intro cinematic and the novel concept of three radically different gameplay styles, the rest of the game's graphics are well below standards for the Genesis. While bad graphics may be forgivable, the game's sloppy and sluggish controls are not, not to mention the lack of polish in each of the aforementioned gameplay styles. Also, only three of the Able Squad members are in the game in a series with a fairly wide cast.

    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".
    • The Sega Genesis was home to some of the most memorable Disney licensed games, but Fantasia was not one of them. The game suffers from sloppy programming, awkward controls, haphazard level design, tinny music that hardly does the film's soundtrack any justice, and Chernabog isn't even the Final Boss. What's worse is that the game was rushed out to tie in with the film's 1991 VHS release, and one of the developers admitted in an interview that the game needed at least two more months of development to iron out its flaws. The game ranked #6 on Mega's "10 Worst Mega Drive Games of All Time", and is reviled by Sega Genesis fans across the net, including Urinating Tree.
    • 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.
    • While the SNES and Sega Genesis versions of the 1994 game by Westwood Studios belong on the other list, these Lion King games are vastly inferior;
      • The NES and Game Boy versions of The Lion King are considered porting disasters of their SNES and Genesis counterparts. The Game Boy version just cannot handle the combat from the 16-bit games. Moreover, the game slows down and flickers when a few enemies appear on screen. The NES version is even worse, because not only is it an Obvious Beta, it is also a porting disaster of the Game Boy version with the only things being upgraded are the resolution size and the game is colorized. To twist the knife further, the game box claims there are ten levels, but there are actually six, meaning the player can never play as Adult Simba. Mercifully, the game was released only in Europe. Twisting the knife even further, there exists a bootleg NES port that is widely considered to be superior to the official NES release.
      • While The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure for the PS1 follows the plots of the first two movies fairly well, and has high-quality video clips from said movies (albeit dubbed with the game's voice actors), the game suffers from sub-par graphics, even for PS1 standards, unresponsive controls that lock on occasion, Simba's attacks (rolling and roaring) getting him hurt more often than the enemies, collecting the tokens required to beat the levels being far too easy, and mediocre unlockable bonus games. Things only got worse when it was ported to the Game Boy Color. Hardware limitations obviously meant the video clips couldn't stay, and in turn players received even sloppier graphics, repetitive gameplay, and none of the memorable music from the films, with one incredibly annoying song playing throughout the entire game.
    • Toy Story has had its share of licensed games over the years, and while many of them are very well put together and fun, there are a handful of exceptions. Coincidentally, most of them are handheld ports of the franchise's console game entries:
      • The Game Boy port of the first game, based on the first movie. The gameplay feels very slow and plodding, the graphics try and fail to emulate the movie, controls are terrible, and it's missing many of the levels that its console counterparts have.
      • The Game Boy Color port of the Toy Story 2 game. Like the above game, the controls and physics are terrible, and the game also doesn't seem to understand the source material very well; having the LGMs and Rex as enemies with no reason for it.
      • The Nintendo DS version of the Toy Story 3 game. The controls were stripped down completely, feels less imaginative, and lacks the game's most popular feature, namely the Toy Box modenote .
    • Unlike the PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and PC versions, the Game Boy Color version of A Bug's Life has simple graphics with a weird color scheme, repetitive stages, hard gameplay and annoying sound effects.
    • Wreck-It Ralph is possibly the most successful video game movie out there. Ironically, its own video game adaptation has been panned 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.
    • 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 TurboGrafx-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 it and physically destroy it."
    • While Monsters, Inc.: Scream Team is a well-regarded 3D platformer in its own right, the same can't be said for the far more obscure PS2-exclusive Monsters, Inc. game, which has ugly graphics that look about on par with a PS1 game, poorly designed platforming with extremely difficult sections early on in the game (the second level features a mail train segment which lasts a long time and instantly kills Sulley if he falls at any point while the third level has both a chimney segment which requires pinpoint-perfect reflexes and accuracy and a zipline that takes you right back to the beginning of the level without telling you) and demotes Mike to an NPC. To top it all off, the game adapts the movie's plot so badly that it comes off as a Random Events Plot, and has an insulting A Winner Is You ending that doesn't actually resolve anything the game brings up.
    • The Finding Nemo tie-in game wasn't a trainwreck by any means, but it still contained a horrible case of Loads and Loads of Loading (sometimes more than a minute per level!), ugly visuals, obvious fill-ins for the character voices that don't match the movie, and the game was little more than a lame Gameplay Roulette that tried a little too hard to follow the movie shot-for-shot, which ended up constraining it a bit too much. Many of the stages are quite uninspired as well, ranging anywhere from Pass Through the Rings to sliding puzzles. The Gamecube version in particular deserves special mention as it doubles as a Porting Disaster, with incredibly noticeable lag on quite a few of the stages that makes the already lousy visuals even harder on the eyes.
    • On one hand, The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge has a lot of good things going for it. Most of the movie's original cast is back, the graphics are good, the story serves as a decent sequel to the first movie, and the songs are good (even if they're just the ones from the original movie with new lyrics, though there is one new one). However, its Devil May Cry-style combat is very repetitive with a poor camera, and the player frequently has to backtrack to do something as simple as refill their health. It also takes several seconds just for the pause menu to appear.
    • The Incredibles licensed game is a mixed bag. It features a decent variety of gameplay, the controls are tight and responsive, and you even get Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone narrating the tutorials. However, most of the levels are long, tedious, repetitive, and at times confusing or downright unfair, with overly-precise platforming that often forces the player to backtrack. The game also suffers from Fake Longevity in the form of Padding that often has you doing the same things over and over again (you have to fight the Omnidroid three times, with each fight being nearly identical and lasting an eternity). It's not the worst licensed game ever, but it's not as great as it could be, either.
    • Tarzan had a phenomenal tie-in game released for fifth gen consoles. To tie in with its follow-on TV show, another Tarzan game was made called Tarzan Untamed for the PS2 and GameCube, and to say it's a disappointing follow-on is an understatement. The game features bland, uninspired linear level design that is extremely on-rails with almost no freedom of movement, the visuals are dull and ugly (even being outshined by the aforementioned game despite being released on far inferior hardware), the controls are stiff and heavy, all three bosses require Button Mashing to defeat, which can be difficult without the use of a turbo controller, and the game is extremely short.
  • 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 games as Home Alone, Where's Waldo?, and Wayne's World under their belts. They were also the GBA's equivalent of LJN, right down to being founded by the same person.
  • 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 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 (JLo'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.
  • 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 and Predator were 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 is one example.
    • M&Ms Kart Racing might be their worst game. Every character 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 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, which is tenuously related to its source material at best (not even appearing to be set during Christmastime), has weak graphics, and the gameplay it features is very slow and boring.
  • 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


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