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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." that they tend to be mediocre at best. But why is this so?

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 The '90s 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 inflicting riddles on Batman, might just try to riddle him with bullets 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 The '80s, 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 meant getting any random IP for the sake of name recognition became a less viable tactic, 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. Indeed, video games have increasingly been seen as a narrative medium in their own right, making a straight adaptation of a film a less inticing proposition in the first place. How can it have a compelling story if you've probably already seen the movie and know what to expect? Mind you, this isn't as much an issue for non-film licenses, e.g. a game based on a comic book or less serialized TV series can just tell an original story, but it can still fall victim to the other problems mentioned here.

The second reason for the downfall of this trend in video games 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 such as Acclaim and THQ (which itself stated its desire to stop being associated with bad licensed games marketed for kids before its bankruptcy), means licensed games are far less numerous in recent times and are more likely to either be Mobile Phone Games that aren't much worse than other mobile games not tied to an existing IP or blockbuster titles that aren't mandated to tie into some upcoming 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.

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 phenomenon is that, 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 the exceptions 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. Mediocre licensed games are so numerous, it's probably easier to list only egregious examples. Exceptions should be listed on their own page. See Spiritual Adaptation for a way some games go around this, intentionally or not.

Note: Examples are listed by the medium of the source material or license the game is based on.

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  • Animal, a point-and-click adventure game based on Peperami (the British equivalent of Slim Jims), about the titular Peperami stick Animal going on an adventure to rescue a kidnapped professor and complete his inane cloning experiments for marketing purposes. Said adventure is filled to the brim with Animal (who is normally entertaining in the short-burst commercials he stars in) constantly making annoying remarks (with the Lemony Narrator not helping things either), Pixel Hunts in dark and crowded environments that are never consistent with what reoccurring elements you can interact with, and somehow combines Railroading with Moon Logic Puzzles. Vinny of Vinesauce covered it in one of his streams, and it didn't take long until his chat audience was begging for him to quit and find a new game to play.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Chuck E. Cheese's Party Games is just a boring pack of minigames that can be played with tokens in order to win tickets. Running out of tokens requires you to do pizzas in Pasqually's Pizza Parlor in order to win tokens. Not to mention in order to beat the game you must claim the golden chest which costs 30,000 tickets when you can only win only few tickets around 5-100 and gets boring whenever you will play the same games again and again. There's even an achievement that requires you to claim the golden chest with every character meaning that requires '300,000 tickets' in total. Have fun!
  • The American vehicle manufacturer Ford and its racing association Ford Racing has their series of games based of that association. One notable game of the series is Ford Racing Off Road (or simply Off Road in PAL regions) which is easily the worst of all the series to the point of killing the franchise for good. The game is brutally hard with aggressive AI, wonky physics and handling. It is also notable of having a luck-based minigame named "Expedition" in where the player must collect five artifacts scattered on the track in a very strict time and every restart, the artifacts locations dissapear making the game frustrating. Worst of all, it gives with No Ending not even a congratulatory screen after all the hard work of completing every race in both Career and Tournament modes.
  • 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&M's. 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.

    Eastern Animation 
  • Pucca's Kisses Game for the WiiWare service attemps to mix Auto-Runner with Point and click adventure and does it very poorly.
  • Treasure Island (1988) received a beat-em-up/platformer sequel in the mid-2000's that looks appealing on the surface thanks to the original director, David Cherkassky, returning to oversee the art, which leads to the graphics doing a very good imitation of the TV movies' art style; plus, it also features several of the original voice actors including Dr. Livesey's. Unfortunately, the game is very simplistic and repetitive, can be beaten in less than an hour, has a paper-thin plot that makes no sense even by the original's slapstick standards, and most of the characters either barely appear or are absent entirely. Most agree that it could have had great potential but in practice is more like a nice-looking tech demo.

