It's a popular opinion among gamers that licensed games are terrible. Although that opinion might be mostly valid, there are some great, licensed titles that manage to defy this common belief.
I've composed a list of a few games which managed to do what most licensed games cannot do: not suck!
This list is mostly based on my opinion as well as overall critical acclaim. If you don't see a game on the list, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Image source: Games Radar
TellTale's The Walking Dead
TellTale's The Walking Dead series took most gamers completely by surprise. When it was announced, the game was met with little excitement. However, with each episode released, the series garnered not only more critical acclaim, but also respect from gamers for its excellent writing and characters.
With TellTale having only released a few titles such as Sam & Max and Back to the Future, most of us didn't know what to expect from the developer. However, TellTale managed to create an immersive and powerful narrative influenced by player choice.
TellTale has done an excellent job (okay, maybe not so much with Jurassic Park!) at weaving their own stories into pre-existing, licensed universes.
Image source: GameSpot
Released in 1991 by the once-not-so-evil Konami, The Simpsons arcade game was a classic beat-em-up title. It utilized the style of the show well, incorporating bright colorfully designed levels and fun gameplay, as America's favorite animated family fights their way through hoards of Mr. Burns' minions to save baby Maggie.
The game was super fun at the arcade as four players could play cooperatively and assume the role of either Homer, Marge, Bart, or Lisa. Thankfully, the game did receive an HD port for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Although, I do miss playing this at the arcade.
Image source: Simpsons Wikia
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Of course, there have been tons of Batman games released over the years, some are good and some are well...incredibly bad. However, when Arkham Asylum was released in 2009, gamers were given the Batman game they always wanted.
Amassing critical acclaim as well as succeeding to resonate with gamers, this action-adventure game featured great gameplay, numerous cameos by characters from the Batman universe, and an excellent performance of the Joker by Mark Hamill.
Although I could have easily chosen fan favorite Arkham City, the often forgotten Arkham Origins, or the Batmobile-centric Arkham Knight, the original is what made us fall in love with series in the first place.
Image source: Dual Shockers
South Park: Stick of Truth
Although Stick of Truth went through development hell, developer Obsidian and publisher Ubisoft managed to create an excellent title. With the assistance of show creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Stick of Truth captured the show's style and humor perfectly.
The throwback turn-based RPG battle system was fun and made for some great in-game jokes. Although the gameplay might not have been deep, the game was thoroughly enjoyable even for those just watching from the sofa.
As a long time fan of South Park, Stick of Truth was definitely worth the wait. This was my personal Game of the Year for 2014. Of course, I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel, Fractured But Whole, releasing (hopefully) in 2016.
Image source: Screen Invasion
Star Wars: Battlefront
Star Wars and video games have had a long history together. Sometimes things go well and other times, well, let's just say things don't often work out.
While Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic was a huge contender for this place on the list, I had to give it to Star Wars: Battlefront. No, it does not contain a deep story woven from the Star Wars lore. However, it is an incredibly fun shooter. Sometimes, that's just all you need.
Confession! I'm not even a huge Star Wars fan, but I played this game endlessly. I had a lot of fun eradicating enemies near Mos Eisley while the Cantina theme played on a loop.
A new Battlefront title is releasing late this year, so here's hoping it will be just as good as its predecessor.
Image source: GameSpot
If you had a Nintendo 64 back in the day (or even now), you have likely played GoldenEye. Developed by the geniuses at Rare, GoldenEye redefined the first-person shooter by starting a trend towards more realistic shooters.
The game had incredibly atmospheric moments and had that awesome escort mission with Natalya. You know you loved how she would take forever to activate that console!
Image source: Gamasutra
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Although there are good Lord of the Rings based RTS titles that could easily be placed on this list, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was not only fun, but innovative in design that allowed for players capture forts and defeat rival loud-mouthed Orc generals.
Although some could say that Warner Brothers is getting a bit too repetitive with this gameplay design, such as in the recent Mad Max, it does not make this game any less addictive.
I have to capture each fort, defeat each general, and pick up every flippin' herb that appears along the path. Warner Brothers has developed great gameplay mechanics that completely appease my OCD.
Image source: Crave Online
Normally, if you saw a title like DuckTales on the store shelves, you would likely assume it to be crap. I mean it's a kid's game based on a cartoon. Of course, it's going to be crap!
Well, in this particular case, you'd be absolutely wrong. DuckTales is a completely functional and incredibly fun platformer. I'm serious! If you don't believe me, check out the recently released remaster for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Wii U.
Image source: Mental Floss
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
Back when this game was released in 2004, I remember how surprised everyone was that a game based on a movie did not suck! Developed by Starbreeze Studios, for its time, Riddick was an impressive looking game.
Additionally, it featured unique stealth gameplay when the game could have easily just been a standard beat-em-up.
Also, you get Vin Diesel! I'm sure that's bound to make someone out there excited!
Image source: GE Force
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
This one is a lot like The Simpsons beat-em-up where players can play cooperatively as one of the four Ninja Turtles. But this time, there's lots of pizza involved.
This game was a lot of fun, but could very difficult at certain spots. Also developed by once-wonderful Konami, this title is actually their best selling arcade game to date.
People do love themselves some turtles. And time.
Image source: Gamefaqs
Now we're talking! This little gem is the creme de la creme of licensed games. It includes so many activities like driving a truck, fishing, shooting beavers in their natural habitat, and of course, shooting ducks after deceiving them with a duck call!
Who wouldn't love that?!
No one. Ever.
Seriously though, except for Duck Dynasty and many others, there are some great licensed games out there not worthy of the associated negative stigma.
If you haven't played them, seek them out!
Also, if I left any game out or you want to talk about shooting ducks, please feel free to leave me a comment below!
Image source: Hardcore Gamer