My nephew helped open my eyes the other day to something seriously wrong in both the gaming and animation industry. I’m one of those nostalgic types who believes everything used to be better than it is nowadays (read: old fart). But I wasn’t looking through rose-tinted spectacles when my nephew showed me Ben 10: Alien Storm on the DS. It was shit!
It got me thinking – the games I used to play of official licences gave me hours of enjoyment. But was that pang just because I was a dumb kid playing games that featured my favourite characters? Or was it actually a case of good franchises that had loving care poured into them, and were brought to life by in-tune development teams? Let’s take a look:
The Good – My Generation
Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose (Konami)
I was obsessed with Tiny Toon Adventures. It was a typical Spielberg creation with a healthy dose of that crazy Warner Brothers spirit. Tiny Toon’s was typically huge, and had a ton of spin-off gaming titles to capitalise. Buster Busts Loose on the SNES, though, was a real platforming gem with hilarious themed levels (Star Wars, Back to the Future references…), massive replayability and offered a serious challenge. Plus, bonus games aplenty!
(Video courtesy of SNESguide1)
Spielberg again, showing he was a man who took great pride in entertaining all ages. Again, Konami were in charge, and handled the licence incredibly well. A colourful side-scrolling platformer, you could barely keep your eyes on a single pixel, such was the amount of bizarre cameos happening on-screen at any given time. The spirit of the show was there, but again, Konami didn’t treat gamers like kids. The difficulty spikes were – and still are – an absolute bastard. Games like these helped mould us into the hardcore gamers we are today!
(Video courtesy of freakinalex)
The Adventures of Batman & Robin (Konami)
Holy shhhhhit Batman, Konami again! Great detective work John, it seems that Konami know how to handle cartoon-to-console adaptions with thought and common sense. Arkham Asylum may be the definitive Batman game, but this was the first to make me truly feel like the Caped Crusader. Based off The Animated Series, you could battle a huge roster of true-to-form villains, including an umbrella-toting Penguin, a fun house confrontation with the Joker and a battle of wits against the Riddler.
(Video courtesy of NESSNESMASTER)
Road Runner’s Death Valley Rally (Sunsoft)
Though it probably would have been better to have been Wile E. Coyote, with all his bad-ass contraptions and junk, playing as the Road Runner gave you a greater sense of purpose in escaping with your life and foiling Coyote’s dastardly schemes. Though controlling Road Runner could be a pain sometimes (floaty space jumps ahoy), the speed element was enjoyable enough. Seeing Coyote blowing himself up on the SNES felt like a delicious treat at times.
(Video courtesy of Espaciodejuegos)
The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse (Capcom)
(Video courtesy of LegendarySuperMario)
The Bad – My Nephew’s Generation
Ben 10: Alien Force (1st Playable Productions)
The shite that led me to write this article. It’s so basic and lacks the heart and connection with the show that Konami managed to create with Tiny Toon’s, Animaniacs et al. A sterile DS platformer that insults its audience and doesn’t offer up any serious challenge. It’s a cash in on a franchise if ever I’ve seen one. I’ve watched Ben 10 sparingly on Cartoon Network with my nephew, and it has a damn sight more potential to be made into a game than what’s presented in this sorry excuse.
(Video courtesy of MrSanthoshnathan04)
Dexter’s Laboratory: Mandark’s Lab? (Bam! Entertainment)
Another potentially massive opportunity wasted. The ideas that developers bam! Entertainment could have put into practice were limitless. Dexter, the little bugger, could do anything he wanted in that lab of his. Instead, what gamers got was a soft romp, solving puzzles as pompous as the boy genius himself, and weak, watered-down dancing missions. Credit must be given for the authentic cartoon cutscenes and voices, though…
(Video courtesy of DarkEvil87)
Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Swamp (Torus)
Oh come on. Scooby-Doo was from before I was born, for God sakes. Are you telling me they still haven’t been able to make a good Scooby-Doo game, and are still peddling things like this to kids? That’s the real mystery the gang should be solving. There’s Simple Simon mini-games in there. C’mon developers, give kids some credit. Jesus…
(Video courtesy of mprunty1)
Avatar: The Last Airbender (THQ)
Isn’t this guy that kids like my nephew look up to and pretend to be in the playground when they’re knocking seven bells out of each other?
(Video courtesy of pacmanultimate)
Phineas and Ferb (Disney)
(Video courtesy of l9gan)
In conclusion, give everything to Spielberg and Konami. I’m going to bed now – Christ, writing this has depressed me so much. Seriously. Sort it out, developers…
And don’t think you’re getting away with it, Cartoon Network. Pull your bloody finger out and commission something ground breaking.