    Film — Animation 
  • Bébé's Kids isn't a great 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Don't expect much going into the Console and DS versions of Happy Feet the video game. It is essentially a weak DanceDance Revolution clone with bland fishing and sliding levels spliced in between.
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius has two different game adaptations, both of which (especially the PlayStation 2 and GameCube versions) are quite dreadful:
    • The PS2 and GameCube iteration was developed by the same studio as SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman. It's a 3D platformer with a fixed camera angle, poor graphics (with one of the worst-looking models of Jimmy ever made), horrendous controls that can lead to cheap deaths, plenty of glitches, only six levels consisting of the same thing over and over again, a very poor grasp of the source material, and absolutely terrible level design; it's clear no part of the game was designed around the camera system, or even the basic controls. In one part of the game, you need to jump up from a ledge to a higher platform, a simple task that any platform game will have plenty of—only nine times out of ten, Jimmy can't jump high enough to consistently reach it. Other parts of the game position the camera in such a way that it hides Bottomless Pits by making platforms seem connected until it's too late.
    • The other version, developed for PCs, while not outright horrendous, still isn't good enough to avoid falling into this trope. While it wasn't as frustrating to play, it has very dated graphics that barely stand up next to an early PlayStation game (despite releasing in 2001!), the controls are very slippery (though considering what happened to the PS2/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 functional, 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 PS2/GameCube versions). About the only redeeming factor is the original voice cast being present.
  • While The LEGO Movie Videogame 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.
  • 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 Unintentional Uncanny Valley like the film. The gameplay features various Unexpected Genre Changes, though they're poorly played out. The voice acting for some of the characters isn't so great either. The worst part of the game has to be the timespan; it can be beaten within a few hours or less, one sitting and it makes you feel you're missing out.
  • Shrek is infamous for spawning numerous horrible licensed games. Swedish gaming magazine LEVEL once gave a Shrek game 4/10 and noted that it's surprisingly good for a Shrek game. For a few more specific examples:
    • There are multiple racing games, one of which, Swamp Kart Speedway for the Game Boy Advance, sticks out with its hideous graphics and bizarre, awful menu music on top of being a blatant Mario Kart rip-off. The worst part about that game is that every time a racer passes you, they go "Bye-bye!" (taken from the scene in the movie where Shrek tries to explain to Donkey how "ogres have layers"). And the same "Bye-bye!" 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. The end result is a wannabe Tech-Demo Game that impressed absolutely nobody, suffering from mediocre gameplay, terrible Camera Screw, and abysmal audio. Its supposed Updated Re-release for the GameCube (named Shrek Extra Large) is even worse, with a graphical downgrade and poor frame rate issues.
    • Shrek Treasure Hunt already has an incredibly lame premise where you're just going around collecting items for a picnic, making the title rather questionable at best. Not only is the game thoroughly unengaging and dull, it's particularly brought down by its absolutely horrendous visuals, and despite hardly looking at all graphically impressive by PS1 standards, the frame rate borders on slideshow territory. This is completely inexcusable considering the game came out in 2002, a decent amount into the sixth generation's lifespan, so the developers should have been more than familiar with ways to mitigate it by that point.
    • Shrek: Dragon's Tale for the V.Smile was infamous for its blatant use of pre-existing Video Game Music from Nintendo, Square Enix, Etc.
  • SpongeBob HeroPants (a video game tie-in to The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water), is the second of two SpongeBob games released under Activision and a direct follow-up to Plankton's Robotic Revenge while suffering from many of the same problems. Dull platforming, tiresome combat, mediocre graphics (doesn't help that it was stuck on the handhelds of its era and the then previous-gen Xbox 360), and a plot that barely has anything to do with the film except for the fact that the cast's superhero forms return (including a horrifically-rendered photorealistic CG Sandy). It served as a Franchise Killer for the SpongeBob video game franchise until THQ Nordic got the publishing rights to the series back and put out Battle For Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated, a remake of Battle For Bikini Bottom which revived the series. Though SpongeBob still wouldn't get any entirely new games until The Cosmic Shake in 2023, which proved that the series is back on track.

  • 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 octopi, enormous alligators, a giant helicarrier airship, and a Loch Ness monster. It goes without saying that none of this was in the Mark Twain book.
  • 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 has to be the Game Boy Color game, simply titled Animorphs. While Shattered Reality is a straightforward Platform Game and Know the Secret is an Action-Adventure title, Animorphs is a Role-Playing Game that, to put it altogether too mildly, takes a great deal of inspiration from the Pokémon games. Boasting a largely incomprehensible script, forgettable music (criminal in that the music of the previous two titles is one of their few redeeming features), no strategy of any kind, lackluster gameplay, a faulty password system in place of a save feature, many Guide Dang It! moments, and a truly horrid amount of game-breaking bugs, it's quite clear that this is the one Animorphs title that truly deserves the label of Shovelware. The game received bad reviews from IGN, though oddly enough, Nintendo Power gave it a 3 out of 5.
    • Animorphs: Know the Secret, while not as offensive as the PlayStation game, is pretty subpar and has trouble being consistent with the books (such as assigning the wrong signature morphs to the wrong characters).
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (NES) is a game for the NES, loosely based on the book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Featuring mangled controls, Fake Difficulty everywhere (the mad bombers can easily take your health away in one bomb if you're right in the bomb's way and Jekyll moves really slow), Everything Trying to Kill You including cats, dogs, birds, etc. Hyde's levels aren't much better. You have to press Up+B to shoot a fireball, which isn't so bad...but sometimes it only works when it wants to. The Hyde levels are technically "timed" in a sense if you catch up to where Dr. Jekyll went insane, you'd instantly get a Game Over (but at least you get continues). Furthermore, the American version inexplicably removed two levels that were in the Japanese version and repeated two levels to compensate. The Angry Video Game Nerd considers this the worst game he's played that involves actual gameplay.
  • 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 the same, a downward course with terrible controls, only made different by the graphics like boating, skateboarding, or snowboarding. The game has no background music and sound effects right out of the Atari 2600. If you do manage to beat the game it won't take long, only about ten minutes.
  • Ray Bradbury helped write a text-adventure, semi-canonical sequel to Fahrenheit 451. Even by text adventure standards, it's pretty frustrating. You can be killed for something as simple as crossing the street at the wrong times of day, there are several times you have to fight off a Hound or Fireman...and the result is based on if the computer feels charitable, and you advance the plot by contacting members of the Underground using literary quotations as pass-phrases. However, the parser system is pretty craptastic, and if you so much as leave out a punctuation mark, then you lose your chance to use the phrase, and have to leave the building and come back to try again. Worse, it has plenty of You Can't Get Ye Flask moments as "Talk to man" works sometimes, while others you have to use "Ask Man" with no indication as to what. Top it all off with a Downer Ending, plus a side order of Fridge Logic, if you manage to put up with the game's quirks long enough to reach a conclusion.
  • Many of the The Lord of the Rings non-movie games:
  • The Shannara video game adaptation. For RPG elements, it isn't too awful, just badly cliched, but the gameplay mechanics — especially the combat engine — suck horribly.
  • The NES Where's Waldo? game (released by THQ in 1992), owing to the severe graphical limitations of the system, is 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 makes 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.
  • Windham Classics in the early '80s had several brilliant games; their The Wonderful Wizard of Oz text adventure that incorporated elements from the first two Oz books, their Below the Root game that became one of the first video games to be a canon sequel to a non-video game work, their witty Alice's Adventures in Wonderland game, their faithful Treasure Island text adventure... and then there's their attempt at Swiss Family Robinson that has an awful parser, a very bad mapping system, and poorly written instructions, and was obnoxiously short even by the era's standards.

  • 50 Cent Bulletproof is a buggy and uninspired third person shooter (or in the case of PSP version, top-down shooter) with a very stupid plot that could easily fit a single music video. At least it earned the Surprisingly Improved Sequel 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, which has better gameplay and a more outlandish tone that pushes it into So Bad, It's Good.
  • While Vendetta and Fight For NY were warmly regarded, Def Jam: Icon is a mediocre at-best fighting game which has fuck-all to do with its predecessors and was criticized for making changes to a proven formula. Rapstar, meanwhile, is a karaoke game which is divorced from the other Def Jam games. This otherwise forgettable dud is remembered more for the legal troubles it caused, which ended up putting 4mm Games out of business and hindering the development of Skullgirls.
  • 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 can be beaten in one afternoon, and essentially being more of the same with a Van Halen coat of paint - 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 losing steam in the wake of the recession. Unsurprisingly, it came out early in 2010, the same year the series died its first death.
  • KISS Pinball for the PC and PlayStation consists of two pinball boards which are both utterly generic aside from the graphical styling and a few voice clips. The soundtrack is made of generic rock riffs and contains no KISS songs. The PlayStation version also suffers from nauseous camera panning.
  • The Make My Video quartet (C+C Music Factory, INXS, Kriss Kross, and Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch) are often considered the worst games ever put out for the Sega CD, and some of the worst Interactive Movie 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 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.
  • 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 inexplicably 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 or extra lives. The array of weapons Garfield can use are limited and inaccurate.
    • 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 Unintentionally Unwinnable 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.
    • Garfield Kart and its remaster Garfield Kart: Furious Racing are two of the fat cat's most famous video game outings... for all the wrong reasons.
      • The original game for the Nintendo 3DS garnered much ridicule from gamers over its absurd premise, and when they finally got their hands on it they found the game was hardly any good in practice either. The presentation is bland, the gameplay is exceedingly run-of-the-mill, the karts control very poorly, extra content is frustrating to unlock, and there's hardly anything distinctly "Garfield" about it besides the playable characters. The game is also absurdly easy due to the rampant Artificial Stupidity of the AI drivers. Sharing a system with Mario Kart 7 (which, mind, was Christmas Rushed onto the 3DS as an emergency and still ended up a stellar game for the system) only serves to highlight how bland and unambitious the game is compared to other kart racers at the time.
      • The upscaled port for consoles and PC, Furious Racing, manages to be even worse than the original game. That it adds very little new content that isn't already in the original game is problematic enough, but the game also has the misfortune of being an absolute trainwreck. The AI drivers go from being dumber than Odie to playing so unfairly they put the infamously unbalanced Rubberband AI in Mario Kart Wii to shame (not helped by the addition of hat power-ups that can give AI players either additional or more accurate ammunition to hit you with) and make finishing most races in a position higher than third a chore. The game and physics are poorly designed for the new speeds the karts can reach, as races are absolute chaos on higher difficulties with karts regularly shooting off the track due to not being able to turn quickly enough, dropping through the track or through walls, driving on walls if you hit them right, and going flying out of control or being flipped completely over from so much as hitting an anthill. Add the game's broken and unhelpful respawn system that resets the player's position if they so much as brush their kart against a wall, and you get a game whose only true merit is getting your friends together to revel in how hilariously broken it is.
  • Popeye games:
    • Popeye Saves the Earth is often named 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.
    • The 2021 game for the Nintendo Switch was developed by Sabec, developers of such venerated classics as Calculator and Piano. Wildly overpriced at $12.99, it's an arcade-y Endless Game where the player must collect hearts or letters thrown by Olive Oyl, essentially a low-budget remake of Nintendo's 1982 arcade title. The gameplay is utterly mindless; the stages (all three of them) consist of low-poly, seemingly untextured models purchased on the cheap from a stock model library, and are much too large to support the gameplay; and glitches wreak havoc on any genuine attempts to play the game—swimming around or even opening the HOME Menu can cause Popeye to die for no reason.
  • 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 
  • ECW had two disastrous video game adaptations at the end of its lifespan:
    • The first was Hardcore Revolution, which Acclaim clearly made it to ride the coattails of WWF War Zone and WWF Attitude. Not only are the controls worse than both of those games, the exclusive match types aren't even worth it. The AI's tendency to cheat does not help things either. The fact that it's Attitude with an ECW coat of paint did not do well with ECW fans.
    • Then came Anarchy Rulz, which has been considered one of the worst professional wrestling games of all time. The cheating AI still exists and it does little, if anything, to address the problems from Hardcore Revolution. It was the last video game to have the ECW license.
  • 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.
  • WCW:
    • WCW Nitro on the PlayStation, which looked good on paper and in screenshots, but quickly falls apart once you pick up a controller. The game has a very limited moveset (shown here) done with Mortal Kombat like button combos, with most moves being shared among all the wrestlers, giving players the weird visual of guys doing moves they'd never do in real life (ever see Kevin Nash do a piledriver?) The fully digitized graphics look nice in photos but the actual animation is pretty rough, not helped by the nausea-inducing camera that constantly rotates around the ring. Add in the lack of any special features and game modes and really the game's only redeeming quality is the hilarious FMV promos you can view in the wrestler select screen. Still, WCW was hot at the time and PS1 owners didn't really have any better options, so the game still sold like crazy, giving us...
    • WCW Thunder, the sequel to Nitro, which improved nothing and even added a Game-Breaker in the test of strength move, which allows you to drain an opponent's health just by tapping the circle button. Do this 3 times, hit your finisher, and you can win any match against the CPU in 30 seconds and blow through the world title mode in under 10 minutes. Fortunately the halirious promos returned, unfortunately this game was also ported to the Nintendo 64 (titled as WCW Nitro) as a cheap cash grab (which lacked the select screen promos due to hardware limitations). The worst part was that the N64 got two really good WCW games, while PS1 players got the shaft.
    • Backstage Assault, built on the already questionable Mayhem enginenote , removes any semblance of wrestling and just goes for a clunky backstage brawler.
  • WWF games have a long history of being this trope:
    • 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 is essentially a poor man's Twisted Metal whose only redeeming feature is the Narmtastic commentary provided by Jim Ross ("TWISTY ROCKETS!").
    • WWF WrestleMania for the NES is the first WWF-licensed game, and easily the worst. The entire game consists almost entirely of punches and kicks. The only grappling hold (in a wrestling game) is a body slam. On top of that, the controls are 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 do exist on the NES (Pro Wrestling and Tecmo World Wrestling come to mind).
    • WWF King of the Ring was released at the end of the NES' life cycle. It has worse visuals, fuzzy DPCM samples, and wrestlers sharing the same moveset. While it does have the nice draw of making your own wrestler, it only goes as far as modifying their attributes.
    • WWF Raw for the Xbox was criticized for its grappling system, lack of play modes that previous WWF/WWE games had, and only having 35 wrestlers on its roster. It's a regression from wrestling games that came out the year before on previous gen consoles.
    • WWE 2K20 was the first WWE game developed by Visual Conceptsnote . For one, it's a noticeable step down from 2K19, the last WWE game that was developed by Yuke's. It's also an Obvious Beta, as many bugs were present at its release. It also eschewed features out from the previous installment. It was so critically reviled that the developers skipped the next year to work on the next installment (meaning there is no WWE 2K21). Thankfully, 2K22 was seen as a Surprisingly Improved Sequel, fixing many issues that 2K20 had.

  • 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, with 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.
    • History repeated itself with the sequential releases of FIFA 21 Legacy Edition, FIFA 22 Legacy Edition and FIFA 23 Legacy Edition. All of which were barely changed from the Switch release of FIFA 19 and released at full retail price. When Simon Cardy of IGN reviewed FIFA 21 Legacy Edition he snarkily copied and pasted his review of FIFA 20 to mock EAs laziness, giving each of the aforementioned titles a pitiful 2 out of 10.
  • George Foreman lent his name and likeness to two Acclaim boxing games in the 1990s, both of which fall under this trope:
    • The first, George Foreman's KO Boxing, suffers from extremely monotonous gameplay that suffers from severely broken hit detection, along with a severe case of The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, turning every fight into an aggravating Luck-Based Mission. It does feature the novelty of voice acting by Foreman himself, albeit the Genesis port conspicuously freezes up every time it delivers a speech sample. The 8-bit versions of the game are even worse, with the NES and Game Boy versions feeling like lame Punch-Out!! clones, and the Master System and Game Gear versions being probably the worst of the lot, ending up as Reformulated Games that go for a more Street Fighter-like perspective, but ratcheting up the difficulty to completely absurd levels while making the controls even worse.
    • The second, Foreman For Real, is admittedly an improvement on its predecessor, with reasonably impressive graphics and sound for a 16-bit title, even if it loses the voice acting from Foreman. However, the gameplay is still monotonous and repetitive, and, in the complete opposite of KO Boxing, it's actually pretty easy to exploit weaknesses in the AI and win every match in a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Izzy's Quest For The Olympic Rings is what you would get when someone decided that the 1996 Summer Olympics mascot should receive their own game. The game is all about the 1996 Olympics mascot "Izzy" embarking on a quest to recover the Olympic Rings from the Ring Guardians so he could travel to Atlanta to light the flame and save the games. The game is as bog-standard as it gets, with uninteresting level design, repetitive gameplay, and horrendous slowdown especially for the SNES version. The game does have decent graphics and fun spritework, but that wasn't enough to save it from the heap.
  • 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, 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.
    • 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.
    • Deep Silver and Eutechnyx eventually lost the license to Dusenberry Martin Racing, who brought in Monster Games, the developers behind the beloved NASCAR Heat/Dirt to Daytona games from the early 2000s. They even acquired the NASCAR Heat name and titled the first installment NASCAR Heat Evolution to lure in fans of those games and build hype. That hype collapsed when the duo put out a bug-infested mess that was widely regarded as a thinly-disguised alpha build. DMR immediately rebranded as 704Games but NASCAR Heat 2 only got slightly better reviews, as while there were fewer bugs, it was also missing features that had been present in previous NASCAR game series. Consensus on subsequent entries in the "new" NASCAR Heat series was "adequate, but never quite grew the beard", with NASCAR Heat 4 agreed to have come the closest.
    • For NASCAR Heat 5, the rights were handed to Motorsport Games, who immediately removed Monster for a team made up of 704 staffers, with the resulting product being widely criticized for being a Mission-Pack Sequel. Motorsport quickly pivoted to the next release, simultaneously announcing that the Heat branding was being dropped while also declaring that their own internal development team had been readying a game for ninth-generation consoles since 2019. Said game, NASCAR '21: Ignition, was hyped to high hell and back by the publisher - only for streams of the early release version to reveal another bug-infested alpha build masquerading as a AAA release. (Common glitches include: spotty collision detection that causes cars to react like they hit an invisible brick wall for no reason or simply phase through the track into a bottomless void; Artificial Stupidity that can't maneuver around stalled cars a full straightaway in front of them, then can't figure out how to back up once wrecked, creating massive wads of cars that clog entire tracks and break races; and a spotter that randomly starts yelling "Two-Two-Two-Two-Three-Three-Three-Three" for up to a minute at a time if the player car stays three wide for too long.) Motorsport Games then displayed some of the worst PR mismanagement of the fallout ever seen in gaming or racing circles, eventually culminating in the cancelation of the planned stand-alone follow-up in favor of DLC to update the driver rosters and rules, while also quietly giving their CEO a 632% pay raise. Around this time, reports came out claiming that NASCAR was looking to sever ties with the publisher immediately, as was IndyCar,note  with overseas licensers like the British Touring Car Championship and the FIA/Le Mans having already started the process of canceling their agreementsnote  amidst a slew of lawsuits and allegations of the company's executives creating the parent company as a Ponzi scheme, complete with documentation of previous such allegations dating back to 2004, coming into the public record. Thanks to all of this, most critics and fans have dubbed Ignition "the worst NASCAR game of all time".note 
    • About two years later, after a single DLC update for Ignition and a few DLC packs for Heat 5 for some reason (all of which introduced new bugs to both games), NASCAR approved the transfer of the console license from Motorsport to iRacing, makers of a massively popular online-only racing simulator who have hosted NASCAR-based contentnote  since 2010...not to mention that the site itself originated from the engine used to power NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, the final entry in a series of critically acclaimed PC simulation games that served as a "hardcore" alternative to the EA Sports and Monster Games series prior to the former's exclusivity grabnote . iRacing has revealed their intention to build a console game from the ground up rather than simply repackage the existing online product for console access, with a target date of fall 2025. Time will tell if this game can finally avert NASCAR's long run on this page.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games were good at avoiding this until Ride and Shred, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 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). Watch Spoony suffer through it here.
    • Even worse is 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 has one spectacularly awful bug—if you install the game to anything other than the default filepath then try 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, 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.
    • Spellfire, 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."
    • Iron & Blood: Warriors of Ravenloft was a PS1 & DOS Fighting Game based on the Ravenloft setting but due to a Troubled Production the game doesn't utilise the setting in any meaningful way, leaving the game with a generic fantasy tone. Semantics regarding the IP aside, the game has horrible collision detection, an unruly camera that can barely keep up with the action, a poor UI (consisting of a torch as a Life Meter which does a poor job conveying how much health each opponent has) and a lack of endings or training mode. Matt McMuscles, a fighting game aficionado, considers it the Worst Fighting Game of all time.
  • 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 is very much hated; its production was troubled for other reasons. The Dawn of War series is generally well-received with Soulstorm being the black sheep of the family.
  • Steve Jackson Games' Illuminati: New World Order is 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.
  • You’d think that Pokémon wouldn’t fall into this trap since it’s based on video games. However, the Pokémon Play It! CD-ROM game, meant to introduce fans to the trading card game, is mostly remembered for having awful, awful CG character designs, and less than stellar graphics in general. While it plays fine, it's rather slow-paced and limited in scope (only four decks total, which version 2 expands to seven). The online Trading Card Game released on tablets is viewed as somewhat better, though.
  • Released to much fanfare and to-do, the Xbox 360 game Shadowrun was widely panned as So Okay, It's Average. It captures very, very little of the essence of the setting and is a fairly dull online shooter. The PC port is 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.

    Theme Parks 
  • Six Flags Fun Park is a strange Minigame Game released for the Wii and DS that is more or less a gruelling experience with a hideous art style, bland Waggle filled gameplay and practically has nothing to do with the titular amusement park and might as well have a generic name (though this could be due to licensing reasons).
  • 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.

  • 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 is a different story, though.
  • The Barbie Diaries: High School Mystery for the Game Boy Advance has extremely blurry graphics, a dull soundtrack, and is extremely difficult and tedious for its target audience of young girls.

  • LEGO generally did well with licensed games, even prior to the Traveller's 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 has 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 forgoes the RTS-oriented gameplay in favor of an action platformer with ugly visuals, bad controls, and almost no original ideas. There's 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 is so drastically different from the original NTSC version, though many still argue it's not different enough to save it from this trope.
    • LEGO Racers has a reworked iteration on the Game Boy Color, and it's an eyesore to put it lightly. The game is what can best be described as a Pole Position clone, but worse in every single way, including dull, repetitive visuals, very loose and slippery controls, 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.
    • Among BIONICLE video games, there are two major multi-console licensed games, neither of which received very good reviews. In general, given how complex and huge the BIONICLE lore is, it's something of a disappointment to see such potential squandered on generic shooter gameplay.
      • 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 tries to superficially follow the franchise's Myth Arc, but only manages 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 of The Game isn't 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). In the end, it received slightly better reviews than The Game but proved to be even more divisive than its predecessor among the fanbase for its excessively comedic tone, a stark contrast to the rest of the franchise and even by Traveller's Tales standards, and making 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 (in fact, he was the Big Good of the 2006 saga no less). Even if the game is completely non-canon, it still lacks an actual story, which most other LEGO games do have, outside of a poorly-voice acted intro cutscene, after which the game drops all pretense of story. The gameplay itself, meanwhile, is repetitive and tedious: 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. The Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance versions on the other hand, while not as well-known as the PC and console versions, fare better enough to escape this.
    • 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.
  • 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 that they can die of old age eventually. The entire Game Boy trilogy's death scenes are also infamous for their disturbing ways of playing out, even to some adults.
  • Games based directly on the Transformers toys:
    • The Transformers for the Commodore 64 and ZX 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 will 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's 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, the people at Takara thought the game deserved a sequel in the form of Transformers: ★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.
    • While Transformers: War for Cybertron and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron are well-regarded by critics and fans alike, the sequel Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark (doubling as a crossover with the live-action movies) fares much worse, suffering from poor optimization, excessive amounts of recycled assets, monotonous gameplay, and a nigh-incomprehensible story plagued by Continuity Snarls for both continuities.
    • 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, poorly rendered robots (here's Optimus, for those interested), and the game can easily be played without the card models. Only two sets were released.
  • 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 contains four minigames and a checklist for the first wave of figures.

    Video Games 
  • 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 attack enemies by spitting at them, and when close enough you use frog-fu (no, we're not making this up, this is the exact terminology the game uses). The controls are horrible, the only difficult thing is figuring out what the heck you're supposed to do, there is no replay value unless you want to start the whole game over again, and the voice acting is somewhere between bad and the kind of voice that makes you want to take a hammer to your head. The story has some very uncomfortable implications, and very few, if any, of the characters are likable at all.
  • Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, one of the most infamous examples. See Porting Disaster and that other Wiki for details.
  • Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric garnered a number of criticisms since its release:
    • The textures and other graphical effects are subpar, looking more like a GameCube game from 2002 than a Wii U game from 2014.
    • 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 led to people nicknaming the game "Sonic '06 2" and "Sonic '14". Sega was quite 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.
  • Any Nintendo game not actually made under its name is crap, but the most infamous examples are the four games made for the CD-i in the mid-1990's. The three Zelda games in particular have awkward controls and repetitive gameplay, while Hotel Mario has equally repetitive gameplay, where Mario must close all the doors to the seven hotels to save Princess Peach, completely abandoning the core mechanics of any official Mario game, where every enemy can be killed just by stepping on it. The cutscenes of each game, despite being a haven for YouTube Poop, don't fare much better, suffering from poor voice acting and awful character designs and animation. Nintendo executives hated the games, and a second Mario CD-i game, Mario's Wacky Worlds, was eventually aborted.

    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), RWBY: Crystal Match (too casual and shallow), and RWBY: Amity Arena (mostly for Gacha Games elements and unbalancing).

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 video, "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.
  • In-universe: in CollegeHumor's Hardly Working video on the Most Retro Video Game System Ever, the Skaris One-Bit has a GoldenEye licensed game... which consists of the screen flashing a square on and off a specific number of times, indicating that you should read a specific page of the included book, while playing a horribly beepy and discordant song in the background.
  • 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 expressions only change when they gets certain injuries), and the blood and gore graphics are very dull and cheap-looking. Gameplay-wise, it's just an uninspired Lemmings clone minus the behavior-changers (you can only freeze, thaw out, scare off, or burn the Happy Tree Friends) and with more Artificial Stupidity. While every level has environment-based gimmicks and traps, they all feel the same. The game's rather short (at around 2 hours for an experienced player), it doesn't make use of all the HTF characters (not counting the episode that comes with the game and the Xbox achievement icons, 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, despite being hyped for years, looks like it was made in a week. It's 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. The only upside is the art for the comic book-style cutscenes. The game only lasted 3 months on the iOS App Store before getting pulled; it was revealed that it was a reskin of a different mobile game that sells its assets to potential game makers. The 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.

    Specific Companies 
  • 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 publish crap until its eventual bankruptcy (and limited revival as a distributor of Korean MMORPGs. Acclaim and LJN were so bad at this that they received extreme scorn as The Angry Video Game Nerd's most hated game companies.
    • Bigfoot on the NES runs right into this trope. Developed by Beam Software and published by Acclaim, it has a convoluted control scheme during side-scrolling races, having rubber-banding AI and zero continues or passwords. If you don't have $1,000 to enter a race, then you automatically get Game Over. The overhead races aren't much better, because you can easily get stuck in a tree and wreck your truck without warning.
    • Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage: Subverted, as the SNES game has good controls, good music, and is actually all-around decentnote . When the Nerd declared it So Okay, It's Average, then discovered it was made by LJN, it 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.
  • 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.
    • They 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.
    • 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.
  • 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. The studio was quickly shut down 18 months after being formed. note 

  • Capstone Software was a home computer developer active in the 80s and 90s best known for their FPS titles such as Witchaven and Operation Body Count, but the majority of their games were licensed titles of dubious quality.
    • Their Trump Castle games were a series of mediocre gambling themed game collections created only to promote the Trump casino brand.
    • The Dark Half, a point and click adventure game based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The game featured confusing puzzles and uninspired visuals, earning a mostly negative reception from critics.
    • Miami Vice received a little-known DOS game by Capstone (reviewed here) that suffers from terrible controls, convoluted gameplay, and ridiculous bugs. The game is like a puzzle/platformer hybrid controlled entirely by the mouse and spacebar. In the linked review, the reviewer could not figure out how to pass the second level because there's nothing to be anything to really indicate the goal of the level. He also 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 are indicated.
    • William Shatner's TekWar was an early FPS on the Build Engine (the same engine that powered Duke Nukem 3D) and is considered one of the worst games to ever run on the Engine (and that's saying a lot), with graphics crunched into hideous pixelated unrecognizability, clunky and irritating gameplay, and some utterly dreadful level design. The game also features FMV sequences with William Shatner chewing you out if you kill too many enemies, despite killing bad guys being the point of the game, which gets annoying fast; and a seizure-inducing final mission in cyberspace full of garish visuals and confusing objectives.
    • Zorro (1995) was a clone of the original Prince of Persia games featuring sluggish controls and unforgiving platforming.

  • 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 (as with Back to the Future). This situation improved over time, with games like Tales from the Crypt and Jurassic Park ranked among the best games from The '90s.
  • 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:
    • Aladdin had two excellent video games on 16-bit platforms. The European-only Nintendo Entertainment System developed by NMS Software was vastly inferior to its 16-bit counterparts. It has limited palette choices, questionable music choices (A Whole New World for the final level?) and the Jafar fight being ridiculously easy.
    • Alice in Wonderland (2010), the video game adaptation of Tim Burton's 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.
    • Ariel The Little Mermaid was developed by Blue Sky Software for the Sega Genesis, and so could offer fancier graphics than Capcom's NES game The Little Mermaid, which is better in almost every other way. It also tries for greater complexity of gameplay, but ends up forcing the player to swim around labyrinthine levels with unresponsive controls and terrible collision detection hunting for transformed 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.
    • Beauty and the Beast had two games for the Sega Genesis by Sunsoft, each based on one of the title characters. Belle's Quest was a fairly lame collection of minigames, and Roar of the Beast was an uninspired platformer. The NES and SNES games published by Hudson Soft and developed by Probe Entertainment did not improve much on the gameplay of Roar of the Beast either.
    • Unlike the PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and PC versions, the Game Boy Color version of A Bug's Life has simplistic graphics with a weird color scheme (Flik and Dim, who are both blue in the movie and console versions, are consistently colored purple), repetitive stages, Fake Difficulty and annoying sound effects.
    • Chicken Little wasn't a great movie to begin with, but while many would tell you that its own licensed game belongs on the other page, the same unfortunately cannot be said for Chicken Little: Ace In Action. For its merit, it features voice talent from Adam West and was developed by Avalanche Software, but the gameplay is extremely basic and essentially amounts to a handful of Minigames strung together, has graphics that feel rather unsettling especially during cutscenes and the entire story is an Excuse Plot within an Excuse Plot. Put them together and you got yourself a mediocre game.
    • Darkwing Duck has a stellar NES licensed game published and developed by Capcom, mainly because it uses 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 lets you fight the other members of the Fearsome Four).
    • Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey is a really easy game with zero challenge at all. Minigames are dull and basic, the Bogs are the only enemies in the entire game and are very weak, the player can't get killed by all means, clunky controls especially in Wii version, can be completed within a few hours or less and the only unlockables in the entire game is just the Belle minigame in where the player must avoid the Bogs after completing all of the princesses worlds and the Golden dress that can be unlocked after beating the game. To top it off, in PS2, the save file size in the memory card is 1,200KB which is unnecessary for a game that lacks replay value especially in 8MB memory cards even compared to many popular game franchises from that console like Need for Speed, Grand Theft Auto, Gran Turismo, Burnout which has far more replay value and requires either more-or-less KBs to save those games than this game.
    • The Sega Genesis is home to some of the most memorable Disney licensed games, but Fantasia isn't one of them. Developed by Infogrames and mostly based on "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment (Wizard Mickey is the playable character, and level 1 combines that with "The Nutcracker", with the other three being amalgations of the other segments), the game suffers from sloppy programming, awkward controls, haphazard level design, tinny music that hardly does the film's soundtrack any justice, gameplay that alternates between Sega Hard and Fake Difficulty... and Chernabog isn't even the Final Boss despite the final level taking place on Bald Mountain. Once you complete the game, you are rewarded with a cheap animation of Mickey shaking hands with Leopold Stokowski. The worst part 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 Genesis fans across the net, including UrinatingTree. Adding insult to injury, Roy Disney insisted that no adaptations of his uncle's work be made, so he demanded that all future sales and advertising cease and every unsold copy be destroyed.
    • The Finding Nemo tie-in game isn't a trainwreck by any means, but it still contains a horrible case of Loads and Loads of Loading (sometimes more than a minute per level!), ugly visuals, obvious soundalike actors, and gameplay that is little more than a lame Gameplay Roulette that tries 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.
    • 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.
    • 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. The game is very low on the creepiness factor, and this is Gravity Falls we're talking about.
    • 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.
    • Kim Possible: Revenge of Monkey Fist for the Game Boy Advance was the first game based on the series, and easily the worst. While the bad graphics were forgivable (it was released early in the GBA's lifespan), what wasn't forgivable was the simplistic gameplay (all you do is run from left to right with the occassional gadget section), and pathetically easy boss battles (only Drakken puts up a challenge). Interestingly, the game was developed by Digital Eclipse, who also did the well received video game based on Lilo & Stitch for the same platform.
    • 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 upgrades being the resolution and color graphics. 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.
      • The Lion King 1 ½ for the Game Boy Advance isn't a complete trash fire, it still doesn't make it that far past "mediocre". It controls decently well and has a clever tag-team platforming mechanic, but suffers from shallow gameplay, bland level design, no bosses at all, and a very short game time. If you don't go for 100% Completion, you can beat it in a little over an hour. If you do decide to go for it, be prepared to deal with tons of frustrating Trial-and-Error Gameplay with item placement that frequently requires the player to be psychic.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 has, only introduced a handful of the beloved "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".
    • There were two video games based on The Rocketeer: the Nintendo Entertainment System verison developed by Ironwind Software and Realtime Associates and published by Bandai in 1991, and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System verison developed by Nova Logic and published by IGS in 1992. The NES game has colorful cutscenes that follow the movie, but still suffers from an overabundance of enemies who can easily kill you while it's hard for you to kill them, as well as a jet pack that requires you to find fuel for it, and even then, should only be used sparingly. While the game does provide a password system, you still get a Game Over after losing one life. The SNES game, despite being on a more advanced console, is even worse, as the first few levels require you to beat an airplace race, and in order to win it, you must pay close attention to what's going on in the tiny box in the HUD, not what's going on on the main screen, when it should be the other way around. In the shoot-em-up levels, which appear later in the game, you can actually destroy your health power-ups, and while enemies can change direction to attack you, you can't. Your reward for beating both games is an A Winner Is You ending. The Angry Video Game Nerd has reviewed both these games, saying that the SNES version in particular may have surpassed The Wizard of Oz and Hong Kong '97 as the worst SNES game he's ever played.
    • 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."
      • Its GBA sister game, Tipton Caper, doesn't fare much better. It's a dull clone of The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap with tedious and simple puzzles, lousy stealth segments, and movement speed so painfully slow you'd swear the twins themselves are just as bored as you are.
    • The Disney Afternoon inspired a few classics, but TaleSpin resulted only in mediocre at best games. The NES game by Capcom is regarded to be an okayish side-scrolling shooter that's probably Capcom's weakest Disney tie-in — albeit still the best game based on this show. The Sega Genesis game is a generic platformer with murky, unappealing graphics, and boring level design. The TurboGrafx-16 game is seen as the bottom of the barrel, however, as despite having better graphics than the Genesis game, it's brought down by atrocious controls, severely faulty collision detection, and all-around uninspired gameplay (faults it shares with the even more notorious Darkwing Duck tie-in game on the same system, which was developed by the same company).
    • Tarzan has a phenomenal tie-in game released for fifth-gen consoles. To tie in with its follow-up TV show, another Tarzan game was made called Tarzan: Untamed for the PS2 and GameCube, and to say it's a disappointing follow-up 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.
    • 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 version of the Toy Story 2 game. Like its predecessor on the Game Boy, the controls and physics are terrible, the graphics are boring, the music is annoying and the game 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, it feels less imaginative than its console counterparts, and it lacks the game's most popular feature, the Toy Box modenote .
    • Wreck-It Ralph is one of the most successful video game movies 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. The mobile game, however, belongs on the other list.
    • While Disney's video games have a good reputation, their Board Games are a different story. Many of them, like Anna & Elsa, are just standard boring Roll-and-Move fare with little or no player input. At least Villainous is pretty enjoyable.
  • Anything made by DSI Software is guaranteed to be garbage.
    • M&M's 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. The DS port is, however, a passable if uninspired racing game that is much less buggy and has no voice acting.
  • ISCO is a contract developer to run away from really fast (being the contract developer hired to make 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 probably never look at LJN the same way ever again.
  • 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, 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 Bébé's Kids to great games like [PROTOTYPE] and The Simpsons Hit & Run.
  • A lot of THQ's input from the early '90s 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. Thankfully, most of their console games slowly started to improve through the 2000s. Several of their Nickelodeon and Pixar games from that era are usually on the other page.
  • Tiertex Design Studios were a British game studio that developed several licenced games that were this, particularly on the Game Boy. These included Toy Story, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Small Soldiers, A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2.
  • Monkey Bar Games, whose library mostly consisted of movie and television tie-ins for films such as Flushed Away, Despicable Me, and Turbo, was a big offender of this trope. Common flaws in their games included terrible graphics resembling something made on the original PlayStation or Nintendo 64, stiff controls, and constant framerate issues.

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